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Worlds and interworlds: revelation or rational hypothesis?

By - Apr 11, 2011 - Category Articles - Print Print - Version française

This article is a follow-up on a comment related to the Worlds and interworlds section of the article Ostad Elahi’s thought in 7 points. The question went thus: if our approach to spirituality is to be rational, where should we stand on the issue of worlds and the interworld? Must we blindly “believe” what we are told and view such concepts as mere revelation, or should we consider the possibility of their existence in a rational way?

One way of attempting a “rational” apprehension of worlds and the Interworld is to reflect on the notion of “absolute divine justice”. Let’s lay out the following alternative: either there is such a thing as divine justice (God is just), or it is mere fancy.

  1. 1st hypothesis: based on what I can see and feel, there is no justice in my surrounding world. Therefore, justice does not exist. The discussion can end there.
  2. 2nd hypothesis: absolute justice exists. Therefore I cannot rely on things that I see and feel.

In my view, the only way to avoid getting dragged by our emotions and consider the problem rationally, is to reflect on the possibility of successive lives. It is the notion of a cycle of lives that “solves”, so to speak, the problem of justice.

  • My past actions bear on my present life.
  • My present actions will bear on my future life.

If my present life is “good”, it might well be that I’ve “worked” to earn it in a preceding life and that I am now harvesting the benefits; if I lead a life of suffering, it’s because I’m “compensating” for certain errors committed in the past. Of course, one should keep in mind that there are many levels of well being and suffering.

This is a rational hypothesis; it is in line with the idea of perfection as exposed by Ostad Elahi.

  • A question arises: since the body eventually perishes in each life, while my “self” periodically comes back to Earth, there must be a place where my soul (or imaginal body, or any other designation for this persisting self) is transferred between two lives.
  • Another question ensues: in order to find out what awaits me in my next earthly life, it is necessary to postulate that I am “accountable” for my actions and thoughts. For only then is my return in such or such environment and body based on absolute divine justice.

Here is how I interpret the answers to these two questions.

  • Place and accountability: Christianity and more generally Abrahamic religions frame the problem of the “hereafter” with notions such as heaven and hell, or the “account” related to the Last Judgement. But justice seems to be lacking in this scheme, since children and the simple-minded automatically win paradise. Why on Earth should we wear ourselves out to act ethically throughout our lifetime? We might as well die young! As for what happened before we came to Earth, there is not much to be found.
  • Buddhists do not believe in souls, or in a divine system. Death is like a candle perpetually blown out and immediately rekindled. Nothing but Nirvana counts as the final abode. They concede however the existence of successive lives, as well as a form of accountability for our actions. But who or what is it that decides whether I shall be reincarnated into Claudia Schiffer or a porcupine in my next life? Where is divine justice if it is no one and nothing that does the judging? If what is at play is only the mechanistic principle of action-reaction, clearly the word “justice” does not apply (at any rate, one would need to grasp the real difference between “nirvana” and the eternal worlds described in other religions and philosophies).

To sum up, if we wish to think of an impartial and ultimate divine justice, the most logical hypothesis remains that of successive lives interspersed with visits to the other world (intermediary world) where we can stay until our next “appointment”.

Thus the interworld can be considered, not as a mere revelation handed on to us as an axiom by some theologians, but as an integral part of an argument based on the hypothesis of universal divine justice. Ultimately, I believe a rational approach to spirituality cannot do without it. The notion of “other worlds” can be tackled in the same way. It may be a topic suitable for further articles…

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  1. lMarys Apr 11, 2011 9:59 pm 1

    Divine justice is such an interesting system to speak of, because many would argue exactly what the article has stated in the 1st hypothesis: “based on what I can see and feel, there is no justice in my surrounding world. Therefore, justice does not exist. The discussion can end there.”
    So if I agree with the 2nd argument and would want to have a rational argument with an individual who only believes in the 1st argument, then there is no hope. This individual, assuming that he is not open to the topic, only considers what is right in front of him. What he can feel, touch and see in the world is prove to him. So if I do the best and make my argument as intellectually and rationally as I possibly can, this person could end it all and say, “Show me divine justice, then. Show me. There are people suffering and hurt and you are saying they either deserved it or it is to their best interest?” I guess this same type of conversation can be about the existence of God, “Show me God. You have rationally argued your point, so prove to me and show me God.”

