by Marinus Jan Marijs
Traditional/religious ideas, conceptions related to life after death
The idea of a supernatural world that the soul will enter after death, is a part of many traditional, religious ideas and conceptions.
The Egyptians believed that the Ka enters the realm of death, the Tuat.
The ancient Greeks:
The ancient Greeks believed that the ψυχή psyche “life, spirit, consciousness” survived death and did go to Hades.
Symbolically dying was sometimes imagined as a boat voyage:
The Jews believed in the ruah, the soul, however one hardly finds any ideas in the old testament about the immortality of the human soul. With the exception of the spiritistic encounter described in 1 Samuel 28:3–25:
“The Witch of Endor, in the Old Testament (1 Samuel 28:3–25), a female sorcerer who was visited by Saul, the first king of Israel. Although Saul had banished all sorcerers and conjurers from his kingdom, his concern about the final outcome of Israel’s battle against the Philistines caused him to seek the services of someone with “a familiar spirit.” When his servants told him of such a woman at Endor, he disguised himself and visited her that night. He asked her to conjure up the spirit of the prophet Samuel to tell his fortunes. When the woman reminded him of the law against practicing her art, he assured her that she would be protected. The woman accordingly conjured up a spirit identified by Saul as Samuel. The spirit informed Saul that he and his three sons would die in battle the next day and that the Israelites would fall to the Philistines”. (Encyclopædia Britannica)
(Work Saul and the Witch of Endor. This biblical subject is drawn from Samuel I (28:6-14): worried about the outcome of the battle he is preparing to wage against the Philistines, Saul, King of Israel, consults a sorceress who summons Samuel’s spirit).
Likewise some branches of Buddhism pay hardly any attention to a supernatural existence. While on the other hand Tibetan Buddhism has very elaborate ideas about this. The believe in immortality is one of the central points of the Christian faith, but how this takes place, hasn’t been explained. On the one hand there is the idea that those who died, will be resurrected at judgment day, this implies that this will take place at a singular point in time. Presumably in a new physical body. According to this orthodox point of view the way in which the human soul survives, is in essence miraculous. According to this view, the soul comes in existence with the birth of the physical body, or at the conception. There isn’t any pre-existence of the soul in this view. On the other hand there is the idea that those who died, will directly go to heaven, presumably in a non-physical body. There is for example St. Paul’s remark that the resurrection body isn’t physical. St. Paul describes an out of the body experience, which is generally presumed to be his own experience. In Hinduism the human soul is by definition immortal, its existence didn’t start when the physical body was born, so logically its existence doesn’t stop when the physical body dies.