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March, 2002

A monthly newsletter dedicated to serving the principles of

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

Volume 5, Issue #7




- In the Service of Life
- How Do We Manifest Love in our Community?
- Restorative Justice 2001
- The Native North American Drum and the Baha'i Faith: A Voice of Unity,  Healing and Spirituality
- Report of the Third Annual Conference of the Baha'i Association of Mental Health Professionals
- Requesting Assistance from the Readers
- Question of the Month
- Website
- Purpose of Newsletter




By Rachel Naomi Remen (This article was submitted by Susan Gammage who came across it in her local Community News, issue #16, October 97. It serves Muskoka, Haliburton and Parry Sound regions, Ontario, Canada.)

In recent years the question "How can I help?" has become meaningful to many people. But perhaps there is a deeper question we might consider. Perhaps the real question is not "How can I help?" But "How can I serve?"

Serving is different from helping. Helping is based on inequality; it is not a relationship between equals. When you help you use your own strength to help those of lesser strength. If I'm attentive to what is going on inside of me when I'm helping, I find that I'm always helping someone who is not as strong as I am, who is needier than I am. People feel this inequality. When we help we may inadvertently take away from people more than we could ever give them; we may diminish their self-esteem, their sense of worth, integrity and wholeness. When I help I am very aware of my own strength. But we don't serve with our strength, we serve with ourselves. We draw from all of our experiences. Our limitations serve, our wounds serve, even our darkness can serve. The wholeness in us serves the wholeness in others and the wholeness in life. The wholeness in you is the same as the wholeness in me. Service is a relationship between equals.

Helping incurs debt. When you help someone they owe you one. But serving, like healing is mutual. There is no debt. I am as served as the person that I am serving. When I help I have a feeling of satisfaction. When I serve I have a feeling of gratitude. These are very different things.

Serving is also different from fixing. When I fix a person I perceive them as broken, and their  brokeness requires me to act. When I serve I see and trust that wholeness. It is what I am responding to and collaborating with.

There is distance between ourselves and whatever or whomever we are fixing. Fixing is a form of judgment. All judgment creates distance, a disconnection, an experience of difference. In fixing there is an inequality of expertise that can easily become a moral distance. We cannot serve at a distance. We can only serve that to which we are profoundly connected, that which we are willing to touch. This is Mother Teresa's basic message. We serve life not because it is broken but because it is holy.

If helping is an experience of strength, fixing is an experience of mastery and expertise. Service, on the other hand, is an experience of mystery, surrender, and awe. A fixer has the illusion of being casual. A server knows that he or she is being used and has a willingness to be used in the service of something greater, something essentially unknown. Fixing and helping are very personal; they are very particular, concrete and specific. We fix and help many different things in our lifetimes, but when we serve we are always serving the same thing. Everyone who has ever served through the history of time serves the same thing. We are servers of the wholeness and mystery in life.

The bottom line, of course, is that we can fix without serving. And we can help without serving. And we can serve without fixing or helping. I think I would go so far as to say that fixing and helping may often be the work of the ego and service is the work of the soul. They may look similar if you're watching from the outside, but the inner experience is different. The outcome is often different too.

Our service serves us as well as others. That which uses us strengthens us. Over time, fixing and helping are draining, depleting. Over time we burn out. Service is renewing. When we serve, our work itself will sustain us.

Service rests on the basic premise that the nature of life is sacred, that life is a holy mystery, which has an unknown purpose. When we serve, we know that we belong to life and to that purpose. Fundamentally, helping, fixing, and service are ways of seeing life. When you help you see life as weak, when you fix, you see life as broken. When you serve, you see life as whole. From the perspective of service, we are all connected. All suffering is like my suffering and all joy is like my joy. The impulse to serve emerges naturally and inevitably from this way of seeing.

Lastly, fixing and helping is the basis of curing, but not of healing. In 40 years of chronic illness I have been helped by many people and fixed by a great many others who did not recognize my wholeness. All that fixing and helping left me wounded in some important and fundamental ways. Only service heals.





