What Healing Means to a Veterinarian: God Is the Ultimate Healer

Health Care and Social Action 2018
Faculty: Babak Etemad, Stephen Karnik, John Safapour

Shawna Wishart, a Bahá’í from New Plymouth, New Zealand, set out her goal for the Wilmette Institute’s course on Health Care and Social Action quite succinctly: “My objective in joining this course was to learn more about what the Faith has to say about health and wellness, both on an individual and society level.” After the course ended she summarized what she had learned and how she planned to use her new understandings with a thoughtful set of bullet points.—THE EDITORS

Insights Gained

  • While we should seek out and follow the recommendations of competent health professionals, ultimately all healing comes from God.
  • There are physical, mental, and spiritual benefits to the Fast.
  • Spiritual and physical health are both related but are completely different entities. While physical health is not necessary for spiritual health, complete physical health requires spiritual healthiness.
  • As humanity develops, the idea of what foster’s health and wellness evolves.
  • Happiness is great healer to all who are ill. I learned that contentment with one’s physical status is perhaps more important than physical health. Contentment allows for happiness in spite of disease.

Skills Gained

  • Addressing the spiritual health of the individual is vital to addressing an individual’s physical and emotional health.
  • Respect for cultural perspectives in regard to health and medicine is essential.
  • I particularly enjoyed the section describing the relaxation response using a two-step procedure of repetition and passive disregard to any intrusive thoughts to return to repetition. I found it amazing how many things this simple reflex could assist with. It was insightful that the Bahá’í Faith follows these principles through reciting Alláh-u-Abhá ninety-nine times daily and reciting the long obligatory prayer and the long healing prayer.
  • On the position of assisting societies from a different cultural or society, we need to take a more passive position. We need to be of service, live there, and understand the community, get to know it and get to understand the social problems, help in the process of consulting about the social problems, help support the community their efforts to solve the problem. It should be collaborative work. We shouldn’t play the role of hero coming in to save the day.

New Feelings or Attitudes Experienced

  • Western medicine’s definition of health as being a lack of disease leaves shortcomings in striving to reach both society’s and individuals’ fullest potential.
  • Fostering biodiversity and taking care of the environment affect out health substantially. I feel that a big part of this life is learning how to get along with other people but also learning how to co-exist with our environment.

Changes in Values or Beliefs

  • Readings and discussion have reinforced my belief in the inherent complexities of medicine and of the ability of individuals to heal themselves.
  • Contentment with the will of God: I always strive to have the best possible outcome, medically. However, a return to normalcy is not always possible, and one also learns to become content with the will of God.


  • Professionally, being a veterinarian, what I leaned in the course on health care and social action is a bit less applicable. However, I do find that I have to treat the client (human owner) as well as the patient (pet). I am very mindful of the client’s mental health when discussing terminal disease as well as performing euthanasias. I will strive to be more spiritually and culturally aware as well.
  • On a personal level, I have been more open to other types of medicines beyond Western medicines. I have personally started going to acupuncture and drinking prescribed herbal Chinese tea. I have found it of a great value to improving my well-being. I have accepted that, while I don’t understand exactly how it works, my understanding is not required for it to be effective. Having faith in God’s will and His ability to heal is more important than understanding the principles.
  • In lieu of a presentation, I plan on having one-on-one conversations discussing the content of this course with friends and family struggling with medical issues. Perhaps the most important principle is contentment and happiness with any situation, as God is the ultimate healer.

Thank you, Shawna, for highlights from Health Care and Social Action on which we can all meditate.

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