I think the hardest part of deconverting is dealing with the fact that this is it. After being told from a young age that you will live for eternity after you die, it is sometimes hard to face reality that existance is much much shorter than originally thought. How do you all deal with this fact and get in the right mindset to best handle it?

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PattyJ - great link, thanks!

Gold, Patty, is one of the heavier elements, and does not occur naturally. Here's what I mean by that:

The original stars were comprised entirely of hydrogen. As the nuclear processes within a star "burns" hydrogen, it fuses hydrogen atoms into helium, a slightly heavier element. When stars above the size of 2.5 times the mass of our own sun, explode, as they must, that helium is blown out into space where, over time, it becomes gravitationally compressed to form another large star, which fuses the helium atoms to form yet heavier elements.

It takes the Supernovae of three successive stars, each contributing their elements to the building of the next star, to finally create the materials necessary to form a star whose planets can contain the element, gold.

That means, Patty, that the atoms that comprise you and I were not only compressed into the singularity that became the Big Bang, but were also present in the three giant stars that, one by one, exploded, then collected again to eventually form our own solar system, and us. Can you see how incredible it is that those elements just happened to be collected into the debris that formed this planet, rather than Saturn, or Jupiter, or Mercury, and came together under just the right circumstances to cause life to occur, and eventually, for you and I to be born?

We are all, as the late Carl Sagan once phrased it, "star stuff," and it is to that, that we will one day return.

Pretty amazing, isn't it?

archaeopteryx

PattyJ - here's one for you --

Dear Folks:

Very wonderful vid.

I have been in this wonderful state of mind many times. I miss them when they do not come often enough.

On the positive side, when one considers that the Christian version of the afterlife consists of spending eternity praising god (who must have SERIOUS self-esteem issues, to require so much praise), permanent death seems like such a pleasant alternative.

One shot on the wheel of life- Make it a good spin

Well, I'm Hindi.  (Probably not as popular  in an atheist forum, since we have at last count somewhere around 330 million gods.)  And death ... well, it doesn't scare me.  I've been dead before.  Not in a reincarnationist belief sense, more in a clinically dead after a car accident sense.

There is no "I."  As an attempt at an analogy: If a child pretends he's Batman, then gets called to dinner and stops pretending, does Batman die?  Such is life.

@Davyd O

Well, I'll give you one point for not just falling into the religion of your family/culture without question.  Do you mind sharing the criteria that brought you to Hinduism?

I was a devout Christian, praying to God for guidance, and Sri Shiva revealed himself to me in a blinding light which knocked me to the floor.  No, I don't have any proof.  No, I can't really differentiate it from the multitude of other cases of people claiming to have seen God (under whatever name).  Or angels, or aliens, or inhabitants of Lemuria, or whatever.  Yes, I fully realize it may very well have been an hallucination or mental break of some sort.  No, I don't expect anyone else to believe me or change their lives based on this.

So, in sum, you're not telling us anything at all.

@Davyd

Did Sri Shiva say anything to you?  Have you had any sightings since?  Does your family have any history of mental illness?  How did you go about finding a Hindi temple near your home?

@Heather

1) No, not in words.  Following that experience, I did find quite a few writings from different religious traditions which seemed to be of a similar nature.

2) Nothing quite so dramatic, no.

3) I assume you mean my biological family (I was adopted), and I can't be totally sure of that, although I realize that depression and alcoholism run in the bloodline.  (Both of which I have experienced at times in my life, though not prior to the experience in question.)

4) I actually didn't.  I was living in a rural area of Pennsylvania at the time and it wasn't very religiously diverse.  Fortunately, I was attending a nominally Christian college with a well-stocked library and some professors who were quite knowledgeable regarding religion.  One of Hinduism's basic ideas is "Many paths, one truth."  I explored various religious traditions when I had the chance over the years, until I moved near a Hindu Smarta temple in Ohio and started attending there on a regular basis (until I moved to Texas, at least).  I met a scholar there who taught me a little Sanskrit and also discussed the religion from the point of view of someone born into it.  I also attended an ISKCON gathering a few times there.  Now I'm disabled and rarely leave my home, and don't really get to any churches/temples/etc.

@Davyd

Ok, but did you know your vision was Sri Shiva at the time you were having the vision - as in had you studied Hinduism previously and recognized Sri Shiva; or did you not know who Sri Shiva was until a later time when, upon reading some Hindu material, you recognized him?  How did that part work?

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