With Halloween approaching, it seems to be a good time to talk about the “afterlife.”
It is an ageless question: What happens to us when we die?
The world’s religions are quite adamant that the spirit, or soul, survives the mortal body and continues in existence eternally after death. Whether or not that soul goes on to Heaven, or to Hell, or is reincarnated into another life, the beliefs may be approached differently in theology, yet they all share the common belief in an afterlife of some sort or another. Even Satanists, atheists, agnostics, and generic “non-believers” ascribe to some sort of existence beyond the biological. Something that lives beyond the boundaries of human life.
Modernly, with so many people rejecting traditional religion, it is curious, but not surprising, that an offsetting rise in other afterlife beliefs has become common. Take a look at Halloween, for example. It is now becoming one of the most popular holidays in America (to the chagrin of traditional religious believers, unfortunately). But what is Halloween? Decidedly it is not a traditional religious celebration, but the event nevertheless celebrates the existence of spirits, ghouls, ghosts, and goblins, and witches and warlocks connected to them through magic or incantation. Each of the fear-inducing spooks of Halloween are examples of connections to life (of one sort or another) following death. The holiday is dedicated to the concept of a mysterious life separated from, and following, biological death. Halloween is the spiritual celebration of an afterlife.
And what of the morbid fascination with the concept of zombies? These are human bodies that arise after the the human spirit has departed through traditional death. The premise of zombies is yet another belief that the body and the soul are separate and distinct.
And what of vampires, and werewolves? These are humans who have melded with wild animals, and live for centuries sharing both the human and the animal spirits.
These varied ranges of beliefs are premised on just a few basic categories: That there are living humans with imbedded souls (us); and independent souls that depart and survive after the death of the body (ghosts and spirits); and human bodies that survive after the soul has departed (zombies); and blended spirits that survive eternally on Earth trapped in bodies as quasi-humans (vampires and werewolves).
All of the religions, as well as the non-religions, are founded on a belief that we enjoy a binary existence as human beings, composed of one part body, and one part soul, joined together in life and separated at death. It seems that we all believe in the same thing, arriving at an identical conclusion from vastly different directions.
Bodies and souls, souls and bodies. Death is certain, yet life is everlasting.