Afterlife and Reincarnation Part 3 Heaven or Elsewhere
An explanation of the beliefs different religions have about the afterlife and reincarnation, the views on heaven or elsewhere outside the earth.
Afterlife and Reincarnation
2Ai--a physical existence somewhere else for everyone. The early Celts believed that life went on much as usual in some other location, and so did many American Indian tribes, but in many such cultures one had to earn the right to enter, which indicated some form of judgment.
2Aii/iii--a physical existence somewhere else, pleasant for some, unpleasant for others. Norse warriors were spurred to valor by the belief that if they died fighting courageously they would enter Valhalla, a place of constant feasting and other pleasures which, in its northern fashion, much resembled the gardens of delight complete with dancing houris which were promised to the valiant soldiers of Islam. (About those who did not get to partake of these rewards we are less clear; probably Hades or its equivalent was the only other place to go. Indeed, going back to the Egyptians of 2000 B.C. we find that they weren't clear either, for anyone not qualified to unite with the sun-god would either be annihilated (1) or go to hell (iii) or enter the underworld of nothingness (B).) As their thinking became too sophisticated to accept Hades for everyone, the Greeks began to look forward to the Elysian fields, but only if they had been initiated into the Orphic mysteries. It was this idea of qualifying for some form of "heaven" that led to the concept of a judgment for all, an idea that began to appear in Jewish writing after the exile to Babylon. The Jews had probably been exposed to Zoroastrian thought during the exile, and the Zoroastrian faith was based on the idea of a duality, including a heaven and a hell. The Christian and Muslim faiths inherited the heaven and hell concept when they developed from Judaism (the Muslim garden of delights being a separate reward reserved for warriors).
Judgment is not always based on how one has lived. In Melanesia the decision may depend on whether the proper rituals have been performed by surviving relatives, and indeed the spirit's whole future depends upon its survivors. If they remember it in the appropriate rituals, and call on it for advice, the spirit will continue to exist in the land of the dead. If the rituals are not performed, or if the spirit is forgotten by the living, it ceases to exist (1). Such concepts explain the emphasis on ancestor worship in many cultures, for it is only by rituals to indicate that they remember their ancestors that people can help them to stay in existence.
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