HEALING THROUGH UNITY
A monthly newsletter dedicated to serving the principles of
physical and spiritual health envisioned in the Baha'i Teachings.
Volume 2, Issue #5
THE POWER OF POWERLESSNESS
By Dr. William Saunders, Georgia, U.S.A
You are participating in a mighty process, but were you chosen because of your personal prowess? Probably not, according to the way His Will works. You will probably be called upon to function in that capacity in which you are most deficient:
the blind shall see the victory of His Cause,
the dumb shall speak in great assemblies,
the deaf shall hear celestial sounds,
the unstable shall stand firm as a mighty mountain,
the fearful shall roar across the seven seas in His name,
the weak shall rise with great strength and perform mighty deeds,
the timid shall excel in assertiveness,
the lame shall walk,
and the depressed shall be exalted to the pinnacles of spiritual power.
Look at Mulla Husayn, a frail, weak student, whose hands shook, and how God transformed him into a mighty warrior, who, when an enemy soldier hid behind a tree, holding his rifle before him as further protection, cleaved the tree, the rifle and the soldier with one mighty sweep of his sword.
In the spiritual world you shall achieve greater victories, in this greatest of all Days, you are at the forefront, in the vanguard of His Hosts, and this program will assist you to achieve the health perfections enabling you to accomplish your exalted mission.
A BAHA'I VIEW OF DISABILITY
Paul Booth has written a beautiful and heart-warming article, "A Baha'i View of Disability". It conveys a positive, authentic and healthy view on the various aspects of disabilities; physical, mental, and spiritual using a wonderful collection of the Baha'i' Writings. Here are some excerpts from his article:
"A poet friend of mind, Paul Bura, observed in one of his books that polio was the best thing that ever happened to him! He explained that because of it he was perforce, less active than his fellows which meant he spent more time on the sidelines watching others. This served to enhance and develop his powers of observation; an attribute so vital to the art of the poet."
"If we look at this world, the disabilities people suffer can indeed seem like the "fire and vengeance" referred to in " My calamity is My providence, outwardly it is fire and vengeance, but inwardly, it is light and mercy." (Baha'u'llah, The Hidden Words, Arabic, # 51) However, from the perspective of the life of the soul which, the Baha'i teachings state, continues to progress for all eternity, we can see that it is indeed "light and mercy" if we use it as God intended."
This article is highly recommended. It was recently printed in the Baha'i Journal UK, October, 1998 issue. You can look it up at his website:
For those unable to access the web Paul would be happy for you to e-mail him at: email@example.com and please indicate whether you would like to receive it in HTML or MS Word 6 format.
In the December, 1998 issue, the question was asked:
"What methods can assist individuals and families who are dealing with mental health issues?"
I work as a caregiver in the home of an elderly lady who is both psychotic and bedfast. I prepare her meals and assist her daughter with many of the functions of her life. I am finding, as time goes on, that one of the best things I can do to help her reconnect with sanity is to encourage her that being sane is a pleasant experience. She is learning to enjoy the quiet, pleasant chats we have while she's eating. She listens for my voice when several people are working on her and listens when I ask for her help, as with transfers to and from her bed. Thanks and encouragement of effort go a long way here. Her daughter, too, is finding that my methods are getting better results and is starting to imitate them. The result will eventually be a more peaceful home, but these are early days yet.
"We must associate with all humanity in gentleness and kindliness. We must love all with love of the heart. Some are ignorant; they must be trained and educated. One is sick; he must be healed. Another is as a child; we must assist him to attain maturity. We must not detest him who is ailing, neither shun him, scorn nor curse him, but care for him with the utmost kindness and tenderness..." (Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 63)
Nancy Myers, Eureka, CA, U.S.
A BRILLIANT MADNESS: LIVING WITH MANIC-DEPRESSIVE ILLNESS
By Patty Duke and Gloria Hochman
Here is the back cover information about this excellent and useful book. (Published in 1992, A Bantam Book)
"Patty Duke shared her long-kept secret: The talented, Oscar-winning actress who won our hearts on "The Patty Duke Show" was suffering from a serious - but treatable - mental illness called manic depression. For nearly twenty years, until she was correctly diagnosed at age thirty-five, she careened between periods of extreme euphoria and debilitating depression, prone to delusions and panic attacks, temper tantrums, spending sprees, and suicide attempts.