This list was prepared by Linda Meccouri, United States. (Submitted by Frankie Shaw, Ontario, Canada who attended a workshop held at Louhlelen Baha'i School, U.S.A., from December 27, 2001 to January 1, 2002, where Linda Meccouri was speaking about the transformative power of prayer to transform our lives, our service and teaching, and our communities.)

1. Recognize and point out the virtues in others.
2. Blind yourself to other's shortcomings, yet recognize our own.
3. Host a fireside or feast.
4. Start a tutoring program for school children.
5. Invite your neighbours for a purely social gathering ( e.g. a movie, a cup of tea).
6. Implement a Virtues Project in your local school.
7. Raise happy children.
8. Become a volunteer at a Baha'i school.
9. Help a senior citizen or disabled person (e.g. take them grocery shopping or to a doctor's appointment, or give them a ride to a Baha'i meeting).
10. Invite the children's classroom teachers to Holy Day celebration.
11. Organize a Teachers Appreciation night at your child's school. Make plaques for the teachers. (The following is a great quote for a plaque: "The education and training of children is among the most meritorious acts of humankind...for education is the indispensable foundation of all human excellence...", 'Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha, p. 129).
12. Create an adult-child/youth mentorship program to organize deepenings.
13. Make a visit, phone call, e-mail, or send a card to someone you are thinking of.
14. Be a listening ear for someone who needs to talk. (And listen actively.)
15. Give help in a way that is meaningful to the receiver.
16. Encourage others to serve in ways that express their unique talents and abilities.
17. Remember that work is worship. Use your trade or profession to benefit mankind.
18. Treat children like real people. Talk to them. Listen to them.
19. Accept the level of growth present in each individual or situation. Create nurturing environments so that healing and growth can occur.
20. Pray and meditate.
21. Provide guidance, structure and supervision for the children.
22. Nurture and grow the love in your home (e.g., with your spouse and children)
23. Reach out to a forgotten Baha'i in your community.
24. Host fun programs for your community. Make a barbeque!
25. Give someone a hug.
26. Be willing to extend yourself into a new situation that may take you out of your comfort zone.
27. Send a prayer or thought to someone you are thinking of.
28. Welcome new people who have just moved into your community.
29. Become a host for someone new to this country (e.g. new Baha'i family, exchange student).
30 Run an errand for someone who needs one (e.g. a working mother).
31. Make an extra serving of a meal and share it with another family.
32. Take on a community service (e.g. Habitat for Humanity)
33. Knit someone a scarf or some mittens.
34. Take up a collection to buy books for children who cannot afford them.
35. Offer baby sitting service to someone who needs it.
36. Support the Baha'i club at your local college or university.
37. Start a homework hotline. Use the talents and training of adults in your community to help children with questions about their homework.
38. Hold an interfaith devotional meeting.
39. Home an inter-community Holy Day, using ideas of community clustering.
40. Create a Mom-to-Mom exchange.
41. Serve as a literacy volunteer for an adult education program.
42. Support a pioneer, financially or through prayers.
43. If you are a business owner, dedicate one day to provide complimentary services to someone who has served your community. (e.g. a spa in Oklahoma City provides free massages to rescue workers after bombing.)
44. Donate Baha'i books to your local library.
45. Start a dance workshop in your community.
46. Help the youth in your community to organize a session for children at
feast, including prayers, stories, etc as a service.
47. Organize a help group for getting things done in your community (how long has your neighbor been talking about painting that den?)
48. Organize a coffee morning for your neighbors to discuss subjects of topical interest, virtues, etc.
49. Take your pets on a visit to your neighbourhood senior centre.
50. Give a Naw-Ruz card and/or gift to someone you know.
51. Pray for your assembly members. Write them a love letter. Or bake them some cookies.


