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The
phenomenon of death remains a mystery to humanity at large despite our
collective knowledge and technology. To some, death represents annihilation of
the individual, the ending of consciousness and the deterioration of the body.

For others, death is considered a gateway to another life, a spectacle of
profound spiritual significance, the interpretation of which differs radically
from one philosophical school or religion to another. As of yet, there is no
direct & objective evidence to support either perspective conclusively. For
this reason, a degree of “faith” is generally associated with those who take
the viewpoint that life after death is a reality. There is no doubt that not
just simple volumes, but entire libraries, can and have been devoted to this
mysterious question. However, personally, I do associate myself in the realm of
those who have believe in the idea that life (or at least consciousness)
continues after death.

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This
observation is applicable to many pre-existing conception of an afterlife,
including a Christian (Western) conception of the eternal soul and a Hindu
(Eastern) conception of reincarnation. The observation consists of pairing to
ideas: Descartes’s conception that consciousness is indivisible while all
physical matter can be divided and the proposition in modern cosmology and
physics of a so-called zero point energy field. When these two concepts are put
together, they present a plausible theory of how an afterlife might be
inherently built in to the universe itself.

To
understand the basis of the argument, it is first necessary to recognize
exactly what Descartes meant when he argued for the indivisibility of mind.

According to Descartes, all material things can be divided, but consciousness,
and particularly consciousness of one’s self, is indicative of a persistent
whole. Descartes writes: “When I consider the mind, that is to say, myself
inasmuch as I am only a thinking thing, I cannot distinguish in myself any
parts, but apprehend myself to be clearly one and entire”. As such, mind is
distinct from matter, but is in many ways interconnected with it. This classic
dualism of mind and body is also present in many religious and mystical
conceptions of the human soul. For the purposes of the present discussion it is
important to connect Descartes’s conception of the mind with traditional
concepts of the soul, because Descartes intended such to be the case. His
conception of consciousness and mind was inclusive of the emotions, will, and
all applicable components of the individual personality (and its potential).

Similarly,
modern physics suggests a mysterious connection between consciousness and
objective reality. From this starting point, many theorists have offered the
idea that the interaction between consciousness and the material world is
indicative that consciousness permeates the universe. If this is the case,
there is a strong connection between the idea of a physical reality and
Descartes’s conception of mind. In other words, physicists now theorize that
energy is somehow present in the zero-point energy field where particles and
waves are beyond the capacity of human detection. The physical world that is manifest to human senses and
instruments displays many properties that suggest an overall connectedness.

Here is
where the somewhat tricky “leap” comes into play. If Descartes’s conception of
mind is to be admitted as accurate and
modern physics also considered, then it would appear that the reality that
gives rise to the physical world and the phenomenon that we each experience as
consciousness are in fact the same thing.

Consciousness is “made” of the same indivisible energy that persists in the
zero-point energy field. Yes, that means that the universe itself is conscious.

Such a viewpoint indicates that a form of afterlife is not only likely, but
unavoidable even if this afterlife is not based in the physiological component
of one’s personality. This insight, of course, like Descartes’s conception of
mind, is closer to the Christian conception of a soul than to the idea that the
brain is the center of consciousness.

Of
course, none of this makes a concrete case for the persistence of the
individual personality after death or for the existence of afterlife realms
such as heaven or hell. At the same time, the preceding considerations do
provide somewhat philosophical and scientific basis for speculating the
existence of an afterlife. The precise nature of this afterlife is, of course,
impossible to ascertain, but it is a subject that provokes some of the most
inspired and important flights of human consciousness. I don’t believe should
not fear death because death is unable to eliminate consciousness. But I do
feel that we should use the reality of death to inspire us to live more
meaningful and intense lives because even if life persists after death, the
process of “crossing over” is an event that profoundly alters one’s personal
awareness not to mention their “earthly” relationships and legacies.

In the
end, one very interesting feature of the considerations is that, if true, we
are all connected in the same way that quantum entanglement connects all the
particles in the cosmos. We, in fact, share a consciousness that is eternal and
potentially all-knowing. Such a realization might make it easier for us to
create lasting bonds between one another and eliminate a measure of fear and
perhaps even prejudice that currently exists in the world.

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