Recently I’ve had the bounty of praying with someone for the progress of the soul of her brother. We’ve been systematically going through the Bahá’í Prayer Book, saying all the prayers for the departed, several days in a row, and I’m comforted knowing where he’s gone and what his life looks like.
These prayers seem to suggest that we’re helping ensure our loved ones won’t be:
- Cast away
- Turned away
- Removed from God’s presence
And that God will be:
We can ask God to give our loved ones:
- pardon and forgiveness
- a share of the banquet of grace and bounty
- gifts and bestowals
- the fruits of the tree of God’s grace
- accept what he has achieved in this life
- invest him with good-pleasure and acceptance
- deal with him according to grace and bounty
- forgive his sins
- purify him from trespasses
- dispel his sorrows
- change his darkness into light
- cleanse him with the most pure water
- glorify his station
- shelter him under the pavilion of God’s supreme mercy
- be flown to the kingdom of immortality
- enter God’s glorious paradise and the garden of happiness
- perpetuate his existence in God’s exalted rose garden
- let him consort with God’s chosen ones, saints and Messengers
- grant him to behold God’s splendors on the loftiest mount.
- grant him the favor of meeting God
And it’s reassuring to know that we can ask for them to be in:
- a heavenly place
- an exalted Paradise
- retreats of nearness to God
- the Kingdom of God’s wealth
- his home within God’s precincts
- the heavenly river of God’s bounty
- the sea of light in the world of mysteries.
- heavenly places that the pen cannot tell nor the tongue recount
Here are the Prayers:
(The Prayer for the Dead is to be used for Bahá’ís over the age of fifteen. “It is the only Bahá’í obligatory prayer which is to be recited in congregation; it is to be recited by one believer while all present stand. There is no requirement to face the Qiblih when reciting this prayers.” – A Synopsis and Codification of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas)
O my God! This is Thy servant and the son of Thy servant who hath believed in Thee and in Thy signs, and set his face towards Thee, wholly detached from all except Thee. Thou art, verily, of those who show mercy the most merciful.
Deal with him, O Thou Who forgivest the sins of men and concealest their faults, as beseemeth the heaven of Thy bounty and the ocean of Thy grace. Grant him admission within the precincts of Thy transcendent mercy that was before the foundation of earth and heaven. There is no God but Thee, the Ever-Forgiving, the Most Generous.
Let him, then, repeat six times the greeting “Allah-u-Abha,” and then repeat nineteen times each of the following verses:
We all, verily, worship God.
We all, verily, bow down before God.
We all, verily, are devoted unto God.
We all, verily, give praise unto God.
We all, verily, yield thanks unto God.
We all, verily, are patient in God.
(If the dead be a woman, let him say: This is Thy handmaiden and the daughter of Thy handmaiden, etc. …) (Bahá’u’lláh, Baha’i Prayers, p. 39-40)
Glory be to Thee, O Lord my God! Abase not him whom Thou hast exalted through the power of Thine everlasting sovereignty, and remove not far from Thee him whom Thou hast 41 caused to enter the tabernacle of Thine eternity. Wilt Thou cast away, O my God, him whom thou hast overshadowed with Thy Lordship, and wilt Thou turn away from Thee, O my Desire, him to whom Thou hast been a refuge? Canst Thou degrade him whom Thou hast uplifted, or forget him whom Thou didst enable to remember Thee?
Glorified, immensely glorified art Thou! Thou art He Who from everlasting hath been the King of the entire creation and its Prime Mover, and Thou wilt to everlasting remain the Lord of all created things and their Ordainer. Glorified art Thou, O my God! If Thou ceasest to be merciful unto Thy servants, who, then, will show mercy unto them; and if Thou refusest to succor thy loved ones, who is there that can succor them?
Glorified, immeasurably glorified art Thou! Thou art adored in Thy truth, and Thee do we all, verily, worship; and Thou art manifest in Thy justice, and to Thee do we all, verily, bear witness. Thou art, in truth, beloved in Thy grace. No God is there but Thee, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting. (Baha’u’llah, Baha’i Prayers, p. 40)
He is God, exalted is He, the Lord of loving-kindness and bounty! Glory be unto Thee, O my God, the Lord Omnipotent. I testify to Thine omnipotence and Thy might, Thy sovereignty and Thy loving-kindness, Thy grace and Thy power, the oneness of Thy Being and the unity of thine Essence, Thy sanctity and exaltation above the world of being and all that is therein.
O my God! Thou seest me detached from all save Thee, holding fast unto Thee and turning unto the ocean of Thy bounty, to the heaven of Thy favor, to the Daystar of Thy grace. Lord! I bear witness that in Thy servant Thou hast reposed Thy Trust, and that is the Spirit wherewith Thou hast given life to the world.
I ask of Thee by the splendor of the Orb of Thy Revelation, mercifully to accept from him that which he hath achieved in Thy days. Grant then that he may be invested with the glory of Thy good-pleasure and adorned with Thine acceptance.
O my Lord! I myself and all created things bear witness unto Thy might, and I pray Thee not to turn away from Thyself this spirit that hath ascended unto Thee, unto Thy heavenly place, Thine exalted Paradise and Thy retreats of nearness, O Thou who art the Lord of all men! Grant, then, O my God, that Thy servant may consort with Thy chosen ones, Thy saints and Thy Messengers in heavenly places that the pen cannot tell nor the tongue recount. O My Lord, the poor one hath verily hastened unto the Kingdom of Thy wealth, the stranger unto his home within Thy precincts, he that is sore athirst to the heavenly river of Thy bounty. Deprive him not, O Lord, from his share of the banquet of Thy grace and from the favor of Thy bounty. Thou art in truth the Almighty, the Gracious, the All-Bountiful.
O my God, Thy Trust hath been returned unto Thee. It behooveth Thy grace and Thy bounty that have compassed Thy dominions on earth and in heaven, to vouchsafe unto Thy newly welcomed one Thy gifts and Thy bestowals, and the fruits of the tree of Thy grace! Powerful art Thou to do as Thou willest, there is none other God but Thee, the Gracious, the Most Bountiful, the Compassionate, the Bestower, the Pardoner, the Precious, the All-Knowing. I testify, O my Lord, that Thou hast enjoined upon men to honor their guest, and he that hath ascended unto Thee hath verily reached Thee and attained Thy Presence. Deal with him then according to Thy grace and bounty! By Thy glory, I know of a certainly that Thou wilt not withhold Thyself from that which Thou hast commanded Thy servants, nor wilt Thou deprive him that hath clung to the cord of Thy bounty and hath ascended to the Dayspring of Thy wealth. There is none other God but Thee, the One, the Single, the Powerful, the Omniscient, the Bountiful. – (Bahá’u’lláh, Baha’i Prayers, p. 41-44)
O my God! O Thou forgiver of sins, bestower of gifts, dispeller of afflictions! Verily, I beseech Thee to forgive the sins of such as have abandoned the physical garment and have ascended to the spiritual world. O my Lord! Purify them from trespasses, dispel their sorrows, and change their darkness into light. Cause them to enter the garden of happiness, cleanse them with the most pure water, and grant them to behold Thy splendors on the loftiest mount. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Baha’i Prayers, p. 44)
O my God! O my God! Verily, thy servant, humble before the majesty of Thy divine supremacy, lowly at the door of Thy oneness, hath believed in Thee and in Thy verses, hath testified to Thy word, hath been enkindled with the fire of Thy love, hath been immersed in the depths of the ocean of Thy knowledge, hath been attracted by Thy breezes, hath relied upon his supplications to Thee, and hath been assured of Thy pardon and forgiveness. He hath abandoned this mortal life and hath flown to the kingdom of immortality, yearning for the favor of meeting Thee. O Lord, glorify his station, shelter him under the pavilion of Thy supreme mercy, cause him to enter Thy glorious paradise, and perpetuate his existence in Thine exalted rose garden, that he may plunge into the sea of light in the world of mysteries. Verily, Thou art the Generous, the Powerful, the Forgiver and the Bestower. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Baha’i Prayers, p. 46)
By Someone who Wishes to Remain Anonymous
My Dearly Beloved Child!
