Is there a Life Review at Judgement Day?
Article by: Craig Hamilton-Parker
“Moreover, whatever state of being he remembers when he gives up the body at the end, he goes respectively to that state of being, Arjuna, transformed into that state of being.” –The Bhagavadgita (8:6)
The afterlife is not a place like the world you know around you now. What survives is the inner you. If you are spiritually advanced, you may skip the transition phases I described above and immediately become aware of the divine light of God. (I use the name God although I understand that this emotive word may mean different things to different readers.) Many Eastern religions believe that the last thoughts and words of the dying person will determine the level of spiritual attainment in the next life. So think twice if you find yourself in a life-and-death situation. Who knows what your afterlife prospects would be if you cry out, “Oh, shit!”
The spiritual person will think of God at their passing moments. As the assassin’s bullets tore through Mahatma Gandhi’s body on January 30, 1948, his final cry was “He Rama” (Oh, God). Clearly Gandhi was a man of exceptional spirituality and, according to the Hindu, these final words would have enabled him to merge with the godhead. Remembrance of God at the time of death leads to the attainment of this state of being. The Tibetan Buddhist will read to the dying from The Tibetan Book of the Dead to help them attain a fortuitous future state. By keeping the mind on God at the end of life, we draw closer to the absolute. It could be argued that the Catholic tradition of the “last rites” has a similar healing purpose, because it sets up a positive state of mind, focused on the prospect of God rather than worries about sin.
I’m sure that spiritual thoughts at the end of life will help the journey. However, saying the name of God on your last breath will not wipe the karmic slate clean, nor will a last-minute confession of your sins. The sum total of your life is what matters. The last thoughts and words do, however, reveal what your primary drive has been in life. You will carry these with you to the threshold, and as you pass into the afterlife states. Someone who has habitually developed spirituality and often thinks about God is more likely to be drawn instantly to God consciousness than someone whose life has been spent on lesser things. The Eastern teachings say that a person who has followed a true sacred path in life will have greater freedom of action at the time of death. However, nothing can be done for the evil man at his dying moment, for he has no independence and is drawn forward by the weight of his past deeds.
We assume that the time of our death is something that we have no control over. However, it is said in the Eastern teachings that we only die when we have given our consent–even if this is on an unconscious level. The process may take only a fraction of a second. If death stands at your side and you say “No, I don’t want to go. Go away!” then your death will be postponed for a little while. However, there is usually a feeling somewhere in a corner of your heart that says, “It is all right”
The Cosmic Conscience
Those angels first inquired what my thought was, whether it was like the thought of those who die, which is usually about eternal life; and that they wished to keep my mind in that thought-.-Emanuel Swedenborg
When we enter the afterlife we begin a process of reviewing the life we have lead on earth and assess our successes and failures. We start at the very heart of our being and gradually the self-knowledge unfolds until we understand why our life was as it was. You will start this process as you encounter what Dr. Raymond Moody has called the “being of light.” This is an incredibly common element in accounts of near-death experiences. As I explained earlier, the abstract God takes a form according to your understanding–a Christian may see Christ, and so on.
I believe that this experience begins after a period of complete merging with God. Initially, the self-assessment happens at an abstract level of existence, before unfolding to a tangible form where you and God appear to become separate states. In reality, we are always one with God–even now, as you read this–except we live within the illusion of separateness. The closest we can understand this first stage of the “life review” is to say that it is an inner experience–a soul-to-soul discourse with the highest state of existence.
Imagine what it is like to merge with God and to become aware that God knows everything there is to know about you. How would it feel to be so spiritually naked? What excuses could you make for your misdeeds, and how would you attempt to explain away your mistakes and transgressions?
NDE ACCOUNTS OF THE LIFE REVIEW
According to many NDE accounts, this encounter with a being of light is remarkably common. During the merger with God, there is the realization that God knows everything about you. There is a form of total telepathy between you. As the merger ceases, you will have the experience of standing before a being of light that may take the form of your particular understanding of what God should be like. Or God may just remain as a being of light, or even be invisible but with a powerful sense of nearness and reality. Again, the nature of this experience will be dictated by your own nature.
When you encounter the being of light you will not hear a physical voice or sounds coming from the being, neither will the being respond to your physical sounds. The exchange will not involve language, yours or that of any nation. There will instead be a direct, unimpeded transfer of thought, completely free of any possibility of misunderstanding. We could, perhaps, call it a heart-to-heart with God.
The subject of your initial exchange will be whether it is now your time to die. This “conversation” will not be filled with fear or angst. You will see that it is self-evident that it is your time to die, or not. You will be almost nonchalant about the fact, because you are now in tune with all strata of your being and the higher self will take precedent. All judgement is self-judgement. Almost without exception, reports from NDE cases conform to what you will say: “The being of light did not judge me. I judged myself.”
And what could be a harder judge that our own conscience, for the conscience, in this life and the next, is the voice of God working through our higher self.
And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt-.-Daniel 12:2
A great many cultures believe that you will be judged in the afterlife. Many also believe that the fates of the morally good and morally bad will take a road to Heaven or Hell. References to the judgement of the dead can be found in the works of Plato, who mentions the judgement of the dead by three figures at the conclusion of Gordias. Many traditions say that you will be brought before a divine courtroom where your good and evil deeds on earth with be judged.
