Abandon the thoughts of non-existence...

The conception of annihilation is a factor in human degradation, a cause of human debasement and lowliness, a source of human fear and abjection. It has been conducive to the dispersion and weakening of human thought whereas the realization of existence and continuity has upraised man to sublimity of ideals, established the foundations of human progress and stimulated the development of heavenly virtues; therefore it behoves man to abandon thoughts of non-existence and death which are absolutely imaginary and see himself ever living, everlasting in the divine purpose of his creation. He must turn away from ideas which degrade the human soul, so that day by day and hour by hour he may advance upward and higher to spiritual perception of the continuity of the human reality. If he dwells upon the thought of non-existence he will become utterly incompetent; with weakened will-power his ambition for progress will be lessened and the acquisition of human virtues will cease.

'Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'i World Faith - 'Abdu'l-Baha Section, p. 265


Anonymous said...

quote and the picture...great!

in my mind i relate the two in this way :

you leave your shoes, new or old, at the entrance gate of a reverant place such as this... but why ?

besides the fact that it may be dirty , it is maybe also symbolic of leaving behind the old and the worn and the irreverant & to show respect, because your two feet are what God gave but the material shoes are the human constructs

and so detaching from what is false and not of God.. ,(the things we make)...is different to thoughts of non-existance in this sense.!?this means finality and we know that everything is continuous and transient, we change but the immortal soul never dies so if we keep that in mind we surely would not care what shoes we wear, or that we must leave it behind ...those thoughts are condicive to progress & virtue.

Gaijin21 said...

Thank you for your thoughts and reflections. I do think about the photos I choose many times. In this case, since the quote is about death not being the end of all, I chose a photo of Shoghi Effendi's resting place. It has occurred to me, we create graves and tombs to mark the "passing" of someone, but not of their destruction or their end. I like the Japanese eagle on top which we can't quite tell if it is just landing or just taking off. I guess life and death is just like that too. We think we are ending it from one perspective, but from another perspective we are just taking off into a whole new level of existence.

Aside from the picture, perhaps if we were able think of our lives as eternal, maybe we would be making different decisions our lives...

Anonymous said...

Just a thought, if you think life has no end, it may bring more fears in you because you are afraid of making any mistake, it will cause yourself and loved one to suffer forever.
On another hand, if you think life will be end, then it may give you the courage to do the things you are afraid to do in life since it will be end anyway, no tomorrow.

Gaijin21 said...

"if you think life has no end, it may bring more fears in you because you are afraid of making any mistake, it will cause yourself and loved one to suffer forever."

This is a good point. In this case, what is a "mistake" needs be defined. If you knew what you will do will harm others, then surely, if you realize you will regret this act for EVER, then this is going to be a good enough motivation to:

A) check your intentions and be as pure in your motives as possible
B) to take action to do good and what is right.

This also means, do not let your own God given qualities go unused. God gave the world a gift, you, and if you are afraid of bringing it out, you are doing the world, and yourself a disfavor. You are God's gift to this world. You are His love manifested. You are given a combination of divine qualities that are not like any other. The biggest mistake would be to neglect them. We can't think of this without realizing the love of God involved in this bigger picture. You are needed, in this world and worlds to come, and you are created out of love. To be fearful of making decisions because of the consequences it may have implies there is no trust in His trust in you.

In my understanding, this means, you will try your best in making better decisions, based on our best understanding of divine virtues, especially those that are latent within you and believe in God's mercy, compassion, and forgiveness for where we fall short. In reality, we will always fall short, but God knows our heart. God will not turn away anyone who strives to do what is right, and those who try to polish the gem like qualities within for the benefit of all you come in contact with.

(to be continued in the next comment...)

Gaijin21 said...

'Abdu-Baha says

"Some things are subject to the free will of man, such as justice, equity, tyranny and injustice, in other words, good and evil actions; it is evident and clear that these actions are, for the most part, left to the will of man. But there are certain things to which man is forced and compelled, such as sleep, death, sickness, decline of power, injuries and misfortunes; these are not subject to the will of man, and he is not responsible for them, for he is compelled to endure them. But in the choice of good and bad actions he is free, and he commits them according to his own will.

For example, if he wishes, he can pass his time in praising God, or he can be occupied with other thoughts. He can be an enkindled light through the fire of the love of God, and a philanthropist loving the world, or he can be a hater of mankind, and engrossed with material things. He can be just or cruel. These actions and these deeds are subject to the control of the will of man himself; consequently, he is responsible for them."

(Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 248)

Let us assume that the one thinks responsibility is just for this world alone and after that one is not accountable? This wouldn't be justice, as it means there is an escape clause there. In other words, death is not the way out, though it may be a way that one pays the price for his atrocious crimes. There are those in the end realize their soul may indeed be immortal, and cling to forgiveness in his heart. If one thinks that death is the end, repentance has no meaning either.

It is important to know, however, that the fact that we have a choice doesn't mean we should choose what is evil (= harmful to self and others). Between good and evil, you have only one choice. That is to do good. But your understanding of what is good in any given circumstances may be limited based on your understanding of what is the qualities we are called upon to manifest and to what extent you know the wider picture and how your actions affect others. Our understanding is always going to be limited. But we strive to do what is right, not for our own selfish motive, but for the happiness of others - which in turn can only make us happy too. God did not bring our souls in to being in isolation. We are created for one another and as it is said:

"...the best way to thank God is to love one another."

(Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 468)

To be better at loving one another to give meaning to life, to live out our purpose of our lives, we study the Scriptures and at every changing moment, we try to do what is right.

How do you know what is good or what is not good? Simply put, if it promotes unity and happiness, joy and concord, love and fellowship then it is good. If it is something that brings division, hatred, enmity, and discord, then this is not good. This means, whatever your choice you make in life, your job, your marriage, your trips and how you spend your money etc, is secondary to the basic choices we make about how we carry ourselves and what is in our hearts.

Thus it is said:

"We must become entirely selfless and devoted to God so that every day and every moment we seek to do only what God would have us do and in the way He would have us do it."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 2, 1925)

(Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 110)

(...and to be continued in the next comment)

Gaijin21 said...

On the other hand, if one thinks this life is limited, instead of courage to do the thing which one want's to do either of the two tends to happen:
a) one ends up indulging in self-centered pleasures
b) takes life as pointless and just becomes depressed, and your own qualities that was meant to be a gift to the world goes dormant.

For the first one, this is echoed in the call of those who have a limited view of life: "You live only once so better have enjoy it while it lasts." The enjoyment in this context often is directed towards physical pleasures.

It does not mean we cannot have fun and enjoy life. But that definition itself changes based on the perception of your own reality:

Are you a soul with a body or a body with a soul, or just a body and nothing more?

If on the other hand we see that this life, we are given a chance to try and learn, in preparation for the next life, then we realize nothing is futile. Even to one's last breath, one will try to bring love and joy to others and what a beautiful life that would be?

In either case, it is hoped that we will show our love to those who we love and beyond, and develop our inner qualities and put them to best use, while we all still have breath in this life.

(end of reply)