As you know, I am at peace with and grateful for the ending of my lifetime in this world; eagerly awaiting my next great adventure, which comes with my birth into the next world.
I am confident in these 3 things:
1. This world passes in the twinkling of an eye:
The fleeting hours of man’s life on earth pass swiftly by and the little that still remaineth shall come to an end, but that which endureth and lasteth for evermore is the fruit that man reapeth from his servitude at the Divine Threshold. Behold the truth of this saying, how abundant and glorious are the proofs thereof in the world of being! (Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 233)
2. I now have different attributes from those who are still on earth, yet there is no real separation between you and I:
Those who have ascended have different attributes from those who are still on earth, yet there is no real separation. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in London, p. 95)
3. I will see you again soon and our union will be everlasting!
Why should thou be sad and heartbroken? This separation is temporal; this remoteness and sorrow is counted only by days. Thou shalt find him in the Kingdom of God and thou wilt attain to the everlasting union. Physical companionship is ephemeral, but heavenly association is eternal. Whenever thou rememberest the eternal and never ending union, thou wilt be comforted and blissful. (Abdu’l-Baha, Tablets of Abdu’l-Baha v1, p. 99)
I can’t leave you much in the way of material goods, and I’m grateful, knowing they aren’t important anyway.
In earthly riches fear is hidden and peril is concealed. (Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 219)
So here are the spiritual lessons I’d like to pass on:
Your purpose in this life is to prepare you for the next world:
One must remember that the purpose of this life is to prepare the soul for the next. (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 359)
There are 3 things you need to do here:
1. To know God and be obedient to His commandments:
The purpose of God in creating man hath been, and will ever be, to enable him to know his Creator and to attain His Presence. To this most excellent aim, this supreme objective, all the heavenly Books and the divinely-revealed and weighty Scriptures unequivocally bear witness. (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 70-71)
If you accomplish this, you will be in paradise:
Whoso hath recognized the Day Spring of Divine guidance and entered His holy court hath drawn nigh unto God and attained His Presence, a Presence which is the real Paradise, and of which the loftiest mansions of heaven are but a symbol. Such a man hath attained the knowledge of the station of Him Who is “at the distance of two bows,” Who standeth beyond the Sadratu’l-Muntaha. (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 70-71)
If you don’t, you will have condemned yourself to the misery of remoteness and the nethermost fire, no matter what your earthly life looks like. I do not want this fate for you!
Whoso hath failed to recognize Him will have condemned himself to the misery of remoteness, a remoteness which is naught but utter nothingness and the essence of the nethermost fire. Such will be his fate, though to outward seeming he may occupy the earth’s loftiest seats and be established upon its most exalted throne. (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 70-71)
Remember this prayer I taught you to say? Please say it every day, whether you become a Bahá’í or not, to remind you of your purpose:
I bear witness, O my God, that Thou hast created me to know Thee and to worship Thee. I testify, at this moment, to my powerlessness and to Thy might, to my poverty and to Thy wealth. There is none other God but Thee, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting. (Bahá’u’lláh, Baha’i Prayers, p. 3)
2. To acquire the virtues you will need in the next life:
Just as a baby in womb doesn’t know why it’s developing arms, legs, eyelashes etc; we can’t understand why we need to develop virtues for the next world either. We have to take it on faith, trusting that, just as it became apparent soon after birth, it will become clearly apparent in our next birth too:
As the child in the womb does not yet know the use of its members, it does not know what its eyes are for, neither its nose, nor ears, nor tongue — so also it is with the soul on earth. It cannot understand here the uses and powers of its spiritual gifts, but directly it enters the eternal kingdom, it will become clearly apparent. (‘Abdul-Bahá, Bahá’í Prayers 9, p. 48)
What are the virtues that are important?
The virtues and attributes pertaining unto God are all evident and manifest, and have been mentioned and described in all the heavenly Books. Among them are trustworthiness, truthfulness, purity of heart while communing with God, forbearance, resignation to whatever the Almighty hath decreed, contentment with the things His Will hath provided, patience, nay, thankfulness in the midst of tribulation, and complete reliance, in all circumstances, upon Him. These rank, according to the estimate of God, among the highest and most laudable of all acts. All other acts are, and will ever remain, secondary and subordinate unto them. (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 290)
To put it another way:
In this world he must prepare himself for the life beyond. That which he needs in the world of the Kingdom must be obtained here. Just as he prepared himself in the world of the matrix by acquiring forces necessary in this sphere of existence, so, likewise, the indispensable forces of the divine existence must be potentially attained in this world. What is he in need of in the Kingdom which transcends the life and limitation of this mortal sphere? That world beyond is a world of sanctity and radiance; therefore, it is necessary that in this world he should acquire these divine attributes. In that world there is need of spirituality, faith, assurance, the knowledge and love of God. These he must attain in this world so that after his ascension from the earthly to the heavenly Kingdom he shall find all that is needful in that eternal life ready for him. That divine world is manifestly a world of lights; therefore, man has need of illumination here. That is a world of love; the love of God is essential. It is a world of perfections; virtues, or perfections, must be acquired. That world is vivified by the breaths of the Holy Spirit; in this world we must seek them. That is the Kingdom of everlasting life; it must be attained during vanishing existence. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 226)
How can you acquire those things, you ask?
By what means can man acquire these things? How shall he obtain these merciful gifts and powers? First, through the knowledge of God. Second, through the love of God. Third, through faith. Fourth, through philanthropic deeds. Fifth, through self-sacrifice. Sixth, through severance from this world. Seventh, through sanctity and holiness. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 226)
If you do these things, you will enjoy everlasting existence and more:
But if he possesses the knowledge of God, becomes ignited through the fire of the love of God, witnesses the great and mighty signs of the Kingdom, becomes the cause of love among mankind and lives in the utmost state of sanctity and holiness, he shall surely attain to second birth, be baptized by the Holy Spirit and enjoy everlasting existence. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 226)
If you don’t, you will surely be deprived of eternal life! I don’t want that fate for you!
