Tag Archives nature of the soul

The Final Accompaniment: Learning to Support a Loved One Through the End of their Earthly Life

It is 6am on another sunny August morning in northern California (USA). I am standing beside my mother looking out through the kitchen window at a hummingbird feeding on the sun-warmed nectar in the throats of the crimson trumpet-shaped hibiscus blossoms on the bush outside. Mom has always loved hummingbirds. Perhaps it is the miracle of these tiny, brightly coloured and graceful beings, who, despite having a heart the size of a fingernail, can fly hundreds of kilometres without pausing to rest that mesmerizes her. Hummingbirds can feed on more than a thousand flowers in a single day. Perhaps because of the intensity with which they live, hummingbirds’ lives are incredibly brief. Like the hummingbird, my mother has always given everything of herself that she could possibly give to life. She has always been strong and resilient. She is a rock for my entire family. However in this delicate moment of reflection, my giant-hearted mother is dying. Unbeknownst to us, in this moment, she has less than a month to live, and so much more that she wants to do in this world that it breaks my heart.

The Baha’i Writings speak a lot about accompaniment. In its 2010 Ridvan Message, the Universal House of Justice said that we need to stand shoulder to shoulder with each other, supporting each other through our struggles and partaking in each other’s joys. We dedicate a great deal of energy learning how to accompany each other during our earthly lives. But as my mother approached the day when her soul would end its association with her physical body, I realized that I knew very little about how to best accompany her as she moved towards the end of her life.  Continue reading

A New Perspective on Transitions: What Birth Teaches Us About Dying

When I was a child my parents taught me that Baha’is believe that there are innumerable worlds of God; that we are spiritual beings having a physical experience, and that spiritual existence extends beyond the womb, this world and the next, so our souls will continue to develop long after our bodies have returned to dust. Death, within this conception of reality, is seen as a messenger of joy because once released from the physical afflictions of the body, the soul just enters a new chapter in its’ journey towards its’ Beloved, God. Continue reading

The Symptoms of the Soul

The body is great at telling us when something isn’t functioning. Aches, pains, rashes, lumps… all of these tell us that something is wrong with the body and we need to find out what it is. The symptoms are signs leading to a deeper underlying problem. But we don’t just have a body; we also have a soul. In fact, we are souls living with a body. So, if there are signs in the body of good and bad health, are there similar signs in the soul?

The perplexing thing about the soul is that it is so elusive and mysterious. We cannot see or touch it. Baha’u’llah says of the soul:

Verily I say, the human soul is exalted above all egress and regress. It is still, and yet it soareth; it moveth, and yet it is still. ((Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p.161))

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The Game of Life

We all look both ways before crossing the road. We try to save, instead of wasting our money. When someone we love dies, we mourn. Life is very real. We don’t treat it like a game at all. One false move and it’s all over. But should we take life this seriously?

According to Abdu’l-Baha,

this present life is even as a swelling wave, or a mirage, or drifting shadows.

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