29 January 2009

Beliefs After Death

Several examples of words of wisdom have been running through my head lately. "Your thoughts make your reality" is the most prevalent. And what I've gotten to wondering about is how our thoughts and beliefs affect us after we die. For instance, if we firmly, truly, sincerely think and believe in every fiber of our beings that we will reincarnate as a human, does the strength of our thoughts make it happen? I can also turn it around and look at it from an Abrahamic perspective. If an individual truly thinks and believes they are going to hell does the power of their mind actually cause it to happen?

I've been wondering about this since I began taking a closer look at humorous bits about the afterlife. For instance, Bill Hicks, who was a consummate smoker, has a bit about arriving at heaven and being asked "Got a light"? He's later told by Saint Peter that "these aren't clouds, this is cigarette smoke" and that all the non-smokers are in hell. This is just one example that has got me thinking lately.

If our thoughts define the reality of our daily lives wouldn't it stand to reason that those thoughts would create the reality of our afterlives as well? Or is the power of our thoughts only tied to our physical bodies? And, if so, how does this relate to the mind/body connection? As you can see I've got more questions than answers so I'm eager to learn what my readers and fellow bloggers think.

18 comments:

Cygnus MacLlyr said...

YES.

'If we firmly, truly, sincerely think and believe.."

First, though, realize ii is the "Ego" you "think of, or more accuraately from, when asking these questions. No, My Current Persona, Cygnus MacLlyr, will not survive; jim's death will be his.

But the SOUL. ahh...

the Soul has but one duty-- to fully experience everyting. Being a Cat; Death; Grunion Running...

Earth IS hell... the Bible says so. Sure, just look up Satan's domain-- He rules Hell.

His is all of Earth and Flesh.

Living hell...

So, what do you believe? Thus It is...

Livia Indica said...

Okay Cygnus, even I don't know what you're saying.

I don't know what I believe. I guess I figure our personal beliefs might play some role but not necessarily define things.

Sloth Womyn said...

hmmmmm. Thoughts are things that occur in brain synapses and the nervous system and in water. Just the tip of the iceburg. I think that our consciousness is much more than our thoughts. There is a part of us that is called "the witness". Maybe, when all else falls away, our most authentic core of self won't have to think, we'll just know.

Marion said...

To a certain degree, I believe personal beliefs play a roll in the afterlife. But there will be so many beliefs from so many souls...they've got to mesh at some point.

Perhaps it is just the same as Earth.

Jenavira said...

I've always thought that what we believe about the afterlife affects what happens to us after we die. After all, if you're convinced you're going to go to heaven, surely the first thing you do when you realize you're dead is start looking for a way up. And if you're convinced you're going to reincarnate, the logical thing to do is to look for a way to be reborn.

I wonder what that means for those of us who are more agnostic on the subject. Do we get to haunt? *g*

Livia Indica said...

Sloth Womyn, I don't think I know about this concept of the witness. I'm gonna have to look this up. I like the idea of not thinking, just knowing. I just wonder how much of our beliefs "become knowledge". Thanks for your interesting comments!

Hi Marion! I guess it could be the same as Earth. I only hope that it's different in that all the various beliefs will coexist peacefully. Thanks for commenting!

Janavira, that's an interesting way of looking at it. Maybe there are various routes to take after death and what you believe defines whether to go right or left.

I've always wondered about those who are supposedly haunting this world. If ghosts are the remnants of a living soul does that mean there is no afterlife? Or if ghosts, if they exist, are only shadows or energetic memories stamped in the ether does that means some other part of us in somewhere else? And, if so, do those versions of us interact? Again, I've got more questions than answers.

Thanks for your comments!

Griffin said...

Hmmm, I think that beliefs in life after death are from the fear of death. The questions arise, is this all there is? We struggle to go on struggling and then we die?

Then what was the point?

There is no point to living save what points you make for yourself. The beliefs in an afterlife in all cultures are not through some kind of wisdom - the ancients did not know nearly as much as we know now, they are from fear of death.

Thus Spake the Griffin

Livia Indica said...

Griffin, I think that some of the ideas about life after death spring from the fear of it. But not all. For myself, there's a little part of me that looks forward to it, simply for the sake of discovery. And I imagine there are others who feel the same way. Death is, after all, the ultimate experiment.

I don't think anyone is disputing that we know more about the state of death than the ancients.

Greg Fletcher-Marzullo said...

Oooh, good questions, Livia!

It's my understanding that there's an afterlife and that the ancestors have their own things to do. I also do believe in reincarnation - at a certain point, I think some folks decide to head back in for a bit.

Honestly, though, I don't spend too much time on it. With all the things that are happening here, I figure what I can best do to "prepare" for death is live fully (which, in a wonderful paradox, means embracing how closely intertwined death and life are).

Livia Indica said...

Hey Greg, you're probably right. The best we can do is live our lives and cherish every moment.

Cygnus MacLlyr said...

Power of the Ego's thought, or our Persona, IS the first half of the mind-body connection. My belief is that the Soul reincarnates until it has experienced a sufficient spectrum to commence moving on-- whatever that might entail!
But the mind; no. What IS will influence whether we come back ahead or behind karmically (sp?). But come back we will. Come back, or advance. And even Ol' Cygnus don't stand ready for that, yet...

Livia Indica said...

Okay that makes a little more sense. Sorry but something your stream of consciousness writings are confusing.

Cygnus MacLlyr said...

That, and the alcohol...

Princess Haiku said...

As far as I know we create our own reality.

Riverwolf, said...

Hmmm, where to start? Yes, I do see our thoughts as affecting our lives here--but I also think there is an "absolute" reality, if you will, that exists in spite of whatever thoughts we happen to have. We may believe that after death we are turned into fairy dust, for example, but that doesn't make it so.

Of course, I don't know what happens, but personally, I think this is it. When our physical bodies give out, that's all she wrote. So does that mean simply by believing this, that's what I'll "find" after death? That's too relative for me. If it is true, that means all the Christians go to "heaven," other are "reincarnated," others go to live in Atlantis, others shack up with 70 virgins for eternity and so on.

I suppose it COULD be true but it doesn't make any sense and there doesn't seem to be any evidence that this is the case. Do animals have an afterlife? I think whatever happens to them happens to us. We're all made from the same stuff but just with varying degrees of complexity.

That's my 2 cents.

Livia Indica said...

Riverwolf, So while we're in these physical bodies we can create via belief but once we give up the ghost things change? I get that.

But as for it not making any sense: I wonder what kind of sense do you mean? Do you mean the kind of sense that can be quantified under a microscope or in a study?

Riverwolf, said...

Livia, by "not making any sense," I was referring to the idea that whatever we believe is exactly what happens. While that may be possible, it doesn't seem probable. No, it can't be proven either way, but I guess that with all the possibilities and beliefs out there, eventually someone's particular belief about the afterlife would at some point intersect with the land of the living. After all, if we can create whatever we believe, then it "should" be possible to cheat death, right? But that doesn't happen, so there is that underlying reality underneath all the various beliefs.

Maybe my perspective is informed by a more traditional quantifiable/scientific approach. In other words, since I can't see any tangible evidence of an afterlife, then I conclude that there isn't one. But I do realize that even that can't be proven, at least not with a scientific approach.

I'm much more willing to sit with the mystery of it all now than I used to be. I think it's fine to have ideas about the afterlife, but I don't like it when people assume they actually know what really happens.

Very provocative post! Thanks.

Livia Indica said...

Very cool! Thanks for expanding on your comments.