A reader wrote me asking what I think happens after a person dies.
If that letter came before I got exposed to religions other than Catholicism, I would have answered like any Christian would have answered—that is, when a person dies, he either goes to heaven, hell or purgatory, depending on how helived his life. If he has done good deeds, he goes to heaven; if he did some minor bad things, he goes to purgatory; and if he was really bad, he goes to hell.
As a child, I had such a morbid fear of death that I would often go to sleep thinking I would never wake up—and if I did, I would wake up in hell.
My strict Catholic upbringing in a conservative Catholic school for boys (which has since become coeducational) instilled in all of us a paralyzing fear of the fires of hell.
The priests in school always warned us against the terrible consequences of committing even minor sins, lest we anger a vengeful and terrible god. As a child, until my graduation from college, I believed all those teachings. I don’t anymore.
My exposure to different religions, my own experiences and meetings with very intelligent members of other religions have liberated my mind from such a narrow and medieval teaching that “outside the Catholic Church, there is no salvation.” Today only the most fanatical, bigoted and ignorant Catholic believes in that.
My extreme fear of death, I could trace to three factors. First was the fear of going to hell (which I firmly believed then to exist), second was the fear that death was the end of me (although the priests say the soul lives forever), and third, that there was no coming back. Death, as Shakespeare said in “Hamlet,” is that “undiscovered country, from whose borne no traveller returns.”
After learning from other religions and also after my own personal communications with higher beings and spirits of the dead, I have come to the conclusion that death is merely another state in our continuing journey toward higher consciousness and spiritual development.
Death is not the end; it is, in fact, the beginning. We do not stop learning or evolving even after death. And after some time spent in the spirit world, we return to earth in a new body, to continue our journey of learning and growing spiritually.
I now believe, from the testimonies of those who have given us messages from the other side (from the spirit world), that we don’t go to what is known as heaven or hell, but in an in-between realm or state which is not the same as the Catholic belief in a purgatory.
It is a halfway house where the newly dead are welcomed by relatives who have gone to the other side before him, to review the life he has led and plan his return to earth with less emotional and intellectual baggage.
He may opt to stay in that in-between state to learn lessons and prepare for his ascent to higher realms, or he may
decide to go back to earth to make up for what he did wrong, or not in conformity with the natural laws.
He may choose to be a guide to other living relatives or friends, be a source of inspiration to others and so on. There are a number of things a spirit can do to help humans on earth who are still in a state of ignorance of the spiritual laws.
Those who had near-death-experience (NDE), no matter how bad they may have lived on earth, never talked about seeing or going to a fiery hell.They all described meeting a kind being of light who asked them only two questions about how they had lived their lives, and then let them return to earth. And they came backmarkedly changed.
If I had not had the chance to communicate with spirits of the dead and those who have had NDEs, I would never have believed that our souls live on after physical death. There is nothing like a personal encounter with the unknown to shatter our long-held religious beliefs that have blinded us to the truth.
But I do not force my beliefs on others. As long as you can’t find a better substitute for what you have been taught by your religion, then follow your religion.
There is no point in converting from one religion to another. It is like jumping from one box to another box. You are still in a box. The best thing to do is to get out of the box and look at things from above, so you can get a better perspective of things.
The next Soulmates, Karma and Reincarnation Seminar is on July 16, Rm. 308 Prince Plaza I, Legaspi St. Legaspi Village, Greenbelt, Makati. Call8107245 or 0998-9886292.