Life after death is one of the core tenets of many religions. Life in the hereafter often contains both the promise of eternal reward or eternal punishment. Whether you believe in such theories, the concept shapes our culture.
There are many kinds of fear. There is a fear of failure, rejection, abandonment, and loss of relationships, but nothing tops our existential fear of death. Facing this insecurity brings about the existential crisis we know as the “dark night of the soul.” It can be a doorway to a spiritual awakening. But religion turns these fears into a cash flow jackpot.
The fear of death is one of the first major questions we have. Children as young as two years old ask what happens when we die. Many philosophers call this our existential fear.
It’s that moment we realize all things die, including us. Our existential fear of health prompts us to seek answers. This innate fear should stimulate our spiritual quest. That’s when some religions step in with the antidote to the fear of death they call heaven.
Selling The Hereafter and The Afterlife
The idea of our awareness, consciousness, or spirit body living on after our physical death transcends many philosophies and religions. Some call it life after death, later life, or the afterlife. Most variations of this concept are mutually exclusive to a specific religious paradigm. That means the life after death benefits have certain conditions.
Joseph Campbell calls the impetus of this anxiety the Hero’s Journey. It is that part of human nature that awakens when we grasp the reality of our eventual demise. If we face our existential fear of death, we can learn how to make our lives meaningful.
Many Religions offer the antidote to the fear of death. This antidote is often a new and better life in a celestial paradise. The promise of something better than their ordinary life helps people cover up the fear of death. These answers are comforting, but this comfort is fragile.
With the afterlife for sale from so many religions, it’s hard to pick the right one. Luckily, most people who are a part of religion don’t have to pick one. They get born into their faith. So, children and the vulnerable rarely have a choice. Sometimes the beliefs about “life after death” are an integral part of beliefs or creed.
In contrast, some say there is nothing after death, just eternal oblivion. A belief in some existence after death is not exclusive to people with religious beliefs. Views about life after death are often unique to the individual, even within the same religious sect.
The Antidote to the Fear of Death
Not surprisingly, many religions use the life after death concept as an effective recruitment and retention tool. However, the Abrahamic faiths surpass others in their rebranding efforts. The sale of the afterlife is big business and has been for centuries. It is recession-proof.
Depending on your beliefs, you can receive a range of rewards. It all depends if you meet certain conditions. If you can qualify as a believer, you get to go to heaven. You want to stay in good standing or fear losing your place in heaven. Another thing you can do is put heaven on the “layaway plan.” Yes, you can pay “indulgences” to buy your way to eternal life. Just remember, if you aren’t a believer and follower, eternal punishment awaits you.
“Eternal suffering awaits anyone who questions God’s infinite love.” ― Bill Hicks
In most cases, the belief in a life after death presupposes the belief in two other mystical realms, Heaven and Hell. After all, you can’t have a life after death if you’ve nowhere to go. Sadly, we are all going to hell in someone else’s religion.
Life after death beliefs is not an effective antidote for fear of death. It merely substitutes the fear of death; for fear of hell. You must submit to the belief system’s tenets if you want to get the benefits when you die.
Christianity sets a “Life after Death” Sales Record!
The three largest religions by population are Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Together they boast over 4 billion followers. Today, there are over 10,000 versions of these themes. They couldn’t sell life after death if it were not for the concept of hell.
With the hereafter or afterlife for sale, they could leverage both rewards and punishment. It is another fear-driving idea from the ancient mystery religions of Egyptian, Babylonian, Persian, and Assyrian. Here we find the concepts of hell, demons, and several other things to keep fear high.
The more afraid and insecure you are, the more vulnerable you are. That makes you a life-long paying customer. Heck, you may even leave something in your will to help ensure you make it to heaven—no way to tell.
The primary goal of these systems is to generate income. The Catholic Church is the wealthiest entity on the planet. It has more material wealth than most countries. Making the afterlife for sale was a brilliant idea. It provides an antidote to the fear of death, thus becoming the best all-time cash flow generator.
How rich is the Catholic Church? It holds an estimated net worth is over 400 billion dollars, including cash, real estate, precious metals, and art. The best part, there are no customer complaints or refunds.
Questions about Life After Death Beliefs
- If you have afterlife beliefs, where did you get them? Are they something you chose after reviewing several possibilities?
- Do your beliefs in the hereafter come as part of a package with your religious beliefs?
- How much do you need to pay your religion to maintain your life after death rewards?
- Do you hold on to these beliefs because you fear that rejecting them would place you in eternal jeopardy? Do you believe in Hell?
- Are your beliefs in the afterlife motivate you to show love, compassion, and friendship? If so, does this love and mercy extend to others outside of your belief system?
- Do your beliefs in life after death create barriers that prevent you from making or maintaining relationships with others who don’t hold the same opinions?
- Are your beliefs an antidote for Fear? Or do you exchange the anxiety of death for the loss of afterlife promises?
The concept of eternal existence is a core tenet of many religions. It often contains both the promise of eternal reward or eternal punishment. Whether you believe in such theories, the concept shapes our culture. You must decide for yourself if it is a viable antidote or just substituting one fear for another.
With the hereafter on sale from so many religions, it’s hard to pick the right one. You know, we are all going to hell in someone else’s religion. Are you buying the antidote to the fear of death, or is it just an easy answer to a more complicated question?
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(1) Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia