People would die to have happy afterlife

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People would die to have happy afterlife


Recently, I had dinner with a friend who lost his mother a few days ago. When I offered words of consolation, he mentioned a dream that he had about his parents. A few days after the funeral, he had a dream in which his mother was in the arms of his father, who had passed away long ago. Both seemed happy.

“I’d never had a dream about my father before. It is really strange, yet comforting,” he said.

His dream was heartwarming to me as well.

We want to meet those who have left us even in dreams. The lyrics of a classic song, “Dream,” are based on a poem by Hwang Jini, one of the most famous gisaeng (female entertainers) of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910): “Dream is the only way, so I am taking the path of a dream.”

When death parts lovers, it is even more desperate. Ancestors try to get consolation by romanticizing about life after death.

Kim Yeol-kyu in “Memento Mori: Remember Death” wrote, “The otherworld must be so good that so many people never come back from there. I’ve never heard of anyone who went there and returned to this life.”

In fact, there are people who claim that they’ve been to the world after death in what’s called a “near-death experience,” or NDE. Scientific research on NDE began in the late 19th century, and the controversial topic is still investigated in medicine. There are a number of books on these near-death experiences.

Lately, I’ve enjoyed reading “Evidence of the Afterlife: The Science of Near-Death Experiences” and “Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife.” Both are especially credible, as they are written by doctors. The former is a statistical analysis of a survey of 1,300 people around the world who claimed to have had near-death experiences. The latter is an autobiographical book by a neurosurgeon.

The authors concluded that there is an afterlife, which is not frightening but happy, and in this life or afterlife, the most important value is love. However, a University of Michigan research team showed that brain activity continues after cardiac arrest in rats, and argued that NDEs are only a delusion from the brain’s hyperactivity.

Last week, Iranian media reported that a drug offender, who was executed and pronounced physically dead by a doctor, came back to life. The family rejoiced over the miracle, but the court ordered that the man be executed again. So he is now waiting for another execution. Perhaps he can tell us more about his near-death experience.

But it is my feeling that if the afterlife is scientifically investigated, it would be followed by considerable confusion. If everyone gets to be happy in the afterlife, the number of suicides would probably increase drastically. If there is a heaven and hell, people would compete in this world in order to get to a better place. After all, we know what it takes to get to heaven: Do not harm others and be good.

*The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.


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