DEATH CONCEPTS OF CULTURES

DEATH CONCEPTS OF CULTURES

Thanatology is the discipline concerned with death, dying, and therapeutic interventions for those who face such circumstances. What people think of what happens to them at death determines how they live. The word Death is from the Teutonic languages, with “dead” as an adjective and “die” as a verb. Ancient Africans’ said God-made things do not die but rather Transform from one state into another–i.e. take on a different state but maintain their unchanging identity with a “certain sameness”. Such occurs inside a cocoon as a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly. An African metaphor is that on Judgment Day ones “Heart” (“Seat of the Soul”) is weighed. Its survival fate in the Netherworld depends on the good/bad evidence it displays for/against the deceased. Since humans’ spiritual powers unfold slowly and gradually, ones physical body is left behind following the judgment. Remaining parts of the unperfected “Heart” and Soul travel to the Places of Destruction–a Purgatory purifier. Until full perfection is attained—i.e. ones Soul vibrates at the same rate as that of the Creator–repeated Incarnations are necessary. Closely related ideas in Theosophy say that at death one enters upon a life of rest, purification, and happiness–complete in proportion  to the stage one has reached in evolution and to the deeds one has done in the life just ended. When one has enjoyed all the bliss to which one is entitled, one clothes oneself in a new body and returns to earth to take up ones work where one had left off—each new life being a distinct progress over the last one. Hinduism says after death ones Soul gets a new body and a new life, time after time. Once one has led a Perfect Human Life, ones Soul stops its Reincarnation (rebirth in another body). When this happens and the person dies, the Soul will enjoy Nirvana—a state of ‘Nothingness.’

For Europeans, Death concepts are very complicated/confusing. As an over-simplification, the top two are: “death is either a wall or door”—i.e. absolute annihilation or a passage. (1) Those religions and philosophies which say there is no Afterlife mean that when you die there is only death. “If death is absolute annihilation, then after I die I will not exist anymore, so I will not experience anything. Also, after I die, even though others will remember me, I will not remember anything.” A “Darwinian human” is founded on the belief that immortality is a myth and a human is only an animal destined to die, whose self-awareness is simply a brain function (Testoni, Journal of Death and Dying, 2015). With respect to whether death is a ‘Door’, metaphysical and religious perspectives do not define awareness as a brain secretion, but as the identity of a human–remaining even after death: soul, spirit, and mana. . . So, (2) “Is Death only a passage or a transformation of my personal identity? After I die, I will continue to exist and will remember this life’s experiences as well as have new experiences.” (3) “Is Death a radical change? After I die I will not be aware of my own self anymore. After I die I will experience things having nothing to do with my present life.”

(4) Death is a transition from the carnal to a wholly spiritual existence but that only comes through faith and imagination–a projection of life from a tangible and material state to an ethereal illusory condition sustained in the dogma of culture. (5) Christianity believes the soul separates from the body at the moment of death and the body decays until the day of the Last Judgment, when it is reunited with its soul. They also believe that after death, the soul goes to heaven as a reward for those who have followed Church doctrine; or to hell for punishment. Other doctrines speak of Resurrection so that Christians need not feel the isolation of death, for nothing can separate the believer from God (Rom. 8:38-9). (6) From those who have had “Near-Death” Experiences, various things are reported: being able to hear one has died; having a feeling of moving quickly through a dark tunnel, funnel, cave toward a brilliant light; feeling the presence of or seeing dead relatives or ancestors who are there to help in the transition from life to death; seeing the brilliant light as a power that required one to review ones own life—a power sometimes experienced as love; seeing ones life pass before oneself—a panoramic view of actions and thought; being aware that ones time for death is not now and thus must return to complete ones life. But Science questions if these are “Near-Death” experiences because none of the people have been brain dead. jabaileymd.com