    I think that faith in God opens the door of understanding the divine system. Meaning that the faith we have in God opens our eyes. It opens our curiosity to a point where we begin to both study and practice such a concept in our own lives.

    Thank you for this article. It has opened my eyes and brought the thirst of wanting to understand the divine system even more.

  2. MA Apr 12, 2011 9:30 pm 2

    I thank God for divine justice, otherwise injustice in general is very despairing!
    And appreciated your explanation.

  3. Eileen Apr 13, 2011 3:48 am 3

    I find this most informative and educational to be able to learn to think and discuss rationally. I hope for similar instructional articles like this one.

  4. John Apr 13, 2011 4:35 am 4

    My question would be why is there only 2 options? Why can’t the 3rd option be “I don’t know if divine justice exist or doesn’t exist.” With this mentality, we can live life based on the principle that “Treat others the way you like to be treated”. Why do we need to answer such questions about divine justice and interworlds. Certain questions such as this or “is there a god” will never be answered so trying to analyze and justify different solutions for them will only help us justify something to ourselves and ease our minds which may be helpful to some but not others.

  5. Lja Apr 17, 2011 6:02 am 5

    I think not having faith is not quite the issue here since we all more less have a system of belief within us but rather lack of curiosity and desire to want to know the rason(s) behind the injustices surrounding us. Therefore I believe rational thinking should be spread in an encouraging way or approach to bring awareness to the minds of the crowds who are proponents of the 1st hypothesis. Perhaps the more fortunate who are blessed with more of a rational mind could challenge the less rational minded people in a positive way by raising those quesionable injustice issues and getting them involved in rational thinking. By that I mean raising any injust issue and while raising their enthusiasm have them come up with some logical rational reason/s for all the injustices that they see and feel. Gradually it will become likely that the level of their interest in wanting to find answers will grow and their awareness would expand and develop. Since the key to over coming all the obsticles is first to gain awareness about their existence.

  6. notodogma Apr 19, 2011 3:55 am 6

    I cannot find any rational explanation or justification whatsoever for divine justice without some form of reincarnation. We can develop some arguments, but it might not be necessary here.
    However, there are several possible flaws with any reincarnationist point of view as well. From a moral, logical, or mathematical standpoint.
    So whichever metaphysical system one choses to believe in, it will require a strong leap of faith, and to a certain extent, a disregard for reason.
    Personally, as uncomfortable as it might be, I strive not to conflate faith and reason.

  7. pam Apr 19, 2011 5:32 am 7

    @ John: I agree with your idea of living life with the principle of the golden rule, “Treat others the way you would like to be treated”. But I also think that trying to understand the notion of divine justice helps bring about this end. Many people, even if they are living virtuous lives under the golden rule, cannot sustain their motivation for very long, mainly because they treat others kindly, but are not always answered with gratitude and applause. And sometimes, the good deeds that they do with good intentions back-fire, and end up worsening things for others.

    I think that it makes many people demoralized when they can’t tangibly see the fruits of their labor. But if there was a flawless divine system in tact in which everyone’s efforts were watched and recorded, no good deed would ever go unaccounted for.
    So, although I think it is quite noble to live by the golden rule, I think probably only very accomplished spiritual geniuses can execute it through love of others and compassion alone. For the rest of us, it seems very difficult to sustain motivation with little prospects of rewards or accolades for our good actions.

  8. adissam Apr 19, 2011 11:26 pm 8

    what kind of moral flaw do you see in reincarnation or successive lives ?

  9. lMarys Apr 22, 2011 2:31 am 9

    I understand what you are saying and where you are coming form. And as @adissam mentioned, I would like to also ask the same question: What kind of moral flaw do you see? And I do want to mention that reincarnation or successive lives goes into two categories: One, the famous transmigration (of which I do agree with you that, yes, it is flawed). Two, Reincarnation and Return by way of the process of perfection mentioned in Knowing the Spirit by Ostad Elahi (the description of the process of perfection along with my observation with the world align accurately). The two are very different from one another, however, and it would be wise to indicate where your flaw stands.

    Now in regards to faith:
    In my opinion, I do not think faith is irrational. I think it is pretty useful and rational, if you will, in science. For instance, a scientist has to believe in the field that he is in before he begins his observation and experiment. Faith in his research is very useful, otherwise, why is he doing this in the first place? A person who doesn’t believe in chemistry or physics can’t start his experiment and say, “I have no faith that this field exists, but I will give it a try anyway.” The origin of faith is to bring thirst and curiosity so that we as human beings begin to rationally think and observe what is around us. That is just my intake on faith.

