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Ancient Egyptian papyrus depicting the journey into the afterlife.

The afterlife (also referred to as life after death or the hereafter) is the idea that the consciousness or mind of a being continues after physical death occurs. In many popular views, this continued existence often takes place in an immaterial or spiritual realm. Major views on the afterlife derive from religion, esotericism and metaphysics.

Deceased persons are usually believed to go to a specific plane of existence after death, despite the lack of evidence, typically believed to be determined by a God, based on their actions during physical life. In contrast, the term reincarnation refers to an afterlife in which only the "essence" of the being is preserved, and the "afterlife" is another life on Earth or possibly within the same universe.

Types of views on the afterlife

There are two fundamentally different types of views on the afterlife: empirical views based on observation and religious views based on faith.

  • The first type are loosely based on observations and conjecture made by humans or instruments (for example a radio or a voice recorder, which are used in electronic voice phenomena, or EVP). These observations come from reincarnation research, near death experiences, out-of-body experiences, astral projection, EVP, mediumship, various forms of photography etc. Academic inquiry into such phenomena can be broken down roughly into two categories: psychical research generally focuses on case studies, interviews, and field reports, while parapsychology relates to strictly laboratory research.
  • The second type are based on a form of faith, usually faith in the stories that are told by ancestors or faith in religious books like the Bible, the Qur'an, the Talmud, the Vedas, the Tripitaka etc. This article is mainly about this second type.

The afterlife in different metaphysical models

See the list of philosophical questions for information.

In metaphysical models, theists generally believe some sort of afterlife awaits people when they die. Atheists and Humanists accept that there is no afterlife. Members of some generally non-theistic religions such as Buddhism, tend to believe in an afterlife, but without reference to a God. The Sadducees were an ancient Jewish sect that generally believed that there was a God but no afterlife.

Agnostics generally hold the position that, like the existence of a God, the existence of other metaphysical phenomena such as the existence of souls or life after death is not verifiable and therefore remains unknown or unknowable.

Many religions, whether they believe in the soul’s existence in another world like Christianity, Islam and many pagan belief systems, or in reincarnation like many forms of Hinduism and Buddhism, believe that one’s status in the afterlife is a reward or punishment for their conduct during life.

Reincarnation

Reincarnation refers to an afterlife concept found among Hindus, Rosicrucians, Spiritists, and Wiccans. In reincarnation, spiritual development continues after death as the deceased begins another earthly life in the physical world, acquiring a superior grade of consciousness and altruism by means of successive reincarnations. This succession leads toward an eventual liberation.

One consequence of the Hindu and Spiritist beliefs is that our current lives are also an afterlife. According to those beliefs events in our current life are consequences of actions taken in previous lives, or Karma.

Rosicrucians,[1] in the same way of those who have had near-death experiences, speak of a life review period occurring immediately after death and before entering the afterlife's planes of existence (before the silver cord is broken), followed by a judgment, more akin to a Final Review or End Report over one's life.[2]

Many Wiccans, though not all, profess a belief in an afterlife called the Summerland, a peaceful and sunny place where the souls of the newly dead are sent. Here, souls rest, recuperate from life, and reflect on the experiences they had during their lives. After a period of rest, the souls are reincarnated, and the memory of their previous lives is erased. Shi'a Muslims believe to Raj'a that can be understood as a limited reincarnation.

The book In the Light of Truth - The Grail Message[3], by Abd-ru-shin, offers new knowledge concerning the process of reincarnation. The human spirit is understood to have repeated earth-lives and experiences in the so-called "beyond", all of which are necessary for its eventual return to the Spiritual Realm (known to men as “Paradise”). There, the Grail Message explains, man began his journey as an unconscious spirit-seed. Urged by his wish for self-consciousness, he descended into the world of matter to gain experiences essential for his development, just as a seed falls to the earth in order to grow and mature. As a single earth-life cannot provide the full range of experiences, a human spirit generally reincarnates many times upon the earth among different peoples and cultures. The Spiritual Realm can only be reached again once the individual has made good any wrong doings from past and present earth-lives and attained to self-consciousness. Freed from all material attachments, he may dwell there eternally as a matured human spirit.

Afterlife in ancient religions

Ancient Egypt

The afterlife played an important role in Ancient Egyptian religion, and its belief system is one of the earliest known. When the body died, parts of its soul known as ka (body double) and the ba (personality) would go to the Kingdom of the Dead. While the soul dwelt in the Fields of Aaru, Osiris demanded work as restitution for the protection he provided. Statues were placed in the tombs to serve as substitutes for the deceased.

Arriving at one's reward in afterlife was a demanding ordeal, requiring a sin-free heart and the ability to recite the spells, passwords, and formulae of the Book of the Dead. In the Hall of Two Truths, the deceased's heart was weighed against the Shu feather of truth and justice taken from the headdress of the goddess Ma'at.[4] If the heart was lighter than the feather, they could pass on, but if it were heavier they would be devoured by the demon Ammit.

