Life & Death ~ Survey Results

life-and-death_resultsOur previous post contained a survey that asked folks to comment on this statement:

Life ends at the moment of death.

There were 40 people voting (though more may vote in the future…) and the top response, with 30%, was:

Physical life ends but Spiritual life continues.

Next, with 20%, was:

No, spiritual life continues and heaven and hell are states of being here on earth.

13% merely said, “No.

Yes but we get another chance at it in a new body. and I don’t know. tied at 8%

What’s Life?, What’s Death?, Maybe., and Yes. all had 5% of the vote.

Most interestingly, Yes and you go to heaven or hell. was last with 3%…

I don’t have to say this wasn’t a “scientific” survey. It was a survey of Faith. And, it was a survey “biased” by the answers and the responses of people who found my blog and spent enough time to take the survey.

What conclusions can be made?

Maybe none. Maybe that a “representative” segment of my readers believe more strongly in “Life” after “Death” than in Nothingness… Maybe those readers also don’t believe in the dogmatic preachments about “Heaven” and “Hell”…

Spiritual Quote:

“The soul is the focal point for love and compassion, for faith and courage, and for other such ‘human’ qualities that cannot be explained
solely by thinking of a human being as an animal, or as a sophisticated organic machine. The soul does not die; it endures everlastingly. When the human body dies, the soul is freed from ties with the physical body and the surrounding physical world and begins its progress through the spiritual world. Bahá’ís understand the spiritual world to be a timeless and placeless extension of our own universe—and not some physically remote or removed place. Entry into the next life has the potential to bring great joy. Bahá’u’lláh likened death to the process of birth. He explains: ‘The world beyond is as different from this world as this
world is different from that of the child while still in the womb of its mother’.

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.
Bahá’í International Community: 1992 Magazine – The Bahá’ís

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Human Life and Death

life_and_death

What Do You Think?

It’s time for a survey about this life and the next one—or is  there a “next life”—and, is it on earth or not?

Would love to have (and feel a strong need to know) your ideas and opinions about what may or may not lie beyond that moment we call death…

Please take a moment to complete the survey. And, come back in the next few days and check the ongoing results.

Leave your comments on the survery and the results, too.
There’s a link at the bottom of the poll to view the ongoing results.

You can select multiple answers

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Insanity !

bombThe man was strong, confident, and well-equipped.

The boy was weak, terrified, and destitute.

The man moved his finger and unleashed death.

The boy moved his eyes and saw his world erupt in flame.

The man flew his plane back to base and celebrated with his comrades.

