Selections From the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá
134: O thou who art attracted to the fragrant breathings ...
O thou who art attracted to the fragrant breathings of God! I have read thy letter addressed to Mrs. Lua
Getsinger. Thou hast indeed examined with great care the
reasons for the incursion of disease into the human body. It
is certainly the case that sins are a potent cause of physical
ailments. If humankind were free from the defilements of
sin and waywardness, and lived according to a natural,
inborn equilibrium, without following wherever their
passions led, it is undeniable that diseases would no longer
take the ascendant, nor diversify with such intensity.
But man hath perversely continued to serve his lustful
appetites, and he would not content himself with simple
foods. Rather, he prepared for himself food that was compounded
of many ingredients, of substances differing one
from the other. With this, and with the perpetrating of vile
and ignoble acts, his attention was engrossed, and he
abandoned the temperance and moderation of a natural
way of life. The result was the engendering of diseases both
violent and diverse.
For the animal, as to its body, is made up of the same
constituent elements as man. Since, however, the animal
contenteth itself with simple foods and striveth not to
indulge its importunate urges to any great degree, and
committeth no sins, its ailments relative to man's are few.
We see clearly, therefore, how powerful are sin and contumacy
as pathogenic factors. And once engendered these
diseases become compounded, multiply, and are transmitted
to others. Such are the spiritual, inner causes of sickness.
The outer, physical causal factor in disease, however, is a
disturbance in the balance, the proportionate equilibrium of
all those elements of which the human body is composed.
To illustrate: the body of man is a compound of many constituent
substances, each component being present in a prescribed
amount, contributing to the essential equilibrium of
the whole. So long as these constituents remain in their due
proportion, according to the natural balance of the whole--
that is, no component suffereth a change in its natural proportionate
degree and balance, no component being either
augmented or decreased--there will be no physical cause
for the incursion of disease.
For example, the starch component must be present to a
given amount, and the sugar to a given amount. So long as
each remaineth in its natural proportion to the whole, there
will be no cause for the onset of disease. When, however,
these constituents vary as to their natural and due amounts
--that is, when they are augmented or diminished--it is
certain that this will provide for the inroads of disease.
This question requireth the most careful investigation.
The Báb hath said that the people of Bahá must develop the
science of medicine to such a high degree that they will heal
illnesses by means of foods. The basic reason for this is that
if, in some component substance of the human body, an
imbalance should occur, altering its correct, relative proportion
to the whole, this fact will inevitably result in the
onset of disease. If, for example, the starch component
should be unduly augmented, or the sugar component decreased,
an illness will take control. It is the function of a
skilled physician to determine which constituent of his
patient's body hath suffered diminution, which hath been
augmented. Once he hath discovered this, he must prescribe
a food containing the diminished element in considerable
amounts, to re-establish the body's essential
equilibrium. The patient, once his constitution is again in
balance, will be rid of his disease.
The proof of this is that while other animals have never
studied medical science, nor carried on researches into
diseases or medicines, treatments or cures--even so, when
one of them falleth a prey to sickness, nature leadeth it, in
fields or desert places, to the very plant which, once eaten,
will rid the animal of its disease. The explanation is that if,
as an example, the sugar component in the animal's body
hath decreased, according to a natural law the animal
hankereth after a herb that is rich in sugar. Then, by a
natural urge, which is the appetite, among a thousand
different varieties of plants across the field, the animal will
discover and consume that herb which containeth a sugar
component in large amounts. Thus the essential balance of
the substances composing its body is re-established, and the
animal is rid of its disease.
This question requireth the most careful investigation.
When highly-skilled physicians shall fully examine this
matter, thoroughly and perseveringly, it will be clearly seen
that the incursion of disease is due to a disturbance in the
relative amounts of the body's component substances, and
that treatment consisteth in adjusting these relative amounts,
and that this can be apprehended and made possible by
means of foods.
It is certain that in this wonderful new age the development
of medical science will lead to the doctors' healing
their patients with foods. For the sense of sight, the sense of
hearing, of taste, of smell, of touch--all these are discriminative
faculties, their purpose being to separate the
beneficial from whatever causeth harm. Now, is it possible
that man's sense of smell, the sense that differentiates odours,
should find some odour repugnant, and that odour be
beneficial to the human body? Absurd! Impossible! In the
same way, could the human body, through the faculty of
sight--the differentiator among things visible--benefit from
gazing upon a revolting mass of excrement? Never! Again,
if the sense of taste, likewise a faculty that selecteth and
rejecteth, be offended by something, that thing is certainly
not beneficial; and if, at the outset, it may yield some
advantage, in the long run its harmfulness will be established.
And likewise, when the constitution is in a state of
equilibrium, there is no doubt that whatever is relished will
be beneficial to health. Observe how an animal will graze in
a field where there are a hundred thousand kinds of herbs
and grasses, and how, with its sense of smell, it snuffeth up
the odours of the plants, and tasteth them with its sense of
taste; then it consumeth whatever herb is pleasurable to
these senses, and benefiteth therefrom. Were it not for this
power of selectivity, the animals would all be dead in a
single day; for there are a great many poisonous plants, and
animals know nothing of the pharmacopoeia. And yet,
observe what a reliable set of scales they have, by means of
which to differentiate the good from the injurious. Whatever
constituent of their body hath decreased, they can
rehabilitate by seeking out and consuming some plant that
hath an abundant store of that diminished element; and thus
the equilibrium of their bodily components is re-established,
and they are rid of their disease.
At whatever time highly-skilled physicians shall have
developed the healing of illnesses by means of foods, and
shall make provision for simple foods, and shall prohibit
humankind from living as slaves to their lustful appetites, it
is certain that the incidence of chronic and diversified illnesses
will abate, and the general health of all mankind will
be much improved. This is destined to come about. In the
same way, in the character, the conduct and the manners of
men, universal modifications will be made.