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Light after Death:
The Baha'i Faith and the Near-Death Experience

by Alan Bryson

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Chapter 4

The Being of Light

"I have turned my face unto Thee, O my Lord! Illumine it with the light of Thy countenance. Protect it, then, from turning to any one but thee." Bahá'u'lláh
"O Lord, enlighten my sight by beholding Thy lights in this dark night... open before my face the doors of Thy heaven, so that I may see the light of Thy glory..." 'Abdu'l-Bahá

Undoubtedly one of the most striking aspects of the near-death-experience is the encounter with a Being of Light. A person in the presence of the Being of Light is transfigured; he is enveloped by a feeling of profound serenity. The Being of Light is perceived as the personification of pure and universal love. Raymond Moody states, "People with a Christian background often describe Him as God or Jesus. Those with other religious backgrounds may call him Buddha or Allah. But some have said that it's neither God nor Jesus, but someone very holy nonetheless." 1

In the presence of this Being, were thoughts rather than words are exchanged, understanding is total and complete. One's former actions and motives are made transparent; one's soul is exposed and his innermost being is penetrated. Time and space lose all meaning in His presence. One is made to realize that life on earth was lived for a purpose. Lovingly one is made to see the result of one's actions upon others. Together with this Being one evaluates a thoroughly realistic review of one's life, perceived as a three dimensional vision, which takes but an instant. Those who reach this stage are so captivated by the warmth and love which this Being emanates that they lose all desire to return to their former existence.

In 1858 Bahá'u'lláh pitched his tent on the banks of the Tigris River and revealed "The Hidden Words" which he himself referred to as, "... that which hath descended from the realm of glory, uttered by the tongue of power and might, and revealed unto the Prophets of old. We have taken the inner essence thereof and clothed it in the garment of brevity...".

Many a chilled heart has been set aglow by the power and majesty of "The Hidden Words". As you read them, judge for yourself if they weren't sent to us from the "realm of glory".

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?
("The Hidden Words", Bahá'u'lláh, from the Arabic)

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.
("The Hidden Words", Bahá'u'lláh, from the Arabic)

O SON OF MAN!

The light hath shone on thee ...
and the spirit of enlightenment hath breathed ... in 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 for trouble.
("The Hidden Words", Bahá'u'lláh, from the Arabic)

O SON OF MAN!

Thou art My dominion and My dominion perisheth not;
wherefore fearest thou thy perishing?
Thou are 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.
("The Hidden Words", Bahá'u'lláh, from the Arabic)

O HEEDLESS ONES!

Think not the secrets of hearts are hidden,
nay, know ye of a certainty that in clear characters
they are engraved and are openly manifest in the holy Presence.
("The Hidden Words", Bahá'u'lláh, from the Persian)

O SON OF MY HANDMAID!

Didst thou behold immortal sovereignty,
thou wouldst strive to pass from this fleeting world.
But to conceal the one from thee and to reveal the other
is a mystery which none but the pure in heart can comprehend.
("The Hidden Words", Bahá'u'lláh, from the Persian)

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?
("The Hidden Words", Bahá'u'lláh, from the Arabic)

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 the mortal cage
wing thy flight unto the paradise of the Placeless.
("The Hidden Words", Bahá'u'lláh, from the Arabic)

O COMPANION OF MY THRONE!

... 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.
("The Hidden Words", Bahá'u'lláh, from the Persian)

O SON OF BEING!

With the hands of power I made thee
and with the fingers of strength I created thee;
and within thee have I placed the essence of My light...
("The Hidden Words", Bahá'u'lláh, from the Arabic)

O SON OF SPIRIT!

My claim on thee is great, it cannot be forgotten.
My grace to thee is plenteous, it cannot be veiled.
My love has made in thee its home, it cannot be concealed.
My light is manifest to thee, it cannot be obscured.
("The Hidden Words", Bahá'u'lláh, from the Arabic)

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.
("The Hidden Words", Bahá'u'lláh, from the Arabic)

O SON OF MAN!