The boy’s soul ascended to his True Home. He greeted his parents and sisters and began to pray for those left behind . . .

~~~~~~~~~

So much of our lives boil down to what we focus on—Light or Dark, Spirit or Body.

So much of our world is enmeshed in the materialistic claws of the gods of war.

So many of our human family are dispossessed and hopeless.

The Dark Ones are far from God through willful blindness.

The Ones carrying the Light are far from God only because their souls are still hovering near their bodies . . .

Please share your comments about this insane situation enveloping our human family!

Also, watch this video about some present-day Darkness and Light, Body and Spirit, Hell and Heaven . . .

Spiritual Quote :

“O God, my God! Thou seest how black darkness is enshrouding all regions, how all countries are burning with the flame of dissension, and the fire of war and carnage is blazing throughout the East and the West. Blood is flowing, corpses bestrew the ground, and severed heads are fallen on the dust of the battlefield.

“O Lord! Have pity on these ignorant ones, and look upon them with the eye of forgiveness and pardon. Extinguish this fire, so that these dense clouds which obscure the horizon may be scattered, the Sun of Reality shine forth with the rays of conciliation, this intense gloom be dispelled and the resplendent light of peace shed its radiance upon all countries.

“O Lord! Draw up the people from the abyss of the ocean of hatred and enmity, and deliver them from the impenetrable darkness. Unite their hearts, and brighten their eyes with the light of peace and reconciliation. Deliver them from the depths of war and bloodshed, and free them from the darkness of error. Remove the veil from their eyes, and enlighten their hearts with the light of guidance. Treat them with Thy tender mercy and compassion, and deal not with them according to Thy justice and wrath which cause the limbs of the mighty to quake.

“O Lord! Wars have persisted. Distress and anxiety have waxed great, and every flourishing region is laid waste.

“O Lord! Hearts are heavy, and souls are in anguish. Have mercy on these poor souls, and do not leave them to the excesses of their own desires.

“O Lord! Make manifest in Thy lands humble and submissive souls, their faces illumined with the rays of guidance, severed from the world, extolling Thy Name, uttering Thy praise, and diffusing the fragrance of Thy holiness amongst mankind.

“O Lord! Strengthen their backs, gird up their loins, and enrapture their hearts with the most mighty signs of Thy love.

“O Lord! Verily, they are weak, and Thou art the Powerful and the Mighty; they are impotent, and Thou art the Helper and the Merciful.

“O Lord! The ocean of rebellion is surging, and these tempests will not be stilled save through Thy boundless grace which hath embraced all regions.

“O Lord! Verily, the people are in the abyss of passion, and naught can save them but Thine infinite bounties.

“O Lord! Dispel the darkness of these corrupt desires, and illumine the hearts with the lamp of Thy love through which all countries will erelong be enlightened. Confirm, moreover, Thy loved ones, those who, leaving their homelands, their families and their children, have, for the love of Thy Beauty, traveled to foreign countries to diffuse Thy fragrances and promulgate Thy Teachings. Be Thou their companion in their loneliness, their helper in a strange land, the remover of their sorrows, their comforter in calamity. Be Thou a refreshing draught for their thirst, a healing medicine for their ills and a balm for the burning ardor of their hearts.

“Verily, Thou art the Most Generous, the Lord of grace abounding, and, verily, Thou art the Compassionate and the Merciful.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Baha’i Prayers, p. 182

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Fighting With Myself

fightingFor twenty years I’ve been a member of a Faith that I deeply love. For twenty years I’ve had to fight with myself to live up to the precepts and principles of that Faith…

Why would a person who feels their Faith is powerful enough to help them with the bad side of life have to struggle so hard? Could it be that the 42 years I’d lived before I found my Faith have such a backlog of ingrained habits that it will take a supreme effort to live up to my Faith?

I’ve thought, for many years, that I needed to make a supreme effort and sometimes felt I was making that effort. I’m still  needing a Supreme Effort…

At least I’m a better man than when I began this Faithful Journey. Still, my conscience doesn’t stop stalking me…

Some may say I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. Some may say that feeling bad about trying to be good is insane. Some may think I should just stop trying to live up to a Code that interferes with living in this world.

That last idea hits at the core of why I keep battling with myself—is this world the end of existence for human beings? My mind says, if it is the end, I’ve got no business worrying about my behavior—in the long run it doesn’t matter at all.

If it isn’t the end of my existence and if there is another world after this, then I need to make a Supreme Effort to get this life Right so I can Soar in the next life!

I don’t believe there are a heaven and hell after this life—places of infinite joy and infinite punishment—those states exist right here on this earth. To me, the next life is a continuation of this one, both being an infinite Journey back to our Creator…

And, as far as reincarnation goes, seems to me the ultimate excuse to do whatever the hell I want since I can make it up “next time”…

So, as I continue working to live up to my principles, I’ll leave you with some quotes to think about. My Faith says we all have the responsibility to investigate Truth for ourselves—see with our own eyes and hear with our own ears…

The first three quotes are not from the free Ocean software I usually use; I found them on the ‘Net.

Spiritual Quotes :

