Cover Stories

A Theory of Afterlife

by Connie Clarkson

Let’s talk about death. You’ve probably heard that death is not the end or is the beginning of something larger than ourselves, in some form most of us believe that. Given that we’ve just come off the month of October, a month we dedicate to the notion of death, pumpkins, candy, scary encounters with ghosts, witches, warlocks, and ax murderers. I used to think that the thought of dying was scary and that it was a dark place where we go and are alone, but over the years of learning and growing, and experiencing loss, that it’s much more than that.  Growing up, and being raised in a Cathloic household, church was a major element of spiritual belief, being told to believe in something that oen cannot see or hear was confusing and the notion of believing in a god was a waste of time. Now, seeing much more of the world and meeting new people, believing in a god or gods, I see for some people is a huge element of identitiy. Though, personally, I am not religious or a practicing Catholic, I see how the idea of blindly trusting and believing is a reason to believe and perhaps gives a reason to people  to have a faith. Recently, I’ve been listening to a ghost story podcast, one in particular called Snap Judgment: Spooked on Spotify, where people come on the show and tell their stories of ghost encounters, skinwalkers, cursed flying objects, spooky whispers, creepy children and dolls, and of course haunted houses. 

   Sure, some people don’t believe in ghosts or an afterlife, but it got me thinking about the different beliefs of death in religions and what they are.  Which leads me to the podcast, The Adventures of Momento Mori, recently, I discovered this podcast while flipping through my podcast app. The Adventures of Momento Mori, hosted by D.B. Moss, explores the idea and fascination of death, and the reason why we find it secretly interesting. As a society, most feel that we associate death with being scary and painful, for most of us it’s something that we don’t like to talk about or acknowledge until it’s too late. That is either dealing with the death of a loved one or dealing with the aftermath of a death. All over the world, societies have different forms of celebrating and or the morning of a life that has ended. In the Western Hemisphere, we have funerals and wakes, in Europe and other Eastern-European countries they have customs/ rituals that include embalming, smoking, and preserving the bodies. To some, religion is a way of coping, and believing in a ‘higher power’ that is bigger than themselves, it gives meaning, faith is a fundamental part of death in most cultures. Many religions overlap in terms of what happens to the soul after the body has died, as also they have a concept of reincarnation or a ‘rebirth’ of spirit

In this podcast, a three-part conversion, the host, D.B. Moss talks to people who are somewhat familiar with the concept of death and helps people understand death at its core in times of need and trauma. Moss interviews and examines six religions and their view on death and the afterlife. In this article, I am going to breakdown the six religions and their thoughts on the afterlife and how one comes to encounter the afterlife. Don’t worry I’m not going to bombard you with a long list of terms or paragraphs, just an insight into the ‘World of the Beyond’.

Buddhism 

The Basics: 

  • Founded by Siddhartha Gautama,  2500 years ago
  • Sign: Buddha, plus many more. 
  • 4th Largest Religion, 520 million followers,  over 7% of the global population. 
  • Leaders: Monks
  • Sacred Texts: The Tripitaka (trip-it-aka), Mahayana Sutras and the Tibetan Book of the Dead.
  • Have 4 Principles, “ Four Noble Truths” 
  1. A life of suffering 2. Being attached is the cause of suffering 3. There is an end to suffering. 4. To end suffering, follow the ‘Middle Path’ 

The Concept of Afterlife: 

  • Everything is basically a reincarnation,  you were and are everywhere in the natural world. 
  • Basically, you are an entity and your soul is released back into the natural world. 

Christanity: 

The Basics: 

-Belief in God the Father, Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and the Holy Spirit.

– Leaders: Priest, Nuns, Pope, Pastor 

-Monothesic 

– 2.3 Billion in population 

Scared Text: The Bible, Old/ New Testament, Book of Life

  • Have three main components to peace: spirit, soul and body

The Concept of Afterlife: 

  • Your soul is basically your emotional makeup, and your soul goes into the afterlife. 
  • Accept God into your life, and you will ascend to Heaven 
  • Heaven, is thought to be perfection, a new earth, peace, happiness, love, no pain, strife or fear. 
  • Hell, not intended for man, only Lucifer a.k.a. “The Devil” 
  • You must believe in God to ascend to Heaven 
  • Sign: Sign of the Holy Cross 

Hinduism 

The Basics: 

  • Henotheistic, worship a single deity, known as “Brahman,”, but also worship other gods/goddesses.
  • Leaders: Priest, or known as  ‘pujari’ or ‘archaka’ 
  • 3rd Largest Religion , over 900 million followers 
  • Scared Texts: The Vedas 
  • Everything is a manifestation of enlightenment, a divine spirit 
  • Mind, body, soul, one should have mental and emotional conscious 
  • Concept of Afterlife: 
  • A cycle of death and rebirth, its called ‘samsara’. 
  • When one dies, their atman(inner-spirit) is reborn into another body. 
  • Some believe that the spirit immediately leaves when the body dies, and others believe it lives on in other worlds. 

Voudou

The Basics: 

  • Traditional Afro-Haitian religion 
  • God is the ‘Grand-master’ 
  • Ancestral religion, meaning, passed through family generations
  • Leaders: Priests and Priestesses a.k.a., Mambo 
  • About bringing healing and balance 
  • Common among slaves brought to the colonies 
  • Two parts of soul: 1. Body  2.Consiousnes 
  • Believe in a Visible world and Invisible world, these worlds interact. 
  • Try to bring elements of the Invisible world to Visible world, as Invisible world has power, is beautiful, but it cannot be seen with the eye. 
  • Concept of Afterlife: 
  • Everything has spirit 
  • There are spirits called ‘lwa’, ‘mystè’  (mysteries), ‘anvizib’ (the invisibles), ‘zanj’ (angels), and the spirits of ancestors and the recently deceased, they are in the invisible world. 
  • Spirits come back after 9 days after the body is treated, these spirits come back to be remembered. 
  • Sign: Azyrian, largest and most important spirit, fends off evil. 

Islam 

The Basics: 

  • Monotheistic religion teaching that Muhammad is a messenger of God. 
  • Second-largest religion with 1.8 billion followers or 24.1% of the world’s population, known as Muslims. 
  •  Leaders: Imans 
  • Scared Text: Quran 
  • One must have deflation of ego, one has ‘inner-self’ and ‘outer-self’
  • The outlook of death is positive 
  • One’s soul can gain karma through good deeds in the natural world and in afterlife. 
  • Believe in a form of reincarnation 
  • Concept of Afterlife: 
  • Body must be washed, shrouded and buried asap. 
  • One’s soul can go to Heaven and Hell,  but your soul can get purified, cleansed to go to Heaven. 

Judaism

The Basics: 

  • Monothesic 
  • Pre-belief to Islam and Christan belief system 
  • Leaders: Rabbi
  • Scared Text: The Koran and Torah
  • Concept of Afterlife: 
  • No Hell, there are no places, only essence of connection, love, kindness, etc. 
  • Believe in a form of reincarnation
  • Your soul goes through a metaphorical process of self-betterment, repent, “soul rehab” if you will. 
  • There are different stages to ascend to, one should be good, moral, ethical and your soul can be rewarded. 
  • Sign: Star of David 

If you were intrigued and want to learn more about these religions and their belief systems, or just talk about the topic of death, check out The Adventures of Momento Mori on Spotify. The name of the three part series is The Myths of Immortality Part 1,2,3. Or if you’re looking to hear some spooky ghost stories check out Snap Judgement: Spooked on Spotify.

Categories: Cover Stories

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