Will there more opportunities for evil people after this life?

Dec 2012
Greetings Camachoe,

This is an interesting question because we have been informed that comprehension of the soul is beyond our understanding. So naturally it can be rather difficult to approach this topic. The best we can do is offer conjecture. However as this topic is so relevant to some people, I have come to understand that we have a duty of care to at least offer something plausible on this matter, otherwise there can be no point in promoting a Bahá'í way of life.

While the Bahá'í Faith accepts the principle of equality, 'Abdu'l-Bahá explained that humans are more or less equal to one another. In other words we are only equal with one another in relationship to the human condition when compared with any other species in lower kingdoms like minerals, plants and animals for instance. So our equality is actually variable by degrees. This is why no two humans are ever the same. It is from this concept we can understand why humans have different capacities from one another. However it is not our capacity that defines us, rather how well we reach our capacity. So for instance if we place a 1 gallon container next to a 100 gallon container, we can say that the 100 gallon container has more capacity than the 1 gallon container, but if the 100 gallon container is only half full and the 1 gallon container is full, then the 1 gallon container can be said to have reached its full capacity and thus has achieved its purpose for what it was created for. Likewise, in human terms, our capacity is quite meaningless without the application of the will to achieve our full measure. As we do not know anyone's capacity we are unable to judge anyone's accomplishments relative to their capacity. This is why it is better to simply foster a positive environment that encourages personal growth for all. It is not a question of being right or wrong, because these are really crude concepts, rather it is more important to allow people to embrace personal growth, because it is through such growth we learn to view things in less confrontational ways.

The Guardian once explained to some of the Knights of Bahá'u'lláh that a Bahá'í was considered equal to ten-thousand non-believers. While this might appear an astounding comparison we need to temper this with the consequences of not reaching our capacity. 'Abdu'l-Bahá explained that hell was the realisation of a lost opportunity. So if we combine these two concepts together it could be argued that it is actually more terrifying to be a Bahá'í who has done nothing to promote spiritual values in this world as opposed to being a non-believer who has. It is simple a matter a perspective, nothing more than this because all life inevitably comes to an end in a transient world.

With regards to the next world, as Pete has pointed out, we are informed that all human souls progress towards a plain of existence that Bahá'ís know of as the 'Abhá Kingdom. It is an extension of our material world, rather like our world is an extension of the womb. Like a fetus can sense the world outside of the womb, we can sense the next world too, even if we cannot directly observe it. In the same way the placenta functions to materially create a human from an attached fertilised egg to exist in our world, our body function as a home to house our mind that helps us to spiritually develop our soul for the next world. We are informed that a soul comes into being at the point of conception, so it is the only core component of our very being that traverses through embryonic development, human experience and into the next world with us.

While the Bahá'í Writings offer very little about the next world, it has been explained to us that it is more difficult to progress without having achieved the spiritual qualities we need to develop within this life. So as a child embryo develops within the womb of its mother to be born into our world, we develop within this world to be born into the next world too. This progress however is based upon the extent to which we reach our capacity. So we have now come full circle.

On a point of interest, the Guardian explained in a letter to one individual that there is no need to directly teach the Bahá'í Faith to those that are brain damaged because such individuals are already under God's protection. As I was arguably in such a position myself once, I can personally relate to this, but rather than viewing it as a spiritual exemption, which is common with those that read about this, it is a spiritual intensity that can be extremely difficult to articulate to others because it is like reverting back to fetal perception, so one views the world rather like being back in the womb once again. There is one late Bahá'í that like me obtained a short glimpse into this unique world even though this element of his story is rarely spoken about. He sustained a fatal injury during the Great War, was considered dead by the medics and his body was laid out to rest with the rows of dead. Later his body started to resuscitate, his injuries began to bleed once again and a vigilant medic noticed this and had him removed to be hospitalised. His name was Richard St. Barbe Baker, affectionately known as St. Barbe and he was later given the title Man of the Trees by a U.S. President. Despite his families horticultural heritage with trees, it was this spiritual experience that compelled him to work towards raising people's spiritual awareness on the importance of trees. To a developing embryo within the womb they view the placenta branching out like being under a tree and to all intensive purposes it is like being under the shelter of a Manifestation of God. This is why standing under a tree and looking up towards the sky can naturally remind us of our prenatal experience. In the same way brain damaged people are placed under the protection of God in our world, I have come to believe that the same is likely to transpire to spiritually damaged people within the next world too. This is how I have come to personally rationalise the consequences of being an evil doer in this world. Namely I believe they will be placed under the protection of God and be locked within the perception of living within our world until they are ready to progress. But of course I could be completely wrong because just like everyone else I can only be guided by my own experience.

