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We do not need a near-death-experience in order to catch a glimpse of the world to come. In His talk “The Evolution of Matter and Development of the Soul” on the 3rd of November 1911 ‘Abdu’l-Bahá speaks about how our experience of the difference between body, soul and spirit on this earthly plane gives us a foretaste of the next world. He states:
“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.”
This independence is a characteristic of the soul only:
“If we are caused joy or pain by a friend, if a love prove true or false, it is the soul that is affected. If our dear ones are far from us – it is the soul that grieves, and the grief or trouble of the soul may react on the body.”
While it might be relatively easy to understand and accept this difference in our minds, living this truth is another matter. The reason for this is that, in our current society, we perceive the physical body to be the essence of who we are, the seat or carrier of meaning.
Think of the moments when we or our dear ones get sick or age … or we witness people on the other side of the world being affected by natural disasters. How would we look at the world, ourselves and each other, and live a truly happy life by taking the principles ‘Abdu’l-Bahá explains here to heart? The main question to tackle seems to be: What is that true essence inside, my soul, which is beyond physical suffering and, ultimately, physical death? What is that part of me that will move on to the other world where, as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá explains, “it remains in the degree of purity to which it has evolved during life in the physical body” and where it will continually evolve toward God?
Answering this question is hard work – hard work that pays off however, beyond our expectations and the boundaries of our imagination, beyond our initial input as we always receive assistance, unexpected or asked for. Experiences in which we receive or give “truth, constancy, fidelity, and love” already indicate that our time on earth is more authentic and happy by looking from this other side of the kaleidoscope of life.