My story of the philosophy of the after death.
| When the cycle was completed, Reuben opened his eyes to a dark cave with a blue-green glowing orb at the centre. He smiled at the peaceful situation he found himself in.
"I'm dead, right?" he asked aloud.
He looked around. There were many people beside him, and behind, but the orb's light did not reach their faces. Strangely enough he did not feel fear when his feet did not feel ground, but at the same time he was fixed at his position.
"So this it?"
He tried to turn to see who was answering his question. It was another person, but he couldn't see the face. Only the outline of a humanoid body.
"You are still attached to your life," the body explained to him. "You refuse to accept the reality of everything."
"What happens now?"
"You go back, or you observe, and then go back in."
"It's your choice."
"Who are you?..oh wait." The realisation dawned on Reuben as he tried to turn around and see beside him. "You are me!"
"You always were curious in the life, and the previous. But then that is what life is all about."
Reuben felt the presence of many more people around him, but they were all familiar to him. Some tried to get closer as if to listen, others moved away.
"Nothing is complicated when you are not alive, but to be living, your brain has to adjust to things in a different way," his other self said. "There's rules which can't be broken, and therefore you must accordingly make comprises."
"Enlighten me, please." Reuben said for what he heard didn't make sense. He tried to remember his life, and could only recall fragments of it. The most vivid memory was that of a childhood friend, a neighbourhood school friend with whom he played, often fought and sometimes bullied. The feeling was strong even though he was dead. "Hey I can still feel happy . . . and sad here. Is this normal?"
"It's your previous life that makes it so."
"So in death I still can feel things?"
"Your attachment to your previous life makes it so."
"But what about pain?"
"If you want."
"Well...since I am curious about everything...show me how to feel pain."
"Look at the universe."
Reuben focused his attention in the orb for it was the only thing that made sense. He saw himself as he was alive, and for a brief moment he really did feel pain...when his childhood friend after one taunt too many struck him across his face. It hurt, but the satisfaction of a reaction from his friend was better.
But then, for a brief instant he saw things from his friends' point of view.
A memory long forgotten.
Maybe he was nine years old then. Just about the age when he could understand about poor people. He had just received a new water pistol from a relative, one of those where the squirt travelled over ten feet. The first person he wanted to show it to was the neighbours' boy.
He called over the fence once.
"Francis!" He yelled out at the top of his lungs again.
It took a little while, and Reuben waited for impatiently for a reply. In a huff he took a garden hose and filled up the pistol before pumping it up. His friend's head did pop over the fence eventually and Reuben was glad of the reaction Francis locked his eyes on the glossy fluorescent green pistol.
Francis swung his smaller skinny body over the fence and extended his hand to touch it.
"It's brand new...so I can't give it to you just yet," Reuben explained with all the authority he could muster in his voice. He was still cross that Francis had taken a while to respond to his summoning.
"That's fine. When can I have a turn?"
"You can just watch. Maybe when your mother can afford to."
The barb failed to strike home. Sometimes Francis could be really dull.
Then Reuben did something on impulse. He aimed the pistol at his friend's face and squeezed the trigger.
His face absorbed the first wash, before he bounced back and landed on his butt. Water stinging inside his nose and mouth, and lungs. He coughed violently trying his best to breathe. It was hard, but while his lungs painfully cleared, he was unsure if this a life or death moment. He had to reach for comfort, the only safe place was with his mother. But there was a little unfinished business.
Francis stood up, bunched his fingers into a tight fist and prepared to launch blow after blow.
"Stop it - you don't want to end up like your dad!" Reuben smirked and leapt out of range. He could easily run faster than Francis.
Francis knew this was a battle he would never win. His father was in prison, and kids forever teased him about it at school. Tears streaming from his eyes, he raced at the fence and pulled himself over before disappearing.
Reuben's fun had ended abruptly. He wanted more. The power rush that came to him from the pit of his stomach was exhilarating. He had never felt like this before.
He threw the pistol down and within moments was across the fence.
It was a council owned house. The grass was long, paint peeling off the old wooden structure and as always, a damp musty smell that hung around and seemed to travel with Francis. For some reason, he also felt a bit cold whenever he was here.
There was a sound of sobbing from inside the house. Francis no doubt.
Reuben sneaked his way quietly to the back door. It was open, and he dared to tip toe in to peek a glance.
Francis was cuddled up to his mother who was in a wheelchair. There were tears running down his face in small streams.
"It's alright sweetie", she crooned softly to him. "I'll save some money and buy you one."
That boy really did have nothing and Reuben was saddened.
"I should have been more caring to him," Reuben said.
"You can be him."
Reuben felt shocked and if alive he would look around in confusion.
"This is how everything works. You keep going back into the cycle, you keep living different lives."
"But that life has already happened?"
"This is how the cycle in there works. Inside there time flows one way. Over here, it's all the same."
"That's a bit hard to understand."
"As I explained earlier, your attachment to your previous life makes it hard for you to grasp the reality of here. When you are sometimes dead again after a religious life, you find it too hard to accept anything I say. The only way to save you then is to send you back in with a lie. A lie that you are needed back in for some purpose or another."
"Are you saying that I must go back in every single time I am dead?"
"It's your choice. You can stay here and observe and learn as long as you want."
"Well I want to know the ins and outs of the universe then. I want all the knowledge there is. I want to know everything, how it all begins and ends, and if the chicken came before the egg, or vice versa."
His other self laughed. The sound was familiar, just like listening to himself. "There are limitations. To find that knowledge you need to be born."
"That knowledge may be there. You need to be born in the right body first."
"Fine. I'm choosing Einstein for my next trip."
"What do you mean?"
"What I mean is that there are rules. To be born again, you can only be born to someone you have connected with in your last life. Someone like Francis, someone with whom you have shared a part of you."
"So to be Einstein, I must be born several times? Is that how it works?"
"Exactly, you need to find the connections first."
"So who was I in my last life then? Just a curiosity."
"Just think for that."
Reuben didn't know what to make of this, so he tried remembering. Back to his earliest memory, and then to his amazement he found he could go back further.
"Oh my . . ." he said in shock and found himself reeling back. Even after death he retained many feelings and sensations of the life.
"That is so." His other self confirmed. "You can remember only so many lives before your last, but I am not here to spare you any hurt."
"I have been Reuben five times already, and every time I went to right the harm I did to Francis and all others, I have become more and more of a tyrant!"
"That is so. Every time you go back in, something changes. That is all part of being born and dying. And that circle. Nothing remains exactly the same."