Do you recall the soliloquy in Shakespeare’s Hamlet?
“To die, to sleep– to sleep–perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub, for in that sleep of death what dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil, must give us pause.”
I have no idea what happens to us after we die, and I suspect that nobody does. Isn’t that what Shakespeare was talking about in this section taken from Hamlet? But the most interesting point that Shakespeare makes is that if we die and are still thinking or dreaming, what dreams may come? That is what “gives us pause.”
I have heard stories about how detainees were deprived of their senses and how this became torture to them. I was told that if a person were placed in an environment where they were deprived of sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch, they would start hallucinating within less than an hour. And the dreams mentioned by Shakespeare actually became nightmares. So what would happen if you died and were still thinking without your senses to entertain you? What thoughts would you have without the distractions of life? Would you think happy thoughts or would you sink into dark thoughts? Odds are it will be the latter.
Even though we don’t know exactly what will happen after death, we certainly have opinions on this subject. And these opinions cover a wide range. But can we glean anything from these opinions? Well, we can surmise that we are different from other animals in that we search for a creator or God. We have called this power many names from Great Spirit, Zeus, to even God.
But do we know anything else? There have been some who have had near-death experiences and have told stories about what happened. But these experiences may have been just dreams that were induced by endorphins racing in to protect their bodies? Who knows? I certainly don’t.
Do we know anything at all? Well, we can examine our intuition to see if we have any a priori gifts that might tell us something. Some of us talk about having a conscience that is innate, helping us differentiate between bad and good. And we sometimes instinctively note that somebody or something is watching over us.
What about logic? Do we know anything from our a posteriori gifts? After all our experiences in life have passed by, do we know any more about what happens to us when we die? Probably not. How could we possibly know anything outside our experiences? Death carries us into a region where we have no experiences to deal with it. And that makes this unknown area dangerous. If you die and you no longer have any thoughts, then there is no issue. But if you die and you are still thinking, then you need something to take the place of your senses. That should be faith.
We would need faith to give us something to hang onto. Without faith, you will be cut adrift in a sea of chaos. Your thoughts would get caught by powerful currents and carried out to that sea. My guess is that you would be your own worst enemy at that point. You would torment yourself with your thoughts. You would regret all the things you had done or had not done during your life.
You would be harder on yourself than any devil. You would create your own hell for eternity. You would beg to stop thinking, but you could not. As bad as the initial thinking might go for you, it could actually get progressively worse as you might start hallucinating with horrible, fiendish nightmares. For example if your worst fear is being trapped inside a small container, then you may imagine yourself stuffed inside such a container without being able to move. Your nightmares will be limited only by your imagination, which is boundless.
However, with faith, you have a chance to channel your thoughts and focus on something positive, avoiding the negative. If your faith provides forgiveness for your sins, then you can enter the realm of death without having to forgive yourself, which may be impossible. The truth is that even though you feel like you can control things in life, you may have no control in death. That’s why you have to have something to hang onto like a life preserver, keeping you floating above the crashing waves of chaos. Only faith will give you a fighting chance. But your faith must be very powerful. It cannot be a weak faith or otherwise it will evaporate early in the process. Your faith must be stronger than most people who claim to be religious. It must be a solid foundation that can resist the thousands of thought waves that will crash against it and try to erode it.
Even though I don’t know exactly what happens after we die, I will not fear it because I have a powerful faith that I will be with Jesus, who died so that my sins would be forgiven. Jesus is the lighthouse and the way in a sea of chaos. I cannot find the way by myself. It is only by trusting and following Jesus that I can navigate through the unknown waters of death.