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April, 2000


A monthly newsletter dedicated to serving the principles of

physical and spiritual health envisioned in the Baha'i Teachings.

Volume 3, Issue #8




- The Blind Bus Passenger

- The Exchange

- A Woman's Courage

- Sacred Writings to Overcome our Limitations

- Everyone is Differently Abled

- Clara and Hyde Dunn Memorial Lecture on Health for All: The Challenge

- The Laughter Room

- Letter to the Editor

- Health Habits

- Announcement

- Question of the Month

- Purpose of the Newsletter

- Website

There is a supplementary issue called " A Baha'i Perspective on Disability."




Author Unknown, Submitted by Nima Anvar, Island of Grenada

The passengers on the bus watched sympathetically as the attractive young woman with the white cane made her way carefully up the steps. She paid the driver and, using her hands to feel the location of the seats, walked down the aisle and found the seat he'd told her was empty. Then she settled in, placed her briefcase on her lap and rested her cane against her leg. 

It had been a year since Susan, thirty-four, became blind. Due to a medical misdiagnosis she had been rendered sightless, and she was suddenly thrown into a world of darkness, anger, frustration and self-pity. Once a fiercely independent woman, Susan now felt condemned by this terrible twist of fate to become a powerless, helpless burden on everyone around her. 

"How could this have happened to me?" she would plead, her heart knotted with anger. But no matter how much she cried or ranted or prayed, she knew the painful truth that her sight was never going to return. 

A cloud of depression hung over Susan's once optimistic spirit. Just getting through each day was an exercise in frustration and exhaustion. And all she had to cling to was her husband Mark. 

Mark was an Air Force officer and he loved Susan with all of his heart. When she first lost her sight, he watched her sink into despair and was determined to help his wife gain the strength and confidence she needed to become independent again. Mark's military background had trained him well to deal with sensitive situations, and yet he knew this was the most difficult battle he would ever face. Finally, Susan felt ready to return to her job, but how would she get there? She used to take the bus, but was now too frightened to get around the city by herself. Mark volunteered to drive her to work each day, even though they worked at opposite ends of the city.

At first, this comforted Susan and fulfilled Mark's need to protect his sightless wife who was so insecure about performing the slightest task. Soon, however, Mark realized that this arrangement wasn't working - it was hectic and costly. Susan is going to have to start taking the bus again, he admitted to himself. But just the thought of mentioning it to her made him cringe. She was still so fragile, so angry. How would she react? 

Just as Mark predicted, Susan was horrified at the idea of taking the bus again. "I'm blind!" she responded bitterly. "How am I supposed to know where I'm going? I feel like you're abandoning me." Mark's heart broke to hear these words, but he knew what had to be done. He promised Susan that each morning and evening he would ride the bus with her, for as long as it took, until she got the hang of it. And that is exactly what happened.

For two solid weeks, Mark, military uniform and all, accompanied Susan to and from work each day. He taught her how to rely on her other senses, specifically her hearing, to determine where she was and how to adapt to her new environment. He helped her befriend the bus drivers who could watch out for her, and save her a seat. He made her laugh, even on those not-so-good days when she would trip exiting the bus, or drop her briefcase. Each morning they made the journey together, and Mark would take a cab back to his office. Although this routine was even more costly and exhausting than the previous one, Mark knew it was only a matter of time before Susan would be able to ride the bus on her own.

He believed in her, in the Susan he used to know before she'd lost her sight, who wasn't afraid of any challenge and who would never, ever quit. 

Finally, Susan decided that she was ready to try the trip on her own. Monday morning arrived, and before she left, she threw her arms around Mark, her temporary bus riding companion, her husband, and her best friend. Her eyes filled with tears of gratitude for his loyalty, his patience, his love. She said good-bye, and for the first time, they went their separate ways. 

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday... Each day on her own went perfectly, and Susan never felt better. She was doing it! She was going to work all by herself!

