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Worlds, interworlds and successive lives

It is a function of true understanding to bring back together the dispersed parts of a whole in a coherent context where they become meaningful. Our earthly life is a case in point. As a brief stage in the course of a long and complex journey, it should be carefully reassessed according to this pattern. Ostad Elahi raises the curtain on a cycle of successive lives through which every soul must pass and the effects of which are indelibly engraved on what might be termed as our spiritual unconscious. From its first entry into this world to the last phase of its successive lives, the soul is allowed a fixed period of time during which it has access to all the necessary elements for attaining perfection. It is up to the soul to put them to good use. At the end of each life, the state of the soul determines the conditions in which it will find itself at the start of its next life.

The upward movement of the soul, generally speaking, is generated by the all-encompassing process of perfection that pervades all created things. But every human individual, being endowed with free will, is responsible for the efforts that will have to be made in order to develop the virtues necessary for the attainment of self-perfection. You cannot get anything for nothing: a reality derived from the principle of causality.

At the end of the ascending arc of successive lives, the final lot of each individual soul is necessarily determined by the quality it has imparted to its own substance. And this is how the notion of divine “judgment” can be rationally accounted for. Perfect souls join the world of the perfect, where they live eternally in a state of absolute bliss, as they have acquired the right for it. The final state of the other souls depends on the degree of maturity they have reached by the end of their journey towards perfection, each of them residing finally in a permanent world correspondent to the level of its maturity. Every permanent world is permeated with all shades of emotions and sensations, from the bliss of paradise to the terror of the accounts of hell as described by different religions, meaning, according to Ostad Elahi, nearness to the Divine or estrangement from Him.

So there are innumerable worlds, permanent and impermanent, as, indeed, there are many intermediary worlds [interworlds], each belonging to its own appropriate material world, each made of a matter more subtle than what can be perceived by ordinary senses, each an abode for the soul during the interval between two successive lives.

From the teachings of Ostad Elahi, a consistent theory emerges that points to the origin and the overall destination of human beings, and provides a logical basis for the idea of the meaningfulness of life. From the beginning of its being to the time of its arrival at its final destination, the human soul is scheduled for a voyage towards perfection through a limited number of successive lives. Caught in a chain of cause and effect unfailingly operative not only within the span of one single life, but also between one life and the next, the soul has to proceed by trial and error until it finds the right way to choose between the openings presented to it at every step of the journey.

Ostad Elahi’s theory of successive lives is backed up by rational arguments. The process of successive lives provides a logical solution to the problematic issue of divine justice. The seeming injustice of human condition finds its logical explanation, once placed in the context of successive lives. The conditions assigned to people at birth, whether positive or negative, and the events, happy or unhappy, that combine to shape their lives are the direct or indirect consequences of their actions in their former or present lives. It is the combination of these elements that eventually determines the conditions of the process of self-perfection, a process fair and accessible to all, with a final aim that is the same for everyone: attaining perfection.

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  1. Pseudo Oct 29, 2009 5:27 am 1

    The concept of successive lives brings solace to me. This concept gives me hope. And it transforms my earthly life in to a meaningful journey

  2. MH Oct 31, 2009 7:59 pm 2

    Thanks for this text…

    As Pseudo, this concept occurs to me as a wonderful explanation of the ‘injustices’ or what we could consider as injustices on Earth!

    And I can’t imagine that we are the only inhabited world in the Universe… 😉

  3. Zulu Nov 02, 2009 8:31 am 3

    Believing in successive lives has many practical benefits in our daily lives. One of them that I’ve recently realized is that it helps me to be genuinely compassionate towards the sufferings of my fellow human beings.

  4. Blake Nov 03, 2009 2:59 am 4

    Divine Justice sank in when I understood the concept of successive lives; similar to above comments, this concept set me free and gave me peace and hope and turned me into a happy person. Zulu, now that you mentioned it, I can almost see how it can also help one in becoming compassionate. The thought never crossed my mind. I was very satisfied with what I had understood already. Thanks for taking it to new heights !

