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I was born in 1979.

Prior to my birth, a few interesting things happened:

  • Around 13.7 billion years ago, the universe came into existence with a Big Bang
  • About 4.6 billion years ago, our Solar System formed
  • Life arose… lots of animals evolved, but most went extinct, including the dinosaurs roughly 65 million years ago
  • The shape of the continents changed dramatically as plate tectonics resurfaced the Earth
  • Somewhere on the continent of Africa, modern man arose, and spread across the other continents
  • Civilization blossomed, along with the domestication of animals, tools, technology, and information.
  • In the last couple of centuries, there were some massive catastrophes including natural disasters and world wars
  • Finally, I was born.

I was oblivious to all of these events.

I didn’t exist yet, but everything that ever happened in the universe, happened – and it went by in an instant.  That “instant” spanned 13.7 billion years.  It could have been even longer – it doesn’t matter, because to you and I, it was still an instant.  We have the luxury of science and history to tell us of our universal past, but without that, the only recollection we could possibly have of anything is what we actually lived through.

What’s the point?

The point is that when you die, it’s likely the same thing.  The only difference is that there no “instant” at the other end  for you to suddenly become conscious, like birth.  Instead, time and events like the ones listed above will happen on their own, without you, just like they did before you were born.   Time will go on until the end of the Universe but you won’t be able to know it.

Should you be afraid of death?

I will freely admit that death itself does not scare me.  The physical act of dying terrifies me.  I don’t want it to be painful, and I don’t want it to be drawn out.  I want peace and tranquility, like any other normal person would want.

Though I am not afraid of death, the thought of it saddens me.  I love life so much that it crushes me to think that I wouldn’t be able to spend time with family and friends.  Of course, losing a loved one is equally painful for the same reasons.

It also saddens me that I wouldn’t witness the next great advances in technology.  Imagine the people of the 1800’s – they could never have imagined the beautiful and stunning images that the Hubble Space telescope would send back to Earth.  I’m in my 30’s now, can you image what kinds of things the human race will discover in the next century?

What about life after death?

It would be reassuring to know that there was some sort of life after death, but simply put, there is no real evidence for this, no matter which religion is scrutinized.  In fact, it seems that people’s life after death experience are biological in nature.  After all, they can be simulated with drugs and in a lab.

It also seems very anthropocentric to believe that we are so special that we deserve an afterlife.  There are all sorts of problems with life after death – based on religious views and different versions of “heaven” and “hell”;  the concept of the soul; the age of the person (for example: do one day old infants get life after death?…); animals (do they get to experience it too?  which ones, only the ones we like (like dogs and cats), or all of them… cockroaches, crocodiles, crows, for example?)  The list goes on.

Some (most?) religions encourage their believers to dedicate time (and sometimes money or possessions) to their faith in order to gain entry into the afterlife.  Don’t you think a better use of precious time and resources  might be to focus on the one life we definitely have and make the best of it – rather than hoping to enter the afterlife that might exist?

In conclusion…

You’ve got one life to live on this planet.  Just one.  You should do everything in your power to enjoy it to the fullest, and to make sure that everyone and everything around you has the same opportunity.

So, getting back to the original question – What happens when you die? – I think the answer is mundane and simple.

Nothing.

3 COMMENTS

  1. I think you got it right, NOTHING happens after death. I would hate for life to have an afterlife sequel, which is eternal, that would be very weary. Death comes as a solace after a life well lived. Many Eastern cultures got it right, but few understand the meaning of it. The Buddhist see enlightenment as merging with nothingness, so do the Hindus. But they just had to add a whole lot of fiction to it, like rebirth, past lives, deities, gods, etc. NOTHINGNESS carries a bad connotation to humans, but in reality it explains a lot.

  2. What a beautiful writing. When I was 3 or 4 years old playing or pretending to play with other children I realized the THING: what if I was not here. What if I was not born. Nothing will change. Nobody will know me. Nobody will notice my absence. That was a very very sad thing I ever realized.

  3. Excellent write-up. Many of us do think the same way.
    As a Hindu I too believe in modern science. In my young age communist ideologies attracted me and I leaned towards atheism. I could not digest Rebirth theories until, until I grew older and I learned more about my religion (which is not a religion in the western sense it is a Dharma – Hinduism is Santana dharma not religion) and read many books. That happened after an age of 50. Now I am 62. Now I believe in Rebirth. Because it is modern and very much suits my conscience, intelligence and reasoning and I think it is very scientific. The Karma philosophy ( that for every Karma –deed- there is a phal – result. People say ‘Karmaphalam’ meaning Result of own deed )existed in India from time immemorial. Even the Avatars like Srikrishna or Srirama or for that matter anyone in the Hindu mythology is not exempted from it. This theory matches with the Newton’s third law of motion. For every action there is equal and opposite reaction. The ‘Punarjanma’ ( Life after death) theory is more or less similar. For every beginning there is an end. And for every end there is a beginning. Is there a science theory for it yet I do not know. Things in nature have different way of ending and beginning. A grain or a fruit we eat how it ends? Can we say it has ended as “Nothing” ? .. A fish we ate has it ended as “nothing” ?. A molecule from crude oil can we say it ended when refined ? It only changes its ‘prakruthi’ ( or nature ).. Animals , trees, mountains, rivers all change and take different form. Some which are under our control, in our knowledge – we know as what it has changed. Some which are not in our control or perception we do not know or can not comprehend as what it has changed to. If we believe the person is only body alone and there is no soul or mind or anything in that body then we can say that the body has ended and changed its form into something else – if buried it has joined with earth as bacteria or if cremated it has joined the air, the sky as molecules, particles and its next life begins from there. On the other hand if you believe the person is not just body alone there is soul too because he has feelings, mind, intelligence etc. then that very thing called “soul” has to have new body to live – perhaps that has gone into bacteria or to another form of life depends on its Karma. There were several real life stories of rebirth when born as human being. That’s when a person remembers past life – a very rare phenomena. An end has to have a beginning. And a beginning an end.

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