Write all that We have revealed unto thee with
the ink of light upon the tablet of thy spirit...
("The Hidden Words", Bahá'u'lláh, from the Arabic)

In the open radiance of His glory He standeth before you.
His voice summoneth all the holy and sanctified beings
to come and be united with Him.
Happy is he that turneth thereunto;
well is it with him that hath attained,
and gazed on the light of so wondrous a countenance.3


The references to "light" in the Bahá'í Writings are far too abundant to be extensively quoted within the scope of this book. God is frequently referred to as the source of light, and light is often alluded to as love. Even the name Bahá'í is connected to light. Bahá'u'lláh translated into English means, "The Glory of God" or "The Splendor of God". Bahá 'í means a follower of Bahá or "Glory" or "Splendor". The precise meaning of splendor is: great luster or brightness; brilliance. Glory means: radiant beauty or splendor; magnificence; the bliss of heaven; a circle of light. Thus, quite literally, Bahá 'ís are followers of a heavenly light.

Once during an interrogation by civil authorities Bahá'u'lláh was repeatedly asked to formally state his name and country of origin. He replied, "It is more manifest than the sun." After the question was posed once again, this time with obvious deference, he responded mightily, "My name is Light of God, and My country Light. Be ye apprized of it." 4

Bahá'u'lláh taught that the founders of all the world religions were one in their essence and that God,

"hath caused those luminous Gems of Holiness to appear out of the realm of the spirit, in the noble form of the human temple, and be made manifest unto all men..."

"... every time the Prophets of God have illumined the world with the resplendent radiance of the Day Star of Divine knowledge, they have invariably summoned its peoples to embrace the light of God through such means as best befitted the exigencies of the age in which they appeared..." 5

In the book of Matthew in the New Testament we read of the appearance of Jesus before a group of His disciples. Obviously they were spiritually awakened by Jesus and were thus able to see Him transfigured as the Light.

"And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, and was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him." 6

Interestingly, we have an account of Mirzá Áqa Ján, the first believer to have recognized the station of Bahá'u'lláh. He too saw with the eye of the spirit.

"How shall I ever describe that voice and the verses it intoned, and His gait, as He strode before me! Methinks, with every step He took and every word He uttered thousands of oceans of light surged before my face, and thousands of worlds of incomparable splendor were unveiled to my eyes, and thousands of suns blazed their light upon me." 7

The Bahá'í teachings use an analogy to demonstrate the essential unity of the Prophets of God. If, for the sake of example, we think of God as the Sun, we can think of the rays of light as the Holy Spirit. Then imagine that every created being in the universe is capable of reflecting the light of the Holy Spirit to a limited degree. Periodically, Beings are made manifest, who are absolutely pure, the equivalent of a perfectly polished mirror. When one looks at them, he sees a perfect reflection of the Sun. Although it isn't the actual Sun, it is a perfect reflection of the image of the Sun. Thus when we see the Sun reflected in Buddha, Jesus, Krishna, or any of the Prophets, the Sun is the same. This is the basis of the unity of God and His Prophets. There is only one Sun, even if it appears in numerous mirror each with a different shape.

The important consideration is that the source of all light is God, the Most Great Light:

"Whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth is a direct evidence of the revelation within it of the attributes and names of God, inasmuch as within every atom are enshrined the signs that bear eloquent testimony to the revelation of that Most Great Light." 8
"These sanctified Mirrors, these Day Springs of ancient glory, are, one and all, the Exponents on earth of Him Who is the central Orb of the universe, its Essence and ultimate Purpose. From Him proceed their knowledge and power; from Him is derived their sovereignty. The beauty of their countenance is but a reflection of His image, and their revelation a sign of His deathless glory. They are the Treasuries of Divine knowledge, and the Repositories of celestial wisdom. Through them is transmitted a grace that is infinite, and by them is revealed the Light that can never fade..." 9

The Bahá'í teachings explain that differences in the Prophets or Manifestations of God are due to the spiritual capacity of humanity at various stages of its development, and not because of any weakness on the part of the Prophets. Moreover, the point is made that all the Prophets shared a common mission:

