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 led on Earth. If someone always puts himself or herself first, then the afterlife will be spent with other self-centered people. If people put others’ needs first and help them throughout their lives, they’ll spend the afterlife with others who treat them 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, said Christians believe that in the midst of life, we are in death. Even though we’re always aware of our own mortality, we try to experience life to the fullest every day.
According to Imam Dr. Ahmed Soboh, Islam is 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 the time and the place of our death are determined when we’re born. We can’t alter that appointed time. So, we must live our lives with awareness of what we say, because when we account for ourselves before God, our last words will make a difference. We want that final word to be good.
Venerable Miao Hsi from Hsi Lai Temple explained that we should not speak about death 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 we should fear, nor is it 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 into the next life after we leave this body. We are not limited by the body we inhabit, but instead by our Karma and how we live our lives. We can view death 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 life fearlessly. The goal is to serve God and people and to learn from every experience. By doing so, you’ll reach the point where you no longer are reincarnated but can become one with God.