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Our Reality as Heroes, Guides and Servants

And remind them that they are the illumined souls envisioned by ‘Abdu’l-Baha in His prayer: “Heroes are they, O my Lord, lead them to the field of battle. Guides are they, make them to speak out with arguments and proofs. Ministering servants are they, cause them to pass round the cup that brimmeth with the wine of certitude. O my God, make them to be songsters that carol in fair gardens, make them lions that couch in the thickets, whales that plunge in the vasty deep.”  (27 December 2005, Universal house of Justice to the Conference of the Continental Counsellors)

What exactly is a hero?  Recently I had a discussion with one of my readers about a role we can perform as a “spiritual midwife” ushering someone into the next world. I’ve had this experience a couple of times, totally unexpected, totally through the grace of God both times.

The first time, one of my neighbors found out that a previous boyfriend, spending time in a maximum-security prison, was dying of cancer.  She petitioned to the prison authorities and won the right for his discharge into her care, so she could look after him in the final week of his life.  I never knew what his crime was, and it doesn’t matter.  Close to the time of his passing, she called and asked if I could confirm what she thought was a “death rattle”.  I’d never heard one before and didn’t know what I was listening for, but I grabbed my prayer book and for an hour, I said all the prayers for his steadfastness, imagining him turning towards the light.  I said all the prayers for forgiveness, asking God to forgive his sins.  I prayed for the ease of his passing, for the healing of those he was leaving behind and every other thing I could think of.  After about an hour, my voice was tired, and my friend suggested I take a break and come into the kitchen for a cup of tea.  While she was making it, she looked out the window, and saw him going!  We both rushed into the bedroom and I took a mirror to confirm that he had passed, and he had.  Then the most surprising thing happened, something that an hour before, I never would have imagined myself doing in a million years:  I offered to wash his body!  She agreed, so I rushed upstairs and grabbed some attar of rose and performed that sacred task for him, a man I didn’t even know, but who I’ve felt deeply spiritually connected to ever since.

The second story is this: recently a friend of mine committed suicide and it troubled me greatly. When I was pouring my heart out to God, I was instructed to say prayers for his steadfastness, to help him turn towards God in the last second of his life, remembering that there is no time or space in the next world. I pray that it worked. I will not know for sure till I get there myself, but it gives me great comfort to believe that I can still perform this act retroactively.

I wonder if being a hero is just being in the right place at the right time, performing small but meaningful acts as directed by God.  We are illumined souls by virtue of our access to the Bahá’í Writings.  We are guides when we speak out with arguments and proofs based on the words of God we’re able to share with others. We’re ministering servants when we provide the God-inspired Writings that provide people with the wine of certitude.  I wonder if that’s God’s idea of being a hero?

Knowing I can be a hero through teaching and service, I am grateful!

What jumped out for you as you read today’s meditation?  I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!

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Creating a Warm Community Atmosphere

Unless and until the believers really come to realize they are one spiritual family, knit together by a bond more lasting than mere physical ties can ever be, they will not be able to create that warm community atmosphere which alone can attract the hearts of humanity, frozen for lack of real love and feeling.  (Shoghi Effendi, Unfolding Destiny, p. 439)

A friend of mine passed away this week.  We knew it was coming, but because of COVID, my biggest fear was that she would die alone, with people unable to be with her.  I had to give this one over to God, and He came through, big time.  She went into palliative care in her local hospital on Friday, after being able to live alone up till then, and died on Sunday.  Because she lives in a small town, and all the COVID cases were sent to a large centre, she was allowed to have visitors.  We were all notified when her breathing changed early in the morning and 5 of her closest Bahá’í friends were at her bedside for several hours before she passed.  I live 6 hours away and am her executor, so I too was notified as were her friends around the world, all of us praying for her steadfastness till the end of her life and for the advancement of her soul in the next world.  In case you haven’t seen it, here is a newly translated prayer many of us were saying (in addition to a whole lot of others):

