“Wert thou to attain to but a dewdrop of the crystal waters of divine knowledge, thou wouldst readily realize that true life is not the life of the flesh but the life of the spirit…” ( Bahá’u’lláh)
The self that we have is composed of body and soul. To know the invisible soul, we need to learn about it through interaction with our body and the material world. The major attribute of the body self is its association with the material and earthly world. Similarly, the major attribute of our soul is its association with the spiritual world.
The life of our body begins at conception when the self of the physical world begins to develop at that moment and is gradually formed. When we are in our mother’s womb, we develop the faculties we need for the physical world. Those faculties include the physical senses and consciousness to experience and enjoy the material world which God prepared for us. Our soul also develops together with the body beginning at conception when God created us. Ideally, our body and soul should grow together. Unfortunately, this is seldom the case, as physical and material development are often given precedence. We gradually ignore and forget the existence of our soul, if we are not educated about our spirit reality. Because of a lack of nurturing of our mind and soul, our soul is gradually withered like a plant that lacks water, nutrients or sunshine. This problem brings us all kinds of difficulty in our life.
God never leaves mankind alone. Throughout history, God has sent to humanity a series of divine Educators—known as Manifestations of God—whose teachings have provided the basis for the advancement of civilization and spirit education. They teach us us that our spirit need to be nurtured too. Beyond our bodily life, we are spiritual beings with a noble spiritual life. Beyond the material world, there is a spiritual world. They are calling us to recognize the spiritual reality. We can’t nurture and develop it unless we recognize it. This recognition and awareness is so call “rebirth”. The rebirth is like the withered plant which after giving it water and sunshine it becomes alive again. When our withered spirit is given, with compassion, water and sunshine from the Sun of Truth, it will be alive and full of vitality.
There is another meaning of the awakening of the spiritual reality. We know our body develops starting at the moment of conception. Our birth brings us into the life of the material world. Our spiritual life started at the moment of conception and it continuously develops through pregnancy and our whole earthly life. Think of this, what is it that continues to exist when our body no longer exists? Isn’t that our spirit? Isn’t this like our spirit being born into the spiritual world? The birth here means a change in the pattern of existence. Life in our mother’s womb is the development of one pattern of existence which is completely enclosed and constrained. Once we are born we enter an unconstrained living pattern. Although we are still dependent on are parents during childhood, we are more free to move around. In the same way, when we live in this physical world our spirit is constrained by the needs and limitations of our physical self and our senses. Once we are born into the spiritual world this limitation will be removed. The next world, or you may call it the next life, will be another pattern of existence that is freed from physical limitations.
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. (Bahá’u’lláh )
‘Abdu’l-Bahá tells us, “the mysteries of which man is heedless in the earthly world, those will he discover in the heavenly world, and there will he be informed of the secrets of the truth; how much more will he recognize or discover persons with whom he has been associated.” This is like when we had no ability to understand the wonder of the world we were going to be born into when we were in our mother’s womb. We learn about this new world gradually after we are born. In the same way, we have no ability to understand the wonder of the spiritual world we are going to born into at our physical death. But soon after we leave this world and are born in next world, the mystery will be revealed to us.
Baha’u’llah said “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.” Just as the womb provides the environment for a person’s initial physical development, the phenomenal world is the arena within which we develop the spiritual characteristics and capacities that we need for our onward journey. Both here and in the next life, we advance with the assistance of God’s bounty and grace. Also important to the progress of our souls in the next world are the good deeds carried out in our names here on earth, and the sincere prayers of our families and friends. (http://www.bahai.org/beliefs/life-spirit/human-soul/life-death)
Death in this world means spiritual birth in the next world. In the creation of God, there is no life and death, there is only revelation and progress. Our concept of life and death are just stages of existence. The human spirit exists eternally after physical death, but the state or condition of it depends on our faith and actions in this world. Through God’s grace and forgiveness, we can progress eternally as well.
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. They will even 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. The difference and distinction between men will naturally become realized after their departure from this mortal world. But this distinction is not in respect to place, but in respect to the soul and the conscience. For the Kingdom of God is sanctified (or free) from time and place; it is another world and another universe. 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-Bahá The Divine Art of Living, p124-125)
What do people need in the spiritual world after they leave the mortal life? We must develop what we need there in this life. The spiritual world is a holy and splendid world. We should gain those sacred quality here for our next life. That world requires spirituality, faith, and love toward God. All of these qualities must be obtained in this world, so that what we need in our eternal life is ready for us once we depart from this world.
The nature of the soul after death can never be described, nor is it meet and permissible to reveal its whole character to the eyes of men. The Prophets and Messengers of God have been sent down for the sole purpose of guiding mankind to the straight Path of Truth. The purpose underlying Their revelation hath been to educate all men, that they may, at the hour of death, ascend, in the utmost purity and sanctity and with absolute detachment, to the throne of the Most High. The light which these souls radiate is responsible for the progress of the world and the advancement of its peoples. They are like unto leaven which leaveneth the world of being, and constitute the animating force through which the arts and wonders of the world are made manifest. ( Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 155.)