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The role of religion in transformation: its implication for counselling Khorasani Mansoor, Mitra 1994

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THE ROLE OF RELIGION IN TRANSFORMATION:ITS IMPLICATION FOR COUNSELLINGbyMITRA KHORASANI MANSOORB.A., Univeristy of Pune, 1981M.A., University of Baroda, 1983A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OFTHE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OFMASTER OF ARTSinTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES(Department of Counselling Psychology)We accept this thesis as conformingto the required standard.THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIAMay, 1994© Mitra Khorasani Mansoor, 1994In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanceddegree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make itfreely available for reference arid study. I further agree that permission for extensivecopying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head ofmydepartment or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying orpublication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without mywrittenpermission.(Signature)___________________Department of C 4Jrj cic.L4j.jThe University of British ColumbiaVancouver, CanadaDate jç I 99 ‘-/DE-6 (2/88)11ABSTRACTA multiple case study approach was used to understand the patterns oftransformation from a state of meaninglessness to one of meaningfulness. Theinformants of this study were three Canadian who were members of the Baha’i faith:one female and two males, from diverse cultural backgrounds. The in-depthinterviews were subsequently written down in narrative accounts of theirtransformation experiences. These narrative accounts were validated by eachinformant. Common themes across the accounts were identified and as a finalreport these themes were synthesized into a general story. The common themesportrayed their movement from meaninglessness and purposelessness tomeaningfulness and purposefulness. A meaningful purpose in life gave rise to theinformants’ sense of agency in life. The common themes, among other things,emphasized the importance of friendship and belief in God in the transformationexperience.TABLE OF CONTENTSAbstractTable of ContentsAcknowledgementDedication111Page• . • 11• . . 111VChapter One INTRODUCTION 1Research QuestionRationale for the StudyApproach136IntroductionMeaning and SpiritualityViews of TransformationThe Bahai Faith and TransformationChapter Three METHODOLOGY 48DesignParticipants .InterviewsProcedureAnalysis of AccountsAccount ICommentaryAccount 2CommentaryAccount 3Commentary• .. 54• . .. 7075• • . . 87• . •. 92• • .. 133Chapter Five RESULTS • 138• 138• 138• 139141• 147Chapter Two REVIEW OF LITERTTJRE..8• 14• 2438Chapter Four CASE STUDIES. 544848495151IntroductionThemes of Transformation .i) Beginningii) Middleiii) EndFindingsLimitationsTheoretical Implication .Practical ImplicationImplication for Future ResearchSummary151151152155157158BIBLIOGRAPHY 160APPENDIX 1APPENDIX 2APPENDIX 3APPENDIX 4Consent FormLife LineData Collection ProcedureOverview of the General Story165166167168Chapter SixivPageDISCUSSION 151VACKNOWLEDGEMENTSI would like to express my gratitude to Dr. Larry Cochran, my researchsupervisor, whose support to embark on this study generated hope and joy. Hisvaluable guidance, through my study, has been an immense source of strength andconfidence. My thanks to the other members of the research committee, Dr. RayJohnson and Dr. Mary Westwood, for their support and feedback on the study.I wish to thank the informants of my study, who, in sharing their stories withme, have not only made this study a possibility but have also enriched my life invarious ways. In reminiscing, reviewing, and validating their experiences they takeon the roles of co-researchers in this study. To study a phenomena without asupervisor is to sail an uncharted sea; to study it without the co-operation of theinformants is to not go to sea at all.My thanks to family members, relatives, and friends for their support andencouragement at various stages of my study. It is important to acknowledge a fewof my friends by name. I thank Bahram Gustaspi for his constant support andunceasing challenges that kept my spirits up. My gratitude and appreciation toMuriellie Brauer, who gratiously lent me the use of her computer throughout thecourse of my study. Her thoughtfulness and unconditional assistance not only easedthe production of the printed material but also greatly touched my heart. Myspecial and heartfelt thanks to Mitra Sanai who was there at times I most needed afriend. Her unfailing and constant support and encouragement, during the lastmonths of my study, has been a significant source of strength. My sincereappreciation to Dick and Jane Grover who lovingly volunteered to edit and proofread the printed material.DEDICATIONTomy parentsandthe soul of my brother, Shiva, who is now a free spirit.vi1Chapter 1: INTRODUCTIONResearch OuestionFor centuries, religion served as a viable vehicle for meaning-fulfillment. Atpresent, people seem to suffer from a crisis of meaning. Indeed, a sense ofmeaninglessness has become pervasive in the world. In assisting people in theirsearch for meaning, counsellors have tended to ignore or neglect spiritual existence.This might be justified to some extent, but counsellors have tended to overlookreligion as a way of creating meaning. “There is a cost to the field of psychology inignoring religion, for it means a loss of understanding and a reduced ability toaddress pressing social issues adequately” (Strommen, 1984, p. 154).Psychology has neglected an exploration of spirituality due probably to itsintangible nature, though it does acknowledge other intangible entities such as self-worth and self-esteem. Researchers have studied these constructs and psychologistsuse them to explain personality deficiencies, whereas spirituality and religion havebeen dismissed as factors in personality formation (Theodore, 1984). Yet it is thisspiritual aspect that Frankl (1975) contends makes a person whole and that with itsexclusion, counsellors deal only with a part of the person: “. . . the spiritual core,and only the spiritual core, warrants and constitutes oneness and wholeness in man.Wholeness in this context means the integration of somatic, psychic and spiritualaspects” (Frankl, 1975, p. 28).Religion and psychology need not be antagonists but can rather workinteractively to create meaning. Psychology can be a more accurate science when itforms a synthesis with religion in its study of human behavior (Strommen, 1984). Iam not speaking of a blending of the two fields but in fact a cooperation betweenthe two in the study of meaning. Franki (1969) writes:the essential difference between psychotherapy and religion, is adimensional difference. . . Fusion of psychotherapy and religionnecessarily results in confusion, for such fusion confounds two2different dimensions, the dimensions of anthropology and theology.As compared with the dimension of anthropology, that of theology isthe higher one in that it is more inclusive. (pp. 143-144)They are two different and independent paths in the formation of meaning which, ifunited, may yield a more potent result.This research project will study how religion can help individuals to createmeaning in their lives and will examine this kind of transformation. It also willinvestigate how religious awakening can contribute to change from a state ofmeaninglessness to meaningfulness. The question then posed by this study is: Whatis the pattern of human experience in the transformation from meaninglessness tomeaningfulness?The concept of meaning is a broad and diverse topic. Therefore, to makethis study manageable, I have chosen the most prominent theory of meaning used bycounsellors, namely logotherapy. A second reason for this choice is Frankl’sacknowledgement of religion as a genuine foundation for the creation of meaningand its contribution to mental health. “Religion provides man with a spiritualanchor, with a feeling of security such as he can find nowhere else (Frankl, 1969, p.144).Logotherapy is not a religious psychotherapy and is accessible to people fromall strata of society, whether they be agnostic or theistic. It merely forms a bridgebetween psychology and religion:Logotherapy leaves the door to religion open and it leaves it to thepatient whether or not to pass the door. It is the patient who has todecide whether he interprets responsibleness in terms of beingresponsible to humanity, society, conscience, or God. It is up to himto decide to what, to whom, and for what he is responsible. (p. 143)Lastly, logotherapy was chosen because of its inherent nature. Frankl (1975)introduces logotherapy as a “. . . psychotherapy centered and focusing on thespiritual--which constitutes the noological dimension as distinct from thepsychological dimension”. The spiritual or noological dimension is that aspect of the3human being that is specific to humans and differentiates humans from animals:“The noological dimension may rightly be defined as the dimension of uniquelyhuman phenomena” (Franki, 1975, p. 13). Frankl (1986) states that ‘apsychotherapy which not only recognizes man’s spirit, but actually starts from it maybe termed logotherapy. Logos is intended to signify ‘the spiritual’ and , beyond that,‘the meaning” (p. xvii).The nature of logotherapy speaks to the nature of human beings. Theessence of the human being is one’s “soul” or “spirit” (Frankl, 1975; Assagioli, 1965;Hardy, 1987. Fraiikl asserts that “. . . human existence is spiritual existence. ..“(p.26). Thus it is crucial to work with a therapy that focuses on the spiritual ornoological dimension of the person.Rationale for the Study:Humans are beings in search of meaning. Our primary concern is to discovera meaning in life (Franki, 1978). This Frankl calls the “will to meaning”: “What Icall the will to meaning could be defined as the basic striving of man to find andfulfill meaning and purpose” (Frankl, 1969, p. 35).In the term the “will to meaning”, “will” plays as important a role as“meaning”. It is through the “defiant power of the spirit” that humans have the willto decide what they are going to be. Meaning leads to action. Although the religionsof today stress that people are saved through a belief in God, they neverthelesssuggest that people become whole through the exertion of the power of their will.The will is the activity of the individual person that aims towards a goal or aim inlife. Therefore, a person’s conscious actions and cooperation play an important rolein their growth. “Fulfillment of the human potential only follows from commitmentwhich is reciprocal. . . Although a right will cannot by itself create holiness, itappears to be a necessary adjunct to it” (Harrison, 1988, p. 313).4Franki (1975) states that being human is being responsible for one’sexistence. The problem people seem to encounter today is the frustration of the willto meaning which he terms existential frustration.A feeling of meaninglessness is the mass neurosis of our age (Franld, 1978;May, 1953). Today’s dilemma is the question of meaninglessness:People are no longer able to find a meaning and purpose (p. 95).Patients no longer complain of inferiority feelings or sexual frustrationas they did in the age of Adler and Freud. Today they come to see uspsychiatrists because of feelings of futility. The problem that bringsthem crowding into our clinics and offices now is existentialfrustration, their ‘existential vacuum’. . . .the existential question of ameaning to life and the existential quest for a meaning to life arehaunting people today. (Franld, 1978, p. 23)The loss or decline of optimal values, in our lives and society, is the majorcontributing factor to the prevalent feeling of meaninglessness. May (1953) statesthat “the values accepted as ideal by most people have been those of the Hebrew-Christian tradition allied with ethical humanism” (p. 50). Such values and goals ofthe past do not seem to exert their influence as effectively as before. “The upshot isthat the values and goals which provided a unifying center for previous centuries inthe modern period are no longer cogent” (ThLd., p. 55). The destruction of ourvalues is such that we are engulfed by feelings of loneliness and an inner void whichFranki (1967) calls an existential vacuum. Franki (1978) mentions that “thecrumbling of traditions is a major factor accounting for [this] existential vacuum” (p.26). Thus the eclipse of traditions and values has left us with no anchorage andconsequently has resulted in a feeling of emptiness and loss.It is important to note that meaning in this study also implies one’s purposein life. Therefore meaning is something akin to purpose. Lack of purpose in one’slife leaves one lost and bewildered. “As soon as a man ceases to have a purpose inlife the self begins to disintegrate and fall to pieces” (Hadfield, 1964, p. 72).5Purpose embraces a divine aspect, taking in religion as a basis for meaning--its nature is transcendental. Purpose suggests inclusion of and commitment to ahigher or “ultimate” meaning. Franki (1969) states that:ultimate meaning, or as I prefer to call it, the supra-meaning is nolonger a matter of thinking but rather a matter of believing. We donot catch hold of it on intellectual grounds but on existential grounds,out of our whole being, i.e., through faith. It is my contention thatfaith in the ultimate meaning is preceded by trust in an ultimate being,by trust in God. (p. 145)It is difficult for us to define the dimension of the ultimate being anddifferentiate it from the human world. Although a concrete differentiation is notgiven by Frankl, he attempts to clarify the separation by analogy.To understand this possibility we need only consider the relationbetween man and animals. The human world includes the world ofthe animal. In a way man can understand the animal, but the animalcannot understand man. Now it is my contention that the ratiobetween man and animal is somewhat similar to the ratio betweenGod and man. (IbLd., p. 144)He elaborates this analogy in the following example:An ape that is being used to develop poliomyelitis serum, and for thisreason is punctured again and again, is not able to grasp the meaningof its suffering, for with its limited intelligence it cannot enter into theworld of man, the only world in which its suffering is understandable.Is it not conceivable that there is still another dimension possible, aworld beyond man’s world, a world in which the question of anultimate meaning of human suffering will find an answer? (JbLd., pp.144-145)The acknowledgement of the existence of an ultimate being can also beobserved in Einstein’s writings.Everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomesconvinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the universe--a spiritvastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we withour modest powers must feel humble. In this way the pursuit ofscience leads to a religious feeling of a special sort, which is quitedifferent from the religiosity of someone more naive. (Einstein, 1979,p.33)Although it is the natural instinct of people to reach out for meaning, theyseem to be consumed by a loss of meaning. Unfortunately, in psychology, the6literature is somewhat lacking in qualitative research (specifically on the Baha’icommunity) that examines religion as a medium for the creation of meaning.Several quantitative studies have been done in which religion was a variable inmental health (Purdy, Simari, Colon, 1983; Strommen, 1984; McClure & Loden,1982) but little is known about religion as a variable for meaning-making.Consequently, counselling strategies for helping people to create meaning are notcomplete, and any study that would contribute to the possible improvement of suchstrategies is important.I hope that this study can contribute to a deeper understanding of the searchfor meaning as a fundamental part of human existence, and of the role of religiousawakening in the creation of meaning as these bear on counselling methods. Thiscan best be achieved through a careful study of the depth of my informants’transformation experience.ApproachI have chosen the case study methodology for four reasons. First, little isknown about meaning and transformation and this approach gives a more in-depthstudy of the transformation experience as narrated by the individual persons.Second, personal reference points are needed to study meaning. These referencesgive specific and rich accounts which can be derived from this approach. Therefore,a qualitative approach was seen to be advantageous for this purpose. Third, little orno research has been done using qualitative approaches. Most researchers studyingthe will to meaning have used the quantitative measures; thus, we need a differentperspective from which to study meaning. Qualitative approaches have received toolittle attention in the study of this phenomenon. Lastly, the importance of such amethod in the social sciences cannot be stressed enough: “Empirical study advancesonly when it is accompanied by logical thinking and not when it is treated as amechanistic endeavor” (Yin, 1989, p. 12).7“It is the meaning of the situation as it exists for the subject that descriptionsyield” (Giorgi, 1975, p. 74). Hence, with a detailed description of the experience oftransformation, and consequently a more explicit and specific understanding of thespiritual dimension in human nature and in meaning making, researchers andtherapists will be better able to facilitate the healing processes of their clients.8Chapter 2. REVIEW OF LITERATUREIntroductionFrom a developmental perspective counselling is a way to help people movetoward a more meaningful position in their lives. The beginning position has beenvariously described as a feeling of emptiness or void, as conflict, upset,demoralization, malaise, disillusionment, dissatisfaction, valuelessness, anomie,hopelessness, meaninglessness, or existential vacuum. “Something is aroused orenters experience that sets events in motion” (Cochran, 1990, p. 17). At this stagethe person is “incomplete”, to use Cochran’s term.The end position is one of psychological health and has been characterized asself-actualization, growth, meaning, becoming, discovery of identity, maturation,self-fulfillment, individuation, productiveness, emotional maturity, autonomy, self-integration, or completion. People strive towards completeness and attempt tobring events to a closure: “We are beings who seek closure to experience, stampingthe stream of life with impresses of meaning” (ibid., p. 19).In between these two points is the therapy process. Theorists are at odds onwhat constitutes this process of transformation. It has been variously characterizedas an educational process, as homeostasis or lack of tension, as an exchange of faultysocial values for social interests, as the recognition and correction of debilitatingand self-defeating thinking patterns, as behavior modification, as cognitiverestructuring, as expansion of the awareness of here-and-now, as gratification ofbasic needs (non-material), as unselfish love, and as unconditional positive regard(to use Rogers’ term). From an existential point of view, the beginning state is oftendescribed as an existential vacuum, the end state as that of becoming, and the middleas that of existential anxiety.9The existential vacuum, or feeling of meaninglessness, is pervasive in our age(Franki, 1964, May, 1953, Wild, 1964). People find themselves confronted with aninner emptiness, lacking purpose and direction. Franki (1965a) and May (1953)contend that this collective neurosis of the age is manifested by a lack of initiative(apathy) and loss of interest (boredom). In this state, people find themselvesalienated from the world and from a source of meaning at large.In their attempts to meet the challenges of life and to discover its meaning,people undergo states of anxiety. Anxiety is, however, indispensable to humanexistence (Frankl, 1965a; May, 1953). It serves as an indicator of an existing innerconflict that may be constructively resolved (May, 1953): “Anxiety, like fever, is asign that an inner struggle is in progress. So anxiety is evidence that a psychologicalor spiritual battle is going on” (p. 