D is for death and the afterlife.

D Finished

 

What happens after we pass over to the other side? It is a question that dogs us as soon as we become conscious of what death  is all about.  Of course points of view on this subject are colored  by  the religion that a person follows.   It is a commonly banded about  idea that some Muslims  believe  they are promised 72 virgins,  upon entry to paradise,  particularly those who fight in the way of Allah.

What do Catholics believe? At the moment of death, the soul is separated from the body and no longer sustains order within the natural body; as a result, the body begins to corrupt and left to its own will decompose. The soul, however, is immortal and never ceases to exist, once created. Immediately upon death, the soul of each person is judged by the Lord, either to eternal life or the damnation of hell.

There must be many permutations depending on which religion a person follows. Buddhists give two permutations,  If you still have unresolved kamma (Sanskrit: karma), if the conditions for rebirth are present, “you” are reborn. Alternatively If you have achieved nibbana (Sanskrit: nirvana) during your life, you will have no more kamma, and so the conditions for the creation of the five clinging-aggregates will no longer be present. Consciousness will cease, activity in your brain will cease, and your body will decay. Meaning you will die, and that’s your lot.

The Buddhist  version of life after death,  seems to not only be more appealing than the threat of damnation in Hell  but also seems to  be more logical, as well giving a meaning to life, in that through a life we learn and develop until we reach the point whereby it is unnecessary to learn any more.

From my point of view it is only when we all finally embrace death itself  will this vexing question about what happens after death will finally be answered.  There are those who have recently had their quest  to answer this  question satisfied.  David Bowie is no longer with us, having succumbed to cancer.  He was the type of man a person might imagine could live forever, he was such a part of my life as surely he was for many others.  Is he now in some other dimension  working on celestial music? Has he been interacting with other departed souls,  other geniuses,  departed family  members of the Jones family  (Jones was his real family name).

In my book Flight of Destiny, I present an image of both Heaven and Hell. In my story cast from Hell,  a man is rejected by Hell (for being too good)  and is sent back in the guise of a woman to wreak havoc.  This is his take on Hell.

As you can tell, my expectations of hell were quickly dashed.It was far removed from William Blake’s famed illustrations of Dante’s Inferno, and it didn’t even remotely resemble a Brueghel painting.To my surprise, there was no evidence in Hell of people being  grievously punished. The slothful were not being goaded with burning coals. The gluttons were not being tormented with thirst and hunger.There were no hedonists being bathed in burning pitch and stinking brimstone, or envious individuals howling with grief over that which they could never possess. The proud were not being brought down.The covetous were not being denied. In fact, the damned seemed to be living in a modicum of comfort. I never detected any weeping, wailing or gnashing of teeth. The place, called by some gehenna, the bottomless pit, was admittedly no holiday camp, but things there had grown shoddy and dysfunctional. It would require major rehabilitation to scare even a child. Being lodged with fellow rejects was sobering experience, not unlike being in a holding center for suspected criminals, refugees or illegal immigrants.

This is his take on Heaven.

I took a last look survey of Hell. It looked like a vast airport terminal: vacuous, tedious, and hum-drum. By now I couldn’t wait to leave. By contrast, I have often tried to imagine Heaven. To me it would be one long party in a great vivant night club, not unlike this second life to which I was now looking forward to I closed my inner eye as instructed and waited while Charon transported me to earth’s dimension.

What happens after death, is the ultimate, unanswerable question.

Francis H Powell is a writer. His recently published book is Flight of Destiny, a book of 22 short stories.

http://theflightofdestiny.yolasite.com/

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Hell updated, new interpretations of Hell

Religion is for people who are scared to go to hell. Spirituality is for people who have already been there.
Bonnie Raitt

Hell2

It’s Halloween… people will dressing up as Devils, but what of hell? Does it exist? Is just some clever marketing to keep people in check, a menace to keep people from doing “bad’ things.

Traditionally Catholics believed that if you die in a state of mortal sin you go to Hell. So for example if your spouse killed you in the act of adultery you go to hell. If you died after having homosexual sex you go to Hell. If you commit suicide you go to hell. In ”The Inferno,” Dante tells of his imagined journey into hell, his entry into a ”kingdom of eternal night” where he hears the voices of the damned rise ”in a bestial moan” and sees sinners stung by wasps, burnt by falling fire and frozen in a sheet of ice.

