Ball of Yarn

A Ball of Yarn and the basic meaning of life.

Two years ago, I provided an extensive presentation regarding the basis of these matters, at End of Life, Mortal Dying. I used an analogy where I described essentially the human Soul as though it was a (visible) ball of yarn that each person assembles in his or her mortal life. That analogy is not very accurate, but it can still be somewhat useful regarding understanding some basics. The analogy described a person's ball of yarn (or Soul) as becoming more extensive as more important experiences had been encountered. Therefore, if a person happened to die without accomplishing much, such as possibly a homeless person who is a wino, the resulting ball of yarn might be rather small in extent. I also referred to colors of the strings contained in the ball of yarn as important. A ball of yarn that was nearly all black might represent a lifetime of negative experiences, which we might otherwise refer to as sins. On the other hand, a ball of yarn which was a wonderful mixture of brightly colored threads might represent a mortal lifetime which had been happy, generous, tolerant and the other characteristics which we commonly refer to as Christian traits.

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The reality is that we humans have no way of seeing or detecting such balls of yarn (or Souls), but the premise is that EVERYONE in the Afterworld is immediately and continuously aware of their own ball of yarn and those of everyone they encounter.

Imagine that you are in such an Afterworld and you encounter someone with a huge 20-foot-diameter ball of yarn which contains the brightest and prettiest threads ever. Once you had learned the importance of these balls of yarn, what would you conclude about the person who had that impressive ball of yarn? The premise is that virtually anyone would immediately conclude that this might be Jesus Christ, or Abraham, or Moses, or maybe such a person as Abraham Lincoln or Saint Augustine or such a person. Would you want to approach such a person, simply based on your observation of such an impressive ball of yarn? Most people probably would!

In contrast, now imagine that you encounter someone who had an absolutely black ball of yarn, and a rather small one at that. Would you feel much motivation to approach such a person, based on your suspicions of what the ball of yarn might suggest? Maybe not!

In your explorations, (for Eternity) you would certainly encounter an amazing diversity of balls of yarn, large, small, decorative, plain, of colors that we might not even be familiar with. You would START OUT with a wonderful indicator regarding what you might expect. Maybe you eventually realize that brown threads in the balls of yarn seem to represent an interest in fishing. And if YOU have a lot of brown threads in your ball of yarn, you may CHOOSE to seek out others who seem to have a lot of brown threads! Would this always work out to become great friendships? Maybe or maybe not. But you will feel you are exploring HEAVEN in knowing that there are an immense number of fisherpeople out there for you to find! Instead, you may discover that YOUR blue threads represent your passion for playing Checkers! Does this now sound like a potential HEAVEN regarding finding good competition at Checkers? It seems very likely.

Now, imagine that you are one of those people who happens to have a ping-pong-ball-sized black ball of yarn. Of course, you HAVE it because of the person you were as a mortal! Not particularly attractive or desirable. So are YOU likely to encounter many experiences which people might refer to as HEAVEN? Maybe not. It seems much more likely that you would be ignored or neglected by most people with pretty balls of yarn, and whether or not you would enjoy interacting with others who had small, black balls of yarn like you have might be questionable. I feel that this situation might be best referred to as HELL. However, there are some people who were not that terrible as mortals and maybe they just have dark gray balls of yarn, and they may even have done some good things in their mortal lives, so they even have a few threads in their ball of yarn which are lighter colors. The point is that the traditional absolute distinction between a perfectly wonderful environment (of Heaven) and a perfectly horrible environment (as Hell) might be inappropriate. Each of the billions of people now living mortal lives on Earth amass a unique ball of yarn, and DEPENDING ON WHAT THAT RESULTING BALL OF YARN PRESENTS, each person might have an Eternity which is NEAR an absolute Heaven or Hell, but might just as easily be somewhere in between!

It turns out that virtually all major religions present beliefs which are compatible with this perspective. So Christian beliefs seem to be totally compatible with this view, but so are Jewish and Muslim and Buddhist and Hindu and Zoroastrian beliefs.

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So now consider your (deceased) father who suddenly discovers himself in such an environment, and also that he finds that he has a pretty, multi-colored ball of yarn about the size of a volleyball.

When your father arrrived at where he now is, he did not know "the rules" and there was not likely anyone there to teach him. So put yourself in his shoes on that day. He has no idea what it is or whether it has any importance.