"That one indeed is a man who, today, dedicateth himself to the service of the entire human race. The Great Being saith: Blessed and happy is he that ariseth to promote the best interest of the peoples and kindreds of the earth." (Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 250)

"You must consider all His servants as your own family and relations. Direct your whole effort toward the happiness of those who are despondent, bestow food upon the hungry, clothe the needy, and glorify the humble. Be a helper to every helpless one, and manifest kindness to your fellow creatures in order that ye may attain the good pleasure of God. This is conducive to the illumination of the world of humanity and eternal felicity for yourselves." ('Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 469)




By Leslie Mezei, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Leslie Mezei is an interfaith minister and freelance writer concentrating on “peace journalism” with a special interest in spirituality and religion.)

On September 23, 2001 some 700 people converged in Winnipeg, at the geographic centre of Canada, for a four day conference on restorative Justice: Justice, Reconciliation, Forgiveness, Peace. At least half the attendees and most of the organizers were Canadian Aboriginal people, many of them Elders, police, correctional workers, social workers, lawyers, judges. There were also representatives from the United States, England, New Zealand (a Maori judge), Australia, and the Republic of Congo. The representative from the South African  Truth and Reconciliation Commission – a role model for the rest of the world – missed it due to an airline ticket mix-up.

For me the highlight was the role-play of a “Sentencing Circle” which brought together a young man with the young woman he tried to rob in a convenience store at knifepoint, in a circle with their family and supporters and other community members. An Elder opened the proceedings with a spiritual ceremony, adding a sacred and serious tone to it. The circle was introduced by Judge Bria Huculak, a diminutive woman of great energy and compassion, who has held hundreds of such circles in the Province of Saskatchewan. She allowed a consensus to emerge on what should be done to recompense the victim, and to rehabilitate the offender, and made her judgment accordingly. Through moral and physical support, the community then takes responsibility to assist with and supervise the sentence. Most moving was the way even close relatives really heard each other for the first time, as they could speak about whatever they needed for as long as they needed – the way of ancient Aboriginal Circles.

To quote Judge Huculak from “The Spiritual Roots of Restorative Justice” edited by Michael L. Hadley: “Founded on Aboriginal peacemaking and mediation principles, this public, voluntary, participatory model focuses on the theme of healing. It is the ‘healing’ which is for many linked to spirituality. As well, the process shares a resemblance with the relational feminist ethic of care and responsibility with its emphasis on context, connection, consensus-based problem-solving, empathy and face-to-face dialogue. At the same time, however, the restorative method respects that due process central to traditional legal practice.”

At the same time, it tries to replace the conventional retributive model, which overwhelming evidence shows is not working as a true deterrent, does not rehabilitate the offender, and makes no reparation for the victim. The growing restorative justice movement aims at not only restoring community relationships, but also transforming them into something better than before. Indeed, many prefer the term ‘transformative justice.’ Judge Huculak: “Core values include empowerment and transformation…. Words seem inadequate to capture the ‘magic’ that often occurs. The tears, the gestures, facial expressions, and body language are all integral aspects of the experience. This ‘magical’ dimension is found in remorse, apology, forgiveness, and reconciliation. It is the spirituality found in healing. Significantly, the traditional court process offers no room for the spiritual.”

Restorative processes take different names in different countries and settings, such as Healing Circles, Community Conferences, Dialogue Circles, Victim-Offender Mediation, Family Group Conferencing. In England, the case of every young first offender must be diverted from the courts to a local community circle. Less than two weeks after September 11, talk at the conference also turned to applying these principles to the problems of the world society, to begin to look to the context and root causes of the many conflicts between groups of human beings, rather than relying solely on retribution through a “war on terrorism.”

