How short is life as journey from cradle to grave!! Infancy, child hood, teenage, adulthood, old age, all ends in a matter of few years.
The short-lived nature of life has been the over-riding theme of most elegiac poems. Some compare human life to the summer rain; to the flower that blooms in the morning and withers in the evening; to the morning dew-drops which vanishes and never returns.
Death is the great leveller of humanity. It has no respect for status, situations, sex, age or achievement. It comes knocking the door, like an unexpected guest.
The living only knows death theoretically, not experientially. Therefore the biggest question remains- How would one know what happens after death? Is death the end of all? Or is there a life after death?
There are many such questions about death the living find it difficult to answer. And the dead never care enough to answer them for the living.
Time Runs out for everyone! You may not live long as you think!
One of the biggest question asked all over the world again and again is ‘What happens when a person die?’ Is death the end of all kinds of existence? Or, death only changes the mode of existence? Is there a life-after-death?
In general, every religion believes in life after death
Every religion answers affirmatively to the question ‘Is there a life-after-death?’ Christianity, Islam, Hinduism or any other religion in general believe in life-after-death in some form or the other.
Only those systems that deny God answer negatively.
Those who believe in God also believe (generally) that there is a place of perfect peace and joy for the good people to go to or a place of extreme pain and misery for the bad ones to go. The destiny of one’s life-after-death is decided by the kind of life lived on the earth.
The question of the immortality of soul is the crux of the issue. It is quite natural and logically relevant and sensible for believers in God to subscribe to life-after-death.
Setting aside the religious reasons of belief, are there evidences to subscribe to the idea of life-after-death? Definitely there are!
Here are a few reasons:
The universal testimony of mankind
Life-after-death is a fact attested universally. Nearly every tribe and people, cultured and uncultured, educated and uneducated, ancient and modern, Orient and Occident, men and women believe in life-after-death. Where did man get this concept from? Was there a universal consortium or a world council, an international forum where the issue was debated millennia ago and agreed to believe in life-after-death? Definitely not! Then, how did man get this idea? It was the most antiquated innate idea written in the conscience of mankind. Any and all efforts – philosophical and scientific – failed totally to eradicate the belief in man’s immortality.
History bears testimony to immortality
Any student of history and archaeology will readily agree that mankind always, everywhere believes in immortality and life-after-death.
The Pyramids of Egypt and other countries bear testimony to this fact. Pyramids were built with spacious chambers and rooms in it for the deceased soul to revisit with the body. Rites and incantations show their faith in life-after-death. Food and drinks were placed in the graves for the sustenance of the dead. In the Egyptian Book of the Dead are prayers and formulae for the guidance and protection of the dead in the after-world.
In Hinduism, death is considered a temporary ending since the soul will come back after correcting its course in a different physical form. The Hindus always believed and eagerly longed for the atma to join the paramatma (the Supreme Soul) so that eternal bliss is attained. They carefully observe many ceremonies for the dead so that the soul of the dead will attain moksha.
The Buddhists believe in twenty-four heavens. Many prayers and ceremonies they also carefully observe to aid the dead soul.
The Babylonians believed that the merciful among gods will restore the dead to life.
The Persians believed that the naked body of the dead will be clothed by the light of Heaven.
The Grecians believed in survival. Socrates believed in immortality. He said: “Burry me, if you can catch me.”
Taylor, in his book ‘Primitive Culture,’ dealing with the universal belief of immortality has said: “Looking at the religion of the lower races as a whole we shall at least not be ill-advised in taking as one of its general and principal element the doctrine of the soul’s future life.”
How did this idea and belief in life-after-death originate? Atheism and agnosticism have no reasonable answer. Only Theism has the answer. God has put it in every man’s conscience or soul.
Logically speaking, immortality of the soul is the most sensible thing to believe. The law of nature is life out of death; production out of destruction. If a grain of wheat remains as it is, it will not reproduce. But if the grain falls into the ground, buried in the soil and slowly die, a new plant grows out of it. One season slowly has to die if another season has to emerge. The caterpillar ceases to exist as caterpillar, but emerges from it as butterfly.
Science teaches us that nothing perishes. The theory of the conservation of energy allows only changes in condition and combinations. Max Muller says, “Without a belief in personal immortality, religion is like an arch resting on one pillar, or a bridge ending in an abyss.”
Man is a composite being consisted of body, soul-spirit. At death, the soul-spirit departs from the body. The body lay dead and returns to the earth. But where does the soul-spirit go? ‘It goes nowhere’ is no answer! They definitely go somewhere! The soul-spirit was actively operational in the body: thinking soberly, feeling sensibly, deciding logically, worshipping consciously, behaving morally, etc. All of a sudden, they ceased to exist. It is illogical and insensible to believe that the soul ceased to exist. After all, matter and energy cannot be destroyed!
Thinking normal and common
Even the common thinking of man respects the fact of life. If there is no life after death and life ceases to exist in any form and anywhere, what is the purpose of living in pain, agony, misery, poverty, sickness and mental illness? What may be the greatest act of kindness that science could do to mankind to alleviate all misery? Is it not bringing death upon mankind? However, no sensible person would think so. Why? Because, death does not end life. It only changes the form of existence. Life continues!
Man’s normal longing to live in spite of suffering
People would rather suffer even extreme pain and live rather than die and alleviate pain! Why? The 99 year old cancer patient with unbearable pain is seeking asylum in hospitals and nursing homes desiring to get their lives prolonged a little longer. Seems like they are not ready to face death! Yes, they are not ready to face the destiny after death. People submit willingly for their sick legs or hands to be amputated if that will save their lives. This desire to live even without limbs to walk or hand to work shows man’s consciousness of an accountable life beyond death. The fact is most people are not ready to give an account for their life and activities here on earth. So they want to postpone death.
There are only two sensible options for man after death. One is total annihilation of life without any kind of existence. The other is a conscious, responsible life-after-death. If there is no life-after-death, then there is ‘no gain, no loss’ by the present life on earth. Why then people allow themselves to all kinds of sufferings – hunger, thirst, sickness, losses, humiliations, hatred, mutilations, mental diseases, etc? Why should they suffer when they could end it all by opting death? But no one opts death. Instead, man longs to live longer. Why?
The other option is to live responsibly on this earth. Since there is a life-after-death, where the quality is determined by the kind of life lived here, man is hopeful of correcting his mistakes of today by living better tomorrow so that he could earn heaven after death. This is the reason why man would rather suffer all kinds of pain and live a day longer.
So what option is sensible to make? Live a responsible life today so that if there is a life-after-death, one need not be at loss. He could enjoy eternal bliss. If there is no life-after-death, one does not suffer any loss after all. So it is better to believe in life-after-death and live a sober, sensible and moral life so that life after death will be rewarding. Think of a student who denies examinations and lives freely and carelessly. If what he believes is the reality, he has no gain, no loss. On the other hand, if the examination comes unexpectedly, he has everything to lose! How wiser he would have been if he has chosen the option of studying anyway so that he could face the examination courageously and rewardingly. Someone, jumping into an unfamiliar source of water, is wiser to be ready to face either a shallow or a really deep water where one could easily drown.