On Friday morning, Susan took the bus to work as usual. As she was paying for her fare to exit the bus, the driver said, "Boy, I sure envy you." Susan wasn't sure if the driver was speaking to her or not. After all, who on earth would ever envy a blind woman who had struggled just to find the courage to live for the past year? Curious, she asked the driver, "Why do you say that you envy me?"

The driver answered, "You know, every morning for the past week, a fine looking gentleman in a military uniform has been standing across the corner watching you when you get off the bus. He makes sure you cross the street safely and he watches you until you enter your office building. Then he blows you a kiss, gives you a little salute and walks away. You are one lucky lady."

Tears of happiness poured down Susan's cheeks. For, although she couldn't physically see him, she had always felt Mark's presence. She was lucky, so lucky, for he had given her a gift more powerful than sight, a gift she didn't need to see to believe - the gift of love that can bring light where there had been darkness.

God watches over us in just the same way. We may not know He is present. We may not be able to see His face, but He is there nonetheless. Be blessed in this thought: "God Loves You - even when you are not looking."


The following quote teaches us about acquiring 'spiritual eyes'. It is taken from The Revelation of Baha'u'llah, Vol. 2, p. 31 by Adib Taherzadeh.

"Baha'u'llah teaches in the Mathnavi (a poem) that man will not be able to receive the light of God in this day unless he acquires a new eye. Eyes which are fixed on the things of this world can never see the glory of His Revelation, and ears which are tuned to the voices of the ungodly cannot hear the melodies of the Kingdom. By 'new eyes' and 'new ears' He means spiritual eyes and spiritual ears. He states that since the eye of the spirit receives its light from God it is shameful to let it turn to a stranger, and re-affirms that the purpose of God in creating the inner eye was that man might behold the beauty of His Manifestation in this world. In 'The Hidden Words', Persian #11, Baha'u'llah reveals:

O Son Of Dust!

Blind thine eyes, that thou mayest behold My beauty; stop thine ears, that thou mayest hearken unto the sweet melody of My voice; empty thyself of all learning, that thou mayest hearken unto the sweet melody of my Voice; empty thyself of all learning, that thou mayest partake of My knowledge; and sanctify thyself from riches, that thou mayest obtain a lasting share from the ocean of My eternal wealth. Blind thine eyes, that is, to all save My beauty; stop thine ears to all save My word; empty thyself of all learning save the knowledge of Me; that with a clear vision, a pure heart and an attentive ear thou mayest enter the court of My holiness."





Some of us are challenged by living with severe physical limitations, illnesses or disabilities. How did you make the adjustment to make your environment and situation more pleasant to deal with your condition? What kind of care and comfort have you discovered to assist you? How does your community assist you? We look forward to hearing and learning from you! 


While suffering from depression my whole body was cold most of the time. Long underwear was my closest companion. Hot showers, finishing with cold caused reflex warming. Perhaps the deepest treatment was acupuncture which released a knot of pain, sadness and anger as well as having a remarkable warming effect on even the most remote digits. When in Moscow recently, wearing one of those warm Russian fur hats, one could see how keeping the head really warm seems to push heat into the lower half of the body, the part which had been coldest. The increased blood flow simply provided a feeling of ease and brought to mind "a touch of moisture sufficeth to dissolve the hardened clay out of which this perverse generation is molded." (Baha'u'llah, Gleanings 43:2 or page 93)

- Anonymous


(Editor's note: The above story reminds me of an account of Abdu'l-Baha using massage to ease  his feet.)

