The Supreme Remedy
Applying the Healing Arts to the Baha’i Fast
by Deborah Walters
Nominated for the Association of Bahá’í Studies 2014 Award for Distinguished Scholarship.
JANUARY 01, 2014 – Oxford, United Kingdom — The practice of fasting has been used for both spiritual development and physical healing for many centuries. In the Bahá’í Faith, as in many religions, a period of fasting once a year is seen as a symbol of purification and a means of moving closer towards our Creator, putting us in touch with our duty and destiny here on Earth.
In her latest book, “The Supreme Remedy”, Deborah Walters answers questions about a law many know little about. How does the Fast relate to my health? My mind? My spiritual growth? How can I make it easier? What foods do I eat? What do I do if I am sick during the Fast? The Fast is soon approaching and this timely book will answer the numerous questions we’ve been asking for years.
Known for her knowledge of the healing arts Deborah Walters creates a dynamic framework for the Fast so it can become enjoyable and effective. This long awaited book—the first of its kind—aims to teach us how to purify and energize our soul, mind and body during the Fast. It is also a general guide of how to be healthy in mind, body soul all year round.
In this profound yet highly practical book draws Walters draws on both the Bahá’í teachings and professional experience to examine the human condition of the soul, mind and body. She focuses on how they interrelate and can be harmonized, transformed and energized through the spiritual discipline of the Bahá’í Fast. This book explores the “illimitable” benefits hidden within the Fast and why Baha’u’llah calls it “the supreme remedy” for self and passion.
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A personal note about this book
When I first started fasting, I wondered why there wasn’t much written on the subject? I longed for guidance, insight and I was so curious about its effects and what I experienced. I found very few people even desired to talk about the subject. The difficulties and questions I had personally led me to hours of research and experimentation, and to obtain a degree as a Doctor of Naturopathy. I thought I would then share with others not only what I learned but the joy I received in fasting and how I now look forward to it with confidence. How can someone enjoy fasting when the body is so sick? How can you hear the spirit when emotionally you are so messy?
This book is an approach to fasting based on both my professional and my personal experience, including my own personal spiritual journey. The various ideas in this book have evolved from many years of conducting lectures, workshops and one-on-one consultations, and from my own personal observations and study. These experiences have led me to put pen to paper and humbly share the following pages with others. My intention is to add to a body of knowledge and set a foundation for further research, thought and insight about the Fast.
I believe that fasting is one of the best remedies for healing. Although it is increasingly used in medical centres, and has been part of treatment in some European and Asian countries for many years, the medical field in the English-speaking world has not used it enough because of lack of understanding and information about fasting. It’s well known that we need breaks during the day to work more efficiently, and vacations to recharge our batteries. Any time we do anything in excess, we eventually need a break from it in order to regain balance. And in Western cultures eating has become excessive and a source of addiction. Fasting has traditionally been a religious practice. It’s a tool of devotion, obedience and love, to gain spiritual power and vision and draw nearer to God. Historically, it’s also been a physical healing tool. Fasting can have various intentions: to regain health, to lose weight, to have clarity of mind. It’s possible for these purposes to work together.
In the Bahá’í teachings the Fast has great significance. Fasting and obligatory prayer are said by Bahá’u’lláh to be ‘as two wings’ to a human life. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá tells us that fasting and obligatory prayer ‘constitute the two mightiest pillars of God’s holy Law’. This book’s approach to the Fast is based on harmony between practical considerations and theory where idealism and realism are both recognized.
The scientific study of the body and mind reflect the spirit. The body and mind require refraining from food and drink while fasting, to detoxify. They also require the proper nutrition and movement to rebuild and repair. Spiritually, the Fast offers a quiet period for proper nourishment of the soul and strengthening its relationship to its Creator. The soul must refrain from attachments to the material world.
Through my professional experience I recognize that science and religion agree in healing. This book is intended for the growing number of those trying to obediently fast but meeting resistance of all types. In helping my own clients regain balance and live optimally, I’ve blended science, intuition and a little art into a systematic approach. Many key elements to healing are reflected in the recommendations in this book, but they are by no means comprehensive, so please take the following pages as suggestions only. I am aware that the book must address a readership with a wide range of health conditions and exposure to fasting.
In studying the Bahá’í writings on the Fast I was drawn to the quotations below and desired to more closely examine the wonders of the Fast and the stages and stations as it relates to each individual. I invite you to read and reflect on these quotations and see what emerges.
“Thou hast endowed every hour of these days with a special virtue”
“Observe that which will draw them nearer unto Him”
“Protect one’s eye from beholding whatever is forbidden and to withhold one’s self from food, drink and whatever is not of Him”
“The heat generated by the Fast”
“The most great healing for the disease of self and passion”
“Various stages and stations for the Fast and innumerable effects and benefits are concealed therein”
“Fasting signifies abstinence from lust”
“Just as a person abstains from physical appetites, he is to abstain from self-appetites and self-desires”
~ Deborah Walters