Sunday, February 28, 2010

Do you believe in an afterlife?

After posting a while back (...my Sunday candy companion...) about my first encounter as a child with death, and what I was taught to believe about life after death, I would like to ask you if you believe in an afterlife?   I, as you may have gleaned from past posts, have trouble with the afterlife as articulated by most of the world's relligions but I do know energy does not die and that gives me some hope that something of each of us lives on.... 


Do you believe you will be resurrected
Do you believe you will be re-incarnated?
Do you believe there is a heaven ... a hell? 
Do you believe that after your death there is nothing
Do you believe that if you live on in some form, that your current personality, memories, relationships live on with that form?

If you do believe in life after the death of your human body, what do you imagine your afterlife will be like?  What will you be doing?

As I said, I was raised believing, as Jehovah's Witnesses teach, that I would survive God's ever-imminent destruction of 'this wicked system of things' and live forever, as who I am now, on a paradise Earth .... just as God supposedly  intended before 'Adam and Eve's fall into sin'.  Now, no longer a J.W., I do not entertain the illusion of that particular 'reward for obedience to God's commands'. 

Of course, I would like to believe that my life goes on in some form, and that I would be re-united with my loved ones after death.......that would be a great comfort......however, as much as I would like to believe, I am uncertain.   But, I am always open to learn otherwise.  I know, it is an article of faith, but after being spiritually misled my 'faith' is weak.  (This post, BTW, is NOT a request to be convinced/converted/saved - simply a request for your point of view.)


I am interested to hear your beliefs about what happens after death.  So I respectfully request that you share them here, if you are so inclined.  As in previous discussions, it is not my aim to convince you to embrace any particular point of view either.  There are no 'right' or 'wrong' answers here - just our opinions/beliefs.  This can be a place where we can share our views and see what hopes others, whom we respect, entertain about life after death.



60 comments:

  1. there's not a lot you are asking here, is there, Bonnie, dear Bonnie.

    I would answer no to your questions, except when you get to the "some form" bit.
    I would like to think that all living creatures become part of the cosmos after death, that everything about every creature combines with a kind of universe which is endless, timeless, formless, thoughtless, everything-less, yet all-embracing, all-enveloping. A kind of benevolent re-cycling, if you like.

    I don't like the thought of a reckoning, a keeping score, ergo, no heaven or hell for me.
    I was raised in a catholic school.

    Bonnie, this is such a vast question, it is impossible to give anything other than a glib answer here.

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  2. i do believe in an afterlife, a new heaven and new earth, there is much about the afterlife that is a question for me, but can only be answered when we get there...

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  3. Sometimes my ego self, my attached self, my important self can not grasp the idea of no longer being- except for fertilizer or a flicker of energy for the big energy soup that is the cosmos.I mean, really , what's the bloody point of living a life as who you think you are onl,y to melt away like snow? We create own own heaven and hell- that has been a literary fabrication by Dante and others to give less educated folks something to cling to when science was not available to eveyone. I live with a skeptic humanist. Lights out sort of guy. Dismisses EVERYTHING and I see his point always BUT there are things unexplainable - when loved ones appear who have died to pass on messages of importance and perspective. So i don't know, my beliefs can change mid sentence- I remain open , realizing that anything, everything is a possibility...whatever- there are no absolutes.

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  4. As Friko says this is a vast question. My feelings are that I don’t know. I was raised in a secular home but when I came to San Francisco one of my colleague was a Buddhist. She took me to meetings and I joined. I have not attended any meeting for a long time but I still follow the philosophy. I like to believe in karma and that there may be some way that our spirit lives on, but I don’t know. Although one time I found myself at a bookstore where an author who said he spoke with the dead was giving a lecture. There must have been more than a hundred people. I just stood in the back. He would give a person’s name from the other side and someone in the audience would say “this is my brother” and so on. Then he said that there was a man there, on the other side, whose nickname was XX. That was my father’s nickname but I said nothing. He went on to say that this man had been injured and walked with a cane (my dad was injured in WWII and had a cane.) And that he had been hurt in the neck (my father had received a bullet wound in the neck.) He further said that this man talked with an accent and did not live in his country of origin. My father was an émigré to France and had an accent. But since no one said they knew this person, the author moved on. I left the bookstore. I just did not know if I should have said something but since then I have been wondering…..

