Progress of the Soul after Death
"Man--the true man--is soul, not body; though physically man belongs to the animal kingdom, yet his soul lifts him above the rest of creation....[and that] spirit is changeless, indestructible. The progress and development of the soul, the joy and sorrow of the soul, are independent of the physical body....if the body undergoes a change, the spirit need not be touched. When you break a glass on which the sun shines, the glass is broken, but the sun still shines! If a cage containing a bird is destroyed, the bird is unharmed! If a lamp is broken, the flame can still burn bright!The Bahá'í Faith teaches that the purpose of life in this fleeting physical world is to develop those spiritual qualities the soul will need for eternity. The world is our school! But growth and development are not limited to this physical plane, after which we receive our just reward or punishment. "Divine perfection is infinite, therefore the progress of the soul is also infinite. From the very birth of a human being the soul progresses, the intellect grows and knowledge increases. When the body dies the soul lives on. All the differing degrees of created physical beings are limited, but the soul is limitless! - 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 89
The same thing applies to the spirit of man. Though death destroy his body, it has no power over his spirit--this is eternal, everlasting, both birthless and deathless....From the moment the soul leaves the body and arrives in the Heavenly World, its evolution is spiritual, and that evolution is: The approaching unto God....The soul does not evolve from degree to degree as a law--it only evolves nearer to God, by the Mercy and Bounty of God." - 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks, pp. 85 & 65
Among the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh, the Prophet/Founder of the Bahá'í Faith, is that free will exists only in this plane. In this part of eternal life, we can be 'good' because we choose to rather than because we are compelled to do the right thing. After death, the soul lives on for eternity, but, "The progress of man's spirit in the divine world, after the severance of its connection with the body of dust, is through the bounty and grace of the Lord alone, or through the intercession and the sincere prayers of other human souls, or through the charities and important good works which are performed in its name." - 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 239
The precise details of the next life, however, have never been specifically revealed, possibly because we need to pay attention to our job in this life. However, Bahá'u'lláh explained it this way:
"And now 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, in a state and condition which neither the revolution of ages and centuries, nor the changes and chances of this world, can alter. It will endure as long as the Kingdom of God, His sovereignty, His dominion and power will endure. It will manifest the signs of God and His attributes, and will reveal His loving kindness and bounty...The nature of the soul after death can never be described, nor is it meet and permissible to reveal its whole character to the eyes of men...The world beyond is as different from this world as this world is different from that of the child while still in the womb of its mother. When the soul attaineth the Presence of God, it will assume the form that best befitteth its immortality and is worthy of its celestial habitation." - Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 155-6And, of course, "It is clear and evident that all men shall, after their physical death, estimate the worth of their deeds, and realize all that their hands have wrought.... - Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 170
To me, knowing what I should have done, but didn't, would constitute Hell--but that is only my own interpretation.
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