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When researching the Baha’i Writings for an article on How to Find a Competent Physician, I was interested to see that there were references to a spiritual physician in the Writings.

Let’s take a look at what we can learn:

Who are the spiritual physicians?

The friends and lovers of God who follow the holy Teachings:

O ye lovers of God! The world is even as a human being who is diseased and impotent, whose eyes can see no longer, whose ears have gone deaf, all of whose powers are corroded and used up. Wherefore must the friends of God be competent physicians who, following the holy Teachings, will nurse this patient back to health. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, pp. 243-246)

All Baha’is have this duty to perform:

Indeed to bring this message to mankind in its darkest hour of need is the paramount duty of every believer. All the agony, the suffering, privation and spiritual blindness afflicting people today everywhere in the world, to a greater or lesser degree, is because they are unaware of, or indifferent to, the Remedy God has sent them. Only those who are aware of it can carry its healing knowledge to others, so that each Bahá’í has an inescapable and sacred duty to perform.  (Shoghi Effendi, Directives from the Guardian, p. 73)

What makes a Baha’i a spiritual physician?

Through the bestowals of the Lord of Hosts and the power of the Word of God:

It is my hope that out of the bestowals of the Lord of Hosts ye will become the spiritual essence and the very radiance of humankind, binding the hearts of all with bonds of love; that through the power of the Word of God ye will bring to life the dead now buried in the graves of their sensual desires; that ye will, with the rays of the Sun of Truth, restore the sight of those whose inner eye is blind; that ye will bring spiritual healing to the spiritually sick. These things do I hope for, out of the bounties and the bestowals of the Beloved.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 37)

What are the qualities of a spiritual physician?

They must act according to the precepts and the counsels of God

If in this day a soul shall act according to the precepts and the counsels of God, he will serve as a divine physician to mankind.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 23)

They follow their own teachings and translate their philosophies into action and deeds:

Some men and women glory in their exalted thoughts, but if these thoughts never reach the plane of action they remain useless: the power of thought is dependent on its manifestation in deeds. A philosopher’s thought may, however, in the world of progress and evolution, translate itself into the actions of other people, even when they themselves are unable or unwilling to show forth their grand ideals in their own lives. To this class the majority of philosophers belong, their teachings being high above their actions. This is the difference between philosophers who are Spiritual Teachers, and those who are mere philosophers: the Spiritual Teacher is the first to follow His own teaching; He brings down into the world of action His spiritual conceptions and ideals. (Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 18)

They disclose the mysteries, and set forth and expound the inner meanings of the Holy Books

It is my hope that the breaths of the Holy Spirit will so be breathed into your hearts that your tongues will disclose the mysteries, and set forth and expound the inner meanings of the Holy Books; that the friends will become physicians, and will, through the potent medicine of the heavenly Teachings, heal the long-standing diseases that afflict the body of this world.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 274)

They must cleanse their hearts from even the slightest trace of hatred and spite, and set about being truthful and honest, conciliatory and loving to all humankind:

They must cleanse their hearts from even the slightest trace of hatred and spite, and they must set about being truthful and honest, conciliatory and loving to all humankind—so that East and West will, even as two lovers, hold each other close; that hatred and hostility will perish from the earth, and universal peace be firmly rooted in their place.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, pp. 243-246)

They must have inward and outward perfections; a good character, an enlightened nature, a pure intent, as well as intellectual power, brilliance and discernment, intuition, discretion and foresight, temperance, reverence, and a heartfelt fear of God. 

The spiritually learned must be characterized by both inward and outward perfections; they must possess a good character, an enlightened nature, a pure intent, as well as intellectual power, brilliance and discernment, intuition, discretion and foresight, temperance, reverence, and a heartfelt fear of God.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 33)

What do spiritual physicians do?

They heal the long-standing diseases that afflict the body of this world; make the blind to see, the deaf to hear, the dead to come alive; and awaken those who are sound asleep.