RESOURCES: At another conference on conflict resolution Trip Barthel of the Neighborhood Mediation Center in Reno, Nevada, USA presented a paper on “A Comparison of Mediation Processes and Bahá’í Consultation.” In addition to the academic book mentioned above,  Michael Hadley ( also has a booklet “The Justice Tree: Multifaith Reflection on Criminal Justice” of the Centre for Studies in Religion and Society. Gregory Dunwoody (204-772-5731) edited “Compassion and Forgiveness: Inheriting the Wisdom of our Spiritual Traditions.” For additional materials, consult the international, and the Law Commission of Canada report “From Restorative Justice to Transformative Justice,” at To contact the conference organizers and The Centre of Excellence for Restorative Justice and Reconciliation, phone Mr. Art Shofley, Winnipeg, 204-783-8549. For broader issues, refer to the Conflict Resolution Network Canada, at **********************************************************





By Bob and Linda Fall, Connecticut, United States, and Paul Carignan and Sylvia Bertolini, Quebec, Canada (They can be contacted at and

With the growing number of Baha’is of Native North American descent awakening into the message of Baha’u’llah, it should be no surprise to His followers to see and hear the inspirational wealth of these people’s culture in the Faith. After all, unity in diversity is a key concept in the Baha'i Faith.

One of these aspects of Indigenous culture is the Drum, either the large community drum with several people attending it at one time, or, the hand-held Drum used by an individual. These drums have been used for social, spiritual and healing means in Indigenous communities for thousands of years. Their introduction to western-oriented Baha’i communities by Indigenous believers has the potential for a rich infusion of joyful spirit through music and dance and of the sacred through prayer chants. “Songs keep the world going right” (Maria Chona, Papago)

“Through the power and charm of music, the spirit of man is uplifted” (Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 52)

There is a vast repertoire of traditional social, healing and spiritual songs that new believers bring to the Faith as part of their cultural heritage. As they become part of the Baha’i communities across Turtle Island (North America) they should also have an honoured part in the lives of these communities and express this rich tradition.

“…the world-wide Law of Baha’u’llah…does not ignore, nor does it attempt to suppress, the diversity of ethnical origins, of climate, of history, of language and tradition, of thought and habit, that differentiate the peoples and nations of the world…its watchword is unity in diversity…” ( Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha’u’llah, pp. 41-42)

Indigenous music is heart music and, in fact, one of the beats used on the Drum is the 2-beat or Heart beat. It imitates the rhythmic pulse of the human heart. Kevin Locke states that native music “…nurtures and sustains the soil of the human heart” (The Spirit World, Time-Life, 1992, p. 29). Black Elk (Lakota, 1863-1950) explained the symbolism of the Drum. “ It’s round form represents the universe and its steady strong beat is the pulse, the heart throbbing at the centre of the universe.” (ibid, p.149).

Baha’i children’s classes and youth audiences recognize intuitively and respond spontaneously to presentations of drum music. Sohnela Wiji, Native Baha’i Drum group, has been impressed with the response of these young audiences and of their desire to participate in the Round dance finale. This Round dance is used by many First Nations to bind the people together in a social unit. The round shape of the dance, like that of the Drum, represents the sacred Earth of which we are part. It’s social function of uniting the participants to recognize each other is healing and sacred. It’s spiritual function, to acknowledge and praise the Creator, is healing and sacred. And to young participants it’s also great fun.

“The Sky blesses me, the Earth blesses me;
Up in the Skies I cause to dance the Spirits
On the Earth, the People I cause to dance”.
words to Cree Round dance" (In the Way of the Earth, T.C. McLuhan)

At Baha’i Feasts and Holy Days, the Drum finds a place in both the social and sacred part of the events. Traditional Sacred drum songs to the Creator as well as translations of Baha’i prayers set to the Drum have stirred the spirits of the listeners. People's hearts are always moved by the praise of God in prayer, however they may be clothed.

The Honour All Nations Drum, based on Vancouver Island, combined their hand-drum rendition of ‘Ya Baha’ul’abha' with a choir group at the Association of Baha'i Studies Conference in Seattle, August, 2001. The result was so stirring that “there wasn’t a dry eye in the audience”. When Sohnela Wiji Drum presented ‘Ya Baha’ul’abha’ on their big Drum in the fishing village of Hisiu in Papua New Guinea, the village chief stated that we had brought something very special to them, therefore he asked his people to listen to what the Baha’is had to say.

