"Grace / to be born and live as variously as possible" - Frank O'Hara
We tend to think of life as a line, a road, a tightrope, a string of pearls. Western thinking encourages us in this direction. Birth to death. Then, as the Christians would have it, a speedy disposition to either Heaven or Hell. Forever.
I am not a spiritual person. But I am also not a person who enjoys being told what to do, where to go, or how to get there. I distrust authority, mostly because I've been given ample reason to do so. I was brought up to believe that God's love is contingent on our behavior. I was also brought up to understand that the slightest infraction of house rules could cause my mother to pack a bag and walk out, usually when my father was away on business. She never got farther than the elevator, but to a 5-year-old who believes his mother is on the verge of abandoning him forever, that's far enough. I distrust "forever."
As I say, I am not a spiritual person. To me, adherence to organized religion is much like letting a drunk drive you home: it may turn out fine, but chances are it will be a spectacular catastrophe. I'm just contrary enough to dislike those odds. So, out of sheer contrariness, why not assume that life (and whatever lies after) is not linear. Let's say, for fun, that it is more like the ripple created when a raindrop strikes the surface of a pond. The concentric ripples move outward, growing ever larger until they are at last absorbed by whatever other forces (other raindrops, a sudden breeze, the movement of a carp below) are having their whim with the surface of the water at that time. So life is then expansive rather than linear. And the purpoae of life then shifts from being one of "getting to point B" to one of including as much as possible within your circle of experience. (And no, material acquisition for its own sake does not count.) So we go from a universe based on processing and judgment to one based on the unending an expansive search for variety. The endless creation, combination, and demolition of things. So the end is not to achieve salvation through austerity and self-denial but instead to increase one's experience without diminishing the experiential search of another. No, I am not saying you should go out and set fire to a cat just to see what happens. In fact, the contrary, for that would impede the cat's search for variety. What I'm saying is, pay attention. Open your eyes. Listen. Love. And when forced to choose between A and B, select C.