Last year, I wrote an article where I talked about Carrie Fisher's death, because I thought it would be an interesting idea to talk about, especially to close off the year. So, I decided to do the same, but this time, I want to talk about a topic that's been heavily debated by millions across the planet. I'm not trying to be super philosophical, but rather share with you my point of view.
A few days ago, I decided to look up a few videos about souls and the afterlife. I look up a video that talked about theories of what could happen. Most of them seemed reasonably beliveable, except for the last one, which utterly terrified me: that after I die, there's nothing. I mean, I was afraid of it before, but the reason why I was both terrified and incredibly depressed that night is because of the implication of being completely unconscious for the rest of eternity. That being, that you don't know what happens after your death. I don't mean that you're unaware of your soroundings, but that you won't ever know what happens to the people around you, the world, etc.
Allow me to elaborate on what I mean:
This year, we lost many beloved artists and celebrities, like: Adam West and Chester Bennington.
Whenever someone famous that people love dies, I always see them say things like: "Rest in Peace" and "They're in a better place now." This gave me hope that after I die, I can finally meet with them.
However, almost all of my hopes about meeting dead relatives and celebrities that I admire were completely crushed.
For instance, I read comments from people that explained how the human brain is everything and how there is no God, soul, or afterlife. That our thoughts, feelings, desires, senses, and perception were all connected to our brain, and if the brain dies, our consciousness dies with it. As many people put it: "It's like being asleep but never waking up". But unlike sleep where you can experience dreams, your brain is completely dead, meaning there can't be any dreams that we spend the rest of eternity in after we die.
Another one is from people who have suffered from near death experiences, and how some of them experienced something that resembles an afterlife, while others who also suffered NDE, and they experienced nothing, but total blackness and emptiness.
The ones who did have an outer body experience usually say that they were able to see themselves while being surrounded by doctors, or that they saw the whole universe, or that they met with dead loved ones, etc. But these experiences could be traced to a drug that people have that allows them to have hallucinations like that. Not everyone has it, and as a result, the ones who also had NDE didn't have the same experience.
I bring this up, because my whole life I always believed in God, religion and the Afterlife. That after I die, I can pass on to the next world and meet with my dead loved ones and watch over the ones who are still alive.
My biggest dream is to become an animator or a writer, because I have a lot of great ideas that I want to express and share with the world. And after I die, I'll be remembered and my legacy will probably live on, making me feel that I accomplished something. Not only that, but I want to watch what happened afterwards and what they do to remember and honor me. Again, this is just if I become a famous artist.
I'm not arrogant to the point that I want people to make fan-arts of me. But I'm afraid of being left in the dark for all eternity and not know what's going on in the world and to the people around me.
I've been dealing with depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts for years now, and I'm not even 18 years old, yet. The reason why most people kill themselves is so they can have eternal peace in the afterlife where they no longer have to deal with the everyday problems of when they were alive.
The idea that I've been living in a lie my whole life and that I'll be left in darkness for all eternity is one of, if not the most horrifying thing in my life. I don't know what's worse: feeling like a worthless monster everyday, or be left in eternal nothingness for all eternity and not ever knowing what will happen afterwards.
Whenever I read comments from people who had NDE and didn't experience any sort of afterlife, it feels like they're slowly crushing any hopes of me passing on and having eternal peace and meeting with dead loved ones and watching over everyone else.
I once saw a post that everything bad about us is linked to our ego, while everything good about is is linked to our soul. However, this crumbles down into oblivion, because everything that you feel and think, whether it be good or bad, are linked to your state of mind, and how you react to it. It's all connected to your brain, and a soul has nothing to do with it. This depressed me even more.
Sometimes, it is nice to lay down the facts to people, even if it might hurt their feelings, because it can help them realize the error of their ways and try to improve themselves. Like how the Fat Acceptance Movement say that being fat is beautiful and every size is healthy, when it's clearly not. You may think that they're different, but in reality, they're almost the same. Because we're basically being emotionally destroyed by facts, and try to hide behind a false perception of reality.
I mentioned many times before that I'm both a Christian and a Catholic. While I don't go to churces, I do believe in God, religion, the afterlife, and the soul. I even have an altar that I pray to. But with all of the "facts" that people are talking about, I start to feel like an idiot almost every day because I believe in something they consider fictional or made up.
