religions

Here’s What These Major Religions Believe About the Afterlife

in Culture

At some point, everyone wants to know what happens when you die. Dozens of worldwide religions answer this question with their own unique understanding of the afterlife, and hundreds of religious sects offer their own nuances of each of these beliefs. That being said, you may be surprised to see just how much major world religions have in common in their interpretations of life after death.

For instance, many world religions believe in a messianic figure that appears to rescue mankind at the end of the world, such as Maitreya in Buddhism, Saoshyant in Zoroastrianism, al-Mahdi in Islam, and Jesus in Christianity. By taking a step back from doctrinal details and focusing on what happens when you die, a colorful spectrum of beliefs can come together to create a beautiful painting of the afterlife.

Buddhism

Buddhism is surprisingly diverse and commonly divided into two types. Theravada Buddhism is one of the more well known of the two, where practitioners follow the Four Noble Truths to live a life of moderation, also known as “the middle way.” They avoid extremes and seek Enlightenment by following a lifestyle called the Eightfold Middle Path.

Ultimately, Theravada Buddhists seek nirvana, which represents the end of physical and spiritual pain, constant labor, weariness, inequity, and the difficulties of life. Western religions may identify this view of the afterlife as bleak non-existence, but in the perspective of Buddhists it is closer to the Christian belief of “rest eternally.”

Islam

Muslims have an expression when determining who will be saved, whether people of their own religion or another: Allahu a’lam, or “only God knows.” Nevertheless, the Qur’an teaches that Allah created the world and will eventually bring it to an end. At that time, all humans will be resurrected, judged according to their deeds on earth, and placed into paradise or hell for eternity.

The Islamic concept of paradise is much like the Western concept of heaven: a place of joy, pleasure, and rest. Hell will also be familiar in that it contains endless punishment for those who dies in disbelief. A person who believed in God but lived wickedly in this life need not despair from the mercy of God in regards to the sins he or she may have committed in their life, because The Most Forgiving and Merciful, is able to forgive all sins.

Mormonism

Although a newer sect of Christianity in terms of origin, Mormonism has developed into a cohesive worldwide denomination. Their beliefs on what happens when you die follow the traditional Christian beliefs, including salvation through Jesus Christ, judgment, resurrection, and heaven and hell.

Believers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also have a more detailed concept of Heaven. They believe in a spirit world before the resurrection, where those who have yet to learn the gospel will have an opportunity to repent and follow Christ. After the judgment, people will be placed into one of three degrees of glory, depending on the faithfulness of the life lived. These concepts, Mormons believe, can be found in the Bible as well as their other books of scripture; the concept of three degrees of heaven is also not solely a Mormon belief.

Zoroastrianism

Although Zoroastrianism has fewer numbers now than ever before, the ancient religion has had the most influence in other faiths than perhaps any other. Currently found in modern-day India, these were the people who inhabited Babylon during the exile of the Jews and may have provided them with the concepts of angels, resurrection, Satan, and the afterlife.

Of all the nonbiblical religions, Zoroastrianism certainly has the most connections with the worldview of the Bible. They believe in judgment and universal salvation, once the righteous and wicked have bathed in a liquid that will burn, painfully, the evil from the latter. Like Mormons, they believe in three degrees of salvation and that not all will receive the same heavenly rewards. Heaven, Zoroastrianists believe, is a place for individuality and variety. The belief in different degrees of glory, therefore, matches this concept of individual gradation.

Commonalities Across Borders and Beliefs

Though a small sampling, the above religions each have a unique perspective on life after death, though beliefs, even among the most distant, still exist. Common themes such as prophetic figures, resurrection or life after death, and joyous heaven pervade religions all around the world. Despite perceived differences to typical Western ideology, finding commonality may be a positive step closer to the divine.

6 Comments

  1. Buddhism really doesn’t believe in an afterlife. Reincarnation yes but their goal is to cease reincarnating by reaching enlightenment.