. . . the friends will become physicians, and will , through the potent medicine of the heavenly Teachings, heal the long-standing diseases that afflict the body of this world; that they will make the blind to see, the deaf to hear, the dead to come alive; that they will awaken those who are sound asleep.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 274)

They are lamps of guidance; fountains of life; clear springs of perfections and the dawning places of the emblems of Divine Unity:

The spiritually learned are lamps of guidance among the nations, and stars of good fortune shining from the horizons of humankind. They are fountains of life for such as lie in the death of ignorance and unawareness, and clear springs of perfections for those who thirst and wander in the wasteland of their defects and errors. They are the dawning places of the emblems of Divine Unity.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 33)

They are skilled physicians; the sure antidote to the poison that has corrupted human society; the strong citadel guarding humanity, and the impregnable sanctuary for the sorely distressed, the anxious and tormented, victims of ignorance.

They are skilled physicians for the ailing body of the world, they are the sure antidote to the poison that has corrupted human society. It is they who are the strong citadel guarding humanity, and the impregnable sanctuary for the sorely distressed, the anxious and tormented, victims of ignorance.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 33)

What are the tools at their disposal?

The unfailing help of the Company on high:

If in this day a soul shall act according to the precepts and the counsels of God, he will serve as a divine physician to mankind . . . for the confirmations of the Bahá Realm are never interrupted, and such a virtuous soul hath, to befriend him, the unfailing help of the Company on high. Thus shall a sorry gnat become an eagle in the fullness of his strength, and a feeble sparrow change to a royal falcon in the heights of ancient glory.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 23)

The potent medicine of the heavenly Teachings:

. . . the friends will become physicians, and will, through the potent medicine of the heavenly Teachings, heal the long-standing diseases that afflict the body of this world; that they will make the blind to see, the deaf to hear, the dead to come alive; that they will awaken those who are sound asleep.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 274)

The breaths of the Holy Spirit:

It is my hope that the breaths of the Holy Spirit will so be breathed into your hearts that your tongues will disclose the mysteries, and set forth and expound the inner meanings of the Holy Books; that the friends will become physicians, and will, through the potent medicine of the heavenly Teachings, heal the long-standing diseases that afflict the body of this world.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 274)

How do they access these tools?

Turn to God and ask assistance from the Holy Spirit:

O thou sincere servant of the True One and the spiritual physician of the people! Whenever thou presentest thyself at the bed of a patient turn thy face toward the Lord of the Kingdom and supplicate assistance from the Holy Spirit and heal the ailments of the sick one.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 366)

What can they accomplish?

Their first remedy is to guide the people so that they will turn to God, and listen to His counsel:

The first remedy of all is to guide the people aright, so that they will turn themselves unto God, and listen to His counselings, and go forth with hearing ears and seeing eyes. Once this speedily effective draught is given them, then, in accordance with the Teachings, they must be led to acquire the characteristics and the behaviour of the Concourse on high, and encouraged to seek out all the bounties of the Bahá Realm.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, pp. 243-246)

They can heal the ailments of the sick one:

Whenever thou presentest thyself at the bed of a patient turn thy face toward the Lord of the Kingdom and supplicate assistance from the Holy Spirit and heal the ailments of the sick one.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 366)

They can nurse the patient back to health; mend the world; restore its faculties and cause people to take on such vigour, freshness and verdancy that they will shine out with comeliness and grace:

Wherefore must the friends of God be competent physicians who, following the holy Teachings, will nurse this patient back to health. Perhaps, God willing, the world will mend, and become permanently whole, and its exhausted faculties will be restored, and its person will take on such vigour, freshness and verdancy that it will shine out with comeliness and grace.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, pp. 243-246)

The next time you’re looking for a competent physician, ask yourself:  in addition to their medical training and specialization, how many of these qualities do they have?

  • intellectual power
  • brilliance and discernment
  • intuition
  • inward and outward perfections
  • a good character
  • an enlightened nature
  • a pure intent
  • discretion
  • foresight
  • temperance
  • reverence
  • a heartfelt fear of God
  • act according to the precepts and the counsels of God

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