The other day I was listening to a song that came out in the late 1970s, sung by Japanese singer Ogura Kei. (I’m using the family name first, the way they do in Japan.) In a song called “This Train” (kono kisha wa), he sings (in Japanese), “This train is chugging along. It won’t stop until the destination station. But there may not be a destination station, and there may not be a tomorrow.” The Japanese are famous for thinking this way. Concepts such as the impermanence and fleeting nature of life are deeply ingrained in the culture, as well as a healthy dose of skepticism about the future. If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say, “We don’t know what the future will bring,” or something similar, in the decade that I lived there, I could take a nice little vacation to Hawaii.
Many of us believe in some kind of afterlife, and it’s common for people to say that Souls spend an “eternity” in heaven or hell. If this is the case, perhaps the Japanese are right that there is no “destination station,” to use the train analogy. If life truly has no endpoint, then where are we headed?
Some people believe that we will spend our time after physical life either praising God and playing a harp or suffering in torment for their sins. I might be all wet, but it seems to me that God is not the type of entity that needs our attention and praise in order to function. God knows that IT is omnipotent – IT can do anything without our help. IT fashioned all of Creation without our help. (I use IT to describe God, because I don’t believe God is all male or all female.) It seems to me that there must be more to eternity in heaven than praising God, as admirable as that occupation may seem.
As for hell, it seems to me that being punished forever is a bit of an over-reaction, as well as a waste of a life. What human parent would shut his or her child out of the house forever for one misdeed without giving the child a chance to reform? Why do people think God does this?
It would seem to me that if God values ITS creation, then God would not throw even one Soul away in an eternal hell. If each Soul is truly unique, then each Soul must have Its own special purpose for existence, and God would surely want each Soul to fulfill Its individual purpose. It also seems that if the nature of Life, in general, is change and growth, then all Souls would continue to change and grow, even after physical life is over. I don’t believe any Soul would ever overtake God, because I think that God is probably changing and growing, as well. There will be some who agree and some who disagree with these thoughts. “Your mileage may vary.”
In his books, Journey of Souls and Destiny of Souls, Dr. Michael Newton describes testimony from clients of his who have undergone a type of hypnosis in which they were regressed to a time before they were born in this lifetime. Originally, Newton was trying to get information about his clients’ past lives on earth in order to get at the root of their current problems. One day the person Newton was regressing reported that he or she was not embodied, but still between two physical lifetimes in the spirit world. Ever the scientist, Newton asked as many questions as he could, then set about to interview other clients to see what they could tell about the time between lives. This body of testimony matches well with that of people who have had Near Death Experiences, or NDE’s. Although there is some individual variation, it appears that all Souls go through somewhat the same pattern of events. How they interpret these inner events depends somewhat on the individual’s cultural upbringing and spiritual path.
Basically, Newton’s clients stated that after a period of reflection about the lifetime they have just completed, Souls rejoin a group of other Souls with whom they are learning. They have individual and group instruction, and at some point they begin training for a particular path of service. Those who report on their NDE’s generally only comment on the reflection part, and naturally all who come back state that they realized or were told that it was not yet their time to go any farther with their inner experience, that they needed to come back and finish the current lifetime.
I like the idea that there will be places to go, things to do, and people to meet or re-establish contact with in the Afterlife. It sounds exciting and purposeful, and, to me, that is comforting. Although I am in no hurry to end my current physical lifetime, this uplifting view of the Afterlife helps to calm my fears about death. 🙂