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  5. Friko - Yes, not the place for any complete responses - but all I'm after is a little poll on where, after all their life experience, people come down on this topic.

    Nice term, 'benevolent recycling' ...

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  6. Brian: A long time since I have heard that phrase out of Revelation - 'a new heaven and a new earth'. Why would a new heaven be required? I don't recall the answer to that.

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  7. Linda Sue: The 'BUTS' are always there, aren't they ... no matter where you fall on the 'there is' or 'there isn't' continuum.

    I often wonder if it is a mystery because it is supposed to be one. Mysteries are mesmerizing and tantalizing - and perhaps we do jump too quickly trying to come up with an either/or answer ...

    Thanks for your input.

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  8. Vagabonde: What an intriguing experience. I do believe in intuition and psychic abilities - people who are more open to receiving information than others - not sure that it proves there is an afterlife though. Fascinating stuff!!

    Thank you btw for the line to Servan-Schreiber's blog. I will be checking out. I did know of his background from his latest book "Anti-Cancer". I actually met him at a conference for EMDR here in Montreal. He is a proponent of that treatment for trauma and other conditions.
    He seemed quite remote and distracted at the time - now I wonder if that was around the time of the recurrence of brain cancer ....

    Thanks for your input Vagabonde.

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  9. Deep questions!

    I do believe that my late parents have spoen to me in several ways. You'll have to read my book to understand.

    I believe that the spirit does not die.
    I believe that we are all drops of life in the ocean of spirit. Energy doesn't die, it is reformed.

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  10. Hi Jenn: It must be so reassuring and comforting to have that confidence.

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  11. These are interesting questions, that really deal with what life is all about, rather than after deaths door. Sort of the, "what's it all about Alp-hie?(Alpha~Omega)

    Have you ever considered, that perhaps the life you are living, is the only life that you will ever live? That your life recurs infinitely in the same part of time, until you reach a certain level of esoteric (inner sense of the word) evolution and understanding.

    That would mean that your past is alive, as well as your future. As a matter of fact, you could say, that your past is your future. I have always found the idea of Birth~existence~Death extremely interesting. I have been this way since I was very young. I think I have found the answers in a combination of systems, not just one system. Won't know for sure though till I go through that door. (perhaps again for Umpteenth time)

    Great post thanks for making me ponder.

    Eso

    Oh Yes Have you checked the posting settings (reference your posting troubles) sometimes they can get messed up from wayward Java.

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  12. I just don't know.
    As I've said before here, I think there's Something Greater Than Myself, but I don't know if it includes an afterlife.
    I have had spiritual dreams that seem to be dead realtives appearing to me, but that could be my own brain. I would like to think that I'll be reunited in spirit with people (and animals!) I loved.
    I have read Life After Life and other similar books, and I watched my mother die, and felt sure that she was preparing to go somewhere other than Here.
    I was just thinking about this the other day...and came up with nothing more than "I just don't know."

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  13. Eso: Thank you for your comment. I have certainly given consideration to your propositions ... there is just so much more than we can ever assume we know ... Exciting to contemplate ...

    Thanks for help re posting challenge!

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  14. June: I think it takes strength to be able to sit with the not knowing - to try to tolerate the ambiguity or mystery of it all. I would love to know, and I don't know. Perhaps that is how it is meant to be. I would love for the answer to be in the opposite direction of where my instincts lead me.

    Thanks so much for taking the time to share your experience with this topic.

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  15. Those experiences referred to as "near death experiences," when someone was known to be dead clinically, convince me that there is some continuation of energy. And I've always thought that reincarnation makes some sense intuitively. If there's a god, why wouldn't she recycle?

