Bahai News - Baha'is see earthly life as a test run
Baha'is see earthly life as a test run
Thursday, April 20, 2000
By STEPHEN KARNIK
The writings of the Baha'i faith offer a wealth of insight and information
about the reality that awaits each of us after death. Baha'is believe in
the existence of a separate, rational soul for every human being. The soul
does not die when the body does; it endures everlastingly.
Entry into the next life has the potential to bring great joy. Just as the
womb constitutes an important place for a person's initial physical
development, the physical world provides the matrix for the development of
the individual soul.
Accordingly, Baha'is view life as a sort of workshop where we can develop
and perfect those qualities that will be needed in the next life. The
degree to which we progress in these efforts will establish the foundation
for our continuing progress on our eternal journey.
It is this understanding that shapes how Baha'is deal with their own
mortality as well as the passing of a loved one. While Baha'is view the
transition from one realm of existence into another as a positive one,
filled with hope and expectation, it is still natural to mourn the loss of
a family member or friend.
Baha'i writings offer consolation for those who are grieving, as in this
passage regarding the loss of a child: "The loss of a son is indeed
heartbreaking and beyond the limits of human endurance, yet one who knoweth
and understandeth is assured that the son hath not been lost but, rather,
hath stepped from this world into another, and she will find him in the
divine realm. That reunion shall be for eternity, while in this world
separation is inevitable and bringeth with it a burning grief."
For Baha'is funerals are generally simple, dignified events without a
prescribed ceremony; prayers for the deceased are offered. This is the
only occasion where Baha'is engage in congregational prayer.
Baha'is express their respect for the individual by carefully preparing the
body for burial through a process of ablutions and wrapping of the deceased
in fine cloth. A burial ring is placed upon the finger of the deceased as a
symbolic gesture, with an inscription testifying to their belief and trust
in God. Baha'i laws also require an individual to be buried no more than an
hour's travel from where they passed away.
Stephen Karnik is chief administrative officer of the Baha'i
International Community, a non-government organization that works with the
©Copyright 2000, Bergen Record Corp.
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