Death is with us, it follows us, and it obsesses us. It is our eternal companion and we cannot escape from it, not only because it will come to us sooner or later, but also because of all of the people we see dying every day. Obviously for most of us, death is not indifferent and we react and cope with it differently according to our beliefs and religions. Muslims and Christians think that after death, our souls go to heaven or hell. Hinduisms believe in reincarnation, for Buddhists death is nothing but a transitional path and for Spiritualists our souls have the ability to communicate with the living.
Each religion responds differently to the mystery of ceasing to exist. What happens after death? What is next? Each religion agrees to respond to the most asked question in the history of humanity. To Christians death is a transit between life on earth and life on heaven, alongside with God. Christians think that after death, our soul survives our body, and that death is the eternal rest of our soul in God’s company. But before earning the right to go to heaven we must fulfill The Ten Commandments that Jesus, the Son of God, gave to his Disciples.
A strong belief among Christians and Catholics is that there is an eternal life and that our behavior on earth will determine the place where we will finally end up after dying. There is a hell for those who did badly and there is a heaven for those who did well. They also think that some souls remain in the purgatory “(Lat. , “purgare”, to make clean, to purify) in accordance with Catholic teaching is a place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God’s grace, are, not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions” (The Catholic Encyclopedia).
In this state of limbo between heaven and hell, our souls remain until we earn the right to go to heaven. Whatever the case is, according to Christianity, our actions on earth will determine the place where we deserve to be after death. As well as Christians, Muslim people also believe that after death we will be judge for our behavior on earth. Our good or bad actions will takes us to either heaven or hell, and that the Prophet Muhammad, who delivered Ala’s message to the humankind, will intervene for us so we are not condemned to hell.
According to the Muslims, death is the end of the physical life and the beginning of a resting period, where we stay until the resurrection day, which is the day when Ala judges lives and dead. In other words they believe that our souls remain in a kind of a “dreaming soul state” until the day of the final judgment. For a religion that is followed by around 750 million people in the world, death is not about going to heaven or hell but is about reincarnating. According to Hinduisms our soul will reborn in this world many times and no necessarily in the same body.
They believe in Karma. “Karma is an ancient concept, a Sanskrit word meaning ‘act’, ‘action’, or ‘word’. The law of karma teaches us that all of our thoughts, words and actions begin a chain of cause and effect, and that we will personally experience the effects of everything we cause. We may not experience the effect (the returning karma) right away, and it may not even be in this lifetime, but you can count on it just the same. Karma is a cosmic law, which means that it applies to everyone, everywhere, all the time” (Spiritual Encyclopedia).
Karma then will determine how and when we will reborn, as a result of our past actions, good or bad. The main goal in life however, is the liberation of our life cycle in this material world and the entrance to Nirvana or paradise. To do so, Hinduisms think that we can save ourselves in three ways: fulfilling our duties with ourselves and family, reaching a conscious state of mind through practicing meditation and acknowledging Brahma as our helper and the creator of the universe and all beings. A similar point of view as the Hinduism is the one from the Buddhism.
Its founder, Buddha also known as “Siddhartha Gautama, was born into a royal family in Lumbini, now located in Nepal, in 563 BC. At 29, he realized that wealth and luxury did not guarantee happiness, so he explored the different teachings religions and philosophies of the day, to find the key to human happiness. After six years of study and meditation he finally found ‘the middle path’ and was enlightened. After enlightenment, the Buddha spent the rest of his life teaching the principles of Buddhism — called the Dhamma, or Truth — until his death at the age of 80” (Buddhist Studies).
Buddha also believes in the reincarnation of our souls and karma as well as the notion to escape from our life cycle and liberate us from the process of death. But what differentiates from Hinduism, is that Buddhism believes that what attaches us to the process of death and reincarnation is our desire to wish and want material things in this world, and in order to liberate us from this process of death and reincarnation, we must liberate ourselves from our mundane desires and reach Nirvana.
For Buddhists Nirvana means extinction and it refers to the extinction of our desires which leads us to our liberation. In contrast to other religions, one that is based in facts and evidences and not in beliefs is Spiritualism. This religion or philosophy is based on the work and research of Allan Kardec, a French teacher, and is the resulting of accepting the evidence produced that our human conscious survives our biological death and that our conscious can communicate with those who are physically on earth.
This communication can be done in at least 20 different ways through valid process like mental mediums, telepathy, instrumental communication, the Ouija, among others. This religion states that when we die (people and animals), we take three things with us: our spiritual body which is a duplicate of our biological body, our memories and lastly our character or personality. Spiritualism also follows the universal law of cause and effect, meaning that we are responsible for our acts and behavior, and also that the Universe is governed by a supreme intelligence, called God.
All different religions seem to have an answer to what is death and what happens after we leave the physical world. Some of them like Christianism and Islamism agree on that we deserve an eternal and better life as long as we are good people. For Buddhism and Hinduism death is a process of reincarnation and finally for Spiritualism we never lose touch with the physical world. But one thing is true and is that no matter how many explanation we find, or what our beliefs and religions are, death is a mystery and a continuous search for answers