  10. notodogma Apr 22, 2011 3:28 am 10

    There could be several kinds.
    I remember an old lady I met once who was a survivor of a concentration camp. We had a short discussion about God. She had lost her faith. And I vividly remember something very deep in her eyes, which expressed that nothing, no logic, no rational explanation, reincarnation, perhaps worst among all because it attempts to justify things by invoking a “system” (for example: “millions died in concentration camps because they deserved to” – for many, this is an instance of “moral flaw”), could amount in her mind to any justification for the horrors she had seen and lived through.
    It is all well and good to describe systems, to adhere to systems. But perhaps with a few exceptions, nobody really has a clue. It’s useful to remember this.
    More often than we think, our faith (or lack thereof) informs our reason; not the other way around. And what makes sense today could very well seem absurd tomorrow. Have you never had this experience? Reason works in mysterious ways…

  11. B Apr 23, 2011 10:56 pm 11

    I have not read all the comments above. But I have read other comments written by notodogma.
    It seems to me that he (notodogmna) has read to many sociological books.
    It is not that there is anything wrong in reading sociological books – as i understand- but I think there is a possibility to go astray, when one does not have a minimum understanding of true spirituality. And again, as i understand, when one has an understanding of true spirituality, it can perhaps even be beneficial to read sociological book (or any other books).
    So my advise to nododagma is to read the books in the resource section.

    Generally I myself prioritize to read (and re-read again and again) the books in the resource section (in this website), than reading some of these articles.

  12. pam Apr 24, 2011 5:43 am 12

    Human atrocities such as concentration camps and the like and extremely heart-wrenching, so I can feel that description of ‘something deep in her eyes’ that you gave very strongly. I think that the situation that you described is probably more like a “social flaw” than a “moral flaw’, though. It is extremely taboo in our society to say something like “they deserved it” when we see something terrible happen to others. To us, such a phrase seems to negate sympathy and compassion. I think the moral flaw here is in the actions of the Nazis, though, not in trying to justify the inner workings of a particular person’s (or group of persons’) destiny.

    I agree with your phrase “perhaps with a few exceptions, nobody really has a clue”, and I don’t think that people should presume to know exactly why undergoing such hardship was in a particular victim’s destiny. Maybe it was not that they were bad in a past life and they needed to be punished/purged of sin. Maybe it was that going through such an experience was needed for them to learn something of value. Maybe they were such good people that they merited a learning experience or a purifying experience. Who are we to judge?

  13. adissam Apr 24, 2011 7:32 pm 13

    From my understanding, there is another aspect to what happens to us, it can also be a test to advance and not be related to our past actions.
    In relation to your example, I just recently discovered Etty Hillesum’s life; a young jewish woman who underwent a profound spiritual transformation in concentration camp.

    There can be many reasons for what happens to us. And, as you said, sometimes we don’t have a clue, until later, sometimes many years after, we realize the Wisdom and the lesson of a particular situation. I personally experienced it and it has changed my vision of events.

    If there is Divine justice, it must pervade everything.

    I agree with your last point, «what makes sense today could very well seem absurd tomorrow».
    It reminds me of what people who had an NDE say about material life.
    What I’ve found impressive is that such change of perception about life is not only affecting the vast majority of people who had such experience but also scientists who interviewed them.

  14. blake Apr 25, 2011 5:02 am 14

    The principle of successive lives does not validate heinous acts. Your example:[ (for example: “millions died in concentration camps because they deserved to” – for many, this is an instance of “moral flaw”)”] regarding this principle is inaccurate, because it seeks to validate a heinous act, and that is how it gets stuck in the “moral flaw” syndrome. Also have you honestly seen such statements made in serious/credible publications – ever ?

    A more realistic way of how such a question might be phrased in normal conversations or daily publications is: millions of innocent people died in concentration camps. What happens to their rights?

    The Principle can now amongst other things explain the following:

    1. Indeed if innocent people are caught in horrifying acts of another or even devastating events, they will be compensated more than they could have ever imagined. (For me an ultimate scenario will be if in their successive life they become “eternally” prosperous)
    2. Divine justice will protect every beings right – This is actually only possible through this principle

    A comprehensive communication of this principle is not easy and I am certainly not an expert on it either, but what helps is a more thorough review of the books The Path of Perfection, and Spirituality is a Science, by Prof. Bahram Elahi. They will help us better understand and communicate this principle and understand the flaw in certain cliche’s as well.

