A friend of mine quoted Stephen Hawking’s quote on facebook recently: “I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when it’s components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”
I beg to differ. I have a hard time describing what for me is a conviction as deep as my inner being, but I will endeavor to give it a try. First of all, think of the Celtic understanding of “thin place,” or “thin space.” This is a place where the Other and our temporal world is very thin-and it is possible to sense something of what is out there just beyond our grasp. There are stories of those who have been able to “part the veil,” some of the druidic teachers who converted to Christianity, for example. Some of those who have experienced “near death” experiences. Even Paul, who wrote, “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows.” With all that in mind, I will try to describe my conviction.
I am convinced that in the midst of this life, in this Worlds Realm, spirituality is alive – vividly alive – AND each of us is a spiritual being, even if we doubt its existence within us. We, as spiritual beings, have our permanent tether in the Realm of the Other, the Spiritual Realm, of which there have been many attempts by many people and many faiths to understand, unveil, “peer through the curtain,” or sense the “other side.” I think, for those who study and follow Judeo-Christian scriptures, this Spiritual Realm has been interpreted as, and referred to as, “heaven.” Those who follow and live-out a Judeo-Christian faith as their own spiritual journey can also interpret the “Kingdom of Heaven” as an actual spiritual kingdom that exists within the reality of our temporal Worlds Realm. This “Kingdom” is the basis of the Christian faith, and its “King” is Jesus Christ. What membership looks like begins with the relationship you have with Jesus, whom we call “Emmanuel,” which means, “God with Us.” It is further defined by how you live your life, how you are present to yourself and to those around you, how you spend your vital energies while living in the world around us today. How you become a disciple of faith. Faith, a spiritual journey, becomes the cross-over point between the Spiritual Realm and this temporal Worlds Realm. As for an “afterlife?” There is one life, it has many guises. Life is Spirit, life is living on the earth in a body for a while, and like a caterpillar-butterfly metamorphosis, life continues on in another guise after this one. Do we really know this? Let me ask you this: Does a caterpillar know that it will be come a butterfly?