When I look into the history of Christianity and the Bible, it makes me wonder if they made the whole thing up so they can comfort people into believing something made up so they wouldn't be afraid of death, while also feeding off of their fear and controlling them and abusing their power however they like. For example, back in the day, they celebrated Christmas for different reasons, but when Christians saw the opportunity and made it the day that Jesus Christ was born. Either because they believed Jesus was born on that Holiday, due to how large it was. Or saw how large it was and wanted to seize more power.
I do believe that Jesus was real, but not that he was born on Christmas.
Not to mention, many stories from the Bible seem to depict Christians and violent, hypocritical, selfish close-minded, power-hungry, and not caring about compassion. When in reality, Christianity is about forgiveness, kindness, compassion, decency, and maturity. That those who have sinned can be forgiven if they earn that forgiveness, and that it can help them out through the toughest of times, because it instills hope into people.
I do believe that everything that's written in the Bible happened, but are just blown a little bit out of proportion. For instance, I do believe that Noah built and ark that he used to escape a flood that killed a lot of people. but I don't believe that he made so big that it could fit two of every animal that was taken care of by just 8 people, or that a flood killed every person on the planet.
And many depictions of Jesus being crucified are inaccurate, because the nails were driven through both his palm and wrist, as well his two two ankles being nailed on both sides of the cross, as oppose just one nail driven through both of his feet.
I was so conflicted whether or not the Afterlife was real, that I started searching for evidence online, most of them being articles that prove the existence of souls. I was so upset, that I almost lashed out at my grandfather. I could barely focus on my work because I was still pondering about the whole thing.
I even watched The Simpsons episode "Bart sell his soul" because like Bart, I felt nothing but despair about not having a soul. But there's something that Lisa said at the end that intrigued me. She said that some philosophers believe that people aren't born with souls, but earn them through prayer and struggle. I was so intrigued by this line that I looked it up on the internet and it turns out someone else was also intrigued by what Lisa said. So much so that he asked the same thing on Reddit.
I was also intrigued that I asked the same question, only this time on Quora. As you can guess, there were both believers and atheists.
The one that intrigued me the most was this one:
"We are born with a body, senses and brain. Consciousness grows from experience of reality. This includes sense of external reality, sense of the physical self, like hunger pain and our sense of human nature characteristics such as desires, loves, hates, fear courage, confidence, pleasure, self, others and all the gut feeling stuff.
What can you consciously think of that does not require previous sense experience? This question enables us to see how consciousness or the living soul grows.
If no one can consciously think of anything, without previous sense experience, then consciousness at its core is, sense of reality in us.
I suggest taking some time to question and challenge what I have just asserted.
Really, think about it, challenge it for yourself. It is a fundamental of human nature. If you don’t know this you can’t use it to benefit yourself but others can use it to influence you without your awareness.
This is a fundamental reality of human nature. The soul or consciousness in each and every person is, at it’s core sensed reality. What people experience and how they respond in their human nature causes their ‘soul’ or consciousness of reality and themselves, to develop.
This principle being true, and that it is possible to control the developmental experiences of children, to pre-determine many characteristics of their ‘inner person’ or soul. It becomes apparent that it is possible to influence, by the nature of reality, the living consciousness or soul in individuals. And, through institutions like national education, media and religions, entire nations.
So, what do you think, how do souls come about?
Are they mass produced or at least mass influenced by media, schools, religions and societal norms? Did each of us become who we are in a natural and free way or were we artificially conceived and grown in societal machinery or a mixture? How is this knowledge important or relevant to you and others?
A lot of people are doing home schooling and turning off TV and media because they want to take control over their own consciousness. But without solid knowledge of what consciousness is and how it develops, people are at the mercy, well actually exploitative manipulations, of powerful social influences."
This answer made me think that maybe it's both. That our souls is formed through our experiences and sense throughout life and how after we die, all of our senses and experiences of who were is manifested into an entity called a soul, that either goes to Heaven or Hell, depending in what you did throughout your life.
I've seen dozens of atheists who say that souls were just made up as a way to comfort people, because after we die, there's only an eternal abyss that we can never, ever return from.
Let's talk about one of my favorite anime movies of all time: Ghost in the Shell. I was introduced to the Ghost in the Shell franchise through the series called "Stand Alone Complex". I eventually got to watch the actual film itself, and I was blown away by it. It's not one of my favorite movies of all time, but definitely one of the best Sci-fi movies I've ever seen. The level of detail they put into an 83 minute film is astounding, and so are it's themes, which is why I'm talking about them.