  15. notodogma Apr 25, 2011 2:08 pm 15

    Thank you for these arguments.
    All I will add, and that’s the point I was trying to make, is that it’s not because one feels or thinks that reincarnation makes sense (and we haven’t even discussed other possible counter-arguments) that it necessarily does. I apply this thinking to myself as well, and therefore try to use the term “logical” or “rational” cautiously: there are valid arguments on many sides of the issue, and it’s human to tend to ignore valid counter-arguments and focus on what confirms what one believes. There’s even a name for this well-documented phenomena: confirmation bias.
    The question then becomes: do you want to submit the theory you are defending to rigorous intellectual scrutiny or not? Are you ready to honestly welcome, or even seek out counter-arguments? Or is this a tenet of your faith and worldview, in which case, you might consider it a “deviation” or even a “sin” to engage in such analysis.
    Both attitudes have their merits, but one must be clear and honest about where one stands.
    My personal conclusion is, and has been for a while, not to confuse “faith” and “reason”. And to acknowledge that all I know for sure, is that I really don’t “know” much. I can place my trust in someone who seems to know more, but that doesn’t make me the one who knows.

  16. maxfarsh Apr 27, 2011 7:44 am 16

    I thank notodogma for his points. Here are some thoughts which may not necessarily be correct. Personnaly, I have faith in the principle of successive lives and believe it is more rational than other modes, but I believe notodogma has a strong point. Perhaps we can define an absolute divine justice and a relative divine justice. Knowing the absolute divine justice is like knowing God completely, which is impossible since we are finite and he is infinite. Rationality is limited. For example, mathematics, which are the basis of the universe, are still not on 100% rational, in the sense that the higher level mathematics (theorems) rely on the axioms of set theory which can be considered as arbitrary (e.g. the axiom of choice is rational but arbitrary). Or in geometry (I believe also mentioned in one of Dr. Elahi’s book), a point is indefinable and may seem rational, but it is not rigorously provable. However we take it as a starting point. Similarly, we must also take some faith-based ideas as a starting point for other occurrences to become rational.
    According to Ostad Elahi, we can only know God through the divine spark within ourselves but only God absolutely knows God. So we will never understand absolute divine justice since it is undefinable. I don’t necessarily want to cite what I consider divine scripture, because it may not necessarily be rational in the sense that our rationality is limited. But Quran 18:65-82 has an interesting episode which I thought might relate with regards to the episode of Prophet Moses and a higher spiritual soul, al-Khidr (the Green one).
    “So they set out, until when they met a boy, al-Khidh killed him. [Moses] said, ‘Have you killed a pure soul for other than [having killed] a soul? You have certainly done a deplorable thing… And as for the boy, his parents were believers, and we feared that he would overburden them by transgression and disbelief… So we intended that their Lord should substitute for them one better than him in purity and nearer to mercy.'”
    Thus we can see that even a prophet of God did not necessarily understand all the intricacies of absolute divine justice. For al-Khidr the events that occurred in 18:65-82 were rational but for Moses, it was completely irrational. It seems that knowing the level of the depth in divine justice is proportional to the spiritual level of the person. If we compare it to the Mongol invasion of Persia, we can also see that someone like Jalal al-Din Rumi who fled the Mongol invasion considered it to be divine justice and a divine decree. Another person might have had a different perspective. So I think the discussion of these concepts is beyond my own rational limits but that should not discourage us to try.
    Now the terms justice and injustice are probably different for each human although the overwhelming majority of humans might come to an agreement that certain occurrence or event or action is just or unjust. However, the majority might not be necessarily correct as divine justice might not be the same as what the majority might consider to be justice. The relative divine justice for me means to find the reason why certain personal events have occurred in my life. I consider God to be merciful and just, and he has given us a free-will, so with that free-will comes some responsibility. Misuse of that free-will can bring some sort of retribution. Relative divine justice for me means to find the reason why certain events have occurred in my personal life. It might be faith-based, but I personally have had success with the process of successive lives. Usually when a negative event happens, I try to find a reason and the process of successive lives has answered some of my own questions. I am not claiming these answers are correct, but they satisfy my intellect. In a way, faith-based reasonings demonstrate their reality although this reality might be impossible to convey to others.

