That's the question, isn't it?
Why we ask? Well, what could be more important than knowing how you'll spend the rest of eternity ... if indeed, that's what awaits us.
There is a fundamental issue that needs to be addressed before we can even begin to ponder the infinite. And it's subtle. And it's important.
We evolved on this tiny little planet, ensconced along the Orion arm of our great 100,000 light-year wide Milky Way Galaxy. No need to tell you that we're just a speck ... more like a speck of a speck, when compared to the vastness of our Galaxy, never mind the rest of the Universe. So why have I brought that sobering thought up? Language and logic. Those two items, which we have come to rely upon in our everyday thinking, have a very significant limitation. They were developed along with our evolution on this little mote in space. As a result, everything we think, everything we apply our infallible logic to, is based on our need to survive, thrive, and reproduce on this one tiny orb.
What's the bottom line? We are myopic. Like fish in water, wondering if there is anything they are not aware of... like the air and the land. They have no concept. A smart one may think about what's out there, but will probably guess wrong, since it has no experience of those worlds.
We've already seen basic concepts shattered. Gravity was all good, until one day we noticed that the Universe is expanding faster at the edges than it should be ... and that gravity doesn't explain the motion of other galaxies ... not by a little, but by a lot. Call in Dark Matter and for good measure, throw in Dark Energy. Problem solved. Not quite.
This is but one glaring example of how incomplete our understanding of the Universe actually is. Now, add to that the very strong suspicion that logic and our language itself does not necessarily apply to the Universe, or for that matter, Existence. Which brings us to the point of this little essay.
When we wonder what comes next, we may be entirely misled by our parochial thinking. We talk of consciousness, the spirit, the soul, God and gods, an afterlife ... all terms that may not apply at all to reality as it really is. Logic, which serves us so well here on Earth, may be just a local curiosity with no application to understand the wider world. We conveniently ignore the illogical concept of the Big Bang ... seriously, a Big Bang? Math and current science are okay with it ... but think it through ... what exactly exploded? And why? How about Existence? Careful thought here suggests the concept itself t makes no sense. Interestingly, attempts to create a space where nothing exists fail ... perfect vacuums result in matter and energy showing up apparently from nowhere. How's that for logical?
Bottom line. We are handicapped by our experience, our little world, and our logic. We can explain things only in terms of other things. That in itself should alarm the enlightened person ... why can't we explain something as simple as matter? What it is. Why it is. We can't because of our evolution and our limited thinking which was adapted only for one thing ... survival. It will never ever be possible for us. However despairing that sounds, to me it's a major clue. That matter pervades everywhere and has that wonderful special property of showing up magically even in a perfect vacuum, says something quite significant, especially when you consider we are made of that stuff. That it organized itself at the atomic level to eventually become self-conscious is mind-boggling. If that occurs without the help of an Almighty, then we really are something special.
So, what comes next? The question may have no meaning. It may not apply to our situation, for the reasons stated above. Our logic fails us. Our language is inadequate. One guess, like the fish thinking about the world as it really may be, is that consciousness and matter are linked, perhaps one and the same. So, nothing really comes next. We just continue to be, shifting from one form of matter to another. We are and always will be.