There is one thing sure about being born, and that is, that what we know as life will end, with our death. Till we die, we can only speculate on what is going to happen after death. What you believe depends a lot on your cultural and religious beliefs. Some people who cannot go beyond the nervous system believe that absolutely nothing will happen, and our consciousness will simply end, with brain death. There are many interesting afterlife theories, take a look at a few of them.
The quantum physics theory
Scientists seek to find answers to the most baffling questions, and have difficulty in studying anything non-material. However, according to a few quantum physicists, it is life which is the creator of the universe, and not the universe which creates us. Aligning to this view, bodies can die but consciousness, or ‘life’ continues after death.
Scientific opinion is divided on afterlife theories, and most scientists believe that life ends when we die, and there is no afterlife.
Around 627AD, one of the afterlife theories of the English people was that life as a human was an intermediate stage between the ‘before’ and the ‘after’. We have no memory of what happens before and afterwards.
In Greece and Israel, during approximately the same period of time, the prevailing afterlife theories were that the fate of dead people was determined by their being ‘evil’ or ‘good’ in Hades or Sheol (the Hebrew idea of hell). People thought that the afterlife in Paradise or hell would start immediately after death.
Living as ghosts
The numerous instances of ghost sightings and studies of the paranormal points to the fact that life might continue after death. When we die, we may exist in some parallel dimension, and are stuck there till our issues are resolved. This is one of the most popular afterlife theories, and has found expression in many movies, which have turned out to be huge hits. Sometimes, ‘ghosts’ can take possession of a living person to accomplish their goals. The prevalence of exorcists in many religions and cultures makes the ‘ghost’ theory very believable! (Don’t look back – someone might be standing behind you!!)
Another theory of afterlife is similar to the one above. The ‘Judgment Day’ theory expects that our destinies will be finalized not immediately after death, but at the time when the whole universe ends. That day will be the ‘Judgment Day’ and Christ would return to judge the dead and the living. Jesus would throw the ‘damned’ into hell’s everlasting fires and those who lived a good life would enter heaven.
The Buddhist belief
Buddhists believe that one of six destinies will befall us after death. We may be sent to the realm of hell, or become a ghost, or animal, human, demi-god and God. What we will be reincarnated depends on our actions during life. If we have been good humans, then we have the chance of being reincarnated as a demi-god or God.
Being united with loved ones theory
A host of people believe in paranormal phenomena. They also believe that we can join our loved ones after death, and can communicate with them with the help of ‘mediums’ which act as the intermediary between the living and the non-living.
This is one of the rather unique afterlife theories. The believers of solipsism believe that the universe is the product of a person’s imagination, and that we/you are the only person who exists. Therefore, when we die, the universe also will cease to exist. So, there is no possibility of life in any form anywhere in the universe.
The reincarnation theory
Hindus have believed in the theory of reincarnation for thousands of years. According to this theory, life starts out as plants, then evolves into a series of animals and then into humans. Every life has the potential to reach great highs and great lows! Depending on a person’s ‘karma’ he can be born again as a human in better circumstances, or suffer for your mistakes in the previous life/lives.
If a person commits heinous sins, then he/she will be reborn again as an animal. Then the cycle of life will continue.
Reincarnation can happen for millions of times, as long as it takes to purify the soul, after which the soul will attain ‘moksh’ or enlightenment. Many people profess to remember their earlier lives, and even take their present family to meet their earlier family. This theory might also explain the déjà-vu feelings we experience at some point or the other.
The Aztec theory
Beyond body consciousness
Written hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth, ‘The Book of Enoch’ and the Book of Revelation describes the sound and sights of heaven. Medieval visionaries described similar visions and in modern times, we have books like ‘Ninety Minutes in Heaven’ (A pastor’s journey to heaven), Proof of Heaven (Eben Alexander), and so on. All these books suggest that the soul/self/consciousness exists after death. The soul can visit other dimensions, after leaving the body.
The theory is held up by the NDEs or Near Death Experiences. In 1991, Pam Reynolds of Atlanta, had to undergo surgery for brain aneurism. She was brain dead for 45 minutes as part of the procedure. During this time, she interacted with dead relatives, and could also see the surgery in full.
Scientific opinion is of course divided about the theory. They now explain NDEs as an REM intrusion, and that the mind of a person can awake faster than the body and experience hallucinations.
The most popular theory which we have seen in many movies, is the light at the end of a tunnel. The light emanates from an angel, Christ, or a being who is filled with compassion and love. Afterlife theories are varied and interesting, and we can believe in the one which gives us most comfort, and helps us to accept the reality of death.