Now in 'A Brilliant Madness' Patty Duke joins with medical reporter Gloria Hochman to shed light on this powerful, paradoxical, and destructive illness. From what it's like to live with manic-depressive disorder to the latest findings on its probable causes, its wide range of symptoms, and its most effective treatments, this compassionate and eloquent book provides insight into the challenge of mental illness. And through Patty's story, which ends in a newfound happiness with her cherished family, it offers hope for all those who suffer from mood disorders and for the family, friends, and physicians who love and care for them."
MENTAL ILLNESS IS NOT SPIRITUAL
"...mental illness is not spiritual, although its effects may indeed hinder and be a burden in one's striving toward spiritual progress. In a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to a believer there is this further passage: 'Such hindrances (i.e. illness and outer difficulties), no matter how severe and insuperable they may at first seem, can and should be effectively overcome through the combined and sustained power of prayer and of determined and continued effort.'
That effort can include the counsel of wise and experienced physicians including psychiatrists. Working for the Faith, serving others who may need you, and giving of yourself can aid you in your struggle to overcome your sufferings. One helpful activity is, of course, striving to teach the Cause in spite of personal feelings of shortcomings, thus allowing the healing words of the Cause to flood your mind with their grace and positive power."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, June 15, 1982) Taken from Lights of Guidance, Helen Hornby, # 955)
DISEASE IS OF TWO KINDS
"Disease is of two kinds: material and spiritual. Take for instance, a cut hand; if you pray for the cut to be healed and do not stop its bleeding, you will not do much good; a material remedy is needed. Sometimes if the nervous system is paralysed through fear, a spiritual remedy is necessary. Madness, incurable otherwise, can be cured through prayer. It often happens that sorrow makes one ill, this can be cured by spiritual means."
(Abdu'l-Baha in London, Addresses and Notes of Conversations, p. 65)
Ashley Alvis from Atlanta, GA, U.S. wrote this poem in response to the article about "Baha'i Fatigue Syndrome" in the December, 1998 issue.
We regret to inform you, that
your service to the Faith
has been, temporarily
Please do NOT seek any refunds.
If you were expecting a return
on your investments of money,
time, or energy, then
that is probably why
your service is
If you were expecting others
to be as enthusiastic as you are
about what captures your interest
that may indeed be another reason
why you currently feel so cut-off.
If you have in the past
achieved great success
when others followed your lead,
Perhaps it is time you became a follower.
If you perceive that your community
is providing you with inadequate guidance,
Perhaps it is time you took a leading role.
Be not dismayed,
nor troubled over this matter.
The currents in the affairs of humanity,
even more so in the affairs of God,
are constantly changing.
Do thou likewise.
If you find all doors closed on you,
be aware that those are only
the ones familiar to you.
Try looking down a different hall.
But don't forget about the ones
you've used before.
Chances are, that once your service
is again restored and reconnected,
all doors will be opened to you at once.
Then you can worry!
And search your heart and His
and your community's heart, until
you choose the one which serves best.
Until then, be aware, that time off for good behavior,
is indeed granted on rare occasions.
Enjoy your vacation! Relax! Have Fun!
Love Love; Fellowship, Fellowship; Unity, Unity!;
Be happy, Be happy, Be happy,
and return to His service refreshed and recreated!
Currently! Currently! Currently!
You are only a channel, my friend.
Reconnection involves two poles;
the Source, and your service.
Current flows best when your attachments,
at both ends!
are cleanly and firmly grasped,
and when your channel is pure
Restoration is your business, not ours!
and yet we stand ready to assist each other
in all ways, humanly, and divinely possible.
Ask for what you need from the friends,
just like beseeching your Lord,
with no time frame imposed,
and open to whatever may come in answer.
Let us serve you for a change!
Learn how to receive,
while giving forth your light;
And your filament
in the vacuum bulb of self
need never burn out again.
THE GUARDIAN OF THE BAHA'I FAITH - SHOGHI EFFENDI
The following is an excerpt from the "The Priceless Pearl" written by Ruhiyyih Rabbani, pages 57-58, describing an honest account of Shoghi Effendi in dealing with his mental anguish as a result of his heavy work and responsibilities in being the Guardian for the Baha'i Faith. When he would become exhausted he would go to the mountains in Switzerland to seek out healing and relaxation.
