How different religions
view death and the Afterlife.
Whilst there are different orthodox Christian beliefs –
Catholics, Protestants, the Baptists and other Christians,
the core of Christian belief about death is that there is
an afterlife, that conduct on earth – how we behave
- will determine where in the afterlife you will eventually
end up. That there is a hell for the wicked ones –
especially the Catholic Church still teaches that hellfire
is for eternity and there is heaven for those who behaved
well. Also, the Catholic Church claims there is an afterlife
state which is between heaven and hell the Catholic Church
calls ‘purgatory.’ The theological teaching
is that after a time of purgation, the spirit will eventually
be progress and will go to heaven. There are other Christians,
the Protestants, who do not accept purgatory. Catholic theology
also states that sinners can confess their sins to Catholic
priests and those sins are forgiven for ever – it
does not matter how grave the sins might be – including
genocide – if the sinner truly repents, he will be
Beliefs about the Afterlife
Buddha accepted the basic Hindu doctrines of reincarnation
and karma, as well as the notion that the ultimate goal
of the religious life is to escape the cycle of death and
rebirth. Buddha asserted that what keeps us bound to the
death/rebirth process is desire, desire in the sense of
wanting or craving anything in the world. Hence, the goal
of getting off the Ferris wheel of reincarnation necessarily
involves freeing oneself from desire. Nirvana is the Buddhist
term for liberation. Nirvana literally means extinction,
and it refers to the extinction of all craving, an extinction
that allows one to become liberated.
Where Buddha departed most radically from Hinduism was in
his doctrine of "anatta", the notion that individuals
do not possess eternal souls. Instead of eternal souls,
individuals consist of a "bundle" of habits, memories,
sensations, desires, and so forth, which together delude
one into thinking that he or she consists of a stable, lasting
self. Despite its transitory nature, this false self hangs
together as a unit, and even reincarnates in body after
body. In Buddhism, as well as in Hinduism, life in a corporeal
body is viewed negatively, as the source of all suffering.
Hence, the goal is to obtain release. In Buddhism, this
means abandoning the false sense of self so that the bundle
of memories and impulses disintegrates, leaving nothing
to reincarnate and hence nothing to experience pain.
From the perspective of present-day, world-affirming Western
society, the Buddhist vision cannot but appear distinctly
unappealing: Not only is this life portrayed as unattractive,
the prospect of nirvana, in which one dissolves into nothingness,
seems even less desirable. A modern-day Buddha might respond,
however, that our reaction to being confronted with the
dark side of life merely shows how insulated we are from
the pain and suffering that is so fundamental to human existence.
Following death, according to Tibetan Buddhism, the spirit
of the departed goes through a process lasting forty-nine
days that is divided into three stages called "bardos."
At the conclusion of the bardo, the person either enters
nirvana or returns to earth for rebirth.
It is imperative that the dying individual remain fully
aware for as long as possible because the thoughts one has
while passing over into death heavily influence the nature
of both the after-death experience and, if one fails to
achieve nirvana, the state of one's next incarnation.
Stage one of the Bardo (called the "Chikai" Bardo),
the bardo of dying, begins at death and extends from half
a day to four days. This is the period of time necessary
for the departed to realize that they have dropped the body.
The consciousness of the departed has an ecstatic experience
of the primary "Clear White Light" at the death
moment. Everyone gets at least a fleeting glimpse of the
light. The more spiritually developed see it longer, and
are able to go beyond it to a higher level of reality. The
average person, however, drops into the lesser state of
the secondary "clear light."
In stage two (called the "Chonyid" Bardo), the
bardo of Luminous Mind, the departed encounters the hallucinations
resulting from the karma created during life. Unless highly
developed, the individual will feel that they are still
in the body. The departed then encounters various apparitions,
the "peaceful" and "wrathful" deities,
that are actually personifications of human feelings and
that, to successfully achieve nirvana, the deceased must
encounter unflinchingly. Only the most evolved individuals
can skip the bardo experience altogether and transit directly
into a paradise realm. Stage three (called the "Sidpa"
Bardo), the bardo of rebirth, is the process of reincarnation.
Williams Buddhist Afterlife Beliefs
is Everything: Buddhist Views on Death
Laura Strong's Mythic Arts offers this article on Buddhist
views of an afterlife and death.
Today - Rebirth
Learn about the cycle of death and rebirth in Buddhist tradition
in this article from Buddhism Today.
