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Afterlife, a myth

The awareness of mortality distinguishes human beings from all other species.

india Updated: Mar 18, 2006 14:34 IST
INNER VOICE | Arvind Kala
INNER VOICE | Arvind Kala

Life isbrief. It’s one-third shorter than we think. We are awake for only for two-thirds of our life. The remaining third is spent in sleep. So a person who lives till 75 actually lives for 50 years.

Worse, we get caught in a peculiar time paradox as we age. The days pass slowly but the years pass fast. And before we know it, we’ve joined our ancestors. But we are programmed to shut out thoughts of our mortality.

Asked to name the greatest wonder of the world, Yudhishtira said: “Though you see people dying around you, you never think of your own death.” Our ego suppresses that awareness. Deep inside, we are devastated by this awareness. So we try to console ourselves by seeking the assurance of an afterlife that all religions promise. But we don’t believe these promises. As they say, everyone wants to go to heaven but no one wants to die. Rather unfairly, the atheist’s view of life is excluded from debates on spirituality.

The truth is that like believers, the atheist too looks for happiness. But unlike believers, he doesn’t depend on God to provide it. He considers God irrelevant to his existence. He believes this is the only time he’ll be alive. The king of horror writers, Stephen King, once said he was always shaken “that almost nobody alive today will be alive a hundred years from now.” The awareness of mortality distinguishes human beings from all other species. The awareness is immensely saddening. Once we go, it’s forever. Nor have we any proof of heaven.

First Published: Mar 18, 2006 14:34 IST