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February, 2000

A monthly newsletter dedicated to serving the principles of
physical and spiritual health envisioned in the Baha'i Teachings.

Volume 3, Issue #6


- Dedication
- A Letter From May Maxwell to Agnes Alexander
- The Exchange
- Spiritual Tools for our Health
- Even Science Supports Prayer
- A Creative Idea!
- The Laughter Room
- Arts In Action
- Health Habits
- Question of the Month
- Purpose of the Newsletter
- Website


Editor's Note: We lost a very special leader, mentor and friend, Hand of the Cause Amatu'l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum who passed away in Haifa, Israel on January 19, 2000. She was 89. She resided there since her marriage in 1937 to the world head of the Baha'i Faith, Shoghi Effendi. Ruhiyyik Khanum held senior positions in the Baha'i community and played a major role in the development of the Baha'i community. She was also a tireless traveler visiting 185 countries over her years of service to the Baha'i community which included spending four years driving her Land-Rover through sub-Saharan Africa to 34 countries. She was also a writer, publishing several books, including "The Priceless Pearl", a biography of her husband and "Prescription for Living", which deals with the application of spiritual principles to practical life. In 1996 she published a collection of her poems written in the months following the death of Shoghi Effendi in 1957, "Poems of the Passing."

I would like to honour her by dedicating this issue to the loving memory of Madame Ruhiyyih Khanum. If you have any stories, memories or articles about Ruhiyyih Khanum that you would like printed in a future issue, please share them with us.

This portion of the letter from May Maxwell (mother of Ruhiyyih Khanum) to Agnes Alexander is from a collection of letters currently held by a believer in California.  

243 W. 44th St.,
New York City.
May 7 (1909)

My Dearest Agnes,
All of your dear letters have been received and the .... You must have wondered that I could remain so silent in spite of all your love and kindness but you will understand when I tell you that this winter has been one of great physical weakness and suffering for me, so that I have been most of the time unable to write, or to make any effort. A little more than a year ago when I was in Acca I was passing one evening in the twilight in front of the Master's door. His daughter Rouha was with me and in my arms I held her wee babe. I suddenly saw Our Beloved Lord framed in the doorway gazing attentively upon me - then He said - "You love that baby?" "Oh! I love him," I replied - and after a pause Our Lord said: "Come here, come in here," and I stood before Him in His room, with the baby in my arms and Rouha by my side. Then The Blessed one sat looking at us; and he said to me: "Would you like to have a baby?" and I answered, "I should be so happy to have one -" and He said, "Do you know why you never had one? It is because you were a chosen maid servant of God - you were called for the service of God - you could not have children because you had to devote your time to the service of the Cause. This is the only reason; this is the only reason."

I stood with bowed head before Him and after a little silence He said "Speak, do you choose to have a child, you may choose!" Then I looked at Him with all my heart and soul and adoration, and I said, "I choose whatever God chooses - I have no choice but His." Although those words were very simple - in them I renounced all hope of Motherhood. Then 'Abdu'l-Baha arose quickly and came to me and clasped me in His arms with the greatest love and joy, and He said: "That is the best choice, the Will of God is the best choice -" and walking up and down the room He continued, "I will pray for you, that God will send you that which is best for you". "Be sure of this, that God will send you that which is best for you -" and this He repeated several times.

Thus ended this never-to-be forgotten scene - but I cannot describe its reality - the deep significance of those moments - the atmosphere of beauty and sanctity which pervaded the little room - the surrender of a soul in the Presence of the Lord - the quiet twilight on earth mingling with the effulgent purity and peace of the Kingdom of God. And regarding the Adored One Himself - what can we say? Such love - such wondrous love - revealed in Face and Voice and Eyes and Touch! A love so tender to understand, so strong to redeem! He desired for me as for all, the highest and best - not the wayward mortal desiring - not even the natural human longings - not even the pure flower of Motherhood - but the surrender of the soul to God by which alone it attains the apex of severance and sanctity, and becomes enkindled with the Fire of Eternal Love.

