This is the all-time great, and probably the first, million-dollar question – What happens when we die? I can clearly picture the first humans. Gathering around a recently-discovered fire, amicably discussing the news, when someone dropped the bomb.
“Hey, guys, what do you think that happens when we go to eternal sleep?” (I imagine they didn’t have a word for “death” yet).
“What do you mean Carl?”
“You know, like Steve’s brother went last week, when he was killed by that big and different four-legged bird?” (Yes, I Imagine they didn’t have a word for Wooly Mammoth also.)
I’m sure this question sparked a long fight that lasted all night, and probably a good part of the next day. Suddenly, every one of them had their own opinion. They were all sure theirs was the right one, and Paul’s wife even killed herself to show everyone she was right.
Wars were fought over who was right, religions were created around this question, millions were killed, and it all lasted until today. Thanks, Carl!
Here are 11 theories on what happens when we die, according to the world’s main religions.
1 – Mormonism
Mormons, properly referred to as Latter-day Saints (shortened to LDS, and please not to be confused with LSD) believe in heaven and hell. But in a different kind of way.
They believe that everyone, after dying, and according to their actions in life, will end up in one of three places. You can end up in their version of hell, the “outer darkness”, where a guy named Satan lives and will punish you for denying Jesus Christ. You can go to “spirit prison”, a kind of temporary jail where you will stay until either you accept or deny Jesus. (Christ himself will visit you there, so it’s kind of stupid if after meeting him you still deny him.) And if you did well in life and accepted Jesus as your lord and all that stuff, you will go to heaven, the Celestial Kingdom, where God lives and you will be happy for all eternity. Sounds sweet hem?
Oh, I forgot to mention: heaven is a planet called Kolob…
2 – Judaism
Jewish answer to “what happens when we die” depend on what each individual person believes. There are several different Jewish doctrines. Each of them believes in something different (as usual in anything religion-related). But basically, they focus more on their life on Earth rather than what happens next. Regarding the afterlife, some believe in reincarnation, while others in a place called World to Come (pretty original right?), which is basically heaven.
I personally believe they should focus more on the afterlife rather than their life here on Earth since, apparently, all they do here is suffering.
3 – Hinduism
Hindus believe in rebirth and reincarnation. But it’s way more complicated than it looks.
First, the body you will get in your next life will be given to you according to your actions in the previous life (your karma, as they call it). Basically, if you did good in this life, you will rebirth in a better family, maybe be better looking and live a better life. If you did bad, well, you will end up rebirthing as an animal, or an insect, or even a plant. And the worse you were in your past life, the worse your animal will be (kind of puts things in perspective right? Like what kind of perverted things could someone have possibly done to become a Dung Beetle…)
And this whole dying-rebirthing process is not that simple. After you die, you will spend some time in a kind of limbo, where you will be punished or rewarded according to your karma. Only after this you will rebirth, has a super-model or a stupid looking tree.
Oh, and this disturbing cycle will go on and on and on until you finally become like the best person ever. Then it’s all over, you’re free and you become a god-like being and you’re returned to the God Brahman.
It almost sounds like a video-game, where you have to play the same level all over again, until you get it right, and meet the final boss. But instead of fighting, you just befriend him…
4 – Buddhism
Buddhists also believe in reincarnation, but in a different way than Hindus. They don’t believe in souls, so basically they think you rebirth by just taking on another body in the next life. And in the meantime, while you’re waiting to return, you spend some time in a place called Bardo, where you will experience different phenomena. You will not be punished or rewarded for anything, you will just carry on living. Which for them is really bad already since they consider being in this cycle of reincarnation a suffering.
Unlike the Hindu video-game, where you had to beat the game and befriend the final-boss, the Buddhist game is a bit different. The goal is to escape and reach a level called nirvana (paradise), where the game will finally stop.
Can you imagine if you were here on Earth waiting for your next life, and ended up dying and waking up on a planet called Kolob instead?
5 – Islamism
Muslims are pretty straight-forward and believe in heaven and hell (with different names, of course). You end up in one of these places according to how you behaved in life. If you did good and obeyed God’s demands, you will end up in Jannat, the paradise. If you did bad and denied God and all that stuff, you will end up in Jahannam, hell.
The twist is, they base this system mainly in the level of faith. They think Man’s entire creation is to worship God alone, and they also have to be kind to other humans and animals and even trees (unless they’re female, of course). Basically, life on earth is nothing but a test to determine whether you go to heaven or hell.
They also believe in judgment days and apocalypses and all that Christian stuff, but that’s another story.
It would be hilarious if Christians, Jews, and Muslims ended up in the same place in the afterlife, so they could finally realize they were all talking about the same shit all this time.