If you are a Moslem, you may believe that your judgement begins in the tomb. You will be visited by two angels called Munkar and Nakir who will sit you up and ask you questions of faith. You will also be asked about the uniqueness of God and the identity of Muhammad. Get the answers correct and you will be left alone to lie in the grave until the day of the Resurrection of the Dead and the Day of Judgement. On this day you will rejoin your physical body and be assigned eternal life either in paradise or hell. It has been suggested that the first tombstones were placed on graves to keep the dead in!
Similar ideas can be found in many other Middle Eastern religions. Although the first authors of the Hebrew Bible did not teach that the human soul would survive death, there has arisen the idea that your deeds are recorded, wrongdoers will be punished, and the righteous will be resurrected. A common biblical expression for death is to go down to she’ol, a term taken to mean an underworld. This may be simply an expression for the grave and not a reference to an actual afterlife.
In common with Islam, the Jews believe that you have to wait for the Day of Resurrection before you will reap your reward for your good deeds. However, most Christians believe that the judgement of your soul takes place immediately after death. Depending on your righteousness you go either to Heaven or to Hell or, in some Christian churches, to purgatory.
Again we can find similar ideas in the East. Many people from the Far East believe that your soul will bypass the afterlife completely and the weight of your accumulated karma will decide if you are reborn on earth in good or bad circumstances. However, the ancient Vedic texts of India say that you will be judged by King Yama who knows how to recognize liars. In Chinese Mahayana Buddhism, it is Yen-lo Wang who sits in judgement, and in Japan it is Enma-o.
Psychic medium Jane talks about the death of her step-father
The Life Review
“If you develop love, you do not need to develop anything else.”–Sathya Sai Baba
Clearly many of the beliefs about the judgement of the dead have been influenced by different cultural traditions. Today we are more likely to call this the life review. This has again been reported by people who have had an NDE, and cases have been logged by researchers such as Doctors Raymond Moody and Elizabeth Kübler-Ross.
The first stages of the review took place when you first encountered the being of light. During this stage you assessed yourself from the very core of your being. However, like the many layers of an onion, you are a multi-dimensional being. The review takes place in your innermost self which is at one with God then expands to encompass the higher self and the other facets of your being. (I will explain this in more detail later.) In this next stage of the review, you know yourself as being separate from God, who now appears before you like a being of light or in a form that you understand to represent the godhead.
If you made the decision to die, you will now review your life. Your beliefs and cultural background will determine the form this takes. It may take place in a modern setting, or in a historical setting that conforms to your expectations. Conditions will form around you that make you feel at ease and ready to begin the long process of self-assessment.
Your whole life will be on display to you. This experience is more than memory, for you access the vibrations left in the cosmos by every event that has ever taken place. Some mystics call this the Akashic Record. You may experience this review as looking into a magical book that unfolds the story of your life, as if it is taking place within the pages. You may look into a crystal pool or perhaps even into a television screen. Or you may not need any imagery at all and will experience the unfolding of your life in a more abstract way. The situation that is manifested is in accordance with what makes you feel most comfortable.
Most reports from people who have had an NDE say that the inner experience is similar to memory but somehow apart from normal remembering. Some say that the memories come quickly and in chronological order. Others describe the events as happening out of sequence or all at once. Because of the nature of time in the afterlife, it is probably very hard to explain the experience in earthly terms. The NDE visitor to the afterlife has only moments available to them in which to absorb these ineffable experiences. I would imagine that permanent new residents in the afterlife are allowed more time to become acclimated and, therefore, have a more leisurely period of assessment, perhaps punctuated with time for reflection and rest.
If you pass into the afterlife at an old age, you may have already begun the life review during the periods spent in reflection in your later years. Nowadays, we largely fear old age and spare no time thinking about the inevitable day when the angel of death knocks on our door. However, it is much more psychologically sound to allow some time in the latter part of life for reflection about one’s life and consideration of what’s to come in the hereafter. The psychologist Carl Jung said: “From the middle of life onwards, only he remains vitally alive who is ready to die with life. For in the secret hour of life’s midday the parabola is reversed, death is born. The second half of life does not signify ascent, unfolding, increase, exuberance, but death, since the end is it’s goal. The negation of life’s fulfillment is synonymous with the refusal to accept its ending. Both mean not wanting to live; not wanting to live is identical with not wanting to die. Waxing and waning making one curve.”
PURPOSE OF LIFE
If you have thought about the meaning and purpose of your life, then the life review will be a continuation of this process of spiritual integration. Your guardian angel will help you recall the reasons why you chose to be born and the lessons you set yourself to learn. You will then become aware of everything that has happened in your life and understand it in the context of the life plan you made. You may “see” it as a series of rapidly changing images in vibrant colour. Everything will be multi-dimensional and moving. As each image flicks across the screen of your consciousness, it will be perceived and recognized. Scenes from your earliest childhood will seem as if they are happening at that moment. Once hazy memories will spring to life. You will have total recall–everything from the banal to the meaningful–and you will feel all the emotions and feelings associated with what you are seeing while at the same time remaining in a calm state of non-attachment.
The judgement and the life review are not a “final” event, with the application of absolute moral standards followed by purgatory, hell, or heaven. It is a starting point for further spiritual development and progression. During this period of introspection, you will discover the many capacities which need to grow in you, and come up with ways to develop your spirituality.
References and Works Cited
- Hamilton-Parker, Craig (2010) What To Do When You Are Dead Sterling imprint Barnes & Noble ISBN 978-1-4027-7660-1 (Languages: English, Dutch, Portuguese) BUY THE BOOK HERE