Ghost in the Shell's main obvious symbolic reference is in its title. Ghost representing the soul or spirit, and Shell representing the psychical body. This coralates with Motoko's dilemma of whether or not she has a soul or a ghost, despite having her memories and appearance altered, and almost her entire body being robotic. The title perfectly represents the main theme of the movie. It never actually states whether or not there is a Ghost in the Shell or not, it's just a suggestion there might be.
I said that our souls are formed through our experiences in life, and the memories we gathered along the way that help us form our own perception of ourselves. However, what would happen if your entire memory was rewritten and you no longer remember your former self. If the soul is formed through memory, and our old memories were erased, then does that mean that the souls we formed are gone along with them? Is a new soul forged through our new memories? If our consciousness is transplanted into a machine body, does our soul remain along with it? Do A.I. have souls, even if they're treated as humans?
It's questions like these that make Ghost in the Shell so fascinating to me.
I like to believe that the soul is connected to the brain. After all, whenever people say: "Mind, Body, and Soul" that means that all three are connected in some way. Even if our brains is in a mechanical body, our souls still remain because it is a part of who we are.
However, atheists will disagree. They say that our lives are connected to the brain, and if they brain dies, we die with it. After all, everything that we perceived in life is connected to the brain. The brain controls the body, the brain makes us feel, and the brain contains every aspect of our personality. If the brain dies, there's nothing. All of our senses are connected to the brain, so how can a soul exist if our minds are dead? Everything that is both good and bad about us is connected to the brain. They also sometimes ask "Do you remember what it was like before you born? Or when you were completely unconscious?"
While I agree that our brain is a part of who we are, I don't believe that it's the only thing that makes us who we are.
Those who think logically might think that I'm a lunatic for saying that, since everything that we are, both good and bad, is because of the brain. But as I said, the mind, body and soul are the three things that make a human. The mind allows us to remember who we are and helps us to think more logically. The body is the carries out our ideas and helps us do the things that our mind perceives, and to create whatever we want with our own hands. And the soul is the monad of consciousness of the divine Absolute itself. It is the source of consciousness in the very existence.
The soul does not incarnate in the body of a human in whole, but only a smaller part of it does so. Its strength is too big to keep it in one physical body. It is not necessary either. In the body there is only the potential of the soul consciousness that is sufficient for the life of that body and the gathering of all impressions, of all experiences of existence. Collecting impressions of all possibilities of existence increases the presence of the soul in the body.
Let's talk about an underrated animated film by Dreamworks: Spirit: Stallion of the Cimaron. I rewatched that film while I was writing an essay for Geography, and I soon started to notice the main theme of the movie.
Throughout the course of the film, our main character is subjected to all kinds of hardships, torturing, and problems that would brake a person. However, his spirit was so strong that no matter what happened to him, it couldn't be broken. That's because even though a person can be broken, the spirit can't be broken. It's something that transcends the mortal coil, and no matter how we try to break a human or an animal, we can never break a spirit. However, that doesn't mean that the person can't change, or learn anything from those experiences. If anything, those experiences can make us stronger and better if we stay strong ourselves.
The reason I started pondering about this is when I thought about the ones who have died, and if they're actually watching over us. I've seen many people pay tribute to those who have passed, and it makes me wonder if they actually see all of those tributes and contributions, or are aware to what's happening to the world after they've died.
I'm terrified of a lot of things, and the idea that after I die there's nothing, is one of, if not the scariest of them all. I want my soul to pass on, so I could watch over my family and protect them, to make them feel as if they're not alone in this world. Plus, to see all of the changes that will happen to the world.
I've seen a lot of people say that the idea of The Afterlife was just made up just to comfort people, so they wouldn't know that there's nothing after death. However, times have changed and for the most part, people started to think and act more logically. As a result, may people started to providing proof to everything, including why everything about God, Religion, The Bible and The Afterlife is bogus. They also say that if religion didn't exist, then we could've found the cure for Cancer and AIDS. Or that we'd live in a technologically advanced world.
Whenever I see comments from people who don't believe they have a soul, and try to explain that the whole idea is just stupid because it can't be explained, the more it saddens me. I know that many people don't care about feelings but facts, but this isn't like being told that you were adopted. It's like being told that our entire existence is meaningless and there's no point in living.
Not helped by the fact that there have been several instances of people going to the most "haunted" places on Earth, and there were no ghosts, not a single one!
I've seen many people say that death is what gives life meaning, and that we should live our lives to the fullest. If there's no afterlife, then we should spend every day of our lives like it's the last, because there's only chance at life, and when we die, we die with the idea that we just wasted our entire life and accomplished nothing. I know that death is a natural part of life and we should accept it.
