I still believed in God. I said my prayers. I tried to follow the 10 Commandments. But I didn't believe in Heaven and Hell (or Purgatory, for that matter). My mother used to say that Hell was right here on earth. (I don't think we ever really talked about Heaven.)
I never doubted that there was life after death, but I couldn't believe that we were rewarded or punished for eternity based on the short span of time we spend here, especially those who died young or were born with mental disabilities that denied them the possibility of embracing Christianity. And on top of that, what about all those millions (or was it billions) of people who followed religions other than Christianity? It wasn't adding up.
So, I started my journey to find out the meaning of Life, the Universe and Everything - and my part in it. I thought it wouldn't take long. Yeah, right.
I started at the public library, but instead of reading religious volumes, I was drawn to the occult section. When I was growing up, I had been told that my father had experienced some "physchic" episodes as a child. This intrigued me. I had never had any myself, but the possiblity that you might be able to see ghosts or predict the future was so alluring....
Our public library had about 8 books in the occult section and they were all pretty bad. I did read them all, however, and learned that Harry Houdini had been very interested in the occult and firmly believed that he would be able to find his way back from the dead to let the others in his circle know that there was indeed life on the other side. To my knowledge, he never did make it back...
I also read about Edgar Cayce and his gift of prophecy, the quatrains of Nostradamus, the brilliance of Leonardo Da Vinci, the secret society of Masons and the occult leanings of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Even the Satanic Bible of Anton LaVey. I read it all. Learning, growing, following one thread, then another, weighing each word and each idea, keeping some and tossing most. Looking, searching, trying to understand - and doing it all by myself.
The one thing that ran through it all, the common thread, was that life continues even after death. I think this fundamental belief has been with humanity since the very beginning. It's primal. All societies and cultures have recorded either in their written histories or in their burial ceremonies that the dead live on in other worlds. I don't think this is a subject I need to elaborate further on, it's easily researched and you could spend more than this one lifetime learning about the various afterlives that have been believed to exist throughout history.
In my own heart, I know it to be true, but it's been a very long journey trying to understand just how it all fits together. It's a quest that began for me 40 years ago and still continues today. As this blog continues and my religious leanings are revealed, the first cornerstone, or building block of my belief system is that life continues beyond this physical world.