Compiled by Marlene Macke, St Marys, ON, Canada
Is there a heaven?
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. – Genesis 1:1
Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. – 1 Corinthians 2:9
One can understand the Supreme Personality as He is only by devotional service. And when one is in full consciousness of the Supreme Lord by such devotion, he can enter into the kingdom of God. Though engaged in all kinds of activities, My devotee, under My protection, reaches the eternal and imperishable abode by My grace. – Bhagavad-Gita, 18:55-6
As to Paradise: It is a reality and there can be no doubt about it, and now in this world it is realized through love of Me and My good-pleasure. Whosoever attaineth unto it God will aid him in this world below, and after death. He will enable him to gain admittance into Paradise whose vastness is as that of heaven and earth. – Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 189
My servants! Sorrow not if, in these days and on this earthly plane, things contrary to your wishes have been ordained and manifested by God, for days of blissful joy, of heavenly delight, are assuredly in store for you. Worlds, holy and spiritually glorious, will be unveiled to your eyes. You are destined by Him, in this world and hereafter, to partake of their benefits, to share in their joys, and to obtain a portion of their sustaining grace. To each and every one of them, you will no doubt attain. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 329
Soon ye return to us: and we will let you know what ye have done! … For unto God shall be the final gathering. – Qur’an 10:24, 35:19
Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards. … In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. – John 13:36 and 14:2
Is there a hell?
Whoso hath failed to recognize Him [God] will have condemned himself to the misery of remoteness, a remoteness which is naught but utter nothingness and the essence of the nethermost fire. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 70
Bahá’u’lláh and `Abdu’l‑Bahá regard the descriptions of Heaven and Hell given in some of the older religious writings as symbolic…. and not as literally true. According to Them, Heaven is the state of perfection, and Hell that of imperfection; Heaven is harmony with God’s will and with our fellows, and Hell is the want of such harmony; Heaven is the condition of spiritual life, and Hell that of spiritual death. A man may be either in Heaven or in Hell while still in the body. The joys of Heaven are spiritual joys; and the pains of Hell consist in the deprivation of these joys. – John Esslemont, Baha’u’llah and the New Era, pp. 190-91
How do we prepare for life in the next realm?
The mind and spirit of man [in this world] advance when he is tried by suffering. The more the ground is ploughed the better the seed will grow, the better the harvest will be. Just as the plough furrows the earth deeply, purifying it of weeds and thistles, so suffering and tribulation free man from the petty affairs of this worldly life until he arrives at a state of complete detachment. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 178
What is he in need of in the Kingdom which transcends the life and limitation of this mortal sphere? That world beyond is a world of sanctity and radiance; therefore, it is necessary that in this world he should acquire these divine attributes. In that world there is need of spirituality, faith, assurance, the knowledge and love of God. These he must attain in this world so that after his ascension from the earthly to the heavenly Kingdom he shall all that is needful in that eternal life ready for him. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 226
By what means can man acquire these things? How shall he obtain these merciful gifts and powers? First, through the knowledge of God. Second, through the love of God. Third, through faith. Fourth, through philanthropic deeds. Fifth, through self-sacrifice. Sixth, through severance from this world. Seventh, through sanctity and holiness. Unless he acquires these forces and attains to these requirements, he will surely be deprived of the life that is eternal. But if he possesses the knowledge of God … he shall surely … enjoy everlasting existence. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 226
If the human spirit will rejoice and be attracted to the Kingdom of God, if the inner sight becomes opened, and the spiritual hearing strengthened, and the spiritual feelings predominant, he will see the immortality of the spirit as clearly as he sees the sun, and the glad tidings and signs of God will encompass him. – Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 262
Does a soul progress in heaven?