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  16. Bonnie,

    good, unanswerable questions! Thoughts on the topic lead to my trying to dig out the root of what fuels my attempt to know - belief, desire, certainty... fear, hope, acceptance... There are so many conflicting/overlapping/utterly different ideas and stories out there. I like theories, and I accept them for being that. Personally, my consciousness has not experienced anything that would allow me to answer your question with certainty. Considering the way things work on this planet (which I extrapolate out to the greater universe if the laws of thermodynamics and such hold elsewhere), nothing is ever lost and nothing ever gained that didn't already start out as part of the source. But it's all definitely shape-shifting all the time, coming and going and becoming and changing. Inasmuch as any of us are built of the matter that also built stars and dinosaurs and the wildflowers we picked as children, yes - benevolent recycling is a nice term.

    It would go a long way to explaining a lot about every individual's journey through life and the learning we all do if indeed consciousness retains some integrity and works with the effects of karma throughout multiple incarnations.

    But from my current (time/space bound) human understanding, I can't say that's conclusively the case. But I honestly think there is way more to everything than we currently understand, so I don't rule anything out either. How's that for hedging my bets? :-)

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  17. i have had encounters with the dead... That tells me that we are never really dead... That tells me that dead is just a word like cancer, a scary western worlde word that does not mean what it seems, such words help keep 'the illusion' intact i believe ... i believe that we are who we are regardless of flesh... In the beginning of my awakening (When my dad died suddenly in 1998) i wanted NOT to believe in reincarnation (i thought it would be like Ground Hog day-my greatest fear!) But i have come to understand that everything is Spirit and that we are conditioned not to see the beautiful subtleties of existence/s all around us and so Heaven becomes invisible to most of us... i believe that we come to this particular ~plain of existence~ for the wonders of flesh in all its painful intensity... and so i also believe Heaven is anything that we want it to be, our own individual versions of our own particular Truth/s according to our own particular journeys for i believe my worlde is a reflection of me just as i believe yours is of you... But i also believe that with Time (the ultimate illusion!) eventually we all come to understand that everything ultimately comes down to ~Love~ ...of others, of self and in the end, i Believe, that is all that matters x

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  18. I started to believe we lived on after reading and researching Near Death Experiences. So I would have to say Friko and I have much the same belief system. She articulated very well what I believe happens after we die. I think we are here to learn and expand the universe - yes, I know, my beliefs are "out there." But I will say, they came about through reading as much cutting-edge science as spiritual stuff.

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  19. Meri: Love that! - 'if there is a god, why wouldn't she recycle'!!

    I have read studies that claim the near death experiences a result of the brain's activities at the edge of the death of the body. Just as shock prevents us from feeling the pain of serious injury - is it possible the brain releases chemicals/images/sensations of light to soothe us as we take our last breath?

    Then again, perhaps we are being beckonned to the 'other side' . . .

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  20. Neighbor: You have so beautifully articulated much of what I have concluded as well. We are made of the same 'stuff' as the stars, we are connected to the source, whatever that may be ... and it would be exciting for our ego-mind to know that some part of our consciousness goes on - that all that we experience and learn in this lifetime has some broader purpose and meaning.

    If any of us could answer with certainty we would surely become the darling of the world, wanting to know if 'we' go on ... It is interesting to hear what many of us have concluded based on our experiences, learnings, intuition . . . Thank you.

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  21. Nollyposh: Beautifully said. I so agree - given that we don't know and must live on this plane of existence not-knowing, the balm or salve that makes the uncertainty bearable and meaningful is ~love~ ... love ... and service to life and our planet.

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  22. Nancy: Your beliefs don't seem 'out there' at all when we read what everyone else is saying here. They seem to fall very much in line with what the majority are thinking.