    So the principle of successive lives is a practical concept for me but I do not believe it can be used to rationally explain every occurrence of what we may term as “injustice”. The reason is that we do not even know if what we call “justice” and “injustice” is actually “justice” and “injustice”. The process of successive lives for me is part of the puzzle, but I do not believe it is the whole thing. So in short, it seems to me that we can only understand the absolute divine justice up to our own level of spiritual progression and if Moses could not understand Al-Khidr, then we will never understand the absolute divine justice. We can try though to gain a glimpse of it.

  17. star Apr 30, 2011 8:22 pm 17

    I think Divine Justice can only be realized internally, not by trying to rationalize what has happened to others. I can truly believe in my own perspective that the reason a bad thing happened to me was ultimately beneficial, but there would be no way I could convince any one else that is the case.

    On the other hand, I would never try to console a grieving mother that the reason her son died, for example, was actually a good thing, or even try to explain the Holocaust was actually okay!

    But I do believe in Divine Justice through my own personal experiences… if we all would reflect on this matter and try to find these examples for ourselves, it would be more satisfying than trying to do so for other peoples’ experiences.

  18. pam May 02, 2011 5:54 am 18

    I agree with star’s comment. I think there are just so many factors, like actions and intentions and daily experiences, that constitute the life of any one individual, that it is extremely difficult to understand the predicaments that another person is in. We may see on the surface that, for instance, something ‘bad’ has happened to someone, but it is not so easy to see beneath that surface. Perhaps if we actually were aware of the truth of all of this person’s life experiences, thoughts, actions, and perceptions, maybe we would discover that what we considered ‘bad’ was actually beneficial to this person for whatever reason.

    The same probably holds true for ourselves. When I really delve deep within myself, and reflect upon the circumstances that I have been placed into, only then can I make sense of them. Only then do I see that nothing is random.

  19. happi May 02, 2011 7:56 am 19

    why should I act ethically throughout my lifetime? my personal answer is when I do it, I am happy and it feels good. Because, it satisfies the eternal part of me. It is just like an elephant that loves and dreams of India when it sleeps. No donkey dreams of India, since the donkey has never missed India. We, in fact,are like that elephant, and eternity is like India. The elephant belongs to India and that is why he dreams about it. Similarly, eternity is where we belong to, since we dream about it and feels good.

  20. moh May 03, 2011 11:33 pm 20

    Now that a part of the question (where are we going after we die?) has been answered. The next reaction of a logical & practical mind would be (what is this place that I am going?) its like you hear the name of a new country and are told: “we are sending you there.” Would it be enough to just know the name? Or you would start to prepare yourself for this place? Learn the language, see what currency is valid there and start to gain it, see who are the authorities and how their system works? Or what kind of opportunity this new place has? … it might be argued that because it’s not the first time we are going there, it will be fine, but this is like an illiterate & poor guy from a remote village of Pakistan going to New-York: would he perceive what is going on or what he should do? No matter how many times this coming & going repeats itself.

  21. Dr.Ev Oct 20, 2014 8:16 pm 21

    Regarding what you said about not being able to know God or Divine justice, I disagree because, from what I understand of Dr Elahi’s writings and lectures, to know the Source you must know your self, and once you know yourself and God you will know everything because you have joined the ocean of Truth by reaching Perfection; for only the Source is perfect.

  22. kbld Oct 24, 2014 12:51 am 22

    @maxfarsh @Dr.Ev
    It seems that you actually agree on the fact that only a perfect man can understand the complete Truth and that Perfection is a Path, so that meanwhile, we can grasp a part of that Truth.
    There is two steps in that discussion: knowing that there is a Justice and that it is implemented by God, and understand all the single implications of that Justice. On the second point, the ‘all’ is a goal, but we can try to go nearer to it.

    I think you are mistaken on the sense of prophethood. A prophet is somebody who has the mission to reveal a new Religious Law to the creatures of God, he may be a perfect man, he may not be. It is a question of function not of degree of perfection. The two aspect are different, even if, of course, we can imagine that God does not give that mission to any kind of person. I mean that it is not because a prophet has not understood something, moreover apparently and in one story (at one point of his life), that a perfect man would not.
    And on what you about axioms, I remind you the definition of arbitrary in modern languages: ‘based on random choice or personal whim, rather than any reason or system’ (Oxford dictionary). So something cannot be rational and arbitrary. And an axiom that create a whole science cannot be arbitrary.

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