Unless he acquires these forces and attains to these requirements, he will surely be deprived of the life that is eternal. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 226)
3. To acquire all the bounties and grace that are continually streaming down from God to you:
The whole duty of man in this Day is to attain that share of the flood of grace which God poureth forth for him. (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 8)
Here are some other ideas I want to leave with you.
Don’t let the clamour of those who have turned away from God deter you from achieving your purpose:
Beware that the clamor of them that have repudiated this Most Great Announcement shall not deter thee from achieving thy purpose. (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 307)
What God has to offer you is better than all of your earthly possessions:
Fear thou God and pride not thyself on thine earthly possessions, inasmuch as what God doth possess is better for them that tread the path of righteousness. (The Báb, Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 19)
Now that I’m gone and it’s too late to do anything else, I’d like you to:
1. Thank God for your conception:
It behooveth man . . . to render thanksgiving for the day of his conception as an embryo. For had the embryo not existed, how could he have reached his present state? (The Báb: Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 89)
2. Implore God for the pardon and remission of my sins, and ask Him to bestow mercy and forgiveness on me, trusting that for every prayer you say for me, you will be recompensed thousands and thousands of times:
It is seemly that the servant should, after each prayer, supplicate God to bestow mercy and forgiveness upon his parents. Thereupon God’s call will be raised: ‘Thousand upon thousand of what thou hast asked for thy parents shall be thy recompense!’ Blessed is he who remembereth his parents when communing with God. (The Báb, Lights of Guidance, p. 230)
Therefore, children, in return for this care and trouble, must . . . with greatest submission and humility implore pardon and remission of sins, and ask for the supreme mercy. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 231-232)
Here’s a prayer you could say:
O Lord! In this Most Great Dispensation Thou dost accept the intercession of children in behalf of their parents. This is one of the special infinite bestowals of this Dispensation. Therefore, O Thou kind Lord, accept the request of this Thy servant at the threshold of Thy singleness and submerge his father in the ocean of Thy grace, because this son hath arisen to render Thee service and is exerting effort at all times in the pathway of Thy love, Verily, Thou art the Giver, the Forgiver and the Kind! (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Baha’i Prayers, p. 64)
3. Give to the poor for my sake:
Therefore, children, in return for this care and trouble, must show forth charity and beneficence . . . and give to the poor. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 231-232)
I eagerly await our reunion! In the meantime, I’ll love you forever!
Compiled by Marlene Macke, St Marys, ON, Canada
Is there a heaven?
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. – Genesis 1:1
Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. – 1 Corinthians 2:9
One can understand the Supreme Personality as He is only by devotional service. And when one is in full consciousness of the Supreme Lord by such devotion, he can enter into the kingdom of God. Though engaged in all kinds of activities, My devotee, under My protection, reaches the eternal and imperishable abode by My grace. – Bhagavad-Gita, 18:55-6
As to Paradise: It is a reality and there can be no doubt about it, and now in this world it is realized through love of Me and My good-pleasure. Whosoever attaineth unto it God will aid him in this world below, and after death. He will enable him to gain admittance into Paradise whose vastness is as that of heaven and earth. – Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 189
My servants! Sorrow not if, in these days and on this earthly plane, things contrary to your wishes have been ordained and manifested by God, for days of blissful joy, of heavenly delight, are assuredly in store for you. Worlds, holy and spiritually glorious, will be unveiled to your eyes. You are destined by Him, in this world and hereafter, to partake of their benefits, to share in their joys, and to obtain a portion of their sustaining grace. To each and every one of them, you will no doubt attain. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 329
Soon ye return to us: and we will let you know what ye have done! … For unto God shall be the final gathering. – Qur’an 10:24, 35:19
Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards. … In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. – John 13:36 and 14:2
Is there a hell?
Whoso hath failed to recognize Him [God] will have condemned himself to the misery of remoteness, a remoteness which is naught but utter nothingness and the essence of the nethermost fire. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 70
Bahá’u’lláh and `Abdu’l‑Bahá regard the descriptions of Heaven and Hell given in some of the older religious writings as symbolic…. and not as literally true. According to Them, Heaven is the state of perfection, and Hell that of imperfection; Heaven is harmony with God’s will and with our fellows, and Hell is the want of such harmony; Heaven is the condition of spiritual life, and Hell that of spiritual death. A man may be either in Heaven or in Hell while still in the body. The joys of Heaven are spiritual joys; and the pains of Hell consist in the deprivation of these joys. – John Esslemont, Baha’u’llah and the New Era, pp. 190-91
How do we prepare for life in the next realm?
The mind and spirit of man [in this world] advance when he is tried by suffering. The more the ground is ploughed the better the seed will grow, the better the harvest will be. Just as the plough furrows the earth deeply, purifying it of weeds and thistles, so suffering and tribulation free man from the petty affairs of this worldly life until he arrives at a state of complete detachment. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 178
What is he in need of in the Kingdom which transcends the life and limitation of this mortal sphere? That world beyond is a world of sanctity and radiance; therefore, it is necessary that in this world he should acquire these divine attributes. In that world there is need of spirituality, faith, assurance, the knowledge and love of God. These he must attain in this world so that after his ascension from the earthly to the heavenly Kingdom he shall all that is needful in that eternal life ready for him. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 226
By what means can man acquire these things? How shall he obtain these merciful gifts and powers? First, through the knowledge of God. Second, through the love of God. Third, through faith. Fourth, through philanthropic deeds. Fifth, through self-sacrifice. Sixth, through severance from this world. Seventh, through sanctity and holiness. Unless he acquires these forces and attains to these requirements, he will surely be deprived of the life that is eternal. But if he possesses the knowledge of God … he shall surely … enjoy everlasting existence. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 226
If the human spirit will rejoice and be attracted to the Kingdom of God, if the inner sight becomes opened, and the spiritual hearing strengthened, and the spiritual feelings predominant, he will see the immortality of the spirit as clearly as he sees the sun, and the glad tidings and signs of God will encompass him. – Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 262
Does a soul progress in heaven?
Divine perfection is infinite, therefore the progress of the soul is also infinite. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 89
As the spirit of man after putting off this material form has an everlasting life, certainly any existing being is capable of making progress; therefore, it is permitted to ask for advancement, forgiveness, mercy, beneficence and blessings for a man after his death because existence is capable of progression. That is why in the prayers of Baha’u’llah forgiveness and remission of sins are asked for those who have died. – Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 231
We can, through our prayers, help every soul to gradually attain this high station…. The progress of the soul does not come to an end with death. It rather starts along a new line. Baha’u’llah teaches that great and far-reaching possibilities await the soul in the other world. Spiritual progress in that realm is infinite, and no man, while on this earth, can visualize its full power and extent. Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 205
The progress of man’s spirit in the divine world, after the severance of its connection with the body of dust, is through the bounty and grace of the Lord alone, or through the intercession and the sincere prayers of other human souls, or through the charities and important good works which are performed in its name. – Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 278
The Master has told us that gifts and good deeds done in memory of those who have passed on, are most helpful to the development of their souls in the realms beyond… – Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 204
Will we join loved ones in heaven?