And so I have told you, my Agnes - of one scene of those divine and perfect days in the Kingdom of God - and in time I shall hope to tell you all - for those days live forever, far above the world - and I long to have you and all the dear ones share their sacred fruits. And now my lamb I am going to confide to you a secret which is the sequel to what I have told you. Our dear Lord has favored His maid servant past all her hope, and by the pure showers of His Bounty has watered the seed of life, and is bringing forth a child. In a few months Inchallah, the babe He is sending to my husband and me will be born, and I beg for your prayers, both for the little one and for myself - for I am not strong - nor young! and physically I am passing through some trials - and this winter I had a fall which nearly proved fatal. I have not told the friends - even the most intimate - but l wanted you to know - and I know you will keep my confidence.

In a letter of March 2, 1911, May Maxwell wrote: In a recent Tablet He ('Abdu'l-Baha) said concerning her (May's child) "In the garden of existence a rose has bloomed with the utmost freshness fragrance and beauty. Educate her according to the divine teachings so that she may grow up to be a real Baha'i and strive with all thy heart, that she may receive the Holy Spirit.",...... You guarded my secret so well - and no one knew until Nature proclaimed it and every one was so happy in the coming of the God-given child.


"There are two ways of healing sickness, material means and spiritual means. The first is by the treatment of physicians; the second consisteth in prayers offered by the spiritual ones to God and in turning to Him. Both means should be used and practised." 
(Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, pp 151-52)

The Baha'i teachings repeatedly emphasize that the best would be to combine material and spiritual healing when treating illnesses. What is your understanding of this? What experiences, results, and stories have you had when using both physical and spiritual treatments or remedies? How can we train health practitioners to bring spirituality into their work which is sorely lacking in today's society?


In answer to the question of the month, January, 2000, here is a brief experience I had a little over a year ago, when undergoing a hernia operation at the Shouldice Hospital in Toronto, Ontario. This clinic is world famous for its hernia repair technique and during my stay, there were patients from South Africa, and United States. My roommate was a surgeon from Boston.

When I was wheeled into the operating room, I had been sedated and was being given the local anesthetic so the doctors could perform the operation. The two doctors and assisting nurse were very warm and happy and also experienced in this field as hernia operations are all that this hospital does, and they are carried out in a very systematic manner. I looked up at the doctors and because of their happy mood, I said in a semi-humorous manner. "Do you guys say a prayer before you do the operation?" They looked at me and continuing their happy attitude, one of them replied, "Not usually, but if you would like to say a prayer, we would be happy to listen". I then said the short healing prayer, following which one of the doctors said, "That was a very nice prayer. What religion is that from?" I then told him it was from the Baha'i Faith, and he nodded. He also thanked me again for the prayer following the operation.
- Anonymous, Ontario, Canada

The Importance of Prayer

"... Although physically we may be unable to do much, we can all pray even when we are elderly. Mother Teresa had special co-workers who were disabled, elderly or ill. They were able to pray daily as their service in supporting her work with the poor, and she was very glad to have such valuable help. I knew a wonderful young man, terminally ill with cancer, who although often in great pain would pray for others from his bed. Each day started with these prayers. He would even pray for his visitors in hospital.

I personally have witnessed miracles happening after prayer. Our Godson Christopher, as a newborn, was desperately ill. He was not expected to live through the night and the consultant had said that if he did survive he would be seriously brain damaged. Hearing this terrible news we immediately rang round our Christian friends through a prayer chain. Christopher not only survived the night, but he is now a healthy strong and intelligent four-year-old who has never looked back.

I also prayed with another young man who was dying in hospital and in great fear. Gradually with support he began to pray himself. All his fear left him and he made his peace with his family and friends from who he had become estranged. He died beautifully; smiling, pain free and at peace. He saw his brother, who had died before, waiting for him, and what he called a beautiful white lady waiting to welcome him with outstretched arms and great love. He could not wait to go, and I could not help thinking that it must have been a Maid of Heaven receiving him to the next world...."
- Excerpts from article "The Importance of Prayer" by Juliet Grainger, taken
from Baha'i Journal UK, May 1998


Mary Maxwell's (Ruhiyyih Khanum) Dream

"Some years before her marriage to the Guardian, Mary told me this dream, shortly before the passing of Bahiyyih Khanum, (daughter of Baha'u'llah and sister of Abdu'l-Baha) the Greatest Holy Leaf. We were sitting together on the blue velvet couch in the Maxwell drawing room, waiting for the Feast to begin. The dream was as follows:

Mary appeared to be in Haifa. She entered the bedroom of the Greatest Holy Leaf who was lying ill in bed. At the foot of the bed was a table laden with all shapes and sizes of bottles of different coloured medicines. Mary, longing to help, asked if she could give Bahiyyih Khanum some medicine, indicating the table.

