Over the weekend, my eighteen year old niece contacted me to ask me a bunch of questions for an AWANA project. I found the questions interesting, if a little simplistic (and maybe slanted), but I did the best I could to give her short, somewhat simplified answers. I’ve decided to take at least some of the questions and turn each one into a blog post, where I can explore the thoughts that the question brought up for me in a bit more depth.
Where are you going when you die?
I’ll be honest in that this is one of the questions that bothers me. To me, it’s rooted in a body-spirit duality, and one where the body is seen as unimportant and a shell to be cast off, whereas the spirit or soul is our “real” being. I just don’t buy into this. To me, mind, body, and spirit are an integrated whole and all three are necessary to make me the person that I am. In a very real sense, I believe that when I die, I will cease to be. While some part of me may live on in some sense (and I’ll talk about that in a moment), without this body, it will no longer be truly me.
I tend to believe in spirit. Note that I said spirit, not a spirit. I don’t think that spirits are a basic, irreducible part. What I call spirit, I see as an enlivening force. It’s what makes me a living thing rather than lifeless matter. (Then again, I often doubt that any matter is truly lifeless.)
I believe that this spirit does go on after death. Then again, I think all of me goes on after death. My body goes on after death, even as it decomposes. It is reclaimed by the universe, transformed, and is then used to fuel new life. I think spirit follows this same pattern.
I envision this as spirit separating from the body at the time of death and making its way back to what I think of as the Heart of the Universe or the Fount of Creation, that place from which life flows. (Whether it is a physical place or exists in some state beyond our concepts of space and even time is a question to ponder.) Spirit constantly returns there and then once more flows out into the universe anew, vitalizing new life.