Tessa: It’s time to put the pain behind you.
Dean: And go where?
Tessa (gently): Sorry. I can’t give away the big punchline.
Warning: minor spoilers ahead.
Dean was hovering between life and death in this Season Two episode of Supernatural, aptly named In My Time of Dying. Tessa, a reaper, had come to guide him onward. Yet the show still held something back: no punchline. Not yet.
Season Two was a long time ago. Back then, we knew that a reaper doing its job couldn’t be stopped—when your time is up, it’s up. We learned, from Tessa, that people who refuse to go with their reaper become the angry spirits that Sam and Dean hunt. But we didn’t know what would happen when Dean said yes . . . as he seemed to be on the verge of doing.
Later, that changes. We gain a certain familiarity with heaven and hell. And that works for Supernatural. I still think we don’t really know the punchline, though. I don’t think the heaven we’ve seen so far is Chuck’s ultimate plan for His human creations.
Regardless, I don’t want to go where Supernatural does in my own writing. I don’t want to pull back the curtain. Weird, right? I mean, I’m writing visionary fiction. And Veshnic in Crevlock Tower is sort of . . . well, God, after all. (Not saying he can compete with Chuck, of course.)
But you can be religious or spiritual without focusing on the afterlife. I think that’s one of the things Judaism gets right. There are various teachings if you want them: they range from no afterlife of any kind to the resurrection of the dead to reincarnation. But ask a given rabbi what happens when you die, and they might well say, “Just do the right thing here and now. Then you won’t have to worry.”
I like that attitude. And I like to combine it with part of what Krishna teaches Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita: that, as a guiding principle, we should perform our actions while renouncing the fruits of them. In other words, do the right thing and leave the results to God.
The Gita, like Judaism, actually has a lot to say about what happens when we die. But that core idea of renouncing the fruits of our actions suggests, to me, that we can set that whole question aside. Do the right thing. The rest is out of our hands.
And that’s why I don’t pull back the curtain. I’ll never say never, of course . . . but for now, I’m content for me and my characters to worry about this world. Not any world to come.