Egyptians also believed that being mummified was the only way to have an afterlife. Only if the corpse had been properly embalmed and entombed in a mastaba, could the dead live again in the Fields of Yalu and accompany the Sun on its daily ride. Due to the dangers the afterlife posed, the Book of the Dead was placed in the tomb with the body as well as food, jewelry, and 'curses'. they also used the " opening of the mouth"

Zoroastrianism

Zoroastrianism states that the urvan, which is the disembodied spirit lingers on earth for three days before departing downward to a kingdom of the dead, which is ruled by Yima. For the three days that it rests on Earth, righteous souls sit at the head of their body, chanting the Ustavaiti Gathas with joy, while a wicked person sits at the head of the corpse, wails and recites the Yasna. Zoroastrianism states that for the righteous souls, a beautiful maiden, which is the personification of the soul's good thoughts, words and deeds, appears. For a wicked person, a very old, ugly, naked hag appears. After three nights, the soul of the wicked is taken by the demon Vizaresa (Vīzarəša), to Chinvat bridge, and is made to go to darkess (hell).

Yima is believed to have been the first king on earth to rule, as well as the first man to die. Inside of Yima's realm, the spirits live a shadowy existence, and are dependent on their own descendants which are still living on Earth. Their descendants are to satisfy their hunger and clothe them, through rituals done on earth.

Rituals which are done on the first three days are vital and important, as they protect the soul from evil powers and give it strength to reach the underworld. After three days, the soul crosses Chinvat bridge which is the Final Judgment of the soul. Rashnu and Sraosha are present at the final judgment. The list is expanded sometimes, and include Vahman and Ormazd. Rashnu is the yazata who holds the scales of justice. If the good deeds of the person outweigh the bad, the soul is worthy of paradise. If the bad deeds outweigh the good, the bridge narrows down to the width of a blade-edge, and a horrid hag pulls the soul in her arms, and takes it down to hell with her.

Misvan Gatu is the 'place of the mixed ones' where the souls lead a gray existence, lacking both joy and sorrow. A soul goes here if his/her good deeds and bad deeds are equal, and Rashnu's scale is equal.

Ancient Greek and Roman

In the Odyssey, Homer refers to the dead as "burnt-out wraiths." An afterlife of eternal bliss exists in Elysium, but is reserved for Zeus's mortal descendants.

In his Myth of Er, Plato describes souls being judged immediately after death and sent either to the heavens for a reward or underground for punishment. After their respective judgments have been enjoyed or suffered, the souls are reincarnated.

The Greek god Hades is known in Greek mythology as the king of the underworld, a bleak place in between the place of torment and the place of rest, where most souls live after death. Some heroes of Greek legend are allowed to visit the underworld. The Romans had a similar belief system about the afterlife, with Hades becoming known as Pluto. In the ancient Greek myth about Hercules, he needs to travel to the underworld to capture Cerberus as one of his tasks, and retrieves Admetus' wife, Alcetis.

Dream of Scipio, written by Cicero, describes what seems to be an out of body experience, of the soul traveling high above the Earth, looking down at the small planet, from far away.

Norse religion

The Poetic and Prose Eddas, the oldest sources for information on the Norse concept of the afterlife, vary in their description of the several realms that are described as falling under this topic. The most well-known are:

  • Valhalla: (lit. "Hall of the Slain" i.e. "the Chosen Ones") This heavenly abode, somewhat analogous to the Greek Elysium, is reserved for those brave warriors who die heroically in battle.
  • Hel: (lit. "The Covered Hall") This abode is somewhat like Hades from Ancient Greek religion: there, something not unlike the Asphodel Meadows can be found, and people who have neither excelled in that which is good nor excelled in that which is bad can expect to go there after they die and be reunited with their loved ones.
  • Niflhel: (lit. "The Dark" or "Misty Hel") This realm is roughly analogous to Greek Tartarus. It is the deeper level beneath Hel, and those who break oaths, abduct and rape women, and other vile things will be sent there to be among their kind to suffer harsh punishments.

Afterlife in Abrahamic religions

Judaism

Resurrection

Writing that would later be incorporated into the Hebrew Bible names Sheol as the place of the unrighteous dead, a non-descriptive place where the unrighteous are destined to go after death, although some texts seem to indicate that even the righteous will find themselves there.[5] The Book of Numbers refers to people going down to Sheol when the earth opens up and destroys the rebellious Korah, Dathan and Abiram and their 250 followers (Numbers 16:31-33). One might take this as implying that Sheol is literally underground, although it is as easily read literally, as signifying an earthquake or split in the earth.

