quinta-feira, 2 de abril de 2015

Death: the spiritist view and views of other religions



 

Death: the spiritist view and views of other religions

Do you know what are the view of other religions regarding the phenomenon of death is? Are there any similarities with the spiritist vision? And what does Spiritism think of death?
These are the topics we'll cover in this text.
 

Catholicism and Death

The ultimate reward expected by the loyal Catholic is the salvation of his soul, which after death will enter Paradise and will enjoy eternal rest there with the Father God, the saints and Jesus Christ. 

In the case of a Christian who dies with some "open accounts" with the heavenly realm, he will have to make corrections - which may include a passage through purgatory, a sort of intermediate realm where the soul will undergo a series of punishments and penance in order to purify itself.  The intensity of punishments and the period of stay in this stage will depend on the kind of life that the person led whilst on Earth.  But the real punishment is the condemnation of the eternal soul to eternal damnation, which takes place in Hell.  

According to Roman Catholic beliefs, that is where obstinate sinners are sent; an ordeal that never ends and includes living with Satan, the lord of darkness and the personification of all evil. 

Judaism and Death 

In Judaism, the understanding of the concepts of body, soul and spirit varies with the epochs and with the various Jewish sects. The set of sacred books (Tanakh) does not make any theological distinction between them, using the term that is usually translated as soul (nefesh) to refer to life, and the term usually translated as spirit (ruakh) to refer to breath. Thus, interpretations of the various groups are often conflicting, and many scholars prefer not to discuss the issue.

The set of sacred books (Tanakh), except for some poetic and controversial points, never refers to a life beyond death, nor a heaven or hell, as the Sadducees rejected these philosophies. However, after the Babylonian exile, Jews assimilated the doctrines of the immortality of the soul, the resurrection and the Last Judgement, and made them an important education by the Pharisees.
In the current streams of Judaism, the statements about what happens after death are statements and assumptions, and  the interpretation given to what happens at death and whether there is resurrection, changes. Most schools believe in a resurrection in the next world, while another portion of Judaism believe in reincarnation, and the sense of what is resurrection or reincarnation varies according to the branch. 

 

Hinduism and Death 

Hinduism is one of the oldest religions of the world, encompassing the most ancient religious beliefs. The Hindu view of life after death is the idea of ​​reincarnation. The idea that life on Earth is part of an eternal cycle of births, deaths and rebirths makes up a chapter of this religion. Every person is reincarnated every time one dies. However, if one undertakes a life devoted to good, to the letter, one can escape this cyclical chain. Unlike other religions, Hinduism has no founder, fixed creed, or organization of any kind. To all Hindus the supreme authority are  the four Vedas: Rig-Veda, Sama-Veda, Atharva-Veda and Yojur-Veda.

Birth and death would be a change of scenery for the soul. The soul never changes. The soul is the intact essence of being.Only the clothes the soul is wearing (the diving suit)  is what dies and, after death, the soul receives a new body to inhabit in material existence.When the soul, after many births within this material existence, comes into contact with a true saint (Sad-Guru), it can develop faith in the path of self-realization and start its return to the transcendental world of God.  There, the soul can live for full eternity.This plan is called Vaikuntha.    The beliefs and cults of the ancient peoples from the Indus valley and of the Aryan formed the basis of Hinduism. 

Islam and Death 

Before Mohammed started his preaching; the Arab people (and within this is encompassed not only the peoples of the Arabian peninsula, but also the Syrians and Mesopotamians) were followed to different religions. A common feature of most, if not all of these cults was polytheism. Accompanying this polytheistic trend a phenomenon of intense "prophetism", that is, every day brought more and more prophets who preached a new doctrine, or even the coming of a messiah. It is interesting to note that most of these cults had a common deity, which, most of the times, overlapped with the others. This deity was Allah.    Therefore, it is perfectly understandable that Mohammed, through the Judeo-Christian influences, had accepted monotheism, and therefore, associated as divine figure the name of the main god he knew, or Allah.  Thus, for Muhammad  Allah was not just one god but God.

