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Connecting with My Ancestors

Makeena Rivers | Apr 28, 2020

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

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Makeena Rivers | Apr 28, 2020

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

The older I get, the more I grow to appreciate the invisible spiritual forces at play in the world around me. I’ve become more sure that there are souls who help guide me through my life.

In many of my circles I’ve noticed growing interest in the past. Conversations about family history, inherited trauma, and the roots of cultural traditions are becoming increasingly common. We want to understand how the past affects the present and how it may affect the future. 

This collective shift has coincided with my own awareness of my ancestors. I have been thinking about the influence the spiritual world has on my personal journey through the physical world. Baha’is believe that reality is more than just the tangible experiences we have — rather, we have a spiritual nature that is a key component of who we are. 

In the book The Promulgation of Universal Peace, Abdu’l-Baha, the son of Baha’u’llah, the Prophet-Founder of the Baha’i Faith, emphasized that our spirits are more resilient in the face of change than our physical bodies: “If the whole body should be subjected to a radical change, the spirit will survive that change… even if the body of man is destroyed and becomes nonexistent, the spirit of man remains unaffected. For the spirit of man is everlasting.” He goes on to assert: “The life of the spirit is neither conditional nor dependent upon the life of the body. At most it can be said that the body is a mere garment utilized by the spirit. If that garment be destroyed, the wearer is not affected but is, in fact, protected.”

If the spiritual part of us exists no matter the condition of the body, clearly there can be life even after the life of our physical body comes to a close. When I think about the family members and influential people who lived in generations before mine, I think about how their souls exist, and how they can be called on in my journey through prayer, and by learning about their lives. 

“we often forget about the formative role other generations had on our current reality”

Individualism is such a common norm in our society that it can often make us feel alone. We can easily forget the support we receive from people, and the role others play in our lives. We might have very little regard for the farmer who produced the fruit we eat in the morning, we can be oblivious to the train conductor who guides our evening commute, and we might rarely think about the kindergarten teacher who taught us to spell or read. 

Likewise, we often forget about the formative role other generations had on our current reality. We can call on them for guidance and support as we move through the world and figure out the way forward. 

As I develop the habit of thinking about past generations and the angels that guide me, I try to learn how I can ground myself in the context of a collective spiritual unit. I ask specific loved ones who have passed for support, guidance, and help in opening doors of opportunity for me. I try to pray for those who have passed to support them in their journey, and I try to maintain a sense of gratitude for those souls I imagine to be surrounding, uplifting, and protecting me at all times. These practices have contributed to my feeling consistently accompanied and loved. 

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Comments

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  • Antoma Adrienne
    Feb 17, 2021
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    I'm glad I came acrostiche this article. I always ask myself what are the statement of the baha'i fait about the relationship with ancestors. Personaly I recently had an Insightful interest to know more about them and now I call them in prayer
  • Cynthia Barnes Slater
    Apr 28, 2020
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    Thank you for such an insightful essay! I also call on my ancestors! Well done!
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