Today - Buddhist Afterlife
Another great article from Buddhism Today teaches about
the afterlife in Buddhism. The afterlife usually pertains
to the intermediate phase between rebirths.
Traditional Judaism firmly believes that death is not the
end of human existence. However, because Judaism is primarily
focused on life here and now rather than on the afterlife,
Judaism does not have much dogma about the afterlife, and
leaves a great deal of room for personal opinion. It is
possible for an Orthodox Jew to believe that the souls of
the righteous dead go to a place similar to the Christian
heaven, or that they are reincarnated through many lifetimes,
or that they simply wait until the coming of the messiah,
when they will be resurrected. Likewise, Orthodox Jews can
believe that the souls of the wicked are tormented by demons
of their own creation, or that wicked souls are simply destroyed
at death, ceasing to exist.
See Judaism 101 Olam Ha-Ba:
The Afterlife http://www.jewfaq.org/olamhaba.htm
According to the tenets of the Muslim faith, death is the
complete end of physical life and the beginning of a period
of rest until the day of resurrection when Allah judges
the living and the dead. Many Muslims believe that the righteous
are able to see visions of God after death and that the
wicked see visions of hell. Except for these possible visions
of heaven or hell, Muslims believe the soul remains in a
kind of "soul sleep" until Judgment Day. When
the Day of Judgment arrives, everyone is judged according
to their deeds in life. Many Muslims believe that non-Muslims
can attain heaven only after a period of purification in
the fires of purgatory.
In the eighth century, a mystical sect of Islam began which
merged the mystical traditions of the Greeks, Buddhists
and Hindus with traditional Islamic faith. Concepts found
in Sufism can be found in a great many near-death experiences
which have been reported. The Sufi masters teach that, after
death, a person judges himself thereby bringing about their
own heaven or hell. Sufism is known as "the Way of
the Heart" and the "Way of the Pure." It
is a means by which one can move from the lower level of
self to ascend to the Divine Light that penetrates the entire
universe. This light concept is common to many other religions
as well as the near-death experience. According to Sufi
tradition, there are many ways to ascend, but the essence
of the path to God is to find yourself. As the Sufi saying
states, "Know yourself, know your Lord."
Read more: Kevin Williams: http://www.near-death.com/muslim.html
Views of Death and the Afterlife
& Dying: Islamic View
The Upanishads, the ancient set of Hindu religious texts,
postulated an eternal, changeless core of the self called
as the "Atman." This soul or "deep self"
was viewed as being identical with the unchanging godhead,
referred to as Brahma (the unitary ground of being that
transcends particular gods and goddesses). Untouched by
the variations of time and circumstance, the Atman was nevertheless
entrapped in the world of "samsara" (the cycle
of death and rebirth). Unlike Western treatments of reincarnation,
which tend to make the idea of coming back into body after
body seem exotic, desirable, and even romantic, Hinduism,
Buddhism, and other southern Asian religions portray the
samsaric process as unhappy. Life in this world means suffering.
What keeps us trapped in the samsaric cycle is the law of
karma. In its simplest form, this law operates impersonally
like a natural law, ensuring that every good or bad deed
eventually returns to the individual in the form of reward
or punishment commensurate with the original deed. It is
the necessity of "reaping one's karma" that compels
human beings to take rebirth (to reincarnate) in successive
lifetimes. In other words, if one dies before reaping the
effects of one's actions (as most people do), the karmic
process demands that one come back in a future life. Coming
back in another lifetime also allows karmic forces to reward
or punish one through the circumstances to which one is
born. Hence, for example, an individual who was generous
in one lifetime might be reborn as a wealthy person in the
"Moksha" is the traditional Sanskrit term for
release or liberation from the endless chain of deaths and
rebirths. In the southern Asian religious tradition, it
represents the supreme goal of human strivings. Reflecting
the diversity of Hinduism, liberation can be attained in
a variety of ways, from the proper performance of certain
rituals to highly disciplined forms of yoga. In the Upanishads,
it is proper knowledge, in the sense of insight into the
nature of reality, that enables the aspiring seeker to achieve
liberation from the wheel of rebirth.