Among some habits banned by Islam is crying, whining and showing excessive grief for the dead. The teachings of Islam about death is that  death is not the annihilation of the individual, which eliminates it from existence, but a passage from one life to another, and however much one may regret it, nothing will bring the dead back to life or will modify God´s decree. Those who have faith in it should receive death the same way as any other calamity that could hit him ; with patience and dignity, repeating the Koran verse: "We are of God and to Him we return."

Protestantism and Death 

In the 16th century, a German priest named Martin Luther began a religious reform movement that culminated in a schism, or a division within the Catholic Church. This gave rise to other churches equally Christian, but not linked to the Papacy.

Luther and other reformers wanted the Christian Church to return to what they called "primitive purity." The mediation of the Church and the Saints would cease to exist, thus prevailing the direct link between God and humanity.  That's why, in Protestant churches, we do not see images of saints nor do we worship the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus.

Protestants believe the Bible is the only source of the special revelation of God to humanity and as such it teaches us all that is necessary for our salvation from sin.

Protestants believe that based on faith in Christ alone, the believers are justified by God, when all their sins are paid for by Christ on the cross and His righteousness is imputed to them. Protestants believe that because we are justified by Christ only and that Christ's righteousness is imputed to us when we die, we will go straight to heaven to be in the presence of the Lord. 

Buddhism and Death 

In Buddhism, the word "death" means "to be born."   For he who dies in the material world, is actually rising in the spiritual world. After passing into the spiritual world, where one lives for a period that can range from a few years to tens, hundreds or even thousands of years, the person is reborn in the physical world.  During the course of one’s earthly life, or as one gets to perform their duties, man builds up - consciously or unconsciously - impurities and defilements in his spiritual body.  When illness or old age deteriorated his physical body, preventing it from fulfilling its tasks, the spiritual body leaves the physical body and returns to the spiritual world.

When the soul enters the spiritual world, it usually begins to be cleansed of its impurities. Depending on the amount of its stains (shortcomings and faults), it lives on a higher or lower level of the spiritual world.  The amount of stains will also determine if the period of purification will be long or short. This period can range from a few years to hundreds or thousands of years.  And when the spirit is purified to some degree, it rebirths by God's order. 

Spiritism and Death 

The view  of spiritism  is similar to the Buddhist view in many ways,  but it has marked differences that distinguishes it from the thought of Eastern origin. First, Spiritism believes that death is not the end of life, but only of the physical body, which actually goes through the process of molecular breakdown, with its elements returning to nature. Thus, every human being is a soul, and when it becomes disembodied, it is to be called Spirit.

The Spirit continues to live, keeping its identity through the perispirit (spiritual body), and also one’s personality, as it must accept the consequences of good and evil one did when on earth.  The spirits lives in the spiritual world (or dimension), where they pursue learning, and become linked to the development of various services, waiting for the opportune time to reincarnate.  The time of permanence in the spiritual world is very variable because it depends on the needs of the Spirit.

The spiritual world is dynamic, with colonies (or cities), outposts and much more, an idea of which we can have by looking at the human social organization itself, which is imperfect copy of the spiritual reality.

All this is governed by the law of evolution according to God's plan, and the Spirit here on Earth may have as many reincarnations as necessary, until it is intellectually and morally ready to reincarnate in a more evolved world. When one reaches a state of perfection, or pure Spirit, one no longer needs to reincarnate, and will be in direct connection with the Creator, working for the welfare and progress of his brothers, and co-directed the universal life.

Still, Spiritism establishes that the spiritual and material dimensions interact, interpenetrate, and after death, the spirit can communicate with the so-called living, that is, those who continue to be incarnate, through mediumship, with which many people are gifted to a greater or lesser degree. 

Conclusion 

The spiritist view of death differs greatly from the views of Catholicism, Judaism, Hinduism, Islam and Protestantism. It is more rational and logical. It differs from Buddhism, for not being so mystic.
We recommend to our readers to study two  spiritist  works of the utmost importance on the subject: "The Spirits Book" and "Heaven and Hell," both by Allan Kardec, which deepen the subject and unveil a new outlook on life and death. 

Author: MARCUS DE MARIO   Rio de Janeiro, RJ (Brasil)
Translation: Renata Rinaldini


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