I have never been concerned with what happens after this life. This aspect of my practice has been criticized by both Buddhists and Christians. In a conversation with an evangelical Christian, I responded that I “just don’t know” about the afterlife. As a simple point of reference, anything or everything is possible but there is no way of knowing. This can be a hang-up or detrimental to practice or you can change “just don’t know” to “just this.”
Aren’t you concerned about your soul?
Doesn’t the possibility of Hell frighten you?
What about your karma or a favorable rebirth?
Just this moment and just this practice. Just this life. Just this that connects to your nature. Just this is my family and lover, my life and my death, the relative and absolute. There is no path and no progression, just this point of contact between us. Every three steps we take forward will be followed by three steps back but every step is a leap. Future lives are just as meaningful as this life and this moment. Preoccupation on moving forward or becoming; transcending or realizing is only a superficial diversion. Zen is the process of just being what is already true. Just this right in front of our eyes. Blinking through rain and sunlight we see delusions and attachments. Salvation and damnation drift away with tears and laughter.
Just this. We blink and they are gone.
Just this. We sneeze and they are back again.
No goal and no path. Just this moment. Crickets are at my window and I wear a crown, begging for alms and wielding a sword.
No heaven and no hell. Each manifested in this breath and on this cushion. A cool breeze across cracked rocks.
When we feel the nature of this life directly, we don’t need heaven, hell or God. We are free of them.