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June, 2001

A monthly newsletter dedicated to serving the principles of

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

Volume 4, Issue #10




- Letter from the Editor
- The Relationship of Baha'u'llah and 'Abdu'l-Baha
- The Exchange
- The Road to Family Consultation
- Goals of Family Therapy
- A Daughter's Care for her Parents when Ill
- Story about a Substance Abuse Booklet
- Website Correction
- Website
- Purpose of the Newsletter




An overwhelming number of responses from the questionnaire have been received along with a flood of support, practical ideas, offers to write articles, encouragement and love. Many of the readers have provided sound ideas and helpful suggestions for future issues. Each comment that you have written will be taken into careful consideration, and hopefully some of the responses will be included in a Fall issue. A few readers requested a table of contents of the back issues and the table of contents for both Volumes One and Two have been placed in the website: The table of contents for Volumes Three and Four will be prepared in the near future. If you have not already completed the questionnaire, please feel to do so. The energy and strength coming from the readers is enormous and will take us together into the future. Many thanks for your wonderful response and participation.

Since the newsletter is not published during July and August, this is our last issue for our fourth year, until September, 2001. On behalf of the reviewers and myself, thank you for your contributions of articles, stories, and letters this past year. I feel very fortunate to be a part of the newsletter since I learn so much from you. Each subscriber is precious and we are privileged to be a part of this every growing resource. I hope you have a wonderful summer and look forward to your participation in the  newsletter in September.

Frances Mezei, Editor




From "The Covenant of Baha'u'llah" by Adib Taherzadeh, George Ronald, pgs. 135-6.

"It must be remembered that the relationship of Baha'u'llah and the members of His family who remained faithful to the Cause was not like the relationship which exists between members of ordinary families. Normally, a father and son at home have a very intimate and informal attitude towards each other. But in the case of Baha'u'llah and His faithful children, it was very different indeed, although that intimate relationship of father and son did exist. However, the station of Baha'u'llah as the Manifestation of God completely overshadowed His position as a physical father.

Abdu'l-Baha, the Greatest Holy Leaf (Baha'u'llah's daughter) and the Purest Branch (Baha'u'llah's son) looked upon Baha'u'llah not merely as their father, but as their Lord, and because they had truly recognized His station, they acted at all times as most humble servants at His threshold. Abdu'l-Baha always entered the presence of Baha'u'llah with such genuine humility and reverence that no one among His followers could express the spirit of lowliness and utter self-effacement as He did. The humility of Abdu'l-Baha as He bowed before His Father, or prostrated Himself at His feet, demonstrated the unique relationship which existed between this Father and His faithful sons and daughter. 

When Baha'u'llah moved to the Mansions of Mazraih and Bahji, Abdu'l-Baha stayed in Akka. Whenever He went to attain the presence of His Father, He dismounted from His steed when He approached the Mansion, because He considered it disrespectful for a servant to be riding when he visited his Lord.

While Abdu'l-Baha showed such lowliness and humility, the outpouring of love and admiration by Baha'u'llah for His Son knew no bounds. His pleasure and joy when Abdu'l-Baha visited Him at the Mansion were evident. So eager was He to receive Abdu'l-Baha with marks of honour that He would dispatch a contingent of the believers, including His sons, to distant fields outside the Mansion as a welcoming party, while He himself would be standing on the balcony to watch Him arrive."





What are some ways to protect, nurture and revivify our families? How can therapists assist families to learn healthy relationships and behaviours?


There are many thoughts to share on this, but please let me focus on two that have been most important to me in maintaining a marriage. 

One point is to know that every "living thing" has its cycles. There are stages of movement and growth, stages of rest, stages of adjustment to yet another cycle. The ancient Chinese Holy Book, the I CHING speaks of marriage in terms of "duration" - like a heartbeat with its diastolic and systolic (expanding and contracting) periods. The "fairytale" or "Hollywood" view takes in only the expansion aspect. When the marriage hits a contraction period partners who are unprepared for this aspect of the cycle sometimes struggle inappropriately against that tide, rather than recognizing that mostly it takes patient support, and parallel movement, allowing the Divine Spirit to come into play with the distance that seems to exist. "Let the winds of the Heavens dance between you," as Khalil Gibran put it so eloquently.

