Thoughts on the Afterlife

Thursday’s Talking Point

Hindus believe the self or soul (atman) repeat...

Hindus believe the self or soul (atman) repeatedly takes on a physical body. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yes, this was due to come out last Thursday, but as I went to write it, I realised I didn’t have everything I needed yet. There was still something missing. Over the weekend, I discovered what was missing, and now I am ready to share my thoughts.

Fellow blogger Rowan Mistwalker has written some very good pieces on the subject of Death and Dying over the past several days. I would like to share two of her most recent posts with you here, and I encourage you to follow over to read what she has to say once you finish reading here.

Putting Away Aging and Death

On Death and Dying: Societal and Personal Perspectives
More than dying though, this is a focus on what I think happens after we die. It’s a scary subject, death, because we just don’t know what happens next. Heaven and Hell. Rebirth and reincarnation. Or nothing at all, life just ends. Death is the great unknown. And it doesn’t matter how fervently you hold to your beliefs as to what happens, in the end we just don’t know.

This is what I think based upon reading, personal experience working with those who are dying, and journeywork discussions with Deities, spirits, and other beings.

Before we are born, our Soul makes decisions with regards to what lessons it wants to learn, decisions on where and when it will be born in order to best learn those lessons, what gender it will be, and perhaps even decisions on what parents it will have.

During our life we are placed in situations which give us opportunity to learn the life lessons we decided upon before birth. It may be that we decided before birth that we need to work further on learning patience, or compassion. It could be that in looking back on our previous life, we discovered we needed to learn to love unconditionally. People focus on the ideas of karma as a form of punishment – Karma is gonna get ya for that! But I see it as a gentle and patient teacher. It isn’t a Supreme Being or some Outside Force deciding what lessons we must learn, it is our Soul in conjunction with our Over Soul, our Higher Soul Self which reviews past life actions and from that chooses what lessons to be learned in the coming life.

At the end of life, when we die, the Soul looks back upon its human life, and looks at the lessons it had set out to learn during that life time. Were the lessons learned? Or did we stray? We don’t learn patience without being placed into situations which give us the opportunity to practice patience; we don’t learn to love unconditionally without being placed in situations which provide opportunity to love unconditionally. It’s nothing to do with being good or evil, or with being a sinner or a saint. Did you learn the lessons you had decided to learn before being born? If the answer is yes, then you look at what other lessons you need to learn. If the answer is no, you look at where you strayed from those lessons, and what you can do differently to help learn the lesson in a future lifetime.

Several months ago I was asked how my belief about past lives influences my life today. I think that first and foremost comes the understanding that I do have lessons to be learned, and if I don’t learn them this time around, I’ll only have to come back and do it all over again. Suicide is not an option for me, no matter how depressed I have found myself, no matter how deep in despair because it wouldn’t remove the need to learn the lessons, and would in all likelihood create additional lessons to be learned.

Numerous questions come into my mind as I am writing.
Why don’t we remember our past lives?

Some people do remember. Young children especially seem to retain some memory, losing it as they get older if they are discouraged from talking about “such nonsense”. Stories abound across the internet though of a child giving information about a previous lifetime. Much of this information has been verified through outside sources, giving credence to the chatter of children.

For most of us though, what memories may exist are brief and fleeting, minute glimpses which provide more questions than answers. I think that we come into our new life, for the most part, not knowing the full details of previous lifetimes because our purpose in living is to live this life, not the last one. I believe if we get those memories of a previous lifetime, it is because it has bearing on what we are doing currently, and we should use that knowledge to gain insight into our current life, rather than focusing on the particulars of the previous life.

Dangers lie here. Let’s say you learned that in your previous lifetime, you were a saintly religious person who gave often to the poor, fed the hungry, healed the sick, and generally lived the life of a really good person. Will you strive to continue those works? Will you think “but I did so well the last time, why am I hear again?” and give up on trying to learn your life lessons in this life time? Will you decide you can ‘rest on your laurels’ and you don’t need to worry about learning the new lessons you have set for yourself?

At the other extreme, what if you were to discover that in your previous lifetime you were a thoroughly horrid, wicked person. Will you give up in despair? I was such an evil person, how could I ever hope to make up for any of that?

We start each life with a clean slate. Each previous lifetime provides opportunities for learning, but there is no punishment for not learning. We are simply given opportunity over and over again until the lessons are learned.

Why do so many people claim to have been someone famous in a past life?

Ego, to put it bluntly. It’s a lot more exciting to think you were the king or queen of a country than the scullery maid beneath the stairs, or the labourer in the fields. This isn’t to say that someone wasn’t the King or Queen, or Pharaoh, or Someone Famous in a past life. The majority of souls for the past tens of thousands of years have lived their previous lives unrecorded in history though.

Billions more people live today than have lived before, where did all these souls come from if they are being born over and over again?

I must admit, I struggled for some time with this question. There are billions of people living on the Earth today, compared to the few million or so that lived a thousand years ago, and fewer than that over the tens of thousands of years before. I’ve seen the theory put forward that Souls can move backwards and forwards in time, but in my mind this didn’t fully answer the question.

What helped was when I realised that time as we understand it, does not exist outside of this reality. When we enter the realm of the Spirit World time does not exist. In this realm outside of time, the Over Soul can see all of human existence, past and future. It is here that our Soul goes between life and in this place where time does not exist, the Soul makes its decisions on where to be born, and when. What this means is that a “new soul” can be living its first life today, then enter life again ten thousand years in the past or future to live its second life. It would also mean that an “old soul” could have lived hundreds of lifetimes spanning the whole of human existence past, present, and future.

We think in terms of past lives happened before we were born in this life time, but it could be that our past life actually happened in the future. The past is behind us, the future is ahead of us. That’s how we think of this life, past and future lives. Consider though the Aymara people of South America. This is the only known culture that in its language sees the unknown future as being behind them where they cannot see it, and the known past as being ahead of them where they can see it clearly.

These are all my thoughts on this subject, and I freely admit that none of this can be proven. I don’t claim to have the absolute only answers, I only have my answers. Formulating these answers though time as made the concept of death less scary for me. This doesn’t mean I am eager for death to come, but it does mean I hold less fear of its arrival when it finally does come for me.

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