”Baha’u’llah, the founder of the Baha’i Faith, teaches that the soul is not an element within the physical frame of the human being. Rather, it is an elemental aspect of our being that has been created in association with our physical conception. Baha’u’llah teaches that this world ” is but a show, vain and empty, a mere nothing, bearing the semblance of reality. The soul “is a Divine Trust, and it must traverse all conditions; for its passage and movement through the conditions of existence will be the means of its acquiring perfections.” The reason for the existence of the universe is for the development of souls. The real world or the greater world is the timeless place of the soul.
The relationship of the physical being with the soul is likened to the mirror reflection of a complete light source. In this sense the soul cannot be anything but a spiritual entity. The purpose of the human being is to continue to polish their mirror to reflect the souls light. Another analogy for the soul and human being is that of the embryo to the womb. We must nurture the soul with the development of virtuous behaviour and spiritual understanding. Both of these analogies direct our attention to the effort that is important in spiritual development. In this spiritual model, it is not important the starting point or innate capacity of the human being,but the effort given to improving the behaviour.
This is not a one way street. The soul is closely related to our rational faculty and assists in inspiration and motivation. Baha’u’llah teaches that souls that have ‘ascended’ provide the power for the nourishment of arts and sciences in the world. I put ascended in parenthesis because Baha’u’llah makes it clear that the soul is beyond egress and regress, concepts that can only be attributed to the universe of time and space.
The insights of Baha’u’llah regarding the nature of the soul provides an alternative explanation to those phenomenas of the mind that evoke thoughts of reincarnation. For example, sometimes a person is endowed with the ability to ‘remember’ experiences from an earlier time in history; or a person may have a dream that many years later takes for in real life. These and many other forms of this experience, including my grandmother’s clairvoyance, can be explained by the communications of a soul that is essentially outside of time but could access information across time and space.
It might be asked, if our souls are able to access information along the time and space, why aren’t we all able to see back into history or into the future. The answer to this lies in our physical brain that supports the rational faculty. As everyone’s brain is different in capacity and functional formation, so the ability of the brain to access the information available to the soul can well be only potential in most people. In some few people, though, the capacity seems developed to a degree that they are able to translate odd strands. So what these people may be experienceing, is not their past lives, but may be their soul transmitting information about someone else’s life. Such capacity is also very limited, probably because it depends on a small part of th ebrain that has developed an ability to receive the information. So it is like looking through a telescope, very clearly on a very narrow range of the universe.
However, does it indicate a functional capacity that the human brain might eventually evolve towards. From an evolutionary point of view, that might depend on the value society places on such abilities. Abdu’l-Baha dissuades Baha’is from becoming overly interested with psychic powers because of the tendency for such interest detracting from the main game of developing the soul by applying oneself to the challenges of a wholesome live of relationships and service. However, as human society moves from societies that spend much of their psychological resources coping with conflict and egoism, to a global society that has the freedom to use its enormous psychological and rational resource on relationships, growth of knowledge, and mental abilities, we might automatically see people develop powerful capacities to understand the past and the future, through intuition, visions, advanced analytical skills, and insightfulness.