I am going to diverge a bit from all previous topics and write a bit about my vision of the afterlife and perhaps some thoughts on life’s meaning, hopefully in a deeper way than the famous answer 42 from Douglas Adam’s great book, The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Take from it what you will, I am writing this for my own pleasure and it won’t offend me when people choose to question or disagree.
I’ll start by saying that I don’t believe anyone on this earth has or can have true understanding of this world or the next. In science, we often use models which are known to be oversimplified and incorrect in certain cases, such as the Bohr Atom, because they tend to be incredibly useful in explaining certain things about the world. Philosophy is very similar, and there are many ways to choose from in how we view ourselves, our goals, and our lives overall.
We consist of two parts – the body and the spirit. This has long seemed apparent to me because of out-of-body experiences (these are rare and I can’t re-create them at will), and because of my highly reflective nature. Both body and spirit are intertwined and very closely linked. This isn’t like a person driving a car, much of what makes up our individual selves flows between these two parts and is invariably shaped by both. The body is temporary however, and that part of ourselves will someday be lost. In order to retain the most of it, it is important to try to unify your body and spirit and have a respect for both. I have often pondered this, thinking of my spiritual self showing up more in dreams and my physical self showing up more in the day. You can choose to take your spiritual side with you during the day, just as that side can choose to take you along in the world of dreams. For most people, including me, the overlap here is somewhat weak for the most part and tends to come in spurts with prolonged dry spells in between.
After death, the physical world becomes a mere shadow, and time and space tend to lose meaning. If your communication lines are open, you communicate instantly and mentally, without delays from beam transfer or anything – it’s hard to describe. Questions like “can my dog come with me to heaven?” lose their meaning entirely.
Time is not a line which can be viewed overall, entered and exited like in Dr. Who. There is no multiverse or bifurcation of time and space. All that exists from the past is gone forever, only relevant in the current shape and momentum of the world and the lingering spirits who were shaped from those periods. Please note that I don’t believe history is irrelevant – I am fascinated by history and I continue to avidly read many non-fiction histories of different parts of the world. However, time only exists at one given point and will always track foreward. People often think of how the future quickly becomes the past, but I prefer the idea that the present is the current state of the physical world which always exists, whereas the future and the past are only reflective states of the mind which can guide our actions in the real world of the present.
Life as we see it is in many ways a simplification of the spiritual world. Spirits have no form and cannot grow left on their own, just like vines can’t raise above the ground without something to grow on and take shape from. When our physical bodies die, our spirits are left with their shape but all of the solid support is gone. All we are left with is that lingering shape, and the links we have developed with others – who may help us keep our treasured selves and allow us to grow in a new and meaningful, but very different way.
As we live our lives, all of us are blessed with a large number of human interactions, which can help us develop our ability to connect with others which will be critical in the spiritual world. You can tell when you are opening yourself to others or shutting them out. Actions which isolate us from others, often from greed, fear, or other motivations, will never result in happiness – this can only be approached by opening the heart to deeper feeling and closer interaction with others. Any perceived happiness from winning is very short-lived, as most of the goals we set in life are illusory and followed by the inevitable struggle with meaninglessness as you try to figure out “what next?”
Philosophically, this can be achieved through the lens of “one-ness” felt by some Buddhists as well as the lens of Christian Charity and seeing all people as important in the eyes of God. Many philosophies or religions can get you there, because the importance of opening yourself to emotional human connection is realized in most of them. There’s no moral balancing or tally system to balance rights and wrongs, but you cannot truly open yourself to others and spite them at the same time. In many ways the individual events, rights and wrongs alike, are as meaningless as if we are living in a simulated world like The Matrix – and all that remains once we “unplug” is the shape our spirit has taken and its ability to connect with others.
So here I’ve laid out a rough framework for my visions of the afterlife and the nature of its meaning in our lives today. This is based on the way I visualized things years ago and my subsequent reflections on that vision. For those who rush to judge, this was in no way drug related, and I don’t claim divine inspiration either. I hope this can be seen as thought provoking and inspiring, and taken in as a non-exclusive framework in which to view our lives which can hold some truth to it – just like the Bohr atom can explain the formation of the periodic table and its applications, without requiring a description of the complex nature of electron orbits.