"Turning the face towards God brings healing to the body, the mind and the soul."
A lot of people seek miracle men for receiving gifts of health and healing. One reason is that there are reports of miraculous healing and even awakening of the dead in all Holy Scriptures. It is, therefore, pertinent to understand the significance of such statements and stories.
The religious books give account of a number of events which are miraculous in effect. These indicate the transforming effect of the divine Word that is made manifest through the mediation of the Holy Spirit. The Word of God is depicted to wield a great influence on the minds and hearts of men. The tales are taken from the physical world, but they have a great similarity with the events occurring in the spiritual realms.
Therefore, at times, what seems to be a description of miracles in the religious literature, is symbolic of deeper inner meanings and transformation occurring in human life through spirituality and the power of the Holy Spirit. The awakening of the dead, resurrection, ascending to heaven, etc., for example are references to spiritual awakening and attainment of a spiritual station in life. Abdul-Bahá says, "The outward miracles have no importance for the people of Reality. If a blind man receive sight, for example, he will finally again become sightless, for he will die and be deprived of all his senses and powers. Therefore, causing the blind man to see is comparatively of little importance "1 "Whenever in the Holy Books they speak of raising the dead, the meaning is that the dead were blessed by eternal life; where it is said that the blind received sight, the signification is that he obtained true perception ."2 "The meaning is not that the Manifestations are unable to perform miracles, for They all have power. But for them inner sight, spiritual healing and eternal life are the valuable and important things."3
In the Baháí Writings the power of the Holy Spirit to provide material gifts or healing is not discounted, but our search should be for permanent healing or gifts that are spiritual in nature. Also, at times, if seeking physical healing or gifts in our prayers, we must act in all sincerity to achieve those goals. For instance, when we pray for the healing of our sickness, we must also be treated by the best available doctor.
According to Abdul-Bahá there are two ways of healing sickness: material means and spiritual means. "The first is by the use of remedies, of medicines; the second consists in praying to God and in turning to Him. Both means should be used and practised."4
The Baháí teachings consider the body as an instrument in the hands of the soul to fulfil its mission in the material world. Whereas the human body is temporary, mans soul is everlasting. However, the body should be kept, at all times, in perfect health so that the soul can fully develop before leaving the body.
To achieve this goal, the Baháí Writings emphasize a simple life based on the principle of moderation, and not asceticism. This applies to eating and drinking as to everything else. Abdul-Bahá writes, "All that has been created is for man, who is the apex of creation, and he must be thankful for the divine bestowals."5 However, the use of narcotics and intoxicants of any kind, except as remedies in case of illness, is strictly forbidden by Baháulláh.
In general, a vegetarian diet is recommended for various reasons. It seems that mans body is not constituted for eating animal flesh. The natural food of man is cereals and fruit. Abdul-Bahá says that "Even without eating meat, he [man] would live with the utmost vigour and energy. For example, the community of the Brahamins in India do not eat meat; notwithstanding this they are not inferior to other nations in strength, power, vigour, outward senses or intellectual virtues. Truly, the killing of animals and the eating of their meat is somewhat contrary to pity and compassion, and if one can content oneself with cereals, fruit, oil and nuts, it would undoubtedly be better and more pleasing."6
Cleanliness is an other important principle for ensuring health. Abdul-Bahá says, "External cleanliness, although it is but a physical thing, has great influence upon spirituality The fact of having a pure and spotless body exercises an influence upon the spirit of man."7 A person who leads such a life would be contended, his mind always be peaceful, and his heart at rest.
During sickness, medical treatment should not be neglected, but it should be given up immediately after health has been fully restored. The treatment of choice is through foods, aliments, fragrant fruits and vegetables, and by various waters, hot and cold in temperature. The present day medical science, though in its infancy is already recognizing these as important elements in treatment of diseases.
Beyond the physical means of healing, the Baháí Writings recognize the power of God to heal diseases. The spiritual power of a strong person can help the sick one. The power of the Holy Spirit to restore health does not depend upon contact or physical presence. It is achieved through the prayer of the holy person and Manifestations of God definitely have this gift.
The divinely revealed prayers for the purpose of healing " are both for the spiritual and material healing. If healing is best for the patient, surely it will be granted."8
The spiritual and the scientific are thus beautifully blended in the Baháí Writings. Neither is the power of God to grant the gift of spiritual healing disregarded, nor is the power of the modern medicine to cure diseases undermined. Mans greatest effort, beyond seeking the gifts of the material kingdom, should be towards the attainment of everlasting life rich in divine virtues and spirituality. Thus living in the material world, he would constantly dwell in the higher spiritual worlds. Ultimately, such a soul would attain immortality both in this world having led an exemplary life and the in the worlds beyond by virtue of his pious life based on the divine commandments.
NOTES AND REFERENCES
1. Abdul-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 101.
2. ibid., pp. 101-2.
3. ibid., p. 102.
4. Baháí World Faith, p. 376.
5. J. E. Esslemont, Baháulláh and the New Era, p. 99.
6. Lights of Guidance, p. 295.
7. J. E. Esslemont, Baháulláh and the New Era, p. 100
8. ibid., p. 105.