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Am I Qualified for the Afterlife?

Mahin Pouryaghma | Jun 29, 2024

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the authoritative views of the Baha'i Faith.

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Mahin Pouryaghma | Jun 29, 2024

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the authoritative views of the Baha'i Faith.

Yesterday, I visited my friend M. here in the nursing home, and interestingly, she could respond. Since the passing of another friend a few days ago, I have been thinking about what lessons I have to learn until I am qualified.

Qualified for what, you’re wondering? Well, as my dear Baha’i brother Steve says about himself, he hasn’t gone to the next world because he’s not yet qualified for entrance into the Kingdom.

What an interesting way to think about death! We have so much to learn here on this plane of existence, and until we learn it, we can’t board the Glory Train. Yet here I am at the Glory Train station, waiting impatiently for my transition to the next world.

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In my sojourn here at the nursing home, I’m learning about at least three areas that are the most challenging for me at this point:

1. Expanding patience,

2. Developing humility, and

3. Learning perseverance and detachment.

I think all of these beautiful spiritual qualities — patience, humility, perseverance, and detachment — are equally difficult to adopt and practice, at least consistently.

Here’s a powerful passage from the writings of Abdu’l-Baha that explains why those inner qualities are so important:

The religion of God consists of two parts: One is the very foundation and belongs to the spiritual realm; that is, it pertains to spiritual virtues and divine qualities. This part suffers neither change nor alteration …. It will never be abrogated, for it consists in spiritual rather than material truth. It is faith, knowledge, certitude, justice, piety, high-mindedness, trustworthiness, love of God, and charity. It is mercy to the poor, assistance to the oppressed, generosity to the needy, and upliftment of the fallen. It is purity, detachment, humility, forbearance, patience, and constancy. These are divine qualities. These commandments will never be abrogated, but will remain in force and effect for all eternity. 

I freely admit it — I fall far short of those high aims. Those who know me well know that I want everything yesterday. Even my mother used to tell me, time and again, that I did not have any patience. She would say an idiom in Turkish, “ar grack, tez grack,” which means “I want a husband, and I want him now.” 

She was only slightly inaccurate. If I wanted the husband, I wanted him yesterday. By the way, that old saying has nothing to do with a husband — it’s just a way to make a point about being impatient. 

Waiting for whatever, all throughout my life, has felt torturous. I strongly desire to know exactly when an event is going to happen. So, sitting in the Glory Train station without anyone at the ticket window or the presence of any timetable for the journey is a very difficult task for me. 

When I walk around and visit some of my friends and neighbors and see them in worse condition than I am in, yet realize they are grateful, it puzzles me. When I see that a few of them, like my friend M., are in a pretty dire health condition, and are still lingering, I am really puzzled. I ask myself: how can they tolerate all this, and what is the remaining attraction in this physical world that keeps them wanting to stay put here on Earth?

This does, however, tend to increase my level of humility. 

With my lack of sufficient patience, combined with some attention deficit, the struggle to understand the mystery of death and the afterlife becomes even more difficult. So am I trusting God that He knows what He is doing, or do I think He needs my advice about what to do with my life? This is where my ego stays busy derailing my inner peace.

On the one hand, I trust the Creator 1000 per cent — and on the other hand, I do not trust Him for .000001 per cent. I say, maybe He needs my help or a gentle reminder, and that is when I mess up my peace and create absolute turmoil for myself. Then the guilt, which I am the queen of, jumps in, and I feel bad about myself and the fear of deprivation due to the poverty of my soul frightens me. 

What would I say to my Lord when I am face to face with Him, and I am answering for my actions? My suitcase of virtues sometimes seems empty, so I am going there empty-handed and shameful. This is where the humility issue enters. I know I have to work harder, much harder than I have up to now — to dig deeper and deeper in my soul and be even more honest with myself. 

I need to determine whether I am fully honest when I say the Baha’i prayer, “I lay all my affairs in Thy hand, Thou art my Guide and Refuge” — especially since Baha’u’llah teaches us that “ Truthfulness is the foundation of all human virtues. Without truthfulness progress and success, in all the worlds of God, are impossible for any soul”.

I know at times that I am completely honest with God, that is, my words and my actions are in harmony. When that happens, a sense of peace and tranquility embraces me, and I feel I am in heaven. Maybe I am, since the Baha’i teachings assure us that hell and heaven are spiritual states, not places. When I feel that way, I am drunk with joy and elation, and when my egoic mind takes control of my rational mind, I feel I am in the hell of remoteness from God. So why do I not continue staying in heaven? Why do I need to hurt myself unnecessarily? 

RELATED: Life and Death: The Greatest Mysteries

No one likes to be miserable, but why? Why? I wish I had an answer, and if I had, I would hold tight to it and not let it disappear. And while I’m at it, why do I want to push God to bring me home? I am not having a terrible time right now on this Earth. I am surrounded by the love of so many angelic souls, and my heart is full of love for them. So why the haste? Right now, I’m thinking, it is because I want MY will to be done, I WANT to go home, I want to settle in there, I am tired of waiting, and I, I, I. Maybe it’s because I’m just not qualified yet.

Apparently, I still need to learn more perseverance and detachment. At my stage of life — waiting here in the Glory Train station — this should be a whole lot easier, and maybe even not necessary to work on at all. If I can work harder and succeed to any degree on both patience and humility, this could be a non-issue. I will have to think about it a little more. 

I need to remind myself that even despite all the moaning and groaning, I am really happy 99 percent of the time. I lose my focus when I get into a slump and feel self-pity because I concentrate too much on myself and don’t turn my face toward the light of God. But God, in His infinite mercy, turns my face toward His light and, once again, I am in heaven. All I must do is remember this heaven and not turn back to my baser self. Easier said than done, right? I must keep my hope high and believe that it will not take me an eternity to muster some of these attributes.

It would be great if God’s will coincided with mine. May God forgive me. 

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Comments

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  • Zachary L. Zavid
    Jun 29, 2024
    -
    Loved this post;
    This line,
    She would say an idiom in Turkish, “ar grack, tez grack,” which means “I want a husband, and I want him now.”
  • Jun 29, 2024
    -
    I love your articles and your honesty. When in this article you said you are happy 99% of the time it seemed out of synch with the raw truth of the rest of the helpful, important sharing you did. Thank you for giving us a better understanding of aging and death.
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