That beloved child addresseth thee from the hidden world: ‘O thou kind Mother, thank divine Providence that I have been freed from a small and gloomy cage and, like the birds of the meadows, have soared to the divine world – a world which is spacious, illumined, and ever gay and jubilant. Therefore, lament not, O Mother, and be not grieved; I am not of the lost, nor have I been obliterated and destroyed. I have shaken off the mortal form and have raised my banner in this spiritual world. Following this separation is everlasting companionship. Thou shalt find me in the heaven of the Lord, immersed in an ocean of light.’ – Abdu’l-Baha, Selected Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 201
… Likewise will they find all the friends of God, both those of the former and recent times, present in the heavenly assemblage. – Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith, p. 367
And know thou for a certainty that in the divine worlds the spiritual beloved ones will recognize one another, and will seek union with each other, but a spiritual union. Likewise a love that one may have entertained for anyone will not be forgotten in the world of the Kingdom, nor wilt thou forget there the life that thou hadst in the material world. – Abdu’l-Baha, cited in Baha’u’llah and the New Era, p. 190
… the possibility of securing union with his beloved in the next world is one which the Baha’i Teachings are quite clear about. According to Baha’u’llah the soul retains its individuality and consciousness after death, and is able to commune with other souls. – Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 207
… In time all of us will join our departed ones and share their joys. – Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 207
How should one regard death?
How does one look forward to the goal of any journey? With hope and expectation. It is even so with the end of this earthly journey. In the next world, man will find himself freed from many of the disabilities under which he now suffers. Those who have passed on through death have a sphere of their own. … it is sanctified from what we call time and place. – Abdu’l-Baha, Abdu’l-Baha in London, p. 95
Death proffereth unto every confident believer the cup that is life indeed. It bestoweth joy, and is the bearer of gladness. It conferreth the gift of everlasting life. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p 346
O Son of Spirit! With the joyful tidings of light I hail thee: rejoice! To the court of holiness I summon thee: abide therein that thou mayest live in peace for evermore. – Baha’u’llah, Arabic Hidden Words, #33
Son of Man! Ascend unto My heaven, that thou mayest obtain the joy of reunion, and from the chalice of imperishable glory quaff the peerless wine. – Baha’u’llah, Arabic Hidden Words, #61
O Son of Love! Thou art but one step away from the glorious heights above and from the celestial tree of love. Take thou one pace and with the next advance into the immortal realm and enter the pavilion of eternity…. – Baha’u’llah, The Hidden Words, Persian, #7
Recommended Reading for additional information on the theme of Life after Death:
The Bible, especially Books of Matthew, John, 1 Kings
Some Answered Questions, Abdu’l-Baha
Paris Talks, Abdu’l-Baha
Unto Him Shall We Return, Compiled by Hushidar Motlagh
The Chalice of Immortality, Compiled by Hushidar Motlagh
Life Death and Immortality: The Journey of the Soul, Compiled by Terrill G. Hayes et al
Life After Death (A comparison of the Near-death Experience and the Teachings of the Baha’i Faith on Life after Death), Alan Bryson
Contemplating Life’s Greatest Questions: Selections from the Writings of Baha’u’llah with Commentary, Edited by M. Rahani
Life after Death, a Compilation from the Baha’i Writings, Barbara Mason
Life After Death, Florence Pinchon
Welcome to the Month of Names 171!
The theme for this month is a Baha’i Perspective on Death
In this issue
Do Baha’is Believe in an Afterlife?
What Will the Next World Look Like?
A Positive Attitude Towards Death
Why I’m Ready to Go On to the Next World
The Baha’i Concept of Heaven and Hell; Reward and Punishment
Grieving the Loss of a Loved One
Near Death Experiences
Books on Death by Baha’i Authors:
Understanding Death: The Most Important Event of Your Life by John Hatcher
Life After Death (Spirit of Faith)
The Purpose of Physical Reality by John Hatcher
Close Connections: The Bridge Between Spiritual And Physical Reality, by John Hatcher
The Glorious Journey to God, by Hushidar Motlagh
Life After Death: A Study of the Afterlife in World Religions, by Farnaz Masumian
The Mysterious Case of the IWs: A Story to Help Children Cope with Death, by HB Danesh
The Grand Merengue – an Afterlife Comedy by Avrel Seale
Near-Death Experiences, The Rest of the Story: What They Teach Us About Living and Dying and Our True Purpose, by PMH Atwater
Light After Death: A Comparison of the Near-Death Experience and the Teachings of the Baha’i Faith on Life After Death, by Alan Bryson
‘Abdu’l-Baha Comforts a Mother on the Loss of a Child
Ridvaniyyih Khanum related that when her child was ill, the Master came and gave two pink roses to the little one, then, turning to the mother, He said in His musical voice so full of love: “Be patient.” That evening the child passed away.
“Ridvaniyyih,” said the Master, “there is a Garden of God. Human beings are trees growing therein. The Gardener is Our Father. When He sees a little tree in a place too small for her development, He prepares a suitable and more beautiful place, where she may grow and bear fruit. Then He transplants that little tree. The other trees marvel, saying: ‘This is a lovely little tree. For what reason does the Gardener uproot it?’ “The Divine Gardener, alone, knows the reason.
“You are weeping, Ridvaniyyih, but if you could see the beauty of the place where she is, you would no longer be sad. “Your child is now free, and, like a bird, is chanting divine joyous melodies. “If you could see that sacred Garden, you would not be content to remain here on earth. Yet this is where your duty now lies.”
When my own mother made the “great change” from one world of God to another, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá wrote a very beautiful tablet to me, in which He spoke of my mother as being “in the garden of rejuvenation.” One day a friend, who had not yet heard of the tablet of the Master, told me of a vivid dream she had of my mother, whom she had known and loved. “I seemed to be in a marvellous garden, where every type of rare and beautiful flower was in bloom. Moving about among the flowers was a young girl. She seemed to be a in a state of inexpressible joy over the loveliness of her garden. Her voice, as she chanted, was full of the ecstasy of a complete happiness. She listened to the song of birds, and inhaled the odour of the flowers as though she were filling her soul with their fragrance. Suddenly she turned towards me, as though conscious that someone was there beside herself. The young girl facing me with an enchanting smile was your mother, in the full beauty of youth.” (Lady Blomfield, The Chosen Highway, p. 216-217)
This is my favourite prayer for the departed, because it addresses the needs of those who have passed on as well as those left behind!
