In the beginning consciousness became aware of itself and with this awareness rose the mind and the first thought, which was: "I am one, let me become many."
Though I was not present at the moment of the creation of the universe, or if I was I can't remember being there, and though I don't take literally the 7-day account found in the Bible, it seems to me that in the beginning of time there must have been a first cause. A oneness. A supreme being.
And most religions including Christianity endorse this. To posit two or more beings existing simultaneously as far back as forever just doesn't make any sense. If these two beings occupied all known space, where would one stop and where would the other begin? And who would the space in between belong to?
No, two beings would definitely make for feisty neighbors. I often wonder who owns the fence circling my house and separating it from the neighbors' property. Is it the Changs' or is it ours? Do we share it? I've always just taken it for granted that the white picket fence is our property because it goes around our house to divide the property from the lovely Persian couple on the other side. Okay I'm wasting my thousand words. Okay I just wasted more. I'll get on with it.
So, one supreme being. And however you choose to move forward, that Being became many, which is why we see such variety in our lives. And which is why so many religions stress the notion that "All Is One." Because ultimately, it is. All drops of water are ultimately from the sea. In Christian tradition, God and man are separate and stand in a relation of Creator and created; whereas in religions of the East, you as individual are identical with the Self, source of all that is.
Life is also like a dream, and when you go to sleep at night, and you dream, you elaborate people and places from your own consciousness. In essence, all that you imagine is one. It's all you. And again, many philosophies and religions and even children's rhymes tell us that this is the case. Life is like a dream.
But what about the individual soul? Did it exist prior to being born, or does it emerge from the ocean of oneness along with the body at birth and at death subside back into the primordial sea? This is where the various religions differ.
Christians of different persuasions say that the soul begins at birth and after death lives forever in heaven or hell or in purgatory according to its actions while embodied. That's strange to me, since I cannot imagine something that is born and does not eventually experience some sort of death. Every beginning has an end. It is important to note however that nowhere in the Bible is found mention of an immortal soul. It seems the notion came afterward and was in part influenced by the Greeks, who were influenced by the Hindus. Are you listening Christians and Jews?
Whereas the Hindus say that the soul is immortal and comes back to earth over and over again, with time in the spirit realm in between for reflection, and each rebirth occurs without knowledge of former lives. It says in the Srimad Bhagavatam that at death the soul reviews its own life and after a time glimpses the life to come before making the journey back to earth with a sort of memory loss. The recollection of things from former lives is what the Greeks refer to as anamnesis and what the believers in reincarnation sometimes take as support for multiple lives but I take as an indication that the individual can access cosmic consciousness where can be found all the information that exists. I know this place exists, I just haven't been able to get there. But when I do, you just watch the award-winning screenplays I bring back with me for your viewing pleasure! An aside.
Near death experiences as well as seances seem to support the notion that after death the soul goes on, but we don't know the precise nature of incorporeal existence, nor do we know how long it lasts, or what if anything comes afterwards. It may be that the individual consciousness merges back into the source of everything, the oneness, the supreme consciousness out of which all arises. In which case death may be like deep sleep, and who doesn't love a night of restful shut-eye?
The Buddhists believed this, denying the reality of an individual soul and positing a void or nothingness out of which all arises, a seeming nothingness at least because something cannot arise out of thin air. But a nothingness like deep sleep, for who doesn't admit than in dreamless sleep even the individual ceases to exist? You are alive, but you are not aware of the fact until you wake up in the morning to pee.
But if the ultimate end of life is merging with the Oneness from which we all come, what's the point of striving and self-improvement? In becoming a stronger or faster or richer human being you're simply building a castle in the clouds, which is futile to me, since when the cloud dissipates, as at death, the castle disappears. In this way life may be like a game, which is pointless when it's over, but can be fun while it lasts.
Users of hallucinogenics and also those who have almost died and come back swear that they encounter spirit beings that instruct them on how to better behave and help them to get at life's true meaning. These beings come in the form of whatever saint or sage the individual follows in his waking life. Proving that all the major religions are true, or that whatever you believe is true for you. Vedantists appreciate all major religions and figureheads and perspectives, minor ones too. Which is why Vedanta gets my vote for universal ethos, cast your ballot too.
My believing in heaven or hell makes those ethereal realms real destinations for my soul at death, while your longing for a merging with the Oneness and a cessation of individuality makes that reality true for you. And me, since that is what I see as a perfect way to spend eternity. Out of time and space, as they say.
Most people I have met love their individuality, despite the curve balls and speed bumps they encounter in life, and believe that after death they as individuals will go on. But I'm tired, and I just want to sleep. That's just me. What about you?
And what about George Clooney, who until recently I viewed as a like mind, at least as far as his views on being a father were concerned. He didn't want to be one. And now I come to find that he's going to be the father of twins, and at the seasoned age of 56. I guess George isn't as tired as I. His numerous critical and commercial successes as a writer and director and star notwithstanding. Where he gets his energy remains a mystery to me. Which is okay, now that I've figured out where we're all from and where we go when it's done.