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Final destinations

Important note: This page compares some current beliefs about our final destination. The content is believed to be accurate. However, within each religious group, there are many views, and some may be different to what is described here. We have attempted to summarise the main-stream views. If there are errors, please point them out politely via our Feedback page.

Defined destinations
Some religions have defined destinations. For these, there are some important concepts, as follows:

A non-physical "essence" of a person which survives after death. In some religions, it also exists before the person is conceived.

A "place" or "state" of happiness and joy, freedom from pain and suffering, closeness to the deity. This is the destination for souls of "believers".

A "place" or "state" of misery and unhappiness, full of pain and suffering, eternally removed from the deity. This is the destination for souls of "unbelievers".

Christianity: Christianity has many denominations, and there are differences between these denominations about where deceased people go. The general concepts are of Heaven and Hell. Some denominations also have Purgatory, which is a sort-of half-way house where some souls have to suffer for a while as they undergo a cleansing process before entering Heaven.

Islam: Islam shares the same general concepts of Heaven and Hell as Christianity. There is no Purgatory.


Undefined destinations
These religions have no defined destination, but still have a belief in life after death.

Judaism: Judaism has a Sheol, the place of the dead, which is a grim and murky place, but no defined torture or suffering. They believe in the eventual resurrection of the dead at some time in the future, here on Earth.

Baha'i: The Baha'i faith accepts the Heaven and Hell from the Bible as purely symbolic. They accept death as the end of the physical stage of existence, after which the soul continues its purely spiritual development. They believe that it is not beneficial for people to know the whole character of life after death. They believe one can experience Heaven (closeness to God) or Hell (separation from God) while still alive on earth.

Buddhism: Buddhism teaches reincarnation, in which the same soul goes through a process of birth, life and death of succeeding physical bodies. How your life is lived affects your Karma, which in turn affects the circumstances of your next rebirth.

Hinduism: Hinduism teaches much the same as Buddhism, except that by living increasingly virtuous lives, you may attain a state of Enlightenment, at which time the cycle ceases and you continue to exist on that plane.

Religious Taoism: Religious Taoism allows for the concept of immortality, which is achieved by much study and practice. Some believe it to be physical immortality, in that the body does not die, while others view it as a spiritual immortality.


No destinations
These religions have no destinations. When you die, your life ceases and that is the end of story.

Classical Taoism: Classical Taoism is about living in harmony with Tao, and death is part of this process.

Confucianism: Confucianism is about living an ethical life, there is no afterlife.


© 2000 Zero to Infinity