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Hidden Words:
Training Course on

by Dianne Bradford

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Chapter 3

DEATH AND ETERNAL LIFE

Death is not something we need to fear. It is only the body that dies. The soul is immortal and cannot be annhilated as Bahá'u'lláh reassures us in Arabic Hidden Word #14:

"O SON OF MAN! Thou art My dominion and My dominion perisheth not; wherefore fearest thou thy perishing? Thou art My light and My light shall never be extinguished; why dost thou dread extinction? Thou art My glory and My glory fadeth not; thou art My robe and My robe shall never be outworn. Abide then in thy love for Me, that thou mayest find Me in the realm of glory."

It is good to know that we need not fear "perishing" or "extinction" and that we can find Him "in the realm of glory." Indeed, in the next Hidden Word, # 32 from the Arabic, Bahá'u'lláh describes death as a "messenger of joy":

"O SON OF THE SUPREME! I have made death a messenger of joy to thee. Wherefore dost thou grieve? I made the light to shed on thee its splendor. Why dost thou veil thyself therefrom?"

In the following five Hidden Words, Bahá'u'lláh goes on to tell us that we should "rejoice" and to expect "the joyful tidings of reunion" and instructs us as to the only proper reason to "sorrow" and "rejoice" as well as one of the benefits of rejoicing. He also points out that to attain to "everlasting life" we must "forsake this mortal and fleeting sovereignty."

"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." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A33.]

"O SON OF SPIRIT! The spirit of holiness beareth unto thee the joyful tidings of reunion; wherefore dost thou grieve? The spirit of power confirmeth thee in His cause; why dost thou veil thyself? The light of His countenance doth lead thee; how canst thou go astray?" [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A34.]

"O SON OF MAN! Sorrow not save that thou art far from Us. Rejoice not save that thou art drawing near and returning unto Us." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A35.]

"O SON OF MAN! Rejoice in the gladness of thine heart, that thou mayest be worthy to meet Me and to mirror forth My beauty." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A36.]

"O SON OF BEING! If thine heart be set upon this eternal, imperishable dominion, and this ancient, everlasting life, forsake this mortal and fleeting sovereignty." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A54.]

In the next Hidden Word, # 63 from the Arabic, Bahá'u'lláh tells us how to avoid the true "death" as well as "weariness" and "trouble" and to "be fit for everlasting life.," which is surely a worthwhile goal to pursue.

"O SON OF MAN! The light hath shone on thee from the horizon of the sacred Mount and the spirit of enlightenment hath breathed in the Sinai of thy heart. Wherefore, free thyself from the veils of idle fancies and enter into My court, that thou mayest be fit for everlasting life and worthy to meet Me. Thus may death not come upon thee, neither weariness nor trouble."

In Persian Hidden Word # 7 which follows, Bahá'u'lláh tells us how close we are to "the immortal realm" and "the pavilion of eternity."

"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. Give ear then to that which hath been revealed by the pen of glory."

God wants to attain "the eternal" and tells us that "Paradise" and our "heavenly home" is what He has "destined" for us, as well has giving us a definition of just what "Paradise" and our "heavenly home" are, as is shown in the next two Hidden Words. So let's not "seek that which perisheth."

"O SON OF THE SUPREME! To the eternal I call thee, yet thou dost seek that which perisheth. What hath made thee turn away from Our desire and seek thine own?" [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A23.]

"O SON OF BEING! Thy Paradise is My love; thy heavenly home, reunion with Me. Enter therein and tarry not. This is that which hath been destined for thee in Our kingdom above and Our exalted dominion." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A6.]

And now a few more Words about eternity and how it relates to us, as well as some things we can do to help ourselves achieve that eternity, to, for instance, "become an eternal light and an immortal spirit" and "be to all eternity the revelation of" His "everlasting being."

"O SON OF MAN! My eternity is My creation, I have created it for thee. Make it the garment of thy temple. My unity is My handiwork; I have wrought it for thee; clothe thyself therewith, that thou mayest be to all eternity the revelation of My everlasting being." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A64.]

"O SON OF WORLDLINESS! Pleasant is the realm of being, wert thou to attain thereto; glorious is the domain of eternity, shouldst thou pass beyond the world of mortality; sweet is the holy ecstasy if thou drinkest of the mystic chalice from the hands of the celestial Youth. Shouldst thou attain this station, thou wouldst be freed from destruction and death, from toil and sin." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P70.]