The distance seems so great at times, that partners are prone to wonder if their marriage can survive. They may think it is already dead. Baha'u'llah in recognizing the reality that at times affection seems to totally disappear, has offered the remedy of "a year of patience" in order to restore the bonds of affection when needed. It is sad that many Baha'is treat a "year of patience" as a prelude to divorce rather than as a healing period to reset and restore the vitality of the eternal heartbeat of a marriage.

There are four things which the Universal House of Justice has suggested are vital to do during a year of patience. These are taken from the statement called "Preserving Baha'i Marriages". I summarize them and add my own thoughts:

1) Seek counselling. Consultation and support of learned and wise experts or even unbiased, supportive friends can be extremely helpful in helping individuals and couples to deal with and modify the sources of negative or unruly emotions. An assembly may offer counselling, or assign  loving individuals to "spiritually companion" a couple (or family) for a period of time. The couple may wish to seek out suitable professional help. At the very least they can seek out good advice through books and the Writings.

2) Pray together often. Even if you find you cannot speak to each other directly about issues without becoming reactive (and in times of great emotional pain this is a natural condition), you can sit in each other's presence and turn to the Best Beloved. (If one partner is not a Baha'i or has some aversion to praying with the other, counsellors sometimes recommend finding an inspirational book to read aloud to each other for 30 minutes or so at a time. This helps to realign the thought patterns to more positive ways of communicating and thinking.)

3) Do some acts of service together. Even in the worst of times, to find some project to work on together helps to make a bridge from the worst times to the better times. 

4) Remark on the positive attributes of the partner every day. This is one of the best tests a person can have of "forgetting" the bad points and mentioning only the good. It is one of the most healing exercises. If done consistently and steadfastly for the sake of God, it does much to heal wounds which may have resulted unintentionally in the partnership. It also heals wounds that go even deeper into the past that may have been re-opened through no fault of either side. It is these unintentionally opened wounds that sometimes are the cause of pain in an otherwise viable love relationship. Naming the virtues in one another "fills" the soul with "the spirit of life."

The second point is that Abdu'l-Baha also mentions that each member of a family has rights and prerogatives. These must be protected. That means that each member of a family also has particular roles and responsibilities. One approach that family therapists take is to look at the family as a single cell and to identify if each role is operating within its due boundaries of responsibilities and rights. If the responsibilities and the rights are not functioning in the proper balance, the difficulties of "family dysfunction" are bound to occur. Sometimes, it is a relatively easy matter to recognize the adjustment that needs to be made to bring the healthy functioning back to the "living system" of the family. The roles and responsibilities need to be readjusted periodically as the family moves through its various challenges and matures to new stages. Counsellors trained to recognize family interactions from this perspective can set a family on a renewed footing within relatively few visits. 

-  Marilyn Higgins, M.S. (Family Counselling), Ph.D., Japan


"According to the teachings of Baha'u'llah, the family being a human unit must be educated according to the rules of sanctity. All the virtues must be taught the family. The integrity of the family bond must be constantly considered, and the rights of the individual members must not be transgressed. The rights of the son, the father, the mother - none of them must be transgressed, none of them must be arbitrary. Just as the son has certain obligations to his father, the father, likewise has certain obligations to his son. The mother, the sister and other members of the household have their certain prerogatives. All these rights and prerogatives must be conserved, yet the unity of the family must be sustained. The injury of one shall be considered the injury of all; the comfort of each, the comfort of all; the honor of one, the honor of all." ('Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 168)




Author Withheld (Taken from Parenting in the New World Order, February, 1996, Vol 5, Issue #6)

The road to family consultation has been long and rocky, since my husband and I became Baha'is ten years ago. 'Abdu'l-Baha's lovely summing up of the process of change 'little by little, day by day' certainly applies to us. The rewards of family consultation are absolutely priceless, as our family can attest. Initial efforts were met with resistance from either adult or child or even from all of us! We wanted change - but weren't united about it. Unity is definitely a verb, an action rather than some ideal state to be achieved solely through wishing! My experience has shown me that the price of unity is paid for with commitment, inner searching and lots of talking. It also involves sacrifice on someone's part, usually the parents. Our children were one and three when we became Baha'is. We had been parenting in a permissive style - the children were looked on as perfect while we adults were riddled with faults which we had to point out to each other! 

So, there was very little unity and virtually no equality. We did love each other and we were very much in love with the Faith. This was the basis upon which we started the process of family transformation. For the first few years the Writings of family life were viewed as "very nice" but "for the future"; no doubt for the "new race of men" which are referred to in the Writings, not us mere mortals struggling away to make ends meet. Gradually, through prayer and deepening, we started to get insights into our individual behaviour and how it was impacting on our family.