“Death is no more than passing from one room into another. But there’s a difference for me, you know. Because in that other room I shall be able to see.”
— Helen Keller (both blind and deaf from infancy)

“The primary question about life after death is not whether it is a fact, but even if it is, what problems that really solves.”
— Ludwig Wittgenstein (Austrian philosopher who worked primarily in logic)

“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.”
— Mark Twain (American Writer/Humorist)

“As to the soul of man after death, it remains in the degree of purity to which it has evolved during life in the physical body, and after it is freed from the body it remains plunged in the ocean of God’s Mercy.”
— ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 66

“What death is more wretched than to flee from the Source of everlasting life?”
— Bahá’u’lláh, Gems of Divine Mysteries, p. 38

“You are now like a withered leaf;
the messengers of death have come near you.
You stand at the threshold of your departure.
Have you made provision for your journey?”
— Buddhist, Dhammapada – Sayings of the Buddha 2 (translator, J. Richards)

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”
King James Bible, John 5:24

“In the way of righteousness is life: and in the pathway thereof there is no death.”
King James Bible, Proverbs 12:28

“But whereso any doeth all his deeds
Renouncing self for Me, full of Me, fixed
To serve only the Highest, night and day
Musing on Me- him will I swiftly lift
Forth from life’s ocean of distress and death,
Whose soul clings fast to Me.”
— Hindu, Bhagavad Gita (Edwin Arnold, translator)

“Giver of vital breath, of power and vigour, he whose commandments all the Gods acknowledge -.
The Lord of death, whose shade is life immortal. What God shall we adore with our oblation?”
— Vedas, Rig Veda – Book 10, 2

“One said, ‘The world would be a pleasant place
If death never set foot within it’.
Another answered, ‘If there were no death,
The complicated world would be worth not a jot.
It would be a crop raised in a desert,
Left neglected and never threshed out.
Thou fanciest that to be death, which is life,
Thou sowest thy seed in salt ground.
Carnal reason deceives us; do thou contradict it,
For that fool takes what is really death to be life.
O God, show us all things in this house of deception,
Show them all as they really are’!”
— Mathnavi of Rumi (E.H. Whinfield translator), The Masnavi, Vol 5

“Then contemplate (O man!) the memorials of Allah’s Mercy! — how He gives life to the earth after its death: verily the Same will give life to the men who are dead: for He has power over all things.”
The Qur’an (Yusuf Ali, translator), Surah 30 verse 50

“‘Life and Death are indeed changes of great moment’, answered Confucius, ‘but they cannot affect his mind. Heaven and earth may collapse, but his mind will remain. Being indeed without flaw, it will not share the fate of all things. It can control the transformation of things, while preserving its source intact’.”
Tao, Chuangtse (Lin Yutang, translator)

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Game of Life – The Rewards

game rewards
What are  the Rewards for Playing the Game of Life successfully?

In the preceding posts on the Rules and Play of the Game of Life, I explored how the rules of any game shape the playing of that game. Also, the play of a game determines the rewards possible. Seemingly simplistic, eh?

Actually the formula is Rules > Play > Reward , and changing any  of those three factors affects the others.

A fairly cool little game to play is to reverse the formula: Reward > Play > Rules . It runs something like this: “If I want reward X, I need to play Y, and that means Z is in effect…” A quick practical example: If I want ice cream, I need to pay some money, and that means I have to work. Simplistic, again, but I think you can see a few applications…

While I was researching ideas for this series of posts, I was playing the game Civilization IV. It’s an awesome simulation of the conditions and processes of civilization-building. It endeavors to model history, so, most of the normal play of the game involves politics, subjugation, and war.

I luckily discovered an option the designers provided called Always Peace.

Change the rules and you change the way you play the game and the rewards you can expect…

So, what rewards did I reap by playing Civilization in the mode that eliminated war and all its nasty offspring?

The first reward was realizing things I’d already learned intellectually in a hands-on, emotional way.

Next would be the awareness that building a prosperous civilization is very hard work even when war isn’t in the equation.

Then, the painful awareness of my citizens’ suffering from my mismanagement of the factors of growth.

And also the joy, even though it’s only  a game, when I’d managed things well and my people were fed and happy and productive.

There are many other rewards I gained but those four stand out like blazing stars in the dark of life’s struggles.

I need to mention another simulation game that has a multitude of practical applications—it was created as a training tool for nonviolent response to oppressive situations–A Force More Powerful.

So, here ends the tale of my playing life-imitating games. What about the Rewards gained from Playing the Real Game of Life?

Spiritual Quotes:

“The rewards of this life are the virtues and perfections which adorn the reality of man. For example, he was dark and becomes luminous, he was ignorant and becomes wise, he was neglectful and becomes vigilant, he was asleep and becomes awakened, he was dead and becomes living, he was blind and becomes a seer, he was deaf and becomes a hearer, he was earthly and becomes heavenly, he was material and becomes spiritual. Through these rewards he gains spiritual birth, and becomes a new creature.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Baha’i World Faith, p. 323