"O COMPANION OF MY THRONE! Hear no evil, and see no evil, abase not thyself, neither sigh and weep. Speak no evil, that thou mayest not hear it spoken unto thee, and magnify not the faults of others that thine own faults may not appear great; and wish not the abasement of anyone, that thine own abasement be not exposed. Live then the days of thy life, that are less than a fleeting moment, with thy mind stainless, thy heart unsullied, thy thoughts pure, and thy nature sanctified, so that, free and content, thou mayest put away this mortal frame, and repair unto the mystic paradise and abide in the eternal kingdom for evermore." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P44.]

"O SON OF MAN! Magnify My cause that I may reveal unto thee the mysteries of My greatness and shine upon thee with the light of eternity." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A41.]

"O SON OF MAN! My calamity is My providence, outwardly it is fire and vengeance, but inwardly it is light and mercy. Hasten thereunto that thou mayest become an eternal light and an immortal spirit. This is My command unto thee, do thou observe it." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A51.]

And where do we look for this?

"O SON OF MY HANDMAID! Wouldst thou seek the grace of the Holy Spirit, enter into fellowship with the righteous, for he hath drunk the cup of eternal life at the hands of the immortal Cup-bearer and even as the true morn doth quicken and illumine the hearts of the dead." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P58.]

"O YE DWELLERS IN THE HIGHEST PARADISE! Proclaim unto the children of assurance that within the realms of holiness, nigh unto the celestial paradise, a new garden hath appeared, round which circle the denizens of the realm on high and the immortal dwellers of the exalted paradise. Strive, then, that ye may attain that station, that ye may unravel the mysteries of love from its wind-flowers and learn the secret of divine and consummate wisdom from its eternal fruits. Solaced are the eyes of them that enter and abide therein!" [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A18.]

Death is not to be feared but we do need to prepare ourselves for it, as Bahá'u'lláh warns us in the next three Hidden Words:

"O SON OF BEING! Bring thyself to account each day ere thou art summoned to a reckoning; for death, unheralded, shall come upon thee and thou shalt be called to give account for thy deeds." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A31.]

"O OFFSPRING OF DUST! Be not content with the ease of a passing day, and deprive not thyself of everlasting rest. Barter not the garden of eternal delight for the dust-heap of a mortal world. Up from thy prison ascend unto the glorious meads above, and from thy mortal cage wing thy flight unto the paradise of the Placeless." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P39.]

"O SON OF MAN! Divest not thyself of My beauteous robe, and forfeit not thy portion from My wondrous fountain, lest thou shouldst thirst for evermore." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A37.]

Suggested Topics For Discussion:

-- Discuss the importance and significance of the immortality of the spirit and the mortality of the body
-- Discuss what things we need to learn in this world to prepare for the next (i.e. how to love, detachment, etc.)
-- Discuss ways we can help ourselves learn these things (i.e. observing the Fast with a spiritual attitude, as well as all of God's laws)

Suggested Prayer:
    O my God! O Thou forgiver of sins, bestower of gifts, dispeller of afflictions!
    Verily, I beseech Thee to forgive the sins of such as have abandoned the physical garment and have ascended to the spiritual world.
    O my Lord! Purify them from trespasses, dispel their sorrows, and change their darkness into light. Cause them to enter the garden of happiness, cleanse them with the most pure water, and grant them to behold Thy splendors on the loftiest mount. --'Abdu'l-Bahá ['Abdu'l-Bahá, Bahá'í Prayers, 1991 ed. pp., 45-46..]

MARTYRDOM

Everyone will die at some time or another as our bodies are not designed for immortality; only our souls are. And when we die, we will leave behind us this world and our life in it. For many, however, the desire is strong to have their death count as much (or more) as their life.

Just as we desire to serve God and seek His good pleasure by living our lives in service to Him and humanity, and in accord with His commands and His Will as it is revealed to us by His Chosen Ones, so do many wish to serve Him as well with their death by laying down their life in His path. What does Bahá'u'lláh have to say about martyrdom? Quite a lot, as is noted in the following two Hidden Words. He says:

"O SON OF MAN! Ponder and reflect. Is it thy wish to die upon thy bed, or to shed thy life-blood on the dust, a martyr in My path, and so become the manifestation of My command and the revealer of My light in the highest paradise? Judge thou aright, O servant!" [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A46.]

"O SON OF MAN! By My beauty! To tinge thy hair with thy blood is greater in My sight than the creation of the universe and the light of both worlds. Strive then to attain this, O servant!" [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A47.]

