What if life was just a dream and we only wake up when we die?
I've often asked myself this question, though I could never really come up with a sensible answer.
It's a good question to think about though, seemingly contradictory in its inanity and its poignancy, yet, try as I might, I could never seem to rationalize where this question came from, or where it leads to.
We're all alive right now, here, in the present. If you follow a religion, any religion, chances are you share a belief in a life beyond this one, that the death of our physical bodies would lead us to a place of eternal peace and happiness...that is, if we are deserving, based on the actions we perform in this life.
Not to be blasphemous or anything, but I have always had a hard time dealing with that concept, even when I was very young. For one thing, I have sort of turned into a moral relativist over the years, and I have come to accept that it is not always proper to label one action "good" or another action "evil". It depends on the circumstances surrounding the action. For example, killing a person per se is bad, but killing a person in self defense or in defense of others is good. And yet, most religions, distilled to the very essence of their teachings, seem to favor absolutes. Exodus 20:13 - You shall not murder. No ifs, no buts, no qualifications.
So how can you judge the worthiness of a person's soul to be granted eternal peace and happiness using as basis absolutes with virtually no room for interpretation?
Of course, this has not stopped countless people from proselytyzing their own interpretations over these absolutes for the past thousands of years. Who among them are right? Only God knows.
Speaking of God, in the end, it is only Him who can really decide who deserves salvation and who doesn't. Tradition and our own meager understanding of God as a concept, as a Supreme Being, has attributed him with omniscience, omnipresence and infinite wisdom. It is only He who can best judge whether our actions make us worthy of eternal bliss or eternal damnation. Yet somehow, in His infinite wisdom, he doubtless knows that we are imperfect beings, and it hardly seems fair that imperfect beings are judged on a scale of perfection.
Which leads us back to the question at hand. Is this life real? Or is it just some illusion conjured up to test the limits of our humanity, to see where we belong in the next life?
Begging the question...is there even a next life?
Frankly, I don't know. In fact no one really knows, and anyone who claims otherwise is probably lying. Know one can no for a fact what lies beyond our own deaths, and still be alive. We don't know. But we believe, and for some people this is enough.
As for me, ashamed as I am to admit it...sometimes I have my doubts.
The reasons why an infinitely powerful being would deliberately create an imperfect race and then test them for perfection, then reward or punish them accordingly is way beyond the comprehension of this mortal mind. Perhaps the truth may not be as simplistic as I have described it to be, but there is no escaping the fact that none of us are really aware of the answer, much less if an answer even really exists.
We live life, applying our own standards of right or wrong, and hope for the best whenever judgment day arrives, whenever that is. We all believe what we want to believe, and we try to keep the faith over things which we have assured ourselves to be the keys to our own personal salvation. We can't really do anything much more than that.
But sometimes it's nice to think about it...and we can leave it at that.
So who is not to say that our very lives as we live them today are nothing more than illusions, dreams, figments of imagination. What is the true measure if something is truly real or not? Are our five senses sufficient in separating reality from fiction?
In a few more days it will be Halloween. And in the days following, All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day.
Just something to ponder over the weekend.