"Abdu'l-Baha invited my father and me to visit Him one evening at His home in San Francisco. When we entered His room, the Master (Abdu'l-Baha) was reclining against the pillows on His bed, and one of His secretaries was massaging His feet and ankles. The Master explained that His feet caused Him great pain, which was eased by massage. We knew that Abdu'l-Baha suffered much as a result of frostbite from walking and riding in the snow during the exile of the Holy Family in Turkey, and also because of the heavy chains which He had been forced to wear part of the time on His ankles while in prison." (Ramona Allen Brown, Memories of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 75)


Since infancy I have lived my life from a wheelchair as a result of a debilitating progressive  neuro-muscular disease, Spinal Muscular Atrophy and since the beginning of 1998 my physical condition has necessitated that I spend most of my time in bed. I require extensive assistance with just the basics of living such as bathing, dressing and eating. As prisoners have often recounted, when you are trapped in one place, you can easily stagnate. When I realized that my bedroom is to be my home and workplace for the majority of time I have left in this physical garment, I decided, through God's grace and mercy, to seek out ways to be stimulated. The celebration of diversity I am privileged to enjoy each day I believe has helped enormously to keep me enthralled and fascinated by life. 

While lying in bed, as I look to my left I  see outside my window a sea of greenery splashed with a rainbow of flowers. This garden was lovingly sculptured by my mother to attract bird life. Almost within touching distance, my father has hung three birdfeeders, which my mother stocks daily with seed, fruit and table scraps. As a result, my day is filled with an orchestra of birdsong that has a surprising harmony. 

At the foot of my bed, I can usually feel the warmth flowing from one of my dog friends. Oprah once named dogs "people dressed in fur" but I say they are "angels dressed in fur" because they bring the gifts from God of lessons in unconditional love and loyalty.

Across my chest lies a very small telephone, the size of a matchbook, which is my lifeline that allows me to conduct business and stay in touch with loved ones. The walls of my bedroom are decorated by written messages, greeting cards, works of art and photographs that reflect a potpourri of emotions and signs of caring. My bookshelves groan under the weight of wisdom and debates from writers representing a variety of religious, philosophical, motivational, scientific and humorous viewpoints.

If I look straight ahead, I see a TV set positioned conveniently so that I can look with ease from my bed. When in 1998 I developed a mysterious neurological condition that twists my face and body with painful spasms, I was encouraged to lay quietly in darkness so as to diminish the frequency of the attacks. I opted to keep the TV on and through the haze of heavy medication I was able to watch a variety of shows.

To the right of me stands SLINGSHOT. This is the name I have given to a miraculous computer system put together by friends who have given me lifelong use of this instrument that gives me access via the Internet and e-mail to the global village.

Prayer and reading the Writings has been for me the most important tool for making my situation more pleasant to deal with. Through prayer I find the strength and the guidance to continue on the journey that God has ordained for me.

- By Renett Grove, South Africa,


(Editor's note: The story by Renett Grove reminds me of the following quotation from the Baha'i Scriptures which teaches that the spirit is everlasting and permanent.)

"There is no doubt that it is the spirit and that there is no change or transformation in it, for it is not a composition of elements, and anything that is not composed of elements is eternal. Change and transformation are peculiarities of composition. There is no change and transformation in the spirit. In proof of this, the body may become weakened in its members. It may be dismembered, or one of its members may be incapacitated. The whole body may be paralyzed; and yet the mind, the spirit, remains ever the same. The mind decides; the thought is perfect; and yet the hand is withered, the feet have become useless, the spinal column is paralyzed, and there is no muscular movement at all, but the spirit is in the same status. Dismember a healthy man: the spirit is not dismembered. Amputate his feet; his spirit is there. He may become lame; the spirit is not affected. The spirit is ever the same; no change or transformation can you perceive, and because there is no change or transformation, it is everlasting and permanent." 

Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp. 242-43)




By Anna May Kinney, Canada (You can visit her website which is filled with pictures of her garden, pets and her section changes weekly:

It was over 25 years ago that my illness first showed it’s ugly face. At that time they were only just beginning to know about what multiple sclerosis (MS) was and they thought I had some rare flu at first, or some rare virus and ran all kinds of tests, nothing of that kind showed up.  