He is God! O Lord! Grant me such grace and bounty, such protection and support, such kindness and security that the last of my days may excel their beginning, and the end of my life commence the bestowal of manifold favours. May some gift or blessing of Thine reach me at every moment, and one of Thy pardons and mercies be granted me with every breath, that beneath the vast shade cast by the hoisted standard, I may return to that Kingdom which is worthy of praise. Thou art the Beneficent, the Kind, and Thou art the Lord of grace and bounty.  (Provisional Translation. A prayer for a favorable end to one’s life (extracted from a Tablet of ʻAbdu’l-Bahá written for Áqá Mírzá Áqáy-i-Afnán)

Her non-Bahá’í cousins and neighbors were all watching this unfold and saw first hand that we were able to “create that warm community atmosphere”.  Please God, let this attract the hearts of everyone watching and let them be impressed by this outpouring evidence of “real love and feeling”.  What better legacy could she leave than that?

Knowing that there are times we get this right, I am grateful!

What jumped out for you as you read today’s meditation?  I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Learning How to Forgive

 

 

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A Prayer for a Favorable End to One’s Life

He is God! O Lord! Grant me such grace and bounty, such protection and support, such kindness and security that the last of my days may excel their beginning, and the end of my life commence the bestowal of manifold favors. May some gift or blessing of Thine reach me at every moment, and one of Thy pardons and mercies be granted me with every breath, that beneath the vast shade cast by the hoisted standard, I may return to that Kingdom which is worthy of praise. Thou art the Beneficent, the Kind, and Thou art the Lord of grace and bounty.  (Provisional Translation of a prayer for a favorable end to one’s life (ḥusn-i-khátimih), extracted from a Tablet of ʻAbdu’l-Bahá written for Áqá Mírzá Áqáy-i-Afnán[1])

A dear friend of mine is dying (but aren’t we all at the end of the day!), and I wanted to pray for the ease of her passing so when I found this provisional translation of a new prayer the other day, I was absolutely thrilled at God’s perfect timing.  It’s such a sweet prayer and it resonated with me on so many levels.

Don’t we all want God’s grace and bounty, His protection and support, His kindness and security every day of our lives and especially when we’re in the last of our days?

Don’t we all want the end of our lives to commence the bestowal of God’s manifold favors?

Don’t we all want some gift or blessing of God’s to reach us at every moment?

Don’t we all want one of His pardons and mercies be granted to us with every breath?

Don’t we all long to return to that Kingdom which is worthy of praise?

Don’t we all like to be reminded that God is Beneficent, Kind, and the Lord of grace and bounty and not the punishing God of our childhoods?

Knowing there is a specific prayer to say for my dying friends and family and one that I can also say for my own passing, I am grateful!

What jumped out for you as you read today’s meditation?  I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book  Learning How to Be Happy

 

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[1] https://adibmasumian.com/translations/ab01954/

Baha’i Inheritance Laws

In a previous article, Taking Care of your Will and Testament, I failed to mention the laws of inheritance outlined in the Kitab-i-Aqdas, and I’m grateful to the reader who pointed it out.  Rather than add it to that article, I decided it deserved a posting all of its own.

First of all, it’s important to know 3 things:

  • This law is not applicable yet and is normally covered by civil laws
  • It only applies when the individual dies without making a will
  • We now have and will always have complete freedom in determining how to dispose of our property, whether it be to Baha’is or non-Baha’is, provided we make provisions for the payment of Huqúqu’lláh and the discharge of our debts

Nevertheless, it could be important to understand this law, knowing it will soon be applicable.  There may be elements you’d want to include in your own Will.

Shoghi Effendi tells us:

  …even though a Bahá’í is permitted in his will to dispose of his wealth in the way he wishes, yet he is morally and conscientiously bound to always bear in mind, while writing his will, the necessity of his upholding the principle of Bahá’u’lláh regarding the social function of wealth, and the consequent necessity of avoiding its over-accumulation and concentration in a few individuals or groups of individuals. (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, quoted by the Universal House of Justice in ‘The Notes section of the Kitab-i-Aqdas’)

The system of inheritance in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas is based on the provisions written by the Bab and provides for the distribution of the deceased’s estate among seven categories of heirs:

According to the Book of God, the estate of the deceased is divided into 2,520 shares, which number is the lowest common multiple of all integers up to nine, and these shares are then distributed into seven portions, each of which is allocated, as mentioned in the Book, to a particular category of heirs. (Q and A 5)

