What will I be after I die?

We do not like to talk about death, in spite of its being part of our daily life. We do not like to talk about death, but –or, better yet, because- death hurts. And it is somebody else’s death the one that hurts most, the dejected solitude and the sadness of the void it left behind, the painful memories and the unresolved grief that remain, the conflicts that arise, more often than not, among the closest people. Death continues making rivers of tears flow: tears of grief, tears of relief, tears of consolation, too.

Many other animals, in their own way, also mourn the dead closest to them and even, in their own way, accompany their mourning with some kind of mortuary rites. Mourning is not specific and exclusive to humans. Nothing is exclusive to us. But it is undeniable that burial rituals are one of the oldest cultural footprints of humanity, many thousands of years older than the appearance of the first religions. In 2018 scientists uncovered in Kenya the remains of a Sapiens child buried about 78,000 years ago, with love and tenderness, as if the child had been put to sleep. In Israel, several burials from between 90,000 and 130,000 years ago have been identified, both of Sapiens and of Neanderthal. And in the middle of Paleolithc, in some burials the soil on which human remains rest contains pollen, that marvelous dust that contains cells capable of giving life; those human remains had been deposited over a bed of flowers, secretly hoping they would germinate, flower and yield fruit; that they would live. Those burial rites helped them –just as ours, religious or lay, help us today- to relief their sorrow, appease conflicts, strengthen their confidence in the life that goes on and has to be cared for. Were they wrong?

Much later, all religions created myths and elaborated doctrines that conceptually expressed that obscure hope of life after death. I believe in that hope, but I cannot any more believe in the concepts that express it. In past times they were useful to sustain courage, confidence, life. Today they are not useful any more. Today I cannot believe that after death the atman, the “soul” or the conscience or the I or the profound individuality will reincarnate in another body, according to the inexorable law of karma. Nor that the “soul” will be immortal and survive separately after the physical body disintegrates. Nor that we will be resurrected at the end of the world, as some Jews believed at the time of Jesus and many Jews, Christians and Muslims still believe today. I cannot believe there will be a Judgement in front of a “God”, be it strict or kind, or in an eternal hell for the wicked, or in a happy paradise for the just… It is necessary to deconstruct all these concepts for a simple reason: they belong to a vision of the world that is not ours any more.

What shall we, then, do with all those old concepts? We can forget them, abandon them for good or we can reinterpret them. Personally, in most cases, I tend to reinterpret them because we do not invent the language and because talking always consists on reinterpreting, in getting the new out of the old. I don’t believe in what the concepts say, but I believe in the unspeakable to which they refer and which they may still suggest.

I believe that living is giving oneself and that giving oneself is the best way to receive and to be. That to die is to empty oneself or completely giving oneself and that to empty and completely give oneself is the way to be fully. That we learn to live by learning to die a little bit each day as best we can, and that we learn to die by learning to live each day as best we can, in detached and happy kindness. That there is realized in us the Mystery of Life or of God, which is Passover, incessantly Passing, endlessly Giving and Receiving oneself and eternally being Reborn. That there is no other end of the world than greed and universal oppression. That there is no other criterion of judgement than loving each day. That there is no other damnation and hell than the one we give ourselves and the others in this life when we shut ourselves up in our own and make war among ourselves. That there is no other heaven than the bliss in the shared communion of the living, the common Good Life, and that this is the possible heaven of our common Earth, the heaven to which we aspire and of which we are responsible.

But, what will be left of me after I die? It will remain the life that we have lived and transcends us in all directions. It will remain the life that invented death to continue living. It will remain the death that is the condition and threshold of life and its sequence, at least as we know it on this Earth. As long as life lives death will not die, and as long as death does not die life will live, as the wise Vedas of India said 4,000 years ago. Eternal life will remain in all that is. It will remain the Breath that fleetingly took body in me and became my ever-changing self. Matter which is the mother of all shapes will remain, the eternal matter that shaped me in its eternal transformation, the transforming energy from which I come and into which I will immerse myself. The light of each morning and the peace of the twilight will remain. The eternal Breath that transiently enlighted my shape, my self, will remain. Nothing is lost except for appearance. Everything is transformed, like the light at dawn and in the evening.

After I die, that individual psychologic, emotional and unstable appearance will not remain. My memory will remain in the heart or in the memory of those who will remember me, bringing me to life every time. The Void of this changing form that I am will remain. Will the trail of this unique and changing shape that I call “I” remain, too? Beyond all space and time, in the present with no beginning or end, will the Memory or the Heart of the infinite Universe keep the living, life-giving memory of this shape, the information or consciousness that we were in this fleeting existence? Maybe, but I do not know it nor does it matter.

To express what I will be after I die, there are only metaphors that open me to the infinity that beats in our best words and longings. After the death of this flickering and fleeting spark, I will be the Fire that dances, transforms and recreates, the ungraspable Background of all that is, the universal and true Breath from which I came and to which I return. I will be in All, and somehow I will be All. I WILL BE THAT WHICH I AM, the Infinity in all. And that is what I want to live to and care for in this prelude to Life that is this form of life-death that I live.

Should we open more our eyes, should our conscience expand, many tears of afliction could be converted into tears of consolation.

Aizarna, November 5, 2022

Translated by Mertxe de Renobales Scheifler