Think about your own unique experiences and be assured that you will develop a perception about this matter too. It does not matter whether you are right or wrong, but at least you will have something to share with those that have deep concerns about this matter and it might help to comfort them so they can move forward in life. Some people are simply paralysed with the notion of injustice in this world and this can even be inherited through the way their ancestors were treated. In relationship to Native Americans this is now a recognised medical condition and it can be experienced in any group of people that have been openly persecuted. Indeed it can also apply to the descendants of Iranian Bahá'ís too. It can promote intense depression and is an illness in its own right. Ultimately we need to view teaching and healing as being one and the same. As experiencing injustice can harm people's mental state, it is important to understand how justice can be applied to those that have departed from this world without facing redress.

I will leave you with an interesting Ted presentation by Annie Murphy Paul on how a fetus develops based on its experiences within the womb because it also quite illuminating on how we might be developing for life in the next world too https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=stngBN4hp14

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Jul 2014
......Now let us consider the soul. We have seen that movement is essential to existence; nothing that has life is without motion. All creation, whether of the mineral, vegetable or animal kingdom, is compelled to obey the law of motion, it must either ascend or descend. But with the human soul, there is no decline. Its only movement is towards perfection; growth and progress alone constitute the motion of the soul........

........In the world of spirit there is no retrogression. The world of mortality is a world of contradictions, of opposites; motion being compulsory everything must either go forward or retreat. In the realm of spirit there is no retreat possible, all movement is bound to be towards a perfect state. "Progress" is the expression of spirit in the world of matter. The intelligence of man, his reasoning powers, his knowledge, his scientific achievements, all these being manifestations of the spirit, partake of the inevitable law of spiritual progress and are, therefore, of necessity, immortal.......

Abdu'l-Baha', Paris Talks: Addresses Given by Abdu'l-Baha' in Paris in 1911, 1969.

Happily, the progress of the soul in the Kingdom, is forward towards perfection.

Loving regards,
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Apr 2017
Greetings Camachoe,

This is how I have come to personally rationalise the consequences of being an evil doer in this world. Namely I believe they will be placed under the protection of God and be locked within the perception of living within our world until they are ready to progress. But of course I could be completely wrong because just like everyone else I can only be guided by my own experience.
Thank you very much for your opinion on this matter, Earth.
You presented it with humility, warmth and intelligence and for sure it has helped me.

I share your view on the ultimate progress of every human soul, even if it happens at different rates and different ways, according to their readiness.
The concept of "readiness" is very interesting and speaks loudly about a Merciful, All Knowing, Loving God.

Ultimately, we should do what is good and avoid of what is evil not because we pursue a prize or fear a punishment, but because we care about our own development and well being.

In the past, when mankind was at its infancy, prophets used to use metaphors of heaven and hell, prizes and punishments, in the same way we teach little children about the rationale for being good.

As mankind grows into adolescence and adulthood, we understand the rationale for being good in terms of natural consequences... what is good for us in the long (very long) term.
Sep 2017
Yeah I guess its a good question, why progress here if we all will eventually progress? I guess because its the best thing for us to do? whats everyone's thoughts?
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Jul 2017
Kettering, Ohio USA
We don't know what the condition of anyone will be in the next world, but some will be suffering. It could be that they will be suffering for a long time. If we are good we will start at a much better place.