  1. children receive 1,080 out of 2,520 shares (nine parts)
  2. the spouse receives 390 out of 2,520 shares (eight parts)
  3. the father, 330 out of 2,520 shares (seven parts)
  4. the mother, 270 out of 2,520 shares (six parts)
  5. the brothers, 210 out of 2,520 shares (five parts)
  6. the sisters, 150 out of 2,520 shares (four parts)
  7. the [Baha’i] teachers, 90 out of 2,520 shares (three parts) (Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas)

When some of these people don’t exist or have passed away, this is what happens:

  • In cases where there is no issue the share of the children reverts to the House of Justice to be expended on orphans and widows and for whatever will profit mankind. (Q and A 7, 41)
  • If the son of the deceased be dead and leave issue, these will inherit the share of their father. If the deceased is a father and his estate includes a personal residence, such residence passes to the eldest son (Q and A 34).
  • If the daughter of the deceased be dead and leave issue, her share will have to be divided into the seven categories specified in the Most Holy Book. (Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas)
  • Should one leave offspring but either part or all of the other categories of inheritors be nonexistent, two thirds of their shares reverts to the offspring and one third to the House of Justice. (Q and A 7).
  • Should none of the specified beneficiaries exist, two thirds of the inheritance reverts to the nephews and nieces of the deceased. If these do not exist, the same share reverts to the aunts and uncles; lacking these, to their sons and daughters. In any case the remaining third reverts to the House of Justice. (Q and A 34).
  • Should one leave none of the aforementioned heirs, the entire inheritance reverts to the House of Justice. (Q and A 34).
  • The residence and the personal clothing of the deceased father pass to the male not to the female offspring. If there be several residences the principal and most important one passes to the male offspring. The remaining residences will together with the other possessions of the deceased have to be divided among the heirs. (Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas)
  • If there be no male offspring two thirds of the principal residence and the personal clothing of the deceased father will revert to the female issue and one third to the House of Justice. (Q and A 41, 72). See note 42 concerning the levels of the institution of the House of Justice to which this law applies. (See also note 44.)
  • In the case of the deceased mother all her used clothing is to be equally divided amongst her daughters. Her unworn clothing, jewels and property must be divided among her heirs, as well as her used clothing if she leaves no daughter. (Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas)
  • Should the children of the deceased be minors their share should either be entrusted to a reliable person or to a company for purposes of investment, until they attain the age of maturity. A share of the interest accrued should be assigned to the trustee. (Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas)
  • The inheritance should not be divided until after the payment of the Huqúqu’lláh (The Right of God), of any debts contracted by the deceased and of any expenses incurred for a befitting funeral and burial. (Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas)
  • If the brother of the deceased is from the same father he will inherit his full allotted share. If he is from another father he will inherit only two thirds of his share, the remaining one third reverting to the House of Justice. The same law is applicable to the sister of the deceased. (Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas)
  • In case there are full brothers or full sisters, brothers and sisters from the mother’s side do not inherit. (Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas)
  • In case there is more than one heir in any category the share allotted to that class should be divided between them equally, be they male or female. (Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas)
  • A non-Bahá’í teacher does not inherit. If there should be more than one teacher, the share allotted to the teacher is to be equally divided among them. (Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas)
  • Non-Bahá’í heirs do not inherit. (Q and A 34).
  • Aside from the wife’s used clothing and gifts of jewellery or otherwise which have been proven to have been given her by her husband, whatever the husband has purchased for his wife are to be considered as the husband’s possessions to be divided among his heirs. (Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas)

Shoghi Effendi in a letter written on his behalf indicates that this restriction applies “only to such cases when a Bahá’í dies without leaving a will and when, therefore, his property will have to be divided in accordance with the rules set forth in the Aqdas. Otherwise, a Bahá’í is free to bequeath his property to any person, irrespective of religion, provided however he leaves a will, specifying his wishes.” It is always possible, therefore, for a Bahá’í to provide for his or her non-Bahá’í partner, children or relatives by leaving a will.  (The Kitáb-i-Aqdas 1992 edition, p. 254)

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Funeral Prayers and Readings

At times of death, in the midst of grief, many people are at a loss about what prayers and readings they want to have said for their loved one.  They don’t have the mental wherewithal to be able to search the Writings for their favorite quotes to uplift those who attend, to bring them closer to the idea that death is a “messenger of joy”.