I can remember the first family meeting we had, we yelled at the kids because they wouldn't sit still, we glared at them through prayers, and then we adults dominated them during the consultation. We did decide to have a family night once a week. At that time this consisted of renting a video. I went along with this because I was out-voted, but I didn't agree with it. In fact, I frequently went out while the rest of my family watched the movie. Then I heard Gordon Naylor talking about their family consultation centering on upholding the decision made by the majority; not just going along but also actively and wholeheartedly supporting the event. When I did this, staying through the movie and making popcorn, sitting with my husband - our situation started to change more rapidly.

Soon we had five children and a large home to run. The family meetings were held irregularly, group prayers were still said infrequently. The need for family meetings was urgent. The problems were as follows: I was doing most of the housework - from laundry to dishes to vacuuming, it was impossible to keep up. As a result, I was frustrated and feeling depressed and acting out my feelings. It was not a pretty sight...My behaviour resulted with my children and husband being resentful. The first meetings were spent with me apologizing often. As the meetings progressed, we addressed the housework, chores and allowances since they were the leading cause of stress and fights. Issues surrounding aggressive behaviour were discussed - loud talk, name-calling, hitting  were brought up as inappropriate.

While doing my personal inner look, I had to deal with my own behaviour. There was a pattern to my outbursts and I had to discover ways to prevent a full-blown angry display. Through conscious and honest appraisal I have been able to improve my self-control. It's hard to break old patterns of behaviour but we certainly have the capacity to change. Gradually a feeling of gratitude crept into the meetings, the children were doing their share of their week-end work and nightly dishes. The house was divided into zones which are supervised by each person and cleaned up on Saturday morning as a group. One landmark decision we made was to be a consulting family instead of a conflicting family....

The process was slow but sure since it is what Baha'u'llah wants us to do. It created happiness. Gradually the language of consultation became familiar, though at first we didn't notice the effects. Someone once said that the bad has to come out before the good can come in. Consultation speeds the good and prayer keeps it coming. 

What makes me really happy is that we are gradually transforming our family hands on, and we are united. It feels good to work hard and get results. No matter what happens we can apply this principle. We have to understand that this is a process and that we all have a lot of work to do.


"Baha'u'llah also stressed the importance of consultation. We should not think this worthwhile method of seeking solutions is confined to the administrative institutions of the Cause. Family consultation employing full and frank discussion, and animated by awareness of the need for moderation and balance, can be the panacea for domestic conflict." (Universal House of Justice, from a letter dated August 1, 1978, to an individual, Baha'i Marriage and Family Life, p. 36)




(Editor's note: The following excerpts from "The Shelter of Each Other: Rebuilding Our Families" written by Mary Pipher outlines some practical steps for goals of family therapy. They are taken from chapter 7, pages 134 - 153.)


Therapists give families a place to build family identity and power. We can teach them how to protect themselves with their values, use of time and places, celebrations, stories and metaphors. Building family takes commitment and hard choices about priorities. Building families means driving all night to a cousin's funeral or telling co-workers that you can't work Saturdays. It involves putting family first, something that is rarely convenient and not always even pleasant.


We can work to connect people with their histories and their extended families. Even the most difficult families usually have some potentially redeemable members. In the past, we have too often recommended distancing and cutoffs. While these actions are sometimes necessary, they are last-resort strategies. Once broken, fences are hard to mend. We can do families much damage when we separate members, even when those members are not getting along all that well. It's better for us to help in the healing. We can sober up people who are "intoxicated by their own rightness" and help families invent "mechanisms of forgiveness."

We can help families build support systems. As part of our assessments we can draw sociograms of resources in their neighborhoods - the older couple who loves children, the next-door neighbor who has offered to help, etc. We can connect families to each other and encourage them to work for their common good. Community centres with supervised athletic and social events for young people can make a tremendous difference in the health of individuals and communities.


The phrase comes from Don Meichenbaum, a cognitive-behavioural therapist who believes inspiring hope is the therapist's first duty and major contribution. If people feel worse about themselves and their situations after they come in, therapy isn't working. We can focus on learning, creativity, fun and good work. Hope isn't about facts that can be disputed, it's an existential choice about how to face adversity. 


