Life After Death
Death is absolutely safe. It is like taking off an old shoe.
channeled by Pat Rodegast
Every culture has its unique life after death beliefs. I want to explore them and see
what evidence there is that any of them are true. Christian share this delusion with
thousands of other religions. It is so common, you might even define religion as the
delusion that humans do not and cannot die.
It is hard not to lie to a grief stricken child who has just lost a
pet or a loved one. You will make up any nonsense to help the child over his or her
grief. Perhaps this is how the life after death myths got started. They are like the
Santa Claus myth, originally meant only for children, but adults clung tenaciously to
them too. When my friend David Lewis lay on his death bed he pumped me for all my
knowledge of the after death beliefs in different cultures. He was terrified, looking for
any straw to grasp.
My Personal Belief
I think it likely that nothing at all happens after you die.
You just rot and are recycled. Preserving every human intact for eternity seems as
ludicrous to me as preserving every leaf on every tree, every blade of grass, every
beetle and puppy for eternity. Everywhere in nature, from stars to worms, materials are
recycled. No form is permanent.
I have been totally unconscious several times under anaesthesia. I thus have no
difficulty with the idea I would be totally unconscious in death too. This is also my
preferred end. The idea of doing anything for eternity sounds like a
hell to me.
Heaven or Hell
There are many religions, (e.g. Egyptian, Christian, Norse,
Jewish, Muslim) with a some sort of judgement followed by eternal punishment in hell or
eternal reward in heaven. To me, the heavenly rewards wandering in Christian jeweled
gardens on streets of gold singing praises to Yahweh, surrounded by fundamentalist
Christians, sounds tedious beyond belief. The Pure Land Buddhist equivalent of eternally
gathering flower petals has little more appeal.
Priests like to control people through guilt. In the middle ages the practice was most
overt, the selling of indulgences. People could sin safely if they paid the priests a
fee. The fear of hellfire kept people in line, even when there was no one to watch them.
The fear of excommunication kept people in line when the priest was watching.
The evidence that there is a heaven/hell is that there are both extremely pleasant and
extremely unpleasant near death experiences. They can be triggered at will using a large
centrifuge. The key seems to be a lack of oxygen and an excess of nitrous oxide in the
brain. The experiences all happened with an apparently inactive, but at least intact,
brain. Many people, myself included, have had out of body experiences. It is certainly
possible to have the sensation of living without a body, even if there was a functioning
body sitting elsewhere. To anyone who has had such an
experience, it is easy to entertain the possibility that life without a body is
The Haida natives of British Columbia believe that you become a ghost when
you die, then start off on a long walk. Sometimes people die without realising they are
dead. They are alarmed at strangers coming into their homes. Someone has to explain to
them that they are dead and what they have to do. On this long walk the infirmities of
the body gradually drop away and the ghost changes to the apparent age the person feels
inside, usually early 20s or late teens.
Eventually you rejoin your ancestors and take part in activities much the same as you
did in life. You have the ability to intercede on the behalf of the living.
The evidence for this is that Haida people matter of factly talk about routinely
seeing these ghosts. In their culture, there is nothing frightening about them. They are
The Buddhists and Hindus believe you reincarnate over and over, as
animals, gods, humans, hungry ghosts etc. You gradually shed your attachment to worldly
desires and then can stop re-incarnating and remain in a state of bliss called nirvana.
The period between incarnations is a terrifying time when you imagination projects all
manner of frightening demons. The goal is to remain unafraid and select a new incarnation
wisely. Tibetan Buddhists read from the Book of the Dead to instruct the
departed on how to proceed.
The evidence for this are the many stories, mostly in India and Ceylon, of children
born with inexplicable intimate knowledge of some dead person’s life. The other
evidence is the way enlightened people suddenly remember all the details of past
This myth seeks to explain why such terrible things happen to good people. They did
dreadful things in a past life they cannot remember and they are receiving current
punishment. The problem with this belief is it leads people to passively accept great
evils like disease, hunger and violence.
In the Congo, the there is a single word used for both a live and dead
person. Life after death is so presumed, they don’t even bother to make a
distinction. Rites have to be performed to keep the dead from being annoyed and causing
One Nearly Immortal Life
In a very mundane sense, there is only one being living
on planet earth. Consider the amoeba. They reproduce by splitting in two. If you look at
any amoeba today it is billions of years old. You might in theory trace all the amoebae
alive in the world today to a single ancestor. Thus in one sense there is only one
amoeba, living in many bodies. If an amoeba dies, has the amoeba died? No. It is much
like single blood cell in a human dying. If you follow back further you would probably
find that other one celled animals all share a common ancestor with the amoeba too. There
is only one life living in many bodies. Multicelled humans
too are part of this single life tree. Our cells too grow only by splitting, but in more
specialised ways, going through a minimalist stage periodically as sperm and egg cells.
However, each of a human’s cells is similarly billions of years old, with an
unbroken chain of cell divisions going all the way back through the generations of
humanity. Oddly, even though the cells are billions of years old, the cells die within
100 years of birth, if they stay part of human’s body i.e.
if they don’t leave it as sperm or as a completed baby. They have a built-in death
count-down mechanism in each cell called telomeres. If there is only one life, living in
many bodies in many forms, you, the primordial life, lives on even when your little human
It is conceivable, though unlikely, man will figure out some way to destroy
all life on earth.
This has been in topic of interest ever since 1987 when I was told I
likely had only a year to live. Despite much pondering, I must be satisfied with
uncertainty. The frustrating thing is, if I am correct in my guess, that nothing at all
happens, I will never find out I was right.
Even if a supernatural being does not judge you, as your life draws to a close, it is
natural to judge yourself. In my own case, I accomplished nowhere near what I imagined I
would and I have felt quite disappointed and ashamed. I don’t have much energy left
for future projects. My advice would be, if you want to accomplish anything or do
anything, get on with it right away. Age, disease and other infirmities sneak up on you
so fast. The productive part of your life is over in the psychological twinkling of an
eye. My eighth birthday seems like yesterday.
I also tackle this topic in my essay on whether there is a god.