I think we may have an aversion to categorically saying that we do not believe in life after death. I know I do and I know I observe it in the people around me.
It is preferable to remain impartial – ambivalent and answer with ‘you never know’, or ‘maybe’. Usually the question stops here and that is reasonable; none of us really know. I have never had to answer categorically – always a fan of ‘maybes’. When I was asked to raise my hand to categorically indicate my belief, I struggled.
I decided to be brave and say that I did not believe in life after death. I was one of two, in a group of seven people. I wondered about the bravery of that other person; why they decided to go against what our emotionally driven conscience wants to believe. I immediately felt guilty for my answer – like I had spat in the face of everything I cherish in the world. Like I didn’t care for its impermanence. Like I didn’t hope it would survive beyond its physical limitations. But as time passed and I was left alone with my answer, I couldn’t help but feel that it was honest.
I don’t understand the division of my being into two contradictory halves – material and non-material. My whole life rests on a perfect balance; everything within my body working specifically, automatically and intuitively to a precise prescription of balance.
When has my physical form been alone without my spirit? When has my spirit left my physical form? Everything that has happened to me, has happened to me as a whole. My spirit has been constructed through the anatomy of my senses, which allow my perception of the world. Without my senses, I would not have anything to feed my spirit. Without my brain, I could not have created meaning for what my senses gave me – they would be empty happenings.
My senses absorbed the world and passed observation to my brain. My brain interpreted what my senses gave me and found meaning. This meaning created my mind, which had breadth and depth. And then my mind created my spirit. In this way, my spirit is an extension and a by-product of my physicality.
My entire life has been confined to this sack of skin – everything that has happened to me, has somehow remained contained by my physical form. Life is extraordinarily complex, yet even the most intense and difficult things I have felt and experienced have remained within my body. So I ask myself: how does death defy this balance? How does death take away the physical form and leave an illusionary part of who I was intact? How does the mold growing along my spine, not rot my spirit? How does my spirit continue to live and grow without senses to allow anything in?
I am so sad as I write this, because I am enamored by every aspect of life, including the people in my life. Of course I want it all to live forever. I feel an internal tug, saying ‘have hope’, but would I be so sad if there was even a sliver of genuine belief that any of this will go on? I want to live forever with everything I love. I want all of this to have some important meaning that lives on through time and space. I want all of this to be larger than it is. I want all of this to extend itself beyond it physical confines.
But I don’t believe it does.