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Spirituality

Death: Summoned to a Reckoning

Mahin Pouryaghma | Mar 21, 2024

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Mahin Pouryaghma | Mar 21, 2024

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

I’ll tell you a secret — dying can be boring. Today, I felt depressed and lonely, and I spent most of the afternoon sleeping. As the length of my naps increases, my energy level decreases, as does my enthusiasm. 

While the cancer progresses, my energy wanes, so I don’t feel like doing much of anything except watching TV, scrolling through Facebook, or playing solitaire. Even those activities have become less interesting lately. See? Pretty boring, right?

I recognize that none of this is important at all, but it does impact my mood. This low mood is not like what I usually feel — normally, I’m an upbeat, positive, and energetic person — but here I am, feeling it. Ready to kick the bucket and bored.

RELATED: Waiting for My Home-Bound Train, I Thank the Creator

I know that some of my mood is partially attributable to gradually increasing pain. This pain, as far as I know, is not cancer-related. It is the pain of age and arthritis, which keeps very gradually increasing its impact throughout my body. I am used to it by now, but it is joy-zapping. 

Perhaps this low-grade, gradually-increasing pain, which just about everyone like me who lives into their late 80s will experience, is the body’s way of telling us that a better life awaits us in the next world. It certainly does make you weary of this one. Like all things physical and material, the body has its seasons — spring, summer, fall, and winter — as the Baha’i teachings clearly point out:

These few brief days shall pass away, this present life shall vanish from our sight; the roses of this world shall be fresh and fair no more, the garden of this earth’s triumphs and delights shall droop and fade. The spring season of life shall turn into the autumn of death, the bright joy of palace halls give way to moonless dark within the tomb. And therefore is none of this worth loving at all, and to this the wise will not anchor his heart.

He who hath knowledge and power will rather seek out the glory of heaven, and spiritual distinction, and the life that dieth not.

That’s exactly what I’m striving for — seeking out glory and spiritual distinction. It’s not easy, though. For old people like me in the wintertime of life, when one health issue appears, and if it is not too severe at the beginning, it is easier to tolerate and ignore the pain after one gets used to it. Then another health issue appears, and again, at the beginning, one may not experience its severity; one tolerates it. But as one grows older, multiple health issues pile up as the body wears out. Based on one’s life span, one ends up having multiple health issues. We have no choice but to just accept them — it is what it is — and go about our daily lives the best way we can. That does not mean one is comfortable with it — it means the level of tolerance for pain increases as the joy of living decreases, and the amount of energy and struggle required to keep the level of enthusiasm for continuing to live also increases.

So, what am I talking about? I suppose I am facing one of my rare mood crashes. In this mental state, I find myself overly critical of people and feeling sorry for myself over truly insignificant issues. Spiritually, I thought I had left all that behind. Now, these issues are all crashing over my head, and I do not like this aspect of myself one bit.

I want to make peace with myself once again, and I want to make peace with the world. I want to have less shame when I go to the next stage of my soul’s existence and not carry a lot of baggage with me when I die. 

I’m hoping, praying, and thinking through why I feel this way. Maybe my inflated ego needs a whole lot more deflation. I am a little, well, really a good bit scared that all or most of my resolve to keep faith with God may evaporate. 

As just one example, I am having the relatively minor challenge of a skin problem that is environmentally related, and it is not even that serious or painful — and I am acting like a coward and feeling depressed about it. What will happen if I’m hit with a much more painful cancer experience — how will I react? Will I accept God’s will, or with the first pain attack, will I be upset with God, who has always been my support and has been carrying me? 

I wrote all of that yesterday in a dark mood, but now the fog has lifted, and all it took was participating in a Baha’i devotional meeting, and saying some of the beautiful Baha’i prayers.

I was fortunate enough to attend that gathering, and the prayers and fellowship lifted my spirit. I am not as down as I was — there is hope! While reciting the Baha’i prayer that includes the phrase “create in me a pure heart and renew a tranquil conscience within me,” I once again realized that no other medicine is as effective as that prayer for me. 

RELATED: Accepting Death With Joy

Thank you, Baha’u’llah

I also must accept that spiritually falling on my face and getting up, dusting myself off, and going on about my business is one of my all-too-human shortcomings. I have to remind myself to remember that God is in control, and I have no knowledge of what will happen to me even 10 minutes from now. I need to stop my idle fancies and vain imaginings and practice humility. Please, God, I may achieve it! Humility is a lot easier than arrogance, and I have enough common sense that I know I want an easier rather than a more difficult way of living.

So, after that sweet devotional meeting, I now feel emotionally OK. What a relief! Physically, I’m still kicking, to a slower and weaker degree. I think maybe the recent death of a long-time friend caused my emotional fatigue and had me wishing for my own release.

My friend was, like you and I soon will be, summoned to that inevitable reckoning. Baha’u’llah wrote in The Hidden Words: “O Son of Being! Bring thyself to account each day ere thou art summoned to a reckoning; for death, unheralded, shall come upon thee and thou shalt be called to give account for thy deeds.

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Comments

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  • Rosslyn and Steven Osborne
    1 day ago
    -
    Hello Mahin, it is me from Qld Australia again and I haven't heard from you in a bit, so wondering how you are coping these days?
    You are in my friends and my prayers and thoughts daily. May God bless you and keep you pain free.
    Rosslyn and Maureen
  • Brandon Naylor
    Mar 21, 2024
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    Hi there. I enjoyed reading your article. As you move forward in life, I hope you remember all the good times you’ve had, the challenges you’ve faced, and the amazing things you’ve experienced. Even as you navigate the unknown territory ahead, it’s important to remember where you came from. You were once a human being, and I hope that your life will inspire others long after you’re gone. May your journey be blessed with sunshine and favorable winds, and may you reach new heights beyond your wildest dreams.
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