“As the usefulness and powers of the life (of a child) were not seen in that dark and narrow world (of the womb), but when it is brought into this vast world, all the use of its growth and development becometh manifest and obvious in it, so likewise, reward and punishment, paradise and hell, and the requital of deeds and actions done by it in the present life become manifest and evident when it is transferred to the world to come—which is far from this world! Had the life and growth of the child in the womb been confined to that condition, then the existence of the child in the womb would have proved utterly abortive and unintelligible; as would the life of this world, were its deeds, actions and their results not to appear in the world to come.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v3, p. 644

“The sacrifices involved, the courage, faith, and perseverance…[a pioneering spiritual life] demands, are no doubt very great. Their value, however, can never be properly assessed at the present time, and the limitless reward which they who demonstrate them will receive can never be adequately depicted…. Such a reward, it should be noted, is not to be regarded as purely an abstract blessing confined to the future life, but also as a tangible benefit which such courage, faith and perseverance can alone confer in this material world.”
Shoghí Effendí Rabbání, The Advent of Divine Justice, pp. 67-68

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Game of Life – The Rules

rules Let’s accept for the moment that Life can be viewed as a Game.

The rules of any game define its play and determine the rewards possible. Kids are real good at trying to change the rules mid-game to adjust the play and, hopefully, make the rewards favor their position (and, sometimes, they’ll want to change the rules just to see what happens—flexing their creativity).

Before I present some of Life’s Rules, I want to mention just a bit of game history:

There are two games that could claim the oldest tag: The Royal Game of Ur and Senet. Both were found in tombs since the respect afforded games back in the 2000-3000 B.C. era was so high—spiritually powerful in some estimations—the rulers were given a game to play while they roamed the realms of the afterlife, helping them cope with the dangers of the Journey.

Some links on game history:

Astral Castle

Royal Game of Ur

Senet

So, if Life can be viewed as a Game, what are the Rules?

It used to be said that Life doesn’t come with Instructions. Some rely on the old (and generally true) adage, “Mom knows best.”

It can be difficult to discern the Rules of the Game of Life. There are so many Players, each hoping the Rules they’ve been using will help them reach the Rewards they seek—so many different sets of Rules, so much disunity—that we witness in our Family’s history conflict after conflict, all based on particular rulers’ sets of Rules, all played to secure material rewards (even those that claim a spiritual purpose).

If you believe there’s a spiritual foundation to Life—if you think there are Principles that can help the Rider of Soul control the Horse of Body—you will eventually discover that Life is a Game that demands Sacrifice, Compassion, Courage, Honesty, and many other virtuous Rules.

We struggle to stay in the Game, we change the Rules when we feel we’re losing, we play with fervor when the Reward is within reach. Let’s hope we all can learn the Spiritual Rules of Life—learn them so well we don’t make others run from our Game, know the Rules so well we don’t abandon them when the Rewards seem far away and our poor physical Horse gets frustrated and tries to throw off the Soul-Rider…

Spiritual Quotes:

“O ye beloved ones! It is the moment of the ecstasy of the soul and consciousness and the season of running in the arena of sacrifice! Show ye kindness to all; be ye engaged in the refinement of the souls. Become ye as ignited lamps and adorn ye the orchard of being! These days are swiftly passing and this mortal life will remain fruitless and without result. Therefore, while there is yet time and the arrow is in the bow, enter ye the chase and strike ye the game. This game is the good-pleasure of God, and this chase is the merciful Providence; that is, living in accord with the divine instructions.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v3, p. 573

“The young prophet from Nazareth was indeed asking of His auditors a great deal. He was asking them to give up usages and customs, ways of thought and habits of belief which had been honoured among them for centuries and which had become firmly entrenched in the hearts and the lives of all. He called upon them to trust themselves, soul, spirit, and body too, to the new teaching of one who offered them no recognised human credentials whatever. The crisis was indeed a test of spiritual faith and of moral courage. It was meant to be so. It was designed to separate the true-hearted from the insincere, those who genuinely believed in God from those who played a game of make-believe.
George Townshend, The Heart of the Gospel, p. 118

The next post will explore how we actually play the Game of Life

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The Game of Life – Introduction

game of life intro

Is life a game?

From Wikipedia: “A game is a structured activity, usually undertaken for enjoyment and sometimes also used as an educational tool. Games are generally distinct from work…and from art…However, the distinction is not clear-cut, and many games are also considered to be work or art….”

I’ll be posting three more articles in this series:

Part One—the Rules of the Game of Life

Part Two—the Playing of the Game of Life

Part Three—the Rewards of the Game of Life

Should take me about two days per article since I’ll be playing doing research with a simulation game called Civilization IV as I write the series.

The connections among Life, Games, and Spirituality will unfold as we go along………

Spiritual Quotes:

“You are the game that death stalketh; stand and he seizeth you, fly and he followeth.”

“The stalwart is he who overcometh himself.”
Marzieh Gail, From the Sayings of ‘Ali, Dawn Over Mount Hira, p. 14

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