Monday, April 14, 2008

What is beyond death?

On my search for thoughts that I could add to my spiritual treasure chest, I came by an interesting lecture with the subject of "What is beyond Death", held by a lady that voluntarily works in a hospice and for long years she accompanies people during their last days in this world (anyone know an English word for that?) .

In general the lady had the classic idea of souls. Means after death your personality separates from the body and gets into some transcendent state.
This theory is backed by the report on people with near death experiences. Some of them remember that they separated from their body enabling them to see themselves from above.

First she talked about several incidents, where she showed up that relatives should watch carefully their grief. She had the example of a little girl that was in the process of dying. Her mother would sit next to her round the clock and all the time she would show her grief. The mother did not want to let her daughter go. So the daughter felt guilty and sad what made her not let go on her life. The process went on for weeks until the day, that the lady and the girl came up with the idea, to come up with some excuse to send the mother home for one day.
They succeeded and the girl died in the very same night.

So what you need to die is a supporting warm environment but not people that do make you feel guilty and miserable only because you are to leave this world. It simply keeps them from going.

This behaviour was supposed to be kept on even after death, because in her believe it is possible that the soul, once separated from the body could try to comfort their suffering relatives, thus not going where it is supposed to go.

I must say I definitely like the first idea. I personally believe that grief about death is always a egoistic emotion, as is always expresses your strong feelings about what *you* lost, not about what the affected person lost. I mean the dead do not feel anything anymore, so what is there I should feel sorry or sad about? And if grief in this case is in fact egoism I really support the idea to control this emotion, especially if you keep someone from a peaceful transition.
Whether I support the idea of souls that could be kept from going, if the living show too much grief I am not sure about.
I personally do not believe in the soul concepts. For me it seems like a typical human invention. Scared by the inevitable death, the soul construct comes like a rescue boat to pick our personality up. Basically a cheap mental trick to outwit death in the end.

"My body might be dead, but I am not really dead! Uff, this was close, but good I just invented the soul. I am saved now. Lets fly around a bit."

It also seems to me like another common human weakness.

We always overestimate our value.

To be honest I like my overall personality. Some things could be better, but I definitely like my values, I like most of my habits, I like myself. I am lucky enough to have no mayor mental defects, like pedophiliacs or like people that tend to violence or cruelty.
But I think one lifetime with my personality is enough. I would love to go for another challenge, and in the meantime (the time between my lives) I think its fair enough if I take a nap. If after death I can't be bothered with life for while, hell I am fine with that.
Why should I fly around eternity? Has anyone ever thought about the consequences of having a soul?

I mean for example, what do you do all eternity?

Is there an entertainment program for souls?
Can souls play soccer?
Can souls chat?
Are souls recycled, or are they continuously created?
If souls are continuously created, is there one day a soul overpopulation problem in the universe?
And even if you find him, inspiring talks with god could become unsatisfying after a few billion years.

Even with this shallow approach. As soon as think the soul concept only a little further you soon notice that it has only been thought to the transition point. Means where the soul gets into transcendent state.

"Main problem solved, my soul is saved, the rest will be sorted out later."

This smells too human me.

Anyway. There are some indications that souls might exists, so I think it can't harm to control your grief even beyond the death. Just in case. I mean if you loved this person in life, you should do everything to support his peaceful transition

She also recommended that it would be worthwhile to leave the dead person untouched for a few days. Especially if it is intended for cremation. What she said is that for example fingernails and hair keep on growing after death. In this case it could mean that all the processes that make out life come to a more soft stop. In her believe it takes a few days for the soul to finish the separation process from the body.
We seem to automatically assume that the soul is located in the brain, and once the brain is dead it is enough for our soul to change into its transcendent rescue boat. But this approach seems to be too short if you think about it twice.
For example a lot of my emotions are reflected by my stomach. The butterflies of love, as well as the pain of betrayal. So the stomach is a integral part of my emotional life, and hence of my soul.
This would mean, instead of the soul being bound to your brain, it is probably more spread out with different density about all your body.

(I just looked it up, and it said that post mortem growth of hair and fingernails is a mere visual effect of skin drying out, or some muscles attached to our hair get shorter. There seems to be no scientific evidence, that anything is growing noticeably after death.)

But anyway, science is not the answer to everything, I think it can not harm to give the dead some extra days.

Next she told a story about a man that died in accident with his motorbike. His young wife got some strange feeling about her husband still being around, so she had a talk with with the lady. They decided to involve a medium and of course the wife was right. They found the husband trying to fix his wrecked bike that was parked in a barn.
But not that was alone, also the soul of his mother with him, trying to pick him up for his transition into transcendence. But as he was so busy fixing his bike he had not realized that he was dead, and so he had missed to see her. The medium then said something like "Hey guy, by the way you are dead!" At this moment he turned around and saw his mother. "Hey mom, thought you were dead. What are you doing here?". "I'd come to pick you up, you are dead my son". An by the moment he saw his mom, his wife, the medium, the lady and the bike he he realized what had happened. "Lets go" his mom said.

And of course it later turned out that his body was infested by cancer, and if he had survived the accident it would have killed him within a few month.

We love stories of this kind, do we? I mean even by the time I am remembering and writing this, it sends some shivers done my spine. Every time we get in touch with something beyond our imagination, with mystic and god like forces, we get this lovely feeling. But same time this is our greatest weakness, as this feeling is soon replaced by believe and with it any serious thinking ceases.

So what else I can extract out of this? She is conviced, that once you are dead to get picked up by the people you loved most in life. They introduce you to the world of souls. But then she said, souls eventually split up, as souls are attracted by souls with similar character.
They derive that from what I experienced many times, especially while travelling. People with similar thinking, similar values and similar interests seems to attract themselves. We transport information about us in many other ways than only by language. For example with a smile I can tell things about me, that I could not fit into many hours of talking. As I assume that the process is too complex for our conscious, much of the subliminal communication bypasses our conscious and we get presented only the result. So in the end we find somebody sympathetic or not.
What they assume is that this might not be limited to this life, but only for the transcendent life.

Again, I am not really into this soul idea.
And even then it would mean, that there are certain areas for souls of greedy businessman, the lazy, the bourgeois, the emotional, the artists, the scientists etc etc.
I am not sure whether I would like to hang out with wisenheimers like myself all the time :-) .
I think I would miss the diversity.

At this time in the lecture, she started to talk about herself. And there something sad become evident.
The lady worked in the hospice for years, during her talk her eyes expressed infinite benevolence and a lot of wisdom around how to deal with death and in what is good for people in the transition.
But in the moment she mentioned that her own and only son had died with the age of 21, her glance turned inward, she saw a picture of him and for that second that facade dropped. What she expressed now was pure grief.
At this point, the building she had built up, was shacking and cracking. It was obvious for me, that had never overcome the death of his child. And true, she had started with the work in the hospice soon after his death. It now looked to me much more like here was a mom, running after his dead child. Trying desperately to follow him as far as possible.

But still then. As we who had rare or no contact with death and dying, I believe she is doing great in what she is doing, and her ideas might be worth a thought.

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