Supposedly there reaches a point in time where most people simply lose their fear of death. I should assume that it is not that the prospect of dying is one that they welcome, it is simply that they feel that they have accomplished enough in life and that their lives have been lived out to their full. Maybe it’s something of boredom with the slow movement of time, but it’s not as if the ‘graying’ are the only ones to experience this sensation.
What I am concerned about is this innate curiosity that resounds in all humans. I seldom go a moment without some thought or other filtering its way through my brain, curiosity driving me onwards to divulge the exact nature of the issue that occupies my mind at the time. It becomes very difficult to accept the thought of a complete … lack of thought. This leads me to wonder exactly what happens in death, or what happens afterwards.
Sleep has always fascinated me as I view it as one of those rare moments where I am not engaged in active thought. I wake up every morning, completely unaware of the thoughts that graced my sleep the night before. Lord knows what I dream of. I would very much like to know, though. Waking up with no recollection of my thoughts suggests to me that sleep is little but a waste of time.
I wonder now what happens in death. The many neurons in my brain will fail to fire, no more signals will be sent down my nerve endings. My organs will freeze up, my body’s cells will die out. I will be dressed up, made to look clean, placed carefully into a casket, and eventually will be buried. My body will decay with the passage of time, body tissues will rot away, exposing ultimately the bare skeleton of what I am. All of this while I’m completely unconscious, unthinking and unable to observe? When my brain fails to function, will I no longer think? Will I cease to exist?
Religion offers me some solace: most religions tell me that there exists something after death, incentive to be a good person while I am alive. Depending on the religion to whose beliefs I subscribe, I may be sent into a paradise to live away my afterlife, surrounded by my personal troupe of virgins. I may arrive at the ‘pearly gates’ of Heaven, or I may very well burn in eternal agony in the fiery pits of Hell. My karma may dictate that I am to begin life anew as something of higher position than my current self, or that I may be forced to live on as a parasite, impervious to the needs of others and interested only in my own survival. Looking back, perhaps religion doesn’t offer me that much solace at all. Religion leaves me instead with the grand issue of wondering whether I’ve chosen my faith properly or if I have instead been deceived by the champions of my sect.
I’ll look towards Christianity because of my personal knowledge of the faith. As a good Christian, I am sworn to uphold the ideals of Christianity. Provided that I ‘turn the other cheek’ to my vengeful neighbors, provided that I remain free of self-infatuation and vanity, provided that I ‘do unto others as I would have them do unto me’, provided that I swear off all other faiths and follow the church in its teachings; I will go to Heaven when I die. Of course there are flaws involved in this contract that is so mottled by its many conditions. This faith requires that I believe always in it for only the meek and unquestioning will be rewarded ultimately.
There is another condition. The Bible states that there will be a day of reckoning; Revelations. On that day the final judgment will be made regarding whether I am to transcend into Heaven or into Hell. Until then, what happens? There must exist something that can be measured so that I will be admitted into Heaven or banished to Hell – let’s call this my soul. After my physical death my soul will continue to thrive by my side, six feet under. In essence, I will have become nothing but a massless, formless version of my original self. Not only will I be stuck waiting for the day of Revelations, I will also be helpless to bring about any changes on Earth. Seeing as the day of Revelations has yet to come, it seems to me that after death I will be stuck on Earth, banished to roam its grounds with the countless other souls yet to be dealt their final judgments.
So where am I now? No closer to seeing exactly what there is after death, no closer to comfort. The future is uncertain and I must do my best to prepare with it – incentive enough to live out each day to its full extent.