What happens to us after we die?
POSTED: Monday, May 20, 2013 - 9:49pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, May 21, 2013 - 7:54am
El Paso, TX (KTSM) — It's a question that's been asked since the beginning of mankind. What happens to us after we die? There are as many answers as there are religions.
"I think I'll just go rest in peace," said one El Pasoan.
"If you live a good life and feel like you deserve it you go to heaven," said another.
Most Christians believe in the concepts of heaven and hell. But what is heaven? Is it a lofty place in the clouds where angels sit around playing harps? Father Jose Morales at St. Pius X paints a different picture.
"It's not necessarily a physical place, even though it's common knowledge you're going to heaven or hell. It's not up or down. It's where you're in that state, in the presence of God or the absence of God," said Father Morales.
Where do we get our images of the afterlife? For most Americans, our views are shaped by one of two books: The Bible and Dante's Divine Comedy, a 14th century poem that has shaped the way many of us envision hell.
Other religions like Judaism rely less on scripture. The Torah doesn't say much about heaven or hell.
"The are ideas of being in the Garden of Eden or being in a place called Gehenem which is sort of a hellish kind of place really came much later and were not biblical concepts, but came later and were developed by rabbis," said Jordan Goldson, a Jewish Rabbi.
And there are several religions that don't even view heaven and hell as after death destinations. Buddhist monk Thay Dao Quang says heaven is merely that moment when you're truly happy and most at peace.
"The state of heaven and hell depends on your mind. You may experience heaven or hell right here, right now.
And Hindus believe heaven is merely a continuation of life.
"The Hindu belief is that we don't think the soul dies after death. We believe in reincarnation," said Nagim Patel.
So whether it's the streets of El Paso or downtown Paris, you'll have a hard time finding a group of people who agree on what happens to us after death.
"I don't know. You don't know. Who knows," said one El Pasoan.
It's one of the world's great mysteries one that can only be solved after we die.
"It's a reality we all know it's their, but we don't want to talk about it, and i think part of that is the lack of understanding what it is," said Father Morales.
It's a question as elusive as the meaning of life itself.