Peacebang (http://peacebang.blogspot.com/) has a wonderful post on the resurrection of Christ for Easter Sunday. I do not believe in bodily resurrection, but her post has inspired me to post my beliefs on the subject. What follows is from my personal journals, from a time when I was contemplating the death of loved ones. And yes, I speak to myself in second person- make of it what you well.
I have said that Life comes only from Life, but it is also true that Life can only be sustained by death. I do not refer to the death of our foodstuffs- and yes, even Vegans thrive on death in this manner; I refer to something more fundamental.
Have you heard the myth of the Phoenix? The Phoenix is a fabulous bird that, at the end of its life, bursts into flames and is totally consumed by fire. But when the fire finally burns itself out, among the ashes is a single egg that has been quickened by the fire- the egg from which the Phoenix will hatch anew.
As wonderful as this story is, reality is more wonderful still! The Phoenix is reborn, yes- exactly as before, static, unchanged throughout eternity. The traditional view of reincarnation is much the same, summed up perfectly in a song by Blood, Sweat, and Tears: "And when I die, when I’m gone, there’ll be one child born, in this world, to carry on, to carry on... ". But in reality, the energies released by the dying spark a multitude of new life, an entire flock of Phoenix. This is how a cupful of slime becomes a planet full of life, how a handful of people become six billion.
When a person dies, more dies than the envelope of flesh. Who knows what happens to the incredibly complex patterns of energy that was once the quick wit, the warm soul you had loved? Energy is conserved; it goes somewhere... I choose to believe that the energies of our lives are not dissipated upon our deaths; we release the energies we had gathered into ourselves back into the universe, and we cannot even dream what they will create. Look around you- it is not just the bodies of humanity that grow in numbers and health; new artists, even new art forms spring up every day. New sciences, new beliefs, new concepts, they grow fasters than our bodies. Just as the atoms of my body will someday become part of a flower, so will eddies of my energy inspire a painting of that flower.
When I was younger and a beloved musical group would break up, I would try to figure out who was at fault. I didn’t realize until decades later that frequently no one was at fault; the group as an entity had said all it had to say, and no further growth was possible as an entity. The only way they could say something new was to break up the group and let the members form new relationships that would reveal new truths. This happens to individuals as well as groups. There comes a time when we have said and done all that is new and creative that we can add to the world; there comes a time to release all the components back to the universe to regroup into new truths.
I believe this is how one steps off the wheel; that Nirvana is reached by becoming part of the joyous glow of creation. By dying, we become the ultimate negation of death: new creation. To die is to conquer death.
Most of what we are returns to the universe; personal immortality is a gift we can give to those who have passed before by remembering them. More, this is a gift we share with them, for we are enriched as well.