44). Existentialists view anxiety as a constructiveelement that propels people towards becoming and therefore is inevitable to humandevelopment.The end state is that of becoming. Individuals who have reached the endstate are characterized by their realization and actualization of potentialities andvalues. They are aware of the limitations of their freedom and are cognizant oftheir responsibilities in life. They are aware of the choices open to them and do nothesitate to weigh options and make appropriate decisions to overcome difficulties.As agents, individuals are able to make responsible decisions and transcend theirpredicaments. Becoming results in a heightened awareness of the reality of thehuman being. People in this state are able to respond responsibly and decisively tothe demands of life and to mature and move from one level of growth to another:Maturity is related to the increasing capacity to orient one’s existencein the light of long-term goals that are not purely oriented toward self,but toward expression of man’s fundamental condition of being-inthe-world, that is, toward loving participation in a world of others,toward giving as well as receiving. (Reeves, 1977, p. 97)10From a constructivist’s perspective, the heart of counselling is meaning-making. Individuals are seen as subjects whose lives involve inherent meaning.From Cochran’s perspective, meaning involves the capacity to weave experiencesinto a narrative form. Narratives unify one’s life events and episodes into a wholeconsisting of a beginning state, a middle, and an end position (Polkinghorne, 1988).Overall, the change from meaninglessness to meaningfulness can becharacterized as the transformation of meaning. People move from a position ofliving that is less meaningful to one that is more meaningful. Meaning is thefundamental dimension of our lives, and yet many counselling approaches, in theireffort to enhance the meaning in the lives of clients, have neglected the traditionalvehicle of meaning-making, namely religion. For centuries religion has been theframework which people have used or have tended to use to endow life withmeaning. Religious principles were invoked in choosing occupations, in the pursuitof those occupations, and in inter-personal relationships such as that betweenhusband and wife. Religion was seen to add a fullness or a meaning to life.A synthesis of psychology and religion is essential for enhancing ourunderstanding of human nature. Einstein asserts that “Science without religion islame--religion without science is blind.” As well, investigations show that religion isconducive to mental well-being (McClure & Loden, 1982). Other statistical studieshave shown that religious individuals have more meaning in their lives than nonreligious people (Crumbaugh, Raphael, & Shrader, 1970; Paloutzian, 1981).Burbank (1992) conducted an exploratory study to assess meaning in the lives ofolder adult clients. Among other factors, religion was reported as a crucial force inthe creation of meaning in their lives. Kotarba (1983) conducted a survey todetermine the role of religion as a source for meaning. The findings indicate thatpeople with chronic pain are able to control their pain cognitively by turning tovarious religions. Ellison (1983) presents the Spiritual Well-Being Scale (SWBS)11which he developed with Paloutzian (1982). The SWBS was developed to examinethe measure of mental health by studying the influence of religion on well-being.They used the SWBS in several studies and observed a positive correlation betweenthe subjects’ self-esteem and their spiritual health. Jacobson et al (1977)administered the Purpose in Life (PIL) test and the Allport-Vernon-Lindzey studyof values (SOV) to a group of alcoholic patients at admission and at discharge tostudy the relations between existential and religious constructs such as meaning inlife, religious or spiritual values, and belief in a higher Being. Among other results,the before and after tests indicated an increase in PIL scores and a significantcorrelation between PIL score and the religious scale of SOV on the secondadministration. Soderstrom and Wright (1977) administered the PIL test to a groupof students and concluded that religion is indicative of meaning in life and thatreligious commitment can assist the youth in their search for meaning in life. Atelephone survey also indicated a positive relation between religious belief andpsychological health (Ross, 1990).Alongside researchers, theorists also indicate that the neglect of religion inmeaning formation is not justified. Maslow (1970) asserts that religion and scienceneed to form a whole in order for either of them to be complete.Isolating two interrelated parts of a whole from each other, parts thatneed each other, parts that are truly parts and not wholes, distortsthem both, sickens and contaminates them. Ultimately, it even makesthem non-viable. Such a splitting off of mutually exclusivejurisdictions must produce cripple-science and cripple-religion,cripple-facts and cripple-values. (pp. 13-17)Theodore (1984) asserts “Religion is the most important social force in thehistory of man” (pp. 163-164). Spilka (1986) points out the important role ofreligion in providing meaning and enhancing the growth of the distressed. Whenreligion and spiritual values are excluded from counselling, the effective results willbe short-term (Cunningham, 1983) and the benefits restricted (Lovinger, 1979).12Schnorr (1983) argues that the inclusion of religion and spiritual components inmental health services is crucial to the enhancement of the quality of the client’slife. About the significance of religion in the lives of people, James (1985) writes:Religion, occupying herself with personal destinies and keeping thusin contact with the only absolute realities which we know, mustnecessarily play an eternal part in human history. [Religious feeling]overcomes temperamental melancholy and imparts endurance to thesubject, or a zest, or a meaning, or an enchantment and glory to thecommon objects of life. (pp. 396-398)Smith (1974) asserts that there is a direct and positive correlation betweenmental well-being and spiritual growth. The goals of the two disciplines are similarand thus their boundaries seem to be blurred (ibid.). Propst (1986) contends thatthere is a need for research examining the impact of religious faith on mentalhealth. An intensive empirical approach may bring to light the relevance of religionand spiritual values to counselling.It is important to reflect on the reasons for the omission, rather than theexamination, of this traditional vehicle. Religion appeared to be a competitor to thenew field of Psychology and had to be eliminated rather than incorporated. Theexpulsion of religion from meaning-making is mainly a product of historical forcesrather than being part of an authentic rationale. For example, religion was seen tobe anti-scientific and anti-intellectual and for that reason had to be ignored.Religion was identified with the church and the church developed a set of habits,customs, and beliefs that were not aligned with natural and empirical facts andtherefore were seen to be irrational by the scientific world (Maslow, 1970).The church seemed to be very conservative and resistant to any change. Theanswers to the questions of life given by the church were not considered to belogical and were not intellectually accepted by the scientific world (ibid.). Thusreligion was viewed with suspicion and discarded. Therefore, historically, thereaction was against the organized and institutional church, whose belief system was13found to be rigid, dogmatic, and irrational. Thus the scientific approach ofempirical experimentation was seen to be the only valid approach to the discoveryof meaning.Another causal factor in the neglect of religion was the way that, in thecourse of history, knowledge came to be defined (Hardy, 1987). The scientific worldtook into account only objective knowledge and experiences and consideredsubjective knowledge and private experiences to be futile and baseless. Trueknowledge was perceived to be the objective, variety subject to tests ofmeasurement. Psychology was rooted in empirical experimentation and the focuswas on measurement of feelings, emotions, memory, and other psychologicalphenomena. Objective tests were developed to test these phenomena. Religion wasseen as a system of subjective knowledge that was not governed by tests ofobjectivity (ibid.). The inner state of individuals during some spiritual experiencescould not be measured (quantified) and therefore was discarded and categorized asunreal. Since spirituality was an abstract phenomenon that could not undergo theobjective tests of scientific knowledge, religion was omitted from the study of humannature.Finally, religion believed reality to lie in the spiritual realm, whereas thescientific world focused on the material realm (James, 1985). The Scientific worldsaw the notion of the next world and the higher realms of consciousness (thatreligion expounded as real) as too abstract, unreal, and absurd. To science, realitylay in the world of sensations, of scientific laws and objects. But the vision ofpsychologists like James surpassed the limitations and bias of the scientific world:The world of our present consciousness is only one out of many worldsof consciousness that exist, and that those other worlds must containexperiences which have a meaning for our life. The total expressionof human experience, as I view it objectively, invincibly urges mebeyond the narrow ‘scientific’ bounds. Assuredly, the real world is ofa different temperament. (p. 408)14Although religions were seen to be in enmity with psychology, bothdisciplines address the same issues. While psychology’s alignment with science hasbeen vivid and strong, it must eventually deal with the purpose of human existence(Smith, 1974). James asserts that the pervasiveness of objective experience is in noway a justification for ruling out the subjectivity of experiences. Perhaps whenpsychologists are aware of these commonalties and form an integration withreligion, they will then be empowered to treat their clients more effectively.The purpose of this study is to examine the role of religion and spirituality inthe transformation from meaninglessness to meaningfulness. In this way, some ofthe significant oversights might be examined and might potentially be incorporatedinto counselling practice. Accordingly, the first section of this review will beconcerned with meaning and spirituality. The second section of this review will beconcerned with those aspects of a spiritual transformation that are relevant tocounselling. The third section of this review will highlight the factors involved inspiritual transformation according to the Baha’i Faith. This will be preceded by abrief introduction to Baha’i Faith and principles.MEANING AND SPIRITUALITYTerms such as meaning and spirituality are difficult to specify in any clearway. For this reason it is worthwhile to rely upon a clear statement of the meaningof meaning. One of the clearest statements can be found in the work ofCzikszentmihalyi, which is also advantageous because there is a dimension ofspirituality in his work. According to Czikszentmihalyi (1990), meaning in lifeinvolves three overlapping senses. First, an overall purpose imparts meaning to thelives of people. Second, life is meaningful if we express our purpose in actionsthrough which individuals pursue their life goals with resolution. Third, we havemeaning in life if there is a harmony among the various values and spheres of ourlife: the achievement of inner harmony.15People who have a purpose or who follow a significant goal in life find theirlives worthwhile and meaningful:A unified purpose is what gives meaning to life. People who find theirlives meaningful usually have a goal that is challenging enough to takeup all their energies, a goal that can give significance to their lives.We may refer to this process as achieving purpose. (ibid., pp. 216-217)This purpose unifies the goals of people’s lives, gives direction to their daily actionsand imparts meaning to their experiences. If people have a purpose for which theylive, they will be willing to suffer whatever may be required of them to fulfill it.Examples may be observed in the lives of Jews persecuted under the reign of Hitler,Christian martyrs in the time of Christ, Baha’i martyrs in time of Baha’u’llah, and atpresent, Iranians who gave up and are giving up their lives, convinced that theirBaha’i values are worth dying for. The purpose of the lives of these martyers hasbeen to maintain a relationship with God. In an attempt to reach goals in life, weare able to overcome challenges and surmount obstacles that may result in personaltransformation of various kinds. Czikszentmihalyi (1990) states:In the lives of many people it is possible to find a unifying purposethat justifies the things they do day in, day out--a goal that like amagnetic field attracts their psychic energy, a goal upon which alllesser goals depend. This goal will define the challenges that a personneeds to face in order to transform his or her life into a flow activity.Without such a purpose, even the best-ordered consciousness lacksmeaning. (p. 218)Czikszentmihalyi presents four ascending stages, spiral in nature, thatindividuals undergo in the development of meaning. First, the person is concernedwith the safety of the body and the integration of basic needs and goals. At thisstage the meaning of life revolves around survival and pleasure. “Self-interest alonewill give meaning to life” (p. 222).In the second phase, the meaning in life is derived from compliance with aset of socially determined values which is taken as the standard or the norm: “the16welfare of the family, or the company, the community or the nation are the sourcesof meaning” (ibid.).The third level involves “reflective individualism” where the conscience,rather than blind conformity, is the guiding light. Here, the goal in life is to grow,develop, and actualize values and potentialities.The fourth stage is the culmination of the other three, where the individualdetaches from the self and moves towards a unity with others and with “universalvalues”. “In this final stage the extremely individualized person willingly merges hisinterest with those of a larger whole” (ibid., p. 222).In these ascending spiral stages of meaning-formation and purpose-shaping,there is a prominent characteristic of tension. It is a “dialectic tension, [an]alternation between differentiation on the one hand and integration on the other”(ibid., p. 223). In this process, at one stage the focus is on the self, while at anotherit is on the other. People do not necessarily go through all four stages in the courseof their lifespan:Not everyone moves through the stages of this spiral of ascendingcomplexity. A few never have the opportunity to go beyond the firststep. When survival demands are so insistent that a person cannotdevote much attention to anything else, he or she will not haveenough psychic energy left to invest in the goals of the family or of thewider community. Self-interest alone will give meaning to life. Themajority of people are probably ensconced comfortably in the secondstage of development, where the welfare of the family, or thecompany, the community, or the nation are the sources of meaning.Many fewer reach the third level of reflective individualism, and onlya precious few emerge once again to forge a unity with universalvalues. These stages characterize what can happen if a person is luckyand succeeds in controlling consciousness. (ibid., p. 222)The second way life may acquire meaning, according to Czikszentmihalyi, isthrough individuals’ strong intentions. That is, we actually follow through in our lifeintending to do certain things. Purpose expresses itself through actions. From thisangle, action is the key word for formation of meaning. Active commitment to life17goals renders meaning to human existence (ibid.). Individual are responsible forstriving towards the goals in their lives by overcoming the obstacles they encounter.Although action will enable individuals to reach their goals in life, Czikszentmihalyiemphasizes the combination of action and reflection as a more productive pathtowards achievement of these goals.Third, life also acquires meaning when there is a harmony among the variousvalues and spheres of life. People are able to develop a coherent purpose throughinternalization of human goals and values that have existed from ancient times(Czikszentmihalyi, 1990). The predominant factor is the efforts of the individual todiscover and freely choose these values in life. Meaning emerges out of a unitybetween our actions, feelings, and thoughts (i.e when these three are in accordanceto one another). Individuals in the state of harmony seem to encounter acongruency between what has to be done and what they are prepared to do.Certainty of purpose and committed action towards their goals results in an innerharmony that can be observed in people with inner strength, and in those seeming tobe at peace with themselves (ibid.). In the midst of confusion that is caused by thewealth of opportunities and choices open to individuals and by pressingresponsibilities, people can achieve harmony through “reason” and “choice” (ibid.).When individuals are goal-directed, their actions provide meaning in their lives.