Praised be Thou, O Lord my God! Thou beholdest my perplexity, and the depth of mine anguish, and the agony of my soul, and the afflictions which beset me. By Thy glory! My heart crieth to Thee by reason of the things that have befallen my loved ones in Thy path, and mine eyes run down with tears for them who, in these days, have ascended unto Thee, who have cast the world behind their backs, and set their faces towards the shores of Thy transcendent mercy.
Clothe them, O my God, with the robe of Thy favor and the raiment of Thy loving providence, which Thou hast reserved for Thine own Self and woven with the hands of Thy manifold bounties and gifts. Give them, then, to drink, from the hands of Thy loving-kindness, of the cups of Thy measureless mercy. Cause them, moreover, O my Best-Beloved, to abide within the precincts of Thy court and around Thy most effulgent Tabernacle. Powerful art Thou to do what pleaseth Thee.
And now I implore Thee, by the eternity of Thy Self, to enable me to be patient in these tribulations which have caused the Concourse on high to wail and the denizens of the everlasting Paradise to weep, and through which all faces have been covered with the tawny dust provoked by the anguish that hath seized such of Thy servants as have turned towards Thy Name, the Most Exalted, the Most High. No God is there but Thee, the Almighty, the Inaccessible, the Ever-Forgiving, the Most Compassionate.
All Thy servants, O my God, are occupied with their own selves, so great have been the troubles which, as decreed by Thee, have encompassed them on every side. My tongue, however, is busied in extolling Thy chosen ones, and my heart in remembering them that are dear to Thee and are wholly subject to Thy will.
Look not on my state, O my God, nor my failure to serve Thee, nay rather regard the oceans of Thy mercy and favors, and the things that beseem Thy glory and Thy forgiveness and befit Thy loving-kindness and bounties. Thou art, verily, the Ever-Forgiving, the Most Generous. (Baha’u’llah, Prayers and Meditations by Baha’u’llah, p. 165-167)
Graceful Endings: Navigating the Journey of Loss and Grief by Linda Kavelin-Popov, founder of the Virtues Project, offers simple strategies for creating a graceful end of life experience. It contains true stories of individuals who chose to die consciously, fully alive and open to the wonders that can arise in this fragile and sacred passage of life. It provides tools for surviving and even thriving through the roller coaster of emotions in facing death — practices that sustain the dying and those that love them throughout the journey.
With deep candor, former Hospice Spiritual Care Director and best-selling author, Linda Kavelin-Popov explores the faces and phases of grief. She shares her own experience as a caregiver for her younger brother, John, who died of brain cancer, and the inspiring story of how John faced his own death with reverence, trust, and joy.
To see the Table of Contents
To Buy the Book
To Read the Blog
Laurie Early is an American full time musician and singer-songwriter, who writes lyrics for herself and for musicians around the world. Her music can best be described as jazz ballads, rhythm and blues; and swing tempo.
She has been writing songs since about the age of six, when she clearly remembers creating her own lyrics and musical adaptation of The Four Tops’ “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)” as she walked to school one spring morning, and suddenly realized that she could write a song if she wanted to. It was a truly an empowering moment in her life!
In this month’s selection, Laurie sings the Prayer for the Departed. She created this arrangement in honour of her musical mentor, Ulysses L. Slaughter, Jr. Her first public performance of this song was at his memorial service. She continually dedicates her musical life to his memory.
This is the prayer she is singing:
O my God! O Thou forgiver of sins! Bestower of gifts! Dispeller of afflictions!
Verily, I beseech Thee to forgive the sins of such as have abandoned the physical garment and have ascended to the spiritual world.
O my Lord! Purify them from trespasses, dispel their sorrows, and change their darkness into light. Cause them to enter the garden of happiness, cleanse them with the most pure water, and grant them to behold Thy splendours on the loftiest mount.
To find her on YouTube
To follow her on Facebook
To find her on Linkedin
Jessie Lane is an Interfaith Spiritual Counselor who uses the practice of spiritual companionship, as she helps you cultivate a loving and nurturing relationship with your self andhelps with support and encouragement, as you find your way, to whole-heartedness, authenticity, and happiness.
Her areas of speciality include:
· Death and Dying
· Anxiety and Stress-management
· Body Issues and Self Esteem
· Children’s spirituality
· Spiritual Parenting
To read more about her; on her homepage and blog
Special Ideas has long been my most favourite “go to” site for the widest range of proclamation material imaginable!
Two products I recommend for this month include – Click on the images for more information!:
Bahai Burial Planning Guide – My Final Wishes is a great guide to Baha’i burial practices, and funeral planning, all in one helpful workbook.
Baha’i Burial Rings – they offer 2 beautiful designs.
My favourite is the unique wrap-around design with double thick gold plating over pure sterling silver, which easily adjusts to any size finger.
The other is a more traditional style, with the required phrase inscribed on the front of a gold-plated base-metal ring.
Every community should have at least one in stock in case of an emergency. You’ll want to order both the rings and planning guide now, to have them on hand when needed! Trying to remember where to find them; and placing a rush order is the last thing you want to have to worry about when the time comes!
Our Readers Write:
I want to express my gratitude for the monthly journal articles you send. Last month about the marriage was very very useful. I forwarded it to my friend in China who is so in need of a marriage course for Chinese young people. I thought, although you meant to go to China as a pioneer, but now I saw you physically couldn’t be there, but your writings are going to help the Chinese people. That really touched my heart. And, also I sent them to other individual friends in China. To me your intention for going to China was so pure. Now, Baha’u’llah answered. Good for you. Love you much as ever! (Simin Rahmanian)
Lately I’ve been experiencing an intense longing to “go home” to the next world. Despite the taboo in our culture against talking about death,I think my desire is pretty normal, for 4 reasons:
- Bahá’u’lláh tells us that if we were told what has been ordained for us in the next world, our whole being would instantly blaze out in our great longing to attain that most exalted, sanctified and resplendent station:
If any man be told that which hath been ordained for such a soul in the worlds of God, the Lord of the throne on high and of earth below, his whole being will instantly blaze out in his great longing to attain that most exalted, that sanctified and resplendent station. (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 155)
I’ve studied the Bahá’í Writings a LOT, and have an inkling of what’s to come; and it’s certainly enough to set my whole being ablaze with longing!
- A friend once asked ‘Abdu’l-Bahá: “How should one look forward to death?” He answered:
How does one look forward to the goal of any journey? With hope and with expectation. It is even so with the end of this earthly journey. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in London, p. 95)
That’s how I’m looking forward to the day of my passing! With hope and expectation for my next great adventure!
