As for what thou hast asked regarding “the origin” and “the return,” “resurrection” and “assembling for judgment,” “the bridge,” “paradise,” and “hell”: all of them are real, the truth of which none can doubt. Verily, a person of certitude and insight perceiveth all these ranks and stations with the inner and outer eye at every moment, for he is not limited by time nor deprived of grace. If thou soarest in the heavens of divine grace, thou shalt witness creation happening at every moment and in all things, regardless of whether in the past or in the future, and shall behold all that appeareth and transpireth in everything, for His grace hath never been reserved for one thing over another and never shall be.
However, the divine meaning of “assembling for judgment,” “resurrection,” “paradise,” “hell,” and similar expressions mentioned in the divine tablets is limited to the time of the Manifestation. Notice, for example, that at the time of the Manifestation the tongue of God speaketh a Word, and from this Word that cometh from his mouth paradise, hell, the bridge, and everything thou hast asked and not asked are revealed and disclosed. Every soul who hath attained certitude hath crossed the bridge and attained the paradise of good-pleasure. In like manner, it joineth the assemblage of the near ones and the elect and is mentioned before God among the people of paradise, the exalted ones, and those who are steadfast. Every soul that hath opposed the Word of God is in hell and is among the people of negation and wickedness who assemble in the shade of those who join partners with God. These stations appear when the Word appeareth.
As for souls who attain the good pleasure of God and His Cause, they shall obtain recompense for their works in the world to come after their spirits leave their bodies. For in this world they do not have the capacity for more, even if all the divine worlds have ever, and will ever, circumambulate this world. In each world, however, there is an ordained and prescribed mission for each soul. Think not that what hath been mentioned in the book of God is a sham. Exalted is He above that! I swear by the sun of the horizon of inner meanings that, in truth, none of the paradises are alike. Paradise in the first life is His good-pleasure and entering His Cause.
After the ascent of the believers from this world, they attain the peerless paradises and are blessed with innumerable bounties. Those paradises are the fruits of the actions that were undertaken in this world. Hast thou noticed that if one of His servants serveth another soul and beareth a hardship for its sake, he receiveth a recompense and compensation for what he did? How can the Bountiful One be free to issue commands for His servants to obey and later withhold the wonders of His mercy from them? Far, far be it from His glory and exalted, exalted is He above what His servants fancy about Him.
In short, today all of these stations are manifest. Therefore, happy is the soul that attaineth the Abha paradise, which is the most exalted paradise. If there be ears that are cleansed and souls who have attained, then make mention of the wonders of the divine bounties at every moment so all may be freed and purified from everything they have perceived, known, and seen and turn toward the Most Pure, the Most Sublime Vision.
But of what avail! Despite the teachings of the Point of the Bayan (may the souls of all else but Him be His sacrifice), these servants did not advance from the station of the clot to the station of the lump of flesh, much less to the station of acquiring a body and further stations that have never been mentioned (cf. Qur’an 23:14).
Alas for those who change God’s grace unto them and by their own existence prevent the heaven of inner meanings from disclosing their manifestations and qualities. Behold the state of these creatures and be of those who bear witness.
Briefly, paradise and hell in this earthly life have been, and will ever be, recognition and opposition. After the ascent of the spirit, it shall reach the peerless paradises or arrive at the fire that hath no likeness, which are the fruits of the actions of those who have recognized or opposed. However, none but God can ever perceive these stations.
For the believer He hath created stations far beyond what hath been heard of the wonders of the immeasurable divine bounties ordained in the paradises of eternal glory. Likewise, He hath ordained for the opponent eternal torments of which none hath heard their like.
Verily, we bear witness that the bridge hath been upraised in truth, and the criterion established with justice! The manifestations have assembled, the evidences have appeared, the trumpet hath sounded, the horn hath blown, the hell-fire hath blazed, and paradise hath drawn close! The herald hath cried out, the heavens have folded up, the earth hath spread out, the breeze of God hath wafted, and the Spirit of God hath gone forth! The heavenly maidens have been adorned, the heavenly youth have been beautified, the palaces have been erected, and the chambers have been festooned! The buried have risen, the lofty have been brought low, and the lowly have been raised aloft! The sun hath darkened, the moon hath split, the stars have fallen, the waters have flooded, the grapes have been plucked, and the fruits have been gathered! The verses have descended, the deeds of those who oppose have been erased, and the actions of those who recognize have been affirmed! The preserved tablet hath appeared in truth, the written tablet hath spoken with bounty, and the Object of wonders, the Beloved of creation, He who is worshiped on earth and in heaven, hath appeared in the form of the Youth, whereupon the tongues of all things say: praise be God, the most wondrous of Creators!
Baha’u’llah, from a tablet to Sayyid Yusuf Isfahani, INBA 38:140-143