I think that many people misunderstand the idea that is being stated here, though I do realize the possibility that I may be the one who is misunderstanding. If that is the case, then I apologize.
My idea is similar, but not the same and I hope you will see what I mean after reading.
However, I beg you to read what I have to say and think over exactly what it means to you and what effect it could have on your life. I ask of you not to only read the very beginning of what I have to say and let that insult you because it disagrees with or contradicts a system of beliefs or values that you have established.
Please and thank you.
The idea that I have to present to you is this: It is of a certainty that there is either one or many gods or no god at all. It is also of a certainty that there either is or there isn't a purpose for our lives and reason for our world to exist. Of course these things are certain. All that I have stated is that things either are one way or they aren't that way.
What I'd like to present is the idea that perhaps none of that matters. Perhaps it does not matter if there is a god or indeed many gods, or quite possibly even no god. It really is of no relevance if there is a life after this one or if at the moment of death a person simply stops existing other than as the deteriorating physical remains of their body.
I know that many readers will likely consider this thought a terrible thing, and there is a good chance many people will stop reading now in disgust. Again, I ask you, keep reading. I do not think that you will regret it.
Let us suppose for a moment that there is one greater being; one god. Let us now talk about a hypothetical individual, simply for the sake of increasing our understanding. We shall call this individual Jim.
Now, let’s say that Jim lived a life according to the teachings of the God, and he has now come to his judgment. If the God is a benevolent God, then Jim will logically be rewarded for his life’s work. If the God is a malicious God then it seems logical that Jim could be punished even though he did what he was told. If the God is relatively indifferent or distant from humanity, then it probably wouldn't matter what kind of life Jim lived, his judgment could conceivably go either way.
Now, I know that most people don’t accept or even want to consider the possibility of an indifferent or malicious God, but please keep an open mind. This should all come together.
Okay, back to Jim. Let’s suppose now that Jim lived a terrible life. A benevolent God might give him a process of repentance, or simply punish him for his actions. A neutral God could likely do just about anything. And a malicious God could punish as well, or possibly reward for being such a negative factor in others’ lives.
Finally, if Jim’s life was rather extraordinary or uneventful, he really sat the fence then this also would logically change his judgment. A benevolent God would almost certainly not punish him, but might give him some path that he must follow to achieve “salvation”. A neutral God could, again go either way. And a malicious God would again be malicious in judgment.
If we change the situation and there are multiple Gods doing the judging, then the potential outcomes are, essentially, the same. You just have to consider the majority of the gods or their power instead of a single God.
Our last potential situation is that there are no gods to judge Jim. When he dies, he is dead, and that is the end. Whatever events took place in his life, they are the sole reward for his actions. Religious belief systems that incorporate no Gods, but allow for reincarnation are very similar as your reward is simply the direct result of your actions in perfect justice.
So here is what we can draw from this: a benevolent life is most likely to lead to a good reward, and on the small chance that it does not, at least the earthly rewards of a good life are present (almost certainly more reward than any other kind of life in the same circumstances). A neutral life is likely to gain, well, neutral reward. And an evil life would logically lead to an undesirable reward under most foreseeable possibilities for judgment or reward.
So then, does it really matter what exists beyond this life? Is that really something important to us?
If we live a good life, then we are logically more likely to receive a more desirable reward than any other way of living. And the less well that we live our lives the less positive our reward is likely to be. For even if your only reward is the life that you lived, the life that is lived better is more rewarding.
I think this was originally the idea that Buddha was trying to present: that circumstances beyond our understanding are just that. Beyond our understanding. So it is really no use to stress about them, or to try to shape our lives around them. Instead, it is simply best to live our lives as well as we can based on the simple, logical things that we can deduce.
So, now that you have read what I have to say, I want you to ask yourself: does it really matter what happens when your life comes to an end? Or should you just strive to do the best that you can, based on what you know, on a daily basis?
Thank you for reading.