Here is a program I put together for my own funeral.  Feel free to use it and share with others, if you find it helpful.  The musical interludes are songs that appeal to me.  Feel free to add your own music or even live performances.

Musical Interlude: The Lord’s Prayer by Dash Crofts

O thou kind Lord, this dearly cherished maidservant was attracted to Thee, and through reflection and discernment, longed to attain Thy presence and enter Thy realms.  With tearful eyes, she fixed her eyes on the kingdom of mysteries.  Many a night she spent in deep communion with Thee, and many a day she lived in intimate remembrance of Thee.  At every morn, she was mindful of Thee, and at every eve, she centered her thoughts upon Thee.  Like unto a singing nightingale, she chanted Thy sacred verses and like unto a mirror, she sought to reflect Thy light.

O thou forgiver of sins, open Thou the way for this awakened soul to enter Thy kingdom and enable this bird trained by Thy hand to soar in the eternal rose-garden.  She is afire with longing to draw neigh unto Thee; enable her to attain Thy presence.  She is distraught and distressed in separation from Thee; cause her to be admitted into Thy heavenly mansion.

Forgive her sins and bless her with Thine abundant grace.  Grant her the privilege of beholding Thy countenance and give her the chalice of joy and bliss.  Thou art the Giver, the Glorious, the Eternal, the Bounteous; and Thou art the All-Gracious, the All-Merciful, the Omnipotent, He who is the Bestower of Gifts and the Forgiver of Sins.  (‘Abdul-Bahá, from a newly translated tablet)

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.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Bahá’í Prayers, p. 43)

She hath been freed from this sorrow-stricken shelter and hath turned her face toward the everlasting nest of the Kingdom, and, being delivered from a dark and narrow world, hath hastened to the sanctified realm of light; therein lieth the consolation of our hearts.  (‘Abdul-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 379)

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.

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.  (‘Abdul-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdul-Bahá, p. 197)

Musical Interlude:  If We Knew by Grant Hinden Miller


The inscrutable divine wisdom underlieth such heart-rending occurrences.  It is as if a kind gardener transferreth a fresh and tender shrub from a confined place to a wide open area.  This transfer is not the cause of the withering, the lessening or the destruction of that shrub; nay, on the contrary, it maketh it to grow and thrive, acquire freshness and delicacy, become green and bear fruit.  This hidden secret is well known to the gardener, but those souls who are unaware of this bounty suppose that the gardener, in his anger and wrath, hath uprooted the shrub.  Yet to those who are aware, this concealed fact is manifest, and this predestined decree is considered a bounty.  Do not feel grieved or disconsolate, therefore, at the ascension of that bird of faithfulness; nay, under all circumstances pray for that youth, supplicating for him forgiveness and the elevation of his station.   (‘Abdul-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 379)

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.  (‘Abdul-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdul-Bahá, V1, p. 99)

As to the question whether the souls will recognize each other in the spiritual world: This fact is certain; for the Kingdom is the world of vision where all the concealed realities will become disclosed. How much more the well-known souls will become manifest. The mysteries of which man is heedless in this earthly world, those he will 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.  (‘Abdul-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 367)

And know thou for a certainty, that in the divine worlds, the spiritual beloved ones (believers) will recognize each other, and will seek union (with each other), but a spiritual union. Likewise, a love that one may have entertained for any one will not be forgotten in the world of the Kingdom. Likewise, thou wilt not forget there the life that thou hast had in the material world.  (‘Abdul-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdul-Bahá, V1, p. 205)

As we have power to pray for these souls here, so likewise we shall possess the same power in the other world, which is the Kingdom of God. Are not all the people in that world the creatures of God? Therefore in that world also they can make progress.  (‘Abdul-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 330)

O Lord, O Thou Whose mercy hath encompassed all, Whose forgiveness is transcendent, Whose bounty is sublime, Whose pardon and generosity are all-embracing, and the lights of Whose forgiveness are diffused throughout the world!  O Lord of Glory!  I entreat Thee, fervently and tearfully, to cast upon Thy handmaiden who hath ascended unto Thee the glances of the eye of Thy mercy.  Robe her in the mantle of Thy grace, bright with the ornaments of the celestial Paradise, and, sheltering her beneath the tree of Thy oneness, illumine her face with the lights of Thy mercy and compassion.