During the winter months, I was pretty well, but as soon as it got warm the following summer, I began to ache all over, my balance deteriorated and my legs would suddenly turn to rubber, making me wind up on my behind in the middle of the sidewalk.

It took many years of hearing doctors tell me there was nothing wrong with me or it was all in my head, before a observant MD gave me some test, asked a lot of questions and said, “I think you have MS”.

Well at this point, instead of being depressed, I was relieved to find out what was wrong. I always felt that once you know the enemy then you know how to rage war against him. I also feel that God  does not allow something to hit you like this unless He has a reason to do so. Everything we suffer is to help us learn to understand the needs of others and to make ourselves stronger in this physical world as well as the spiritual world.

As I went to doctors, I was told to limit my lifestyle, told I should rest most of the day, not do this or that. I wanted to adopt another dog after my beloved Athena passed away, but was told it was too much responsibility, that it was a time in my life to focus on myself. That I was NOT going to get better and that slowly every year I would get worse and that everyday stress, lack of sleep and rest would only make matters worse.

For about three years, I was forced to use crutches around my farm, and a wheelchair for shopping. While still on crutches, I adopted Faith, my dog, and wrote my cookbook on a very old 286 computer that was donated by a Baha’ i family. It crashed just as I was finishing it.

A year later, I found that the doctors were making me depressed with their negative attitudes and lack of treating my entire body. I decided to use only natural healing and said good-bye to all the regular doctors. Since then my health has been on the constant road to improvement. Even before this point, I had started taking Ginseng every morning for energy, but soon I found I was changing everything I ate and especially eliminating bad fats, transfats, such as hydrogenated vegetable shortening, even margarine. I do eat natural butter, olive oil and some corn oil. There are a lot of  things I have eliminated from my diet and anyone who is interested in knowing what they are and   why may contact me.

Then I decided to adopt a few more dogs and they have given me so much love that my body has been healing. Every year since my dogs have arrived we all walk together around the huge perennial flower garden I designed to thank God for letting me walk again and every year with their love and encouragement I walk better. Then this year, for the first time in 23 years I was strong enough to jog around the garden. No it wasn’t a great jog, but I did it....

In January 1997, against doctor's advice, I started a writing course and a month later sold my first article to a local newspaper. A month after that, I had my own weekly column called Nature's Way.

I strongly feel that the medical profession feels it is doing the right thing, but telling people to ‘give up’, go on welfare, forget about their dreams, become dependant on the system, is not helping them. Yes, if you are too ill to do anything that is what a person should do, but if you can do  anything, the more you do and keep doing, the more a person will be able to do.

I do have a lot of pain in my legs at times, and it takes me a lot longer to do things than it used to. In order to achieve anything in a day, besides doing meals, dishes and other housework, I have to put in a lot of hours. I get up at 4:30 a.m. and go to bed often at 11 p.m. Doctors will be the first to tell you this is not good, I agree, but if I want to change my life style I must do this. I have done nothing on my own, if God would not have been there holding me up through all of this, nothing could have been achieved. With every step I praise His Holy name. I know without a doubt that God will open the way for me.




The Sacred Writings of the Baha'i Faith can offer us inspiration and guidance to cope with our inner and outer limitations, and with our loved ones who are disabled or suffering from an illness. Our disabilities and struggles are given to us as gifts from God for our moral and spiritual development. This process will lead us to recognize that our physical self is only one small part of our being. Shoghi Effendi, in a letter dated 25 May 1936, written on his behalf, identifies man's "true self" with "his soul'. By rising above our limitations and imperfections, the real essence of the senses will become liberated and purified, our eyes to 'see', our ears to 'hear', our hearts to 'know' and our tongues to 'speak'. As Baha'u'llah states in Gleanings CXXV, "Then will the manifold favors and outpouring grace of the holy and everlasting Spirit confer such new life upon the seeker that he will find himself endowed with a new eye, a new ear, a new heart, and a new mind." The following quotes are a few examples to assist us to overcome our limitations:

