Sunday, February 1, 2009

SPAM and the Afterlife

What is life's greatest mystery? Everyone playing the board game answered "the afterlife" - except me. I said, "SPAM." Who eats that stuff?

It's denial. I find it difficult to get past the dying part, let alone what comes next.

As a kid I had the whole St. Peter and the pearly gates imagery in my head. It seemed like Club Med in the clouds. No thanks. Lying around with nice folks listening to harp music sounded boring. The devil was offering really cool door prizes downstairs. Besides I liked the heat and was afraid of heights.

Catholic schoolteachers tried to flesh out the concept for me, but there were contradictions. Mr. Nicoletti taught me there was no hell. Maybe not so coincidentally, he is my favorite teacher. A year later in a new school, a nun asked me to explain hell in class. Thinking I was prepared for this trick question, I loudly proclaimed there was no hell. After turning three shades of fiery red, she told me I was headed there. I think that was my first travel assignment.

Confused as a teenager, I read about the Tibetan Book of the Dead and devoured books on philosophy and the occult. My idea of the afterlife was far from tidy.

As a young adult, I was a reporter for a Catholic newspaper and The Philadelphia Inquirer's religion section and interviewed many dealing with death and spirituality. The different perspectives taught me that thoughts on an afterlife are highly individual and can be beautiful.

Now that I've lost loved ones, the afterlife has become a real thing rather than an abstract idea. My childhood notions no longer fit. Now, limbo is just the time spent waiting for an editor to get back to me and purgatory is having my father-in-law over for dinner.

Hell can be right here on Earth. Some create their own and others are damned to an awful destiny of poverty, abuse and more. The unfairness of the latter is life's second greatest mystery.

This brings us to reincarnation. Last year, I read, "Many Lives, Many Masters," by Brian L. Weiss, M.D., a prominent psychiatrist who specializes in past life therapy and hypnotic regression. His research is compelling, but I'm not sure it matters to me if I was a 14th century butcher or will be in the Martian army in the next millennium. The here and now is all I know. This fact makes this life all the more precious.

I believe in a Heavenly afterlife and accept that I'm on a need-to-know basis. And, I don't need to know yet.

One thing is for sure. With it's long shelf life, SPAM will be there.


Amos Anon said...

I’m glad you’re interested in The Tibetan Book of the Dead. Here’s a link to a Guide that covers this book and other books of the Oxford Tibetan Series.
If you find this useful, please mention it on your blog.

Active Integrated Marketing said...

I really hate to be the one to break this to you...but we're both doomed. Maybe that's why we're always so hot now - to prepare us for even more heat later. :-)

In all seriousness - great blog.