Human Destiny After Death

What is death? Why do we die? Is there a life death? What is our destiny after death? Such questions have tormented all of us at some point of time in our lives, often destabilizing us with uncertainty, and sometimes, even paranoia. To think about death is perhaps ennobling; one suddenly wants to change for the better! We suddenly want to improve our actions and conduct ' become magnanimous, or simply live out our innermost desires. Our thinking and consequent actions vis-'-vis death is often guided by our belief and understanding of 'death' itself. 

For a materialist, who considers human beings an organic whole and mind as a product of organic matter, regards death as a break up of the physical body ' a state when all consciousness come to an end and life process is completely extinguished. Such a concept associated with modern capitalistic ethics andCharvak-ian notions in Hindu philosophy, extol the virtues of indulgence in material, earthly pleasures available to humankind. As there is no afterlife, human beings after death are 'answerable' to no one and their actions do not determine any 'final' outcome.

Another view held in Western theistic religions such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam in their orthodox forms is the belief in an eternal afterlife. According to these religious beliefs, we have a single life on earth and after death we live eternally in 'some' state of existence determined by our present conduct. As the 'right' actions in the present life are of outmost importance, having the power to shape our ultimate destiny, such a view places numerous 'checks and balances' on our current behavior. 

A third view, which prevails in Hinduism and Buddhism, is the idea of rebirth. Accordingly, our present life is but a link in the chain of lives that extends back into the past and stretch forward into the future. This chain of life is called samsara.

A significant aspect of Hindu philosophy is the belief in rebirth in which an individual or jiva (soul) travels into innumerable births, assuming numerous bodies, according to the status of the consciousness, finally culminating into moksha, a state which represents freedom from all desires, and therefore freedom from rebirth. Various prescriptions have been given for this purpose by the Gita (and other religious scriptures). To curb the desires of the senses is thus the virtue that a conscious self aspires to achieve. 

Buddha denies the existence of a soul which transmigrates upon death. Buddha believes in rebirth, but rebirth according to him is the causation of the next life by the present. As from one flame another may be lighted and though the two are different, they may be connected causally. Similarly, the end state of life may cause the beginning of the next. For a believer in this idea, the mind is a series of mental acts made up of feelings, perceptions, mental formations, and consciousness. These mental acts are called chitta in Pali. Each chitta arises, breaks up, and passes away. But as soon as the chitta breaks up, immediately there arises another chitta. When each chitta falls away, it transmits to its successor its perceptions, emotions, and volitional force. Thus all experiences we undergo leave their imprint on the outward flow of consciousness. On thechittasantana, the continuum of mind, this transmission of influence gives us our continued identity. 

Each of these beliefs articulated by human beings themselves, point towards their incessant striving to understand the nature of death and afterlife and to determine the yardstick for 'good' actions in their living state. They are assisted in this pursuit by their 'cultural self' that enables them to adopt or reject a particular explanation. If death is as real as life, why not embrace it with an enhanced consciousness.     


More by :  Sujata Ashwarya Cheema

Top | Spirituality

Views: 3352      Comments: 2

Comment I tend to believe that after death we all become spirits in an eternal second life.

Robert Neil Coupe
13-Oct-2013 17:12 PM

Comment we will get heaven with supreme soul.

27-Aug-2012 11:20 AM

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