    Interesting feature of the human personality/mind/psyche - the desire to perpetuate its existence in whatever way open to it. I can't help but wonder, though, in our desire to be eternal, do we develop stories with which to fool ourselves? As humans we do have a facility for fooling ourselves ... Sorry, having been 'fooled' once, I am now ever the sceptic! :0)

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  23. "in our desire to be eternal, do we develop stories with which to fool ourselves? As humans we do have a facility for fooling ourselves..."

    this is a very valid, respectable, feeling. It's hard being critical to this degree, in that we can see that those who believe something with utter certitude often seem very happy to just accept those beliefs without question... or consider people from intact traditions who have no need to question their cultural assumptions and thus Know how things end up.

    sometimes, from an outside perspective, I think it might be nice to just have an acceptable story to trust. But, here I am... :)

    Maybe this is the meaning of "fall from grace"... many have written on this, but just this morning I came across this in Terence & Dennis McKenna's "The Invisible Landscape" (1975):

    "There appears to be occurring in modern life a progressive alienation from the numinous archetypal contents of the collective unconscious, which has engendered a gradually encroaching sense of collective despair and anxiety... Western man (sic) has lost his sense of unity with the cosmos and with the transcendent mystery within himself....This alienation of modern man from the numinous ground of his being has engendered the existentialist ethic and the contemporary preoccupation with the immediate historical situation...

    "It is in this unenviable position, then, that we find the modern temper: anguished by the imminence of Death, yet trapped in profane, historical time and thus able only to regard death as nothingness, the saving presence of a sacred, transcendent mode of being is absent from the contemporary world view..."

    They go on to say, "Again there is a need for a doctor of the soul, a figure who can bring mankind into close and fruitful confrontation with the collective unconscious, the creative matrix of all that we are and have ever been."

    The challenge for any "doctor of the soul" in this age is that they not only have to fulfill the needs of the spirit, but also the intellect. I think without a socially available "doctor" we end up most of the time having to help ourselves - but meanwhile we help each other too.

    sorry, this is long...

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  24. Neighbor: Long, but oh so rich. :0)

    I, too, would love to have an acceptable, reliable story to trust. I did when I was young and it was very reassuring. However, when you believe you know - you have the 'truth' - you stop wondering, exploring, asking questions. You somehow accept that someone 'out there' knows and will inform you.

    So religious beliefs and reassurances play a role in our alienation from our transcendent, numinous and mystical selves - as well as our preoccupations with the immediate, the gratifying, the seemingly concrete creating such a disconnect.

    Amazing that the McKenna's wrote that in l975 - imagine what they would say about the disconnect now!

    I must say that a minimal amount of anxiety and despair can actually be a good thing. They prove we are alive, living, experiencing. They can provide the tension that pushes us to go beyond the obvious, to look within, to recapture that soulful ground of being. The humanist/existentialist approach may ultimately leave us with little hope - but it can propell us into finding our own inner source.

    Thank you for contributing this additional comment Neighbor. A lot of wonderful grist for my mill .... I believe my mind/body/spirit have been grappling with this for a while and your comments make me ask myself if I am 'trapped in the profane' while claiming to know and honor the sacred.

    I've been long too - must stop and metabolize all this sweet material.

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  25. yeah, i dont get caught up in end times a whole bunch, but the making of all things new...i like that. a new heaven, why not? i do believe i have an actual answer on it somewhere...i'll look for it.

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  26. Bonnie, I do think we fool ourselves often. Magical Thinking, et al. However, when you look at quantum physics and string theory (here is string theory explained in two minutes, http://toastado.wordpress.com/2007/10/27/string-theory-simplified/
    holographic universe, and other scientific explanations for what and who we are, it becomes something more than wishful thinking. There is a unity that is being discovered in rapid time - as we speak. It's exciting, and I think it will change the world.

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  27. Hello, Bonnie!!! So lovely to "see" you!!! You are delving into the deepest spiritual questions even yet! You are an extremely courageous woman, and much to be admired! And I'm sure you already know my answer to your question. Yes, I believe. Have a lovely week, my dear friend!!! I've missed you very much!! ~Janine XO

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  28. Do I believe in an afterlife? In a word "no". I do believe, however, that the energy that we contain goes into other life forms. Einstein once said that there is a finite number of atoms in the universe, and he was even able to project what that number was. So, given that hypothesis, it would stand to reason that the atoms that make up our bodies go into making up something else. Einstein used the example that part of our bodies may go into making up a Maple tree. In that regard, there would be an afterlife, and that is what I believe.

