Once upon a time I had a theory that Heaven and Hell were what happened at the very last moment of your life. They say your “life flashes before your eyes” when you’re about to die. What if that’s literally true? What if it really does?
And in that final, eternal moment, when your mind knows “this is the end,” and there’s no more kidding yourself, what if you have to face the person you’ve really been with no filters, no deceptions, no self-rationalizations?
What if, as death stands at our shoulder beckoning, we have an infinite moment of clarity in completely and fully recognizing ourselves.
The thing about the traditional idea of living forever in Heaven (or Hell, especially Hell) was that immortality sounds boring. Science fiction is filled with explorations of the idea of living forever, and the almost universal conclusion is, “No thank you!”
No matter how great Heaven is, existing in the sense of doing something has to get old eventually. After just six months of baseball, I’m ready to take a couple of months off!
A more coherent idea might be that that afterlife is some other form of consciousness than we know. We join the “over- mind” or whatever. Maintaining any sense of my current self forever just doesn’t sound like fun.
I have wondered about timeless moments, though. What if the last moment of a mind is a knowing one? Maybe even the unconscious mind still has that last moment of being a mind.
And as its reality dissolves around it, that mind experiences one final, timeless moment of self-reflection and honesty. All the little sanity-preserving lies we tell ourselves fall away and for one eternal moment we know the truth about ourselves.
This is just an idle fancy of mine — a Brain Bubble that I had many decades ago. But it stuck with me all these years, and now I pass it on. (I suppose in some ways it was a way to bring the idea of eventual reckoning into a non-theist context.)
Still… I think it stuck because it’s not off-the-chain obvious nonsense.
It’s… “not entirely implausible” shall we say?
We were long advised to wear clean underwear just in case we got in an accident and people saw our unmentionables.
Maybe the reason for living a clean life is that, ultimately, you’re the one that has to face yourself. How do you want to go out, with a smile or a frown? Do you exit knowing that you tried to live a good life… or knowing that you didn’t?