A Life After Death? What We Know About the Afterlife
Is there a life after death? Philosophers, scientists, and religious people have asked this question but we don’t have an answer for it.
And rightfully so as no one has come back from the dead. But the thought of an afterlife is enough to satisfy some people and take away the crippling fear of death. More so than that, it’s the fear of nothingness that frightens people.
Answering the age-old question of life after death won’t require a logical answer, but a superstitious one. Many believe in the teachings of life after death. And these teachings mostly stem from religious practices.
So that means the concept of life after death is one with a religious background. If you’ve read the Bible, the Qur’an, the Tanakh and Talmud, the Vedas and the Upanishads, or any other religious book, then you’ve probably read about the afterlife.
In many of these religions, scientific evidence doesn’t exist and the thought of an afterlife is just there. No one can predict whether or not we go someplace else once we die.
But also, no one can disprove it.
Life After Death in Different Religions
The thought of an afterlife is differently presented across many religions. Some religions teach about eternal life, others believe in a good and bad place, while an entirely different set of religions believe in rebirth.
But what does each major religion say about life after death?
If there is anything that Catholics, Protestants, and Eastern Orthodox’s can agree on is that there is heaven and hell. For religious Christians, this is how the afterlife is presented through the New Testament.
In Christianity, people believe that God will either send them to Heaven or Hell. Heaven is the divine place, the good place, the place where every good person goes. The religion also describes Hell as a bad place, a place of pain and suffering, a place where bad people go.
But we have no proof whether or not Heaven and Hell truly exist. So whether or not you choose to believe in is existence is entirely up to you.
Islam’s connotation of the afterlife is similar to that of Christianity. Similarly, Muslims also believe that Allah (God) is the one who judged the soul whenever the person dies.
And whenever a person dies, the religion teaches that Allah judges the person based on the six core principals of Islam. Depending on what Allah judges a person, they will be either sent to Jannah (paradise) or Jahannam (hell).
The religion describes Jannah as a paradise place where there are seven layers, each layer depicting different heaven. They also describe Jannah as a place without suffering, pain, or sadness.
On the other hand, Jahannam or hell is described similarly as Christian Hell. However, the religion teaches that a sinner can carry out their sentence and rejoin paradise.
Both Christianity and Islam derive from Judaism. The Hebrew Bible is the oldest Jewish text. While there is a newer version, the Talmud, it wasn’t very clear where people go after death.
The Hebrew Bible teaches of a very strange life after death. Namely, it teaches of a place where people go when they die. This name of this place is Sheol, and it doesn’t matter whether the person was good or bad.
The Talmud teaches differently. This sacred text has similar concepts of the afterlife like Christianity and Islam. Namely, when judgment day comes, good people go to Olam Ha-Ba (heaven) and bad people go to Gehenna (hell).
In Olam Ha-Ba, God will judge the people before they can rejoin him. The evilest of men will spend an eternity in Gehenna or be destroyed.
The teachings of Buddha are far more different than all three religions we mentioned. In Buddhism, the concept of life after death can be easily explained with one word – Rebirth.
However, we have to tread lightly as there is far more to it than to simply reborn into something else. In Buddhism, every action you make in this life has an equally important reaction to the next.
If you have done terrible deeds in this life, then you will be reborn as a worm. Buddha thought his followers of reaching enlightenment. He taught of Nirvanna, a spiritual release from the cycle of rebirth. Nirvana is only possible when the Buddhist reaches enlightenment or extinguishes the three “fires” of greed, aversion, and ignorance.
Hinduism teaches similar principles as in Buddhism. In both religions, “karma” plays an important role in the cycle of birth and rebirth. This means that life after death is a cycle of rebirth in Hinduism.
And similarly to Buddhism, the goal is to reach enlightenment. However, the main difference between both religions is the fact that Hinduism teaches that every person has a soul or spirit. This isn’t the case in Buddhism.
Whenever you are reborn in Hinduism, your spirit or soul remains the same while your physical body is different or temporary.
Sikhism is similar to Hinduism as they also believe every person has a soul. And the ultimate goal of Sikhs is to be one with God to break the cycle of rebirth.
This means that Sikhism believes in life after death in the form of rebirth. And similarly to Hinduism, karma connects each cycle of death and rebirth. In Sikhism, God is the one that gives people their souls. But the soul has been separated from God.
So, Sikhs believe that the soul is impure. And the only way for the soul to find its way back to God is through meditating and remembering.
Chinese Folk Religion
Chinese folk religion also believes in life after death. And this concept is similar to Hinduism, Sikhism, and Buddhism. But there is one distinct difference.
In Chinese folk religion, a sinner’s soul goes to Diyu (hell) where it undergoes a series of punishments. The soul goes through the labyrinth of Diyu to purify. Once the soul is purified and has paid for the crimes committed in the previous life, it will be reborn into a new body.
In every major religion in this world, there is some form of life after death. While there is no scientific way to prove this, the concept of some sort of afterlife is enough to satisfy believers and put their minds to rest.
Instead of fearing death, believers fear going to hell.