He points out that martyrdom is something we must choose, and tells us "Judge thou aright, O servant!" and "Strive then to attain this, O servant!" telling us that this "is greater in My sight than the creation of the universe and the light of both worlds." These are pretty strong words and a great incentive to indeed "shed" our "life-blood on the dust, a martyr in" His "path," but though the choice is always ours to indeed lay down our lives in His path rather than to recant our faith or remain inactive out of fear; still, we must also remember that whether or not we are offered this choice is according to His Will, not ours. Note that in Hidden Word # 45 from the Arabic, presented next, Bahá'u'lláh tells us "Seek a martyr's death in My path." He says "Seek",not that we must actually find one. To truly be "content with My pleasure and thankful for that which I ordain," may mean giving up our lives for Him, but we might also need to find a way to be "content" and "thankful" in being denied this great bounty, as He may have other plans for us. It is all dependent upon His "pleasure" and His Will, not upon ours. Keep in mind, though, that those who have become Bahá'u'lláh's chosen servants in this way taught the Faith fearlessly and boldly and participated in their community's affairs heedless of the possible consequences to their lives and property.

"O SON OF BEING! Seek a martyr's death in My path, content with My pleasure and thankful for that which I ordain, that thou mayest repose with Me beneath the canopy of majesty behind the tabernacle of glory."

Martyrdom is indeed highly praised by Bahá'u'lláh as was noted in the already quoted Hidden Words. In the next Hidden Word, # 71 from the Arabic, He continues this, giving "that crimson ink" as one of the inks with which we may choose to use to "Write all that We have revealed unto thee" and adding that "Sweeter indeed is this to Me than all else, that its light may endure for ever."

"O SON OF MAN! Write all that We have revealed unto thee with the ink of light upon the tablet of thy spirit. Should this not be in thy power, then make thine ink of the essence of thy heart. If this thou canst not do, then write with that crimson ink that hath been shed in My path. Sweeter indeed is this to Me than all else, that its light may endure for ever."

Suggested Topics for Discussion:

-- Discuss the obvious and not-so-obvious advantages of martyrdom
-- Discuss the importance that trust in God has in relation to this topic
-- Discuss the importance of a living martyrdom
-- Discuss how we can "seek a martyr's death in" His "path"

Suggested Prayer: He is God!
    O Lord my God! O Thou Helper of the feeble, Succorer of the poor and Deliverer of the helpless who turn unto Thee.
    With utmost lowliness I raise my suppliant hands to Thy kingdom of beauty and fervently call upon Thee with my inner tongue, saying: O God, my God! Aid me to adore Thee, strengthen my loins to serve Thee; assist me by Thy grace in my servitude to Thee; suffer me to remain steadfast in my obedience to Thee; pour forth upon me the liberal effusions of Thy bounty, let the glances of the eye of Thy loving-kindness be directed towards me, and immerse me in the ocean of Thy forgiveness. Grant that I may be confirmed in my allegiance to Thy Faith, and bestow upon me a fuller measure of certitude and assurance, that I may wholly dispense with the world, may turn my face with entire devotion towards Thy face, be reinforced by the compelling power of proofs and testimonies, and, invested with majesty and power, may pass beyond every region of heaven and earth. Verily Thou art the Merciful, the All-Glorious, the Kind, the Compassionate.
    O Lord! These are the survivors of the martyrs, that company of blessed souls. They have sustained every tribulation and displayed patience in the face of grievous injustice. They have forsaken all comfort and prosperity, have willingly submitted to dire suffering and adversity in the path of Thy love, and are still held captive in the clutches of their enemies who continually torment them with sore torment, and oppress them because they walk steadfastly in Thy straight path. There is no one to help them, no one to befriend them. Apart from the ignoble and the wicked, there is no one to associate and consort with them.
    O Lord! These souls have tasted bitter agony in this earthly life and have, as a sign of their love for the shining beauty of Thy countenance and in their eagerness to attain Thy celestial kingdom, tolerated every gross indignity that the people of tyranny have inflicted upon them.
    O Lord! Fill their ears with the verses of divine assistance and of a speedy victory, and deliver them from the oppression of such as wield terrible might. Withhold the hands of the wicked and leave not these souls to be torn by the claws and teeth of fierce beasts, for they are captivated by their love for Thee, entrusted with the mysteries of Thy holiness, stand humbly at Thy door and have attained to Thine exalted precinct.
    O Lord! Graciously reinforce them with a new spirit; illumine their eyes by enabling them to behold Thy wondrous evidences in the gloom of night; destine for them all good that aboundeth in Thy Kingdom of eternal mysteries; make them as brilliant stars shining over all regions, luxuriant trees laden with fruit and branches moving in the breezes of dawn.
    Verily, Thou art the Bountiful, the Mighty, the Omnipotent, the Unconstrained. There is none other God but Thee, the God of love and tender mercy, the All-Glorious, the Ever-Forgiving. --'Abdu'l-Bahá [ 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Bahá'í Prayers, 1991 ed., pp. 265-267.]

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