Baha'i Library Online

COLLECTIONLetters from the Universal House of Justice
TITLEAnimal Spirits
AUTHOR 1 Universal House of Justice
ABSTRACTLetter to an individual believer on the question if animals possess a surviving spiritual reality.
NOTES Mirrored from Animals - Going to Heaven (includes further related material). [Title not included in the original letter.]
TAGSAnimals; Heaven and hell; Life after death; Soul
CONTENT The Universal House of Justice received your email and well understands the profound bond of affection that must have grown up over some sixteen years between xxx and her cat. It has instructed us to send you the following reply. The difficulty of trying to envisage the realities of the spiritual worlds lies in the limitations of our present conditions. We can picture the next life as little as an unborn child could envision the realities of its life in this world after birth. As ‘Abdu’l-Bahá explains in Some Answered Questions and in other talks and Tablets, spirit expresses itself in the material world in varying degrees. Each of the kingdoms mineral, vegetable, animal and human is able to show forth higher qualities, and while the higher kingdoms can embrace and understand those which are lower, it is not possible for an occupant of a lower kingdom to conceive the full reality of an occupant of a higher one. For an animal, the joys and realities of life are basically physical and emotional. It neither possesses, nor can it understand, the spiritual reality of a human being. The world it inhabits is perfectly attuned to its needs and level of existence. If it were to be transported to a purely spiritual world, it would be deprived of all that it knows and values. A human being who does not develop his spiritual nature, who lives at the purely animal and materialistic level, experiences entry into the next life as a descent into hell, while a soul which has developed its spiritual capacities experiences it as an ascent into heaven as an unfolding and blossoming of greater potentialities. Thus, although, as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá explains, the animal spirit, which becomes individualized in a particular creature, does not survive in its individual condition after death, this is no deprivation or cause of suffering for the animal, but is perfectly suited to its condition by an All-Wise and All-Perfect Creator. As for a human soul who has known and loved an animal those experiences, as memories, have become a part of his or her eternal life. This, indeed, is what happens to our relationship to all material things. They will eventually be dispersed, so all the physical beauties of this world will ultimately remain only in our memories; but, as such, they constitute an enrichment of our lives which will continue to develop in the spiritual worlds.
    — Universal House of Justice, 9 March 1995, to an individual believer
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