Solomon states in the book of Ecclesiastes: "For what happens to the sons of men also happens to animals; one thing befalls them: as one dies, so dies the other. Surely, they all have one breath; man has no advantage over animals, for all is vanity. All go to one place: all are from the dust, and all return to dust. Who knows the spirit of the sons of men, which goes upward, and the spirit of the animal, which goes down to the earth?" (Ecc. 3:19-21 NKJV)

"But for him who is joined to all the living there is hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion." (Ecc. 9:4 NKJV)

In the book of Job it is stated: "But man dies and is laid away; indeed he breathes his last and where is he?... So man lies down and does not rise. Till the heavens are no more, they will not awake nor be roused from their sleep... If a man dies, shall he live again?" (Job 14:10,12,14a NKJV)

The Talmud offers a number of thoughts relating to the afterlife. After death, the soul is brought for judgment. Those who have lead pristine lives enter immediately into the "World to Come." Most do not enter the World to Come immediately, but now experience a period of review of their earthly actions and they are made aware of what they have done wrong. Some view this period as being a "re-schooling", with the soul gaining wisdom as one's errors are reviewed. Others view this period to include punishment for past wrongs. At the end of this period, approximately one year, the soul then takes its place in the World to Come. Although punishments are made part of certain Jewish conceptions of the afterlife, the concept of "eternal damnation," so prevalent in other religions, is not a central tenet of the Jewish afterlife. According to the Talmud, eternal punishment is reserved for a much smaller group of malicious and evil leaders, either whose deeds go way beyond norms, or who lead large groups of people to evil. In the Talmud, completed by 500 AD, non-Jews who are purely evil cease to exist in any realm when they die. However, authorities agree that virtuous gentiles are given a share in the world-to-come. The Book of Enoch describes Sheol as divided into four compartments for four types of the dead: the faithful saints who await resurrection in Paradise, the merely virtuous who await their reward, the wicked who await punishment, and the wicked who have already been punished and will not be resurrected on Judgment Day.[6] It should be noted that the Book of Enoch is considered apocryphal by most denominations of Christianity and all denominations of Judaism.

The book of 2 Maccabees gives a clear account of the dead awaiting a future resurrection and judgment, plus prayers and offerings for the dead to remove the burden of sin.

Maimonides describes the Olam Haba ("World to Come") in spiritual terms, relegating the prophesied physical resurrection to the status of a future miracle, unrelated to the afterlife or the Messianic era. According to Maimonides, an afterlife continues for the soul of every human being, a soul now separated from the body in which it was "housed" during its earthly existence.

The Zohar describes Gehenna not as a place of punishment for the wicked but as a place of spiritual purification for souls.[7]

Reform and Reconstructionist Judaism Rejection of Resurrection

Reform Judaism and Reconstructionist Judaism reject Resurrection. Accordingly, they have modified the text to read m'chayei hakol ("who gives life to all"). In the new prayer book released by the Reform Judaism movement, they have returned the traditional prayer for the resurrection of the dead.[8]

Reincarnation

While ancient Greek philosophers like Plato attempted to prove the existence of reincarnation through philosophical proofs, Jewish mystics who also believed in this idea did not.

Reincarnation appeared in Jewish thought some time after the Talmud. There is no reference to reincarnation in the Talmud or any prior writings.[9] The idea of reincarnation, called gilgul, became popular in folk belief, and is found in much Yiddish literature among Ashkenazi Jews. Among a few kabbalists, it was posited that some human souls could end up being reincarnated into non-human bodies. These ideas were found in a number of Kabbalistic works from the 1200s, and also among many mystics in the late 1500s. Martin Buber's early collection of stories of the Baal Shem Tov's life includes several that refer to people reincarnating in successive lives.[10]

Among well known (generally non-kabbalist or anti-kabbalist) Rabbis who rejected the idea of reincarnation are Saadia Gaon, David Kimhi, Hasdai Crescas, Yedayah Bedershi (early 14th century), Joseph Albo, Abraham ibn Daud, the Rosh and Leon de Modena.

Saadia Gaon, in Emunoth ve-Deoth, concludes Section VI with a refutation of the doctrine of metempsychosis (reincarnation). While refuting reincarnation, the Saadia Gaon further states that Jews who hold to reincarnation have adopted non-Jewish beliefs.

Christianity

In Scripture

When questioned by the Sadducees about the resurrection (in a context relating to who ones spouse would be if one had been married several times in life), Jesus said that marriage will be irrelevant after the resurrection as the resurrected will be (at least in this respect) like the angels in heaven.[11]

Jesus also maintained that the time would come when the dead would hear the voice of the Son of God, and all who were in the tombs would come out, the faithful to the resurrection of life, and the unfaithful to the resurrection of judgment. According to the Gospel of Matthew, at the death of Jesus tombs were opened, and at his resurrection many saints who had died emerged from their tombs and went into "the holy city," presumably Jerusalem.[12] No other New Testament account includes this event.

The Last Day: Jesus compared the kingdom of heaven, over which He rules, to a net which was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into vessels but threw away the bad. So it will be at the close of the age also known as the Last Day. The angels will separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.

The Early Church: 1st century

Domenico Beccafumi's Inferno: a Christian vision of hell

The author of Luke recounts the story of Lazarus and the rich man, which shows people in Hades awaiting the resurrection either in comfort or torment. The author of the Book of Revelation writes about God and the angels versus Satan and demons in an epic battle at the end of times when all souls are judged. There is mention of ghostly bodies of past prophets, and the transfiguration.