    But ... I may be wrong.

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  29. How could I have missed this?

    To answer your question, in one word: No.

    I stopped (or started stopping - if that makes sense) believing in god when I was around 12 for a variety of reasons. By the time I was 15 or so, I had begun defining myself as an atheist.

    No heaven, no hell, no reincarnation. You live, you die, end of story. If you're lucky, you have a good go of it.

    Although sometimes I'd love to believe in some sort of afterlife - and I have tried - it simply doesn't work for me. I can't see why there would be an afterlife, it just makes no sense to me.

    It would make things easier to "know" I would somehow go on, but at the same time, I think it makes life that much more precious and important because this is all I get, so I better live it as intensely as possible.

    The only way you live on after death is through those who remember you. For most of us, it doesn't go beyond a generation or two.

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  30. Bonnie, Friko and Nancy have a similar take to mine on the afterlife.

    Despite deep sceptisicm about the continuing existence of a 'soul' after death, I had an extraordinary experience nearly 20 years ago that gave me pause to reconsider. It's hard to hold on to the same intensity when the memory is that old, but it stops me short of beliving that death is The End.
    I believe that we are emergy matter, which cannot simply vanish at the time of death. I believe that physics could explain much (and I'll be watching Nancy's string theory video, for sure!) and that only in ignorance would I pretend to know anything at all!
    That makes me think of the Kirlian photography that I first heard about in the 70s - photography purporting to be of the energy fields of inaminate objects and living things. If my utterly rational and aetheistic daughter can see auras, that tells me there's something explicable there!
    And writing this brings another old memory back, of my 3 year old son suddenly, and without any prior discussion of his deceased step-grandfather, taking a blanket to his grandmother and saying 'Herb wants you to have this. He says you're cold.' I wanted to believe him.

    My heart would like my mind to believe there is reunion with loved ones, but I suspect that what's left of me will no longer be concerned with the things that preoccupy me in life.

    I resist wishful thinking and consider most religious belief systems quite irrational, and believe that science and spirituality are not so far removed from one another.

    In three little words, Bonnie, I don't know. But I don't really wish for anything. I'm content to wait and see.

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  31. I do believe in life after death but not in the christian form of it, not the heaven or the hell. Nor the bodily lifting or resurrection of the rapture. I also believe in reincarnation. What I think is that when we are born we come from some place, the source, and when we die we return to that same source regardless of our behavior here in the physical plane. I believe there is a judgement but not by 'god'. Rather we judge ourselves. When the veil is lifted we will not be able to hide from the truth of our failings or our accomplishments. We rest, being one with unlimited love until we are ready to incarnate again. I believe we choose the basic circumstances of our new incarnation to fit the lesson we have set for ourselves to learn, that we have a group of souls that we regularly act out these lives with, maybe not all the same ones all the time, and that we take on different roles in regards to each other. I believe that if we don't learn our lesson (free will) then we set up tougher circumstances next time. For instance a rich arrogant compassionless person in one life might decide to work on compassion next time by becoming homeless and experiencing the lack of compassion. A serial killer might choose to become a victim of such. When we have achieved all we can on this physical plane then we stop incarnating. I don't believe, like some do, that we regress to a lower form of life, but that we are always moving upward. And (and this is a hard part to comprehend but physics is starting to hint at it), these lives are not sequential but all time is happening at the same time all the time, emanating from the source. This is the being and the body of the All That Is.

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  32. I am sure of it.
    Just last week, a 'dead person' talked to me. It was unsolicited, and the information given was for a friend.
    I later contacted that friend, and the information was verified by him.
    There was no way that I could have known the information given, seeing as i had never met the deceased while he was here on the Earth plane.

    Conciousness definitely lives on.

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  33. I just arrived her via Nancy and I mostly agree with her and several others. Additionally, I believe heaven and hell are what we make them to be on this earth, and it's mostly a choice.