"On 8 April the Greatest Holy Leaf ( Bahiyyih Khanum, aunt of Shoghi Effendi) wrote a general letter...'Since the ascension of our Beloved Abdu'l-Baha Shoghi Effendi has been moved so deeply...that he has sought the necessary quiet in which to meditate upon the vast task ahead of him, and it is to accomplish this that he has temporarily left these regions. During his absence he has appointed me as his representative,...'"
"It all looked very calm on paper but behind it was a raging storm in the heart and mind of Shoghi Effendi. 'He has gone', the Greatest Holy Leaf wrote, 'on a trip to various countries'. He left with his cousin and went to Germany to consult doctors. I remember he told me they found he had almost no reflexes, which they considered very serious. In the wilderness, however, he found for himself partial healing, as so many others had found before him. Some years later, in 1926, to Hippolyte Dreyfus, who had known him from childhood and whom he evidently felt he could be open with as an intimate friend, he wrote that his letter had reached him 'on my way to the Bernese Oberland which has become my second home. In the vastnesses and recesses of its alluring mountains I shall try to forget the atrocious vexations which have afflicted me for so long... It is a matter which I greatly deplore, that in my present state of health, I feel the least inclined to, and even incapable of, any serious discussion on these vital problems with which I am confronted and with which you are already familiar. The atmosphere in Haifa is intolerable and a radical change is impracticable. The transference of my work to any other center is unthinkable, undesirable and in the opinion of many justly scandalous...I cannot express myself more adequately than I have for my memory has greatly suffered.'"
"In the early years after Abdu'l-Baha's passing, although Shoghi Effendi often travelled about Europe with restless interest of not only a young man but a man haunted by the ever-present, towering giants of his work and his responsibility, he returned again and again to those wild, high mountains and their lofty solitude."
A VIRTUE GAME
By Annegret Hallanzy, Psychotherapist, Munich, Germany
I would like to share a family or partnership game on the use of these virtues. Write down 21 of these virtues on a card.
sense of perfection, inspiration, sense of harmony, profoundness depth, empathy / sensitivity, courage, detachment dedication, trustworthiness, faithfulness, supportiveness honesty, acceptance, joyfulness, enthusiasm, intensity warmth, perseverance, patience, compassion
Close your eyes and pull out one card and do not show your card to the others. The others do the same. Now, you have two weeks to perform your chosen virtue with utter perfection until the others can tell you which virtue you are practising. It's possible!!! The effect of the game is to see the others in a positive and enlightening way because you are aware that they are struggling to live a certain virtue! Have fun.
VIRTUES ARE THE GEMS WITHIN US - AN EXERCISE FOR CHILDREN
By Sue Haselhurst, Australia
I have recently come across two virtuous activities which help one experience how the use of virtues can empower our children. A friend of mine once said "When you practice a virtue you are plugging into God." A reader of the newsletter shared this perspective "Mental health is based on the healthy expression of emotions through the use of virtues." The first one leads on to the second.
1. Prepare a blackline master with the drawing of an outline of two people/children. Write underneath the first figure "This person is practising virtues" and under the second figure "This person is not practising virtues". Ask each child to glue each centre with glitter and cover the second figure with tracing paper. Get each child to talk about what the activity represents to him/her. For me it represents an empowering image in that we all have the virtues inside us; we just need to polish them by using them. My daughter once said she was too tired to practise courtesy (and say thank you). With the above picture in mind I acknowledged her tiredness but still asked her to find courtesy. I said "This is an opportunity to learn how to find courtesy even though you are tired - to dig deep, because I know it's in there." It took a while but she eventually found it and from this experience we both learned that she could overcome other emotions to practise a virtue. This leads to empowerment because she learned that she could choose how to behave in that situation and that I believed in her ability. This leads to the second activity which I like to use as a follow up to the first.