- Those with knowledge and power seek out the glory of heaven, spiritual distinction, and the life that never dies:
He who hath knowledge and power will rather seek out the glory of heaven, and spiritual distinction, and the life that dieth not. And such a one longeth to approach the sacred Threshold of God; for in the tavern of this swiftly-passing world the man of God will not lie drunken, nor will he even for a moment take his ease, nor stain himself with any fondness for this earthly life. (Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 220)
- Wise men eagerly wish for death, in order to be freed from sorrows and afflictions:
The wise man, therefore, doth not attach himself to this mortal life and doth not depend upon it; at some moments, even, he eagerly wisheth for death that he may thereby be freed from these sorrows and afflictions. (‘Abdul-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdul-Bahá, p. 200)
I’m not alone in my longing! Even the Manifestations of God longed to be delivered from this world! The Báb said:
Grant that the day of attaining Thy holy presence may be fast approaching. (The Báb, Bahá’í Prayers, p. 165)
And Bahá’u’lláh echoed his sentiment:
Hasten, by Thy grace and bounty, my passing, O my Lord … (Bahá’u’lláh, Prayers and Meditations, p. 18)
Even ‘Abdu’l-Bahá gives me permission when He suggests I:
. . . long at every moment to give up your lives. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Bahá, pp. 243-246)
Please be assured: I’m not going to take my life. I’ll just have to develop patience and wait for God’s timing!
I thought I’d share with you some of my reasons, as I’ve come to understand them through the lens of the Bahá’í Writings. Maybe some of them will resonate with you.
If you are feeling suicidal, please get some help instead of reading this!
This article might be more suitable: Suicide
I’m Weary of this World
I have been subjected to the stress and strain of this world to such a degree, that my greatest wish is for deliverance from it:
That honourable man hath been so subjected to the stress and strain of this world that his greatest wish was for deliverance from it. Such is this mortal abode: a storehouse of afflictions and suffering. (‘Abdul-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdul-Bahá, p. 200)
My tests are rigorous, and heavy to bear:
It is easy to approach the Kingdom of Heaven, but hard to stand firm and staunch within it, for the tests are rigorous, and heavy to bear. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 274)
It is very hard to be subject to illness, particularly a mental one:
It is very hard to be subject to any illness, particularly a mental one. However, we must always remember these illnesses have nothing to do with our spirit or our inner relation to God. (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 281)
In the next world, I will be freed from the disabilities under which I now suffer:
In the next world, man will find himself freed from many of the disabilities under which he now suffers. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in London, p. 95)
I know that no comfort can be secured by anyone in this world:
It is ignorance that binds man to it, for no comfort can be secured by any soul in this world, from monarch down to the most humble commoner. If once this life should offer a man a sweet cup, a hundred bitter ones will follow; such is the condition of this world. (‘Abdul-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdul-Bahá, p. 200)
I haven’t learned to trust or draw on other people’s love for strength and consolation in time of need:
Indeed the believers have not yet fully learned to draw on each other’s love for strength and consolation in time of need. The Cause of God is endowed with tremendous powers, and the reason the believers do not gain more from it is because they have not learned to fully draw on these mighty forces of love and strength and harmony generated by the Faith.” (Shoghi Effendi, Living the Life, p. 8).
There’s no one to visit or take care of me when I am sick, in sorrow and suffering:
We should all visit the sick. When they are in sorrow and suffering, it is a real help and benefit to have a friend come. Happiness is a great healer to those who are ill . . . This has greater effect than the remedy itself. You must always have this thought of love and affection when you visit the ailing and afflicted. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 204).
I Know What’s Coming!
I know that God loves me and sorrows for me; even when I don’t feel loved in this world, and I long to be in a place where I can feel all the atoms of the earth declaring His love for me:
I sorrow for thee in thy grief, and lament with thee in thy tribulation… I bear witness to the services thou hast rendered Me, and testify to the various troubles thou hast sustained for My sake. All the atoms of the earth declare My love for thee. (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 309)
I want my tests and sorrows to pass away, and my abiding glory and eternal life to remain unchanged forever:
Now ye, as well, must certainly become my partners to some slight degree, and accept your share of tests and sorrows. But these episodes shall pass away, while that abiding glory and eternal life shall remain unchanged forever. Moreover, these afflictions shall be the cause of great advancement. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 238-239)
I want to be in a place where I can see my reward for the care and trouble I have undergone for my son:
Also a father and mother endure the greatest troubles and hardships for their children; and often when the children have reached the age of maturity, the parents pass on to the other world. Rarely does it happen that a father and mother in this world see the reward of the care and trouble they have undergone for their children. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 231-232)
I want to forget all my earthly cares and find each one of them amply compensated by God’s expressions of praise and favour:
These days shall pass away. We will, please God, in the Abha Kingdom and beneath the sheltering shadow of the Blessed Beauty, forget all these our earthly cares and will find each one of these base calumnies amply compensated by His expressions of praise and favour. From the beginning of time sorrow and anxiety, regret and tribulation, have always been the lot of every loyal servant of God. Ponder this in thine heart and consider how very true it is. Wherefore, set thine heart on the tender mercies of the Ancient Beauty and be thou filled with abiding joy and intense gladness…. (Bahiyyih Khánum, p. 7)
I want the days of blissful joy and heavenly delight that are assuredly in store for me:
Sorrow not if, in these days and on this earthly plane, things contrary to your wishes have been ordained and manifested by God, for days of blissful joy, of heavenly delight, are assuredly in store for you. (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 329)
I want to see worlds, holy and spiritually glorious, unveiled to my eyes, and partake of their benefits, share in their joys, and obtain a portion of their sustaining grace:
Worlds, holy and spiritually glorious, will be unveiled to your eyes. You are destined by Him, in this world and hereafter, to partake of their benefits, to share in their joys, and to obtain a portion of their sustaining grace. To each and every one of them you will, no doubt, attain. (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 329)
I want the darkness of this gloomy night to pass away:
The darkness of this gloomy night shall pass away. (‘Abdul-Bahá, Baha’i Scriptures, p. 547)
I want the promised peace to come:
These are the darkest hours before the break of day. Peace, as promised, will come at night’s end. (The Universal House of Justice, Ridván Message150, 1993)
I want that glorious future which awaits me, more brilliant than any I can imagine:
Do not despair, nay be assured that a glorious future awaits you all, more brilliant than any you can imagine. (Shoghi Effendi, The Light of Divine Guidance v I, p. 97)
I want a life of spiritual enjoyment:
But the life of man is not so restricted; it is divine, eternal, not mortal and sensual. For him a spiritual existence and livelihood is prepared and ordained in the divine creative plan. His life is intended to be a life of spiritual enjoyment. (Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 184)
I want to discover the mysteries of this earthly world; be informed of the secret of truth; and discover the people with whom I’ve been associated:
The mysteries of which man is heedless in this earthly world, those will he discover in the heavenly world, and there will he be informed of the secret of truth; how much more will he recognize or discover persons with whom he hath been associated. Undoubtedly, the holy souls who find a pure eye and are favored with insight will, in the kingdom of lights, be acquainted with all mysteries, and will seek the bounty of witnessing the reality of every great soul. Even they will manifestly behold the Beauty of God in that world. Likewise will they find all the friends of God, both those of the former and recent times, present in the heavenly assemblage. (Abdu’l-Baha, Tablets of Abdu’l-Baha v1, p. 205)
I want to be much more effective, knowing my work will be sanctified from time and place:
Those who have passed on through death, have a sphere of their own. It is not removed from ours; their work, the work of the Kingdom, is ours; but it is sanctified from what we call ‘time and place.’ Time with us is measured by the sun. When there is no more sunrise, and no more sunset, that kind of time does not exist for man. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in London, p. 95)
I want the men of God to not lie drunken, nor stain themselves with any fondness for this earthly life:
And such a one longeth to approach the sacred Threshold of God; for in the tavern of this swiftly-passing world the man of God will not lie drunken, nor will he even for a moment take his ease, nor stain himself with any fondness for this earthly life. (Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 220)
My Favorite Reason
I’ll be able to recount all that I’ve been made to endure in the path of God, to the Maids of Heaven; inmates of the loftiest mansions; the Prophets of God and His chosen ones:
The Maids of Heaven, inmates of the loftiest mansions, will circle around it, and the Prophets of God and His chosen ones will seek its companionship. With them that soul will freely converse, and will recount unto them that which it hath been made to endure in the path of God, the Lord of all worlds. (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 155)
This one always makes me laugh, though, because by the time I’ve attained all the other bounties, this won’t matter! 🙂
My Goals In The Meantime
The purpose of my life, as I see it, is 4-fold:
- To know God
- To worship Him
- To attain my share of the flood of grace which God is pouring forth
- To acquire the virtues I’ll need in the next life
So I’ll concentrate on those things!
