- The Washington Times - Monday, August 7, 2006

The following is an excerpt from a devotional delivered yesterday by Joseph Nga at the Washington Baha’i Center.

Let’s start with a brief overview of the Baha’i faith. An independent world religion, the faith was founded by Baha’u’llah, whose name means “the Glory of God” in Arabic, in 1863. He brought the most important and powerful ideas of the 21st century, namely: the oneness of humanity, the oneness of religion and the oneness of God.

Baha’i social and spiritual teachings are a unique blend of the traditional and the modern, of the scientific and of the spiritual — all emphasizing unity in diversity.

Let us now shift to the primary business of the day: “Reconciling the Mind-Body Connection and Mainstream Therapeutics.”

High-tech medicine holds little regard for our emotional and spiritual nature, largely because they cannot be quantified. A lot of mainstream physicians don’t accept the idea that a patient’s state of mind is an important factor in determining the outcome of therapy. They want to understand in scientific terms how hope or negative thought could affect something as concrete as health.

Practitioners of alternative medicine claim that the process of healing involves both the mind and the body. Our emotional state has a tremendous impact on disease and well-being. Human beings are at once biological, psychological and social beings. A disturbance in any one of these aspects of being affects every aspect of our being.

The real problem between alternative medicine and the mainstream medical establishment stems from different professional ethos. The mainstream establishment believes in the rule of medical evidence. Alternative practitioners do not appear to recognize the need for objective evidence, asserting that the personal beliefs of patients and healers are all that is needed to validate their methods.

The Baha’i faith distinguishes two broad causes of disease. First, the external physical cause of disease is a disturbance in the equilibrium of the various elements that constitute the human body.

The second cause of disease is internal and spiritual in nature. Wrongdoing, excessive self-centeredness, or what I would generally describe as straying from God’s teachings also have a clear affect on one’s health. We live in a world where material possessions and sexual pleasure are preferred over the social and spiritual welfare of humanity.

All these conditions breed violent mental and physical diseases. As a consequence, the whole tree of humanity is sick and every leaf on the tree shares in the general sickness. Even the purest and holiest suffer from the sins of others.

So Baha’u’llah comes as the divine physician and the healer of the world’s sickness, both of body and mind to reveal prescriptions for removing disease from the body politic. He remedies human conditions by spiritual power.

Baha’u’llah recognizes the value of both material treatment by physicians and spiritual healing through prayer. Both are essential and complementary. Physical healing cannot be complete and lasting unless it is reinforced by spiritual healing. Baha’u’llah recommends that we consult the best physicians (i.e. real doctors who have studied a scientific system of medicine) whenever we take ill.

Integrative medicine can incorporate the best of mainstream high-tech medicine with alternative and complementary strategies that show scientific evidence for effectiveness and safety. This will give us the best of both worlds.

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