Why are you worried, and anxious, over, what happens to you after death while you are alive? Life is the known and death is the unknown. Yet, one is worried endlessly over what happens in the unknown. Can the known ever find out about the unknown? To come upon the unknown, therefore, one must let go of all that is known, is it not? You can get as far as the scope of everything that is in your experience, the known, for sure. But is death an experience too, for one to possibly comprehend in a living reality? Death, not, in the sense, one knows death to be commonly. Let’s leave aside for the moment, your personal faith or lack of it, on any personal God or religion. Death for the physical body is a sure thing, whether one believes in God or not. But in your question, where you have mentioned that you don’t believe in eternal oblivion, you seem to imply that your anxiety is over what may happen to you as a “being”, or, as a soul, etc., after death. Isn’t this your actual query? So, how shall we find out, sir?
If one believed in ideas of heaven or hell, then this query is over, because one already thinks that there is an eternal life awaiting them after death. Which means what? That there will still be a mind that is alive eternally after physical death, either, in heaven or in hell, and therefore, one continues in the field of the known. And if one believed in reincarnation, the same applies. One continues lifetime after lifetime, in a different body, in a different form, but the mind continues, in the field of the known, for as long as it does, until it eventually ceases to be, upon enlightenment or whatever. And, if one believed, simply, that there is nothing more to one’s present life other than being a body made of matter, and it goes back to matter, once it perishes, then this query ends here too. So what is it all about, sir? What does death actually mean?
Should one ask, is it about death or is it about life? Is one’s life intended to be one filled with the usual grind endlessly, whether one believed in just one lifetime, or in reincarnation? Why must I worry over whether or not, I had been there before or not? One can see, here, now, that our lives, are a certain repetitive pattern, is it not? One goes through the motions of all different types of experiences in one’s lifetime, all the different emotions, thoughts, feelings, one has held many different opinions, changing perceptions, judgments, grudges, ideas, etc. One sees the endless patterns, that is ever changing, with time, circumstance, and experience. Yet, the underlying residue, in all of these, is either, pain, suffering, anxiety, fear, anger, hatred, love, joy, sorrow, pride, arrogance, pleasure, etc., is it not?
One goes through repeated experiences of these, over and over, in one’s lifetime, is it not? What is life all about? Is this all there is to it? And to what purpose? If I have had a lifetime before the present one, them I am sure I have gone through the motions of these before. And, if I will have a lifetime again, then it is sure to continue, because my present reality is so. So, assuming there is something after death, what can one hope will be different in one’s life after death, whether in a different body, or in heaven or hell, if one’s present life, is an endless repetition? Can one ever get out of this rut in one’s present lifetime? If one can, then that surely is death, is it not? Death, not, as a physical death of the body, but the psychological dying to everything that is in the field of the known. Dying to everything that one has ever known, experienced, felt, etc. Not in the sense of amnesia, or loss of memory, but in the sense of letting go of all that is one’s experience and meeting every moment afresh, with no preconceived, notions or concepts or ideas whatsoever. Only then, can one possibly come upon that which is unknown, which can never be grasped by the mind, and be made into a thing that is knowable, but, that, which is ever new, and therefore, eternal; which is all there is.