Beyond the Veil: Life After Death
The Guibord Center’s Interfaith panel discussion on Life After Death took place in two sessions; morning and afternoon.
Rabbi Neil Comess-Daniels from Temple Beth Shir Shalom spoke of Heaven and Hell as reflections of the life we lead while on Earth. If one is self-centered and always puts oneself first, then the afterlife will be spent with other self-centered people. If one’s life is spent helping others and putting their needs first, the afterlife will be spent with others who treat you the same way. Rabbi Neil shared a beautiful song he wrote for young people about losing a loved one to death.
The Rev. Canon Mark Kowalewski, Dean of St. John’s Cathedral, spoke about Christianity. He said that Christians believe that in the midst of life we are in death. Even though we are always aware of our own mortality, we try to experience life to the fullest, every day.
Imam Dr. Ahmed Soboh spoke about Islam. which he referred to as a continuation of the Jewish and Christian religions. All Muslims believe in the hereafter, and death is not the end of the story. Islam teaches that our death, the time and the place, is determined when we are born. We cannot do anything to alter that appointed time. We therefore must live our lives in awareness of what we say, because the last words we speak will make a difference when we come before God to account for ourselves. We want that last word to be good.
Venerable Miao Hsi from Hsi Lai Temple explained that death is not a topic to be spoken of with elderly people, or during celebrations. Dying is not quick; it is a process during which we are aware of what is happening, but unable to communicate. Death is not something to be afraid of. Neither is death the “grand finale”. Life is Karma we share with others here on earth.
Swami Sarvadevananda spoke of sleep as being a “little death”. The mind, which exists in the dream world, continues on into the next life after we leave this body. We are not limited by the body we inhabit, but instead by our Karma and the way we live our lives. Death can be viewed as an experience that takes us to another life.
Nirinjan Singh Khalsa spoke about how Sikhs view death and dying. Sikhs are taught not to fear death, so that they can live their lives fearlessly. The goal is to serve God, and serve people, and to learn from every experience in order to reach the point where you no longer reincarnate, but can merge with God and become one.