Life and Death


Life Against Death: The Psychoanalytical Meani...
Life Against Death:(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Poets and writers down the centuries have talked about life and death in the same breath. Life is a gift that is to be preserved and lived to its fullest. But then, what is living? What is our purpose in life? These questions have troubled humans over the centuries and still there is no one answer. Religion plays an important role in describing life and death which is either to be believed or not. This again depends on the individual. So it all boils down to the individual's attitude.
During his lifetime man undergoes bouts of illness, some mild, some serious and some fatal. Shakespeare said as much, "
All the world’s a stage, 
 And all the men and women merely players,
They have their exits and entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages

These certain mile-stones are crossed as the situation demands. Modern medicine has provided a safety measure to prolong life and keep it safe from minor diseases. Right from childhood, mortals are plagued by these ailments; medicine comes to the rescue if and when applied at the right time. In other words, modern medicine cheats death in many instances.
As far as we are concerned we do not realize the pain of death unless we experience it through the death of someone close to us. The pain of separation is beyond expression. All have various ways:
howling, beating the chest, sobbing volubly and letting oneself go and even turning to the scriptures to make us strong to bear the loss. Eventually, time heals all wounds and life, once again, carries on. For that is the burden of being human: The show must go on. Nonetheless, time to time we are reminded of our loss. All have gone through this part of life as there would be no house/family in which no death has occurred. Nonetheless, we are afraid of death. The very idea sends a shiver down our spines. Although, the one truth of life is inevitable death.
Yet, the question remains: what is death. Where does it lead us. Religions have varied answers but the common thread running through all say that one will be judged after death and the fruit, if there is any, will depend on how one has lived life. The concept of Heaven and Hell have been created to control human behavior in life.
In Islam, Jannah (Arabic: جنّة‎‎ Jannah), literally means "garden" wherein a soul would be allowed to enter on Judgement Day, based on the balance of his/her deeds in life. There the soul would have the company of virgins and all pleasures; there is no mention of how many.....that is a pure misconception.
"Our final destination is the life of the Hereafter. Where we end up, Jannah (Paradise) or Jahannam (Hell-fire) depends on what we worked towards in this life. Paradise is the aim and the hope of every Muslim. But like trying to attain any goal, in order to achieve success, one must have a well-defined plan, and it must be implemented to be successful."
Allah says,
O you who believe! Be careful of (your duty to) Allah and seek means of nearness to Him and strive hard in His way that you may be successful. [5:35]

According to the Hindu Puranas, there are fourteen worlds in the universe - the seven upper and the seven lower. The seven upper worlds are Bhuh, Bhavah, Swah, Mahah, Janah. Tapah, and Satyam; and the seven nether worlds are Atala, Vitala, Sutala, Rasatala, Talatala, Mahatala, and Patala. The region known as Bhuh is the earth where we dwell, while Swah is the celestial world to which people repair after death to enjoy the reward of their righteous actions on earth. Bhuvah is the region between the two. Janah, Tapah, and Satyam constitute Brahmaloka, or the highest heaven, where fortunate souls repair after death and enjoy spiritual communion with the personal God, and at the end of the cycle attain liberation, though a few return to earth again. The world of Mahah is located between Brahmaloka and Bhuh, Bhuuah, and Swah. Patala, the lowest of the seven nether worlds, is the realm where wicked souls sojourn after death and reap the results of  their unrighteous actions on earth. Thus, from the viewpoint of Hinduism, heaven and hell are merely different worlds, bound by time, space, and causality. According to Hinduism, desires are responsible for a person's embodiment. Some of these desires can best be fulfilled in a human body, and some in an animal or a celestial body. Accordingly, a soul assumes a body determined by its unfulfilled desires and the results of its past actions. An animal or a celestial body is for reaping the results of past karma, not for performing actions to acquire a new body. Performance of karma to effect any change of life is possible only in a human body, because only human beings do good or evil consciously. Human birth is therefore a great privilege, for in a human body alone can one attain the supreme goal of  life. Thus, in search of eternal happiness and immortality, the apparent soul is born again and again in different bodies, only to discover in the end that immortality can never be attained through fulfillment of desires. The soul then practices discrimination between the real and the unreal, attains desirelessness, and finally realizes its immortal nature. Affirming this fact, the Katha Upanishad says: "When all the desires that dwell in the heart fall away, then the mortal becomes immortal and here attains Brahman."
[Copyright Swami Adiswarananda] 
It is hardly surprising, then, that a belief in an afterlife should be an important part of the Christian tradition. Even if our lives do extend beyond the grave, however, the question remains concerning the nature of the future in store for us on the other side, and the various Christian views about heaven and hell are proposed answers to this question. According to a relatively common view in the wider Christian culture, heaven and hell are essentially deserved compensations for the kind of earthly lives we live. Good people go to heaven as a deserved reward for a virtuous life, and bad people go to hell as a just punishment for an immoral life; in that way, the scales of justice are sometimes thought to balance. But virtually all Christian theologians regard such a view, however common it may be in the popular culture, as overly simplistic and unsophisticated; the biblical perspective, as they see it, is far more subtly nuanced than that.
[Thomas Talbott]
 It is all the same, but varied paths to one objective: an enticement on earth for a better after life. All said and done, the crux of the matter is that one gets one's just dues on earth itself. 
In the words of Lord Krshn, "O Arjuna, he who does not follow the wheel of creation thus set going  in this world(i.e. does not perform his duties) sinful and sensual he lives in vain." [3:16]
This entry today may have morbid implications for some, but having lost my brother and a cousin to death, made me really think about death. 
So, till next time, I will leave you to your thoughts........... not on death but on the realization -- what do we do with our lives from now on....
Cheerio !

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