It is very difficult for humans to say the words “he/she/they died”. What a wonderful number of euphemisms for death we have. We pass, we croak, we kick the bucket, we come home, we expire, we succumb, we go, we meet our maker, we go to our reward, we waste ourselves, we take a look, we rest forever, we are lost, we are finished, we bite the dust, we are liquidated, terminated and annihilated. We renounce the ghost, we make the change, the transition, we mertilize ourselves, we go to the other side, we fall asleep, they take us, rub us and turn us off. We start, we transcend and we buy the farm. We feel no pain, we lose the race, we collect, we cross the Jordan and we go with the angels. We are done, we become glory, we return to dust, we wither, we give up, we take the long sleep and a dirt bath. They can be curtains, a fallen body, two meters underground and out of our misery. We find eternal peace, new lives in the afterlife, we ride into the sunset and that’s all we write. But in fact, we are dead.
All religion is based on the fact that we have to go somewhere after death. “We” are everything from our spirit and energy to our mind and etheric body. We like it better if there’s a good spot for the good guys and a bad spot for the idiots. Although the idea of reincarnation lends itself to leaving each one in its place after having learned lessons along the way many times.
Western churches spend their lives convincing you that their understanding is THE only understanding of what happens when we die, and they usually give you a program whereby you can leave your material possessions, you know, the ones they told you in the sermons you will not accumulate, to them I have seen many families outside the particular denomination of the one who “went home” have to face the fact that all the assets went to their church and not to their family. Let’s make a rule that if a person gives his belongings to the church after his death, and the sons or daughters protest, the Church has to return it to the family. This will help the church to practice what it preaches and give what really belongs to a family to the family where it really belongs. Beware of churches that have a program for you to “honor God with his death” or “Your will, a way for you to continue giving after you die.” Money given to the Church will be wasted and it would be more satisfying for her children to waste it than for her church. Amen.
It’s funny how if you ask someone about quantum physics or how life works, it’s such an indecipherable mystery in the final analysis, at least for now. But ask a religious person what happens after death, and pfffft… that’s easy. We go to heaven, they go to hell, we reincarnate often, we are more dead than dead, we wait in the grave until Jesus returns, we are resurrected in a physical body, we are resurrected in a spiritual “body”, we are this and that. as if they knew and the truth is that they do not. Westerners would never question that the Bible knows what happens after death, although one can find all of the above in one form or another on the pages of the Bible. Like humans, the biblical understanding of death became what we see in the evangelical Christian Church today.
The Catholic Church has gotten good at adding new places where the dead go, like the unsaved babies, or the unborn, or the guys who haven’t quite been saved, but it’s all a game of dice. Because we can ask questions like “well, what kind of God would throw an innocent child into hell for not knowing…” we have to discover new holding pens for such categories of people. They are not real, but they help us to cope.
Missionaries rush to save the lost before they die while admitting, in some circles, that if they were left ignorant, a loving God would automatically translate them to heaven after death. I mean, they can’t help but be born in New Guinea or the Great Plains. I loved it when the general who hunted him down and jailed him in Florida asked Geronimo if he wanted to go to heaven when he died. Geronimo asked if the General was also going to be there. “Of course, of course,” was the reply that was met with a simple “Then not” from Geronimo. Hell would be for many having to spend eternity with those who drove them crazy in this life! I mean, do you really want to spend eternity closer than ever to everyone in your church, including the same pastor day and night forever? I do not think so! Heaven can seem like one big, endless gathering of boring people still pretending to be what they never were on earth. It would be an everlasting and obligatory Thanksgiving or Christmas with the relatives that most never wanted to attend anyway! No, if I can go to heaven, please God, let there be quiet places where no one can find me and those I want to be with. You know, kind of like what we can do down here if we choose.