Good therapists emphasize respect as much as caring. Therapists do care, but they also know that respect is a much more powerful motivator. Respect is connected to thinking as well as emotion and it's easier to link respect with specific behaviours. "I respect that you have stopped smoking pot because you want to be a good role model for your children" or "I respect that you will not join a gang."

Respect means that clients speak for themselves and are responsible for their own actions. Those family members not in the room also deserve respect. Therapists can support coping and reinforce resilience by asking - What did you learn from this experience? Respect also implies no us/them dichotomies. 


Most people are trying to do the right thing, but many people do not know what the right thing is and family members often disagree on this. We can help people learn a process for discussing choices in a way that includes everyone and leads to a fair, reasoned decision.


Simone Weil said, "The only real question to be asked of another is what are you experiencing?" We can encourage people to turn off their machines, stop rushing around and ask this of each other. We can teach that people love only in the ways they can love. Too often people spend their lives searching for one kind of love, when all around them there is love if only they would see it. We can teach people to identify different kinds of loving - the husband who changes the oil in the car early Sunday morning, the child who watches his father's face for signs of respect,...


We can encourage people to tell the truth and be themselves. We can help people define themselves from within, rather than allowing the larger culture to define them. We can encourage them to write, play music, paint, cook, make quilts, etc.


We can encourage families to tell the truth about family suicides, criminals, addictions, unplanned pregnancies, adoptions and abuse. Whatever the family is ashamed of must be discussed. As Adrienne Rich wrote, "That which is unspoken becomes unspeakable." We are diminished by living with problems we try not to see. Secrets keep families from dealing with reality. They create alliances and estrangements. They keep things from changing and make people feel ashamed. For families or individuals to be healthy, they must be able to integrate all of their experiences into their lives. Unprocessed experiences block growth and keep people from thinking clearly and realistically. We can encourage people to work through the problems rather than avoid them.


Families need ways to deal with things that are embarrassing, frightening, sad or upsetting. If families do not have good ways to cope with stress, they will have bad ways. We can teach families anxiety management and help people process their pain. We can encourage talking and listening, what trauma workers call "being and staying" with each other's pain. Therapists can teach wellness and healthy lifestyles. We can encourage families to eat properly and exercise regularly.


We can help families settle boundary disputes. I think of a young single mother who lived with her baby and her parents. Sometimes she felt they interfered with her parenting. They made suggestions about when to put the baby to bed and how to dress the baby. She was grateful for their help, but wanted more autonomy. 

Some families are too enmeshed. Some parents do too much for their children. Siblings can interfere in each other's marriages. These are people who don't have a life or an identity and who borrow an identity from others. But therapists have tended to focus more on the dangers of this enmeshment than on the dangers of isolation. It's time for a corrective rebalancing. We help people the most when we acknowledge for their needs for both connection and autonomy.


Here are some exercises that Mary Pipher, the author of this book, uses with families when in therapy:

- Uses assignments to help families clarify their positions, discover new things about themselves and stay motivated to work toward long-term goals. Families can have weekly meetings on their own and invent assignments for themselves.

- Asks families to record their victories. Family members keep track of successes and report on them when they come in for therapy. For example, victories can be meals together, time spent having fun or honest conversations about conflict.

- After families have experienced trauma, helps them design healing ceremonies.

- Encourages the gifts of attention, lessons, encouragement and experiences. For example, a friend writes long letters to all her grandchildren every week and tapes them stories for their bedtimes.

- Encourages families to increase their expressions of affection. Families often need to be reminded to hug each other, to compliment each other and to say how they feel about each other. Encourages people to write notes, make short phone calls, do small favors and express affection in whatever ways it can be received.

- Recommends that parents schedule once-a-week breakfasts alone with their adolescents. It's a good time to talk about life. Encourages these breakfasts to be a free zone in which grades, chores, rules violations and money are not mentioned.

- Encourages to bring in aunts and uncles, cousins and grandparents when the nuclear family is struggling. Family reunions are important. It's great when children can go visit relatives for extended stays.




By Melody Logue, Ohio, U.S.A

This story occurred in 1988. My parents had just moved in with me in April of 1987. My mother had COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and, although she was doing quite well at the time we all felt that it would be the best thing to do in the long run as she did occasionally have exacerbations of the COPD and ended up in the hospital. 

