Me: I have been listening to the Ascent of Humanity stuff and I was wondering what your thoughts were about the afterlife. He says that people with near-death experiences realize that we are not our ego and that there
is something else. I kind of feel that our atoms will go somewhere but I was wondering what exactly you thought. I feel like personally, our ego goes away...our way of knowing ourselves goes away and if that's gone, we're basically gone, right? Your thoughts?
Hmmm, the afterlife, eh? That's a big subject. Well, from the material
perspective, our atoms basically get recycled into the world. There's
nothing new there, of course: a being's atoms are continually being
cycled throughout its life. As for the non-material component,
assuming such exists, well now....
A lot of it comes down to how you define yourself. Obviously, if you
identify with body and ego, then death is a pretty final sort of
thing. The relevent thought experiment here is to ask how much of
'you' you can lose and still be 'you'. We can pretty safely say the
body doesn't count: if you were just a head on life support, you'd
still feel like you. Ditto senses: take away sight, hearing, touch,
taste, and smell, and you're still basically you. I'd argue the same
for memories, after all, the older you will be losing them, and the
younger you didn't have them, but you were still you.
So no body, no senses, no memories ... what's left? Just a little
spark of awareness, deep inside, essentially the same between any two
beings. This isn't Descartes' cogito ergo sum, exactly, because I'm
not talking about thought, here (individual thoughts being transient,
you can't identify the self with them.) In this sense if in no other,
every being can be said to be immortal, as that little window of
awareness exists in every entity, unchanged. So far as I can tell,
this is Eisenstein's view on the matter.
My own thoughts on the subject are a little more speculative. I'd say
that upon death, the soul retires to a contemplative zone, wherein it
reviews the life it just led, incorporates the lessons of that life
into what it has already learned from its many previous lives, and
then decides where and when to incarnate next based on what lessons it
feels are most appropriate, given what it now knows. The soul, of
course, doesn't identify with your ego, any more than you identify
with any one of your cells, and for essentially similar reasons: the
soul is a composite of a vast number of separate egos from all its
different lives, no one of which is any more important than the
others. The goal towards which every soul moves is to become one with
the One, a state which from it's perspective exists eternally (the
absolute being timeless), and from ours is probably located somewhere
around the end of the universe, when the entire physical universe has
come to life (thus allowing the entire past back to the Big Bang to be
by means of observing it into being.)
Hmm. I may have strayed a bit from the topic at hand there.
Anyhow, that's more or less how I see it. Thoughts?
by my friend, Matt