Christopher Bullock, a British actor once said, “Tis impossible to be certain of any thing but death and taxes.” And this much is inevitably true. If there’s one thing that every person in this world has in common, it’s the fact that we’re all going to die someday. I was exposed to death at an early age, given the passing of my brother before I had reached my teen years. From that point on, my perspective and interest in the topic of death has followed me throughout my entire life.
Most people in general avoid the topic of death as they prefer not to think about the prospect of their lives coming to an end. For the most part, this is because of the fear that accompanies the unknown circumstances surrounding death. After all, no one truly knows what happens once the body dies. The thought of simply ceasing to exist is frightening, to say the least. It’s frightening, even to me. And I’ve had a LOT of experience witnessing and dealing with death.
So what’s the real deal? What happens after death? The physiological results are well-documented and well-known, so I’m just going to go ahead and ignore those since we’re focusing on what happens to the PERSON after death. Not the body. I read a great blog post over a year ago, where the author went into detail about how at this point we should be acknowledging the existence of an afterlife, based on how many accounts there have been from people who have reached the brink and peeked through. The post explained how it should be a foregone conclusion of SOMETHING that occurs after death, as opposed to wondering IF.
Some have even come back with information and details that they wouldn’t have known otherwise, unless they had spoken to passed relatives and such. Could some of it be coincidence? Maybe. It wouldn’t be the first times that a person was made privy to information that they heard on a subliminal level and only remembered when hitting a comatose stage. It’s possible that the person is remembering a detail that they didn’t know they had heard. But coincidence will only take you so far, with people admitting to hearing and knowing details discussed outside the room while they were clinically dead, etc.
So, let’s examine the difference between the scientific approach and the religious approach. Catholicism is pretty straightforward and you can learn everything you need to know about death by reading the Holy Bible. Easy-peasy. Heaven, hell and the related steps are pretty clearly outlined for someone willing to read through it. Most Buddhist sects have a pretty firm belief that the end of one life simply transitions you into the next, with the person’s spirit leaving one body and finding a new life to live.
Some sects also believe that one’s reincarnation will depend on what kind of existence you led in the previous life. Bad people will become dung beetles. Good people become something better and so on and so forth. There are deeper details than that involved, but I won’t get too far beyond the fact that we believe in past lives and reincarnation. Of course, different schools of faith will have different beliefs but Buddhism and Catholicism is what I know. So there. The bottom line is that if you’re a believer in faith, life after death is a possible belief you carry. The only way to know whether it’s true or not is to take that last Nestea plunge. And then you’d be in no position to actually share the information anyway.
From a science standpoint, I think it’s important to acknowledge that we are all energy. And that’s not just a Buddhist perspective; we literally are made of energy. We’re composed of atoms, which are made of energy. Pure and simple. Electrical and chemical reactions within the body have been said to be enough to produce approximately 100 Watts of power in the average human body. Before I go down a rabbit hole of biology, let’s take a look at physics, instead. Depending on what level of physics you may be/have studied, the First Law of Thermodynamics tells us that energy is always conserved and can be changed from one form to another; never created or destroyed.
What does this mean for the human body at death? From a scientific standpoint, one would be inclined to believe that one’s energy will need to go somewhere and become SOMETHING. We simply don’t know what. If your belief is from a more theological standpoint, then the belief in an afterlife is a given and your spirit will depart the body and go up or down, depending on your specific beliefs. So one way or another, it would be reasonable to say that you’re covered. You’ll move on to a “next stage” after death. I should probably point out that this is all speculation on my part. I’m no theologian. And I’m sure as hell not a scientist. But I think that examining a subject that most people try to avoid such as death, is a good way of dispelling some of the fear and anxiety that comes along with it.
Last but certainly not least is who a person is as an individual. Our consciousness and self-awareness is something that is very hard to believe will simply blink out of existence at the point of death. I think, therefore I am, right? Consciousness needs to count for more than just a bunch of chemical and neural components of the flesh. I would think. Ultimately, the only way to know for sure will be to take that final road trip to whatever awaits. I’m sure as hell in no hurry to take that trip. All things in time. But to quote David Bowie, “I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.” ☯