The Greatest Holy Leaf smiled gently, shook her head and replied, "That is the world's medicine. That will not help me." Then she asked Mary to go to a table in another corner of the room, remove an exquisitely carved silver screen and behind it she would find her medicine. Mary did as directed and when she removed the little screen she saw a goblet of such clear crystal filled with golden liquid so pure that one could not know where the liquid began and the goblet ended!

This precious goblet Mary carried with both hands and gave it to Bahiyyih Khanum. The Greatest Holy Leaf took one sip, then handed the goblet to Mary and said, 'Drink it, drink it all up!' Mary did so. Then she said, Rosemary, I could never describe the taste of that divine elixir. I could never describe it."
- Taken from "Tending the Garden - the edited letters and papers of Emeric and Rosemary Sala", by Ilona Sala Weinstein, pp. 53-4.

By Frances Mezei, Ontario, Canada

We are taught in the Baha'i writings that science and religion are both paths to the truth and that they agree and complement. In the matter of health, we are taught that all true healing comes from God, and that this God-sent healing comes through medical care (science) and through the spiritual care (religion). Here is a powerful story which demonstrates the importance of the true balance of material and spiritual healing.

"It is said that once Peter became ill and called on God for help, and God sent him to find a particular herb. Peter found it, ate it, and was cured. Time passed and Peter again became ill, however, this time he ate the same herb, but it didn't work so he asked God why. God replied, "The first time you turned to ME, and I cured you through the herb. The next time you did not turn to ME, you went to the herb and this was My test." Author unknown.

The teachings of the Baha'i Faith encourage someone who is ill to go to a skilled and wise physician as well as to rely on prayer. Because we are living in a materialistic society, most people are highly conscious of the material means of healing while remaining largely unaware of the spiritual means of healing. Just as material healing has different tools, there are also spiritual tools which can be used in healing.


We can recite daily the long healing prayer and short healing prayer revealed by Baha'u'llah. For those who do not have a copy of the long healing prayer, it can be found in the "Healing Through Unity" course in the website. Here is a beautiful perspective of the long healing prayer shared by Dr. Saunders, Georgia, U.S.

"Calling on His Names is remembrance of Him and we are being trained to call on Him. The Names in the long healing prayer for example, 'O Thou Abiding One', 'O Unfettered One', 'O Gathering One', and 'O Magnanimous One' are specialized for healing. Each one is different and has its own unique and special power. They are also virtues and remembering them is a means of acquiring those virtues. What marvelous and ennobling instruments He has blessed us with!"

The healing prayers can be typed up and then reduced to a smaller version to be placed inside a locket, wallet or purse for our protection. We can develop healing prayer cards to be given to patients, health practitioners, families and friends.


"Recite ye the verses of God every morning and evening." (Baha'u'llah, Spiritual Foundation: Prayer, Meditation and the Devotional Attitude)

The commandments to pray daily are precious gifts from God because reciting prayers refresh, purify and strengthen our souls. The wisdom of prayer and meditation serve as a connection between us and God to receive His guidance, bounties and grace for our growth and development. Our bodies and souls become permeated and nourished by spiritual energy and guidance.

We can establish a routine of reading the Writings so it becomes a natural thing to do. We can read and meditate on the Writings on health and healing as well as the ones which focus on the specific area of health that we are working on such as hearing, sight, depression, calmness, etc, etc. Through the power of prayer, we can turn with all our heart to God, with implicit trust both in His power and in His Will to do whatever is best. We can ask God specific questions and then rely that our prayer will be answered and put all our trust in God. We can learn to listen to our inner self and hear messages which are often short, precise and practical for our daily routines. These answers can be written down in our journals for our record and progress.

