Thread: The "afterlife"
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Old 10-29-2006, 02:36 AM   #1
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,100
Default The "afterlife"

This was going to be a reply to a post by shawn in another thread, but I figured it deserves its own thread, because its like, huge, man.

Anyways, here you go:

I think the biggest problem with the whole afterlife-or-no-afterlife debate is the fundamental assumptions in our language that place conditions on reality, as well as our frame of reference within reality. For instance, the word "afterlife" is a compound word, making it a conglomeration of two ideas, each with their own set of conditions and assumptions.

The assumptions which allow the word "after" to make sense are dependent on beliefs commonly held about time. It is the belief of most people that time is a linear progression of events, which inexorably moves in a direction which is commonly interpreted as "forward". It is generally considered impossible to change the direction, although according to the theory of relativity in the realm of ideas known as "physics", it is thought that it is altered by relative motion. It is not considered possible to change the direction of it.

Viewed from another angle, it could be said that everything happens "at once", although this too is dependent on the concept of time. However, accepting this limitation to view a different concept of time, one which would be closer to a spacial dimension which could be moved freely about in (rather than just forward in it), it could be said that an individual (defined as a unit of consciousness) could, in essence, choose to move forward in it. If, at some point, this consciousness unit forgets the properties of the universe he occupies, or has them deliberately erased from his memory using some means unknown, he may construct an inaccurate view of the universe in which "time" is something which only moves "forward". If this conception of "time" was perpetuated by those who surround him, and is communicated to him through "words" (defined as a conceptual paradigm which divides a perceived reality into "objects" and "concepts"), the individual who moves through "time" could easily be seen as living in a universe in which they live life limited by inaccurate concepts of the nature of their existence in which basic assumptions are made, although they appear perfectly reasonable to the lifeforms blinded by their collective ignorance.

For instance, a sentient being on Earth might believe that he is a form of "life". "unit" of life could be seen as a division between language-divided matter (physical objects) which contains certain characteristics and language-divided matter which does not. These characteristics are amorphous and difficult to define, but in short could be described as divisions of physical phenomena which have mechanisms for producing self-similar replicas of themselves, and the ability to absorb other divisions of physical phenomena as "food", which provides them with the "energy" they need for "survival", which is generally considered to be the continued existence of an individual life-form as something which can be described as such. All of these take a very anthropocentric view, in which humans make some unwarranted assumptions about their own consciousness and project them onto what they perceive.

For instance, humans make the assumption that before they existed, there was a "history", defined as events within time which came "before" the moment the human currently occupies. In this history, certain things have happened as a mechanism which leads in various ways to the present. All of these are based on the fundamental assumption that humans have not been deceived about the nature of events, or that there may be unlimited combinations of occurences which lead to the possible present, which could also be seen as largely amorphous, as the individual human only knows about what he perceives at the time, and does not know whether those things outside his perception occur in the manner they do when they are not being perceived. As such, it could be said that the past or present is learned or observed only by an entity which makes assumptions about it. One of these assumptions could be that what he observes is external to himself, and is governed by certain rules which he is not in control of. If the observer was a being who was aware that these rules are under his control, such as in the case of a supernatural deity, it could also be said that he may desire, for whatever reason, to blind himself to this ability, and to create the illusion of something "outside of himself". It could also be said that the concept of physical laws which govern the "universe" could be the result of ignorance, as it may be possible that the universe is simply a construct of entities with the ability to create reality who, for reasons unknown, may have entered into a state of being in which they have a concept of being separate entities, and of a reality in which they exist, but for the most part believe that it is external to themselves, and is governed by certain absolute truths, such as time, scientific laws, and the idea that one is going to "die".

If viewed this way, it could be said that the universe is actually the result of living entities in a state of ignorance. In this state of ignorance, they may have created a frame-work for creating a limited understanding of their existence through words, which could be seen as dividing a "whole" reality into individual "parts". By grouping such divisions that are seen as similar into "parts", such creatures could be seen as taking a range of the "whole" with infinite possibilities for variation and allow themselves to "simplify" reality into a "world of words". If the creature were to become dependent on this world of words he has created for understanding of his own creation, he could "forget" who he is, and rather than being the creator of said reality, start thinking in "words", which in a language with a concept of a separate "me" and "not me" causes the individual to become entangled in a sea of confusion, in which his sense of self is defined by what he learns with words taught by others with a limited understanding of things. In this way, reality could actually be "created" by the individual, and he would not be aware of his role in doing so. In this way, the individual could actually be caught in a web of self-deception, in which he is cut off from the part of himself who is creating that which he perceives. In this way, he might create a division between "life" (that which is more like his limited understanding of himself as a consciousness divided by its reliance on "words") and "death" (the state of something which appears to have once been like himself, but has ceased to be so). In this way, a consciousness may become "separated" from a more complex consciousness by a mechanism which is limited in its capacity for understanding (possibly represented to it as a "brain"). It could be then said that just as a consciousness forgot itself when it became "self-aware" (usually around the time it started to learn words), that when it "dies", it merely stops existing as a creature which is limited to words in its understanding of the nature of existence.

In other words, perhaps in dying, we stop being limited by words in our understanding of ourselves.
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