"Know thou assuredly that the essence of all the Prophets of God is one and the same. Their unity is absolute...They all have but one purpose; their secret is the same secret. To prefer one in honor to another, to exalt certain ones above the rest, is in no wise permitted. Every true Prophet hath regarded His Message as fundamentally the same as the Revelation of every other Prophet gone before Him. If any man, therefore, should fail to comprehend this truth, and should consequently indulge in vain and unseemly language, no one whose sight is keen and whose understanding is enlightened would ever allow such idle talk to cause him to waver in his belief."
"The measure of the revelation of the Prophets of God in this world, however, must differ. Each and every one of them hath been the Bearer of a distinct Message, and hath been commissioned to reveal Himself through specific acts. It is for this reason that they appear to vary in their greatness..."

"It is clear and evident, therefore, that any apparent variation in the intensity of their light is not inherent in the light itself, but should rather be attributed to the varying receptivity of an ever-changing world. Every Prophet Whom the Almighty and Peerless Creator hath purposed to send to the people of the earth hath been entrusted with a Message, and charged to act in a manner that would best meet the requirements of the age in which He appeared. God's purpose in sending His Prophets unto men is twofold. The first is to liberate the children of men from the darkness of ignorance, and guide them to the light of true understanding. The second is to ensure the peace and tranquillity of mankind, and provide all the means by which they can be established." 10

The Life Review

You'll recall that in the presence of the Being of Light one is guided through a review of his life. Most of those reporting a NDE which included a life review, describe it as overwhelmingly positive, due to the gentle loving guidance of the Being of Light. There have been, however, some reports of negative life reviews. NDE researchers point out that someone who has had a positive experience is more apt to recount it than some who might carry a sense of shame. The Bahá'í teaching allow for both.

O SON OF MAN!

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.11

"It is clear and evident that all men shall, after their physical death, estimate the worth of their deeds, and realize all that their hands have wrought. I swear by the Day Star that shineth above the horizon of Divine power! They that are the followers of the one true God shall, the moment they depart out of this life, experience such joy and gladness as would be impossible to describe..." 12

What can the Hitler, Stalin and other oppressors expect? They too shall learn of what their hands have wrought and will be correspondingly repaid for their deeds.

"Know ye that the world and its vanities and its embellishments shall pass away. Nothing will endure except God's Kingdom...The days of your life shall roll away, and all the things with which ye are occupied and of which ye boast yourselves shall perish, and ye shall, most certainly, be summoned by a company of His angels to appear at the spot where the limbs of the entire creation shall be made to tremble, and the flesh of every oppressor to creep. Ye shall be asked of the things your hands have wrought in this, your vain life, and shall be repaid for your doings. This is the day that shall inevitably come upon you, the hour that none can put back."13

True Paradise

Bahá'u'lláh alluded to the heavenly station of a mother's son who, as an early Bahá'í, was murdered for his beliefs:

"On her be My blessings, and My mercy, and My praise, and My glory. I Myself shall atone for the loss of her son--a son who now dwelleth within the tabernacle of My majesty and glory, and whose face beameth with a light that envelopeth with its radiance the Maids of Heaven in their celestial chambers, and beyond them the inmates of My Paradise, and the denizens of the Cities of Holiness. Were any eye to gaze on his face, he would exclaim: "Lo, this is no other than a noble angel!" 14

And referring to one who attains the Light of True Paradise, Bahá'u'lláh revealed these words:

"...the daystar of the unfading beauty of his Lord will at all times shed its radiance upon him, and he will shine so brightly that no one shall bear to gaze at him." 15

_________________________________

    1 see "The Light Beyond" by Raymond Moody, Bantam Books, p.13
    2 "The Hidden Words", Bahá'u'lláh, from the Arabic
    3 Gleanings from the Writing of Bahá 'u'lláh p.322
    4 Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 190
    5 Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 99-100
    6 Matthew 17:1-3
    7 God Passes By, pp. 115-116
    8 Gleanings from The Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 177
    9 ibid. pp. 46-47
    10 ibid. pp. 79-80
    11 Hidden Words
    12 Gleanings from The Writings of Bahá'u'lláh. p.171
    13 ibid. p.125
    14 ibid. p. 136
    15 Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas
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