For instance, one of Star Wars themes is the acceptance of death. The Sith, attached to the material world, think that power and never dying are the main drives. But the Jedi show, with humility and the simplest irony, that their path is the right one. By giving up power, they become more powerful than the Sith could possibly imagine. By accepting death, they become immortal. As Yoda said "Fear of loss is a path to The Dark Side."
Ernest Becker stated in his book "The Denial of Death" that everything we do is a way of managing the fear of our own demise and the demise of those around us.
The reason why I believe in The Afterlife is because I don't want my family members to feel alone after I die and I want to watch over them. Not to mention, I get to meet the people I couldn't meet before. We've lost so many talented and great people in the past couple of years that I wanted to meet, but no longer can. I'm not saying that I would kill myself because I want to meet them. I'm a patient person and I can wait for me inevitable demise.
I've been dealing with thoughts of suicide for years and there were many instances in the past where I tried cutting or killing myself. I thought that by killing myself, I would be free of all the pain. However, I realized that killing myself won't make the pain go away, it will only pass it off to others, and the last thing I want to see is my family being hurt; especially if it's because of me.
Many people say that a hurtful truth is better than a comforting lie, and I fully agree with that. But I don't believe that Christianity as a whole is a comforting lie that's meant to hide the sad "truth" that they're nothing after death.
I tried looking for sources that prove the existance of a soul, and one of them was that after we die, our bodies become lighter. I don't know whether or not this is proves the existence of souls, but I like to believe it is.
My best friend is both Jewish and an Atheist. He said that he doesn't believe in God, but he does believe in the Afterlife and that we have souls. He also wants to continue watching over his loved ones after he passes.
I'm truly, truly sorry if this article came out a little sloppy in execution. This was a very hard topic for me to talk about, even more so then when I talk about my mental problems like depression and anxiety.
One time on Quora, I asked the question if I'm an idiot for believing in God, religion, and The Afterlife. Many people answered that just because I'm Christian doesn't mean I'm an idiot, and just because you don't believe in God, doesn't mean you're smarter.
People say that anything can be scientifically proven, but they have to understand that there are things in this world that can't be explained scientifically. That the natural and super-natural can't exist together in the same world. I don't believe that our world is as One-Sided as that. Our world isn't a black and white place where science makes sense and God is nonsensical. In my opinion, both play an important role in how the world works. And denying one of them is like denying a part of what makes our world the way it is.
Someone once said that pondering about what's going to happen after death is a waste of your life and time. You have a whole life ahead of you, and you shouldn't waste it by pondering what comes after it. I agree, but still, it's something that I wanted to talk about because I think it's an interesting topic to talk about.
I was conflicted about it because I'd rather face the harsh truth than a comforting lie, but I never believed that The Afterlife, Christianity and everything related to them were comforting lies. However, when you try to add "logic" to it, it makes me feel like a crazy person for believing in it.
Heck, in one American Dad episode, Stan tried to read The Bible to his son, Steve. But Steve countered everything in it when he was being logical, since to him, everything that his father read were like Fairy Tales, and refused to accept them as actual events that happened in the past. Stan was drowning in Steve's logic, and he quickly lost his faith, and became a broken man. I felt the same way Stan did.
Rest assured, I'm not a religious not who doesn't accept facts and logic. To be honest, I'm quite infuriated myself whenever I see one of those atheistic jackasses who shoves his/hers opinion down people's throats and looks down on the people who believe in God, labeling them as "Mentally Challenged." They don't seem to accept the fact that there may be things in this world or universe they can't scientifically prove.
However, Christianity isn't perfect. I was always baffled at the fact that just because someone isn't a believer in God, they should rot in Hell. That it doesn't matter if they were the kindest and most altruistic person on the planet, and that they did generous and kind things in their life, they don't deserve to go to Heaven all because they don't believe in God. Or that a bunch of ruthless criminals and murderers who did horrible things deserve to go to Heaven because they believe in God.
I like to believe that Heaven and hell are actually separate universes that our souls go to, based on what you did in life, your intentions behind them, and what you believed in.
Many people asked that "If God is so loving and caring, then why are so many bad things happening to people around the world?" My answer is that it's supposed to be a test. A test to prove that even at great adversity, you can still prevail, and that no matter how horrible life can be, you shouldn't let it corrupt you and you should instead focus in doing as much good as possible. It's not so much a test of whether or not you're worthy of entering Heaven, but whether or not you're a good person.
As always, Smell ya' Later!