More than anything, humans fear death. The end of life. The knowledge they will be gone from this earth, never again to share time with loved ones, watch a sunset, climb a mountain, or simply enjoy Life and all that that encompasses. It is this inevitable fate that creates a heaviness in the heart of every human being.
The ancients experienced this dread as well. So they put their imaginations to work and soon came up with ways to overcome (or at least minimize) this innate, and most unpleasant, emotion. They devised paradises, nirvanas, heavens, promised lands … final destinations designed to offer complete bliss and delight and peace. While not totally removing the fear of one’s demise, the hope of “something better” at life’s end became a rallying cry for the impermanence of human life.
At the same time, there were those who believed not everyone “deserved” to enjoy such pleasures at life’s end. They saw some humans as mean, cruel, evil, immoral. Simply Bad People. So they came up with another end-of-life solution to deal with these malevolent individuals. And while it takes many forms, the end result is pretty much the same — punishment in some sort of “hellish” environment.
The Christians, in particular, took this idea and honed it to perfection.
In Christianity’s early days, there was a contingent of esteemed individuals who claimed “heavenly” knowledge, and it was this assembly that set the standards for proper “Christian” living. They determined that all who lived “godly” lives would, at death, be allowed to spend eternity in “God’s Presence.” However, if a person chose to rebel against the standards set forth by this prestigious group, that individual would be required to pay a penalty for their “evil deeds.” The punishment would come at death and consist of an eternity of suffering in what these “godly souls” christened the Lake of Fire.
This revered group did, however, make a small allowance for those who might come to regret their evil ways. They instituted a simple solution in which “sinning” individuals were required to say a few words (and convince themselves they were Truth™) and they would be SAVED from the horrors of this established end-of-life event.
Even in today’s modern world, there are many who still cling to these tenets put forth so many years ago. They are totally convinced that by remaining “in the good graces” of a supernatural entity, they will be able to face death without fear and/or trepidation.
However, at the same time, there are scores who reject this approach to life … and death. They dismiss the stories and platitudes offered by the religious and believe it is far better to face life’s end with resolve and single-mindedness. These are the individuals who live life with gusto … facing their demise without trepidation or dread. For them, these ancient words contain the real truth … ashes to ashes, dust to dust.