  5. LD Nov 09, 2009 10:47 am 5

    @Zulu –
    yes, true compassion and empathy without that underlying feeling of injustice, like there’s something terribly wrong with the world.
    Understanding successive lives has taken away much of the anger and frustration I felt about life, and when faced with an apparent injustice, I now try to “freeze frame” and think: “OK, something’s going on here. Stop and think for a moment. What are you supposed to learn from this?”. It’s my own personal Matrix moment.
    There is no spoon. 🙂

  6. Zulu Nov 12, 2009 9:24 am 6

    LD, you made an interesting connection between compassion and justice, but my stream of thought was different. Let me explain it:

    Based on the concept of successive lives there is a disconnection between the action and reaction. For instance if I am facing an unpleasant event in my current life, I can’t connect it to my actions in my previous lives. There are many benefits to this, both social and personal.

    Before going any further let me say that I believe that an unpleasant event in this life does not necessarily translate to a wrongdoing in a previous life. There might be various different reasons behind an unpleasant event such that it could be educational, help with growth, or a blessing to save one from an impending danger and so on and so forth.

    But for the sake of argument let’s imagine a person who in his current life is suffering for a terrible crime he committed in his previous life. If I, as an observer, am aware of such connection can I still be genuinely compassionate toward the suffering of that person? It will be extremely hard for me to put aside my judgments and negative feelings and still look at that person as a fellow human being and sympathize with him. And I found this as one of the practical benefits of the concept of successive lives…

  7. Mat Nov 13, 2009 5:54 am 7

    If I’ve understood this right, the purpose of the successive life is for our celestial soul to reach perfection, and every time that a soul is returned to the earthly life, the new body-milieu is given based on what the individual has acquired in previous lives. therefore, the more good deeds the better body-milieu, or even the chances of remaining in the inter-world to continue the spiritual education. Being compassionate to one another is a way of reaching peace within ourselves and adding to our spiritual reserves. At times, it may be difficult to avoid judgement, but if we think of the benefits to the maturity of our soul, and purify our intentions then it will ease up the task.

  8. LD Nov 13, 2009 11:53 am 8

    I understand better now. Indeed, it would be harder to feel compassion for the suffering of someone who has “deserved” it. But as you said, unpleasant events are not necessarily the consequence of wrongdoings in past lives. Therefore, regardless of the reason for the suffering, one can’t help but be compassionate towards the suffering of others.
    I tend to feel that sort of compassion and empathy naturally most of the time, but it’s difficult to supress the underlying feeling of injustice when I see terrible things happening to innocent people, children and the like. A colleague of mine passed away this week, she was young, in perfectly good health, she was pregnant, had a loving husband and 3 children. And she died, just like that. From what I understand from the principle of successive lives, I know I shouldn’t feel sorry for my colleague. But my heart goes out to her husband and children. In the past, I would have thought “but it’s not fair! Why does God let bad things happen to good people?!” I now know there is a reason for all this, but it has been quite a challenge to feel nothing but compassion.

  9. Zulu Nov 14, 2009 9:20 pm 9

    Yes, I agree with you.
    You mentioned: “I tend to feel that sort of compassion and empathy naturally most of the time.” This is exactly what I was trying to emphasize. I believe if we are feeling a “natural” compassion and empathy, it isn’t really natural! This is the byproduct of the concept the successive lives. Otherwise I doubt we would be able to show such compassion naturally unless we have developed it. So, enjoy this gift of compassion from God!! 😉

    On the loss of your colleague, I am sorry to hear that. I believe that “successive lives” is the only rational way to explain injustice in the world, but if we have trust in God we don’t need any explanation. “Successive lives” is an argument and explanation that helps us develop our trust in God. This is exactly what makes Ostad Elahi’s philosophy so interesting to me. Because it is based on comprehending and understanding the divine system rather than a blindfold following.

