Life, Death, and the Soul
The soul animates the body and distinguishes human beings from the animals. It grows and develops only through the individual's relationship with God, as mediated by His Messengers. The relationship is fostered through prayer, knowledge of the scriptures revealed by these Teachers, love for God, moral self-discipline, and service to humanity. This process is what gives meaning to life.
Cultivation of life's spiritual side has several benefits. First, the individual increasingly develops those innate qualities that lie at the foundation of human happiness and social progress. Such qualities include faith, courage, love, compassion, trustworthiness and humility. As these qualities are increasingly manifest, society as a whole advances.
Another effect of spiritual development is alignment with God's will. This growing closer to God prepares the individual for the afterlife . The soul lives on after the body's death, embarking on a spiritual journey towards God through many "worlds" or planes of existence. Progress on this journey, in traditional terms, is likened to "heaven." If the soul fails to develop, one remains distant from God. This condition of remoteness from God can in some sense be understood as "hell." Thus, heaven and hell are regarded not as literal places but descriptions of one's spiritual progress toward the light of God.