In the meantime, I’m striving to conduct myself with the utmost submission, resignation and calmness; so that if you didn’t know anything about my troubles, you would think that I was happy, tranquil and in the perfect ease of soul. I want to show the world that I have something that gives me comfort, strength and peace:
However, relying upon God, we conducted ourselves with the utmost patience and submission, resignation and calmness; so much that if one did not know anything about these matters, he would have thought that we were in perfect ease of soul, enjoying the tranquility of heart mind, and were engaged in happiness and felicity. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v1, p. 45)
… Show the world that in spite of the utmost suffering, poverty, sickness, you have something which gives you comfort, strength and peace—that you are happy—serene—satisfied with all that is in your life. (‘Abdu’l-Baha, Star of the West, Volume 9, p. 86)
The Virtues I’m Acquiring While I Wait
In addition to all the other virtues I’m working on in other parts of my life, this particular test of patience as I wait is surely developing other virtues such as:
- Acceptance that God’s answer is “not yet”
- Alert and mindful to new opportunities
- Anticipation of the great adventure ahead
- Content and satisfied with whatever God has destined for me
- Contented to wait and enjoy the time I’ve still got on this earth
- Dedicated and disciplined in my work and service
- Detachment from my obsessive thinking about my deep longing
- Determination to take advantage of every moment
- Embracing adventures here for me in this world
- Encouraging of others
- Enthusiastic about the bounties in my life now
- Forgiving towards God, others and self
- Gentle and nurturing towards myself
- Genuine and open with others
- Glowing and radiant with the love of God
- Grounded in the present moment
- Growing everything I need to guarantee a better life in the next world
- Happy and joyful
- Instructive and sharing as I pass on God’s life-giving remedies to others
- Kind and loving to others
- Neighborly and involved in my community
- Prayerful and God Centred
- Smiling and laughing often
- Steadfast and obedient to God’s commands, which include patience!
- Submissive to the Will of God
- Trust in God’s timing
Please God, let my face shine brightly with these virtues, so I can attract others to your cause!
Prayers I Can Say While I Wait
- O Lord! Grant deliverance through Thy mercy, and reckon me among such servants of Thine as have gained salvation. (The Báb, Baha’i Prayers, p. 28)
- Dispel my grief by Thy bounty and Thy generosity, O God, my God, and banish mine anguish through Thy sovereignty and Thy might. (Bahá’u’lláh, Baha’i Prayers, p. 25)
- O my Lord, my Beloved, my Desire! Befriend me in my loneliness and accompany me in my exile. Remove my sorrow. . . (‘Abdul-Bahá, Baha’i Prayers, p. 31)
- O God! Refresh and gladden my spirit. Purify my heart. Illumine my powers. I lay all my affairs in Thy hand. Thou art my Guide and my Refuge. I will no longer be sorrowful and grieved; I will be a happy and joyful being. O God! I will no longer be full of anxiety, nor will I let trouble harass me. I will not dwell on the unpleasant things of life. O God! Thou art more friend to me than I am to myself. I dedicate myself to Thee, O Lord. (‘Abdul-Bahá, Baha’i Prayers, p. 151)
When My Time Comes, This Is What I’d Like from Everyone Reading This
Consecrate to my name the services you render to your fellow human beings; and teach the Message of Baha’u’llah:
If you will consecrate to their memory your services to your fellow human beings, and, above all, your efforts to teach the Message of Baha’u’llah, you may be sure that this will rejoice them in the worlds beyond. (Universal House of Justice to an individual believer 10 August 1988)
Perform good works in my name:
‘Abdu’l-Bahá has stated that good works performed in the names of those who have passed on assist their progress in the next life. Therefore, if you will consecrate to their memory your services to your fellow human beings, and, above all, your efforts to teach the Message of Baha’u’llah, you may be sure that this will rejoice them in the worlds beyond. (Universal House of Justice to an individual believer 10 August 1988)
I’d Like You to Remember Me This Way
Susan Gammage was of the blessed souls. The best time of her life was spent in the path of God. She had no other aim except the good pleasure of the lord and no other desire except the attainment to the Kingdom of God. During her lifetime she bore many trials and vicissitudes, but she was very patient and long-suffering. She had a heart most illuminated, a spirit most rejoiced; her hope was to serve the world of humanity; during the days of her life she strove as much as she could – she never failed – until she witnessed the lights of the Kingdom of Abhá and she was guided by the lights of Guidance. She summoned the people to the religion of God; she wrote books and epistles regarding the proofs and evidences of the Manifestation of Bahá’u’lláh. In reality she has left behind her certain signs which will never be forgotten throughout ages and cycles. In reality she is worthy of respect. The traces she leaves behind will ever shine and she will not be forgotten. For the present, her worth is not known but in the future it will be inestimably clear. Her sun will ever be shining, her stars will ever bestow the light. (adapted from a talk given by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá about Thornton Chase, in Ramona Allen Browne’s, Memories of ‘Abdul-Bahá, p. 21-23)
How we think about death has an effect on us. If we believe death is the end of life, it will negatively impact the way we live our lives, causing degradation and leading us to activities which debase us, bringing us down and weakening our thoughts.
