The Baha’i teachings challenge us to awaken to the inner realities expressed in the problems of the outer world. 

We can learn how to read reality, and perceive how to heal. Literacy in printed language is allowing us to understand each other right now.  What if there was another literacy that we can learn, connecting the outside world to the world within?  Wars, hatred and prejudice all originate within us. The events of the world signal what is happening, invisibly, in the inner reality of humanity:

Why this great unrest—wars and the rumors of wars, changing of dynasties, earthquakes, cataclysms? The people cry “Peace, peace; when there is no peace!” Are not these the outer sign that man has lost the inner truth?Abdu’l Baha, Divine Philosophy, p. 5.

Attention to this relationship between the outer signs and the inner truth can help each of us heal ourselves, and tend to the healing of the world. To perceive humanity’s suffering from the events of the world, and then arise to minister to humanity’s needs, is both a summons and a privilege!

Humanity, through suffering and turmoil, is swiftly moving on towards its destiny; if we be loiterers, if we fail to play our part surely others will be called upon to take up our task as ministers to the crying needs of this afflicted world. – Shoghi Effendi, Baha’i Administration, p. 66.

The All-Knowing Physician hath His finger on the pulse of mankind. He perceiveth the disease, and prescribeth, in His unerring wisdom, the remedy… Be anxiously concerned with the needs of the age ye live in, and center your deliberations on its exigencies and requirements. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 213.

The physician must first sense and perceive, then act to dispense the remedy. The physician can only heal after reading and understanding reality.

In many ways, our own pain trains us to heal ourselves. It may be that for a time we can ignore our pain, but pain provides information—it directs our attention to sense, perceive, and act to meet our needs. If I am hungry, perhaps for some time I can go without eating, but a headache or some other sensation will cue me in that I need to eat. In this way we learn about the flow of energy and information that governs our digestive system, and allows us to meet our need for nourishment.

Health, then, consists of an equilibrium where energy flows between the outer world and inner world of man, coordinating sensation and perception, and where we learn to understand the inner meaning of outward signs. Abdu’l-Baha describes, for example, the optimal spiritual and physical health of the prophets:

…the holy, divine Manifestations have had a nature in the utmost equilibrium, the health and wholesomeness of their bodies most perfect, their constitutions endowed with physical vigor, their powers functioning in perfect order, and the outward sensations linked with the inward perceptions, working together with extraordinary momentum and coordination. – Abdu’l-Baha, Tablets of the Divine Plan, p. 70.

When outer sensations and inner perception link together, we can heal. The pain we now experience in our societies sends us a sign that directs our attention to the inner truth that humanity is one, an interconnected organism. Each of the pains of the world has the potential to convey this vital information, which may allow us to understand and address our needs and find the remedy for our maladies. Baha’u’llah tells us, “for each day there is a new problem and for every problem an expedient solution.”The Most Holy Book, p. 90.

Our despair at the happenings of the world may reflect what we already know intuitively—that we can understand and heal. But if we sense our pain and center attention on the outer world of sensation, we are unable to perceive the inner truth. Outward events are linked with inner meanings, which can be read in response to needs. Baha’u’llah counsels:

Let not the happenings of the world sadden you. I swear by God! The sea of joy yearneth to attain your presence, for every good thing hath been created for you, and will, according to the needs of the times, be revealed unto you. – quoted by Shoghi Effendi, Advent of Divine Justice, p. 69.

Let’s consider together the needs of our time and what the Baha’i writings reveal, as well as the sciences and the arts. There are patterns in the energy that binds us together that can help us minister to the needs of humanity. Please read and share your insights during this series of posts, as we explore these ideas together.

The opinions and views expressed in this article are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of or any institution of the Baha’i Faith.


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  • Dec 20, 2016
    Hi Tim, I am also finding your articles timely in terms of my own thoughts and reflections. I recently thought of my ancestors as waves of a pattern that I am also part of. Polarities of opposites trying to balance themselves throughout the ages. This has allowed me to connect more strongly in bonds of love with what my parents were working at and adding onto it. Thank you, thank you for your writing efforts!
    • Jan 02, 2017
      It's a joy to hear the overlap in our thoughts about the Writings! I also often think about the generations in relationship and constant conversation (sometimes tense, sometimes spacious).
  • Elnaz Shadabi
    Dec 19, 2016
    This is so great! It was a good reminder that pain is a vehicle towards healing if we see with the inner eye; as divine tests provide us with the opportunity to grow spiritually. Eventually our spiritual advancement will help heal the ills around us and perhaps prevent future pains :)
  • Shari Meyer
    Dec 18, 2016
    I truly don't know how to understand it, but you say there are patterns in the energy that binds us together. When you think that matter is not a particulate thing but a series of waves in many fields filling all space, then your sentence can begin to be understood on a different level. My brain can sense only a tiny fraction of what this universe must really be.
    • Jan 19, 2017
      Dr. Bonnie Badenoch was pleased when I asked her if I could share her recent talk on Sounds True. She's a therapist and describes many of the same concepts we explored in this series, through the lens of Interpersonal Neurobiology and anecdotes from her practice. Her approach is personable and warm:
    • Jan 02, 2017
      Hi Shari, surely none of us get more than a mere fraction of it all; it seems you've understood what I attempted to communicate. I'll suggest in later posts that "energy" can be understood on different levels of analysis simultaneously: electricity (brain/nerves), magnetism (heart), and sound waves (speech/hearing) are a few examples. It seems future generations will have capacities to sense and perceive the many forms of energy around us which aren't suited to our current stage of development, though we may we be starting to sense what they'll perceive as clear as the noon day sun--that's my guess.
  • Barbara Lachmar
    Dec 17, 2016
    Hi Tim! Great article! This is Barb Lachmar from Utah :-)
    • Dec 18, 2016
      Barb, yes hi! I appreciated our conversation very much.
  • Deshon Fox
    Dec 17, 2016
  • Georgia Opheim
    Dec 16, 2016
    Ya'Baha'ul-Abha Goose bumps on the timeliness of this compilation as a reflection of my own understanding. Thank you.
    • Dec 18, 2016
      Glad these ideas resonate with with you and hope you enjoy the rest of the series, Georgia!