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…the hearts of the people of faith are assured. If they are surrounded by a thousand enemies they stand firm on their ground. The greatest divine bounty is a confident heart. When the heart is confident, all the trials of the world will be as child’s play. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Diary of Mirza Ahmad Sohrab, 18 October 1914, Star of the West, Volume 5, p. 214.
You’ve probably met a few of them: people with assurance and self-confidence. They seem to have life figured out. They know who they are and how they feel. They have healthy self-esteem without unhealthy egos. They move through the world with self-reliance, boldness and faith in their own actions. They possess that well-adjusted psychological outlook everyone desires. They have confident hearts.
What a remarkable attribute! A confident heart knows its path and walks that path without fear.
These people who called on us today were in a state of fright. They are expecting daily the bombardment of Haifa by the foreign warships. As soon as they see a little moving speck in the horizon of the sea, they look through their glasses, anxiously scanning to see whether these are the expected cruisers. Their hearts are in a state of anxiety. They are terror-stricken. They have no peace of mind. This is one of the signs of absence of faith. It is stated in the Qur’an: “They imagine every cry raised is an enemy unto them.” For example, when a thief enters a house, the least noise causes his flight. He trembles and quakes.
But the hearts of the people of faith are assured. If they are surrounded by a thousand enemies they stand firm on their ground. The greatest divine bounty is a confident heart. When the heart is confident, all the trials of the world will be as child’s play. Should they throw him into prison, should they cast him into a black well, should they heap upon him all manner of afflictions, still his heart is content, peaceful and assured. – Ibid.
What could possibly give anyone that kind of unperturbed assurance and confidence? Baha’is believe that only an enduring faith in the eternal grace of God and the immortality of the soul can produce such serenity and courage. If you fear the end of your life, the Baha’i teachings say, you’ll suffer from that fear, and from many others, as long as you live. But if you have confidence and faith that your life will go on eternally, that our physical bodies will die but our souls will not, then you have no reason or cause for fear:
To hold that the spirit is annihilated upon the death of the body is to imagine that a bird imprisoned in a cage would perish if the cage were to be broken, though the bird has nothing to fear from the breaking of the cage. This body is even as the cage and the spirit is like the bird… Therefore, should the cage be broken, the bird would not only continue to exist but its senses would be heightened, its perception would grow more intense. In reality, it would be leaving a place of torment for a delightsome paradise; for there is no greater paradise for the grateful birds than to be freed from their cage. – Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, newly revised edition, p. 262.
Try to imagine it: no death, and therefore nothing to fear.
If you’ve never accepted it before, it takes some time to acclimate to this truth. In our societies today, many people believe strongly that this physical life ends with the death of the body. Of course, the ultimate reality of life beyond this world can’t be fully known, so the denial of an afterlife has spread far and wide. Science has no definitive answers, which means we need to rely on religion for answers—but the ancient religions have gradually built up many manmade superstitions and rituals regarding death, and in the process they’ve lost the spiritual potency required to generate faith in an eternal existence.
Now, however, a new global Faith has come into being. The Baha’i teachings, once again, have renewed the everlasting truth of the soul’s undying essence. They urge us all toward a recognition of our immortal life force, and ask each one of us to strive with a confident heart for courage, faith and joy:
Have patience–wait, but do not sit idle; work while you are waiting; smile while you are wearied with monotony; be firm while everything around you is being shaken; be joyous while the ugly face of despair grins at you; speak aloud while the malevolent forces of the nether world try to crush your mind; be valiant and courageous while men all around you are cringing with fear and cowardice. Do not yield to the overwhelming power of tyranny and despotism. Serve the cause of democracy and freedom. Continue your journey to the end. The bright day is coming. The nucleus of the new race is forming. The harbinger of the new ideals of international justice is appearing. The trees of hope will become verdant; the copper of scorn and derision will be transmuted into the gold of honour and praise; the arid desert of ignorance will be transformed into the luxuriant garden of knowledge, the threatening clouds shall be dispelled and the stars of faith and charity will again twinkle in the clear heaven of human consciousness. – Abdu’l-Baha, from a letter to Alfred Lunt, Star of the West, Volume 5, p. 141.