Bestow upon Thy heavenly handmaiden, O God, the holy fragrances born of the spirit of Thy forgiveness.  Cause her to dwell in a blissful abode, heal her griefs with the balm of Thy reunion, and, in accordance with Thy will, grant her admission to Thy holy Paradise.  Let the angels of Thy loving-kindness descend successively upon her, and shelter her beneath Thy blessed Tree.  Thou art, verily, the Ever-Forgiving, the Most Generous, the All-Bountiful.  (‘Abdul-Bahá, from a newly translated tablet)

Musical Interlude:  Carry Me Home by Ed Vandendool

O 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.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 329)

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. We see that without the cage this bird flies in the world of sleep; therefore 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. In truth, from hell it reaches a paradise of delights, because for the thankful birds there is no paradise greater than freedom from the cage.  (‘Abdul-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 327)

A friend asked: “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. 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 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. Those who have ascended have different attributes from those who are still on earth, yet there is no real separation.  (‘Abdul-Bahá, ‘Abdul-Bahá in London, p. 95)

And now concerning thy question regarding the soul of man and its survival after death. 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. It will manifest the signs of God and His attributes, and will reveal His loving kindness and bounty.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings, p. 155)

These few brief days shall pass away, this present life shall vanish from our sight; the roses of this world shall be fresh and fair no more, the garden of this earth’s triumphs and delights shall droop and fade. The spring season of life shall turn into the autumn of death . . . 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.  (‘Abdul-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdul-Bahá, p. 220)

Musical Interlude:  Prayer for the Departed by Roya Bauman

 

Prayer for the Dead (to be said at the graveside)

The Prayer for the Dead is the only Bahá’í obligatory prayer that is to be recited in congregation; it is to be recited by one believer while all present stand in silence.

O my God!  This is Thy handmaiden and the daughter of Thy handmaiden who hath believed in Thee and in Thy signs, and set her face towards Thee, wholly detached from all except Thee.  Thou art, verily, of those who show mercy the most merciful.  Deal with her, 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 her 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.

Alláh-u-Abhá.

We all, verily, worship God. (19 times)

Alláh-u-Abhá

We all, verily, bow down before God.  (19 times)

Alláh-u-Abhá

We all, verily, are devoted unto God.  (19 times)

Alláh-u-Abhá

We all, verily, give praise unto God.  (19 times)

Alláh-u-Abhá

We all, verily, yield thanks unto God.  (19 times)

Alláh-u-Abhá

We all, verily, are patient in God.  (19 times)

 

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Living Wills and Assisted Death

During this COVID-19 pandemic, many people are wondering “what if?”.  Now might be a good time to think about what’s really important in terms of a living will or euthanasia.  Many people have asked me for a copy of what I’ve written to use as a model, and I’m happy to share. 

Living Wills:

First of all lets see what it means:

A Living Will is not the same as a Will and Testament.  A living will is a document which expresses what you want to happen regarding medical treatment while you are still alive.  It typically explains whether or not you want to be kept on life support if you become terminally ill and will die shortly without life support, or fall into a persistent vegetative state. It also addresses other important questions, detailing your preferences for tube feeding, artificial hydration, and pain medication in certain situations.

It only becomes effective when you aren’t able to communicate your desires on your own, so it’s important to put it in writing and have the discussion, so there can be no confusion for family members who have to made difficult decisions in a moment of crisis and high stress.  Without it, doctors or hospitals may decide they are legally obligated to perform certain procedures that you would not desire.

You may also have heard the term “DNR” (Do not resuscitate): This is an order on your medical chart advising health professionals that extraordinary measures should not be used to attempt to save your life.