  10. KK Dec 05, 2009 12:29 am 10

    If we discovered of our past lives, wouldn’t that hinder our process of perfection? Imagine if you were a criminal in your past life. If you knew this, the thought of it would surely hamper your strife for perfection, you would be always thinking of it. However, I’m trying to think of other reasons for the misrecollection of our past lives. What are some other reasons?

  11. Question Apr 05, 2011 8:12 am 11

    I have a question regarding the corporeal image:
    People who perform plastic surgeries; does that change their corporeal image? Can making a plastic surgery make someone happier over there?
    For example I have a big scar on my forehead from a car accident; it does not bother me in this world that I have this scar, and I even think its cool. But sometimes I think maybe it is going to bother me after I die if it is going to be part of my corporeal image forever.
    This question asked, I would just mention that I know what determines one’s “good looks” over there is other things than here on earth… (for example our characteristics), but still it is question for me.

  12. star Apr 08, 2011 11:55 pm 12

    @KK Another reason may be if you were the victim of someone’s crime, or if your family member suffered at the hands of someone, and you met the criminal in your next life, you could not help but be affected and want some sort of retaliation…so it is a grace that we forget these things because it is like being given the opportunity to do right and NOT seek retaliation…

  13. Eileen May 15, 2011 3:26 am 13

    The way this article is written frightens me. The comments of the persons who write and emphasize God’s compassion calms me.

  14. 7 Oct 11, 2012 1:11 pm 14

    Don’t know why, just thinking about an animal suffering breaks me, a very unbalanced feeling. However, I don’t feel that much compassion for human suffering. I usually tell myself “God loves them more than I love them”, or “God compensates, He is Just!” But most of the time, this kind of self-suggestion does not work :'( Does anybody know why? What is wrong with me? I should feel more for humans, they have a soul which is from God!

  15. Johnny Oct 12, 2012 5:48 pm 15

    @7: Sympathy, like any other virtue, needs to be cultivated by each person until it reaches a state of balance within their psyche. Some people might be excessively sympathetic, such that it almost cripples them psychologically, or they allow themselves to be swindled. But I think the majority of us need to become more compassionate towards our fellow human beings.

    In practical terms, I find that reflecting upon my own experiences is very useful when I need to change certain behaviours. In such a situation as you describe, I think it would be useful to remind yourself of occasions where you have been unhappy, and someone comforted or sympathized with you. When you realize the positive effects which that compassionate act had upon you, it will hopefully inspire you to try and emulate such behaviour, as the golden rule of practical ethics is to act toward others as you would them to act towards you.

    Sympathy is not incompatible with divine justice, and in my experience—although very limited—it is closely related to altruism. We might not be able to alleviate the suffering of all those whom we see or encounter, but in being considerate towards it, we will be able to recognize those situations where we can help others. And it’s good to remind yourself that ‘God is Just’, because if He guarantees the rights of human beings and compensates those who have been wronged, then there is no reason why He wouldn’t do so towards animals too! This shouldn’t prevent us from helping those who are suffering, and every sincere act of kindness attracts divine grace.

    In another post, you described noticing the benefits of natural meditation and asking for divine help on a daily basis, which was very inspiring to read! If you also sincerely seek His help when it comes to making an effort to find balance with this particular virtue, I am sure you will notice positive changes in your daily life.

  16. 7 Oct 14, 2012 4:38 pm 16

    @ Johnny

    You made me realized i am dealing with two different problems here!

    1. Being too sensitive toward animals. As you reminded me. God is just! I found a statement that helps: “being miserable means God is wrong and I am right, and that makes me embarrassed and shameful.”

    2. Lack of sympathy for human beings! Here the “Golden Rule” is the strongest reminder for me !

    Thank you!

  17. Hugo Nov 08, 2021 12:14 am 17

    I have a question about the soul’s existence in the material world. What is the significance of all that is material in this world for the soul and the soul’s education and advancement towards perfection? Why do we have to have this material experience in order to advance? After all, the soul itself is not material… and I imagine that the permanent worlds are not material either… So why this material experience and existence?

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