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Spirituality

The Survival of the Soul After Death

Alan Dworak | Updated Feb 23, 2021

PART 2 IN SERIES What Happens To Us After We Die?

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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Alan Dworak | Feb 23, 2021

PART 2 IN SERIES What Happens To Us After We Die?

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

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?  

RELATED: What Comes After Life? There is More to Us Than We Can Ever Know

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.

RELATED: The Hidden Nature of Life After Death

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. Abdu’l-Baha, the authorized interpreter of the Baha’i writings and the son of Baha’u’llah, the prophet and founder of the Baha’i Faith, said:

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.

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. Abdu’l-Baha said:

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.

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. Abdu’l-Baha said:

Through his ignorance man fears death, but the death he shrinks from is imaginary and absolutely unreal; it is only human imagination.

And Baha’u’llah 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.

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. As Baha’u’llah wrote:

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.

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Comments

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  • Rachel Roberson
    Jul 21, 2020
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    Great posts! I am actually getting ready to across this information, is very helpful my friend. super smash flash 2
  • Camilla Chance
    Jul 20, 2020
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    Jack and Renee, it is so late that if I look quotes up there is a huge danger that you won't see my attempts to answer at all. And I'm trying to contribute what may be helpful. Renee, there is definitely a Baha'i quote that says we will recognize each other after death and recount to each other what we endured on earth in the path of God. And Jack, I've always assumed that the soul is the spirit with certain trappings from life on earth attached, and eventually, in the hereafter, these fall away. But ...I can't back this up with quotes.
    Read more...
    • jack Price
      Jul 21, 2020
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      Please believe me if people I know here knows me there and they remember them counters I had with them they would want to kill me. God couldn't find anything good in me if he looked for it I know it and so does he
    • jack Price
      Jul 21, 2020
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      I was not looking for a quote I was looking for an answer everybody I talk to and though Baha, I religious beliefs they don't know what happens after death so how can you tell people what happened
  • jack Price
    Jul 19, 2020
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    I am asking before now ask it again in these rooms you keep talking about the soul what is the soul you are made up of a body a soul and a spirit if the soul is you then what is the spirit if the spirit is you then what is the soul so far no one has been able to answer me
  • Jamie Jones
    Apr 8, 2020
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    Man when you die you just dead!! Ain’t another life. There’s nothing after this!! You just go back to darkness!! Don’t look for anything after this people. It’s just the end of your chapter!
    • Jul 18, 2020
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      Dear Jamie, that is such a lonely response which does not look for any reason for living. That is not it brother. There is no reason as the Bahai scriptures tell us that the Messengers of God had suffer all that they suffered in the hands of humanity of there was no other existence elsewhere. I hope that you may find illumination through the acceptance of all the Messengers of God to accept all the suffering and torture they were put through. Keep interrogating this point and i am sure the answer will soon become revealed to your good self. ...You deserve to know the truth!!
      Read more...
  • Nass Daoud
    Feb 18, 2020
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    Life is like a lite switch on alive off at death nothing more nothing less .
  • David Perez
    Dec 13, 2019
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    The one and only has the answer to these questions it is therefore utmost to believe with all your heart mind and body that certain changes will occur again the one and only will have the answer we are all looking to find. Have I made any sense here? God bless you and keep you and yours as best as possible.
  • Johnny Espinoza
    Dec 1, 2019
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    Death is similar to sleep. We have dreams that we can't explain in some dreams we are rich in some dreams we are flying in some dreams we are fearing but like all dreams we cannot bring them or the context back with us. When we die life as we know becomes the dream. We can't take anything with us. So I believe we awaken into another life.
  • Amy Lynn Karbowski
    Oct 30, 2019
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    This is a great article, I do believe in most cases, it’s not the fear of death itself that over comes is, it’s what we leave behind. Our families and friends, our children and pets. When it comes to death, the last thing most people think about is themselves.
  • John Anthony Zingalie
    Aug 27, 2019
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    Well after you die your family has you taken by a funeral home then thay take you to a grave and have you baried
    • David Smith
      Apr 3, 2020
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      And that's it huh.....End of story..Yeeeah.....Okay
  • Renee Lynn Walsh
    Jul 17, 2019
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    I have always questioned, do we really see our loved ones once again?
    • Alan Dworak
      Jul 20, 2019
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      Hi Renee - Here is a quote from Abdul Baha: "Those who have passed on through death, have a sphere of their own. It is not removed from ours; the work of the Kingdom, is ours; but it is sanctified from we call “time and place.” Time with us is measured by the sun. When there is no more sunrise, and no more sunset, that kind of time does not exist for man. Those who have ascended have different attributes from those who are still on earth, yet there is no real separation….’ – Abdu’l-Baha in London, p. 96. ...
      Read more...
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