What happens to the individual after reaching moksha? In
Upanishadic Hinduism, the individual Atman is believed to
merge into the cosmic Brahma. A traditional image is that
of a drop of water that, when dropped into the ocean, loses
its individuality and becomes one with the sea. Although
widespread, this metaphor does not quite capture the significance
of this merger. Rather than losing one's individuality,
the Upanishadic understanding is that the Atman is never
separate from Brahma; hence, individuality is illusory,
and moksha is simply waking up from the dream of separateness.
Along with heaven realms, Hinduism also developed notions
of hell worlds in which exceptionally sinful individuals
were punished. Many of the torments of Hindu hell worlds,
such as being tortured by demons, resemble the torments
of more familiar Western hells. Unlike Western hells, however,
Hindu hell worlds are not final dwelling places. They are
more like purgatories in which sinful souls experience suffering
for a limited term. After the term is over, even the most
evil person is turned out of hell to once again participate
in the cycle of reincarnation.
Read more...Kevin Williams http://www.near-death.com/hindu.html
Today - Death & Dying
says that all people and animals that have been loved (had
their vibrations raised) such as pets, continue to live
after physical death. On crossing over we take three things
with us: our etheric or spirit body (a duplicate of our
physical body) all memories and our character.
On crossing we go to a realm that will accommodate the vibrations
we accumulated from all the thoughts and actions of our
lifetime. Average decent people go to what is usually termed
as the Third Realm. Those who have been willfully cruel
and consistenetly selfish go to the darker, very unpleasant
Astral regions because their level of vibrations would be
much lower than the vibrations of the Third Realm.
Information transmitted from the other side tells us that
the Third Realm is a place of enormous beauty, peace and
light. There will be scope to continue to spiritually refine
indefinitely. Those who earned it can progress to the fourth
level, then the fifth, and sixth and so on. For humans we
know that there are at least seven realms vibrating from
the lowest to the highest - the higher the vibrations the
more beautiful and better the conditions.
Spiritualists accept the Law of Progress- that those who
are in the lower realms will one day slowly go upwardly
towards the Realms of the Light even if it takes eons of
Unlike all other religions which require faith and belief
(faith in a belief without evidence), Spiritualistm/Spiritism
is the only religion which is based on evidence and direct
experience. Spiritism, briefly, is very similar to Spiritualism
and is based on Allen Kardec's research - see below.
Spiritualism is the acceptance of empirically elicited evidence
that the human consciousness survives physical death and
that those who survive can communicate with those who are
physically on earth in a number of ways. This communication
can be made through at least twenty different empirically
validated processes including mental, physical and direct
voice mediumship, telepathy, xenoglossy, Electronic Voice
Phenomena, Instrumental Trans-communication, Apparitions,
Ouija Board, Death Bed Visions, Poltergeists (see A Lawyer
Presents the Evidence for the Afterlife).
In addition, Spiritualists follow the universal law of cause
and effect, accepting self responsibility and that the universe
is governed by Mind, commonly called God.
Modern spiritualist movement began in 1848 in Hydesville,
New York with the Fox sisters who demonstrated that spirits
communicated with them by rapping on tables. The historical
record is that finding of a skeleton in the basement where
the Fox sisters used to live – as the spirit of a
man who was murdered there had directed the Fox sisters
to search by digging in the basement. The finding of the
skeleton confirmed the rappings directed at the two Fox
sisters. The murdered former resident of the house informed
the Fox sisters who actually murdered him and the police
caught the murderer.
To-day, as it was in the past for thousands of years, millions
of people around the world experience for themselves communication
from the afterlife from their loved ones. Communication
is now accepted world wide. Highly credible world famous
scientists – see chapter 2 using their scientific
skills regularly confirm this communication. Scientific
testing is being done regularly on gifted mediums with great
success. Some spiritualists organize themselves and have
service meetings in Spiritualist Churches. Others call themselves
Spiritualists without aligning with any formal organisation.
Spiritism is defined by Spiritist Doctrine as the collection
of principles and laws, considered to be revealed by Superior
Spirits, contained in the works of Allan Kardec, which constitute
the Codification of Spiritism: The Spirits' Book, The Mediums'
Book, The Gospel According to Spiritism, Heaven and Hell
and The Genesis According to Spiritism. A most credible
spiritist definitive work on communication from the afterlife
is by Alan Kardec The Spirits’ Book.
More sites on Spiritualism/Spiritism
(more than fifteen million copies of Kardek’s SPIRITS
have been sold in more than 30 languages).