“Purpose, resolution, and harmony unify life and give it meaning by transforming itinto a seamless flow experience” (Ibid., pp. 217-218).In times of predicament, people may achieve harmony through theinterpretations they assign to a crisis and can thus give meaning to their lives(Franki, 1959; May, 1953; Assagioli, 1965; Czikszentmihalyi, 1990). “To find apurpose in suffering one must interpret it as a possible challenge” (ibid., p. 233).Transmuting the negative into positive or the suffering into a challenge givesmeaning to life (Franki, 1965a). A healthy person is one who is determined to18overcome challenges, while a neurotic is one who has given in to the challenges anddoes not seek a way out (Czikszentmihalyi, 1990). The approach individuals take inresolving difficult situations can determine the degree of harmony within theirconsciousness. “Altruistic way of generalizing solutions brings harmony to the livesof many” (ibid., p. 234).Czikszentmihalyi points out the path by which people can bring meaning andharmony into their lives:The strategy consists in extracting from the order achieved by pastgenerations patterns that will help avoid disorder in one’s own mind.There is much knowledge--or well-ordered information--accumulatedin culture, ready for this use. Great music, architecture, art, poetry,drama, dance, philosophy, and religion are there for anyone to see asexamples of how harmony can be imposed on chaos. Yet so manypeople ignore them, expecting to create meaning in their lives by theirown devices. (p. 235)Therefore meaning is to be discovered by the person. It can not be invented by theself or accepted from others.It is crucial to know what spirituality adds to the sense of meaning.Spirituality is that sense of something “other”. It is most basically a sense ofconnection with a spiritual “other” which people might describe as a spiritual force,the spiritual nature of the universe, or as a presence. William James (1985) called itthe presence of a sense of something divine, something other. It is a sense ofconnection with divinity. It is a union with an operant force in the universe. It isbeyond one’s sense of connection with a tree: there is something divine, holy,spiritual about whatever it is that one has a connection with. For this reasonobviously it is capable of being mistaken for hallucination, insanity or somethingelse, yet nevertheless that is the heart of spiritual experience.Spiritual experiences have been divided by Rowan (1990), into ninecategories: peak experience, pure energy, real self, self open to others,transcendental self, Deity as multiple, Deity as substance, Deity as process, and The19Ultimate. These nine categories are all instances of what James (1985) regards as asense of something other. What people seem to be referring to in these experiencesis a sense of presence--spiritual presence of something more, something else. Thesecategories will be discussed individually.First, some spiritual experiences have been documented as peak experiences.They occur when people encounter unexpected ecstatic emotions and “feel one withthe whole”. Rowan (1990) states,At each point we leave one state of consciousness for a higher ordeeper or more inclusive state of consciousness, we experience abreakthrough--a peak experience where we suddenly seem to be incontact with the Truth. (p. 236)This is the climax of a blissful state which transports people to higher levels ofconsciousness and thus may result in some sort of personal transformation. Theeffects may be so intense that the person may feel overwhelmed and the immediateeffects may be mistaken for insanity. Maslow (1970) contends that during thisexperience the person encounters his true identity, his real self. Rogers (1961)states that people in this state are “fully functioning”. Maslow reports that peakexperiences give rise to several emotional and physical reactions. The emotionalreactions range from awe, amazement, reverence, and humility to a feeling ofsmallness, devotion, or surrender to a greater other or force. The physical reactionsare of two types: One is total excitement and elation and the other is a sense ofrelaxation, peacefulness and serenity. Peak experiences are intrinsically valid andare perfect and complete for the person.Second, others have reported spiritual encounters as a “pure energy”, wherethey find themselves in touch with some overwhelming power or energy. Thisphenomenal power energizes their whole being and gives renewed strength to theirendeavors. Rowan (1990) states that individuals may experience significant surges20of energy either during prayers, meditations or during other activities such as sports.He writes:[This] may be experienced as a surge or flow, which can easily belinked with other forms of energy of a more universal kind. Languagecannot really capture this one, and unless you have actually had theexperience yourself, it may well seem hard to follow, paradoxical ornon sensical. (ibid., p. 237)Third, self-knowledge has been explained in terms of spiritual experience.Rowan defines this as the Real Self. This is being in contact with human reality, theinner identity of a human being:This seems to me a very important step in spiritual development,because it is a gateway to the realization that we must have spiritualexperiences for ourselves: we cannot get them from someone else.This is the basic attitude of the mystic in all religious traditions--to getinside one’s own experience, to commit oneself to one’s ownexperience, to trust one’s own experience. (ibid., p. 237)This is the discovery of who one is. Through the process of self-knowledge, manyconflicting situations in life are resolved. The knowledge of real self, the higher selfleads to action-creating happiness (ibid.). During this state, we are aware that weare more than body and mind and that in essence the reality of humans is a spiritualone.Fourth, some spiritual experiences has been marked by a feeling of unionwith others on a much deeper level. Rowan defines this as the self open to others.People become aware of and feel the feelings of the other person as if experiencedby themselves. It is like feeling one with other persons and experiencing their joyand their pain first hand. The traditional religions would term this as “one soul intwo bodies”. In counselling situations, one encounters this experience when thecounsellor “co-feels” or “co-understands” with the client (ibid.). It is likened to theentry of the counsellor into the subjective world of the client. Rowan states,Mahrer (1983) describes this new approach as experiential listening,and says that this kind of listening involves a complete sharing of theclient’s phenomenal world. The counsellor and client can integratewith one another. The personhood and identity of one can assimilate21or fuse with that of the other, and then the counsellor will haveexperiencings which are also occurring in the client. (p. 238)The transpersonal self is the fifth type of spiritual encounter described byRowan, in which people experience the qualities of the higher self, higher nature, orthe heavenly nature which is divine and sacred. This may result in individualsseeking religious counsel but it does not spare them from weighing options and fromfeeling a sense of responsibility. People are committed to taking actions, and whenindividuals realize and actualize values, one may say these individuals are workingfrom their higher self or nature.Sixth, certain spiritual experiences embody the belief in several god-forms.Each of these personify and denote a particular character and attend to a specificneed in the person. For example, in Japan, there is a god for a corporation who isprayed to and given offerings for a prosperous year. All these god-forms are unitedto form one entity but each is prayed to separately.Seventh, other spiritual experiences have been called “Deity as a substance”.Such experiences are substantiated and supported by the belief in an ultimate Being.The Being may be addressed by several names, such as Atman, infinite force orpower, the force behind the sustainment of the world, Supreme Reality, or God:I will call this higher part of the universe by the name of God. Inopening ourselves to his influence our deepest destiny is fulfilled.When we commune with it, work is actually done upon our finitepersonality, for we are turned into new men. (James, 1985, p. 406)During this incident, individuals feel in touch with the creator and are clear aboutthe difference between humanness and creatorness or finiteness and infinity.Eighth, Deity as process is the feeling of being connected with the Divine ona daily and continuous basis (Rowan, 1990). It is a sense of oneness with the HigherBeing, a sense of continuous association with the creator. Individuals are involvedin a journey towards true contentment, happiness, and perfection while feeling aproximity to the Divine Being. People, in their union with the supreme reality find a22true end (James, 1985). Reading, prayer, and meditation may be ways to keep thisongoing contact alive within individuals: “Prayer or inner communion with theSpirit, is a process wherein work is really done, and spiritual energy flows in andproduces effects, either psychological or material” (ibjd., p. 382).Ninth, some spiritual experiences take the form of a sense of nothingness, orhumbleness before the infinite force. Individuals acknowledge their divine natureand yet feel nothing: it is the feeling “of being everything and nothing at the sametime” (Rowan, p. 239).All these experiences express a sense of connection with the divine. It isbasically that something divine which pervades all these experiences. Spiritualexperiences strengthen people and transport them to higher levels of living byopening up new possibilities in life (James, 1985). James sees spiritual experiencesas indescribable, productive of knowledge and capable of producing deep andsubstantial changes within people. These experiences all have a transpersonalquality. Transpersonal experiences are not bound to time and space and transcendthe realm of ego in order to tap into higher levels of consciousness (Grof, 1975). Itwould be difficult to define spirituality any further. Although it is hard to make ourdefinition sharp, it is hoped that the experiences documented may help to elucidatethe concept of spirituality.Spirituality plays a key role in meaning and living. First, a sense ofspirituality enlarges our sense of purpose. We are not just moving forward in lifesetting egocentric purposes or goals that benefit a certain set of people but perhapsestablishing a purpose that goes along with the very nature of God or divinity.Individuals might strive to reach the fourth stage of Czikszentmihalyi’s spiral ofmeaning-formation, where the individual’s “ultimate goal [would] merge with asystem larger than the person--a cause, an idea, a transcendental entity(Czikszentmihalyi, 1990, p. 222).23Other than putting forward his four spiral stages of meaning-formation,Czikszentmihalyi also presents the three types of Sorokin’s meaning system, namely,the sensate, the ideational and the idealistic. In the sensate phase the person isconcerned with gratification of physical needs and goals. The meaning in life hererevolves around attainment of a comfortable and easy life. “People in a sensateculture organize their goals and justify their behavior with reference primarily topleasure and practicality rather than to more abstract principles” (ibid., p. 220).They have no regard for the idealized values and shape their purpose aroundmaterial ends.The ideational phase is contrary to the sensate. They assign little importanceto the material and “strive for the non-material and the supernatural ends. Theyemphasize abstract principles, asceticism, and transcendence of material concerns”(ibid.). Such a purpose would attend to the higher needs of humans rather than totheir physical or basic needs.The idealistic phase is a combination of the other two. Individuals orcultures who shape their purpose in idealistic ways acknowledge the good points ofeach and disregard the negative ones. “They combine an acceptance of concretesensory experience with a reverence for spiritual ends” (ibid., p. 220).Second, spirituality deepens a sense of intention, where peoples’ daily actionsand practices rest not just on practical grounds but also have a spiritual significance.Sorokin’s meaning system can be a helpful way of looking at individuals’ intentionsas they pertain to the accomplishment of life goals. Spirituality, by expanding ourpurpose, would help individuals to shape their ultimate goal in an idealistic manner:from both a practical and a transcendental perspective. The idealistic manner isinfusion of spirituality into one’s daily activities in life where one not only takesactive steps towards accomplishment of goals, but also contemplates life and reflects24on actions to find out whether they are in accordance with one’s ultimate goals(Czikszentmihalyi, 1990).Third, spirituality enlarges our sense of harmony. It provides values that arein keeping with such harmony. Spiritual values tend to be holistic rather thanparticular in nature. In order to establish a harmony, these values and beliefs needto be discovered by the person rather than given to the individual or accepted bypeople from outside forces (ibi_d.). Spirituality enables individuals to align whatought to be done with what one is willing to accomplish. When an individual isfaced with conflicting values, beliefs, choices, and behavior, these holistic valueshelp to restore inner harmony through reasoning and free-will.VIEWS OF TRANSFORMATIONTwo psychological approaches seem compatible with a religious framework.For the purpose of this study, this review will focus upon Viktor Frankl’sexistentialism, namely logotherapy. But since the sense of spirituality and religiousvalues is not explicitly stated in logotherapy, this review will also include the work ofRoberto Assagioli, who, in contrast, has explicitly mentioned religion and spiritualityas pivotal steps towards change. To avoid a certain fuzziness in language, I willattempt to avoid the unique terminologies of each approach in favour of plainstatements of the beginning state, the end state and exactly how the transformationis supposed to take place.The beginning state, according to Franki (1978), is a state ofmeaninglessness. He asserts that a great sense of meaninglessness andpurposelessness has gripped the people of today. The problem of the age is relatedto life orientation and a lack of a sense of personal meaning in life: “More andmore patients suffer from a lack of content and purpose in life” (Franki, 1969, pp.83-84). Lukas (1984) states that twenty percent of the people who come forcounselling suffer from a sense of meaninglessness and value conflict; eighty percent25of the other problems have a potential connection to the present neurosis. This lackof meaning and purpose in life, she asserts, is indicative of some emotionalmaladjustment. People in this phase may experience anxiety, depression, apathy oranomie. They lack commitment to a task and are wandering aimlessly, feelingbored and restless. Meaninglessness is accompanied by a feeling of emptiness, an“inner-void”, which Franki (1965b) calls the “existential vacuum”. Existentialvacuum, Franki (1969) states, is a spiritual problem entailing a “moral or ethicalconflict”: “The doubt whether one’s life has a meaning is an existential despair, it isa spiritual distress rather than a mental disease” (Frankl, 1961a, p. 12). Spiritual orspirituality does not have a religious connotation, rather it indicates the specifichuman phenomena that separates the humans from the rest of the animal world(Frankl, 1975). “It concerns itself with the humanness of the human being--plus themeaning of being human” (Frankl, 1969, p. 18).This new neurosis is manifested by boredom, despondence, and adissatisfaction with life in general (thid.). People attempt to fill this existentialvacuum with activities such as gambling, over-eating, over-emphasis on sex, alcohol,collection of material things, changing careers (only to find further dissatisfaction),accumulation of money and property, etc. Each path heightens this neurosis andintensifies feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. This feeling of emptiness canhave dire consequences such as depression, suicide, violence, addictions, andindiscriminate sexual practices (Lukas, 1984).Existential vacuum, or the feeling of meaninglessness, Frankl (1978) asserts,is a “concomitant of industrialization”. Affluence, “repressed religiousness” andsudden changes in industrialized and technological societies are crucial factors inthe rise of this new syndrome. Humans have lost their “instinctual security” andtheir old sources of anchorage, such as adherence to traditional values and respect26for social and family norms (Frankl, 1969). Conformity and totalitarianism haveconsequently come into prominence, exacerbating the feeling of emptiness (ibid.).Meaninglessness is linked to the modern sense of freedom: “We are free towalk in any direction; there are no barriers. But neither are there guideposts to agoal. In an open field we can get lost easily” (Lukas, p. 1). Excess of freedom,resulting form loss of traditional values, has led people to despair and frustration.They have taken freedom without its “positive’ counterpart, namely responsibility.In a meaningless state people believe that freedom is doing what they want to do,but Franki (1969) insistently and emphatically correlates freedom withresponsibility. “Freedom threatens to degenerate into mere arbitrariness unless it islived in terms of responsibleness” (Frankl, 1969, p. 49). Frankl considers freedomand responsibility to be the constituents of human spirituality.From a general perspective, the demoralization that is caused by thebreakdown of traditions and lack of any supporting faith to replace it is the cause ofa sense of meaninglessness (Franki, 1965a). Specifically, lack and repression of asense of responsibility has lead to the existing neurosis (ibid.). This repressionimpairs the person from finding and developing a sense of meaning in life. Franklstates that if we appeal to individuals’ sense of freedom and responsibility, then wehave a chance to overcome meaninglessness. Humans are able to find meaning inlife only as they act in a responsible way and commit themselves to the search fortheir personal task in life. Frankl views this sense of responsibility and meaningseeking to be transcendental--i.e. directed to something beyond ourselves: “We canbe responsible only to an entity higher than ourselves” (ibid., p. xxi). Franki givespriority to the spiritual and value-oriented aspect of a person: “Dr. Franki proposesto heal the sufferings of man by a meaning which will appeal to the spirit” (Johnson,1961, p. 13). He not only acknowledges the person’s subjective experience in the27midst of life but also stresses the objective reality of values that stem out of theabsolute value or ultimate meaning.Humans primarily seek meaning in life (Franki, 1969). The fundamentalconcern of humans is “the fulfillment of a personal meaning or the encounter with ahuman being. This even holds true of an encounter with the Divine Being” (ibid., p.40). Meaning is “what is meant” by a particular person or situation and has to bediscovered by the individual persons (Franki, 1959). It cannot be arbitrarily given.Meaning transcends the sphere of human beings, it does not stem from theindividual person: “Meanings and values stem from a sphere beyond man and aboveman” (Franki, 1961a, p. 9). Franki advocates a search for the concrete, rather thangeneral, meaning of life which could vary from moment to moment and person toperson. In one’s search for meaning, one’s conscience is the guiding light towardsmeaningfulness (Frankl, 1969). “Conscience could be defined as the intuitivecapacity of man to find the meaning of a situation” (ibid., p. 63). One’s consciousenables one to discover the unique meaning of a situation and develop one’sspiritual values. The meaning of life is transcendental and embodies the “self-transcendent” quality of human existence. “Being human is directed, and pointing tosomething, or someone, other than itself’ (Frankl, 1964, p. 56)By virtue of their search for meaning, humans are distinguished from the restof the animal world (Lukas, 1984). The discovery of meaning and acquisition ofvalues alleviates the sense of meaninglessness (Franki, 1961a). But it does not sparepeople from making responsible choices in response to value conflicts (ibid.).Failure to make decisions responsibly will give rise to spiritual neurosis. One’squest for meaning carries with it a certain amount of anxiety, which is inevitable andessential for personal growth.Mental health is based on the presence of an adequate state oftension, an appropriate tension that holds him steadily orientedtoward concrete values to be actualized, toward the meaning of his28personal existence to be fulfilled. [This tension] arises from theunbridgeable gap between what a man has achieved and what hecould accomplish. The cleavage between what I am and what I oughtto become is inherent in my being human and, thereforeindispensable to my mental well being. (ibjd., pp. 12-13)Franki goes beyond asserting that the remedy for today’s problem lies in thediscovery of meaning. He proposes three ways through which this transformationfrom meaninglessness to meaningfulness can take place. These he terms “creative”,“experiential”, and “attitudinal” values. Creative values are made manifest throughactions that are beneficial to society. Such actions may be carried on at work,during leisure time as a hobby, or as volunteer work. The person is facing a task inlife and is committed to carrying it out. Therefore, meaning comes from fulfilling atask. Franki sees people approaching transcendence through existential acts.Finding meaning through creative accomplishments may be denied to some throughillness, disabilities or other unavoidable circumstances. In such cases, people canfind meaning by experiencing values and positive emotions: beauty in nature andart, sympathy towards others, or love for another human being. “Franki believesthat loving relations have eternal possibilities” (Yoder, 1989, p. 28). Therefore,loving a person gives life a meaning. Love is a spiritual phenomena:Love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire.Love goes very far beyond the physical person of the beloved. It findsits deepest meaning in his spiritual being, his inner self. (Franki, 1959,p. 37)When people are denied the creative and experiential values, they candiscover meaning through attitudinal values. What attitudes people adopt and howthey handle their inescapable fate and unavoidable suffering can impart meaning totheir existence. Therefore, regardless of the conditions of the person, life offerspossibilities and opportunities for the individual realization of values:Life can be made meaningful by what we give to the world in terms ofour creation; by what we take from the world in terms of ourexperience; and by the stand we take toward the world, that is to sayby the attitude we choose