Death, Dying And The Afterlife: Has The Idea Of What It’s Like To Be Dead Become An Urban Legend?

January 14 2012No Commented

Categorized Under: News

Although dying is an enormous part of life, not much is thought about it. If “information” is limited to what we’ve got experienced, fairly than together with what we consider for varied reasons, some would say nothing, really, is known about what it’s wish to be dead. But, though it involves things about which we know nothing, we discover ourselves having to take care of death, dying, and concepts concerning the afterlife as something. Usually, people even make decisions about life and loss of life (their very own and others’) primarily based on what they consider that “something” is. So, hat tip to Socrates, for the sake of “an examined life,” it is worth asking this query: has the thought of what it is wish to be dead turn out to be an city legend?

“He is in a better place”

In line with Wikipedia, an city legend is “a type of modern folklore consisting of tales regarded as factual by those circulating them.” One of the crucial common tales that circulates in regards to the afterlife is embodied on this response to dying: “Not less than he’s in a better place.” Is he? If so, how do we know that? All of the sudden many extra questions are raised. In How Urban Legends Work, Tom Harris writes:

Typically talking, an city legend is any trendy, fictional story, advised as truth, that reaches a large audience by being handed from person to person. City legends are often false, however not always. Just a few change into largely true, and numerous them were impressed by an actual occasion, however advanced into one thing different in their passage from particular person to person.

Individuals who attend a variety of funerals — that would be preachers — observe that one of the most generally acknowledged reactions to the death of a buddy or member of the family is a few version of “He’s in a greater place.” What is the basis for that conclusion?

The idea that dying is a gateway to “a greater place,” and that everybody who dies (or least everyone we all know who dies) passes by way of death to “a greater place,” seems to have turn into part of our modern folklore. That doesn’t imply it is false. But it surely additionally does not imply it is true. It just signifies that the thought of loss of life as a gateway for everyone to reach “a greater place” is price exploring.

Exploring the idea of the afterlife

Historically, the key ideas about the afterlife came from the world’s monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. (Monotheism means “based on one God, not on many gods.”) The afterlife, and even whether it exists as “life” or as “existence,” “vitality” or as some kind of nothingness — for instance, obliteration — additionally usually is a subject for popular discussion.

The religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, provide ideas of the afterlife that embrace versions of “Heaven” and “Hell.” Heaven usually is a fairly widespread idea; Hell, not so much. But, in widespread culture, the afterlife at all times has been handled as a clean slate. A poster at Paranormal Boards, for instance, Neptunesdream, sums up the fundamental strategy that characterizes a lot of how people think and discuss in regards to the afterlife as a person’s clean slate.

At Psychics’ Paranormal Forums, Neptunesdream writes (edited for typos): “the ‘afterlife’ (no matter which means, I’d reasonably say, the bodiless life or the density-free life, etc.) becomes what you believe it to be . . . Or what you need it to be.”

David Woodward, at Door of Hope, sees a similar approach at work within the ubiquity of the “He’s in a better place” reaction to death. Most people, Woodward says, “want to imagine that lifeless people go to a greater place.”

The significance of the afterlife all through historical past

The essential driving drive behind people’s need to one way or the other get their minds around what occurs after dying is wrapped up in deep problems with human significance.

In reviewing the history of ideas in regards to the afterlife, Andy Rau states: “If there’s one constant throughout virtually every human tradition and religion that is ever existed, it is a sense that there’s more to human existence than what we do and experience throughout the everyday humdrum of our lives. A suspicion that demise isn’t the end, but just a step towards . . . something else.”

Even when people say the afterlife consists of “nothingness,” they often proceed to imagine there may be some correlation between how people act while alive and their future state. In keeping with the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, though some people don’t need to endorse or accept a literal “life after demise,” they nonetheless gravitate towards ideas of heaven and hell as a result of they want to “retain the deep private significance of our choices.”

In other phrases, it seems innate for people to want it to matter, in some just and personally consequential means, whether people select good or evil in their life.

An afterlife that’s “nothingness”?

For some individuals, an innate human drive to “retain the deep personal significance of our choices” makes it tough to consider in an afterlife that is a state of “nothingness.” The idea of “becoming nothing” also is rejected on physical grounds by some Buddhists, for example. Similarly, the thought of “becoming nothing” is rejected by quantum physics. (I will save a dialogue of the “information paradox” and black holes for another day!)

Thich Nhat Hanh, in Nirvanna in Buddhism is The End of All Struggling, writes that the idea of turning into “nothing” can’t apply to reality. He explains that after we see a cloud go away, that doesn’t imply the cloud has turn into “nothing.” In Hanh’s view, “it’s impossible for a cloud to die. A cloud can grow to be rain, snow or ice, but a cloud can’t grow to be nothing.”

Likewise, in accordance with Hanh, a “somebody” does not become “nobody” after the process of dying is complete. Hanh states that loss of life is a transformation and a continuation, but not a gateway to “nothingness.”

A quote that is relevant to Hanh’s level is circulating on the web with out attribution. It’s: “We aren’t people having a spiritual expertise, but spirits having a human experience.”

If the afterlife isn’t nothing, then it’s something

Perhaps you’ve got had the unlucky experience of listening to someone say, “Nicely, not less than he is in a better place,” and, rightly or wrongly, this thought popped into your head: “If there’s a God, then no. That person just isn’t in a greater place.”

What this illustrates, after all, will not be that folks have the ability to know a person’s closing state or closing destiny. Moderately, this experience illustrates that, when push comes to shove, folks, deep down, usually are not naturally prepared to simply accept that there is no such thing as a punishment, or not less than some type of consequence, linked to a person’s dangerous behavior while alive.

Treating dying as an city legend

The phrases “he is in a better place” often are provided and understood as sincere words of sympathy and luxury for the loss felt by the living. Such words might even be extended as an act of compassion or simple politeness. In other phrases, generally “he is in a greater place” may serve a kindly social perform, slightly than signify a statement of “truth.” Nonetheless, it seems “an examined life” requires some examination — beyond possibly and unwittingly shopping for in to an city legend — of death and what it may be wish to be dead. The philosophical concern, then, comes in when those words, “he’s in a better place,” start to reflect a view that truly equates dying with “a better place.”

Such an equation raises many, many questions — if a person is inclined to explore them. Probably essentially the most philosophically pressing query, as well as the one which raises the most observe-on questions, is that this: if death is “a greater place,” is it “a greater place” for everybody? Yes. No. Both method, many more questions appear. Which is good, if one is inclined to take the journey of living an “examined life.”

The concept of death that is commonplace at present, that for (just about) all people demise is a “better place,” may be true or it might be an city legend —“a type of trendy folklore consisting of stories considered factual by these circulating them.” Either method, demise, because it has to do with life, is a pretty essential topic to determine out.

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