After we die, do we retain our awareness of others? Can we communicate with those souls?
In the multiple accounts of near-death experiences in Raymond Moody’s book Life After Life; and the discussions in the Baha’i writings concerning encounters with other souls shortly after the initial sensation of departure from the body, we learn that souls definitely do retain their awareness of others.
Moody’s subjects describe a sense of comfort and companionship resulting from this experience. In most cases there is the specific recognition of other souls who had already passed on, individuals the subjects had known in their earthly existence:
I realized that all these people were there, almost in multitudes it seems, hovering around the ceiling of the room. They were all people I had known in my past life, but who had passed on before. I recognized my grandmother and a girl I had known when I was in school, and many other relatives and friends. It seems that I mainly saw their faces and felt their presence. They all seemed pleased. It was a very happy occasion, and I felt that they had come to protect or to guide me …. It was a beautiful and glorious moment. – Raymond Moody, Life After Life, pp. 55-60.
Several weeks before I nearly died, a good friend of mine, Bob, had been killed. Now the moment I got out of my body I had the feeling that Bob was standing there, right next to me. I could see him in my mind and felt like he was there, but it was strange. I didn’t see him as his physical body … He was there but he didn’t have a physical body. – Ibid., p. 56.
I had the feeling that there were people around me, and I could feel their presence, and could feel them moving, though I could never see anyone. Every now and then, I would talk with one of them, but I couldn’t see them. And whenever I wondered what was going on, I would always get a thought back from one of them, that everything was all right, that I was dying but would be fine. – Ibid., p. 58.
The Baha’i teachings describe essentially the same experience of recognizing deceased individuals, but the passages on the subject from the Baha’i writings give additional insights. There seems to be implicit in Baha’u’llah’s descriptions a qualification for the soul that experiences the companionship of other departed souls, or at least an indication of who those companions will be:
Blessed is the soul which, at the hour of its separation from the body, is sanctified from the vain imaginings of the peoples of the world. … 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. 156.
Know thou that the souls of the people of Baha, who have entered and been established within the Crimson Ark, shall associate and commune intimately one with another, and shall be so closely associated in their lives, their aspirations, their aims and strivings as to be even as one soul. – Ibid., pp. 169-170.
From these statements by Baha’u’llah, one might infer that only particular souls will experience companionship in the next life, souls who are “sanctified” and souls “of the people of Baha,” meaning only Baha’is. Furthermore, the companionship is depicted in more detail. The newly deceased will recount what they have accomplished and will converse with other spiritually eloquent souls.
But in another passage from the Baha’i writings it becomes clear that such an experience is not confined to Baha’is or to those who have attained wisdom:
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 (i.e., things are visible in it), 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 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. – Abdu’l-Baha, Tablets of Abdu’l-Baha, Volume 1, p. 205.