  2. No scientists ever going to find life in any planets other than our planet earth and the solar system is the only celestial system that helps survive life on the earth. The spherical shaped NINE planets that revolve round the SUN while rotating themselves on its own orbits is the ONLY SOLAR system that lies in the spherical shaped universe. The SUN and its planets which functions from time immemorial has only ONE function , that is , to KEEP the most important creations of god namely THE LIFE going for ever. There is no end to it unless it is deliberately destroyed by the human beings and the discoveries of the human beings like Nuclear bomb has the ability to end life on this earth if they use it vastly, extensively and on a global base.
    Who created this Universe? Scientists are still trying to find answers and the fact is that no one ever going to solve this mystery.
    What scientists do?
    Scientists simply transform GOD’s creations to another form and claims they create things. Unless there is God’s creations, the Scientists can create nothing. Everything still remains a mystery and nobody is going to solve this mystery. We all try to attempt solving it and in the end we all leave this universe leaving behind us everything a mystery. Simply take the SOLAR SYSTEM for example. Have any scientists solved the mystery behind the solar system! Theses planets revolves around the sun while rotate itself on its own orbit staying within a magnetic field thus keeping safe the most wonderful creations of GOD “the human beings “ safe on this earth. The Scientists believe a BIG BANG created this universe. Out of that BANG the splinter parts formed the Nine Planets and got fixed itself in that MAGNETIC FIELD and revolves around the SUN. What a wonderful discovery. Have anyone solved this mystery yet. Nobody is going to solve this mystery. When we cannot find answers to this mystery we naturally inclined to believe in some SUPERNATURAL POWER and that super power became the concept of GOD. People started thinking to find solutions for this mystery and that’s is how the INTELIGENTIA (intelligence community) formed. Their quest for knowledge made them give up all the materialistic pleasures of this world and began to find the truth. That is how the spiritual or the concept of Heaven formed. This is a never ending quest to find the truth. Some people think they can never find the truth and spending the time and effort to solve this mystery is a waste and they turn themselves towards materialistic ideas and we unfortunately termed this concept as HELL. That is how the concept of HEAVEN AND HELL formed. We the human beings only made these two concepts and nobody knows whether the heaven or hell exists because no one has comeback from heaven or hell and told their wonderful experience at either place.
    When people starts to THINK to solve the mystery around them, they unknowingly form the concept of GOD in their life. Every little things in the nature around us is a mystery. Think about a bird building its nests. How meticulously they build its nests to keep its species continue on this wonderful earth. Did any Scientists installed in them the brain to do it. This is just an example , now start looking around you discover all the mysteries around you and start THINKING then you will find GOD.
    People questions GOD when we think about the HUMAN GODS.Human god’s are just human beings just like any human beings but they all stood for a cause and tried to cleanse the socio-economic, political systems of their time and even sacrificed their life for it. We began to embrace their ideology and began to find meanings in their teachings and eventually they became “symbols of something “. That feeling of something led us to trust them and we began to admire them and this admiration led us to worship them after their DEATH. That is how the HUMAN GODS formed in the society.
    Anyhow THINK, THINK, THINK you will find GOD.

    • Very good assessment Jain. It seems to me to be a no-brainer to “Believe” in God,
      as Creator and to Whom all living creatures are responsible.
      As our world becomes more and more “globalised’ different “beliefs” will find common ground and merge to become one. One sees this in all other aspects of life in this world today. This has been the pattern from day one.

  3. In my Nichiren Buddhist practice ( Soka Gakkai ) we believe that this saha world – the world of suffering – can be transformed into “the land of eternally tranquil light” . Heaven and hell may be found within your own body. When someone dies , his lifeforce flows into the Universe in a state of “ku” – nonsubstantiality – then surges back to whatever causes that he made in a previous existence. By chanting daimoku – the invocation of nam – myoho – renge -kyo – and doing his “Human Revolution ” in this lifetime, he’s guerunteed ” fortune in this lifetime, good circumstances in the next.”

  4. Mormonism is a pseudo-Christian cult that denies biblical, historical, orthodox Christianity. It is only 16 million members, smaller than many denominations in Christianity. It teaches plurality of gods/polytheism, not Judeo-Christian monotheism. Joseph Smith, Book of Mormon, etc. are all falsifiable. Likewise, Jehovah’s Witnesses are in the same boat (not Christian). I would not use Mormonism as representative of the largest religion in the world, biblical Christianity (it is a newer religion, not a denomination of Christianity as much as they protest that it is).

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