I don’t know if I believe in an afterlife per-say. The jury is still out on that one. But I do have a moral code and a sense of spirituality. Based on those two sets of beliefs, I will try to describe my concept of what an afterlife would be like if it did exist. (Or if I someday decide I do believe in an afterlife, the afterlife that I would believe in.)
For me, the afterlife is not in any way a physical place. We experience the afterlife as we experience thoughts and emotions, eyes closed, body asleep. This experience is of an eternal mixing bowl of consciousness; a never-ending and boundless Vulcan mind meld where one’s sense of self disintegrates, and all beings are as one. Everything understands and cares about everything else, because nothing separates us from each other.
In my vision of the afterlife, even inanimate objects exist here. Their physical forms obviously are gone, but their meaning, purpose, and the emotions they evoke within us exist here as a part of us. Every thing that can be experienced, and every thing that can experience it, exists here together.
Heaven and Hell
In my version, Heaven and Hell are the same place. The terms, rather, describe one’s experience of this existential soup. Those with a positive experience interpret the afterlife as Heaven, Nirvana. Those with a negative experience interpret the afterlife as Hell, Samsara. Thus, your afterlife is not defined by what you have done or who you were in your life. It is instead determined by your state of mind. How you saw your mortal life determines how you will see the afterlife.
Those who experience Heaven are those who have equipped themselves with sympathy, lived their mortal lives with a sense of selflessness. They do not differentiate themselves from their fellow man, or even from the rest of the world. They truly understand their place and their existence within the world entire. Those who have achieved this state in their mortal life, will have a positive experience of the afterlife. The transition is a painless shedding of one’s individuality, a sacrifice of a meaningless and outgrown state of mind, a welcome return to wholeness and oneness.
Those who experience Hell on the other hand, are the selfish and un-sympathetic. These people live their lives seeing themselves as separate , their existence divided in two: themselves, and everything else. They live their life for their own benefit, their own desires, their own goals. They disregard or hinder the efforts of others in their quest to make their individual life as fulfilling as possible. For those who live this way, the afterlife is a negative experience. It is a painful ripping apart of one’s self, the feeling of being lost in a sea of existence and not knowing who or what you are within that sea.
In my vision of the afterlife, reincarnation exists in a way. Every existence that is born, is a spoonful of the existential soup. To put it in a very wrong, but easy to understand way, every person is made up of pieces of several others who came before them. Bits and random pieces of ancestry, living and inanimate, all jumbled together to live on in a completely new and unique whole. Atoms of what was once an inanimate rock, are now part of a living thing. DNA sequences that once belonged to a long dead ancestor, now live on again in their descendants. The passing of old life gives rise to new life. Like a phoenix, that which ends is born again, new and different.
My vision of an afterlife stems from my core beliefs. I believe in helping my fellow man, I believe in seeing beauty in the world, and rising above things that would otherwise make me suffer. I see my place in the world not as an individual striving to outshine or out-survive other individuals, but as one part of a greater whole, doing everything in my power and strength to benefit that whole. I feel affinity with inanimate objects, and the fact that they can make me feel, makes me believe in their importance to the greater whole.
I don’t think that I would experience Heaven in the afterlife. But I do my best to learn and grow, and I hope that eventually I can reach that state. I am far from perfect. I do things every day that are selfish. But this is the ideal I strive for. To be a benefitial part of the greater whole of existence.