Okay, here it is, my final theory on everything that has happened. I have had help with numerous sites that I have followed for six years but I do think that after last night I have made it make sense in my mind.
The finale last night ended up where the series first began, with Jack laying down amongst a bamboo forest. I really do not think that this is much of a coincidence. It just can't be. Instead of his eye opening (first season), we see his eye closing. Meaning, in fact yes, he does die in the finale. Kind of. (In my opinion he died right there in the first episode, last night right before he died he was stumbling through the forest and passed the shoe tied to the tree, just like in season 1, he laid down and died right there).
You see Jack was special from the start. He was the first and only season one "survivor" who did not initally land on the beach or in the water. He landed in the forest, where he had to travel back to the beach to find everyone else. My theory starts here: all of the passengers on Flight 815 died in the crash. They were then placed into some sort of Purgatory that was seen as the maefestation of an island. I do believe that everyone seated on that plane, was supposed to be there, and were already pre-selected for Purgatory. So the theory is, that Jack died upon landing on the island during the crash and immediately entered into this place with the rest of the flights (dead) passengers.
From here we watched not only Jack's but the rest of the cast's journey towards final redemption. (Thanks to Ryan at CanMag website for this gem:)
There were three levels of existence that we witnessed across the six seasons of this show.
Level One: Before the Crash
-All the primary characters had skeletons in the closet, most more than some and some of them were pretty major.
Level Two: The Island
-A chance to redeem themselves. This can also relate to their stop off in "Purgatory". Typically when we witnessed a character dealing with and redeeming a previous fault, they die soon after. (Sayid, Ecko, in the end Jack). An assumption can be said that they then move onto the next level of existence.
Final Level Three: Side Dimension
-All of the characters are way better off then we have ever remembered them. Though some encounter hard times, these were not brought on by themselves. Since each of these characters were important to one another's evolution through Dharma, they are forced to reunite in this last level of existence. True enlightenment occurs when they achieve Karma and then flashback to all their levels of previous existence. At this point they are allowed to move on as one whole, as seen in the shows final moments.
**Pretty spot on right?!?**
Finally some final thoughts by some smart people at the New York Times that wraps up just really how damn good this show is from a bigger perspective.
"The final scene, while the credits roll, is simply that of a plane crash with no survivors. I view the show's cosmology as reflecting the existence of all possible universes and we get to see, and live with, a few of them (as mentioned above!) That includes the universe where they all die in the inital crash, the universe where they all die in the hydrogen bomb explosion, the universe where the hydrogen bomb creates an alternative reality, the universe where there really is a miraculously surviving "Oceanic Six", the universe where the main island narrative happens, the universe where it is all a dream of Jack's, and bits of others. This move "explains" the show's numerous unanswered questions, such as those about the lottery numbers and many more. It was possible, so it all happened."
And there you have it, the end of an epic series. A series that we will most likely never see again. A series that took the terms "you have to dumb down your audience" and went in the opposite direction. Challenging us. Leaving us with questions. Blowing our minds away with amazing writing and jaw dropping emotional scenes. I will miss this show. But I'm happy to be regaining my life again.
"See you in another life...brother."
UPDATE: Great article located here: http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2010/05/24/lost-finale-the-ending-explained/