Of course you don’t die. Nobody dies. Death does not exist. You only reach a new level of vision, a new realm of consciousness, a new unknown world. – Henry Miller
Death is no more than passing from one room into another. But there’s a difference for me, you know. Because in that other room I shall be able to see. – Helen Keller
Life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one. In the depths of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond; and like seeds dreaming beneath the snow, your heart dreams of spring. Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity. – Kahlil Gibran
…the souls of the children of the Kingdom, after their separation from the body, ascend unto the realm of everlasting life. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 193.
Here’s an interesting and compelling spiritual exercise: make yourself a to-do list for life after death.
After all, we make to-do lists for all kinds of temporal things—our daily endeavors, our errands and shopping, the people we need to get in touch with, the books we want to read and the films we’d like to see. Why not make one for something really important that we all face: our eternal spiritual life?
As I suggested in the last essay in this series, our inevitable transition to “the second life” may seem like moving to a new country—the country of the soul. You’ll need a sense of what that country’s customs look like; you’ll want to learn some of the language spoken there; and you will definitely require a guidebook, a map or an app to help you navigate that new and unfamiliar terrain.
But where could you find that information, since no traveler returns from this mystical and uncharted terrain we call the realm of the spirit? Where would you even begin to look? So far, the best descriptions of life after death come directly from the sacred scriptures of the world’s great Faiths:
What is life but the flower or the fruit which falls, when ripe, but yet which ever fears the untimely frost? – The Dhammapada
In the heaven-world there is no fear; thou art not there, O Death, and no one is afraid on account of old age. Leaving behind both hunger and thirst, and out of the reach of sorrow, all rejoice in the world of heaven. – the Katha Upanishad
In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? – Jesus Christ, John 14:2
But announce to those who believe and do that things that are right, that for them are gardens ‘neath which the rivers flow! …therein shall they abide for ever. – Sura. 2:23, the Qur’an
The true seeker hunteth naught but the object of his quest, and the lover hath no desire save union with his beloved. Nor shall the seeker reach his goal unless he sacrifice all things. That is, whatever he hath seen, and heard, and understood, all must he set at naught, that he may enter the realm of the spirit, which is the City of God. Labor is needed, if we are to seek Him; ardor is needed, if we are to drink of the honey of reunion with Him; and if we taste of this cup, we shall cast away the world. – Baha’u’llah, The Seven Valleys, p. 7.
The Baha’i teachings have a remarkable and beautiful conception of the next world, of heaven, of the second life, of the City of God. They view it as a spiritual state of being, not a physical place.
So to make your to-do list for the next life, you’ll want to concentrate on what to bring with you when you move. Since no one will need anything physical—money, clothes, possessions—for this ultimate journey, you’ll want to bring all the spiritual attributes you’ve developed here in this life: love, kindness, joy, justice, peacefulness, humility, knowledge, faith and generosity of the spirit:
Be ye daysprings of generosity, dawning-points of the mysteries of existence, sites where inspiration alighteth, rising-places of splendours, souls that are sustained by the Holy Spirit, enamoured of the Lord, detached from all save Him, holy above the characteristics of humankind, clothed in the attributes of the angels of heaven, that ye may win for yourselves the highest bestowal of all, in this new time, this wondrous age.
By the life of Baha! Only he who is severed from the world shall achieve this ultimate grace, he who is a captive of divine love, empty of passion and self, from every aspect true unto his God, humble, lowly, supplicating, in tears, submissive in the presence of the Lord. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 242.
Your to-do list of spiritual attributes, when you make it honestly, may seem a little lacking—I know mine does. In fact, mine needs a lot of work. I realize, when I make my own journey to the next world, that I’ll need more and better spiritual attributes to function well. Since the second life is a purely spiritual environment, and since my spiritual development is what will allow me to enter, live in and navigate that environment, I want to have the resources necessary to live happily and eternally.
In tomorrow’s essay, we’ll explore just what those resources might be.
Next: Seven Virtues You’ll Need in the Afterlife