Since the dawn of time, man has always been fascinated with the world of immortality. And with this comes his expression of a world in his imagination, where beasts and angels appear to send the news of judgment day. In forms of myths and fantasies, literary masterpieces were written time and again all across the world in order to define the human concept of what will come after one dies, and what will be after the end of time.The concept of afterlife is generally a religious and spiritual promise that existence continues after death.
Most of the different belief systems in the world, since time immemorial, are founded on the concept that one must do good unto his neighbor and one must serve his God in order for him to find bliss and eternal happiness.In the guise of different names and concepts, afterlife is the reward for doing good on earth or the punishment for doing evil deeds (p. 64).It is perhaps possible to attribute the ubiquity of the idea of life after death to the human desire of eternity. There is more difficulty for humans to accept the idea of the “total dissipation of self” (p.
64) than the possibility of resurrecting after death, whether the consequence be eternal happiness or suffering.But the origin of the entire concept of afterlife is perhaps from the dual nature of existence on earth. It is a reflection of the cyclical tendency of the processes people witness in their surroundings. Examples of these cycles include the ebbing of tides, rising and setting of sun and moon, and the changing of seasons.
The circular path that governs the creatures of the earth givese the suggestion of naturally regaining what is lost, therefore restoring life after one encounters death (p. 64).In the famous Greek story of Odyssey, written by the legendary author Homer, a Land of the Dead is a clear expression of the Greek’s view of what afterlife is. According to stories, this land is a place of darkness and suffering, where cries of despair overwhelm and echo.But for the Greek, this manner of existence is not necessarily due to the punishing of one’s sins. On the other hand, the Christian and Muslim view of the afterlife is composed of the division between heaven and earth, where the human struggle of becoming good or evil is either blessed in heaven or welcomed in hell (p.
64).Another essential concept that governs human life is the Apocalypse. The etymology of this word is the Greek apocalypsis, which literally means “a revealing” (p. 33).
But the word has evolved to its modern connotation of a massive destruction that would lead to the end of human existence. Numerous mythological stories were written time and again. Most of them have the common objective of portraying the possible catastrophe in store for mankind (p. 76).Throughout the history of mankind and in every part of the world, there is the concept of a catastrophic way of ending the existence of the Earth.
Cultural accounts reveal that most civilizations perceive the apocalypse as the end of one realm and the beginning of another. One world is destroyed while a new one emerges.Again, comparable to the dual concept of the afterlife, the apocalypse is based on the constant alternating order of things. It is through the creation of mythical stories on the apocalypse that people are able to reveal their belief of a Creator, a power that subordinates the universe and brings justice to the actions of man.Most authors of these myths and other stories on the end of the world mostly utilize symbolism and some express a theme of fatasy. Perhaps these are in connection with the purpose of writing apocalyptic stories, to reveal a prophetic vision (p.
76).The concept of the apocalypse is a means for mankind to cleanse their spiritual self, while expressing their utmost fascination to the unknown realm of death and afterlife. Psyschologists claim that this expression is due to the human need of facing the reality that surrounds him by making the necessary choices in life (p. 76).
In the Christian context, the story of the Apocalypse is written through the story of Armageddon. From the Biblican Book of Revelation, St. John wrote on chapter 16 verse 16 that a final battle between good and evil will transpire in the symbolic field of Armageddon.This is the Last Judgment that Christians await and prepare for (p.
76). This view basically represents the Western idea of the final arrival of the Kingdom of Heaven, where mankind will be segregated according to the life one lived. It is the day when the Messiah returns to lead the good to eternal repose, and for the devil to take the evil in eternal damnation (p. 77).On the other hand, the Eastern concept of the end of time has more inclination towards the natural cyclical process of the Earth. These religions do not emphasize on the punishement or reward one can be subjected to, but on the universal rhythm existent everywhere.
An example is the Hindu belief of existence as cosmic breathing. Their understanding of life is that both the processes of creation and apocalypse transpire alternately and endlessly (p. 77).