toward suffering. (Frankl, 1962, p. 9)29Attitudinal values rest on two pillars: on people’s self-detachment and self-transcendence. Self-detachment refers to a person’s ability to step away from theself and the situation and to observe the problem from the outside. By so doing,people free themselves from the shackles of these problems and are able to choosetheir attitudes in order to take steps towards overcoming the problem. Self-transcendence is the ability to rise above oneself and the existing conditions: “Mantranscends himself either towards another human being or towards meaning”(Franki, 1969, p. 19). By means of humour, Franki states, people are able toempower themselves to rise above their existing situations. These values, Frankiasserts, cannot be understood by intellectual means for they transcend the finiteunderstanding of humans.Attitudinal values bring forth yet another approach to the discovery ofmeaning: one’s quest for a higher meaning. An ultimate meaning by its very natureexceeds man’s limited intellectual capacity (ibid.). To a religious person or one whocomes from a spiritual angle, this higher or ultimate meaning presupposes theexistence of a higher Being called God (Groilman, 1964). Frankl (1986/87) calls itthe Super-meaning or ultimate meaning:Is it not conceivable that there is still another dimension possible, aworld beyond man’s world; a world in which the question of ultimatemeaning of human suffering would find an answer? (p. 187)The pursuit of meaning through attitudinal values embodies a deeperspiritual perspective. The utilization of attitudinal values is the basis for a soundphilosophy of life which helps individuals cope with the modern neurosis, namelythe existential vacuum. Among the three paths of values, the attitudinal values playa more crucial part for Franki, especially one’s attitude toward suffering (Shea,1975). People have the strength to undergo any suffering once they have found ameaning in it (Frankl, 1965a).30The acquisition of values brings the individual person to the end state whichFranki terms becoming. The end state is the culmination of one’s search formeaning. The characteristics of meaningfulness are the realization of objectivevalues and the fulfillment of meaning. At this stage the person reaches the state ofwhat he ought to be: “What I ought, however, is the actualization of values, thefulfillment of the concrete meaning of my personal existence” (Franki, 1961a, p. 9).People do not see values as mere self-expression but as an objective entity found bythe individual persons (ibid.). “Values have their moorings in a commitment to anabsolute God and His imperishable laws” (Grollman, 1964, p. 22). The person findslife meaningful and self-actualization automatically follows as a side effect ofmeaning-fulfillment (Frankl, 1964).He finds identity to the extent to which he commits himself tosomething beyond himself, to a cause greater than himself. No onehas put it as cogently as has Karl Jaspers: what man is he ultimatelybecomes through the cause which he has made his own. (ibid., p. 516)Those who attain this state of being no longer see themselves as helpless victims oftheir genetic make-up, their social environment, or their psychological drives. Theyare cognizant of the effect of these forces on their make-up and temperament, butacknowledge the power of their spirit in empowering them to transcend theselimitations (ibid.). Humans have the potentiality to be good or bad, and thefreedom of choice, and not conditions, determines which potentiality is actualized(Frankl, 1962). At this stage people are actively shaping and changing their livesand themselves for the better (Frankl, 1961a). People are aware of their limitedfreedom, and within that limitation they move freely and choose options responsibly.People exercise their freedom and responsibility by accomplishing their tasks,developing their positive potentialities, and realizing values in life. They are agentsmoving towards becoming. The gap between what one is and what one ought to be31is alleviated and the person reaches a stage of maturity and development (Franlcl,1964):Stage of maturation and development has been reached wherefreedom becomes responsibleness. An individual is responsible forthe fulfillment of the specific meaning of his own life, he is alsoresponsible to something, be it society or humanity or mankind or hisown conscience. A significant number of people interpret their ownexistence not just in terms of being responsible to something but ratherto someone--namely, to God (p. 517). Franki further states “Theintegration of the subject presupposes direction toward an object”.(Franki, 1961a, p. 13)Frankl’s personal views support religion as a crucial factor in mental healthand personal growth. But this is not carried explicitly into his philosophy oflogotherapy. Rather, logotherapy maintains a neutral stance towards religion andleaves the option open to the person to accept or reject it in the process of growth(Franki, 1961b).Assagioli (1965), on the other hand, is more revolutionary and overtlyemphasizes the value of religion and spirituality in the formation and developmentof personality and mental health. His approach aims more directly towards bridgingthe gap between psychology and theology (Hardy, 1987). He does not prescribe anyspecific religion as he sees truth in all of them (jbid.). He is religiously non-specific,and he advocates “religious awakening” and “spiritual interest” as the solution tomeaning-fulfillment. He considers the search towards religious truth as a searchtowards wholeness (ibid.). The growth of ethical and religious tendencies in peopleplays a significant role in meaning fulfillment, self-integration, and the developmentof a harmonious personality (Assagioli, 1965). Meaning can be fulfilled whenpeople are ready to accept the source of knowledge that Assagioli asserts isconducive to human growth: “This source has been known in most of the majorreligions, and various terms have been used, including Atman, Tao, Suchness, God”(Hardy, 1987, p. 56).32Essentially, the inherent quality of Assagioli’s psychosynthesis is spiritual andtranscendental in nature. It focuses on the soul and the development of the soulthrough acquisition of transcendental values and practical means. Assagioli hasbeen audacious in incorporating the concepts of Transcendence (experiencing Godas the “other” entity) and immanence (the acknowledgement of the human soul) intothat of self-integration.According to Assagioli, the beginning state is that of a feeling ofdisintegration. People are dissatisfied with life and feel uneasy and are restlesslysearching for something to give meaning to their lives. They are questioning themeaning of life and the purpose of all the existing suffering. They find themselveswandering the wrong paths in search of a meaning and purpose to their existence,and consequently their sense of inner-emptiness and breakdown is heightened.They seem to have lost interest in the everyday activities that once gave thempleasure. They sense a lack of something in their lives that is compounded by asense of inner emptiness. People feel empty because they are not in touch with theirsouls, and thus their deeds are not emanations of their higher feelings andaspirations (Hardy, 1987). They seem to have lost touch with their “higher realities”and values and have put too much emphasis on the lower aspects and qualities ofhuman nature.Individual experiences and reactions can vary from depression, intellectualdoubt, or spiritual problems to moral crisis (ibId). The crisis of today, Assagiolicontends, while it may produce physical symptoms such as insomnia, digestivedisorders etc., is a spiritual crisis:The incidence of disturbances having a spiritual origin is rapidlyincreasing nowadays, in step with the growing number of people who,consciously or unconsciously, are groping their way towards a fullerlife. (p. 40). The conflicts are produced by the new awakeningtendencies, aspirations, and interests of a moral, religious or spiritualcharacter. (p. 43)33These conflicts or the emotional and mental disturbances may be seen as ablessing in disguise, for they are indicative of a prevailing change and growth withinthe individual. Assagioli advocates a search for the awareness of the “spiritualCenter”, or the soul, in humans, which is the causal factor for the synthesis of thehuman personality. He does not merely attach a religious connotation to the term“spiritual”. Rather, he also encompasses the higher qualities that belong to humannature.We are using the word ‘spirituality’ in its broader connotations whichincludes, therefore, not only the specific religious experience, but allthe states of awareness, all the functions and activities which have ascommon denominator the possessing of values higher than theaverage, values such as the ethical, the esthetic, the heroic, thehumanitarian, and the altruistic”. (p. 38)The fundamental drive in people, Assagioli asserts, is a need for self-integration: “The drive towards integration has been rightly described andemphasized as a basic and normal urge of the human personality” (Assagioli, p. 36).A move towards a holistic integration is the goal of every individual’s life where theinterests of the world takes precedence over the interests of the self. Assagioli’swork is committed to the whole of humankind. He sees the process of integration asgrowth towards a commitment to the welfare of the world and to selfless service toothers. Assagioli’s vision of synthesis is one of unity--unity with others in time andspace and a sense of responsibility for the whole:From a still wider and more comprehensive point of view, universallife itself appears to us as a struggle between multiplicity and unity - alabor and an aspiration towards union. We seem to sense that -whether we conceive it as a divine Being or as cosmic energy- theSpirit working upon and within all creation is shaping it into order,harmony, and beauty, uniting all beings with each other through linksof love, achieving- slowly and silently, but powerfully and irresistibly-the supreme synthesis. (ibid., p. 31)Growth can occur either spontaneously or through counselling, and in eithercase the end result is self-realization, an inner unity that will help the individual dealeffectively with the problems of life (ibid.). “The meaning most frequently given to34self-realization is that of psychological growth and maturation, of the awakening andmanifestation of latent potentialities of the human being--for instance, ethical,esthetic, and religious experiences and activities” (Assagioli, p. 37).Assagioli outlines four major means by which individuals can move fromdisintegration to integration. First, through acquiring a full knowledge of theirpersonality. This includes an objective exploration of the vast regions of theunconscious, i.e. the unexpressed and repressed lower and higher feelings andabilities. The nature and the origin of these repressed materials must be exploredand analyzed objectively. Psychoanalysis can be of help in determining the lowerqualities of the unconscious region that impede the progress of the person. “It ispossible to penetrate the pit of our lower unconscious by the use of the methods ofpsychoanalysis” (ibid., p.21). Spiritual discipline and awareness can help peopleidentify their repressed higher abilities and potentialities which can enhance growthtowards self-realization (Assagioli, 1965). In this first stage, repression iscounteracted by a growing awareness of lower and higher feelings and abilities.Assagioli acknowledges both the lower and the higher natures of the human being,giving priority to the discovery of the higher potentialities (Hardy, 1987).The second method Assagioli discusses can be attained through the processof disidentification. The client identifies with the higher qualities and disidentifies ordisassociates with the lower qualities or negative feelings. The negative forces ofthe unconscious need not be suppressed, rather one needs to detach oneself fromthese negative feelings, thus empowering one to bring about the desired changes. Insituations where these negative forces cannot be eradicated, individuals need tocontrol and utilize them for positive and constructive purposes. Transformation, atthis stage, is through “coordination and subordination of the various psychologicalenergies and functions” (Assagioli, p. 29). The focal point of the second stage is thefreedom and activation of the human will and personal choice. Therefore change35can occur by transmuting the negative energies into positive ones. Assagioli assertsthat religion and spiritual awakening empowers individuals to bring about thischange:Important teachings and examples concerning the doctrine andpractice of this transformation of the inner energies can be found inthe yoga of the Hindu, in Christian mysticism and asceticism and inworks on spiritual alchemy, while some points have been contributedby psychoanalysis”. (ibid., p. 28)The success of the second stage is dependent on the awareness of one’sspiritual synthesizing Center. This brings us to the third path, which is the“realization of one’s True Self’: “What has to be achieved is to expand the personalconsciousness into that of the Self; to unite the lower with the higher Self’ (ibid., p.24). This is achieved by several means: the various experiences of life that lead tothe maturation of the person; the active steps on the part of the individual coupledwith various appropriate counselling techniques such as art, visualization, imagery,dream analysis, etc.; or in an indirect way through dedication to another being or acause outside themselves. In one’s journey towards this synthesizing spiritualCenter, or the soul, Hardy postulates seven steps through which one can becomeaware of and foster the growth of the self or the soul. They are: heroic deeds suchas selfless service to humankind, love for another person, unconditional sacrifice,awareness and appreciation of the higher qualities and virtues of other humanbeings, genuine and systematic investigation of the source of life and the physicalworld leading to the conviction of the existence of God, devotion to the process ofunion with God through love, and participation in rituals and ceremonies. Spiritualdiscipline and counselling techniques can foster one’s awareness and growth of thesoul or self.The fourth and last step towards transformation, according to Assagioli, is“the formation or reconstruction of the personality around the new Center” (p. 26).In this course some people take a more active role than others. Some make36systematic plans and take active steps towards transformation, while others followtheir intuition, allowing change to occur in accordance with the unfolding of theirsoul or the will of God. In regard to the latter group, Assagioli states:They feel that they can best reach the goal by eliminating, as much aspossible, the obstacles and resistances inherent in their personality; bywidening the channel of communication with the higher Self throughaspiration and devotion and then letting the creative power of theSpirit act, trusting and obeying it. Some take a similar attitude butexpress it in a different way; they speak of tuning in with the cosmicorder, with the universal harmony. (p. 27)There are merits to both avenues, and in order to achieve an optimum result,Assagioli asserts, both means need to be merged together. In counselling, bothpaths could be incorporated and balanced out through evocation, autosuggestion,and creative affirmation, coupled with a systematic training of the weaker facultiessuch as memory, imagination, will, etc. (Assagioli, 1965).In the arena of life, Assagioli contends, there is a constant battle between thelower and higher natures of human beings. And in their pursuit of meaning andintegration, people struggle to allow their higher nature to dominate the lowernature, become conscious and aware of the Self, and attain a spiritual consciousnessand a union with the cosmic force (ibid.). Thus, Assagioli contends, a knowledge ofGod, knowledge of the self, and performance of altruistic deeds are the guidepostsalong the path towards integration and a harmonious personality. Therefore,integration involves two main processes: self-realization and the realization of the Self(ibid.). The former corresponds to Maslow’s concept of self-actualization, the latterto “the experience and awareness of the synthesizing spiritual Center”, namely thesoul. Hardy writes:The self-actualizer is the person who, in psychosynthesis terms, hascome to know the different parts of him or herself from a securecenter. This self-actualizing person can live out freely, without fear,and do what he or she intends to in the world in a reasonably wellharmonized way. These people tend to be ‘doers’ rather thanmeditators or contemplators. (p. 47)37Assagioli calls the end state self-integration or synthesis. The fulfillment ofthe higher potentialities in human nature, through practical and spiritual means, isindicative of the move towards integration (Assagiolli, 1965): “The larger andhigher interests act as a magnet which draws up the ‘libido’ or psychic energyinvested in the ‘lower’ drives” (jbjd., p. 51). The end state is not only an end but alsoa means to an end, for the process of growth and integration continues till the end ofone’s life (Hardy, 1987). People at this state are aware that the search for meaningand the struggle towards synthesis and integration is a difficult and life-long process:Man’s spiritual development is a long and arduous journey, anadventure through strange lands full of surprises, difficulties and evendangers. It involves a drastic transmutation of the ‘normal’ elementsof the personality, an awakening of potentialities hitherto dormant, araising of consciousness to new realms, and a functioning along a newinner dimension. (Assagioli, 1965, p. 39)Transformation is dependent on personal choice and freedom of will(Assagioli, 1965; Hardy, 1987). People at this stage are aware of the transcendentaland immanent qualities of life and are committed to actualizing the higher qualitiesand to removing or channelling the negative qualities which impede growth andintegration. In describing the state of an integrated individual’s consciousness,Assagioli (1965) states:It is a state of consciousness characterized by joy, serenity, inner-security, a sense of calm power, clear understanding, and radiant love.In its highest aspect it is the realization of essential Being, ofcommunion and identification with the Universal Life. (p. 53)Therefore, synthesis or integration has several dimensions: first, it meansbeing in touch with what Assagioli terms human nature, namely the soul or thehigher self; second, recognizing and realizing the beauty and the soul in other beingsand being aware of the transcendent and immanent qualities of life; third,strengthening the higher qualities or values and thereby working towards what oneought to be; fourth, living with an attitude of sacrifice, love and service towards38other beings; and finally, being committed to the tasks undertaken and exercisingthe human will in moving towards this synthesis.Thus it is obvious that Franki and Assagioli have both emphasized freedomand exertion of will as important components towards transformation. ThoughFranki acknowledges the repressed religiousness in every person, unlike Assagioli,he does not directly utilize it as a source of meaning-fulfillment and mental wellbeing. Although both philosophies are spiritual in nature and focus on the potentialof the spiritual aspect of human nature, Frank! focuses on the role of the immanentqualities of life in the process of change, while Assagioli brings in the transcendentaland immanent qualities as direct tools for transformation and discovery of meaning.One thing that is apparent is that Franki has put immense weight on the concept ofhuman responsibility in transformation.THE BAHA’I FAITH AND TRANSFORMATIONThe Baha’i Faith is a distinct religion based entirely on the teachings of itsfounder, Baha’u’lIah (The Gloiy of God). Baha’u’llah (1817-1892) proclaims that theBaha’i Faith is not a sect of any religion but is an independent divinely ordainedreligion like other major and recognized religions such as