The Early Church: 2nd and 3rd century

The non-canonical Acts of Paul and Thecla speak of the efficacy of prayer for the dead, so that they might be "translated to a state of happiness."[13]

Hippolytus of Rome pictures Hades as a place where the righteous dead, awaiting in the bosom of Abraham their resurrection, rejoice at their future prospect, while the unrighteous are tormented at the sight of the "lake of unquenchable fire" into which they are destined to be cast.

The Early Church: 4th and 5th century

Gregory of Nyssa discusses the long-before believed possibility of purification of souls after death.[14]

Saint Augustine counters Pelagius, arguing that original sin means that the unbaptized go to hell, including infants, albeit with less suffering than is experienced by those guilty of actual sins.

Medieval Christianity

Pope Gregory I repeats the concept, articulated over a century earlier by Gregory of Nyssa that the saved suffer purification after death, in connection with which he wrote of "purgatorial flames". The noun "purgatorium" (Latin: place of cleansing[15]) is used for the first time to describe a state of painful purification of the saved after life. The same word in adjectival form (purgatorius -a -um, cleansing), which appears also in non-religious writing,[16] was already used by Christians such as Augustine of Hippo and Pope Gregory I to refer to an after-death cleansing.

Swedenborg and the Enlightenment

During the Age of Enlightenment, theologians and philosophers presented various philosophies and beliefs. A notable example is Emanuel Swedenborg who wrote some 18 theological works which describe in detail the nature of the afterlife according to his claimed spiritual experiences, the most famous of which is Heaven and Hell.

On the other hand, the enlightenment produced more rationalist philosophies such as deism. Many deist freethinkers held that belief in an afterlife with reward and punishment was a necessity of reason and good moral order.

Seventh-day Adventists

The Seventh-day Adventist Church, teaches that the first death, or death brought about by living on a planet with sinful conditions (sickness, old age, accident, etc.) is a sleep of the soul. Adventists believe that the body + the breath of God = a living soul. Like Jehovah's Witnesses, Adventists use key phrases from the Bible, such as "For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten" (Eccl. 9:5 KJV). Adventists also point to the fact that the wage of sin is death and God alone is immortal. Adventists believe God will grant eternal life to the redeemed who are resurrected at Jesus' second coming. Until then, all those who have died are "asleep." When Jesus the Christ, who is the Word and the Bread of Life, comes a second time, the righteous will be raised incorruptible and will be taken in the clouds to meet their Lord. The righteous will live in heaven for a thousand years (the millennium) where they will sit with God in judgment over the unredeemed and the fallen angels. During the time the redeemed are in heaven, the Earth will be devoid of human and animal inhabitation. Only the fallen angels will be left alive. The second resurrection is of the unrighteous, when Jesus brings the New Jerusalem down from heaven to relocate to Earth. Jesus will call to life all those who are unrighteous. Satan and his angels will convince the unrighteous to surround the city, but hell fire and brimstone will fall from heaven and consume them, thus cleansing Earth of all sin. The universe will be then free from sin forever. This is called the second death. On the new earth God will provide an eternal home for all the redeemed and a perfect environment for everlasting life, where Eden will be restored. The great controversy will be ended and sin will be no more. God will reign in perfect harmony forever.(Rom. 6:23; 1 Tim. 6:15, 16; Eccl. 9:5, 6; Ps. 146:3, 4; John 11:11-14; Col. 3:4; 1 Cor. 15:51-54; 1 Thess. 4:13-17; John 5:28, 29; Rev. 20:1-10; Rev. 20; 1 Cor. 6:2, 3; Jer. 4:23-26; Rev. 21:1-5; Mal. 4:1; Eze. 28:18, 19; 2 Peter 3:13; Isa. 35; 65:17-25; Matt. 5:5; Rev. 21:1-7; 22:1-5; 11:15.)[17][18]

Afterlife in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormonism)

Joseph F. Smith of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints presents an elaborate vision of the Afterlife. It is revealed as the scene of an extensive missionary effort by righteous spirits to redeem those still in darkness - a spirit prison or "hell" where the spirits of the dead remain until judgement. It is divided into two parts: Spirit Prison and Paradise. Together these are also known as the Spirit World (also Abraham's Bosom; see Luke 16:19-25). They believe that Christ visited spirit prison (1 Peter 3:18-20) and opened the gate for those who repent to cross over to Paradise. This is similar to the Harrowing of Hell doctrine of some mainstream Christian faiths. Both Spirit Prison and Paradise are temporary according to Latter-day Saint beliefs. After the resurrection, spirits are assigned "permanently" to three degrees of heavenly glory––Celestial, Terrestrial, and Telestial––(1 Cor 15:44-42; Doctrine and Covenants, Section 76) or are cast with Satan into Outer Darkness. (See Doctrine and Covenants, Section 76.)

