Philosophy for life after death?

What, possibly, can be the philosophy for life after death? Some of us may have pondered with the questions—What happens to me after I die? Is there a soul or spiritual self that continues to exist after the death of the physical body? Does consciousness survive death?

Survival of consciousness after death of the physical body would seem to be of little or no value if we do not know who we were or what we have become. Would I know who I was before, if we were to assume reincarnation as a possible gateway to another life after the termination of the present life? What’s the point of having a life hereafter with no remembrance whatsoever of the life we had led before? One can argue that some people presently have little or no remembrance of their childhood days, but so what? How many people in their seventies or eighties can remember the things they did or the events surrounding them when they were toddlers? What seems more crucial can be associated with their present living conditions, not whether they have recollections of the distant past. One can reasonably argue that nobody can rationally claim to have had a previous existence unless they are aware of who they were before they were born.

Consider this scenario: a young person X at t1changed first into the person Y at t2 and through further aging became the person Z at t3. While Y might have retained some psychological connectedness with X, as might have been the case between Z and Y, Z might have lost all trace of psychological connectedness with X. Furthermore, Z would have lost all or most of X’s physical features but there is no denying that X, Y and Z are one person. Hence, Y or Z can be seen as a partial survivor of an earlier self.

But can survival of consciousness without a physical body be considered as a continuation of life? No doubt, debatable. Can any of us honestly claim to have had a previous existence? The answer is Yes, for those who think they have been reincarnated, after their death in a previous life. Believers in reincarnation, or maybe only some of them, may be able to offer their explanations in support of reincarnation. For those of us who cannot honestly claim to have had a previous existence, the reincarnation doctrine or concept appears to be meaningless.

Generally speaking, Christians and Muslims believe in eternal life in Heaven or Hell, while other religious groups such as Buddhists, Hindus and Taoists embrace reincarnation, the belief or doctrine that some essential part [often referred to as the Spirit or Soul, the “Higher or True Self ”] of a living being [a human being for instance] can survive death in some form, with its integrity partly or wholly retained, to be reborn in a new body.

Reincarnation and resurrection are not the only concepts linked with a belief in survival after the death of the physical body. A third traditional view is that life can continue in a disembodied state—the belief in a soul or spirit that continues its existence after the death of the physical body. If we are, however, aware of our own identity, who we were or the kind of life we had led before, would it not be possible that some kind of yearning might still exist, for example, for things we had missed out in the previous life? If so, the fact that such things are no longer available can make disembodied existence seem like a damp squib. Where reincarnation is concerned it need not, however, be restricted to the kind envisaged generally by most people, the kind involving a soul or consciousness that departs after the death of the physical body and is reborn in the womb as a fetus to be given birth later as a baby. Can it be possible for a human being to be reincarnated as a non-human creature, say, a pig, but retaining the same human consciousness, with say human intelligence and human desires? What possible upsides can there be in such a scenario? Whether from a first or third person point of view, attaining such an after-life may seem horrible; it means living a life of waiting, of becoming bacon or pork chops after a trip to the slaughterhouse.

Even though reincarnation is a concept that has existed for hundreds or thousands of years before the advent of Christianity, it was presented as a truth by none other than the character named Jesus in the New Testament; in Matthew 11.7 – 11.15 and 17.1 – 17.13 we hear Jesus openly declaring to his disciples that John the Baptist was the Elijah prophesied to come before him. Elijah, according to the Old Testament, was a prophet who was taken up alive to Heaven in a fiery chariot and it was allegedly written that the Messiah’s coming would be preceded by the coming of Elijah. By the time of Jesus’ presentation of Elijah’s rebirth as John the Baptist the disciples had already assumed Jesus as the Messiah.

Prejudice aside, Jesus can be clearly seen as having lied or making a false promise with regard to his so-called second coming; he is reported to have told his disciples that his second coming, descending from the clouds with trumpet blast, after his death and resurrection, would occur during their lifetime here on Earth. Now we have to ask—Isn’t it clear that the so-called second coming of Jesus is long overdue in terms of the time-frame that he himself had indicated, since so many generations have already passed away in the last 2,000 years and there has been no sign of any fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy, of trumpet blast and his so-called descending from the clouds? We can say with tongue in cheek that this is one divine promissory note that has long matured with the maker, allegedly God himself, defaulting by not fulfilling his obligation in accordance with his promise. Clearly, Jesus had made a false claim. This is definitely a bad or negative reflection on Jesus’ so-called divinity.

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