Islam, Christianity,Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, etc. The Baha’i Faith may beconsidered to be the most recent chapter in the book of religion. The writings ofBaha’u’!lah, which comprise of over one hundred books, cover a broad spectrum ofhuman and social issues and needs. His books and manuscripts were writtenbetween 1853 and 1892 and cover a variety of topics such as the theme ofprogressive revelation of religions, principles of human life and conduct explainingthe nature and purpose of life, laws and ordinances applicable for this age, theestablishment of social and administrative institutions, the devotional, the mystical,the philosophical, and the historiographical (Hatcher and Martin, 1985).39The principles of the Baha’i Faith may be divided into two broad categories:primaiy and secondaiy. The three primary or basic principles of the Baha’i Faith arethe Oneness of God the Oneness of religion, and the Oneness of humankind. First,the Oneness of God indicates that all creation and created beings are created byone Super Being. This Being may be called by different names such as Tao, Avtar,God etc., but all refer to one single supernatural Being which is beyond thecomprehension of the human mind. Second, the Oneness of Religion is indicativeof the unity of religions. The Baha’i Faith teaches that all the revealed religions arederived from one common source called God. Baha’u’llah in his book, Gleanings,states “These principles and laws, these firmly-established and mighty systems, haveproceeded from one Source, and are the rays of one Light. That they differ onefrom another is to be attributed to the varying requirements of the ages in whichthey were promulgated” (pp. 287-288). This indicates that religious truth is relativeand progressive. Baha’u’llah, elsewhere, in the Book of Certitude asserts that all theprophets of God “abide in the same tabernacle, soar in the same heaven, are seatedupon the same throne, utter the same speech, and proclaim the same Faith” (pp.153-154). “They only differ in the intensity of their revelation and the comparativepotency of their light” (p. 104).Third, the Oneness of humankind has several implications. First, it meansthat all people--irrespective of colour, race and nationality--are equal in the sight ofGod and are given the same basic God-given qualities. Second the whole humanrace is viewed as one organic unity, which is the highest form of God’s creation, andis moving towards progress and maturity as a unified entity. The pivot ofBaha’u’llah ‘s teachings is the unity of humankind. This unification will involve thebirth of a global society. Baha’u’llah advocates a unity in diversity and notuniformity: a unified body which preserves the differences between the variouscultures and ideas. Shoghi Effendi (1897-1957), the appointed guardian and40interpreter of the teachings of the Baha’i Faith in his book World Order ofBaha’u’llah, gives us a clear view of this principle:The principle of the Oneness of Mankind--the pivot round which allthe teachings of Baha’u’llah revolve--is no mere outburst of ignorantemotionalism or an expression of vague and pious hope...Its messageis applicable not only to the individual, but concerns itself primarilywith the nature of those essential relationships that must bind all thestates and nations as members of one human family...It implies anorganic change in the structure of present-day society, a change suchas the world has not yet experienced....It calls for no less than thereconstruction and the demilitarization of the whole civilizedworld....It represents the consummation of human evoluion--anevolution that has had its earliest beginnings in the birth of family life,its subsequent development in the achievement of tribal solidarity,leading in turn to the constitution of the city-state, and expandinglater into the institution of independent and sovereign nations. (pp.42-43)The second category, namely the secondary principles of the Baha’i Faith,may be observed as social laws with spiritual characteristics. They revolve aroundthe unity of humankind and are vital to the achievement of a universal civilization.Shoghi Effendi (1942), in Selected Writings of Shoghi Effendi, gives a summary ofsome of the secondary teachings of Baha’u’llah:The Baha’i Faith recognizes the unity of God and of His Prophets,upholds the principle of an unfettered search after truth, condemns allforms of superstition and prejudice, teaches that the fundamentalpurpose of religion is to promote concord and harmony, that it mustgo hand-in-hand with science, and that it constitutes the sole andultimate basis of a peaceful, an ordered and progressive society. Itinculcates the principle of equal opportunity, rights and privileges forboth sexes, advocates compulsory education, abolishes extremes ofpoverty and wealth, exalts work performed in the spirit of service tothe rank of worship, recommends the adoption of an auxiliaryinternational language, and provides the necessary agencies for theestablishment and safeguarding of a permanent and universal peace.(pp. 1-2)The primary or basic principles of the Baha’i Faith address the problems anddifficulties of people today. The Baha’i writings describe the beginning state as lackofspirituality. According to the Baha’i writings the dilemma of today is caused by aloss in religious belief and an alienation from God. People seem to have lost touchwith spiritual values and find no meaning or purpose in their existence. The present41problem is mainly manifested by a lack of unity. Disunity within oneself and amongthe peoples of the world. People live in a state of spiritual starvation and ignorancewhich manifests itself in moral degradation and frivolous conduct. They live in aspirit of competition and are hungry for power. They are attached to worldly objectsand are excessively preoccupied with material gains which is viewed as a hallmark ofsuccess and achievement. In this competitive society people have become alienatedfrom themselves and from others. They live in a state of insecurity, uncertainty,chaos, confusion, and fear.The Baha’i writings acknowledge that there are two essential reasons whypeople do not find the traditional religions fulfilling: first, the teachings of thesereligions are limited to the understanding and maturation of the people of thatparticular age and therefore are not practical for the requirements of different eras.Second, over time a high degree of human bias has crept into the teachings of thefounding figures of these religions. This has resulted in dogmatism, transformingthese religions from a position of relative truth into absolute, fixed and indisputableinstitutions. ‘Abdu’l-Baha (1844- 1921), the son and appointed interpreter of thewritings of Baha’u’llah, in his book Paris Talk, states: “Any religion that contradictsscience or that is opposed to it is oniy ignorance--for ignorance is the opposite ofknowledge” (pp. 130-13 1).The Baha’i writings indicate that a harmony between two capacities isessential for the realization of growth and maturity: The physical and the innerspiritual powers. The Baha’i view holds that the body is an instrument for the soulduring its growth process in this earthly world. Physical needs and wants must becontrolled and channeled positively in order for this growth to become a reality; onedoes not need to suppress them. The prerequisite for the development of the innerspiritual capacities is the recognition of the manifestation of God and adherence tohis laws and ordinances. Shoghi Effendi contends that human effort and42responsibility play crucial roles in recognizing and accepting the Manifestation ofGod. He states that these inner spiritual capacities can be systematically developedthrough prayer, meditation, study of the writings of the manifestations of God, andactive service to humankind. The spirit, rather than the amount, of prayer andservice is a crucial factor in transformation.The spiritual capacities that empower individuals to grow and change areknowledge, love, and goodwill. The first pertains to the power or capacity ofknowing. The second refers to the capacity of the heart or feelings, among whichthe most noble of feelings is love. The third alludes to the capacity for initiation andpositive action. Baha’u’llah states that God’s greatest gift to humankind is thepower of human reasoning and understanding. The human power of understandingentails the above three crucial spiritual capacities, which are ranked thus:knowledge is first, love is second and third is will or action. A harmoniousfunctioning of all three is essential for growth. These capacities empowerindividuals to move from the beginning state to the end state. ‘Abdu’l-Baha, inSome Answered Ouestions, states:That which is the cause of everlasting life, eternal honor, universalenlightenment, real salvation and prosperity is first of all, theknowledge of God.., second, comes the love of God, the light ofwhich shines in the lamp of the hearts of those who know God....The third virtue of humanity is goodwill which is the basis of goodactions. (pp. 300-302)Therefore, knowledge in this context refers to the knowledge of God. TheBaha’i writings acknowledge that the purpose of life is the attainment of knowledgeof God. Baha’u’llah in Gleanings claims: “The purpose of God in creating manhath been, and will ever be, to enable him to know his Creator and to attain HisPresence” (p. 70). The knowledge of God, in the Baha’i view, is the same as theknowledge of self. Self-knowledge is a clear and vivid understanding of thelimitations and powers of the self. Through knowledge of God humans get an43insight into their reality, namely the soul. The knowledge and understanding ofone’s reality is the first step towards transformation. The Baha’i writings furtherstate that due to human limitations, people can not comprehend the absolute realityof God or even of their own spiritual reality, the soul. Although knowledge of Godis unattainable by the finite mind of human beings, ‘Abdu’l-Baha states thatknowledge of the manifestations of God is like knowledge of God, for in them liethe bounties and attributes of God. Towards the attainment of this ultimateknowledge, ‘Abdu’l-Baha in his book, Some Answered Ouestions states: “KnowingGod means the comprehension and the knowledge of His attributes, and not of HisReality. This knowledge of the attributes is also proportioned to the capacity andpower of man; it is not absolute” (p. 221). From this realization comes a feeling ofhumility towards that Higher Power. The challenge of life for all individuals is toalign their will to the will of God. The Baha’is view the unavoidable sufferings inone’s life as divine tests that come to humans for the sole purpose of the maturationof the soul and to help individuals align their will to the Divine will. The Baha’iwritings state that unavoidable suffering enables mental and spiritual advancement,for it is through such dire straits that people turn to God, learn to attach themselvesto Him and detach themselves from this world. But The Baha’i Faith does notsuggest that people actively seek pain in the path towards spiritual growth. TheBaha’i writings do not allow for asceticism or any other such practices.Knowledge of God leads to feelings of ecstasy, the apex of which is love.Love is the most noble of feelings. The object of love determines the path ofchange. The highest form of love is love of God and obedience to His laws andordinances not out of fear but out of a love for Him. ‘Abdu’l-Baha in his bookPromulgation of Universal Peace mentions: “The love of God alone will attractthem. ...the power which moves, controls and attracts the hearts of men is the love ofGod” (p. 239). It also indicates a love for other human beings--not a narrowly44sensual one, but one oriented in particular towards their spiritual potentialities.Love is a powerful means by which people can pursue their goal of transformation.The love released from the knowledge of God empowers individuals to becourageous in times of difficulty and thereby develops their motivation and desire totake appropriate steps towards change and growth. This internal change manifestsitself through our actions. Love causes intention (i.e. it creates the whereabouts ofan intention) and consequently goodwill by which people are motivated to actappropriately. Love motivates people to be of service to others. Thereforeknowledge, love, and one’s intentions manifest themselves through one’s good-willand actions. Human will, according to the Baha’i view, is seen in the context ofgoodwill, through which emanates positive actions and moral behavior. Throughcontinuous repetition of one’s actions, one is able to internalize the specific valuesthat are being learned until they become a part of the person. ‘Abdu’l-Baha inSome Answered Ouestions, states that good actions by themselves do not suffice forgrowth and development:though a good action is praiseworthy, yet if it is not sustained by theknowledge of God, the love of God, and a sincere intention, it isimperfect... if to the knowledge of God is joined the love of God, andattraction, ecstasy and goodwill, a righteous action is then perfect andcomplete”. (p. 302)The middle stage of transformation is the result of one’s active efforts andsense of responsibility. Although human capacities impose certain limitations onthe attainment of self-knowledge, they can still identify their weaknesses andstrengths and bring them into harmony. For this development humans have fullresponsibility. Baha’u’llah in Gleanings states: “All that which ye potentially possesscan, however, be manifested only as a result of your own volition” (p. 149).Elsewhere in the book, Baha’u’llah claims: “Success or failure, gain or loss, must,therefore, depend upon man’s own exertions. The more he striveth, the greater willbe his progress” (pp. 8 1-82). The Baha’i writings indicate that spiritual growth and45maturation is not a static phenomena. It is an eternal journey that continues after aperson’s departure from this mortal world. Baha’u’llah states that the attainment ofspiritual values is endless and continues, in all the worlds of God, after the soul hasbeen severed from the body. Spirituality and refinement of character, the Baha’iwritings further mention, is a long and arduous journey evoking the daily strivings ofindividuals, which activate their free will. In summing up the middle state, it is aptto quote Abdul-Baha on how transformation can take place:First, through the knowledge of God. Second, through the love ofGod. Third, through faith. Fourth through philanthropic deeds.Fifth, through self-sacrifice. Sixth, through severance from this world.Seventh, through sanctity and holiness. Unless he acquires theseforces and attains to these requirements he will surely be deprived ofthe life that is eternal. (Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 226)The end state is characterized by spiritual awakening through a consciousbelief in the manifestation of God. People in this state strive to realize and manifestvirtues and perfections: knowledge, love, and will reach their peak points.Knowledge is manifested in truth, which is attained at two levels: first, truth astruthfulness. The Baha’i writings state that the foundation of all human virtues istruthfulness. ‘Abdu’l-Baha states “Without truthfulness, progress and success in allthe worlds of God are impossible for any soul” (Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, p. 460).Second is the search after truth, which is comprised of a search for the manifestationor prophet of God for that age. The Baha’is believe that reasoning needs to beapplied to all aspects of human existence, be they spiritual or material. Those inthis state respond positively and are obedient to the will of God. In doing so, theydo not take a passive stance in the world but rather assume a greater sense ofresponsibility, human volition, and personal control. Although they are agents oflife, they recognize their limitations and humbly submit their will to the will of amuch higher sustaining force, namely, God.46The culmination of love is unity: unity with others and a sense of inner-unitywithin oneself, where one’s actions, feelings, and thoughts are in perfect harmony.This transformation leads to a well-balanced and harmonious personality and aninner-unity. People in this state also aim for a global or organic unity. Baha’u’llahin Gleanings states that one of the duties of individuals is to enhance or worktowards the establishment of world unity. Unity and cooperation are the hallmarksof people in this state, for these qualities are conducive to spiritual growth. Spiritualgrowth and maturation, according to the Baha’i writings, involve both an individualand a collective phenomena. The collective phenomenon indicates the growth of asociety which is conducive to the growth of individuals.The acme of human will is service. People in the end state perform acts ofselfless service to humanity. The individual’s spiritual growth takes place in thecontext of the society the person lives in and interacts with. A person at this statedemonstrates a high sense of social conscience and is keenly aware of his duties andresponsibilities towards society and thereby shows initiative in providing service tothe society. In describing the state of an individual in the last stage, after thatindividual has recognized the manifestation of God, Baha’u’llah, in the Book ofCertitude states:Only when the lamp of search, of earnest striving, of longing desire, ofpassionate devotion, of fervid love, of rapture,, and ecstasy, is kindledwithin the seeker’s heart, and the breeze of His loving-kindness iswafted upon his soul, will the darkness of error be dispelled, theminds of doubts and misgivings be dissipated, and the lights ofknowledge and certitude envelop his being. At that hour will themystic Herald, bearing the joyful tidings of the Spirit, shine forth fromthe City of God resplendent as the morn, and, through the trumpetblast of knowledge, will awaken the heart, the soul, and the spirit fromthe slumber of negligence. (pp. 195-196)In conclusion, the growth from the beginning state to the end state involvesthree main steps. First, people become aware of their situation and how theyfunction at that level of existence. Second, people assess the level of theirintellectual, emotional, and behavioral maturity. They analyze the level of maturityof their three inner spiritual capacities, namely, knowledge, love, and will. Third,taking the writings of the manifestations of God as their yardstick, they refine theircharacter and correct any inadequacies they observe within themselves. Spiritualgrowth is an educational process where people learn to think, feel, and act in anappropriate manner that is consonant with their spiritual reality.4748Chapter 3. METHODOLOGYDesign:The design of this research falls within the multiple case study strategy. Eachcase study is regarded as a single experiment. The data derived from one case canbe tested and verified by other cases. Across the series of cases, themes are testedby replication. This study has utilized narrative accounts to portray thetransformation from meaninglessness to meaningfulness. Across the narrativeaccounts of informants, common themes have been derived and as the final reportof the study these themes have been composed into a general story.Participants:The participants in this study consisted of three Baha’is: a female FrenchCanadian and two male Canadians of diverse cultural backgrounds, namely a nativeand a Caucasian, ranging in age from 31-46. I followed Colaizzi’s (1978) criteria forthe selection of the participants of the study. According to Colaizzi, “experiencewith the investigated topic and articulateness suffice as criteria” (p. 58). The firstcriteria is that the informants should have experienced some sort of substantialtransformation in their life. In order to ensure that the interested individuals metthe criteria, I explained to them the nature of the research in detail and they feltconfident that they met the criteria. I had heard of one participant’s transformationby word of mouth. All three expressed an interest in the research and were willingto participate in it. Secondly, all the three individuals were able to expressthemselves and clearly articulate their story. To Colaizzi’s