2. Fill two thirds of a container with rice (or similiar) and add several pretend gemstones - the more the merrier. Ask a child to "Think of a virtue that is really easy for you to find today". Child responds with love. "Look, there it is right on the top; you pick out the gem of love for me." Child selects a gem from near the top of the rice and is fascinated when you say that it is the love gemstone. Now ask "Can you tell me a virtue that is really hard for you to find today?" Child says patience. "Ok, now I want you to put your hand deep into the container and see if you can dig down deep and find patience for me." Child pulls out a gem. "Wow, there is patience. I honour you for diggingdeep and finding patience." Do this activity with each child and then talk about how on some days it can be very difficult to find any virtues and we have to struggle all day and on other days it's easy.
My daughter (who is four now) said last week that she was digging to find a particular virtue and was just not quite reaching it. As she said this she was mimicking with her hand as if she was trying to reach into her heart to find the virtue but her hand just couldn't quite reach. This activity is great for children, adults and grandparents aged between 3 - 93. It can change the paradigm of many parents from thinking that they have to fill up their child with good behaviours rather than to draw forth those desirable ones which they already possess. I showed this activity to the principal of my daughter's school and he asked all the teachers to offer it to every child in the school.
To sum up, when we practise virtues our gems shine through and when we don't practice virtues it is hard to see them.
'What is the purpose of our lives?' Abdu'l-Baha. -- 'To acquire virtues.' ( Abdu'l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 177)
"Thus, when the spirit is fed with holy virtues, then is the body joyous, if the soul falls into sin, the body is in torment!" (Abdu'l-Baha, Paris Talk p. 65)
INFORMAL NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) REPORT ON THE EXPERT GROUP MEETING ON: WOMEN AND HEALTH: MAIN STREAMING THE GENDER PERSPECTIVE INTO THE HEALTH SECTOR
By Elizabeth L. Bowen, MD, EdD., Georgia, U.S.A.
This meeting was co-sponsored by the United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women and the World Health Organization (WHO) on 28 September to 2 October, 1998, in Tunis, Tunisia. This paper summarizes a report to the Geneva Committee on the Status of Women presented on October 12 at the Palais des Nations in Geneva by Elizabeth L. Bowen, M.D., Ed.D., who represented the Baha'i International Community and Health for Humanityat the Expert Group Meeting.
Approximately 50 individuals participated in the Expert Group Meeting, including 15 invited experts, 12 representatives of UN agencies, 9 WHO staff, 6 governments representatives, 5 NGO representatives.
Women and Health is a priority theme of the March 1999 Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at the UN. The purpose of the Expert Group Meeting was to develop a framework to integrate the gender perspective into health care policies and programs. Many national action plans contain concrete action-oriented proposals for the health sector. However, many countries face difficulties and are asking for assistance in designing and implementing gender-sensitive national action plans for the health sector.
The Platform for Action identified women and health as one of twelve critical areas of concern and defined five strategic objectives:
1. To increase womens access throughout the life cycle to appropriate, affordable, and quality health care;
2. To create and strengthen preventive programs to protect and promote womens health;
3. To promote research and disseminate information on womens health;
4. To undertake gender-sensitive initiatives to address sexual and reproductive health issues; and
5. To monitor follow-up and implementation of the Platform of Action, especially increasing resources.
For example, some five years ago, in the United States, the National Institutes of Health established a gender focal point and found that only 13% of medical research was for womens health. Inequalities must be addressed worldwide. A World Bank study showed a gender differential in the five leading causes of young adults disease burden in developing countries: For women, they are maternal morbidity and mortality, sexually-transmitted diseases, tuberculosis, HIV infection, and depressive disorders. For men, they are HIV infection, tuberculosis, motor vehicle injuries, homicide, violence, and war.
How do we know when we have achieved the mainstreaming of gender into the health sector? When policy planners, researchers, and health practitioners have internalized a gender perspective, we will be able to:
1. Identify risk factors for women and men. For example, the risk of acquiring HIV and AIDS upon exposure is higher in women.
2. Identify conditions that affect women and men differently. For example, 75% of new cases of HIV and AIDS worldwide are women.
3. Identify conditions that are more serious in women than in men. For example, certain sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhea and chlamydia can lead to life-threatening pelvic inflammatory disease, and ectopic pregnancies. Infertility in women is life threatening but is rarely life-threatening in men.
4. Identify conditions that are more prevalent in men than in women. For example, certain forms of substance abuse such as tobacco and alcohol, are more common in men, yet are increasing among women.
5. Develop different interventions for women and men.
The NGO community has a vital role to play in the process of improving the health of women and girls, especially human rights-based approaches, for example, in the acceleration of the elimination of female genital mutilation.