With regards to a living will, here’s what the Bahá’í Writings have to say:

As to the Bahá’í viewpoint on the removal of withholding of life support in medical cases where intervention prolongs life in disabling illnesses, nothing has been found in the Sacred Text specifically on this matter. In such cases decisions must be left to those responsible, including the patients.  (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 290)

Here’s how I’ve worded mine:

Ongoing Care

Decisions about the kind of care I am to receive are to be made in accordance with the following requests.  I wish to have maximum independence.

    • I wish to continue my life as an active Bahá’í. At a minimum, this includes assistance in:
    • saying the daily obligatory prayer (short one at noon is fine), with ablutions and facing east;
    • reciting prayers (I like to say a minimum of three, including a prayer for teaching or triumph of the Cause) and reading the Bahá’í Writings morning and evening (including a short discussion of the applicability of these teachings to daily life if I am capable of such thought);
    • regular sacrificial donations to the funds of the Faith every 19 days and the payment of Huququllah each year (I have been submitting it monthly it should be up to date.
    • regular attendance at 19 Day Feasts and Holy Day Celebrations;

All of these things are to be done regardless of whether or not I appear to be getting anything out of them. My soul will benefit if nothing else.

    • My preference is for naturopathic or homeopathic medicine, using herbs instead of drugs, wherever possible.
    • If I am bedridden for any length of time, please use the sheepskin currently on my bed (and my own sheets if possible).

No heroic Measures

In the case of life threatening situations, I wish to have no heroic measures whatsoever.

I do not wish any life-support treatment which includes medical devices put in me to help prolong my life or anything else meant to keep me alive.

If I have permanent and severe brain damage, and I am not expected to get better, and life-support treatment would only delay the moment of my death I do not want life-support treatment. If it has been started, I want it stopped.

If I am in a coma from which I am not expected to wake up or recover, and I have brain damage, and life-support treatment would only delay the moment of my death I do not want life-support treatment. If it has been started, I want it stopped.

If I am unable to take care of myself, mentally or physically, and life-support treatment will not help me recover I do not want life-support treatment. If it has been started, I want it stopped.

I want to be offered food and fluids by mouth, and kept clean and warm at all times.

I want such pain medication as necessary to make me comfortable. 

Near Death

When I am near death, I would like Bahá’í prayers and readings read aloud and/or calm, peaceful, spiritual music played until I am dead.

I wish for Bahá’ís (the Local Spiritual Assembly and/or others) to be informed of my condition and asked to pray for me and to visit me.  If possible, please notify people on my 2 Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin accounts and ask them for prayers; and contact the House of Justice at secretariat at bwc.org; and ask them to put me on the prayer list, praying specifically for steadfastness up to the hour of my death.

I wish to be cared for with kindness and cheerfulness, and not sadness. I am eagerly anticipating my life in the next world.

I want to die at home or in hospice and my body to be prepared according to Bahá’í procedures by Bahá’ís who are able to do so.

Euthanasia

Euthanasia is the act or practice of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured individuals in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy.  You may have also heard it referred to as “mercy killings” or “assisted suicide” or “assisted death” or “right to die”.

With regards to euthanasia, here’s what the Bahá’í Writings have to say:

As to the Bahá’í viewpoint on the removal of withholding of life support in medical cases where intervention prolongs life in disabling illnesses, nothing has been found in the Sacred Text specifically on this matter. In such cases decisions must be left to those responsible, including the patients.  (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 290)

We have received your letter of March 18, 1974 in which you ask for the Bahá’í viewpoint on euthanasia and on the removal of life support in medical cases where physiological interventions prolong life in disabling illnesses. In general our teachings indicate that God, the Giver of life, can alone dispose of it as He deems best, and we have found nothing in the Sacred Text on these matters specifically but in a letter to an individual written on behalf of the beloved Guardian by his secretary regarding mercy killings, or legalized euthanasia, it is stated: “…this is also a matter which the Universal House of Justice will have to legislate.” Until such time as the Universal House of Justice considers legislation on Euthanasia, decisions in the matters to which you refer must be left to the conscience of those responsible.  (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 290-291)

So even though suicide is forbidden in the Faith, until such time as the House of Justice considers legislation on these matters, living wills and euthanasia are left to individual conscience.

As the legalities of both situations vary from place to place, it’s best to consult a lawyer to set these things in motion if that’s your wish.

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