Belfast Telegraph

Will there be hell to pay when we hit the afterlife?

By Robert McNeill

It was a tad dispiriting to read reports by scientists that near-death experiences (NDEs) are merely the result of a final surge of electricity at the very moment a chap calls it a day and hands in his dinner pail.



I’m not sure I buy this. It seems to me a chicken and egg situation. The scientists say the NDE is caused by the electrical surge. But it could just as easily be the electrical surge that is caused by the NDE.

I am no proponent of religion, unless it be the life-explaining philosophies of Buddhism and Taoism. At the same time, I’m not entirely convinced by the pushing-up-the-daisies brigade.

The mind is nebulous and unreal — at least mine is — and could quite easily float up into other regions after it departs its dismal carcass and never-happy nether regions.

The scientists also seem a bit backwards in their understanding of time. For it is widely postulated now that every moment is eternal in endless parallel universes. So you could end up in your last second for ever. I don’t mean physically, strapped to a bed in a hospital, I mean mentally or spiritually inhabiting your vision, fomented perhaps by the aforementioned surge.

From somewhere, your vision of all that is ideal and good and desirable comes forth, and into it you plop. Worthwhile, vaguely evidence-based mystics such as Deepak Chopra suggest that the afterlife you get is the afterlife you’ve always envisaged.

So, if it’s green fields of long grass and poppies, skip forth, brothers and sisters, for all that will surely by yours.

If, by the same token, it’s a warehouse full of cream buns, then get wired in, for you shall eat and forever remain your optimum shape.

Two scary phenomena are often reported by citizens returning from NDEs.

The first is being bunged at ferocious speeds through a tunnel of light. It sounds too much like a fairground for me, and I’ve never really held with that sort of thing.

The other is that you will be greeted by the last people you want to see: your family.

How awful would that be, having to listen to Auntie Adolfina telling you about some challenging doilie she was crocheting as she sat on her meticulously dusted cloud?

I’m not too sure I’d like a full review of the highlights and low points of my life either.

One imagines it as the showing of a home-made movie. “Now, this is you telling your host how much you were enjoying her vegetarian stew, then pouring it out the window when she left the room to check on something in the kitchen.” True story.

For one may still have to face up to the fact that there could be hell to pay. I can't think we can all get what we want.

What if your vision of an ideal good time is killing people just because they follow a different religion?

Surely, that would prompt alarms to go off at the Nirvana Testing Centre and, instead of sitting in your own mental heaven, you'd be reincarnated as a dung beetle.

So, I'm afraid only those of us who are decent and kind get to skip through the daisies for evermore. Still, shouldn't be too crowded, eh?

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