Salvation, faith and merit from ancient to modern Christianity

Most Christians deny that entry into Heaven can be properly earned, rather it is a gift that is solely God's to give through his unmerited grace. This belief follows the theology of St. Paul: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast. The Augustinian, Thomist, Lutheran, and Calvinist theological traditions all emphasize the necessity of God's undeserved grace for salvation, and reject so-called Pelagianism, which would make man earn salvation through good works. Not all Christian sects accept this doctrine, leading many controversies on grace and free will, and the idea of predestination. In particular, the belief that heaven is a reward for good behavior is a common folk belief in Christian societies, even among members of churches which reject that belief.

Christian theologians Thomas Aquinas and Jonathan Edwards wrote that the saved in heaven will delight in the suffering of the damned. Hell, however, doesn't fit modern, humanitarian concepts of punishment because it can't deter the unbeliever nor rehabilitate the damned, this however, does not affect the Christian belief which places Biblical teaching above the ideas of society. Some Christian believers have come to downplay the punishment of hell. Universalists teach that salvation is for all. Jehovah's Witnesses and Seventh-day Adventists, though they have among the strictest rules on how to conduct their lives, teach that sinners are destroyed rather than tortured forever.

The dead as Angels in Heaven

In the informal folk beliefs of many Christians, the souls of virtuous people ascend to Heaven and are converted into angels. More formal Christian theology makes a sharp distinction between angels, who were created by God before the creation of humanity, and saints, who are people who have received immortality from the grace of God through faith in the Son of God Jesus (John 3:16).

Universalists

Some sects, such as the Universalists, believe in universalism which holds that all will eventually be rewarded regardless of what they have done or believed.

Jehovah's Witnesses

Jehovah's Witnesses occasionally use the terms "afterlife" and "hereafter"[19] to refer to any hope for the dead, but they understand Ecclesiastes 9:5 to preclude common views of afterlife:

For the living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all, neither do they any more have wages, because the remembrance of them has been forgotten.

They believe that following Armageddon a resurrection in the flesh[20] to an Edenic Earth[21] will be rewarded to both righteous and unrighteous (but not wicked) dead. Acts 24:15 states, "“I have hope toward God . . . that there is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.”

Eternal death (non-existence) is the punishment for sin lacking repentance after Armageddon. Although those who are not dead when Armageddon occurs will be judged and possibly slain during Armageddon because of their potential regretless sins. They believe that death is the price for sinning (that is why most dead will be resurrected - they paid the price already).[22][23]

Modern Orthodox Christianity

The beliefs typical to modern Orthodox Christian Churches has not diverted from the old Orthodox Christian Chruches.

The Modern Catholic Church

In the 1990s, the Catechism of the Catholic Church defined hell not as punishment imposed on the sinner but rather as the sinner's self-exclusion from God.

Christian Science

Christian Science teaches that the after-death state consists of a form of "probation" and spiritual development / progress whereby the experience of the deceased is in proportion to their ability to avail of the unlimited love of God. Consequently, a person dying in a state of sin would experience God's love as suffering (like a person used to darkness whose eyes are hurt by the light) while someone who passed on in a state of spiritualized consciousness would experience a corresponding level of happiness. There is no concept of eternal punishment in Christian Science: hell and heaven are both states of thought that correspond to the presence, or absence, of self-centredness that characterise the individual undergoing the experience of death. A person who seems to die does not "go" anywhere: he/she simply adjusts to another level of consciousness which is inaccessible to those they have left behind. The ultimate, and inevitable, goal of all of us is the experience of divine Love (heaven, harmony). Death is not necessary for the experience of heaven: it can be experienced here and now to the extent that one's thought is elevated to a spiritual level. Indeed, Christian Science teaches that death itself is an illusion, and that it can, and will, be ultimately conquered through the conquest of sin, as taught by Jesus Christ and exemplified in his life.

Islam

The Islamic belief in the afterlife as stated in the Qur'an is unique; its official description is more detailed. The Islamic word used to describe Paradise is jannah and to describe Hell is jahannam. Jannah and Jahannam both have different levels. Individuals will not arrive there until after the Judgment Day, when they will be resurrected. Their level of comfort while in the grave, however, depends on their belief in The God and His teachings, as well as their deeds during this life. The levels are 8 for Jannat [24] and 7 for Jahannam.

Islam teaches that the purpose of man's creation is essentially to be kind to other human beings and to worship the Creator of the Heavens and Earth - Allah (the Arabic word used to refer to The One and Only God, who Muslims consider to be the God of Judeochristian Tradition). Islam teaches that life lived on this Earth is a test for man to determine each individual's ultimate reward or punishment in the afterlife, which is eternal and everlasting.