Divine perfection is infinite, therefore the progress of the soul is also infinite. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 89
As the spirit of man after putting off this material form has an everlasting life, certainly any existing being is capable of making progress; therefore, it is permitted to ask for advancement, forgiveness, mercy, beneficence and blessings for a man after his death because existence is capable of progression. That is why in the prayers of Baha’u’llah forgiveness and remission of sins are asked for those who have died. – Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 231
We can, through our prayers, help every soul to gradually attain this high station…. The progress of the soul does not come to an end with death. It rather starts along a new line. Baha’u’llah teaches that great and far-reaching possibilities await the soul in the other world. Spiritual progress in that realm is infinite, and no man, while on this earth, can visualize its full power and extent. Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 205
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-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 278
The Master has told us that gifts and good deeds done in memory of those who have passed on, are most helpful to the development of their souls in the realms beyond… – Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 204
Will we join loved ones in heaven?
That beloved child addresseth thee from the hidden world: ‘O thou kind Mother, thank divine Providence that I have been freed from a small and gloomy cage and, like the birds of the meadows, have soared to the divine world – a world which is spacious, illumined, and ever gay and jubilant. Therefore, lament not, O Mother, and be not grieved; I am not of the lost, nor have I been obliterated and destroyed. I have shaken off the mortal form and have raised my banner in this spiritual world. Following this separation is everlasting companionship. Thou shalt find me in the heaven of the Lord, immersed in an ocean of light.’ – Abdu’l-Baha, Selected Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 201
… Likewise will they find all the friends of God, both those of the former and recent times, present in the heavenly assemblage. – Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith, p. 367
And know thou for a certainty that in the divine worlds the spiritual beloved ones will recognize one another, and will seek union with each other, but a spiritual union. Likewise a love that one may have entertained for anyone will not be forgotten in the world of the Kingdom, nor wilt thou forget there the life that thou hadst in the material world. – Abdu’l-Baha, cited in Baha’u’llah and the New Era, p. 190
… the possibility of securing union with his beloved in the next world is one which the Baha’i Teachings are quite clear about. According to Baha’u’llah the soul retains its individuality and consciousness after death, and is able to commune with other souls. – Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 207
… In time all of us will join our departed ones and share their joys. – Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 207
How should one regard death?
How does one look forward to the goal of any journey? With hope and expectation. It is even so with the end of this earthly journey. In the next world, man will find himself freed from many of the disabilities under which he now suffers. Those who have passed on through death have a sphere of their own. … it is sanctified from what we call time and place. – Abdu’l-Baha, Abdu’l-Baha in London, p. 95
Death proffereth unto every confident believer the cup that is life indeed. It bestoweth joy, and is the bearer of gladness. It conferreth the gift of everlasting life. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p 346
O Son of Spirit! With the joyful tidings of light I hail thee: rejoice! To the court of holiness I summon thee: abide therein that thou mayest live in peace for evermore. – Baha’u’llah, Arabic Hidden Words, #33
Son of Man! Ascend unto My heaven, that thou mayest obtain the joy of reunion, and from the chalice of imperishable glory quaff the peerless wine. – Baha’u’llah, Arabic Hidden Words, #61
O Son of Love! Thou art but one step away from the glorious heights above and from the celestial tree of love. Take thou one pace and with the next advance into the immortal realm and enter the pavilion of eternity…. – Baha’u’llah, The Hidden Words, Persian, #7
Recommended Reading for additional information on the theme of Life after Death:
The Bible, especially Books of Matthew, John, 1 Kings
Some Answered Questions, Abdu’l-Baha
Paris Talks, Abdu’l-Baha
Unto Him Shall We Return, Compiled by Hushidar Motlagh
The Chalice of Immortality, Compiled by Hushidar Motlagh
Life Death and Immortality: The Journey of the Soul, Compiled by Terrill G. Hayes et al
Life After Death (A comparison of the Near-death Experience and the Teachings of the Baha’i Faith on Life after Death), Alan Bryson
Contemplating Life’s Greatest Questions: Selections from the Writings of Baha’u’llah with Commentary, Edited by M. Rahani
Life after Death, a Compilation from the Baha’i Writings, Barbara Mason
Life After Death, Florence Pinchon