The most recent Catholic interpretation “hell is best understood as the condition of total alienation from all that is good, hopeful and loving in the world. What’s more, this condition is chosen by the damned themselves, the ultimate exercise of free will, not a punishment engineered by God, so our creator wipes his hands of any responsibility. In this latest interpretation Hell ”is not a ‘place’ but a ‘state,’ a person’s ‘state of being,’ in which a person suffers from the deprivation of God,” declared La Civilta Cattolica, an influential Jesuit magazine based in Rome and closely tied to the Vatican. The magazine insists that it is not God who inflicts pain ”through angels or demons as is illustrated in many paintings or is read in the ‘Divine Comedy,’ ” but the sinner who masochistically brings about his own punishment by deliberately rejecting God’s grace, thereby entering a great state of pain. Has Hell become too unbelievable for the church in this day and age…that they needed to revise their point of view. The magazine still insists that hell is real.

My own interpretation of hell is somewhat prosaic. It appears at the beginning of one of my short stories called “Cast from Hell” a story about a middle aged man who is rejected from hell, who comes back in the body of a women, who goes on to wreak havoc on earth.

Descent from hell 2014 final

Existing in hell amidst the fallen angels, some of the sickest souls
who ever existed in Christendom, had been grueling, to say the least.
Lucifer, the so-called Prince of Darkness, had proved to be a letdown.
The centuries had worn him down, and he had an irritating habit of
droning on and on about the “good old days.” He didn’t possess the
charm I had anticipated, or command the fear for which he was
notorious. Okay, he was still trying to mess up the world to get back at
God, but he had become generally bereft of ideas to the point of
lacking any originality. Lucifer’s mind dwelled constantly on religious
wars. He was still pinning his hopes on igniting religious hatred,
polarizing nations, waiting to the perfect moment when total chaos
would reign and he could step in. I had imagined him in strict control
of all his minions, sending them about on virulently destructive
missions, infiltrating them into positions of power and influence, as
heads of huge multi-national corporations, for example, but, no, he’d
given up on this strategy, he couldn’t be bothered.
The Middle Ages had been his peak time, his heyday, slugging it
out with God for souls. In those days he warranted respect. He was
feared. He kept society in check. He actually served a function. You
couldn’t afford to be sent to that correctional place known as “Hell”
because you’d pay for your sins with eternal damnation, cast into a pit
of fire, brimstone to agonize through endless inventive tortures. These
days, the world’s leaders had usurped his job with their ineptness, lies
and monetarily-advantageous wars. This, allied with natural disasters,
hurricanes, earthquakes, food shortages and environmental degradation
resulting in increasingly destructive world epidemics had created Hell
on earth. Lucifer had grown lazy in his ways. He’d become insipid. He
no longer had to conjure up evil, that task being performed daily for
him by literally millions of mortals. The world, at the same time, had
become more informed, more educated, more pragmatic. There were
so many disgruntled disbelievers, some even dared to call him a sham,
and Hell just another cock-and-bull story no less.
Hell’s merchandise still went up for sale every year around the
thirty-first of October, but Satan himself had been trivialized,
cheapened, and was no longer to be taken seriously. Even the churches
were detaching themselves from him. Whereas in the past, he’d been
used as a rod to beat people back into their places, now he was largely
ignored. As you can tell, my expectations of hell were quickly dashed.
It was far removed from William Blake’s famed illustrations of Dante’s
Inferno, and it didn’t even remotely resemble a Brueghel painting.
To my surprise, there was no evidence in Hell of people being
grievously punished. The slothful were not being goaded with burning
coals. The gluttons were not being tormented with thirst and hunger.
There were no hedonists being bathed in burning pitch and stinking
brimstone, or envious individuals howling with grief over that which
they could never possess. The proud were not being brought down.
The covetous were not being denied. In fact, the damned seemed to be
living in a modicum of comfort. I never detected any weeping, wailing
or gnashing of teeth. The place, called by some gehenna, the
bottomless pit, was admittedly no holiday camp, but things there had
grown shoddy and dysfunctional. It would require major rehabilitation
to scare even a child. Being lodged with fellow rejects was sobering
experience, not unlike being in a holding center for suspected
criminals, refugees or illegal immigrants. And despite all this, the sad
truth was that I hadn’t made the grade. I was simply one of the
unwanted, a fence sitter, between the two divides.

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