"When, in prayer, we are freed from all outward things and turn to God, then it is as if in our hearts we hear the voice of God. Without words we speak, we communicate, we converse with God and hear the answer...All of us, when we attain to a truly spiritual condition, can hear the Voice of God."
(Abdu'l-Baha cited in "Baha'u'llah and the New Era", J.E. Esslemont, pp. 88 - 9)


We can obtain healing by saying the Greatest Name, Allah-u-Abha, regularly and in emergency or trauma situations for God's assistance. The following fragments from the Writings have been received from the Baha'i World Centre so that we may increase our understanding of the recital of the Greatest Name 95 times daily as per the 28 December 1999 letter of the Universal House of Justice. "It hath been ordained that every believer in God, the Lord of judgment, shall each day, having washed his hands and then his face, seat himself and, turning unto God repeat 'Allah-u-Abha' ninety-five times. Such was the decree of the Maker of the Heavens when, with majesty and power, he established Himself upon the thrones of His Names."

"O ye beloved friends of God and handmaids of the Merciful! Call ye to mind the blessed Name of our peerless Beloved, the Abha Beauty, in an uplifting spirit of unbounded ecstasy and delight, then unloose your tongues in His praise in such wise that the realm of the heart may be purged from the woes and sorrows of the world of water and clay, that the great heights of spiritual perception may be unveiled before your eyes, that the glorious signs of His Divine Unity may shine resplendent, a fresh outpouring of His grace may stream forth, and a liberal effusion of celestial confirmations may be vouchsafed unto you.

His Name is indeed the healing medicine for every illness, and imparteth warmth unto those starving with cold. It is the sovereign remedy and the supreme Talisman. It is the source of life in both worlds, and of salvation unto such as have gone astray. Today this hallowed Name serveth as a shield for all mankind, and as a veritable refuge for the children of men. It is the wondrous accent of the Lord of Mercy, and His celestial melody.

Wherefore, O faithful friends, raise ye the triumphal cry of Ya-Baha'u'l-Abha! O ye who yearn after the Beauty of the Almighty! Lift up your faces toward the Supreme Horizon. Rest not, even for a moment. Breathe not a single breath save in remembrance of His love and in recognition of His grace, in the promulgation of His Utterances and the vindication of His Testimonies.

Verily, this is the Magnet of divine confirmations. This is the mighty Force which will surely attract heavenly assistance." 
'Abdu'l-Baha (recently translated quotation received from the Baha'i World Centre concerning the Greatest Name - 1993)

Note: Allah-u-Abha is a greeting which means: 'God the All-Glorious'. Ya Baha'u'l-Abha is an invocation meaning: 'O Thou Glory of Glories'.
(Baha'u'llah, 'The Kitab-i-Aqdas', Note 33)


When our loved ones are ill or in need, we can offer prayers for them. People can come together and pray for each other as well as to pray for anyone in need which often creates a strong spiritual bond. J.E. Esslemont writes in Baha'u'llah and the New Era, p. 113:

" All must help, by sympathy and service, by right living and right thinking, and especially by prayer, for of all remedies prayer is the most potent. 'Supplication and prayer on behalf of others will surely be effective.' (Abdu'l-Baha, The Divine Art of Living, p. 50)....It may not be possible for everyone, in the present state of the world, to attain perfect health, but it is possible for everyone to become a 'willing channel' for the health-giving power of the Holy Spirit and thus to exert a healing, helpful influence both on his own body and on all with whom he comes in contact."

"The greatest form of healing which the Baha'is can practice is to heal the spiritually sick souls of men by giving this greatest of all Messages to them. We can also try to help them, both physically and spiritually, through prayer."
(From letter dated 31 March 1947 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, Health and Healing, p. 39)

This is an article taken from Archives of Internal Medicine 1999; 159:2273 - submitted by Daryoush Yazdani, Japan

NEW YORK, Oct 26 (Reuters Health) -- Prayer may reduce the number of complications experienced by hospitalized heart patients, researchers report.

