The Story of God with Morgan Freeman
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- We all go through this, of course. Everybody grieves, but some people have a certainty that helps them cope with grief. They're certain they will see their loved ones again in heaven. For some of us it's not quite that simple. In fact, it's the greatest question we ask ourselves: What happens when we die?
- Opening narration
- Now I'm embarking on an epic adventure to discover what we believe lies beyond death — and why. Is there any scientific support for the soul? I'll learn the true purpose of the afterlife for ancient Egyptians. … Why the story of one man's rebirth was so powerful it swept the globe. … How the Hindu faith erased the fear of death. … And I'll explore how science is trying to capture the soul. … To bring eternal life to this life.
- Opening narration
- You can only hold your breath so long. You reach a point of release where you just, you just let go and you breathe in salt water. And it's — it's quite a violent way to die. … I had totally lost my awareness of my body and the ocean at this point. … Then I noticed this light. It was millions upon millions of fragments of light. In all different colors, and they were all dancing and swirling, but kind of like they were one mind, though, and it was infinite. … I mean, I knew I "wasn't in Kansas anymore", you know. I knew I had left my body, and as I approached this mass of light, it was a familiar home. And, and it was a relationship that was so much deeper than any relationship I'd ever had here. And then I reached a certain point where these millions of fragments of light spoke. And they said, "This is not your time. You must return, you have a purpose." I was watching my body and I was mesmerized, because I knew I was gonna go back in that body. And as the next set of waves came, they pounded my body up against all this wreckage and pushed some of that salt water out of my lungs, and that's when I found myself back in my body. … The crew that were looking for me said I was there from anywhere from 15 to 18 minutes under this, under the water. … I do believe in an afterlife. I believe that our being, our soul, whatever you may want to call it, lives on, and that we have opportunities to come back. And I never thought of any of that beforehand — it just wasn't on my radar. That light, that was God to me. … And I believe that you can find that spirituality in all different beliefs. I don't subscribe to just one belief anymore ... my library at home has all different beliefs represented.
- David Bennett, on his near-death experience of nearly drowning at sea in 1983.
- I have seen a light; not in a near-death experience — I was just passing out. And what I perceived was the tiniest beam of light — that to me was … the final form of life. It just occurred to me, holy cow, there it is. There is the light that everybody talks about. But it's a common theme among people who say they have had a near-death experience or an out-of-body experience. What they see is a light. Some people have seen Jesus in, in this light; other people just see a bright light.
- Comments after discussion with David Bennett
- For the ancient Egyptians, the afterlife of the pharaoh was vital. It ensured the sun would rise each morning. Their enormous monuments didn't just ensure the pharaohs would survive beyond death. Their afterlife provided essential power to sustain the living.
- For Christians a graveyard is not just a place of memory, it's a place of hope for life beyond death, hope that began in a moment of extreme anguish 2,000 years ago … when a man named Jesus was arrested by the Romans in Jerusalem and sent to die on the cross. It's a story most of us in the West know, or think we know.
- Narration prior to a visit to Jerusalem
- For Christians, Jesus' blood sacrifice was the last that needed to be made. From then onward, all you had to sacrifice for eternal life were your selfish desires. In this way, the death of Jesus was transformed for Christians into the ultimate victory over death.
- Narration after visiting the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
- The only existence which is eternal ... Is God.
- Swami Varishthananda, on Moksha, the liberation from cycles of reincarnation in transcendent union with "the only existence which is eternal existence."
- We know that actually for thousands of years people who've come close to death for any reason have had these very profound, deep, in some ways, mystical experiences. People feel an immense sense of peace and comfort and joy when they go through death. They may describe a sensation of actually meeting deceased relatives, friends, or others that they don't really know, but who are almost like welcoming them. So I think what we're beginning to understand is that we have very much a universal experience of death that most of us will probably experience when we go through death.
- Dr. Sam Parnia
- Whether you're a Christian following the example of Jesus, a Hindu hoping for liberation from the endless cycles of reincarnation, or you're simply trying to leave the world a better place than you found it, our desire to go beyond death has changed the world. Whatever we may find on the other side, no matter what our faith … we can all become eternal, like the stars.
- Closing narration
- We've been predicting the end of the world for thousands of years. From Nostradamus all the way back to the book of revelation. Something about the drama of annihilation seems to grip us. Is it just human nature to worry and wonder about the end of days? Or is it really coming? I'm setting off on a journey to find out why so many religions predict an apocalypse. … My first destination is Jerusalem. The spiritual set of the Jews, christians and muslims. All three of those faiths predicted Jerusalem will play a role in the end of the world. It has long been a flash point for religious tensions.
- Opening narration
- I think it's important just to distinguish between Islamism and Islam, a religion. What I mean by Islamism is the desire to impose any version of islam over society. Although ideology was sold to me as if it was the religion of Islam and that's what I adopted. I grew up facing a very, very severe form of violent racism, domestically within the UK. I'm talking hammer attacks, machete attacks by Neo-Nazi skinheads, thugs. On many occasions I had to watch as my friends were stabbed before my eyes as a 15 year old. I began seeing myself as separate from the rest of society and an islamist recruiter found me in that state as a young, angry teenager and it was very easy for that recruiter. I joined a group called Hizb ut-Tahrir and that's the group I spent 13 years of my leadership on. … It's the first islamist organization that was responsible for popularizing the notion of resurrecting a modern day theocratic caliphate, as we now see that ISIS has laid claim to. But, my former group, they were the first ones to popularize that term. I ended up in Egypt where I continued to recruit people to this cause. … I am still a Muslim, but I am now liberal. Now, when I was in prison and I was living with the Who's Who of the jihadist terrorist movements and islamist movements, we had a leader of the Muslim brotherhood. When I saw him I thought, "my God, if these guys ever came to power and declared a caliphate, it would be Hell on Earth." Of course, when ISIS eventually did declare the caliphate, that utopian dream that we all used to share has become that dystopic nightmare that we see now.
- There were a lot prophecies that most muslims share in common with each other. The difference is what ISIS has done is it's manipulated those prophecies to serve its own political and ideological ends.
- I set out to understand what the apocalypse means to people of many different faiths. I had always thought of it as a all destroying doomsday. But I've discovered that some people yearn for the apocalypse. They want to be free of injustice. They want to escape suffering. They want a better world.
Apocalypse. It's a Greek word meaning "lifting the veil."
It's not about war, it's about enlightenment.
It's not about death. It's a state of mind and heart that helps us see the truth.
Not some far off day of judgment. It's here. It's now.
- Closing statements