But as he wanders around, he sees others, and everyone seems to also be carrying a ball of yarn. Some people carry plain colored balls the size of a ping pong ball. EXPLAIN to me what your father concluded about that (in decent detail).

Later, your father encounters someone who has a 20-foot-diameter ball of yarn, which is gloriously brightly colored. EXPLAIN THAT to me, also in decent detail.

So now explain to me, without any guidance at all, your father's thinking regarding his ideas and plans. What choices might he try to do, and why?


Purpose of this presentation

There are two main purposes for this presentation. One is that from a personal perspective, the Transition from a mortal life to the Afterlife is smooth and essentially painless, and that there is wonderful logic and structure which exists in it. The other is probably even more important, in that each living person has powerfully important reasons for 'doing good' and trying to live a life that is admirable. Rather than simply doing that for the obvious reasons related to religion, every single good and bad thing you ever do as a mortal generates a unique 'thread' of some specific color, where your personal Eternity of encountering others in the Afterlife might be affected by every single 'thread' in your ball of yarn, that is, every single event in your mortal life, whether good or bad, positive or negative. We each have enormous motivation for trying to do as many good and positive things we can during our mortal lives, because the effect on your personal Eternity is affected by each and every one of them. Where every religion tries to encourage each follower to try to follow Commandments or an Eight-Fold Life or Pillars, this now aids each of us in understanding WHY we might selfishly want to do such things, and to avoid doing or thinking things which might be considered as sinful. Every single other person that you will encounter during your Eternity will not necessarily be aware of every good or bad detail among the millions of actions and events of your mortal life, but they WILL all quickly and easily see your 'ball of yarn' which shows them a clear overview of just what kind of person you had been as a mortal.

The interesting part of this is that it really somewhat represents a 'conscience' for each of us! Each and every time you lie to anyone else, you add a (probably dark-colored) thread to your ball of yarn. If you only do that or cheat on your spouse very rarely, maybe you can still assemble an attractive and pretty ball of yarn, but if you do such things regularly, even if no one here realizes what you are doing, you will essentially carry around the EVIDENCE of all those things you did FOREVER! Whether or not you can get away with unethical or immoral or illegal activities here, you WILL eventually wind up in an environment where you will not be able to slide by. As a result, you may be forced to spend your Eternity with people who are less desirable than you might have hoped! But if nearly all the time, you 'do the right thing' it figures that your ball of yarn will be impressively attractive, and your freedom to interact with absolutely anyone you ever wish to be around, for Eternity, will be essentially unlimited.

Do you see? It's up to you! Each and every day!

Yes, there will also be all the usual benefits of getting along better with neighbors and all the rest, but do you see that THIS reason for choosing to think and behave well is FAR more significant?


There is no technology which can detect the presence or the structure of the ball of yarn. In a more traditional description, science cannot detect the human Soul. But all larger animals also have their own balls of yarn. Some, such as possibly cows, probably have very minimal balls of yarn, due to their having few distinct activities during their lives, while many active dogs might have well-established balls of yarn (which might have a lot of threads related to chasing sticks and tennis balls!) The ball of yarn is NOT likely to be within the skull of people or animals, and possibly partially extending beyond the skin. Whether the ball of yarn might be spherical or shaped like the shape of that body is unclear, and I personally lean toward the latter.

A very simple ball of yarn comes into existence at some point during pregnancy, and whenever that moment happens to be might be the moment which might be describable as being the beginning of life. But by the time the baby is born, certain basic abilities are already defined in the tiny ball of yarn. This might include the ability to breathe in air or stand up for a baby deer. So the interrelationship between the mortal life and the ball of yarn might suggest the 'Nature' portion of Nature and Nurture.

Consider those twenty small children who were murdered in the School in Sandy Hook, Connecticut. They each had a ball of yarn which included ALL the experiences of about six years of human life. They STILL each have their unique balls of yarn! In other words, in the Afterworld, they each NOW have the ability to run and play and be happy and all the rest of the existence of little kids. Yes, their Eternities might not be as complex as your Eternity might be, but with the exception of the few last seconds of their mortal lives, they each can certainly look forward to an Eternity of the debt-free lives of little kids, being able to look forward every day to fun and play. It may turn out that they were given a left-handed advantage of not having to spend teen years and adult years of adversities and hardships. But this is just my speculation, as there is no possible way to ever know.


This presentation was first placed on the Internet in October 2012.

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C Johnson, Theoretical Physicist, Physics Degree from Univ of Chicago