    I believe ego has much to do with our quest to know what will happen when we die. Personally, I'd prefer to know I will fertilize a struggling plant, hoping it will survive a little longer, than to guess or speculate on any reunions (though that would be a fantastic surprise!)in heaven or fiery hell scenarios.

    One spiritual growth spurt I've experienced was in the 90's when I studied the Life of Jesus in depth. Studying the sources and examining the context of the scriptures helped me understand why he is worshipped 2000 years after his earthly death. I'm not saying I worship him, but I will say his life or what we know factually about it lends credence to his worthiness as a model for all human life. He was the one who said (I'm quoting very loosely), "The Kingdom of Heaven is HERE and NOW."

    Some have mentioned trusting stories. Truth can be found in stories by looking at the intent of the writer(s). We, as humans, have the capacity to embrace many "stories." To me, the story becomes richer when we can examine it, question it, think about it, talk about it, and pray about it.

    This is a huge subject - it's been very stimulating to read all the comments. Thank you for asking the question!

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  34. Hi there, I am here via Nancy at Life in the Second Half! The simple answer is YES there is an afterlife. There is also a beforelife, and several more lives after this one.
    I know there is an afterlife because I know we have a spirit, I have SEEN mine. Ever since I was a child I have been able to go out of body. There is no faith here, though faith is a great thing, I am speaking only from personal experience/knowledge. I know it sounds weird and crazy, and thats why I dont tell many people in my real life. I am perfectly sane and actually had an MRI of my head a few years ago for migraines (but secretly I wondered if they would find soemthing, a tumor or somehting that would be the "cause" of my going out of body.) But no, I got a clean bill of health. So anyway, the answer is yes.

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  35. Hi, Bonnie!

    Wow. Big topic. But I cannot resist attempting to answer your question in such a laconic format, so here I go.

    Quoting myself from last Monday's MindfulHeart post:

    "I'm among those who recognize the fact that the vast majority of people throughout history have believed in some form of reincarnation. I'm not prepared to dismiss the vast majority of human experience simply because there's no scientific basis for ancient wisdom's belief in an afterlife.

    And, perhaps, there IS is a scientific basis for such a belief...

    Physicists say that some 90% of the universe is composed of dark matter about which we know very little.

    Perhaps this dark matter hides heavenly realms?"

    The Dalai Lama believes in reincarnation, and I'm willing to defer to his thinking on the matter. He's thought and written about this matter longer, harder, and with far more insight than I will ever be able to apply....

    I'm more than happy to proceed in this life under the assumption that the actions I take today will exert an effect on future lifetimes. If this assumption proves to be true, I'm good. If wrong, well, so what? I've been a better person this time around. That's a win/win in my book.

    That said, I don't give it too much thought. It's plenty difficult simply to be the kind, thoughtful, non-judgmental person I wish to be.

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  36. So many thought-ful, interesting comments tonight! Thank you for sharing your thoughts I will respond tomorrow afternoon.

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  37. Facinating comments.. so many ideas..I personally do believe there is more to our physical bodies..and this part lives on..how and where..I don't think we are meant to know , while we are here...we have enough going with all our world lessons bombarding us constantly..I have personally experienced communications with the other side..so cannot disregard the exsistance of a form of life that remains..but I figure.we will all know the truth when our turn comes...

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  38. Well, my thoughts on this are still evolving. There was a time when I believed, without question, what I was taught as a child. Then I grew up and started questioning things, but accepted that the answers were unavailable to me, so I just stopped asking.

    Until I was confronted with real life, and all those questions that I had stopped asking suddenly came back and hit me in the nose. And I needed answers, but there still weren't any, or at least not any that fit.

    I've been on a quest ever since. A quest for answers, a quest for understanding, a quest for knowledge.

    I still have more questions than answers. I have had a few personal experiences, which I'd like to allow to convince me that there is an afterlife, but my mind isn't ready to accept that simplistic answer yet. Each such experience only leads me to ask again "was the experience real, or was it just my brain trying to convince itself that the experience was real, because I want so much to believe it?" I've written about a few of those experiences on my blog, as you know.