"Human attitudes must not be limited; for God is unlimited, and whosoever is the servant of the threshold of God must, likewise, be free from limitations." (Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 131)

Remember not your own limitations; the help of God will come to you. Forget yourself. God's help will surely come! When you call on the Mercy of God waiting to reinforce you, your strength will be tenfold. Look at me: I am so feeble, yet I have had the strength given me to come amongst you: a poor servant of God, who has been enabled to give you this message!" (Abdu'l-Baha, Paris Talks, pp. 38-9)

"The greater your handicaps the firmer your determination should wax, and the more abundant will assuredly be the blessings and confirmations of Baha'u'llah." (Shoghi Effendi, Dawn of a New Day, p. 87)

"Baha'u'llah and the Master have both urged us repeatedly to disregard our own handicaps and lay our whole reliance upon God. He will come to our help if we only arise and become an active channel for God's grace." (From letter dated 31 March 1932 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, 'The Power of Divine Assistance, pp. 47-8) 

"All of us suffer from imperfections which we must struggle to overcome and we all need one another's understanding and patience." Also, "Whether deficiencies are inborn or are acquired, our purpose in this life is to overcome them and to train ourselves in accordance with the pattern  that is revealed to us in the divine Teachings." (The Universal House of Justice, in a letter dated 11 September 1995 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of United States)




Words and Music - Lorraine Bayes, Danny Deardoff, Dee Dickinson


Everyone's differently abled 

Everyone has ability

Everyone's differently abled

Making their lives work differently

Now you might use a chair with wheels to get around

You might use your hands to speak without a sound

Cause there's a million ways to do most anything

Some people love to dance some people prefer to sing


Now you can use a working dog to help you see

Or use your mouth and feet to paint and write poetry

There's a million different ways that you can be

It's true that all of us live inter-dependently

I will not be defined by my limitations

But rather by my possibilities

We can respond to the needs of those around us

The best ability is response ability





From Baha'i International News Service (BINS)

The fifth annual Clara and Hyde Dunn Memorial Dinner and Lecture was held at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre on 9 October, 1999. The event was hosted by the National  Spiritual Assembly and was attended by more than 180 people. Many guests were health practitioners or researchers.

Dr. Robert Kim-Farley -- a Baha'i who is the World Health Organization representative to Indonesia -- was the main speaker. His theme was 'Health for All: The Challenge of the New Millennium, and his premise was that world unity is the key to health.

'The current state of the world's health is actually a tale of two very different worlds,' he said. 'In the developed world, nine of the ten leading causes of death are now non-infectious. They include hypertension, heart disease, stroke and diabetes. In the developing world, on the other hand, lack of primary health care and the prevalence of infectious diseases make the situation grim. For example, some 1.8 billion people, about 30 per cent of the world's population, are infected with tuberculosis.'

Dr. Kim-Farley identified a number of necessary responses to the health challenges facing humanity. For example, there is a need for a global surveillance system capable of responding rapidly to outbreaks of disease, and for continuing medical research which includes the rich heritage of traditional medicine. But most important of all, he said, is the need for a change in the way we think about the world. 

'The future of our health depends upon the degree to which we, as a global society, mature to the next stage of our collective existance -- that of unity and interdependence. We must show concern and act on that concern when there is conflict or suffering for members of our societies, just as we would if they were members of our own family. 

In concluding, Dr. Kim-Farley called for the empowerment of people to take charge of their own health, accepting responsibility for their own actions and modify their lifestyles to promote health.




Taken from "The Laughter Prescription", by Dr. Laurence J. Peter, 1982, published by Ballantine Books, p. 193


1. Adopt an attitude of playfulness. This does not mean that you will do outrageous things, but that your mind is open to uncensored, iconoclastic, silly or outrageous thoughts.

2. Think funny. See the funny side or flip side of every situation. Select and refine your outrageous thoughts that best expose our conceits, pomposities and incongruities.