The conception of annihilation is a factor in human degradation, a cause of human debasement and lowliness, a source of human fear and abjection. It has been conducive to the dispersion and weakening of human thought . . . (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 265-266)
If we believe in the existence of another world beyond this one, it will cause us to develop virtues:
. . . whereas the realization of existence and continuity has upraised man to sublimity of ideals, established the foundations of human progress and stimulated the development of heavenly virtues. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 265-266)
Why is it important for us to understand this? So that we can advance upward to higher spiritual perceptions instead of becoming incompetent, weak-willed and stop developing spiritually:
The realization of existence and continuity has upraised man to sublimity of ideals, established the foundations of human progress and stimulated the development of heavenly virtues; therefore it behoves man to abandon thoughts of non-existence and death which are absolutely imaginary and see himself ever living, everlasting in the divine purpose of his creation. He must turn away from ideas which degrade the human soul, so that day by day and hour by hour he may advance upward and higher to spiritual perception of the continuity of the human reality. If he dwells upon the thought of non-existence he will become utterly incompetent; with weakened will-power his ambition for progress will be lessened and the acquisition of human virtues will cease. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 265-266)
We often think that being given a diagnosis which suggests that death is imminent, is the worst possible news, so it’s comforting to know that our physical death isn’t the end of life.
If your days on earth are numbered, you know that everlasting life awaits you. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 111)
We often think that when someone is killed, that’s it’s the greatest tragedy, but we know that there is another life which holds greater hope and happiness.
All men are in God’s hands, and even if they do get killed we know there is another life beyond this that can hold great hope and happiness for the soul. (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 237)
Many people are particularly distressed when a small child dies. Here are a couple of stories to explain why people die:
- Ridvaniyyih Khanum related that when her child was ill, the Master came and gave two pink roses to the little one, then, turning to the mother, He said in His musical voice so full of love: “Be patient.” That evening the child passed away.
“Ridvaniyyih,” said the Master, “there is a Garden of God. Human beings are trees growing therein. The Gardener is Our Father. When He sees a little tree in a place too small for her development, He prepares a suitable and more beautiful place, where she may grow and bear fruit. Then He transplants that little tree. The other trees marvel, saying: ‘This is a lovely little tree. For what reason does the Gardener uproot it?’ “The Divine Gardener, alone, knows the reason.
“You are weeping, Ridvaniyyih, but if you could see the beauty of the place where she is, you would no longer be sad. “Your child is now free, and, like a bird, is chanting divine joyous melodies. “If you could see that sacred Garden, you would not be content to remain here on earth. Yet this is where your duty now lies.” (Lady Blomfield, The Chosen Highway, p. 216-217)
- When my own mother made the “great change” from one world of God to another, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá wrote a very beautiful tablet to me, in which He spoke of my mother as being “in the garden of rejuvenation.” One day a friend, who had not yet heard of the tablet of the Master, told me of a vivid dream she had of my mother, whom she had known and loved. “I seemed to be in a marvellous garden, where every type of rare and beautiful flower was in bloom. Moving about among the flowers was a young girl. She seemed to be a in a state of inexpressible joy over the loveliness of her garden. Her voice, as she chanted, was full of the ecstasy of a complete happiness. She listened to the song of birds, and inhaled the odour of the flowers as though she were filling her soul with their fragrance. Suddenly she turned towards me, as though conscious that someone was there beside herself. The young girl facing me with an enchanting smile was your mother, in the full beauty of youth.” (Lady Blomfield, The Chosen Highway, p. 216-217)
Why do we fear death? Because we don’t understand what will happen next, so our imaginations fill in the rest.
Through his ignorance, man fears death; but the death he shrinks from is imaginary and absolutely unreal; it is only human imagination. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 264)
As our lives in this world come to an end, and we remember what’s in store for us next, we can be full of joy:
When our days are drawing to a close let us think of the eternal worlds, and we shall be full of joy! (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 111)
If we can look at death as if someone has gone on a trip and we’ll see them again, but we just don’t know when, it will help.
The time has come when we must part, but the separation is only of our bodies; in spirit we are united forever. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í Scriptures, p. 502)
Baha’u’llah tells us that death should be a messenger of joy:
O SON OF THE SUPREME! I have made death a messenger of joy to thee. Wherefore dost thou grieve? (Baha’u’llah, The Arabic Hidden Words #32)
I think what He means is that death offers a better quality of life:
Death proffereth unto every confident believer the cup that is life indeed. It bestoweth joy, and is the bearer of gladness. It conferreth the gift of everlasting life. (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 345)
These stories are going around Facebook. I don’t know the authors so if you do, please let me know so I can give proper credit!
Death – What A Wonderful Way To Explain It
A sick man turned to his doctor as he was preparing toleave the examination room and said,
‘Doctor, I am afraid to die. Tell me what lies on the other side.’
Very quietly, the doctor said, ‘I don’t know..’
‘You don’t know? You’re, a Christian man, and don’t know what’s on the other side?’
The doctor was holding the handle of the door; on the other side came a sound of scratching and whining,and as he opened the door, a dog sprang into the roomand leaped on him with an eager show of gladness. Turning to the patient, the doctor said,
‘Did you notice my dog? He’s never been in this room before. He didn’t know what was inside. He knew nothing except that his master was here, and when the door opened, he sprang in without fear.
I know little of what is on the other side of death, but I do know one thing… I know my Master is there and that is enough.’
A Letter from Heaven
To my dearest family, some things I’d like to say.
But first of all, to let you know, that I arrived okay.
I’m writing this from heaven. Here I dwell with God above.
Here, there’s no more tears of sadness; Here is just eternal love.
Please do not be unhappy just because I’m out of sight.
Remember that I am with you every morning, noon and night.
That day I had to leave you when my life on earth was through.
God picked me up and hugged me and He said, “I welcome you.”
“It’s good to have you back again, you were missed while you were gone.
As for your dearest family, They’ll be here later on.
I need you here so badly, you are part of my plan.
There is so much that we can do, to help our mortal man.”
God gave me a list of things, that he wished for me to do.
And foremost on the list, was to watch and care for you.
And when you lie in bed at night the day’s chores put to flight.
God and I are closest to you…. in the middle of the night.
When you think of my life on earth, and all those loving years.
Because you are only human, they are bound to bring you tears.
But do not be afraid to cry; it does relieve the pain.
Remember there would be no flowers, unless there was some rain.
I wish that I could tell you all that God has planned.
If I were to tell you, you wouldn’t understand.
But one thing is for certain, though my life on earth is over.
I’m closer to you now, than I ever was before.
There are rocky roads ahead of you and many hills to climb;
But together we can do it by taking one day at a time.
It was always my philosophy and I’d like it for you too;
That as you give unto the world, the world will give to you.
If you can help somebody who is in sorrow and pain;
Then you can say to God at night….”My day was not in vain.
And now I am contented… that my life was worthwhile.
Knowing as I passed along the way I made somebody smile.”
So if you meet somebody who is sad and low;
Just lend a hand to pick them up, as on your way you go.
When you’re walking down the street and you’ve got me on your mind;
I’m walking in your footsteps only half a step behind.
And when it’s time for you to go…. from that body to be free.
Remember you’re not going…. you’re coming here with me.
How has this helped you understand death better? Post your comments below!