Saturday, May 24, 2008


I view death as a transition - passage from one life to another. It's more or less a Buddhist view I have. I was doing some scribbling recently and I got to wondering about the 'realm between lives'. In Tibetan Buddhism, this is called bardo (please correct me if I'm wrong). In Christianity, there is the 'Gates of Heaven' and St. Peter judging everyone who approaches him seeking passage into Heaven. He then looks through the person's record (checks and balances) and decides whether or not they go to Heaven, to Hell, or to Purgatory (some people do not believe in the latter, and I'm not trying to convert anyone anyway). As I have said, I like the Buddhist take, for it means that we always have another chance. I get this feeling that with Christianity, wherever you end up, it is FINAL.
I got to thinking about what happens at the moment of transition - regardless of what view one has. A person who has done nothing but wrong all his/her life will go into (it is assumed and even hoped) a very grim and awful place. In the Christian view, one who does much wrong in this life will go to Hell. The Buddhist view is more complex view. Reborn an animal, a demon, a hungry ghost, or a creature born in Hell; each life has more ignorance (and pain) than the human life ever will.
But I digress. Actually, I was trying to figure out what happens at that moment. Does a person really get judged and sent for reward or punishment? People have been asking these questions for thousands of years and will ask them for thousands of years to come (as long as awareness exists, anyway). Being something of a writer, I was trying to set such a scene up. It would be helpful if I could remember my own transition from my previous life to the one I'm living now. That sort of miracle only happens to certain people, and only if they've trained long and hard to reach such a remembering. Is it like climbing up the stairs to meet St. Peter, or is it more like the Greek model of crossing the River Styx on Charon's ferry? Hard to say.
It is easy for me to think about these things in such abstract, intelligent terms. Someday, I will face my mortality and fear going to sleep at night, certain that death is just around the corner. They say facing death is easy - it's the dying part that is hard to deal with. At least the Buddhist view is not so FINAL.
I think I'll stop with such morbid stuff and wish everyone a great weekend instead.

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