In summary, the Expert Group Meeting participants reached consensus on specific recommendations to present at the CSW, (the Commission on the Status of Women), which is meeting at the UN in New York City from March 1-19, 1999. The recommendations have been published along with a full report of the meeting by the UN Division for the Advancement of Women. For further information, please refer to: http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw
Fax: (212) 963-3463. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
"The world of humanity has two wings - one is women and the other men. Not until both wings are equally developed can the bird fly. Should one wing remain weak, flight is impossible. Not until the world of women becomes equal to the world of men in the acquisition of virtues and perfections, can success and prosperity be attained as they ought to be." ( Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 302)
SPIRITUAL HEALTH HABITS
Here are some essential elements for our spiritual and physical health from an eminent physician.
1) Trust in God
2) Consult a skilled physician and follow his instructions
3) Practice detachment from all save God
4) Practice moderation
5) Pray and meditate daily; read the Creative Word morning and evening
6) Be happy always
9) Practice patience
10) Eat simple, natural plant foods
11) Drink adequate pure water
12) Evaluate progress daily, summarize weekly
I would like to use this opportunity to thank you for the service you do, and would like to ask you to put the following question on my behalf to the readers of the "Healing Through Unity". This way, I may be able to get some responses from the friends, which hopefully would be of some help to me.
"Within the last few years, I have met a number of people who have through death lost someone close to them. I would like to learn or receive some tips on how I can help my friends in times of bereavement. I notice on the issue of grief that not many people like to talk about it and it is a subject which is not dealt with but rather is avoided, hoping it will go away by itself. I would like to know for example if it is a good idea to organise a 'self help group'? And how can I go about organizing it?"
Mojgan Agahi, Lauben, Germany
My gratitude to you....this newsletter is short and succint, and at the same time, packed with critical information for us in the Western world. I feel that virtually all of us are struggling with the "severe mental tests" that Shoghi Effendi predicted that the Baha'is of the West would undergo in their preparation for the Lesser Peace and beyond. As painful as all this is, I know that what we endure was predicted many years ago as being equivalent to the physical pain that the Babi marytrs endured. It is our time to shine in the fire of tests, and to use His wonderful Writings andprayers to heal - first ourselves and then, God Willing, others.
I was forwarded a copy of the "Healing Through Unity" newsletter. I really liked it and I hope there is always the honouring of different ways of healing that I sensed in this one. It is such a refreshing thing to know that there are friends who are willing to share very intimate experiences (e.g. dreams, ceremonies, etc) in the context of 'healing', the healing process, etc. I feel that each nation, each peoples, somewhere in the process of history had been given 'ways' to enter and access into that 'special place and space' for healing, remembering, forgiveness, dreaming and honouring for those 'special and sacred forces'.
Ted Lew and June Iron Hawk-Lew, Mandaree, ND, U.S.A.
Thanks very much for addressing the issues many of us are concerned about in your newsletter. The fact that it is reaching so many people in administrative positions is very significant. Dealing with personal pain and healing is something we are not yet very good at . . .hopefully your newsletter will help us take steps to bring it out of thedarkness into at least the half-light.
Terry Poirier, Uxbridge, Ontario, Canada
QUESTION OF THE MONTH
The question for this month is:
"What are homeopathic remedies?" "How can they successfully cure various illnesses?"
Please share all your stories or if you have other comments for the newsletter or "Question for the Month" ideas, please write to: Frances Mezei by e-mail, -- .
Other than the quoted Writings, the material in this newsletter represents the thoughts and opinions of the writers and has no authority. You are free to copy articles, provided you indicate the source of the article. If you have a change of e-mail address or wish to unsubscribe the newsletter, please let me know. There are 10 issues per year; it is not published during July and August.
A WEBSITE TO BE DEVELOPED
Due to the "Healing Through Unity" newsletter's growth and expansion, it has been suggested that a website be developed. It would be helpful, practical and marvelous if a reader who has the expertise and interest in building a website for the newsletter could take upon this task and responsibility. If you are interested in serving in this capacity, please contact me at -- . Also, if you have any ideas, suggestions or insights on what to include in the website, please feel free to share them with me. Thank you!
With warmest loving greetings,