"This suggests that prayer may be an effective adjunct to standard medical care,'' Dr. William Harris of Saint Luke's Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, and colleagues report in the October 25th issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Heart patients who were prayed for by others, but were not aware of being the object of prayers, had an 11% reduction in medical complications or the need for surgery or medication while in hospital, according to the investigators.

The authors examined the medical charts of nearly 1,000 heart patients, following their health histories between hospital admission and discharge.

All patients in the study received standard medical care. But unbeknownst to the patients, Harris and colleagues provided the first names of about half the patients to 15 teams of five self-identified, practicing Christians. These individuals prayed daily for the healthy recovery of selected patients for a period of 4 weeks. The remaining patients were not prayed for as part of the study.

The authors report that the prayed-for patients had significantly lower complication rates than those not prayed for in the study.

The research team effectively ruled out patient bias as a possible factor behind the benefits associated with prayer, since both patients and hospital staff "were completely (unaware of)... the very existence of the trial.''

Indeed, they say they have no "mechanistic explanation'' as to how the prayers of strangers might have helped speed patient healing. The odds that chance might explain the findings are about 1 in 25, according to the authors.

Instead, they refer to the theories of those who believe that "natural or supernatural'' causes may be behind the 'healing power of prayer.' Believers in the 'natural causes' theory propose that some as-yet-undiscovered natural force is '''generated' by the intercessors and 'received' by the patients,'' according to the researchers. On the other hand, those subscribing to a supernatural explanation point to the existence of God or some force "beyond the ken of science.''

Other, smaller studies have provided conflicting results regarding the power of prayer. However, the largest -- a 1988 trial involving 339 San Francisco patients -- found results remarkably similar to those of the current study. The combined results have led Harris and his colleagues to suggest that experts "explore the role of prayer as an adjunct to standard medical care.''


A friend, Aghdas Javid, a tireless worker of the Faith and who has been holding firesides every Wednesday evening for the last 33 years in her home in Southern Ontario, Canada, came up with a creative idea. Recently, she was a patient at a hospital and when she returned home, she wasted no time and went to work to design a very simple and educational pamphlet called "Health and Healing: A Baha'i Perspective. On the cover page are pictures of people from different cultures and ages.

Here is what is written inside the pamphlet which is an excellent summary about Health and Healing:

"Good health is truly one of life's bounties. The ability to work, play and fully enjoy life while contributing to society confers happiness and a sense of purpose in our day-to-day lives. Ill health is, however, inevitable at one time or another for most of us, and for the families and friends that care for us.

The Baha'i teachings offer solace and hope for those who are ill and guidance for maintaining health. Human beings are seen as fundamentally spiritual in nature. Although we exist in physical bodies during our journey on earth, the essential identity of each person is defined by an invisible, rational, and everlasting soul. The physical body is the temple of one's soul and should be respected and cared for, but neither physical or mental illness interfere with our spiritual progress.

"Know thou that the soul of man is exalted above, and is independent of all infirmities of body or mind. That a sick person showeth signs of weakness is due to the hindrances that interpose themselves between his soul and his body, for the soul itself remaineth unaffected by any bodily ailments."
(Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, pp.153-54)

Health and healing can be seen as having two components: spiritual and physical. Medical science is humanity's tool for understanding our physical nature while offering prayers and turning to our Creator facilitates spiritual healing.

"There are two ways of healing sickness, material means and spiritual means. The first is by the treatment of physicians; the second consisteth in prayers offered by the spiritual ones to God and in turning to Him. Both means should be used and practised. Illnesses which occur by reason of physical causes should be treated by doctors with medical remedies; those which are due to spiritual causes disappear through spiritual means...."
(Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, pp 151-52)

We can help to maintain our health with adequate rest, relaxation, a moderate lifestyle, and good nutrition. When suffering and ill health do occur we can often see it as an opportunity in adversity.