In the twentieth century, discussions about the afterlife address the interconnection between human action and divine judgment, the need for moral rectitude, and the eternal consequences of human action in this life and world.[25]

Bahá'í Faith

The teachings of the Bahá'í Faith state that the nature of the afterlife is beyond the nature of those living, just as an unborn foetus cannot understand the nature of the world outside of the womb. The Bahá'í writings state that the soul is immortal and after death it will continue to progress until it attains God's presence. In Bahá'í belief, souls in the afterlife will continue to retain their individuality and consciousnsess and will be able to recognize and communicate spirtitually with other souls who they have made deep profound friendships, with such as their spouses.[26]

The Bahá'í writings also state there are distincitions between souls in the afterlife, and that souls will recognize the worth of their own deeds and understand the consequences of their actions. It is explained that those souls that have turned toward God will experience gladness, while those who have lived in error will become aware of the oppurtunities they have lost. Also, in the Baha'i view, souls will be able to recognize the accomplishments of the souls that have reached the same level as themselves, but not those that have achieved a rank higher than them.[26]

Eastern religions

Hinduism

No other religion deals with this topic like Hinduism. Upanishads describe reincarnation, or punarjanma (see also: samsara). The Bhagavan Gita, an important book for Hinduism talks extensively about the afterlife. Here, the Lord Krishna says that just as a man discards his old clothes and wears new ones; similarly the soul discards the old body and takes on a new one. In Hinduism, the belief is that the body is but a shell, the soul inside is immutable and indestructible and takes on different lives in a cycle of birth and death. The end of this cycle is Moksha or salvation.

Garud Puran, a book solely deals with what happens to a person after death. The God of Death Yama sends his representaives to collect Atma or soul from a person's body whenever he is due for death and they take the soul to Yama. A record of each person's timings & deeds performed by him is kept in a ledger by Yama's assistant "Chitragupta".

According to "Garud Puran a soul after leaving body travells through a very very long & dark tunnel towards southern direction. That is why an oil lamp is lighted and kept beside the head of dead body, so to enlighten the dark tunnel an facilitate the soul to travel comfortably.

Soul, called "Atma" leaves the body and re-incarnates itself according to the deeds or Karma performed by one in last birth. Re-birth would be in form of animals or other lower creatures if one performed bad Karmas and in human form in a good family with joyous lifetime if the person was good in last birth. In between the two births a human is also required to either face punishments for bad Karmas in "NARKA" or "HELL" or enjoy for the good karmas in SWARG or Heaven for good deeds. Whenever his or her punishments or rewards are over he or she is sent back to earth, also known as "Mrityulok" or World of Death. A person is merged with the God or ultimate power when he discharges only & only good Karmas in last birth and the same is called as "Moksha" or "Nirvana", which is the ultimate goal of a true Hindu.Atma (Soul) merges into "Parmatma" or the greatest soul.According to Bhagwadgita an "Atma" or soul never dies, what dies is the body only made of five elements - Earth, Sky, Water, Fire & Vacuum. Hinduism through Garud Purad also describes in detail various types of "Narkas" or Hells where a person after death is made answerable for his bad Karmas and dealt with accordingly.

Hindus also believe in 'Karma'. 'Karma' is the accumulated sums of one's good or bad deeds. According to Hinduism the basic concept of Karma is 'As you sow, you shall reap'. So, if you have a lived a good life you will be rewarded in the afterlife. Similarly your sum of bad deeds will be mirrored in your next life.

Buddhism

Buddhists maintain that rebirth takes place without an unchanging self or soul passing from one form to another. The type of rebirth will be conditioned by the moral tone of the person's actions (kamma or karma). For example, where a person has committed harmful actions of body, speech and mind based on greed, hatred and delusion, rebirth in a lower realm, i.e. an animal, a ghost or a hell realm, is to be expected. On the other hand, where a person has performed skillful actions based on generosity, loving-kindness (metta), compassion and wisdom, rebirth in a happy realm, i.e. human or one of the many heavenly realms, can be expected.

In Tibetan Buddhism the Tibetan Book of the Dead explains the intermediate state of humans between death and reincarnation. The deceased will find the bright light of wisdom, which shows a straightforward path to move upward and leave the cycle of reincarnation. There are various reasons why the deceased do not follow that light. Some had no briefing about the intermediate state in the former life. Others only used to follow their basic instincts like animals. And some have fear, which results from foul deeds in the former life or from insistent haughtiness. In the intermediate state the awareness is very flexible, so it is important to be virtuous, adopt a positive attitude, and avoid negative ideas. Ideas which are rising from subconsciousness can cause extreme tempers and cowing visions. In this situation they have to understand, that these manifestations are just reflections of the inner thoughts. No one can really hurt them, because they have no more material body. The deceased get help from different Buddhas who show them the path to the bright light. The ones who do not follow the path after all will get hints for a better reincarnation. They have to release the things and beings on which or whom they still hang from the life before. It is recommended to choose a family where the parents trust in the Dharma and to reincarnate with the will to care for the welfare of all beings.