3. Laugh at the incongruities in situations involving yourself and others.

4. Only laugh with others for what they do rather than for what they are, unless you are assured that they can laugh at themselves for what they are. In laughing with others about their incongruities, see them as mirrors in which your own weaknesses, idiosyncrasies and conceits are reflected.

5. Laugh at yourself, not in derision, but with objectivity and acceptance of self.

6. Take yourself lightly. Take your job and your responsibility to yourself and to others seriously.  You will discover that this will make life's anxieties and burdens lighter.

7. Make others laugh. By creating happiness for others, you will experience a special joy of accomplishment that only a lively, generous sense of humor can bring.

8. Realize that a sense of humor is deeper then laughter and more satisfactory than comedy, and delivers greater rewards than merely being entertaining. A sense of humor sees the fun in everyday experiences. It is more important to have fun than it is to be funny.




BY Kim Bowen-Kerby, Fiji

I wish to respond to the article on "Caffeine: How to Taper or Get Off it", printed in the March, 2000 issue. I understand how this article makes sense in the overall theme of this issue, which is dealing with addiction, but it is not clear in the issue that the Baha'i Teachings in no way discourage the moderate use of caffeine.

In the Baha'i teachings, alcohol and opium are forbidden outright, as are a number of unhealthy acts (including gambling, sex outside of marriage, and backbiting). Tobacco is so strongly discouraged that 'Abdu'l-Baha stated that "the friends will surely, by whatever means and even over a period of time, forsake this pernicious habit." But tea and coffee where neither forbidden nor discouraged by the Bab, Baha'u'llah, or Abdu'l-Baha. They all drank tea habitually, and the Universal House of Justice serves it to pilgrims ( not just once, but over and over again!). We also have the power of example:

"From the day of his arrival at the fortress of Akka he took over the coffee service, and waited upon the friends." (`Abdu'l-Baha: Memorials of the Faithful, Page: 159)

"In like manner His Holiness the Supreme (the Bab), in the beginning of the Manifestation through the excessive effect of descending verses, passed days in which His nourishment was reduced to tea only." (Multiple Authors: Lights of Guidance, Page: 235)

Therefore, if there were any connection between the Baha'i Faith and caffeine (at least in a weak form in tea) I would say that it is promoted. At the very least, caffeine is not discouraged, as long as the general principle of moderation is observed and the person does not have a medical condition in which it is contraindicated.




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




Green Acre Baha'i School

Mystic Medicine: Religion Shaping Science. August 11-16  Presenter: Babak Etemad, M.D., a fifth-generation Baha'i and fifth-generation physician

Explore the influence of faith on the philosophy of science and medicine. A broad review of history will identify how religion has shaped scientific study through the centuries. Medicine's evolution through the 18th and 19th century will be emphasized with parallels drawn to the recent evolution of religion. The influence of the Baha'i Revelation on the progress of medical science will be addressed through a survey of Baha'i Sacred texts. Sessions will also address such issues as faith healing, end-of-life, assisted fertilization, and resource allocation.

Green Acre Baha'i School, 188 Main Street, Eliot, Maine, 03903-1800, U.S.A;

email:, website:




"It is, therefore, evident that it is possible to cure by foods, aliments and fruits; but as today the science of medicine is imperfect, this fact is not yet fully grasped. When the science of medicine reaches perfection, treatment will be given by foods, aliments, fragrant fruits and vegetables, and by various waters, hot and cold in temperature." (Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Question, pp. 58-9)

A reader asks:

"I would like some articles on the 'proper diet' for either ill people or for those that are well. There is so much conflict out there on this subject and each doctor or medical person has a different idea. Just a fruit/vegetable diet is not enough for healing on the material plane. And herbs are sometimes needed to fight a disease. Are there any suggestions to this important subject?"

Dear Readers:

Do you have any comments, solutions or information in response to this question? Please send them to the newsletter and we will share them in the next issue.




"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.




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