(Paying Back My Debt to Nature) There are several ways of thinking about death. One idea is that when we die, we are simply purged from the world and dissolve into nothingness. Some religions promise the forgiveness of heaven, or the fires of hell. Less dramatic forms of religion suggest that an afterlife may take the shape of a collective consciousness. Some believe that we die and are reborn in a continuous cycle of reincarnation. As I approach the time in my life when I am fully aware of my own mortality, I am comforted by the belief that I am unequivocally, irrevocably inseparable from Nature; that I am Nature, no more or less. If I am unfortunate enough not to experience the joys and trials of immortality, as inspired by modern science, and death cruelly and naturally selects me, perhaps I will find that consciousness is eternally preserved in a state of energy beyond understanding; a unified rapture of interconnectedness. Or perhaps (although I hope not) I will burn in hell for my sins. But more likely, to my delight, I will devolve back into a random arrangement of disassembled parts, to be transformed, from what was once a living society of atoms and molecules, into the immense volume of stuff which is Nature eternally recreating itself.
A Collection of Writings on Nature, Science, and Art by John Holland