criteria one more wasadded: the availability of the volunteers.I found my samples through referrals from people who were aware of mystudy, or through my own personal contact with friends, explaining to them thenature of my research. Initially, seven individuals expressed an interest inparticipating in the research. One moved out of the country, and one did not meet49the criteria of availability. One informant was later omitted from the study. After Iinterviewed him, I decided that he did not meet one of Colaizzi’s criteria. Another(who I had interviewed), who resided outside Vancouver, could not be contacted.The final three were selected on the basis of all three criteria mentioned above.Therefore a total of five informants were interviewed, out of which three were usedfor the study.The informants played a crucial role in reporting the relevant information forthe study and validating the narratives. Their role was like that one of “highlyeffective research assistant[sj” (Hammersley & Atkinson, 1983, p. 188). Theinformants’ important role in this study makes them the authority of their lifeexperience.Interviews:The three individuals were initially contacted in person. The study includedthree unstmctured audio-taped interviews plus several telephone conversations witheach of the informants. The duration of each interview varied with the informantsand was dependent on the nature of their experience, their ability and willingness totalk, and their perceptiveness.The one-shot interview does not empower the researcher to give adequateattention to particular circumstances of the informant’s life and therefore does notportray the essential or vital contextual basis for a satisfactory or suitableinterpretation (Mischler, 1986). Thus the personal contact between the researcherand the informants in this study was a crucial factor for establishing a relationshipbetween the two and sharing contextual understanding.A relationship had already been established with the informants prior to thefirst interview. During the first interview I familiarized the informants with thenature of the study and resolved any of their initial questions. The issue ofconfidentiality was addressed. I reminded the informants about the importance of50obtaining as much detail about their transformation experience as possible; if therewas any information that they did not want publicized, it would be helpful to thestudy if they could share it with me in confidence and I assured them that theirprivacy would be respected. The informants agreed to comply with this request,though two of the informants wanted to maintain their confidentiality by notincluding their own names in the study. Some experiences were also keptconfidential and are not included in the study. Each individual signed a consentform expressing their willingness to participate in the study. A copy of the consentform given to informants, is presented in Appendix # 1.Then the interview proceeded with the gathering of information regardingtheir transformation experiences. The informants were asked to relate theirtransformation experience in three chronological phases: their experiences prior totheir transformation, during their transformation, and after the transformation.Before embarking on their story, informants were asked to draw a life-line thatwould show their life prior to, during, and after transformation. A life-line is a linedrawn across a page where individuals put key events in chronological order. As anexample, one of the informant’s (Darry) life-line is included in Appendix # 2. Theuse of the life-line was intended to assist the informants in organizing their thoughtsand sequences of the events. They were asked to start anywhere on the line beforethe transformation. During the interview open-ended questions were asked togather in-depth information and clarification of the informants’ experience. I askedthe informants to relate any specific events which would help me understand theirmovement towards transformation. Except where situations demanded questionsfor clarification, my main role was that of an active listener.The second interview was used for the validation of the first draft of thenarratives and for clarification of any questions that the informants or I had51regarding the accounts. The third interview was used for a final validation of thenarratives.Procedure:I started recruiting individual persons for the study in September 1990. Theinterviews, transcriptions of the audio tapes, drafting of the case studies and the twovalidations of the first informant’s case story were done between January 1991 andOctober 1991. At this stage there was a drastic delay caused by an unexpectedtragedy in my life that unknowingly and progressively debilitated me over time--myway of grieving the loss. By September of 1993 I had regained my strength for work.I re-oriented myself to the work previously accomplished and gave the other casestudies to the remaining informants for verification. I then embarked on identifyingthe significant features in each narrative account, formulating a commentary foreach account, which includes my interpretations of the narratives, followed byidentification of the common themes across the accounts; this culminated in thewrite-up of the general story. Appendix #3 includes an overview of the datacollection procedure.Analysis of accounts:When the first informant volunteered to take part in the study we met for thefirst interview. After it was completed I transcribed the audio tape of the interview.During the time I was engaged in the transcription of the audio tape, I conductedthe second interview, followed by the third one. I then concluded the transcriptionof the audio tapes of the interviews of all three informants. In order to gain a deepunderstanding of the experiences, I listened to the tapes of each of the informants,one by one, several times. After going through extensive listening to the tapes, rereading the transcripts, and holding several phone conversations with the firstinformant, I was ready to write down the narrative of his experience. I prepared a52draft of the narrative and took it to the informant for validation. The informantmodified and edited the narrative and returned it to me. I then revised thenarrative and made the necessary changes and returned it to the informant for asecond verification at which time no revisions were required. After the secondverification of the first informant’s narrative, I started the same procedure with thesecond and the third informants. I then re-read the narratives and highlighted thesignificant features of each of the accounts. At this point, through extensivediscussion with my research supervisor, I arranged the features into clusters ofthemes. A theme is a commonality among accounts that reflects experiences ofindividuals. In the final step I drafted a general story of the transformationexperiences of the three informants. Appendix # 4 includes an overview of thegeneral story.Design testsThe tests that are related to case study approaches concern validity andreliability. Yin (1984) lists them as construct validity, internal validity, externalvalidity, and reliability. Construct validity ascertains the rationality of an account orthe strength of a description through establishing correct operational measures forthe concepts being studied. Yin (1984) has noted three case study tactics forincreasing the construct validity of a study. The first is the use of a multiple casestudy approach, as in this study. The second tactic is the establishment of a chain ofevidence. This was followed through direct linkage of the inference to the collecteddata. The third tactic is to include the informants in the review of the draft casestudy report, a procedure that was followed in this study as the narrative accountswere reviewed twice and validated by the informants.The second test-- internal validity--is not applicable to this study. Yin statesthat this test is appropriate only for explanatory or causal studies because it dealswith the causal relationships whereby certain conditions are seen to lead to other53conditions as opposed to a spurious relationship. This study, being a descriptivecase study, does not require this test.The third test, as noted by Yin, is external validity. This deals with the issueof knowing whether the findings of a specific study are generalizable beyond thatparticular case study. Case studies do not rely on statistical generalization, as doessurvey research, but on analytical generalization. In analytical generalization theresults are generalized to a theory where logic is used to describe specific ideas orexperiences. Each case study is akin to the other and provides a test for other cases.Similarly, the general story drawn from this research gives an understanding of thepatterns of transformation from a meaningless state to a meaningful state in life.The fourth test is that of reliability. Yin defines reliability as thedemonstration that the operation of a study (for example the data collectionprocedures) can be repeated yielding the same 1ata. The procedures followed tocollect this data has been carefully written down for replication of this study byother researchers. It is important to note that this definition of reliability may notbe appropriate for the study, as researchers play a crucial role in the research andanother researcher would elicit a different type of relationship with the informants.This study is reliable inasmuch as it assumes the meaning of trustworthiness and theresearcher’s reflection of the informants’ experience in an honest and accuratemanner, acknowledging one’s biases and point of view.54Chapter 4. CASE STUDIESINFORMANT #1Background:Darry was born in a catholic family and although he tried to be a goodcatholic he found life and the world in general unjust. He remembers his childhoodas an unhappy period in his life. He feared his father’s anger and thought he wasoften unjustly blamed and punished by his parents. He says, “It was awful...Iremember many times crying when I [would] get in [to the] bed and [continued]crying till I fell asleep.” He describes it as “a time of a lot of nightmares”.Darry came to be a street person. He abused alcohol and drugs; he did nothave a positive view about women; and he did not believe in the existence of Godand religion. In describing himself and his state, he relates “I was quite a streetperson. I would stay in hotels and I’d have my little apartment but I’d walk downthe main streets at night and smoke up in the alley ways and hang aroundwith...some fairly rough characters.. ..I guess that is how I was. I was a fairly roughcharacter at that time. But I never got into very many fights. That is one thing I wasable to avoid. I didn’t like the idea of pain too much or bleeding so I stayed awayfrom those. And.. .women too. It goes up and all gets intermingledtogether”.The kind of company Darry kept seemed not only to be rough but alsoabusive. He says, “...a lot of people I knew...thought in quite abusive ways, likeabuse alcohol, abuse women and just go out and get what you can get and forget therest because nothing else really matters.”At the age of seventeen, in order to maintain his mental and emotionalsanity, Darry got into alcohol and drugs. He looks positively at the initial stages ofthe experience. He affirms, “Drugs and alcohol were a good thing for me to get55into...I don’t know it wasn’t too bad. It actually was not a bad time in life comparedto anything I’d felt previously....ya, it was quite fine....Here is how I explain it....Theemotions are always trying for some sort of balance....It is their natural thing to tryand maintain some sort of balance, and When they are out of balance constantly it isvery very very difficult for them to get into balance. ...And quite often they get so farout of equilibrium that they need to be helped somehow. I think a close friendwould have helped at this time...or something stable”.After a couple of years, in his working environment, his views towardsconsumption of drugs took a different stand. He mentions, “...when I was working Ihit quite a low point...I used a lot of alcohol and drug to maintain a...balance while Iwas working there. Somewhere in there I hit a sort of really low point. I canremember becoming more and more reliant on drugs especially marijuana. I guess Iwas reliant, but it is more accurate to say [that] I used them as a tool but after acouple of years they started using me back. I don’t think I was ever physicallyaddicted. That was quite a low point I hit there.. ..when you wake up feeling reallyempty...You go to work put your days work in and you come are justgoing through the motions, there is nothing there”.Darry’s initial attitudes towards women were derived from his brother’sbooks. He viewed women as sex objects. This attitude was heightened when hebecame a Street person. He states, “....the first...attitudes that I developed towardswomen came largely from my brother’s play boy books....When we were 13 and 14we used to go and look at them and read them. This was largely what I thoughtwomen were...I would see women in very submissive poses and you’d read the littleletters and it sounded like they were sex machines.... [at the beginning of] high schoolyou learn that this is not really true...I didn’t know what was true. ...what I came torealize is that whenever you sleep with a girl an emotional bond is goeswith the territory.. ..and every time you break up with her.. .that gets severed...and56you can get...scarred tissues on your heart....after a while your heart becomes numbto that feeling and you can go through relationships [and] it does not affect you....Itdoes not painful... [you] get it together [and] form a bond, [and then] breakthe bond....It just works like that....and [therefore] through high school [through] tothe time I was working ...I [had] girl friends and ... [changed] girl friends as the needcame up and so largely...women started fitting the role that I had in my mind, themodel...that they were very good for a sexual relationships and good to have funwith and then it was time for the next one....It wasn’t a very holistic view of women.I thought the great American or Canadian life styles was to have wine and womenand a good time and party... .and that was sort of the pinnacle. I really thought thatthis was it, but it wasn’t. In fact I can remember that there was this girl that we’dmeet once a week...and we did not know each other that well but we were quitephysically attracted to each other and we’d get together for a physical relationshiponce a week....One night I went over there and we started sort of gettingintimate.. .and after a while it was like I wasn’t even there doing it. I was standing inthe corner watching two people who I hardly knew touch intimately. It was strange.And I think I finished the evening because this was the thing to do and then I justwalked out of the door and I never ever called her back or even phone her to tellher [that] I am not into this. I [was] pretty disgusted by it”.Darry found his life lonely and empty. He did not know how to fill this void,therefore he continued with his fixation on alcohol, drugs and women. He says “ Ihad hit pretty well a low point with drug and alcohol...I was using them a loteveryday after work...and feeling empty....That was about the age of 22....And I toldyou about the relationship with women and especially that one that Idiscussed....that left me with a horrible feeling ...a horrible feeling...empty emptyfeeling....To think that you are touching that intimately and not even touchinginside....It is a lonely feeling....I didn’t know how to stop....I had girl friends after57her...I didn’t know how to stop....I thought this was the pattern of my life....I couldsee no way breaking through that pattern. ...It was not good. In fact it is quite bad butI don’t know anything better really...”.Darry had associated religion with the church. Therefore, around the age ofseventeen, he gave up on religion and God because he found the expectations of thechurch to be unrealistic. He states “...It was completely impossible to live up to theexpectation of religion...and I thought if this is what God wants of people then he isnot very reasonable. And then you start to think that really could He possibly existif He is this unreasonable...this unfair....To a large degree that was it. There wasanother aspect that bugged me a lot. [In the church] they teach you that God is bigand great and wonderful and that He is everywhere and that He is quite awesomeand large and then they have something called tabernacle....that is where they keepthe host for when they give the communion.. ..And then we’d rather say that God isin that tabernacle and this does not jive. God is this all knowing, all omnipotentbeing and then He is under lock and key in this tabernacle and the minister or priestcomes every week and lets him out. No, I can’t follow that”.Darry found religion unrealistic and illogical. In time, he also gave up on thenotion of the existence of God. Thus he was controlled by alcohol and drug; hefound no fulfillment in his relationships with women, and he found life empty andmeaningless. But life took a different turn for him. He says “Somewhere around1983 was the real turning point”.Around this time Darry came to meet a friend, namely John, who played asignificant role in his life and who introduced him to English Rock music. John didnot seem to be as rough as the other friends Darry hung around with. On thecontrary he was more considerate and sensitive to the people he interacted with.Darry seemed moved by this attitude, he says “[he] was very very decent man. ..weused to party together a lot but he was very decent. He used to love to get all ripped58out of shape, just like me, but he was always...decent, he wasn’t a rough character.He used to think about things, he was very reflective... [he] was ...decent when hefound a girl friend. He really treated her nicely. He’d drink with us and get sickwith us and he’d...laugh about it. He didn’t try and be a rough character...he didn’ttry and prove he was really tough. He just liked to have a good time and then reflecton what he was doing. This is another thing that he ...did that others I hung aroundwith didn’t....He really reflected on life....”Although Darry did not regard himself as decent as John, yet compared tohis other friends, he did not consider himself to be at the end of the decency scale.He asserts “I’d like to think I was somewhere in the middle....I wasn’t quiteas.. .refined as...John, but I was a bit reflective. I thought every so often. ..I wish Icould use my brain more but I don’t and I really don’t know how to”.Coming into contact with John indirectly brought about a substantial changeinto Darry’s life. He contends “...I started reading philosophical books...the novelsof Don Won.. .these are quite famous books.. .