    There are things I can't explain. As a science guy, I don't like things I can't explain, so I go on looking for answers. Like Nancy and others above, I believe some of the answers may lie within the realm of quantum physics, and my knowledge of that particular field has confirmed some of what I believe. But there is still so much more that we don't know, things that are beyond the capacity of our human brains to understand, and things that we just can't see from our perspective in the universe - our brains can only see the universe in three dimensions, but math and science easily conclude that many more dimensions must exist, possibly even an infinite number of them. Theoretically, there could even be a separate, 37-dimensional universe sitting right here in front of my face at this moment, but I would never know it was there. We can't perceive it because we are limited by the abilities of our brains and our five senses - perhaps the answers lie somewhere in those other dimensions, but we will never be capable of finding those answers, because our brains simply aren't wired that way.

    Anyway, I wish I had a better answer for you, Bonnie. But I just don't know.

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  39. I really don't know...I think so. I suppose it's one of those things I will find out when I get there. :-)

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  40. My mother passed away for the second time last week. She first died in 1943 and had an out-of-body experience that forever changed her view of death. Death, she personally discovered, was a beautiful place and nothing to be frightened of.

    I tend to trust her judgment, but, of course, what happens after the few few minutes of death is anybody guess.

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  41. Hi Bonnie,
    My beliefs are a collection of thoughts that make me comfortable with the here and now. I do believe energy goes on after our physical bodies stop. I do believe that the energy may work to make us think we can or have communicated with people no longer here. I also believe that bits of that "recycled" energy may wind up in new human beings, creating talents, insights and memories otherwise unexplainable. Instinct, if you will. I don't believe we "go" to an place like heaven or hell, and I don't believe we are judged. I don't believe in the authenticity of the reward and punishment-based religious doctrines. For all I know we just finished coming from a "life" we thought was real, and THIS is the afterlife we wondered about. I'm comfortable with not knowing; I'll find out, or not, soon enough.
    One last thing: I do envy those who believe they will see their departed loved ones again at some point. It must be reassuring, and I feel no urge to argue with them about something that none of us can prove.

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  42. Brian: Thanks, I'll be interested when you find it.

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  43. Nancy: I certainly agree that science is not magical thinking. (I think you use magical thinking and wishful thinking interchangeably in your comment and they are not the same thing.) Magical thinking is pre-personal, before ego has developed (infantile) - wishful thinking is what it is.

    I live with a science afficiennado and am always kept up to date on string theory, Hawkings, et. al., the theory of everything, etc., etc. How can one not believe in a higher intelligence, or that there is SO much more than we can ever be aware of, once aquainted with all these new discoveries and theories.

    Magical thinking is when we think we can take primary school snippets of the science and co-opt it to bring ourselves career, power, health, material wealth. The quantum intelligence out there is most likely not interested in our personal desires and I doubt can be co-opted for our ego needs.

    When it comes to the universe - I feel like a gnat bumping my head against a glass jar - It is beyond comprehension and knowing - amazing and unfathomable.

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  44. Sniffles & Smiles: Thanks for sharing your belief here. Nice to see you are back - I missed you!

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  45. Jo: Thank you. Interesting Einstein references. We are all just floating our best guess - but I am finding it really enriching to read everyone's thoughts on the topic.

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  46. Jazz: Thanks for commenting. I think that summarizes nicely the atheist point of view on an after life. And since none of us know for sure, it makes so much sense to make the most of the life we do have, while we have it.

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  47. Deborah: What an interesting experience with your son. I have heard other such examples about children's extra-sensory abilities ... intriguing.

    We can't know anything with any certainty - guess we all go by what our experiences have brought us to FEEL/sense/intuit. I like your comment about not needing to know. It does free us up to live now if we are not preoccupied with what might happen then.

    I'm not preoccupied, but I am curious and as you see especially so about what conclusions others have arrived at on the topic.

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  48. Ellen Abbott: What a beautiful summary of what you believe - intriguing. Your 'argument' falls easily into the little slots relegated to this matter in my brain. Do you base this on any particular philosophy or readings?