"Often physical sickness draws man nearer unto his Maker, suffers his heart to be made empty from all worldly desires until it becomes tender and sympathetic towards all sufferers and compassionate to all creatures...."
(Elias Zohoori, The Throne of the Inner Temple, pp 20-1)

When our loved ones are ill, we can offer prayers for them, and cheer their hearts. "We should all visit the sick. When they are in sorrow or suffering it is a real help and benefit to have a friend come. Happiness is a great healer to those who are ill..." 
(Abdu'l-Baha, Tablets of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 149)

The Baha'i teachings offer an optimistic vision of a peaceful world where religion and science are seen as essential and complementary, and human health is seen as organic with the health of our environment. In the future the enormous resources now spent on war will be "consecrated to such ends as will extend the range of human the extermination of disease, to the extension of scientific research, to the raising of the standard of physical health..." 
(Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha'u'llah, p. 204)

When Aghdas Javid sent this pamphlet for the newsletter, she wrote a lovely note. She wrote "I hope everybody gets it and puts it in all waiting rooms in hospitals and doctor's offices. It will console and inform them about the Faith." We can try to follow Aghdas' wishes by creating pamphlets ourselves for our communities or buying copies of this one if it becomes available at the Baha'i distribution outlets.


Author Unknown

It's important to have roots.

In today's complex world, it pays to branch out.

Don't pine away over old flames.

If you really believe in something, don't be afraid to go out on a limb.

Be flexible so you don't break when a harsh wind blows.

Sometimes you have to shed your old bark in order to grow.

If you want to maintain accurate records, keep a log.

Grow where you're planted.

It's perfectly okay to be a late bloomer.

Avoid people who would like to cut you down.

As you approach the autumn of your life, you can't hide your true colours.

It's more important to be honest than popular.

And remember, as you go through life, always give yourself time to blossom.


You can find out about The Happiness Project (previously the National Health Service Laughter Clinic in Birmingham, U.K.) on or by e-mailing


Jena Taghvai is a woman of action. When she became a mother for the first time 10 years ago, and realized that we do not have enough Baha'i materials for children, she decided to use her talents to make a difference. One lack she identified is audio-recordings of prayers for children. Jena's first effort is 'Tender Seedling,' a recording of Baha'i children's prayers in Persian which are chanted and are accompanied by beautiful, soothing, traditional Persian music. As Jena wrote, "Prayer for the delicate soul of a child is as rain pouring upon a tender seedling to make it flourish."

Jena was moved to share news of her creative project with us after reading the January, 2000 issue of Healing Through Unity which focused on developing our artistic talents. Jena's work is certainly timely since the Universal House of Justice has brought to our attention the importance of children and their spiritual education in the community, as well as the importance of using the arts. We are happy to know that Jena has put the arts into action, and we wish her every success in her future efforts.

Note: For anyone who is interested in getting more information on ordering "Tender Seedlings", please contact Jena at or visit her website at


Here are some essential elements for our spiritual and physical health provided by a physician who has practiced for more than 35 years under the guidance of the Baha'i teachings.

Trust in God
Consult a skilled physician and follow his instructions
Practice detachment from all save God
Practice moderation
Pray and meditate daily; read the Creative Word morning and evening
Be always happy
Practice patience
Eat simple, natural plant foods
Drink adequate pure water
Evaluate progress daily, summarize weekly


Many of us struggle with different forms of addictions such as: shopping, alcohol, narcotics, smoking, food, gambling, work, computers and others. What are your suggestions to assist us to overcome our specific addictions which may cause us pain and frustrations? How were you able to make the decision to deal with it and to make the right choices to change your life? What does the Baha'i Teachings say about addictions?


"Healing Through Unity" is published for the purpose of sharing thoughts, comments and experiences on how the teachings of the Baha'i Faith are being applied to our physical and spiritual health. Other than the quoted Holy 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 inform me.
There are 10 issues per year; it is not published during July and August. The newsletter is produced in Ontario, Canada.

Please send your stories, comments, suggestions or "Question for the Month" ideas to Frances Mezei by e-mail: -- .

Many thanks to all of you who sent such wonderful contributions for "Healing Through Unity" Newsletter. The decision to select and edit material submitted for publication is determined by the editor.

You can visit the website, obtain back issues and the Healing Through Unity
Course at:

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