I saw a lot of death as a minister. Sometimes it was after the fact long enough to just bury someone in a nice funeral service in nice surroundings. Sometimes I would find myself standing on the bank of a river while someone was being searched for or taken to a morgue to remove the corpse of a child or friend from a drawer for a private family look. I even dug a grave once on a farm while we waited for family to arrive for a quick same day funeral and burial. I picked up the cemains, ugh, what a word, from people I had just talked to a few days earlier, now down to around 10 lbs. of gray sand. I have transported the carefully wrapped body of a newborn to another city in the back seat of my car, as the couple could not afford to have the funeral home do it.
I once visited a mother, just socially, who spent much of the visit telling us about her daughter’s talents, abilities, and beauty, which is normal when a father is very pleased. I specifically remember thinking on the way home “how would I cope if I lost that daughter, who was the center of everything Mom lived for?” When I got home, the phone was ringing and I was going back to the hospital where this young”. he had just been fatally struck at 18 while jaywalking. Something difficult. I lost a nephew on a train who couldn’t get his attention while he was wearing his walkman. Yesterday I lost a brother-in-law.
As a hobby, I took paramedic skills. I learned why so many paramedics are overweight and smoke like chimneys. Pure stress. Most paramedics are wonderful caregivers, but they are often faced with the most horrendous of human fatalities. They eat and smoke too much and have too much fun. I do not blame them. I will not relate what I have seen. I only know that I have seen it. Death at its worst. A soldier could certainly top that.
The point seems to live in the moment, staying out of the past of our lives, where we tend to store our anger and pain, and also the future, where we store our anxiety and all that is unknowable. Nobody knows what happens in death. Just to say that is to stir the pot of religious security. I know, no one but YOU.
There are some great past life stories remembered by some in amazing detail. Hmm, could be. Even the Bible gives the account of the blind man which caused the disciples to question whether the man’s blindness was the fault of his parents or his own sin, “that he was born blind.” At least we have to admit that there is room to question that if one is born blind from sin, the sin must have occurred in a previous life. There is no other possible explanation. Some in the early church believed in reincarnation. General George Patton was famous for knowing where he had fought as a Roman soldier in a previous life, while he was fighting again during World War II in Europe. He wasn’t kidding and no one made fun of him either.
There are stories of those who have left their bodies in near-death experiences only to return and recount the experience in detail that only a, well, “Ghost” could give. Evidently they were reminded to end their lives and everyone who experiences such a thing never fears death again. It’s worth the experience, if only for that little piece of mind, I’d say.
Stories abound of people who received transplants from organs donated by the deceased, only to mysteriously acquire the deceased’s taste for food, books, or familiarity with subjects they never studied in their own lives. This would lend credence to the idea that cellular memory can be passed on. Whoa… pretty inspiring stuff and not just a little creepy.
Gross religions make a lot of money from the masses who need to buy their places in the Kingdom of God. I remember once shoveling a road buried in feet of snow for a woman who later paid me with Catholic indulgences. They gave me a full 90 days less in Purgatory. I told her that she was a Presbyterian. She smiled and closed the door. I almost pushed the snow back on the trail.
I am glad that so many can be so sure that they know what happens in death. Some just know because they read it in the Bible without thinking that even that book is just another attempt by humans to figure this out. Some just know it’s true because it’s “true to me.” Some feel that it just has to be true or what’s the point. One cannot just die for nothing after learning all these things in life. And some just know that what they know is true because somehow even science can prove it.
As I mentioned earlier, yesterday my brother-in-law died just two days after being told he could live another three months. If there was ever an example of a mind saying, “uh, no, I think I need to go now,” this was it. He just left, and I believe on his own terms. Or maybe he passed away, or went home, or bit the dust, or left his world, or mertilized, transcended, lost the race, cashed in, became glory, he’s on heavenly shores, out of his misery, taken by The angels found peace, they entered the field of zero point, the afterlife, they rode into the sunset and that was all he wrote.
In any case, that man I knew as Jim did well in this life and, like tens of thousands on the planet every day, went somewhere, hopefully, free now as a conscious spirit having had a human experience in a limited five senses carbon based wetsuit and now it’s free. Peace my dear friend… call me when you can and tell me what it is about! 🙂