What to write about? That is the question. I’ve not written anything since my last chapter, “The Wheel of Life,” posted on July 26th. That’s three months! Truthfully, I did not have the inspiration to write. I moved to a new condo in May, which took up a lot of my time; plus, I’m currently in a deep depression. It’s hard to be inspired when you are depressed. In any case, I decided I would write about a subject that was recently presented to me by a friend. Well, it was more of a question, actually. We were having lunch, and he asked me, “What do you believe happens in the afterlife, or more precisely, do you believe there is an afterlife?” Quite the existential question! You see, my friend is a man of great faith. He is a Christian who has strong convictions about his faith. And I say, good for him - really. My answer was something along these lines, “I believe that there is a governing intelligent system that we could call “The Universe,” that is behind the creation of the planets, Earth, plants and animals, and humans. However, I do not believe in a God as imagined by many as having some sort of involvement in our lives.” My friend believes that the only way to ensure a place in Heaven is to follow Jesus. He also does not believe in evolution.
This same friend had recommended the movie “The Whale” to me during one of our conversations. I finally got around to watching it. I have been quite unwell lately, so I wasn't sure if I could stomach it. I won’t lie; it was sometimes hard to watch. I was able to draw many parallels between his suffering and mine. Although we have entirely different health issues, he has to deal with people who don’t understand what it’s like to be him, something I can relate to. And, like me, he is a prisoner to his body and has to pass on so much that life has to offer. It’s certainly a very good movie, and the acting was superb.
I found it very interesting that a big part of the movie’s plot revolves around a young wanna-be missionary trying to “save” Charlie (The Whale). After several difficult encounters between the missionary and Charlie's caregiver and eventually with Charlie himself, his position on the Bible and Jesus is unfavourable. I share Charlie’s view; according to the Bible, only a certain group of people were “saved” while the other group, the non-believers (a large figure I can't recall), is left unsaved. Perhaps I am simplifying that part, but you get the idea. During our chat, I said to my friend, “I guess there are a lot of Jews that won’t be by God’s side after their death.” Something I just can’t wrap my head around. I should say one thing before I continue. I actually believe that Jesus existed; whether or not he performed miracles, no one can know for sure, but I believe in what Jesus stood for. His message is what’s important. However, with all the inequality and suffering that exists in this world, I find it hard to believe that there is a God. One need only look at what's happening in the Middle East at the moment. If there is a God, he certainly doesn’t care about what’s happening down here. Let’s face it: there is a lot more wrong with the world than there is right.
There are far too many people, women and children included, who are suffering, enslaved and tortured, and made to work for slave wages, along with horrible tragedies that occur to good people and bad people, for me to believe that a God is overseeing all of this. What about the millions of tribal people who have never heard of Jesus? Are they condemned? Were all the natives here in North America also condemned? What about the Hindus and Buddhists? What happens to them? If God truly exists and loves us all, why would he/she be selective regarding entry into the gates of Heaven? There are too many large groups of people left out who, for whatever reason, have never been exposed to Jesus for me to get on board.
I just don’t think that God (whatever God is) would pick and choose. If God is all-knowing and all-loving, then there should be no discrimination, I believe. If anything, I could see him/her judging people such as Hitler or the Taliban or ISIS and condemning them for having lived a cruel and evil life. A person of an entirely different faith may have lived a perfect life and lived as Jesus did. Does he/she get into the gates of Heaven?
The other thing that has always been an issue for me is the fact that the Bible was written by men, not by God. Nothing is more deviant, corrupt, or dishonest than the human race. We know that. I struggle with the legitimacy of the Bible. I hope that none of this is offensive to any of you. It’s not meant to be! It’s just my perspective on the Afterlife, the Bible, God, and Jesus. Although I don’t pray, I have no issue with anyone who does. Perhaps someone is listening. It just seems like people pray a lot, and shit still happens. My friend has been praying for me for years, yet I continue to decline. Not that I don’t appreciate it! I have no problem with people of faith. None. Just because I have a different view doesn’t mean we can’t get along. Although, in fact, sometimes I wish I was a man of faith. I think it makes life easier to get through when you have something to believe in.
