Thoughts on the nature of life after death...
I recently saw a rebroadcasted interview with Morrie Schwartz -- a man dying of ALS who catalogued his last thoughts and life experiences with Nightline's Ted Koppel -- where he told the following story about how he viewed the hereafter and our place in it (paraphrased):
It was a beautiful, sunny day out on the ocean, where a little girl wave was frolicking across the water's surface, jumping and bouncing along with her fellow waves, enjoying the warm breeze and the sounds of the merry seagulls overhead.
In the near distance, she spotted a little boy wave, who appeared to be struggling to move along, barely arching from the water. So out of concern for her fellow wave, the little girl wave approached the little boy wave and asked, "What's the matter? It's such a fine day. The breeze is so gentle, the sky so clear and blue, the sun so warm and glorious. What could be troubling you on a glorious day such as this?"
The little boy wave made a heavy sigh. "Look ahead," he gurgled. "The shoreline is not half a mile away."
"So?" inquired the girl, not sure of the significance.
"Oh, you just don't get it," he replied. "Once we hit that shoreline, it's all finished. Splat! No more wave."
"Oh nooo," chirped the little girl wave. "It's you that doesn't get it. You see, you're not a wave. You're the ocean!"
The idea behind "The Waves" story is that whatever energy makes us what we are as individuals is actually just a part of a much larger pool of energy. So, though we like to think of ourselves as "self-possessed" individuals, this is actually an illusion. We are, as the story suggests, all parts of the same greater whole.
The Buddhists believe something along these lines: That we, all life and everything else in the universe, *are* God, but momentarily fractured into pieces -- into individual, unique perspectives -- in an attempt by God to get to known him/her/itself better.
Personally, true or not, I quite like this idea. Because, amongst other things, it suggests that in death, we return to being "everything." So, perhaps, in death, we lose our precious sense of individuality, but we gain much more. I become you, you become me, we all become each other, returning to what we truly are -- One -- where all of our life experiences -- our memories of this life -- are shared equally and not possessed.
Like everyone in life (at some point or another), I've lost loved ones, and dreamt about the time, after I've left this mortal coil, that I'll be reunited with them in heaven. But in the above-described view, my thoughts, feelings and memories about those loved ones becomes, not my own possession, but a part of the greater One. So I will not "meet them at the pearly gates" so to speak, but instead, I will return to *being* them, as they will again become me. And though I obvioisly can't claim this be how it all works with any certainty, it's an idea I'm quite comfortable with; because, for me, it somehow lessens the grief of loss and opens the notion of eternal existence to realms not commonly considered by the major religions of the world today (as far as I know).
So, any thoughts on our existence, vis a vis life after death? I'd be very curious to know how y'all see it.
I'd reccomend the book Tuesday's with Morrie to anyone, a true classic in my opinion that raises many questions about society and our perceptions on life and death. I know not technically contributing to this thread but just thought I had to share the name of the book in case anyone's interested