The repertoire of sacred traditional drum songs used by Sohnela Wiji has been gifted to the Drum by Elders. The Drum in its turn shares this bounty with the Baha'i communities and other Native communities thus becoming a bridge in the healing work of Baha’u’llah. It is this association through the Elders that validates the sharing of these songs to the future generations. Native tradition is one of respect and responsibility for what has come to us from the ancestors through an oral tradition. And it is the responsibility of the next seven generations to maintain the honoured place of Native traditions in the Baha’i Faith.





- NOVEMBER 15-18, 2001


The newsletter received this report from the Baha'i Association of Mental Health Professionals

The Baha'i Association of Mental Health Professionals convened for its third annual conference at Louhelen Baha'i School, November 15-18, 2001. With approximately 80 participants representing a wide variety of professional backgrounds - including psychiatry, psychology, counseling, social work, medicine, education and others - it was the largest conference to date of the young association.

The theme of the 2001 conference, which was dedicated to the memory of Mrs. Patricia Locke and Mrs. Helen Hatcher, was "Unfolding the Potential Within: Exploring the Nature of Psychospiritual Development." This theme was explored in talks, panel discussions, workshops and artistic performances of the highest quality. In addition, two memorial services were held in loving recognition of the beautiful lives of Mrs. Locke and Mrs. Hatcher, and at the close of the conference $3,650 was collected and contributed in their names to the newly-established World Centre Endowment Fund.

Highlights of the conference included a rich psycho-historical analysis of the emerging self given by Jane Faily; a Baha'i-inspired critique of psychology's obsession with the "dark side" of adolescence given by Saba Ayman-Nolley; fascinating talks by Mary K. Radpour on the importance of attention to process in psychospiritual development and by Holly Timberlake on psychospiritual development and issues of diversity; a talk by Michael Penn on the relationship between hope and development; a penetrating and insightful talk by Johanna Vanderpol on the emerging field of Emotional Intelligence; an experiential workshop on the treatment of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder presented by Colette Harrison; and an extraordinary series of dance performances and workshops conducted by Lawrence McCullough who served as artist-in-residence.

With participants from throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico, the 2001 gathering was the largest, most diverse Baha'i Association of Mental Health Professionals conference to date. Conference attendees expressed appreciation for the quality of the presentations, as well as the atmosphere of love and spirituality that pervaded the sessions. One participant noted: "The experience of the conference exceeded any expectations I may have entertained." Another said, "I am feeling spiritually rejuvenated by the spiritual fragrance of the friends and the Louhelen environment."

Next year's conference will be held at Louhelen during the weekend of 14-17 November. The hope is that many individuals from Europe and Asia who wished to attend in 2001, but could not, will be able to join us in 2002. For more information, please contact Adrienne Stengel, Secretary of Baha'i Association of Mental Health Professionals, at or visit the website at




"I wonder if anyone has some healing tips to alleviate diabetes and its complications. I have had diabetes for the last 12 years and up until three months ago I was treating myself through prayer, diet, and exercise. In November last year I had to go on insulin which I now take four times daily.

For the past five years I have had increasing neuropathy in my feet and legs. Now the pain and numbness is so severe that it keeps me awake at nights and incapacitated for much of the day. I want to avoid taking pain killers so I am asking if anyone has experience in dealing with this painful condition using other than drug therapy. -- Anonymous"

(Editor's note: Please send your responses to the newsletter. Thank you and looking forward to hearing from you!)


"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. Ilnesses 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. Thus an illness caused by affliction, fear, nervous impressions, will be healed more effectively by spiritual rather than by physical treatment. Hence, both kinds of treatment should be followed; they are not contradictory. Therefore thou shouldst also accept physical remedies inasmuch as these too have come from the mercy and favour of God, Who hath revealed and made manifest medical science so that His servants may profit from this kind of treatment also. Thou shouldst give equal attention to spiritual treatments, for they produce marvellous effects." (‘Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá, p.151-152)




Do you wish to lose weight but find it difficult to do? It is a sensitive issue which many people struggle with. We would be interested to learn from those who have successfully lost weight, the steps they have taken and how it affected their lives.




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"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.

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


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