Afterlife and Reincarnation Part1 Belief Categories

An introduction to the beliefs different religions have about the afterlife and reincarnation, the different categories.

Afterlife and Reincarnation

It may seem that conflicting ideas about what happens after death are relatively unimportant, that our knowledge and understanding of how a people lives is what matters. A closer look shows that, among many cultures, the way of life cannot be understood except in terms of the culture's ideas of an afterlife. Often it is these ideas which mold the entire culture.

Beliefs about the afterlife vary tremendously, and those of one group, though closely resembling those of another, may yet have subtle variations which are very significant and worthy of much elucidation. However, just about all are combinations of the ideas that an afterlife is:

First--1. Total oblivion. 2. Somewhere else. 3. Here.

Second--A. Physical. B. Nonphysical, solely spiritual.

Third--i. Automatically the same for everyone. ii. Pleasant. iii. Unpleasant, according to a judgment which will come after death. iv. An opportunity for further progress.

By arbitrarily categorizing the various concepts in this way we can, for example, describe the Christian idea of a soul's going on to a heaven or hell as 2Bii/iii. However, there are many Christians who believe that they will have a new physical body in the afterlife, and this would be 2Aii/iii. On the other hand, some Christians believe in reincarnation, which would probably be shown as 3Aiv.

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