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  49. Amy: Thank you for making so many interesting points. It is stimulating to read your comments and every comment - I am awed by the collective wisdom. Drop by again!!

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  50. Nancy: Powerful experiences like you describe have to influence our beliefs. Quite amazing - nice for you to have such certainty. Thanks for dropping in and leaving a comment!!

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  51. Hi Dan: Thanks for summarizing your and the Buddhist perspective. It is a win/win proposition to live 'as if' every act produces a karmic response ... If perhaps it doesn't we will never know - but we will have lived a skillful, compassionate life while here.

    I don't want to be preoccupied with it either - but it is clearly a topic we have strong opinions about and we all seem to enjoy sharing them. It has been a delight to read them all.

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  52. Marlene: Good point - it does seem like we are not going to know, or are not meant to know. That is how it is, and we have to accept the not knowing and live the best limited life we can.

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  53. Jeff: So many important factors to weigh in your comment. It is bizarre, isn't it, that our limited little brain so wants to understand, yet is not wired to understand the depth and breadth of it all. Our perspective, our 'in-take' mechanisms are so puny - and yet we try to make sense of it. I hope we get an A for effort - if not for the end product of all our trying.

    What do you think about all these 'new' theories of parallel universes?

    So intriguing.

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  54. luksky: That's it in a nutshell. We don't know, and we either will or won't find out!

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  55. Barry: That's it - most of us realize we are simply guessing. I have enjoyed reading all the guesses from our blogging friends.

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  56. Kathryn: Great points made in your comment. You are right we could be living an afterlife in this life - and not know it.

    I think it is a measure of maturity to be able to accept and acknowledge the views of others without having to 'argue' them over to our point of view. It is a very personal thing, and should be respected as such.

    It is very freeing, as you suggest, to take the reward/punishment factor out of this discussion.

    THANKS EVERYONE FOR SUCH FABULOUS INSIGHTS AND INPUT!!

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  57. Most interesting discussion. I don't profess to understand an afterlife - I think it is much bigger than any of us can even imagine. I do believe it involves our brain. I often wonder why we only use a small portion of it. Where the other parts might be in use. Odd idea, perhaps.

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  58. Hi Bonnie,
    Yes, I believe in an afterlife and always have. I also believe in reincarnation, and for many years it has been very much a part of my spirituality, my belief system, my interest, and my writings. When one experiences the mystical, a spiritual encounter or communication with a deceased loved one, with an angel or spirit guide, or even a near-death experience, it takes away doubt. The one thing that may stop the acknowledgment or understanding is fear (and even guilt induced by religious dogma). There are many good books to read on the subjects, written by doctors, scientists, or the ordinary person who has had knowledge or done research in these areas.

    I'm an author and have written about life after death, spirit communication, and the paranormal.

    As I wrote in one of my books, written with my husband, Don Pendleton, what some consider to be "paranormal" experiences, many others consider those types of extraordinary experiences to be awe-inspiring and within the norm of the human experience.

    It is also human nature to ask, “Who are we?” “Why are we here?” “What is life all about?”

    What I know, and believe, is that life does not end with the shedding of the physical body and that love lives on. Human understanding and spirituality since the beginning of our ancient history, and through the ages, has held to the belief that there is more to life than the years we “live” on this planet called Earth.

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  59. This discussion really interested me as I have always wondered and thought about the after life. My husband has just died and of course the subject is even more on my mind. What I think is that if we are to believe anything about the Christian religion, that Jesus died on the cross and was resurrected, that this is the basis for all Christianity, then there is a Heaven. This is C. S. Lewis's view.

    I have flirted with the idea of re-incarnation a lot, for to my finite mind, it is the only one that makes sense. However, I have decided that I can do nothing to change or make the afterlife the way I think it to be, so I am content to regard it as something infinite which I am not able to know and will just have to be patient and wait and see. As someone said before me that if there isn't anything, we all have lived a better life because we thought there is another life. I like to think it is on one of the pieces of a galaxy, of which there are billions, where all the people of the world who have died could be. But that's another thought.

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