[Carlos Castenida] has a lot of supernatural experiences and he has a lot of them through drugs which was very attractiveto me. But also he ...was learning about power.. .keeping your own power. He usesdrugs in a specific way to gain certain powers...powers of the mind, powers of thepsychic and this I found extremely appealing...the idea of using drugs to betteryourself, to improve your awareness, or sort of expand your horizon. So I really gotturned on to this book and when I read it, it...reafly spoke to me....It was really nice.They are quite good. I think the books have a lot of wisdom in it. I started readingthese books...they really got me thinking a lot about spiritual things. By this stage Ididn’t really believe in a God per Se. I had pretty well given up on religion at thestage....And they did get me thinking about something beyond the physical life--thatis the key. It was very timely. I started thinking about that there was more perhapsthan the physical being”.59Around this time Darry experienced another crucial encounter. He mentions“...also at this time I met, [Gary], a fellow who was a Baha’i....He really hooked mewith the Baha’i principles, at this time I was thinking about something more thanjust gratifying my physical desires...not much more but a little bit more. He told meabout the concept of the equality of men and women and the concept of science andreligion agreeing but what really got me was the idea of ‘universal language’. Thisreally floored me. I thought this was the most wonderful thing on Earth, the idea ofbeing able to communicate any where on Earth”.Another noteworthy chapter, in Darry’s life, was the beginning of hisfriendship with Derek. He says “...he was quite out of the ordinary from any bodyI’d known....He had been to India and I started talking with him one time and he didchanting and meditation. ...this idea kind of tickled me. He invited me...toexperience this over at his house and...I went and gave it a try. ...I found it to be quiteliberating. I found it to be very very nice, meditative and had a calming effect onme. It felt so good so we started doing that...fairly regularly”.Thus there were several spiritual experiences taking place consecutively inDarry’s life which substantially contributed to his transformation. He affirms “Sothere was...three things going on at that time. It was the chanting and themeditation; .. .the introduction to the Baha’i Faith... [and] the books [of CarlosCastenida]. All these were sort of the same time on me”.Darry got intensively involved in the Siddha Yoga meditation activities. Hementions “I started going to a very regular meditation and chanting group. Andthen we went to Oakland see the guru [Mukta Nanda]...they werehaving this week-end intensive in Oakland... .1 had some experiences there that Ireally can’t explain. They were very mystical, very strange, very wonderful...the basicphilosophy that I got from all the chanting and meditation was to improve yourself,spiritualize yourself and bring yourself closer to the source, to the point where60you.. .merge with the source and then good things just emanate from you after that.You don’t have to try to help people you will just help them by being. all soundedso wonderful”.Though the experience seemed phenomenal yet Darry did not feel quenched.The Siddha yoga meditation activities did not bring a balance within him. He thenlooked more closely into the Baha’i Faith. He says, “...when I came back I startedthinking about that. I thought that [it] seems a bit unrealistic, and I started lookingmore closely at...the Baha’i principles and finding them to be immensely morepractical. I found just the same spirit within them but I found the Baha’i teachingsto be practical and then I started investigating them a lot more seriously. And as Istarted investigating them I started using the prayers. I’d used them for my chantsand my meditation, and then I’d just use them because they gave me such a goodfeeling”.Darry uses the analogy of a glass of water to distinguish between hisexperiences of the meditation and chanting, and the Baha’i Faith. He mentions“With meditation [I] was able to empty the water that was not clean and then theglass was left empty and meditation and chanting did not fill anything else in theglass. So [I] needed something else to fill the cup with and that is when [I] lookedinto the teachings of the Baha’i Faith....meditation would make me feel empty...likeempty myself but then leave me feeling somewhat empty whereas the Baha’iteachings.. .made me feel very full”.At the onset Darry’s mind was attracted to the Baha’i principles but later aperson’s behavior was the catalyst for the change in his heart. He recollects theimportance of a particular lady’s actions in the course of his transformation, “Thereis a lady who lives in Victoria and I don’t remember her name and she will neverever know, may be she will know in the next world how much she helped me tobecome a Baha’i one time. He [Gary] was moving.. .to some other apartment...and61this woman...had a truck and she had to come home from work [and] go pick up herchildren with this truck and take them home and give them their dinner and somewhere in the middle of all that she found time to go early from work [and] comeover and help this guy move with her truck and quickly drop off this stuff and go gether children in time and rush home. And she thought nothing of it... [she was] justhappy to do it. And I couldn’t believe it... .it...struck me people like that live onEarth. I did not know anybody who would do that with a smile on their face. So youstart realizing that there is more in the world in the face of all these”.Darry relates his final and main step towards transformation and a belief inGod and religion as, “It is an incredible high point (referring to the life line). Totaleuphoria and it only lasted a short short time, few months....This starts the night Ideclared as a Baha’i....That was a very mystical...event....I went away to my friend’splace (Gary)....His personality...drove me nuts but I’d always go see him and I’dalways leave the place feeling better than when I went in. ...and sometimes...we’d sayprayers on leading to the night and I’d leave there feeling like walking on air. It feltso good. And this fine evening I walked in and said.. .can we say some prayers, I justfeel awful, I just feel so heavy.. we started to pray instead of getting a light feelinglike I usually do I felt even heavier. It almost felt like a physical weight on myshoulders....He said a long prayer, I think it was the ‘Long Healing Prayer’ or the‘Fire Tablet’. And as he is praying I was being pushed down in my chair morebecause of the weight of whatever was pushing on me... .It surprised me and itagitated my brain. I said why is this happening, this is not happened before. Theseprayers are not working because they usually take this load off my mind... .after I saida few prayers he launched into a story.. .for about an hour and a half two hours maybe, I didn’t hear a word he said...because my mind was so worked up about this andabout two or three in the morning...I hit upon this idea of signing the Baha’ideclaration card and then it quickened my brain. ...And I signed it....It was like this62weight that had pushed me down all night had come off my shoulders. I don’t knowif you’ve ever walked on a trampoline, but if you bounce on a trampoline and thenyou go on to the ground you walk with a bounce for a while because you still feelbouncy. This is exactly how I felt. I was bouncy as I walked after that....imaginewalking with a heavy pack and taking it off and then walking , you feel so light. Thiswas the feeling. so...there that was the high point. There was this little blip on thisgraph”.Darry cannot pinpoint a specific incident that brought back his belief in Godand religion. He attributes it to the process of finding a balance in his life. Hemaintains that he started believing in a God “when I started feeling a bit of peaceand contentment again. When I started feeling a balance in my life....when I wasdoing prayers and when I was doing chanting and meditation...I felt a sort of balancecome into my life. I mean a relative balance. And I realized that this balance didnot come from wasn’t my brain that balanced all this stuff and it didn’t comefrom another human being somewhere. And I wandered where, how, why, and thisis sort of what got me back on track towards a belief in God”.The [Baha’i] prayers had a profound effect on Darry. As a result he willinglygave up alcohol and drugs. He contends “It was strange because the desire to drinkand do drugs just left me. It just left me. I had all these drugs in my freezer and Igave them away to my friends....and it wasn’t like it was hard to do...I didn’t needthose...because I had found something that could help me maintain this balance thatwas better than what I had found previously”.At the beginning he found it difficult to help his family realize that he doesnot take alcoholic drinks. They found it hard to accept the change but over timethey developed a tolerance for it. He says “...our family is really involved withalcohol and that is sort of always has been...before becoming a Baha’i I was just instep with the I am out of step with the family. They look at me63differently because I don’t drink with them....I think this is what they notice morethan anything....”.In the process of his transformation, Darry consciously took active stepstowards a change in his attitudes and behavior towards women. This was achallenge for him. He confirms “...from the time I became a Baha’i, I was readingthe Baha’i laws and one of them is that you should not have sex before marriage andit struck me as a pretty stupid rule so I think for the first six months I just carried onwith my girl friends11. But a particular incident drove Darry to become moresensitive to the dimensions of interpersonal relationships. He relates, “There wasone [girl] that was so nice.. .and I really liked her. We carried on for a little whileand she had never been to bed with anyone before. So we went to bed and I couldsee from the look in her face that she really really wanted to have...a steady sort of arelationship and I knew full well that I wasn’t able to give that to her because that isnot what I wanted. And I knew if I slept with her she would think that...I wantedsome sort of a permanent relationship....even though I knew that I didn’t doanything about it.. .and as it turned out.. .1 really hurt her badly and I just hated doingthat. I didn’t have the strength or I didn’t have the knowledge to stop that fromhappening. So at that stage I really started looking at some of Baha’u’llah’s writingson interpersonal relationships and started applying them”.Darry felt stronger as he applied those principles into his life. He was alsocognizant of the happiness and contentment that the change had brought about inhis life. He relates an incident where he actively took steps towards the change. Hesays” ...There was this very cute...short little girl and we were getting all friendly andit was.. .all going to happen in the usual [way], I could see the pattern...and for thefirst time I stopped it. I stopped it from happening...I...said no and left....She nevertalked to me again...but it felt good. I knew that was the right thing to dobecause...with that. ..whole idea removed, my relationships with women just64improved so much. I found I could relate to a lot of different women from verydifferent personalities and enjoy it. Enjoy people and chat with them.And from there it just snow balled into better and better understanding, better andbetter relationships. So that was the major change”.With this change Darry no more viewed women as sexual objects andtherefore could perceive women as equals and as friends and consequently feltenriched with their relationship. He explains “...this led into a change in my life...itled into a big change...I started having girls that were really good friends, really nicepeople. That is what they were now people. And since then I have been...learningmore and is a never ending thing”.Along with the freedom of choice, Darry had to encounter otherresponsibilities. He mentions “ you try to internalize the Faith it becomes moreand more difficult. And then you realize a little bit more what you have embracedand what is expected of you and you try to incorporate that into your life and youhave to give up other tendencies and other ideas. But at that stage my heart wasreally won by Baha’u’llah and I really knew at that stage that He could help me.And I didn’t think there was anything else on Earth that could”.Another substantial change that has taken place in Darry’s life is his quest forfurther education and advancement in the field of a career. He affirms “Now I findmyself back at university. I never thought I’d go back to university....if I get into jobsthat I can be the decision maker then I think it would be a lot more challenging anda lot more fun, so that is why I decided to go back to school”.Darry talks about other significant changes that have taken place in his life Inever read very much and I read now; I never used to have plans about living andnow I sort of think in general long term plans. That is a definite change. I wouldlike to have a permanent relationship with one women rather than temporary65relationships with...a few. That is a fairly major change. I want to finish school sothat I can live overseas with a reasonable income”.The desire and the will to travel to overseas is related to his purpose in life.He is eager to share his transformation-experience with other people. He views thisact as a service to humanity. He says “I would go overseas for Baha’i purposes”. Inhis attempt to clarify his intentions he relates it to his grandfather who left the oldcountry and came to Canada for pursuit of better opportunities. Darry feelsindebted to him and says “...he came, he didn’t know it was south America or NorthAmerica or Central America...he just came over here and he endured the hardship[and] he died at young age....I always think...he left the old country, a home, andbecause he did that I have these tremendous priviledges...affluence, opportunity,and education...but I also have this tremendous opportunity to recognize the nextrevelation [Baha’u’llah] which is like the greatest opportunity of all....I know thatone day I will go back to that country where he came from...and bring this to thatarea. That is what I mean by Baha’i purpose”.Darry is a family-oriented person and has strong family ties with his family oforigin. He recognizes many existing problems among the family members andyearns to be of some help in allieviation of the pain and difficulties. But he findshimself helpless in this matter. He mentions “ far as my relationship with them Iam out of step with what they sort of want to do or their general pattern. The firstfew times I went back home after becoming a Baha’i it was the same general patternof relating to each other.... [the] pattern of talking and then not speaking to eachother and then sort of erupting at each other after a certain point. This was ageneral pattern that I saw. I think...after I became a Baha’i I was able to recognizethis pattern. I wasn’t able to change it at least not at first but I got to the pointwhere I could recognize that there was a pattern here and I hadn’t realized thatbefore. I hadn’t had the perspective by which I could make that realization. So66after having made that realization I really try and...stop it at somepoint....Unfortunately I am at the stage where sometimes the only thing I could dothat is to pull is just to pull back from them for a while....”The transformation process has assisted Darry to gradually take a differentoutlook towards life. He states “...ever since I have become a Baha’i I’ve beenpretty happy in’ve hit your highs and your lows but I’ve always been abovethe zero line (referring to life-line), always been happy”.In retrospect Darry remembers an incident that did not make things easy forhim in life. The incident was related to his experiences and interpersonalrelationships with the people in Africa when he was on the Baha’i year of service.He was disheartened because he came to find out that his concept of faith waslimited. He says “[I] came to realize [that] I had an inadequate view of what faith is[and the] means and how to develop it”. He further says “ is the blue print,here is the Baha’i Faith the blue print but that doesn’t mean that everybody isfollowing it. That was really sad. Also you realize how much you are not followingit. When I was over there I really realized how far I have to go....five years I hadread a lot of the writings but what it made me realize is that I had an intellectualunderstanding of the writings but until you go out there and apply them or go outthere and have some experience that they are just intellectual concepts. tookme eight months to get over this depression. I honestly believe it was compoundedby staying with my family. That was not healthy at all.... [but] mostly it was the resultof seeing my own weakness. I think I thought I was really quite a spiritual boy. Ithink I thought I was really quite deepened and really quite a good littleBaha’i....When you are there whatever you have got inside you will come out....Youend up finding out that there are some base instincts that are very bad [and] that arestill there [and] they still come out. It was really depressing”.67At this stage in life Darry looked at problems from a different angle, He says“...[though it] was a time when I wasn’t really happy but I always looked for thehigher lesson....there must be a reason...there must be a lesson in here somewhere...Iknew that there was a purpose in it...and I can live with this because may be I’lllearn something from made me constantly review my past experiences andhow I am feeling. This is something L..would not have done before...always always Iknew that there would be a light at the end of the tunnel. This was not a permanentcondition....This was the first time I’d been depressed in my whole life. It reallysurprised me because I’d had major set backs...but not depression”.Though Darry had experienced depression for the first time in his life yet hedid not feel lonely or empty. He distinguished it from unhappiness. He maintains“ wasn’t unhappiness it was depression....the reason...I wouldn’t put it down belowzero (referring to the life-line) is that, first of all I had something to anchor me andin my most depressed moments I wasn’t always have the prayers and thewritings from the bolster you. Also this general perception that there is aGod [that] He is actively involved in your life and He teaches you things. ...What Icame to realize is that the goal of life is not to be happy. The goal in life is not tohave a lot of things. The goal of life is not to have a beautiful wife and children andhouse. The goal in life is to draw closer to God. That is the goal of life regardlessof the outside environment around you and regardless of these surface things likehow you happen to be feeling that day... .with this goal then this depression you cansee it as part of a process. I am going through this depression there must be areason for it. I hope I find it soon...I’d like to find it do eventually andyou know there is light at the end of that tunnel somewhere because you know thatyou will never be abandoned, never”.This experience shed more insight into his life. It brought about a change inhis attitudes and views towards life’s problems. He asserts “...coming out of the68depression I feel much stronger...I know that if I get down again that life has thesevalleys and these peaks and it doesn’t really matter. These valleys and peaks don’treally matter. What matters is [that] you are learning your lessons, that you aredrawing closer to your source. I mean...they are going to effect you when they firsthit you they seem like such a big deal...but they are just valleys and peaks and theycome and they go....I have that perception for all the time...I have that to fall backon....valleys and peaks come [and] you always get through”.Darry uses the analogy of a mountain to describe his life before and after thetransformation, he says “ would be a mountain....before becoming a Baha’i I hadmanaged to climb up the side of the mountain, not even that far, may be this far.And the higher up you go...the more you can see, how people are, see the world andthe more you will understand about why the world is the way it is. When you don’tsee much, may be all I saw was violence on the streets....It shows you a lot of sleaze,a lot of violence, alcohol and drug and...I honestly thought that nine tenths of thepopulation lived like this because that is what I always saw. The nine tenth of thepopulation I saw were like this. So I was about this far up the mountain (referringto the sketch of the mountain) and this is what I could see. Now Baha’u’llah givesyou this universal perspective and I can say that I was like this far up the mountain(referring to the sketch). So I am the same person but I’ve got this incredibly largerperspective as to understanding the world and how it works and why it works...whenI perceive things it is on a grandeur scale and I can incorporate good things and badthings. These things happen it is a natural part of things, it is a natural part don’t feel so beaten by all the things that happen.. ..From this perspective(lower point) when bad things happen to you it is easy to think that...I have it worsethan any body else on Earth. But when you are up here you don’t have to think thatway because you can clearly see that some people have it better than me [and] somepeople don’t have it as well....then it is easier