Afterlife (synonyms: “life after death”, “post-mortem existence,” “beyond the grave”, “life in the hereafter,” “eternal life”) is the assumption of survival spirit, soul or consciousness of a living being after death. The concepts of mind and consciousness are subject of controversy and the majority scientific position is that there is no evidence for the existence of life after death.
Religious study of the fate of the soul after death is called “individual eschatology” (Eschatos (ἔσχατος) “last” and logos is “study” in Greek). Eschatology is the doctrine concerning the Last Things, the ultimate time, after the individual’s death or after the humanity’s extinction (human eschatology), or the world to its demise (cosmic eschatology).
There is a voluminous literature on this issue for centuries, mainly religious source. There are some ethnological studies and philosophical arguments. Different traditions and schools of thought are interested in this issue, as shamanism, Lamaism spiritualism, theosophy, or anthroposophy. There are also stories about popular demonstrations of dead or near death experiences.
Questions about death and immortality
All civilizations since prehistoric times have left traces of belief in a life after death, each with its own perception of the immortality of the spirit, of the compensation of the soul and the meaning of life. Thus, the belief in the survival of the soul, as far as respect for the dead, are the source of various funeral rites.
Many philosophers and theologians have developed arguments to prove the existence of the soul and its immortality or its survival. Plato in the Phaedo, raised five evidence or reasoning: 1) opposite (69-72 “live born from the dead”, so the soul exists after death), 2) reminiscence (72 -78: “our souls exist before you even get in a body,” she learned in an earlier time when it was not in human form, and she can remember), 3) by affinity (78-84 “soul resembles the divine,” or that which is divine is immortal, and secondly, after death, the soul goes to his neighbor, the divine, the immortal, the sensible) , 4) harmony (84-86: a body is alive only by the well composed mixture of opposite properties, ie life, that is to say, the soul) 5) by essence (102-107: it is the nature of the soul to be immortal, indestructible, incorruptible).
Intellectual reasoning also consider analogies with natural events. Thus, death is like sleep (followed by reawakening), and winter (followed by the spring). The principle of the landfill body is reminiscent of either the seeds in agriculture.
Throughout history, contacts are alleged with the dead. Pliny the Younger left a famous ghost story. Victor Hugo described exhaustively – and even stamped – its dialogues with the afterlife in Turntables of Jersey. Bertrand Russell himself, whose skepticism intended to examine any case, notes the allegations, but said “this evidence may establish that we survive, but do not prove that we survive forever.” The experiences can be classified into several categories:
Since its birth in the nineteenth century, spiritualism had many followers. This doctrine asserts enable communication with the spirits of the dead. The method explained by the spirites works generally requires the participation of one or more mediums. Mediumship is however not universally recognized as a reality. Although little studied, practice of spiritism is currently very popular in Brazil.
Popular literature on the afterlife
Raymond Moody (Life After Life, 1975) reported the testimony of those who have suffered an apparent death and which, once revived, describe an experience that, from one subject to another, offers similarities. “The model experience,” according to Moody, is as follows:
Here is a man who dies and, as he reached the peak of physical distress, he hears the doctor pronounced dead. He began to perceive an unpleasant noise, like a loud ringing tone or hum, and at the same time it feels away with great speed through a dark and long tunnel. Then he suddenly finds himself out of his physical body, but leave the immediate environment; he sees his own body from a distance, as a spectator. He observes this vantage point resuscitation attempts which his body is subject; (…) Soon other events occur: other beings are advancing to meet him, seeming to want to help him; he glimpses the spirits of relatives and friends who died before him. And suddenly, a spiritual entity, of an unknown species, a spirit of warm tenderness, pulsating with love – a being of light – to watch him. This gives rise to a question in him, which is not orally pronounced, and which leads him to make the results of his past life. The entity second him in this task by giving him a panoramic vision, instantaneous, all the events that have marked his destiny. Then comes the moment where the deceased seems to encounter some sort of barrier or border, symbolizing the ultimate limit between earthly life and the life to come. But then he says he has to go back, that time to die has not yet come for him. At that moment, he resists, as it is now overwhelmed by the flow of events in the afterlife and does not want it back. It is flooded with intense feelings of joy, love and peace. Despite what he finds himself united with his physical body: he reborn to life. Later, when trying to explain to those around him what he experienced in the meantime, he faces different obstacles. First, it fails to find human words that can adequately describe this unearthly episode. Moreover, it is clear that those who listen do not take it seriously, so it gives up confiding in others. Yet this experience profoundly marked his life and upsets including all the ideas that he had made previously about death and its relation to life.
“Memories” and reminiscences
Since ancient Greece, it is about people who have memories of their past incarnations (Pythagoras, Empedocles) or who argue that one can remember his life in Hades or in the ideal world (Plato: reminiscence). Empedocles: “An extraordinary man by his knowledge, a genius who managed to acquire a treasure of wisdom … Pythagoras could evoke specific memories of anything, man or beast, it had been ten or twenty lives lived” (fragment 129). – A critically requires adding that “memories of past lives” could be an expression of fantasies or mental amalgam. Reminiscence is a philosophical theory.
Early studies of the science of the 19th century and early 20th century
Albert de Rochas Aiglun was during the nineteenth century one of the few scientists to initiate experimental research on the media and on the manifestations of the afterlife (see illustration).
Ian Stevenson, professor at the University of Virginia, analyzed thousands of stories about reincarnation and published twenty cases suggesting the phenomenon reincarnation. It draws on the memories, the confrontation between memories that the “reincarnated” have of their past life and realities they would not know.
Translated from Wikipedia