Monday, 9 May 2011

There Is Life After Death

The revelation in this post should more than make up for missing the regular Sunday religion bashing one.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, children and pets, there is life after death after all. Spread the good news!

Have I finally really gone out of my mind, became religious and bought into the afterlife nonsense - or worse?

Read on and all may become clear...

OK. First things first. Have you noticed a slight hint in the words I chose? After all, by now you should know that while I may not choose my words very artfully i do try and choose them carefully. So have another quick read of the first three paragraphs.

Done?

Got it?

No?

In that case I will explain...

Looking at the text above (again!) notice "life after death" and "afterlife". Despite what you may think, expect, or were conned into believing, the two do not necessarily mean the same thing. And I don't even mean the facetious interpretation of "life after death" as "some others will still be alive after you die". I do however, use "afterlife" in the sense most religions use it in: some form of continued existence after we have died.

Now, after I have (hopefully) explained my terminology, it is probably becoming obvious that I believe in one and not the other. It should also be obvious which one I consider to be a load of cobblers. Which leaves me with a task to explain why I seem to believe in the other. Oh, and if you still haven't figured it out, that other is "life after death". And yes, I mean you and me after our respective deaths.

Hopefully by now you have given a little bit of thought to this yourself. And hopefully you have also come across one other important question, the one of the life we lead before we die. And the interesting part of the question of the lives of the living is how many of them there are. The answer, if you think about it for a little while, is many. And again I am not being facetious and telling you that there are many lives of the living because there is a lot of living people, one life each. Oh no. What I am saying, and should be, or at least should become, obvious is that most living people have more than one life - while they are still alive.

How so?

Well, you may have already heard the expression that we live our lives in the eyes of the others, the people we know, and the people that know of us. But of course, it is not the eyes of the others that matter, but their minds. And it is not just our still images that inhabit other people's heads. Oh no. As is very nicely explained here, we all run active models of people we think about, and play out various interactions with them.

This should come as a surprise only insofar as it is so obvious we never consciously think about it. So do think about it now. Think about your SO. Go on. I'll bet you a dime you didn't just think about how (s)he looks. You probably thought about what they're doing, or even what they'll do when you see them again. At the very least you will have thought about them in terms of what they truly are, and what they truly are is determined by what they do and how they do it. It is an active image, and it is very much alive. And this is where the "life after death" revelation comes in. Everything I just said about your mind's image of your SO holds true regardless of whether they're alive or dead. For all I know it may even be an imaginary SO! In which case you should congratulate yourself on achieving a god-like status - you have created a new life out of nothing.

So, having realised this on the conscious level - because we all know and do it anyway and all the time - can you not see yourself that just like your dearest ones don't actually disappear completely after they die - since they are still alive and well in your mind - so you will not die for as long as there is someone who remembers you.

Oh, you wanted an eternal life after death? Sorry, that is something I cannot promise, and is not at all to be taken as granted. Not that it's impossible, mind. Just go out and do something the whole humankind will remember you for and hey presto! You are an immortal.

And you also hoped to be actually able to feel something yourself, once you are dead? Again, sorry. I can't give you that either. And I can't give it at all. Not even being the most remembered person that ever lived will help. Once you're dead, you're dead. Very dead.

Because you see, it is not YOU who has a chance of eternal existence. It is your LIFE and what otehrs made of it that has that privilege. And you know what the most interesting thing about this is? No? Didn't ring a bell yet? OK, then read on.

Don't you see a certain parallel between what I have just pointed out to you and what most religions try to tell you? How is it you guarantee yourself eternal life? By doing something extraordinary, that's how. Do something extraordinarily good and humankind will remember and cherish you forever. A heaven in disguise, if ever there was one. Do something heinous on an equivalent scale and you are guaranteed an eternity of humankind's loathing. A true hell, if you ask me. And it goes further. Even as an evil bastard there is likely to always be some who will still like you, even revere you: the devil and those who sell their souls to him. And so on. I think I could stretch this equivalence a long, long way.

So, is this little theory of mine as good as any religion's teaching of "life after death"? No, I don't think it is. I actually think it is better. Can you figure out why? Yes, it is because religions try to make you satisfy and be true to an imaginary entity who you have no chance to ever truly get to know and thus are guaranteed to spend your life painfully trying to chase your own tail. And it isn't your own tail that you should be chasing at all. Because, to guarantee yourself eternal (or at least long) life after death it is other people's tails you should be chasing. It is other people you should do right by (you do want to end up in my version of heaven, don't you?), and to do that you should study them very carefully and be really, really good to them.

Make them like you. Make them like to think about you, and they will - even after you are dead. Make them really, really, really like you and they'll think of you after you're dead even more than they did when you were still alive. And if they subscribe to the same "life after death" theory then they'll return the favour. And if everybody does the world will become a much better place.

Oh, and when they finally forget you, and they will - or they'll die themselves, don't worry because you should know (now, when you are still alive - obviously!) that you've made the world a better place. And that's more than any religion can claim. So, renounce any religion you may have and strive to have as long a life after death as is humanly (and humanely) possible!