Last month, I promised that there was more to come about life after death. In part one, I shared that life’s purpose is to worship our creator while simultaneously developing our souls to be ready at the hour of death.
In part two, I will explore what happens to our souls after death. To start, the soul goes to a completely different place of existence. Some call it the afterlife, heaven and Nirvana, for example. We call it the Abha Kingdom. Bahá’u’lláh wrote that this place, “is as different from this world as this world is different from that of the child while still in the womb”.
In order to grasp even a hint of this great mystery is to take into account what Shoghi Effendi wrote on this subject. He shares that:
“Man is destined by God to undergo a spiritual development that extends throughout eternity. His life upon this earth is only the first stage of that development. When we outgrow our physical form, and are considered by God ready to reap the fruit of our spiritual development, we proceed to the other world. We term it death only because of our short sightedness. A more proper term would be a more abundant life.”
Building on that concept of a spiritual existence after the expiration of our physical bodies, there are three key passages that I believe explain it even further. The first is from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, who wrote:
“To consider that after the death of the body the spirit perishes, is like imagining that a bird in a cage will be destroyed if the cage is broken, though the bird has nothing to fear from the destruction of the cage. Our body is like the cage, and the spirit is like the bird — if the cage becomes broken, the bird will continue and exist. Its feelings will be even more powerful, its perceptions greater and its happiness increased...”
The second is very hopeful and something to look forward to. Not only does the soul have effects on this world, but we are promised that it continues to progress as long as it takes to meet God. Progress can happen due to our prayers, acts of charity in their name and the bounty of God.
In this passage Baha’u’llah explains:
“Know thou of a truth that the soul, after its separation from the body, will continue to progress until it attaineth the presence of God, in a state and condition which neither the revolution of ages and centuries, nor the changes and chances of this world, can alter. It will manifest the signs of God and his attributes. Blessed is the soul which, at the hour of its separation from the body, is sanctified from the vain imaginings of the peoples of the world. Such a soul liveth and moveth in accordance with the will of its creator, and entereth the all-highest Paradise.
“Blessed is the soul which, at the hour of its separation from the body, is sanctified from the vain imaginings of the peoples of the world. Such a soul liveth and moveth in accordance with the will of its creator, and entereth the all-highest paradise.”
The third description is even more hopeful:
“Know thou of a truth that the soul, after its separation from the body, will continue to progress until it attaineth the presence of God, in a state and condition which neither the revolution of ages and centuries, nor the changes and chances of this world, can alter. It will endure as long as the kingdom of God, his sovereignty, his dominion and power will endure.” — Bahá’u’lláh.
In essence, our souls have great effect when its released from the confines of the body. Bahá’u’lláh wrote that it acts as “the leaven that leaveneth the world of being, and furnisheth the power through which the arts and wonders of the world are made manifest.”
He continues to write that:
“The nature of the soul after death can never be described, nor is it meet and permissible to reveal its whole character to the eyes of men. ... The light which these souls radiate is responsible for the progress of the world and the advancement of its peoples. They are like unto leaven which leaveneth the world of being, and constitute the animating force through which the arts and wonders of the world are made manifest. Through them the clouds rain their bounty upon men, and the earth bringeth forth its fruits.”
In closing, we have learned that death is just the entry point into a new stage of existence that has great influence on the world and us. What are we doing to be ready? This statement from Baha’u’llah encourages us about the possibilities — “The soul of man should be likened unto this sun, and all things on earth should be regarded as his body. So long as no external impediment interveneth between them, the body will, in its entirety, continue to reflect the light of the soul, and to be sustained by its power. When it leaveth the body, however, it will evince such ascendancy, and reveal such influence as no force on earth can equal. Every pure, every refined and sanctified soul will be endowed with tremendous power, and shall rejoice with exceeding gladness.”