Sikhism

Sikhs also believe in reincarnation. They believe that the soul belongs to the spiritual universe which has its origins in God. It is like a see-saw, the amount of good done in life will store up blessings, thus uniting with God. A soul may need to live many lives before it is one with God. But there is more to it than this; there are four classes that are included in this belief. Above these four classes is God "Waheguru" and you can stay with him if you like or take another step and go to your people and serve them. Below these four classes are non humans such as plants and viruses. You move up and down according to your deeds, a good life and death moves you up to a higher class and a bad life and death results in going down a class.

Parapsychology

A study conducted in 1901 by physician Duncan MacDougall sought to measure the weight lost by a human when the soul "departed the body" upon death.[27] MacDougall weighed dying patients in an attempt to prove that the soul was material, tangible and thus measurable. These experiments are widely considered to have had little if any scientific merit, and although MacDougall's results varied considerably from "21 grams," for some people this figure has become synonymous with the measure of a soul's mass.[28] The title of the 2003 movie 21 Grams is a reference to MacDougall's findings.

The Society for Psychical Research was founded in 1882 with the express intention of investigating phenomena relating to Spiritualism and the afterlife. Its members continue to conduct scientific research on the paranormal to this day. Some of the earliest attempts to apply scientific methods to the study of phenomena relating to an afterlife were conducted by this organization. Its earliest members included noted scientists like William Crookes, and philosophers such as Henry Sidgwick and William James.

J. B. Rhine, who was critical in the early foundations of parapsychology as a laboratory science, was committed to finding scientific evidence for the spiritual existence of humans. Scientists who have worked in this area include Raymond Moody, Susan Blackmore, Charles Tart, William James, Ian Stevenson, Michael Persinger and Pim van Lommel among others.[29]

After 25 years of parapsychological research, Susan Blackmore came to the conclusion that there is no empirical evidence for an afterlife.[30][31]

Some, such as Francis Crick in 1994, have attempted a ‘scientific search for the soul’.[32] Frank Tipler has argued that physics can explain immortality, though such arguments are not falsifiable and thus do not qualify , in Karl Popper's views, as science.[33]

Tart conducted research into out-of-body experiences, or OBEs, that indicated the possibility that a person might be able to perceive targets at a distance removed from the physical body.[34] Later investigations have both corroborated and failed to corroborate “out-of-body” experiences transcending the confines of the brain.[35] In one instance, a hospital placed an LED marquee above its patients’ beds which displayed a hidden message that could only be read if one were looking down from above. As of 2001, no one who claimed near-death experience or out-of-body experience within that hospital had reported having seen the hidden message.[36]

In 2008, Penny Sartori, an intensive care nurse from Swansea, published a book about near death experiences following 10 years of research. Sartori says that people who went through out-of-body experiences felt as if they floated above themselves and were able to accurately recount what had happened in the room even though their bodily eyes were closed.[37]

Investigation of the afterlife also includes the study of (among others) cases of haunting, apparitions of the deceased (including, in some cases, information conveyed by those same apparitions), instrumental transcommunication (recording of paranormal voices on tape), and mediumship.[38]

