Afterlife

The existence of life-after-death is not cannot be scientifically proved or disproved. The uncertainty is paradoxically and strangely comforting. Belief in life-after-death reads death as a switch in state, just as birth is a switch in state to life-after-birth. Birth provides a neat model for death as the passage from the embryonic [fetal] world to the state of maturity. So likewise, the world beyond is as different from this world as this world is different from that of the child while still in the womb of its mother.[1]‑AB

First consider switches in state in the physical and zoological realms. The physical substance called H2O switches state from solid cold ice, to liquid tepid water, to gaseous hot steam. The passage of ice melting into water presages the passage of water boiling into steam. Though ice, water, and steam are poles apart, they are the same H2O at different energy levels. Likewise, the biological species called Monarch switches state from caterpillar, to pupa, to butterfly. The passage of caterpillar spinning into pupa presages the passage of pupa popping out as butterfly. Though caterpillar, pupa, and butterfly are poles apart, they are the same Monarch at different stages of its life-cycle.

Likewise as a human-being, you switch your state from fetus, to child, to adult, to soul. The passage of birth switching you from fetus to child presages the passage of death switching you from mortal coil to bodiless soul. Before birth, you live as a fetus inside your mother, within your watery reality, tasting and swallowing your amniotic fluid, nourished and respired via your umbilical cord, feeling your limbs move, sucking your hands, and hearing the souffle of your placenta. Then suddenly there is no more room in the womb and birth “kills” you as a fetus!

Yet your birth was far from fatal, for your life-after-birth had just began. You simply switched state. As a baby free of your mother’s womb, you now enjoyed a new world, breathed air, tasted milk, felt clothes, and heard and saw people. But already as a fetus you had already gotten glimpses, inklings, and hints of life-after-birth beckoning. Studies show that you got signals from beyond. You saw light to the front of your uterine home. You heard rumbles from your mum’s tum. You reacted to outside noises (used as a test for fetal wellbeing). Such signals from beyond told you a bit about the space-time of the life-after-birth coming after your watery womb.

Then death suddenly kills your body too. But death is also far from fatal, for your life-after-death just began! You have simply switched state! As a soul soaring free of your mortal coil, you now enjoy new life. But already as a body you did get glimpses, inklings, and hints of life-after-death beckoning. Life experiences sent you signals from beyond. You dreamed of other realms. You had déjà-vu episodes. You noticed meaningful coincidences. You even witnessed miracles, went through out-of-body states, or had near-death experiences. Such signals from beyond told you a bit about the space-time of the life-after-death coming after your earthy tomb.

Yet Faiths from the days of Adam until the days of Christ…spoke little of eternal life. Now the Baha’i Faith says a lot, teaching that even though 

physical death…is a God-ordained and inescapable reality, the life of knowledge, the certitude of attaining unto the presence of God through the Manifestations of His Cause…is that blessed and everlasting life that perisheth not, which knoweth no death.…Through his ignorance man fears death, but the death he shrinks from is imaginary and absolutely unreal; it is only human imagination.…For existence there is neither change nor transformation; existence is ever existence [my emphasis], it can never be translated into nonexistence. It is gradation; a degree below a higher degree is considered as nonexistence.¼Absolute nonexistence is impossible; it is only relative.…It is impossible for that world to become nonbeing, for it is the very genesis of God.…It is a creational and not a subjective world, and the bounty descending upon it is continuous and permanent. Therefore, man, the highest creature of the phenomenal world, is endowed with that continuous bounty bestowed by divine generosity without cessation. For instance, the rays of the sun are continuous, the heat of the sun emanates from it without cessation.…The bestowal of God is descending upon the world of humanity, never ceasing, continuous.…The effulgences of existence are ever present and continuous.[2]‑BA

Alas however, 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, 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. Therefore, it behooves man to abandon thoughts of nonexistence and death…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 nonexistence, he will become utterly incompetent; with weakened willpower his ambition for progress will be lessened and the acquisition of human virtues will cease.[3]‑A

Accordingly, Baha’u’llah assures:

Thou art My dominion and My dominion perisheth not; wherefore fearest thou thy perishing? Thou art My light and My light shall never be extinguished.…Why dost thou dread extinction? Thou art My glory and My glory fadeth not; thou art My robe and My robe shall never be outworn.[4]‑B

 


[1] Embryonic world, ‘Abdu’l-Baha, SAQ 60.224, also in Motlagh, Hushidar H. The Glorious Journey to God

World beyond, Baha’u’llah, GWB 81.157

[2] From the days of Adam, ‘Abdu’l-Baha, SAQ 30.124

Physical death, ‘Abdu’l-Baha, Gems 64.47–48

Through his ignorance, ‘Abdu’l-Baha, PUP 88–89

[3] ‘Abdu’l-Baha, PUP 88–89

[4] Baha’u’llah, Arabic Hidden Words 14