In January of 1988 my mother started having some pretty high blood pressures which turned out to be from a blocked artery to one of her kidneys. We had to wait three weeks to get her into a hospital 120 miles away for the angioplasty procedure. That went quite well and solved the high blood pressures. In May of that year we found out that my father had inoperable lung cancer. He spent the entire very, very hot summer going for radiation treatments. I don't remember sleeping at all that year.

Between the two of them I was in an emergency room thirteen times that year. I was in the ER one additional time because I slipped on some water on the floor of my mother's hospital room and did a very ungraceful belly flop. My mother had seven hospital stays and my father had three. The week before Thanksgiving I had a benign tumor removed from my breast. Thanksgiving day my mother was having problems breathing so I took her to the hospital where they put her in intensive care. Two nights later, on Saturday, my father was having trouble breathing so I took him to the hospital and they put him in intensive care -- in the room NEXT to my mother!! It was the middle of the night and I was concerned about how she would find out he was there. I  knew if she heard him coughing she would know it was him. So, I stayed in the ICU waiting room the rest of the night and when my mother woke up about  7am the nurses came out and got me so I could tell her what had happened. I walked into her room, she looked at me and then at the clock and said, "What are you doing here?" I told her what had happened and she shook her head and said, "If we had a dog, you'd be in the vet's office too." She had the nurse and I both laughing. She got out of the hospital a week later. My father was in for two weeks and died on a Sunday morning the day after my birthday. 

Another time my mother's pulmonary doctor was going over a list of her medications. She was on several due to the lung disease and some other chronic conditions she had (all necessary). He started chuckling and said, "They say the more meds a patient is on the worse the doctor is. From the looks of this list I must be a quack!" 

He is actually one of the best pulmonary doctors around here and, because of him and our family doctor (both D.O's) her life and quality of life was extended beyond anyone's imagination. She had been on continuous oxygen from 1987 until her passing in 1996 and had during the last three years of her life been on a ventilator four times. I became a Baha'i in 1966 and she declared in 1993 but had, in reality, been a Baha'i for a much longer time. She always felt that she didn't know enough to declare and that she wouldn't be able to teach but she lived the life and taught in that way every day. Her biggest single teaching effort was her funeral. There were about 100 people at the services. The readings were wonderful and the friend who read the Prayer for the Departed took the time to explain it first. Our family doctor came and did the "eulogy" and, in it, mentioned how the Baha'i Faith had come to sustain her.


To look after the sick is one of the greatest duties! Every soul who becomes sick, the other friends should certainly offer the life (of service) in the utmost kindness.

We should all visit the sick. When they are in sorrow and suffering it is a real help and benefit to have a friend come. Happiness is a great healer to those who are ill. In the east it is the custom to call upon the patient often and meet him individually. The people in the east show the utmost kindness and compassion to the sick and suffering. This has greater effect than the remedy itself. You must always have this thought of love and affection when you visit the ailing and afflicted. (‘Abdu'l-Bahá, The Pattern of Bahá'í Life - A Compilation, p. 26)




By Cheri King, British Columbia, Canada

I work in a hospital as a social worker. I had finished reading the booklet "Substance Abuse: A Baha'i Perspective" by Dr. A. Ghadirian just a couple of weeks ago. Then two days ago (wondering what would put it to best use) I decided to offer it as a donation to the library at the department where I work in the hospital. The secretary sent out an e-mail to all the staff about it, saying that I'd read it, recommended it highly, and that it was "a good, quick read". After sending the e-mail, the secretary said she wanted to wait and read it herself before putting in the library. The next day, one of the social workers approached me, said she'd read it, thanked me, and said it was a very practical, well-written book for people with addictions, people working with people with addictions, or for people with loved ones who have addictions problems. When I arrived home today, there was a message on my answering machine from our emergency ward social worker, saying she'd read it today at work, and that it was "very interesting and helpful -- insightful". And this is only 48 hours after the book was placed there!

I just wanted to share that with you, as it may be a very practical, timely book to give to libraries, physicians, hospitals, clinics, people working with addicted people, or friends who have addicted people in their families. (This book can be ordered from Unity Arts, 1-800-465-3287, (613) 727-6200 or check the Baha'i Books Online at, email: You may also wish to check your local Baha'i distribution outlet to see if they sell this book.)




In the article "Call for Membership in the Association of Baha'i Mental Health Professionals", Volume 6, Issue #9 had the wrong website address. The correct address for the website is Sorry for this error.




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




"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 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. There are 10 issues per year; it is not published during July and August. The newsletter is produced in Ontario, Canada.

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