Could getting everything you ever wanted and more really make you miserable? Is that even possible? May be?
This post orginated as a comment in response to a reader of a previous post called, “What Do Deists Think Happens After We Die“. You can see the question here and my response to it here. This is really a great subject to explore so I figured I would expand my response into a full post.
When it comes to what death and the other side are like, I can only theorize based on those who have had NDEs and returned. Their accounts though as I blogged in the past must be seen like a person from another planet telling you what America is like. Further that person from another planet was dropped into a large Airport and didn’t really fully understand what the beings walking past them were saying and only met a few that talked to them. They also only saw America by looking out the window and were only there for a few minutes.
If you asked this being upon their return to their own world what was earth like, they would have a pretty good idea. If your world knew of a place called America and this airport had been say JFK Airport in New York they would also have some really accurate perceptions of America. Most words would have been in English, likely TVs would have been on focused on American News, products and services that are sold to Americans would be there. You could see out the windows and know America at least in parts of it has lots of water, rivers, oceans, etc.
Many impressions though would be very inaccurate. Some things this being might have considered to be almost magical might turn out to be mundane if they stuck around for a while. On the other hand some things they wouldn’t even bother to notice at first might prove to be amazing if they had a longer visit to experience things. Some of those things might even change the way the thought about their own existence forever. What would that be, well we don’t know, in this thought expirment we are on the other side of the experiment, are we not?
So let’s flip it now with the previous concepts in mind. Some believe the afterlife is anything we choose. That we are like some version of Star Trek’s Q once we cross over. They say in the afterlife or “next level” we can have anything we wish, create any reality and go to any space or time. This is possible but not exactly what I think. I believe that as limited as we are at this plane of existence there are likely some limitations at the next and so on and so forth. I also believe beings such as us might become truly bored if we were so unlimited and bound by absolutely nothing. In this way I feel if the afterlife is really wholly unlimited we would likely indeed create a new place to go to, a new challenge for ourselves. We might even erase many of our memories from past experiences to make the challenge more enjoyable and learn more from it.
There is an old episode of The Twilight Zone that this makes me think of. I am talking the old black and white series Rod Serling did in the 50s. A conman/gambler/thief dies and ends up with a guide. He is still on earth and everything looks the same. He is told he can have anything he wants, a prime suite in the hotel, girls, food, money, the best clothes money can buy anything. Women swoon on him, every pull of the slot machine is a jack pot, etc. He enjoys this life for a while then gets bored. The guide suggests perhaps he misses his old profession as a thief and that perhaps he could rob a bank or something like that for excitement.
He gets excited but realizes it won’t be real. He asks the guy, “is there a chance I could get caught”, to wit the guide replies “sure anything you want”. The guide even pulls out a pad and pen to get the details just right. You know like what percentage of chance that you get caught, get shot and injured, etc. It’s a set your own parameters type of thing. Again ANYTHING HE WANTS. This conman now realizes it is all too easy, it isn’t real, he hates this “heaven”. The episode ends with him saying to his guide, “This is a mistake, I don’t belong here, send me to the other place, I don’t belong here”. The guide goes into a maniacal devil style laugh “where do you think you are, this is the other place”.
The irony is there may be a lot of truth to that. Not in a hell but that beings such as us may enjoy “games” way to much to be free of all limits for long. That could be a case for reincarnation or just a case for the fact that we might create other worlds, challenges and levels for ourselves.
Think about a video game you might enjoy playing and imagine you found a cheat code that made you unstoppable. If it was something you could do a few times at critical points of the game it might be fun and cool. If it were permanent, how quickly would it go from cool, to boring to, “I don’t enjoy this at all any more”.
Personally, I am not a gamer but I know enough who are to know that once a gamer really beats a game it becomes boring is cast to the side and replaced with a new challenge. I do enjoy playing darts for instance and while I get really excited when I do it right and drop 3 bulls in three throws or nail a “ton 80” on rare occasions it is the challenge that does this. I am sure if I could put darts into a board as perfectly as I choose every time with no effort it would be cool for a while. Yet other then to make a few bucks playing competitively I don’t think the game would do much for me for long.
Likely I would stand further from the board, get a board with smaller areas or something, or just find a new game. Most of us played tic-tac-toe as a kid. First you play with no strategy and if you have an opponent doing the same it is fun, then you and your opponent quickly learn a few techniques and it gets more fun for a bit. Sooner or later you both learn a few rules of the game such as if X marks corner O should mark center, etc. Soon every game ends in a tie. Or if you play someone who doesn’t know the rules, every game can indeed be won, both are as boring as shit though are they not.
Next thing you know you are outside playing tic-tac-toe bean bag toss because that adds a layer of challenge and skill and perhaps then you are on to horse shoes or something totally different. The key is for most of us if we truly master something simple we are done and on to something next. It takes something complex to hold a master with it for long.
Chess or music for instance have infinite layers to explore, so some people do dedicate their entire lives to them. The same with say dancing, writing stories, playing a sport at the top level, etc. Yet what if none of this challenged us? You could write and know more then Shakespeare did in his entire life in a millisecond. You could write and play more beautiful music then Bach with your mind and it would be heard as you thought it up. Nothing was beyond you, no challenge existed at all, everything was perfect you even got the Crown in Heaven you were promised in church.
How long before you said, “man I have got to do something to have some fun” and dove into some sort of “game” you created for yourself and created limitations so that you would enjoy it? Such is found in many things in life and I believe that pattens that repeat are often constant patterns.
Those of you that have never considered this angle before might try reading Illusions by Richard Bach. It is a good first step into many of these concepts and a fun easy read you can get though in about an hour or so if you choose to. It is also a fun story that is good to just read as such and the author is quite creative in the way he weaves permission into the narrative for you to not believe a thing he has to say if you don’t want to. Those of you who know what the “Master’s Book” says at the end, know what I am talking about.by