Almost every religion teaches about a life after death. A person will either live in some sort of paradise, living a life amidst unlimited food, milk, music and virgins, or will go through excruciating pain in hell; in some books he will be born again as a human, a monkey, a mosquito or as some other form of life. Since I am an atheist, all these ideas sound a bit crazy to me. I like to believe that we just die, nothing else happens afterwards and wagering on the fact that there’s a life after death takes away or hinders the pleasures that are available in the life right now.
Is this life always full of pleasures? No, it isn’t. But has there ever been a proof that it will be so after I die? I’ve never met a ghost in my life, who can explain that there is life after death. Nor have I been reached out by some angel giving me the details of the next big plan. So l like to live life thinking that there won’t be another one after I die.
The idea for what I’m writing now came after I started reading The Unbearable Lightness of Being which had the following sentence somewhere in the beginning:
What can life be worth if the first rehearsal for life is life itself?
I have not finished that book so I don’t know the answer of this question as described in the book, but I’ll try to answer that question using the ideas and thoughts that I’ve come across living the life. Maybe I’ll write another updated post after I’ve finished that book but as of now I’ll just go ahead without filling any blanks. FYI: It’s an interesting read.
So, coming back, different people have different answers to that question. There are some, which live in the future, waiting for the next life since this one is filled with bad people, screwed up opportunities and a totally wrong/indecent way of living. For those people, this life isn’t worth living, it’s just a painful journey which they have to bear in order to get closer to their real, eternal life, which ironically starts after they die. Ironically too, for all the love they have for the next life, such people won’t take their lives in order to reach the final destination a wee bit early, they are waiting for some divine intervention in order to reach the eternal place of belonging.
The idea of eternal life is amazing. Sometimes I want to live eternally, not to meet some sort of creator, but to see where the world is going and how it will be a few hundred years from now. How the galaxy is going to be a few million years from now and how the universe is going to be a few trillion years from now. While I like living in fantasy, I also like to keep a foot in the present moment and that reminds me what I’m thinking isn’t going to happen and it is better to live the life as it is presented to me, a moment at a time. And since I don’t believe in reincarnation, the life that I am living right now becomes the first rehearsal and final take of life.
This realization was unsettling when I first thought about it, because I wasn’t always non-religious. I had the mental conditioning of believing that there will be a reincarnation and if I did good deeds, I’ll born a human again. And suddenly when that comforting thought was removed from my grip, life indeed became a bit difficult and confusing because the principle of my life for so many years was that there’s another life after death. What shall I do if I will just die someday with nothing following afterwards; why had I been taught that there is life after death? Those and other thoughts plagued my mind.
Time passed after I had those thoughts and then, after a long journey where I read so many books and came across different ideas, I logically deduced that it’s much better to be a better human being in this life than to wait for another one after this ends. The life that I am living right now, is full of beautiful segments which are divided across so many years with every segment presenting something new and challenging to me. I’ve only completed two decades – I remember nothing of the first one and the second one was filled with emotional highs – but those two have prepared me to look forward to the gentle unfolding of the pattern of life.
Then again the question comes which Milan Kunder asked in his book: What can life be worth if the first rehearsal for life is life itself? The answer that I have is what the life has taught me in the last few years: it goes on. It’s not something for which you have to rehearse in order to live, when living my life, I have to be like an actor of improv theater, who starts with no story whatsoever and as the hero, have to make the story, find the answers, make decisions and deal with the consequences as they come. And the more I’ll accept the situations, the better the play will become. There’s no point fighting against every situation and every person, some of them are good and can help me.
I also realized that I cannot have any control over a lot of situations that life throws at me. I can have control over the thoughts that I have and the actions that I take when faced with challenges, but anything beyond that is out of my control and I am too insignificant to make any damage. I cannot rehearse, I don’t have the option of doing that, the only option that I have is to just go with the flow, keeping an eye on situations and acting on those which I can affect.