If you’d like to encourage a debate, and perhaps an emotional one at that, offer an opinion about what happens after death. It shouldn’t matter what opinion you offer — you’ll strike a nerve somewhere.
Why is there such an emotional response to the question of death and what, if anything, happens after dying? It often comes down to ego identification, and ego protection.
When someone holds an absolute opinion about what happens after death they typically identify themselves as either religious or atheist. The religious type will insist that conscious awareness continues on after death in an environment akin to Heaven or Hell; the atheist, on the other hand, will insist that conscious awareness ends permanently when the physical body dies.
If we are to challenge or disagree with either one they can consider it an attack on their very being or identity — this is how closely they have come to associate with these beliefs. Like many people who perceive themselves as being under attack they may counterattack, insisting on their “rightness” and the other’s “wrongness”.
So who is right, really? What about neither one?
Let’s move past ego identification and other forms of opinion, and look for some evidence about what happens after death. Does any exist?
I am quite familiar with cases of people who have been close to death, or actually experienced clinical death, and recounted their experiences in the aftermath. These events are often categorized as near death experiences or NDEs. I find NDEs as a whole to be quite compelling.
There are thousands of documented NDEs, they have been documented over many years, across different parts of the world, and across different cultures. These NDE experiences don’t tell an absolutely uniform story about what happens after death but they do express that consciousness does not end when the physical body dies — consciousness, or awareness if you prefer, goes on.
There are people who strongly deny that NDEs in any way prove consciousness beyond death. They will often look to “science” to debunk the claim of NDEs as proof of consciousness beyond death. They have not succeeded in this, a least to my satisfaction. I do not believe so-called scientific explanations adequately account for much of the NDE phenomena.
For those people who are genuinely unsure about the validity of NDEs — the belligerently skeptical are likely beyond reach — I suggest checking out the Aging, Dying, and Death section of the Recommended Resources page. In the interim consider the following video about a cardiac surgeon’s encounter with an NDE.
So what happens after death? It is my opinion, and belief, that once death occurs consciousness separates from the body and continues on in a realm of pure bliss and love. I hold this belief based upon the resources I have come across that address dying and death, as well as resources about various forms of spiritualism. It’s been a process for me to come to the beliefs about death that I presently hold, arrived at over time.
I allow for, and also encourage, others to come to their own conclusions…