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What happens to us after we die? Did you know approximately one hundred thousand people search on Google each month for the answer to that question?  

Obviously, death provides us all with a compelling mystery, and many people search for an answer. But guess what—Google doesn’t know! All of the factual information and data stored on the Web cannot answer that basic human mystery.

Seriously: not Google, or Siri, or Alexa, or Databot has any idea how to address that fundamental enigma. After all, how can anyone really know when it comes to answering questions about life after death? No living person has any first-hand knowledge, unless you believe the remarkably similar accounts of those who’ve had near-death experiences. The only people who truly have the answer aren’t telling.

Also, it doesn’t help that we don’t like to talk about it much. In Western cultures, death and dying do not make for popular topics of conversation. Instead of confronting our mortality, we tend to label such talk as morbid or unpleasant. As a result, we try to stave it off, along with death itself, for as long as we possibly can.

We often view death as a failure of medicine, rather than a natural, expected and inevitable stage of human life. We want the miracle of modern medicine to let us “dodge the bullet,” at least for a little while longer. This medicalized view of death frequently results in people dying in institutions, cut off from their loved ones and the comforts of familiar surroundings. According to research done at Stanford University, for example, 60% of Americans die in acute care hospitals, 20% in nursing homes and only 20% at home.

Actually, the huge number of Google searches on the subject indicates something important, especially when most people don’t want to think or do much about it—at least until death becomes urgent or imminent.

So here’s the question: If we don’t think about it, how can we try to understand death or prepare for it?  How do you prepare for something you don’t want to think about, and don’t really comprehend even when you do think about it? If no one wants to discuss death—which, after all, represents the one inescapable fact of all human life—then how can we face it?

Sooner or later, we all face the stark reality that we are going to die. Our inevitable death—whether anticipated, accidental, comfortable or painful—will be the end of life as we have known it.

Only religion can prepare us for what to expect after we die. It doesn’t tell us exactly what the other side of the threshold will look like, but all of the world’s great Faiths tell us a threshold does exist, and that crossing it will bring us to another side to life—that our souls are immortal, and will continue to exist after the physical demise of our bodies. The Baha’i Faith promises that the soul is immortal and death is nothing to 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: We observe that this bird, unencumbered by its cage, soars freely… Therefore, should the cage be broken, the bird would not only continue to exist but its senses would be heightened, its perception would be expanded, and its joy would grow more intense. – Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, newly revised edition, p. 262.

When death occurs, the Baha’i teachings assure us, the body returns to the world of dust, but our souls remain immortal and we continue to progress:

The spirit is changeless, indestructible. The progress and development of the soul, the joy and sorrow of the soul, are independent of the physical body. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 20.

Death, then, is nothing more than an illusion. Compare it, metaphorically, to boiling water or to evaporation: water turns to steam and seems to disappear into thin air—yet the water still exists as vapor. That we cannot see it, that it has changed its form, does not mean it has died or is gone forever, into oblivion:

Through his ignorance man fears death, but the death he shrinks from is imaginary and absolutely unreal; it is only human imagination. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 88.

Baha’u’llah, the prophet and founder of the Baha’i Faith, wrote:

… concerning thy question regarding the soul of man and its survival after death. Know thou of a truth that the soul, after its separation from the body, will continue to progress until it attaineth the presence of God. – Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 155.

This spiritual message can provide much assurance and inspiration. Not only is death nothing to fear, the Baha’i teachings tell us, it truly is something to look forward to and prepare for:

O Son of Man! Thou art My dominion and My dominion perisheth not; wherefore fearest thou thy perishing? Thou art My light and My light shall never be extinguished; why dost thou dread extinction? Thou art My glory and My glory fadeth not; thou art My robe and My robe shall never be outworn. Abide then in thy love for Me, that thou mayest find Me in the realm of glory.  – Baha’u’llah, The Hidden Words, p. 7.

9 Comments

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  • Tom Autore
    2 days ago
    Thank you you are a bright and spiritual man and my beliefs run along the same lines I will always read your articulate posts
  • Tammera Hewitt
    Jun 09, 2019
    If you want to learn what happens in after death, read the Bible it’s the only true source. There will be a second coming of Jesus Christ. Read Revelations in will describe everything that’s going to happen.
    • Francine Petersen
      Jun 10, 2019
      Amen
  • Starr Elizabeth
    Jun 02, 2019
    That was absolutely amazing,I love it!!
  • Rosslyn and Steven Osborne
    Jun 01, 2019
    Excellent well written essay Alan. Thank you.
    • Alan Dworak
      Jun 01, 2019
      You make me blush...Thanks Rosslyn and Steve
  • Alan Dworak
    May 26, 2019
    The writings are the source of hope and certitude for me as well. Cheers!
  • Maz Jasbi
    May 25, 2019
    Wonderful post ! As a a 4th generation Bahá’í my only hope has been the writings of these divine manifestations. God bless you and god help us all
    • Rita Smith
      May 29, 2019
      Very interesting