I think man needed a story, a God, to help answer the unanswerable. There was no science back then. Thus, the Bible was born. It also explains why there are different faiths and different “bibles,” if you will. Populations from one area of the world did not see other people other than their own kind. So they came up with their own stories, like the Egyptians, who believed in multiple Gods for example. If you have not seen the film "Religulous" created by Bill Maher (even if you're not a fan of Bill's), I highly recommend it.
I believe we have a soul. I also believe that many sentient creatures may have their own kind of soul. Dogs and cats come in a myriad of personalities! Perhaps every living creature has its own kind of soul, who knows? I believe in Astral Traveling, also known as an out-of-body experience. It’s when the soul leaves the body, but not because of death; it’s just wandering around while you are sleeping, temporarily detached from the body, travelling in other dimensions! Many people have experienced this phenomenon, including myself. I have astral travelled 3 times. It’s scary as hell when you wake up if your soul has not returned to your body! I remember being incapable of moving or speaking. My eyes were open and looking straight ahead, but as hard as I tried, I could not make a sound or move a muscle. I was paralyzed. It was terrifying. Then, all of a sudden, it felt like something slammed into me. It's almost like walking into a wall. That was my soul returning to my body. At that moment, I was able to scream and move. I believe our souls can roam in another realm the human mind cannot comprehend. Some people can astral travel at will. Take this example that was scientifically conducted:
A man proved that he could travel out of his body (astral travelling) to move around in another dimension. He slept or meditated (I'm not sure) in one room, and the scientists talked together on another floor in a soundproofed room. It was impossible to know what was happening in the scientists' room. The guy repeated precisely the content of their discussion each time and told them who was sitting where. He even mentioned that one of them had sneezed! Obviously, these are details that are impossible to know unless you were in the room. Everyone else in the experiment attempting to astral travel failed, but not him.
In short, there are lots of things we don't know. In my view, there is certainly more to our lives than just flesh and bones. But I can’t speculate on what a soul is, where it comes from, when does it attach itself to the body, do newborns have souls, etc. Do our souls live many lives here on earth until they get it right? Perhaps. Nobody knows.
My friend offered to buy me a Bible and suggested I read a specific book, the Gospel of John in the New Testament – the 4th book. I agreed. He figures it is better to believe in Jesus if it turns out to be true than not to believe and end up in some sort of hell. I figure I’ll certainly come away with something by reading it! I’ve almost finished reading it, and so far, it has not swayed me into believing in God, but I do believe in Jesus' message. He was quite the philosopher!
If you've never heard the song "Dear God" by XTC, here it is. I think it's one of the smartest songs ever written. Check it out; it's lyrically brilliant!
Dear God – XTCDear God, hope you get the letter, and-
I pray you can make it better down here
I don't mean a big reduction in the price of beer
But all the people that you made in your image
See them starving on their feet
'Cause they don't get enough to eat from God
I can't believe in you
Dear God, sorry to disturb you, but-
I feel that I should be heard loud and clear
We all need a big reduction in amount of tears
And all the people that you made in your own image
See them fighting in the street
'Cause they can't make opinions meet about God
I can't believe in you
Did you make disease and the diamond blue?
Did you make mankind after we made you
And the devil too?
Dear God, don't know if you noticed, but-
Your name is on a lot of quotes in this book
And us crazy humans wrote it, you should take a look
And all the people that you made in your own image
Still believing that junk is true
Well, I know it ain't so, and you know
Dear God, I can't believe in-
I don't believe in-
I won't believe in Heaven and Hell
No saints, no sinners, no devil as well
No pearly gates, no thorny crown
You're always letting us humans down
The wars you bring, the babes you drown
Those lost at sea and never found
And it's the same the whole world 'round
The hurt I see helps to compound
The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost
Is just somebody's unholy hoax
And if you're up there, you'll perceive
That my heart's here upon my sleeve
If there's one thing I don't believe in