6 – Aztec Religion
Aztecs were weird. Especially their “what happens when we die” belief. While, today, most people believe that the afterlife is determined by how a person lived, Aztecs thought that it was determined by how a person died. Pretty crazy.
To Aztecs, it didn’t matter if you were a serial killer, a child abuser, or a pineapple-on-pizza kind of guy. If you died well you were rewarded. But this is no surprise when you consider the fact that they had voluntary human sacrifice. They had to give them something to look at right?
According to them, if you had a great death (like in battle, or by sacrifice, or if you were a woman during childbirth) you would go to a paradise and join the sun rising. You could also go to one of their other many paradises if you had a brutal death, from things like lightning, drowning, certain diseases, or extremely violent. (I’m starting to think that Aztecs loved brutality.)
On the other hand, if you died from illness, old age, or had an unremarkable death, you were considered a pussy. And you would end up in the underworld, which was basically hell (but not so punishing as the other religions’ hells).
So yeah, at least they took something good when they were all slaughtered, I think…
7 – Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism says that, after you die, your spirit lingers on earth for three days before departing to the Kingdom of Dead. During those three days on Earth, the good souls sit at the head of their body. The bad ones, well, sit at the feet of the corpse. And if you were good, you will get the visit of a beautiful maiden, and if you were bad, not only you are stuck right next to your feet, you will also be visited by a very old, and ugly, naked hag.
After this weird encounters, your soul is taken to heaven or hell, or a place in the middle, according to your actions in life.
I don’t think this is fair because, if you think about it, this is kind of a paradise to bad people who are into feet or old people.
8 – Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egyptians afterlife beliefs are one of the earliest known in recorded history. But that doesn’t mean they were right. So what happens when we die?
They thought that when the body died, parts of its soul would go to the Kingdom of Dead. But (and this is a huge “but”), you could only go there if you were mummified (and have your brain removed through your nose) and put in a sarcophagus, which basically meant that the afterlife was a rich-people-only thing.
And the journey to the afterlife was incredibly dangerous: you were required to have a sin-free heart, and the ability to recite spells, passwords, and formulae of the Book of the Dead, which meant that if you didn’t know how to read you were basically screwed. And, of course, you were also rewarded or punished according to how you behaved in life.
To help you in this dangerous trip they placed in your tomb the Book of the Dead, food (if you got hungry), jewelry and curses, as well as animals and servants if you wished.
The biggest challenge, however, was to keep Lara Croft and her tomb raiders away, which they failed miserably.
9 – Christianity
Christians, like most religions, believe in different things about the afterlife, according to the denomination they’re part of. Most of them believe in heaven and hell (really original), and that the moral choices you make on Earth affect in which of these places you will end up. There are also Christians who believe in a place called Purgatory, where the dead who are destined to heaven must first go if they need purification for their sins.
In Christian books, its clearly stated that those who do not follow and believe in Jesus will rot in hell, where they will suffer for all eternity, and those who behave well go to heaven, where they will spend eternity surrounded by other super Christians and God himself.
The thing is, there is some kind of cheat-codes for accessing heaven, like fighting on the crusades… How convenient…
10 – Atheism
According to Atheists, nothing happens when we die. Nothing at all. You simply cease to exist. And that’s it. Yes, I know it may seem hard, but it’s that plain and simple. It’s like going to sleep. Without dreaming. While your body slowly starts to rot. Eaten by worms. And you will be nothing left but bones, that one day will also disappear. You will be forgotten forever, like the nothing you were.
So yeah, atheists are the happier people, because they know their passage in this Universe is unique, and there’s nothing after, so it’s better to enjoy it and make the most out of it. Before you die. And rot. While worms make a feast out of you. And you are forgotten forever. Like no one will ever know you existed. In this insignificant place we call Earth…
11 – My Theory
My theory on what happens when we die is, and I’m completely sure of what I’m saying, the correct one. So please read carefully.
You will die, and you will wake up, naked, inside a weird pod, with a thick metal tube stuck on the back of your neck. You will stand up, and realize that you are surrounded by millions of these pods, all of them with a live person inside. And then you will notice the machines…
You will finally understand that all your life was a simulation and that you are now free from it… I still don’t know how, but you will end up all dressed in black leather, with some rad sunglasses on, fighting the machines and trying to liberate the people from this system.
I wonder how no one has made a movie out of this yet…
So yes, no matter what everyone thinks, the truth is no one really knows what happens when we die. (Please don’t mind those attention seekers who were dead for like 3 seconds and write books about it)
The best thing you have to do to is wait. And when the time comes, you will finally be able to see who was right all along. In the meantime, don’t forget to live and enjoy your life, it may be the only one you have.
Oh, and don’t forget to thank Carl for all this mess…