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athgarvan

Life After Death?

Stephen Hawking has rubbished the notion of a 'hereafter' -- claiming that the cornerstone of religions from Catholicism to Sikhism is nothing more than wishful thinking for those afraid of death. "There is no heaven or afterlife," he said, "that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark." So is there light at the end of the tunnel -- or just eternity spent six feet under?
dreams
Myself? I believe in a life with God after death. This gives meaning to my life here on earth, to love, to morality.

Of course nobody knows what life after death is really like. I myself get satisfaction from supposing that it will be like a dream. In a dream (or nightmare) bodily life is suspended but all else remains. Unhindered by the body the 'spirit' is free to express itself as it will and to experience love unending (heaven). Unfortunately, the same is true with nightmares (hell).

Freud explained dreams as manifestations of our deepest desires and anxieties.

Comments

It's the ultimate mystery. I'm always amazed by scientists who admit that 90% of the universe is unknown, but they're 100% sure about the afterlife.
I think scientists want to see the evidence.
freud, unfortunately, lived too soon to understand how dreams work. in fact everyone dreams multiple times a night, often (if you wake them up and ask) about quite trivial issues, and the brain is organized to not remember them (the part of the brain that makes memories is disconnected during dreaming). but the only dreams freud knew about or could study were ones from which people woke up, which tended to be pretty extreme and unusual, so his sample was very biased.

i strongly believe in life before death myself :)
I believe in reincarnation. I believe it because I have seen evidence of it. However, I don't know for sure. People say "What if you get to the end and find out that you were wrong?" I answer them, "So what? I'll be dead! Can't change it." My belief system makes my life better while I'm alive. Who cares whether I'm right or wrong?
There's no afterlife in Judaism. Actually one of my friends was just saying, "that's so weird about you Jews, you don't believe in an afterlife."

Technically, that's not accurate. Jews *can* believe in Heaven and Hell and many do. The belief probably came from the Zoroastrians. But it's just not central to the religion.

I also read that while Greeks and Romans did have Hades, Tartarus, Elysium, part of the reason Christianity succeeded in the Roman Empire was its emphasis on the afterlife.
I think that the afterlife is fairly central to at least Orthodox Judaism because of its tenet of Divine reward and punishment, which, because it plainly does not happen in this world, the rabbis of the Talmud explained to occur in the World to Come. And Maimonides' Thirteen Principles of Faith include both reward and punishment and resurrection of the dead (which, though not synonymous with the concept of an afterlife, would be pointless if nothing of the deceased survived their death). But you're quite right that the emphasis is on living this life, not worrying about what happens afterwards.
I believe the wicked would not be resurrected. Also Yom Kippur is basically you asking God not to kill you in the next year. I was told the soul returns to God but I was raised Reform (something I don't like.)

The only requirement for being an Orthodox Jew is fulfilling the commandments of the Torah. The saying is nothing is canon in Judaism. (but Jews won't agree on that.)

The Kabbalah had parts about how your sins return as demons to torment you in the next life (or this one) I like that.

Edited at 2013-11-10 23:01 (UTC)
The only requirement for being an Orthodox Jew is fulfilling the commandments of the Torah. The saying is nothing is canon in Judaism. (but Jews won't agree on that.)

Well... nine hundred years ago that was true. Then Maimonides encapsulated the tenets of Judaism in his Thirteen Principles of Faith. At the time that was controversial, but they have become sufficiently accepted since that they are printed in siddurim, and the Mishna Berura declares that a Jew who does not believe in all thirteen is not fit to lead a prayer service.

The Limits of Orthodox Theology, by Marc Shapiro, argues that this is taking things too far, and cites prominent rabbis from Orthodoxy and pre-Orthodox Judaism, who have disagreed with every single one of Maimonides' principles barring the first (that God exists)—which is why I still feel comfortable leading services despite not believing in all thirteen myself.

Against that in turn, it ought to be pointed out that what Shapiro points out is not very well known compared to the Mishna Berura...
The Kabbalah had parts about how your sins return as demons to torment you in the next life (or this one) I like that.

Karma, effectively, if you interpret "demons" figuratively. I read a book on Buddhism recently, and took a liking to the way karma can be interpreted without needing any supernatural intervention.

Actually, we have the concept of karma in Judaism already: "be sure your sin will find you out" (<searches> Numbers 32:23). It's just not encapsulated into a neat one-word description like that. (I'll have to see if I can remember that for in future. :o) )
Hm, interesting, I hadn't thought of it that way
Emphasis perhaps. But the Christian afterlife sounded much nicer (according tno Lewis). Hm, maybe that's why they emphasized it.
Jews *can* believe in Heaven and Hell and many do.

Because we're commenting here on the blog of a Catholic, I feel I ought to pedant you here and point out that the Jewish concept of Gehinnom actually maps better onto "Purgatory" than "Hell"; with very few exceptions, no one stays there forever.
That's interesting. I actually like the idea of Purgatory, it makes more sense to me than Hell.
A person can believe whatever gives them comfort.
But this is the life we must lead a best we can. It is the only thing we know for sure.

As shakespeare said
The evil men do lives on. The good is oft interred with their bones.
Each of us has a chance for just a little good to live on.
After that it really doesn't matter.

Personally I vote no - I don't need an after life.
I hope you don't mind if the rest of us have one, or several.
"In a dream (or nightmare) bodily life is suspended but all else remains. Unhindered by the body the 'spirit' is free to express itself as it will and to experience love unending (heaven). Unfortunately, the same is true with nightmares (hell)."

This sounds similar to the TIBETAN BOOK OF THE DEAD, as far as the immediate experience called "Bardo", which is a confusing dreamlike state between death of this body and rebirth in another body. As sometimes in dreams, the soul has some choice about which 'dream' to drift into next. It may spend time in one or another Heaven or Hell (none of which are permanent).
Ah, so that's where the Bardo in The Years of Rice and Salt came from!
Dunno YEARS OF RICE AND SALT. But the real Tibetan name for what we call THE TIBETAN BOOK OF THE DEAD is THE BARDO THEODOL.
Dunno YEARS OF RICE AND SALT.

It's a novel by Kim Stanley Robinson; it follows several characters over multiple incarnations across almost a thousand years. In between incarnations they go back to the Bardo.
I am just trying to imagine what an afterlife might be like - a joyful, free, disembodied spirit, as is experienced in a pleasant dream, or a chained, horrified, disembodied spirit as is experienced in a nightmare.
C.S. Lewis says Christians eventually get resurrected in a new physical body in a physical heaven. That might be after some bodiless floating around in Bardo. ;-)

Edited at 2013-11-10 22:00 (UTC)
I believe in life after death -- I cannot explain it in any way, but then again, I've never been much interested in a God so small that humans could understand him/her/it.