What happens when we die?

Thoughts on the afterlife, spirituality, and death.

Once you have walked in the shoes of every race, religion, gender, sexual orientation

Loving and hateful person

It is only then that you will understand how precious life truly is

How do we handle the moments before death? Very few of us are ever “ready” to go, so how does our brain and spirit process the knowledge of impending extinction? 

I think it matters what we’ve done leading up to that moment to allow ourselves to feel at peace with how our lives played out. But not everyone gets the hospital bed to have time to come to terms with our decisions. 

How does it all change for someone who dies in their deep sleep cycle in the middle of the night? Or the person who only has a split second of consciousness before they get hit by a car?

How does it change for someone who’s taking their own life? Does suicide give you more or less mental acceptance of the end of the line than someone who has to dwell on their life for months as a disease slowly brings them home? 

I have many questions, most of which I have little to no inkling of an answer for. But I believe that thinking about these things opens our minds up to a much greater, more lived in experience.

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Where do we go? When it’s all said and done, where do we go?

 Obviously, I’m speaking in the ethereal sense. Physically, the ground awaits us in some capacity. Whether we get a wooden sarcophagus, our ashes spread or we become a tree, almost all of us are becoming reunited with the earth. Which is poetic. From the ground we were born; to the ground, we return. 

But where does our spirit go? Spirit is a pretty neutral term, right? I don’t think any religious group would argue that we have a spirit. Sorry atheists. 

Is it as dualistic as heaven and hell? I don’t believe so. What about those of us that are average? Not objectively great people like Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi or Mother Teresa. Not objectively bad people like Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Pol Pot. Just, average. Plus, this implies that any religion is correct, which is its own separate article.

So if it’s not heaven and hell, do we just…disappear? Does our spirit enter the next sentient being it can find? 

I’m not here to be right. But my thinking on this changed when I listened to the track Waiting Room by Logic. His album Everybody was my spiritual awakening. Sounds strange to say an album with a song called Killing Spree would be the source of a spiritual awakening but alas. There are levels to this.

Anyway, in the track Waiting Room, it’s an almost five-minute conversation between god and a man named Atom. Atom and god have a long back and forth about the afterlife, what it is, etc. 

The basic premise is that there is reincarnation, but it’s not linear. Meaning, if I die today, I could come back as a warrior in medieval times, a farmer in the 1930s or a dictator. The lineation instead comes from our spiritual “wokeness”. Someone like Gandhi is much farther along in the spiritual timeline than most of us.

It’s also revealed that Atom’s spirit is the only spirit, which makes sense if we’re tracking this spiritual journey through reincarnation. Then, god decides to drop the bomb on Atom (pun intended):

I created this place for you, Atom

This entire place was made for you

Every time I send you back, every life you live, you grow

And mature and understand the grand meaning behind all of this

Just a little more each time

And if that wasn’t enough, god tells Atom that he will eventually become like him, mature into an all-knowing being. To which Atom replies:

I’m a god?

And then god altered everything I had ever believed about life and how I approach the world. 

No, not yet. You see, I was once where you stand right now

It is not until you have lived every human life inside of your universe

That I may take you from this place

Once you have walked in the shoes of every race, religion, gender, sexual orientation

Loving and hateful person

It is only then that you will understand how precious life truly is

Reading this again for the first time in a while made my eyes tear up. It’s such a beautiful way of looking at the world and makes you reevaluate what we’re all doing, why we’re all here, and who we are growing into. 

But it’s also a bit nihilistic, which is a perspective I hadn’t considered before this moment. This belief also presumes that we are all preordained to be a certain way. We may grow, but it’s all been decided. I can aspire to have the spiritual enlightenment of Gandhi, but it’s much more likely that I have a ceiling on how “woke” I can be, and that ceiling has already been decided. 

I still think this explanation makes the most sense to me, at this moment in my life, but I’ve changed my belief system several times in my short life and I will probably change it again. 

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Photo by Miguel Bruna on Unsplash