To Be or Not To Be
A little kingdom I possess,
Where thoughts and feelings dwell;
And very hard the task I find
Of governing it well.
-- Louisa May Alcott.
...........hmmm....that more or less describes my situation !!
~A Wise Man Said~
It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
~When in Lancaster~
Life as PhD Student
Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Tuesday, April 23, 2002
"...It seems so unfair: some of us starve to death before we're out of infancy, while others- by an accident of birth - live out their lives in opulence and splendour. We can be born into a reviled ethnic group, or start out with some deformity; we go through life with the deck stacked against us, and then we die, and that's it? Nothing but a dreamless and endless sleep? Where's the justice in this? This is stark and brutal and heartless. Shouldn't we have a second chance on a level playing field?
How much better if we were born again in circumstances that took account of how well we played our part in the last life, no matter how stacked against us the deck was then. Or if there were a time of judgement after we die, then - so long as we did well with the persona we were given in this life, and were humble and faithful and all the rest - we should be rewarded by living joyfully until the end of time in a permanent refuge from the agony and turmoil of the world. That's how it would be if the world were thought out, preplanned, fair. That's how it would be if those suffering from pain and torment were to receive the consolation they deserve.
...Thus, the idea of a spiritual part of our nature that survives after death, ought to be easy for religions and nations to sell. ...People will want to believe in it, even if the evidence is meagre to nil."
The scientist and astronomer, Carl Sagan, had these words to say on the subject, in his remarkable book "The Demon-Haunted World".
Being an ardent worshipper of science, I would have expected myself to accept the reasonability of this argument and make an end of it. There was certainly nothing to prove that a part of us lived on while the whole of us was rotting.
But my mind refuses to let go of the problem (if one can call it that). After all, "Absence of evidence, is not evidence of absence". There is very little evidence to establish the existence of an afterlife, but it would also be impossible to conclusively prove that there is no such thing as an afterlife.
I would be the last person to say, that in any matter where it is difficult to get at the truth through logical means, one should trust what is intuitively obvious. What is intuitively obvious to me, may not be so to you and that being so, it cannot acquire the status of a universal truth.
But even so, when a certain knowledge is realised within oneself, an enormous satisfaction is received and it is this satisfaction that I seek. Not that I do not care whether the world is just and fair or not (as things stand, I don't think it is), but my actual motivation, I feel, is far more selfish.
I was born into a religion that teaches us about a judgement day, when all bills will be settled. Sinners will pay for what they had received, immorally and poor sufferers will now enjoy what they had missed or rather, paid for.
While it is a perfect hunky-dory setting, doesn't smell quite right to me. That soul's (if there are such things) fly into the clouds and are then meekly led off to heaven or hell -- I need something more than just an imagination to believe.
But...though I should find it extremely difficult to explain, I am not able to dismiss the idea of rebirth as easily. That after we die, some part of us lives on to animate some other body, might sound like a pretty bizarre idea, but it does not seem all that fabulous to me.
I can somehow feel what is meant when it is said that we carry the burden of our past lives. It is as if you're carrying a weight that you're not aware of having ever lifted and yet, you can't help but feel it.
I have heard of incidents where children remember their past lives. Upon investigation, it is found that the facts are indeed true, and there is also no other way the child could have learnt of them.
All this perhaps sounds a little funny, and maybe it is, but my personal researches (I don't like to use the word "inner feeling", but it also plays a role) incline me towards this view. I definitely do not as yet believe, one way or the other, but my mind is open on the subject, and until such time as more information comes to light, will continue to be fascinated .....