Introduction: The intersection of science and faith
A number of scientists as for example Dr Eben Alexander (neuro-surgeon) and Dr Mary Neal spine-surgeon) were extremely sceptical about NDE's but after their own NDE experience they changed completely.
Dr Melvin Morse and Dr Long have documented hundreds of NDE's.
More and more scientists believe now that consciousness survives after the death of the brain.
This means that the brain is only a transmission station between consciousness and our body.
Similar concepts are also found in many religions The Divine Messengers, founders of religion speak about the human spirit or the soul which survives death.
In the past the Divine Messengers have spoken very little about the human soul because man was not ready to understand.
Jesus doesn't speak much about the soul. Also in Islam there is only one verse in the Quran about the soul; Muhammad says "Tell the people that the soul comes from the command of God. That's all it says.
The Baha'i Writings and the human soul (from Wikipedia)
But today because man is destined to come of age, to grow up, and because of the greatness of the Revelation of Baha'u'llah, we are so lucky that He has revealed to us so much about the soul.
The Bahá'í Faith affirms that "the soul is a sign of God, a heavenly gem whose reality the most learned of men hath failed to grasp, and whose mystery no mind, however acute, can ever hope to unravel. Bahá'u'lláh stated that the soul not only continues to live after the physical death of the human body, but is, in fact, immortal. Heaven can be seen partly as the soul's state of nearness to God; and hell as a state of remoteness from God. Each state follows as a natural consequence of individual efforts, or the lack thereof, to develop spiritually. Bahá'u'lláh taught that individuals have no existence prior to their life here on earth and the soul's evolution is always towards God and away from the material world.
Qualities of the soul (Adapted by permission from a talk by Mr Addib Taherzadeh)
To understand a bit about the qualities of the soul we can look at nature. The world of nature and the world of spirit are one. God has not created two different worlds, the physical world separate from the spiritual world. No, they are one entity. All of God's creation is one entity. Therefore the laws that govern the physical world as we know it, the same laws are applied in the spiritual world. The same law that is in nature you will find it in the world of man. The same laws of nature you will find in Religion. All the teachings of God you will find a counterpart in nature. Everything you see in nature is a shadow of something spiritual. It is a counterpart of something far greater than what you see in this life. You see for example a tree, it is a shadow of something in the spiritual world. For everything there is in this life there must be counterparts in the next life. You should not think of it as a place, this world and the next which is a spiritual world. The spiritual worlds are infinite in their range. Creation is never finite, never limited, it is infinite in range. We know as Baha'is that the universe has no beginning and no end to it, either in time or in space. Anything that is God's creation will never stop, there is no such thing as nothing. As long as God existed this creation existed. It is a beginning which has no beginning and an end which has no end, both in time and space.
The counterpart of the soul in this world is the embryo
We want to know what the soul is, and we cannot understand it. If we can find something in this life which is the counterpart we can find out some of the characteristics of it. We can find out from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Baha that the counterpart of the soul in this physcial life is the embryo which is growing in the womb world. We know almost everything about the embryo. It begins with one cell, and we notice that cell has a capacity to multiply itself in a certain way and eventually becomes a perfect human being at the end of nine months. The soul is the same, when it comes to us at the time of conception it has no qualities, no attributes, no knowledge, no virtures, but it can acquire them in this life. The only souls which do not have to acquire all these qualities are the Manifestations of God. This is the difference, when They are born They have all the knowledge, They did not have to acquire it. This is because Their soul has no beginning. Of course our soul has a beginning.
What is the purpose of the embryo?
Now we will see an important similarity. What is the purpose of the cell growing in the mother? The purpose is that it may grow and acquire limbs and organs. The same thing is with the soul that it may acquire spiritual qualities. It may acquire knowledge, wisdom and all the other virtues which takes a lifetime.Other similarities are that the embryo growing in the womb of the mother, this is not its place for eternity, it is for a very short period of time, only nine months, it is only temporary. The purpose of this growing in the womb of the mother is to prepare for this life, to be born here, that is why it is growing there. That is its purpose. It is the same thing with the soul. This world which we are attached to so much is not our home, it is only a transitory thing, it is only for a short period. We have to pass from here.
The difference between embryo and the soul is that man has free will
The laws of the physical world and the spiritual world are the same, but when you apply the law on a higher level something is added to it which is not to be found on a lower level. For example you will find a child will grow in the womb of the mother without any control, it cannot have any say in it, it is involuntary growth. It is subject to the laws of nature. But that same law when you apply it to the soul which is on a higher level, you see that man has control over himself, he has free will. He can choose to acquire good qualities or not. The choice of free will has not been given to the lower world of nature, but it has been given to us. So you can become a good man or a bad man. You notice other similarities.
The embryo recieves help
You find that when the embryo is growing in the world of the mother it will receive help from outside without even knowing it. It receives help from its mother and father who love it, from the doctors and nurses, the whole society. The same is in this life. All we do in this life is through the positive influence of the Holy Souls who are in the next life. They are assisting us, enabling us to grow spiritually, if we want to. The `if’ is the free will that God has given us. They cannot help us if we do not wish to acquire these qualities and perfections.