Saturday, April 28, 2012

After Life, What?

The Spanish Dominican priest was lying so peacefully in his casket. He seemed almost angelic, a vision of peaceful repose. He was always one of the kindest, gentlest of the priests in the parish. And thankfully, his struggle with cancer was short.

I said my prayers as I looked at him. And unlike other caskets I have looked at and prayed over, I had no sense of pain or grief. And I just started to wonder, where is Fr Eladio's soul now? What do I actually believe in when it comes to the afterlife.

This rumination did not materialize from air. I have been thinking about it since reading Time Magazine's article

I have always thought that (1) our souls go somewhere when we die (2) good souls go to heaven (3) bad souls go to hell but that happens during Judgment day (4) meantime, they either stay here on earth or are waiting in some damned hot place. Think Divisoria in summer during a sale. hihihi.

Such thinking, of course, is the most common view of heaven. A paradise of bliss and eternal happiness. And that is what do-gooders look forward to, the reward after a life on earth that may have been fraught with pain and suffering.

Fr. Eladio's soul must be there right now, resting.

Is that what the Bible says? Or at least, the New Testament? If heaven is out there, and good souls go there, why the need for bodily resurrection? Why do I have to be rejoined with my physical self eventually?

And that is the kind of thinking that pre-occupies another group of heaven-thinkers. They argue that Jesus preached not a heaven out there, but a Kingdom of Heaven that is 'at hand'. A dimension of earthly existense that will be actualized during Judgment day. We are commanded to do good works as we prepare this earth for that actuality.

And I am beginning to rethink my own position on heaven and the afterlife.

Part of this rethinking also comes from watching "The Face of Jesus; The Shroud of Turin" from the History Channel. I saw this maybe last year. And I found it amazing. But other than the seeing the Face of Jesus end-product, the journey was really incredible. Thought-provoking was the idea of how the 2-dimensional shroud image 'encoded' 3-dimensional data to lead to that face and body reconstruction. The technology needed a new paradigm for application.

A hidden dimension that could be decoded. All that information just lying around, remaining invisible because it needed to be interpreted.

And they went further to say that this is the message of the Gnostics in the Gospel of Thomas. The Kingdom of God co-exists with the earthly life. I am suddenly interested in the Gospel of Thomas and will be downloading an e-book soon.

Without having read that yet, I am beginning to piece together my own understanding of Jesus and heaven. Yes, just my own. And I have just started. But this will be based on the following Gospel statements I remember...

Kingdom of Heaven is at hand: heaven, that state of pure bliss and love, is actually here. I can actually be in heaven now. And I have experienced snippets of this dimension. Yet I lack the understanding, maybe the paradigm to feel it and grasp it. I need to learn. Or maybe I need to unlearn. I need to a code to help me 'decode' my experience and 'unlock' the heaven that is in there. And that code is Jesus himself. Because He says...

I am the Way, the Truth and the Life: His words, his life is the code. But understanding the code won't happen overnight. As Anthony de Mello, SJ, puts it, awareness comes in an instant, but waking up takes a lifetime. Suddenly, that makes a lot of sense. Contemplating on His words and His life is the task at hand. And just like those 3D stereograms, the secret is in looking not staring.

image source:

This is my starting point. Which is not much. And I may seem I'm just rambling here. And maybe I am. hihihi.

You know us, navel-gazers. We just like listening to ourselves think. LOL

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


RoNRoNTuRoN said...

Im definitely staring. d ko makita ang code sa mga bilog bilog. hehe...

pero posible ang teorya na yan ah. :D Truth behind heaven, no one knows talaga... :D

Anonymous said...

Fr. Neira has now entered Life. We always believe that life is changed, not ended.

Anonymous said...

Sad news, at ngayon ko lang nalaman. Months ago lang eh nag-attend ako ng kasal sa parokya niya. Then again, his time had come.

Anonymous said...

Hello. And Bye.