I have given up on the idea of karma, heaven, and a glorified afterlife a long time ago. I don't think I have any need of those in order to live righteously. I would rather that I do good things in this world simply for the sake of being human or for the pleasure of being kind, and not for the sake of some cosmic reward.
Religion doesn't have to sugarcoat death for me anymore. I've already seen her behind that make-up - and she doesn't look very pretty. I have seen her for what she is and I embrace her existence. And it is precisely my pagan understanding of death that inspires me to live this life to the full and as virtuously as possible.
I think life has felt more meaningful once I got free from those wishful thoughts of immortality. Heaven can take its dangling carrot elsewhere. There already is a lush orchard around me.
Santa Muerte (ink & color pencils on Moleskine). Death as the mother of God. (Mater Theou). Death happens before life begins. The 3 Hebrew letters spell AIN ("nothingness"), which is the beginning of existence according to the Qabala. Read in another direction, it spells INA ("mother", in Tagalog).