(Note: thanks to Ancient Gamer for a nice chat and ideas)
Put simply, the one true deity is the ultimate Judge, that judges all beings after death, little concerned with the Living, and rarely intervening on their behalf. When a soul faces The One, The One knows instantly of all deeds and thoughts of the deceased, and for a tiny split moment of the eternity considers this one life, aware of its past lives, if there are any.
After the judgement, the soul can be dealt with in three ways:
1. Unchanged it will be re-born again.
2. It is put into the Bowl of Rebirth, as countless other souls before, where it dissolves. From the Bowl are new (random) souls created.
3. It is “put away”. (The exact interpretation of this varies, see below.)
The One has several servants, that are slightly more active in the world, sometimes granting power to their worshippers. While they may be considered gods in their own right, the final authority of The Judge is never disputed, confirmed by the teachings of The Servants and theirs followers. But beyond this base, there is a jungle of conflicting beliefs.
The most important question, that worries all believers is: what are the judging criteria of The One? Second, and not less important, what is the punishment, and what the reward?
Note, for instance, that the option 3. of “putting away” is explained by different beliefs as:
- the annihilation of a soul
- tearing it apart, and make it suffer forever
- put away as a display for the God(s) because of some exceptional feature
- becoming an eternal servant of The One or The Servants, or a low ranking angel
- becoming one with the universe, merging with The One and his creation
- or become immortal spirits (adding yet another dimension to the world).
- perhaps re-made into actual natural spirits
- or a superior soul (as MoonHunters avatars)
- ...and possibly more
To show the complexity a bit more clearly, let’s apply a scale to it: lowest could be utter annihilation OR eternal pain; middle reincarnation and top ascendancy to a superior state of existence.
Of course, some claim there are more steps on that ladder and the different religions/sects argue in what order the steps are arranged.
(Nr.2, the “Bowl of Rebirth”)
I imagine people, particularly of lower classes, that have the “I am at least as good as anyone else” attitude.
They are the base of the world. Where would be all the heroes and kings, were it not for simple farmers?
So No.2 may be the proper end for proper people, that get together with all their fellows at last, but will have the largest impact on others and on the world in the end.
(AG’s thoughts: )
And the opposite: annihilation, becoming a demon, becoming an anti-saint, becoming a spectre or ghost, becoming an inferior soul (rats, etc)?
And then, what are anti saints: Black souls? Reapers and harbingers of chaos and doom?
Annihilation of the soul could even be combined with undeath, for extreme punishment.
Eternal damnation and annihilation of the soul.
Would a saint simply be someone born as utterly pure? Like Mother Theresa?
Additional Ideas (1)
This religion, or more a particular order of a religion, concentrates on the burial of the dead. They help the family and close people to to mourn and find solace, and remember the better of the deceased. Those who had disagreements with him or her, are aided to make peace with somebody that is gone and will not return anymore.
They believe that the souls of the departed undergo a waiting period before being judged. During this undetermined period, they still observe the world, and are to a degree attached to it (hence the possiblity of contacting them for some time). Therefore, positive feelings and forgiveness can influence them towards the good side. When judged, it is decided how much of their essence will be preserved; bad people's souls will be torn apart and dissolved in the Cauldron of Souls, good people will be cleaned of the remains of this world, and gently put in it. From it are drawn the souls of the newborn, so it is more likely that a purely good soul will be drawn, than a purely evil - but the 'bad' stays and shall be also reborn.
Therefore, it is a matter of great importance to let the souls find peace, before passing on to the next generation.
Naturally, the Congregation takes care of the dying as well, and helps the badly ill to settle their worldly matters. The rare priests are highly respected in most communities, celibacy and absolute commitment is expected from them. In the few cases that someone has faked own death, when the rituals and 'making of peace' have been already performed, repeating the process any time later will be gently declined. Generally, whether a Sinrian priest will be called is indicated in the last will, or the family issues the call; they do not come on their own. To be rejected is generally seen as a bad omen.