See also

References

  1. ^ Max Heindel, The Rosicrucian Christianity Lectures (The Riddle of Life and Death), 1908, ISBN 0-911274-84-7
  2. ^ Max Heindel, Death and Life in Purgatory - Life and Activity in Heaven
  3. ^ In the Light of Truth - The Grail Message
  4. ^ Bard, Katheryn (1999). Encyclopedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt. Routledge. ISBN 0-4151-8589-0. 
  5. ^ Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Nashville, Tennessee: Holman Bible Publishers. 2003. pp. 1482–1483. ISBN 0-8054-2836-4. 
  6. ^ Fosdick, Harry Emerson. A guide to understanding the Bible. New York: Harper & Brothers. 1956. page 276.
  7. ^ http://www.faqs.org/faqs/judaism/FAQ/06-Jewish-Thought/section-9.html
  8. ^ Reform set to introduce new siddur
  9. ^ Saadia Gaon in Emunoth ve-Deoth Section vi
  10. ^ Martin Buber, "Legende des Baalschem" in Die Chassidischen Bücher, Hellerau 1928, especially Die niedergestiegene Seele
  11. ^ Matthew 22:23-33
  12. ^ Matthew 27:50-54
  13. ^ Acts of Paul and Thecla 8:5
  14. ^ He wrote that a person "may afterward in a quite different manner be very much interested in what is better, when, after his departure out of the body, he gains knowledge of the difference between virtue and vice and finds that he is not able to partake of divinity until he has been purged of the filthy contagion in his soul by the purifying fire" (emphases added) - Sermon on the Dead, AD 382, quoted in The Roots of Purgatory
  15. ^ "purgatory." The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. Columbia University Press., 2003. Answers.com 06 Jun. 2007.
  16. ^ Charlton T. Lewis, Charles Short, A Latin Dictionary
  17. ^ White, E.G. (1858). The great controversy. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association
  18. ^ http://www.adventist.org/beliefs/fundamental/index.html
  19. ^ "The Hereafter—Where Will It Be?", The Watchtower, January 1, 2000, page 3, Read online
  20. ^ Acts 24:15 KJV
  21. ^ Insight on the Scriptures vol. 2 pp 574-6
  22. ^ Reasoning From the Scriptures pp 168-175
  23. ^ Jehovah's Witnesses website on Hell
  24. ^ Saheeh Al-Bukhari
  25. ^ http://www.oxfordislamicstudies.com/article/opr/t125/e61?_hi=2&_pos=1
  26. ^ a b Smith, Peter (2008). An Introduction to the Baha'i Faith. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521862515. 
  27. ^ Roach, Mary (2005). Spook – Science Tackles the Afterlife. W. W. Norton & Co.. ISBN 0-393-05962-6. 
  28. ^ Urban Legends - Reference Page (Soul man).
  29. ^ Near-death experience in survivors of cardiac arrest: a prospective study in the Netherlands
  30. ^ Skeptical Odysseys: Personal Accounts by the World’s Leading Paranormal Inquirers pp 85-94
  31. ^ Kurtz, Paul (2001). Skeptical Odysseys: Personal Accounts by the World’s Leading Paranormal Inquirers. Prometheus Books. ISBN 1573928844. 
  32. ^ Crick, Francis (1995). The Astonishing Hypothesis – the Scientific Search for the Soul. Touchstone Books. ISBN 0-684-80158-2. 
  33. ^ Tipler, Franl, J. (1997). The Physics of Immortality – Modern Cosmology, God and the Resurrection of the Dead. Anchor. ISBN 0385467990. 
  34. ^ Charles Tart - out-of-body experiences and consciousness research
  35. ^ "Further evidence for veridical perception during near-death experiences", Ring and Lawrence, Journal of Near-Death Studies Vol 11, Issue 4, p223-9.
  36. ^ Alper, Matthew (2001). The "God" Part of the Brain - a Scientific Interpretation of Human Spirituality and God. Rogue Press. ISBN 0-9660367-0-0. 
  37. ^ 'Nurse writes book on near-death' BBC News. Published June 19, 2008. Accessed 6 August 2008.
  38. ^ David Fontana (2005): Is there an afterlife. A comprehensive overview of the evidence.

Further reading

  • Death and Afterlife: Perspectives of World Religions edited by Hiroshi Obayashi, Praeger, 1991
  • Beyond Death: Theological and Philosophical Reflections on Life after Death edited by Dan Cohn-Sherbok and Christopher Lewis, Pelgrave-MacMillan, 1995
  • The Islamic Understanding of Death and Resurrection by Jane Idelman Smith and Yazbeck Haddad, Oxford UP, 2002
  • Life After Death: A History of the Afterlife in Western Religion by Alan F. Segal, Doubleday, 2004
  • Brain & Belief: An Exploration of the Human Soul by John J. McGraw, Aegis Press, 2004
  • Beyond the Threshold: Afterlife Beliefs and Experiences in World Religions by Christopher M. Moreman, Rowman & Littlefield, 2008.
  • Is there an afterlife: a comprehensive overview of the evidence by David Fontana, O Books 2005.
  • Conceptions of the Afterlife in Early Civilizations: Universalism, Constructivism and Near-Death Experience by Gregory Shushan, New York & London, Continuum, 2009. ISBN 9780826440730

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

The afterlife is the idea that the mind of a being continues after physical death.

Sourced

  • He hoped and prayed that there wasn't an afterlife. Then he realized there was a contradiction involved here and merely hoped that there wasn't an afterlife.
  • The chief problem about death, incidentally, is the fear that there may be no afterlife – a depressing thought, particularly for those who have bothered to shave. Also, there is the fear that there is an afterlife, but no one will know where it's being held.
  • I am ready to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is ready for the ordeal of meeting me is another matter.
  • Why is it that almost every human culture yet discovered has found it necessary to believe in an afterlife of some sort, but not a "before-life"? Why are there so many versions of Heaven, Paradise and The Great Beyond, but almost none about The Great Before?
    • Judith Hayes [2]

Unsourced

  • I do not believe in an afterlife, although I am bringing a change of underwear.
  • I don't believe in an afterlife, so I don't have to spend my whole life fearing hell, or fearing heaven even more. For whatever the tortures of hell, I think the boredom of heaven would be even worse.
  • Men long for an afterlife in which there apparently is nothing to do but delight in heaven's wonders.
  • I do not believe in any religion. I will have nothing to do with immortality. We are miserable enough in this life without speculating upon another.
  • We have no reliable guarantee that the afterlife will be any less exasperating than this one, have we?
  • Heaven will be no heaven to me if I do not meet my wife there.

See also


Simple English

The afterlife is what some people believe happens after death. Different religions teach different things about the afterlife.

Some religions believe in reincarnation (to come back to life in a different body). These religions include Buddhism and Hinduism. Others believe you go to another place after you die, such as heaven or hell. Christianity and Jainism are two religions that believe in this. Others believe that some people change into spirits called ghosts.

There are also those who do not believe that there is an afterlife, and that you simply cease to exist once you die.








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