to accept...what you are given in life.69It is not only easier to accept it but to try and do something with it, which is anotherthing that is different about me. You kind of accept what happens to you...but [you]go beyond that, [you] try and do something with it. It may seem like a negative thingat the time but you can change it. You have that much power that you can changeit.. really come to realize how much free will you are given....if you apply thepower of your will to something you can change it....So you are the same person [itis] just an internal change, [a] change in perspective”.Looking at his transformation experience Darry states, “ mind felt somuch more liberated...when you can see more things you can synthesize more thingswith your brain.. .you can make more comparisons in your imagination and makewiser brain then became a tool for me rather than...a dictator. Thatwas a big major change. I am in control of the mind rather than the mind is incontrol of .1 know I may be right or I may be wrong but I’ll do this and I’llsee what happens and if I am wrong it will soon become apparent and I’ll trysomething else...see how the brain is a tool rather than a dictator”.Darry is aware that transformation is a life long process and that, around thecorner, there is always some aspects that may need to be looked into and refined.He describes the process of his transformation as “never ending, it is never ending.It is exciting, wonderful. It is like being dead to being alive. Energizing and a greatpriviledge...Abdul-Baha put it very nicely when he.. .said about the levels ofperfection... .the levels of perfection are endless. So you can attain to a level ofperfection and then there is another level of perfection to aspire to and this is whatwe are trying to transform. It is sort of like...the plant must die in order to give theseed, like a part of you must die in order for a part of you to grow...that is theprocess”.70COMMENTARYFrom childhood Darry experienced tremendous fear and sorrow. His fatherwas quick to anger and Darry was pervaded by fear in his encounters with his father.He felt unjustly punished by his parents and he was filled with misery. Darry hadgrown up associating religion with the church and although God was portrayed asomnipotent but the concept of the terbenacle perplexed his mind and he could notregard God as the Supreme, Mighty, and Powerful Being that was espoused by thechurch. Darry found God unjust and unreasonable in His expectations andtherefore, at the age of seventeen he disassociated himself from God, religion, andspiritual values and sought to balance his emotions through drugs. Drugs served asthe anchor by which he could maintain an emotional balance and harmony in hislife.Darry’s life can be characterized as “abusive” where he abused alcohol, drugsand women. He developed distorted view of women resulting in shallowrelationships with them. Most of his experiences were directed towards self-interest,seif-centeredness, and gratification of physical desires. Attainment of pleasure andegotism became his focal concern in life. In essence Darry led a hedonistic life style.At the age of twenty two he hit a very low point in life, with alcohol, drugsand women, which led to feelings of emptiness and loneliness. There was a horriblefeeling of void that troubled him and made Darry uncomfortable. His existenceseemed devoid of any meaning and purpose. Alcohol and drugs controlled him, andhis relationships with women lacked intimacy. Darry’s life lacked quality and he feltdisgusted with his life-style. He yearned for an alternate way of living and being butfelt helpless as he lacked the means and knowledge for change. During this time,Darry met a friend, John, who he considered a role model. Although John’s lifestyle was similar to Darry, (street person) Darry admired his reflective attitude uponlife, his kindness towards women, and his lack of desire for violence. Through71comparison with John’s character, Darry found himself inadequate and desiring forsomething better. This yearning was the gateway to his transformation. Hisfriendship with John brought about a tremendous change in the future direction ofhis life. John introduced Darry to rock music and the books of Don Won. Darrydeveloped an interest and appreciation for music and the books addressed hisyearning for understanding life and acquiring wisdom and intellectual growth. Thebooks of Carlos Castenido made Darry feel good and gave him an inkling of insightinto the spiritual phenomena. To a very small degree, they started making himthink beyond and above the physical realm. His experience with John instilled hopein him for change. At this time, Darry accepted minimal responsibility for changeand in a small degree took measures towards transformation.During this process of change Darry met another significant person, Gary,who played an important role in his transformation. Gary opened the door ofreligion for Darry and introduced him to the Baha’i Faith. One of the majorprinciples of the Baha’i Faith, “universal language”, had a profound effect on Darry.He was overwhelmed and delighted at the idea of being able to connect andcommunicate with people from all over the world. At this stage Darry had acquireda minimal yearning towards gratification of non-material desires, but he did nothave any desire to pursue religion seriously for he still felt alienated from God.In conjunction with these experiences Darry met another friend who alsoplayed a crucial role in his personal growth and change. Darry was fascinated byDerek’s life-style. Derek introduced Darry to Sidha Yoga spiritual practices thatwere mystical in nature (meditation and chanting). It appealed to Darry and hedecided to get involved regularly and intensively in the Sidha yoga spiritual practicesof guru Mukta Nanak. During this time, Darry took a great step towards agency andacceptance of responsibility for personal growth. He had several mysticalexperiences that gave him a feeling of serenity and peacefulness but he was left72feeling incomplete, feeling a lack of something in his life. In order to feel fulfilledhe saw the need to balance the mystical experiences with practical spiritualprinciples. Subsequently, he embarked on the path of religious investigation andcame to look more closely at the Baha’i Faith. He found a combination ofmysticism and practicality in the Baha’i Faith which appealed to him. On a regularbasis, he started using the Baha’i prayers in his chants and meditation and overtimeit led to an inner-harmony and happiness which gradually led to a belief in a powertranscending human power, namely, God.For Darry the acts of a fourth significant person, Jane, was the apex of theseexperiences in his life. Jane’s selfless service, to Gary, carried out with utmost joyfulattitude baffled his mind, touched his heart and in some ways affirmed his belief inreligion. This meaningful experience enabled Darry to become acutely aware of thespiritual world, a realm transcending the physical realm of human existence. Thekey thing was the confirmation of an existence beyond and above the here and now.Jame’s actions played a crucial role in Darry’s spiritual awakening (acceptance ofreligion). The experiences of these relationships brought Darry in contact withspiritual phenomena, spiritual discipline and involvement in spiritual practices.Darry’s peak-experience brought his search towards becoming to aculmination. This phenomenal moment in his transformation is described as aeuphoric state (refer to case study #1, pp. 6 1-62) which was generated by consciousaffirmation of and a belief in religion. It was very mystical in nature which waspreceded by a state of ardent praying and triggered immense faith, confidence andrelief. The continuous and systematic usage of Baha’i prayes has empowered Darryto: transmute to higher levels of growth; develop a love for the manifestations ofGod; re-connect with God on a deeper level and have total trust in God as hisanchor in life.73Darry places great emphasis on developing and strengthening his spiritualqualities (virtues) in life. Regular utilization of Baha’i prayers and writings hasstrengthened Darry’s will and has empowered him to make choices towardsrealization of a better lifestyle. Two examples may be cited here: First, he lost hisyearning for alcohol and drug and was able to dispose of them with no pain ordifficulty as now he sought to balance his emotions through prayers. Second, lack ofstrength and knowledge to deal appropriately with women eventually led Darry toturn to Baha’u’llah’s directives for guidance in proper application of interpersonalrelationships. Applying these divinely ordained guidelines in his life gave Darry thestrength to make responsible decisions, as the time came up, and take charge of hispersonal growth.Darry’s transformation process has resulted in many other changes in his life.He has taken concrete and active steps towards higher levels (university) ofintellectual growth, thus fulfilling his yearning for wisdom and bringing it to aculmination. He has developed a yearning and desire to serve humankind and hassubsequently been involved in many meaningful acts at home and abroad. He isable to relate to all women on a deeper and a substantial level resulting in: manystrong friendships; and a desire to form a permanent and intimate relationship withone woman. A major change has been his ability to control his mind, rather thanfall prey to it and subsequently has acquired a sense of agency in life. There is achange in his attitude towards unavoidable hardships in life. He looks for higherlessons to be learnt and views difficulties as spiritual tests that are intentionally sentby God for the progress of his soul. He views difficulties as opportunities to drawcloser to God. Darry no longer worries about a sense of emptiness as aboutchallenges to be overcome during spiritual tests. In dire moments and difficulties herelies heavily on religious spiritual practices and derives strength from them(revealed prayers and writings). He has developed a vivid and meaningful purpose74in life: To draw closer to God through religion (Divine in nature), religious spiritualpractices, and realization of spiritual qualities in the context of everyday living. Inconclusion, realizing that transformation is an educational process, he hasdeveloped an awareness that growth is a life long process involving theaccomplishment of endless levels of progress. Thus one success over the othergenerates strength and confidence within him.75INFORMANT #2Rob is a 46 year old man. He is a native Canadian who views the entirehistory of the natives as part and parcel of his life. With the coming of theEuropeans, the native spirituality was undermined and they were forced to conformto the Christian laws. Rob asserts, “ my early history or identity, the way of lifewas taken from us”. Rob feels a great sense of connection with the natives and herefers to them as ‘my people’.At school, like his grandfather and father, he was compelled to totallydisassociate with his native tongue and way of life and comply with the Europeanlife-style. The new enforced practices seemed foreign to Rob and the rest of hispeople. As a result he was unable to identify himself with any norm or standard inlife and incapable to anchor his value system into any existing standards. He felthelpless and seemed to have lost control with his life. The wounds were deep and asa result he developed a very low self-esteem.Unable to practice his native spirituality he grew to hate the existing religionsand mistrusted everything that went towards a religion. Rob drifted further andfurther away from any religious belief. He affirms “...I was so filled with such aloathing for religion, after what happened to me and what happened to my peoplethat I didn’t trust anything connected with any religion....”. He particularly grew tohave a more negative attitude towards Christianity because of the unjust ways someof the priests behaved towards the natives. He says “....They hung my grandfather tomake an example out of him. He found a dead woman on the beach and thenreported it to the rest of the village. But he took a ring off her finger. She haddrifted ashore from a shipwreck in a big storm and was dead on the beach when hefound her. But the priest said you killed her and wanted to make an example out ofhim so that the others would start obeying him and conform to his laws and way of76life....And this left a very deep mark on the people because they realized the valueand sacredness of life and the importance of relatives and what happens when theygo into the spirit. We are not allowed to deal with that properly in our traditionalway because of changing from traditional spiritual ways to Christianity”.A strong component of Native spirituality is the preservation of family unitywhich plays an important role in Rob’s life. Rob mentions “And then anotherrelative, another grandfather seeing what the priest was doing, he was getting theones who said okay we see the good in Christianity, and we believe, to spy on thetraditional people and [this] caused disunity and split [among] the people. And inmy traditional way at home it is very important that unity be preserved in thefamilies and relatives. So my grandfather took a gun and shot the priest in the armand then he went off into the woods and then killed himself. Now this left anothervery deep deep hurt among my people because they know what happens when youtake your own there is a lot of hurt in the past...” Rob further explains“...There [has] been a great rift among the people because different forms ofChristianity began to come. Different diseases, different attitudes formed, differentbehaviors formed and...the spiritual way of life more and more was left behind for amaterial existence....Families believed in Christ and yet they would be at eachother’s throats because one believed differently than the other. There was greatdisunity. So that always confused me and made me sad”.Rob grew to hate himself and people. He took shelter in drugs and alcohol.He says, “And when I see the loss of my spiritual way of life and the great principleswe live by we [were] lost with the coming of the Europeans and the Christians. Andpeople like myself who went to a Christian residential school who were taken awayfrom everything that went towards life... [and had to] conform to the law that wasagainst life, that took away the time I finished school I personally wasdisillusioned, exasperated and left without any kind of self-esteem. ...and I began to77hate myself. And I began to hate people, I began to hate life, I began to fear life, Ididn’t enjoy life. So I took to drugs. I could see the beginning of the disintegrationof my people and myself, looking at my history, my family history, my privatehistory”.Alcohol and drug predominated his life. His main aim became to acquiremoney to drink. He mentions, “I was so self centered and always just thought ofmyself and how I could get more money to get more drugs and more booze....Mywhole family drank. We were one of the worst families on the coast....” As a resultRob lost touch with reality. He had no place or friend to go to and he hit a very lowpoint in his life. He would beg for money on the streets and get enough to drink ortake drugs. He says, “I was sleeping under news papers...because I didn’t have anyplace to go. I had gone that low and had no friends, no money, no job. And I wouldbeg for change...just always managed to get enough to get into the bar. Once in thebar friends would come in. So, that was one of the really low points in my life”. Atthis time the thought of suicide ran through his mind because he felt hopeless,helpless and thought this condition would never come to an end. Rob affirms, “1have contemplated suicide when I was in the depths of my drug addiction andalcoholism but I was afraid of it, yet I was so afraid of life”.Although at this very low point in his life Rob seemed to have no place, nofriends, no job and no money, yet because of his innate quest for spirituality and theyearning for a re-connection with his native culture and ancestors, Rob attended theRound Lake treatment centre. At this time Rob met a friend, Beryl, at theFriendship centre. She was an alcohol and drug counsellor. Her humanenesstouched his heart and when she inquired if he would agree to accept help, he agreedto comply if it was the native treatment centre. He mentions, “because of hercompassion, goodness I was inspired to take treatment at the centre. Theypostponed my admission several times and I almost died several times waiting to get78into the treatment centre”. When asked what kept him going and what was themotivating force behind him not giving up, he answered smiling “A belief. I couldalmost see my grandfather facing the east and praying. Even in the depth of mydegradation I could see him praying in our language and that belief kept me hopefuland going”. Rob was aware that he needed help in overcoming alcoholim but sincehe did not trust anything non-native he did not want to join the AA programme. Hesays “...I always thought the people in Alcoholics Anonymous were a bunch ofhypocrites etc.; and other names I had for them. And people who went to churchwere the same. Anybody from any other religion they were the same, a bunch ofhypocrites etc”. At the Round Lake treatment centre the AA twelve steps wasmerged in with the native spirituality.At the treatment centre Rob attended a sweat lodge. He explains a sweatlodge in these terms “A sweat lodge is a place to purify..jandj train your will a littlemore”. This experience was the turning point in his life. Rob explains, “...I went to asweatlodge which helps you emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually and alsotrains your will towards God. And in that sweatlodge I had a great sense that myancestors were there. We believe very strongly in our ancestors, in nativespirituality. There is a very strong connection between the spirit world and this one.And our native spirituality tied together the creation and the creator together.There is no real separation”. The feeling of oneness with his ancestors in the sweatlodge was the trigger point towards his change. Rob affirms “...It was exactly thatbecause I began to identify who I was and what I was and felt the presence of myancestors and creator”. With the re-connection to his native spirituality he becameaware of a balance between the created world and the creator. He found a specificpurpose and meaning in his native rituals and spirituality. His participation innative ceremonies seemed very substantial and meaningful in the process of hischange.79At the treatment center Rob met a friend who was a Baha’i and whointroduced him to the Baha’i Faith. Being skeptical of any religious beliefs hequestioned the loyalty of his friend to the native values. Rob mentions “I found mynative spirituality and my identity, and right around that same time I found theBaha’i Faith through a good friend of mine. He was [a] counsellor. And he toobecame one of my teachers. I kept asking this man what was different about thisBaha’i Faith and he would tell me that I believe that Baha-ullah is a messenger andteacher for this age. And he would tell me stories about the Faith and the beginningof the Faith and what it meant to him. And he told me when he began to look at theBaha’i Faith he thought he had everything in his native spirituality and he said Ilooked at everything I could get my hands on in the Baha’i writings...but he said hecouldn’t find anything that he could strongly disagree with. Because his [initial]intention was to look through the whole thing [and] find some point of realdisagreement between him (Baha-u-llah) and his native spirituality, native way oflife but he couldn’t find anything. So he eventually became [a] Baha’i. So when Ibegan to look at it I instantly recognized the truth in it, because all my life I had thisdeep sorrow and state of perplexed feeling, confused feelings and sorry feelingsabout the condition I would see people in... .In my native religion I [had] seen a littlebit of what I could be and I began just to try to be the best that I could and when (inFeb. 1980) I found the Baha’i Faith.. .all the while I was having great spiritualexperiences and a sense of great joy and knowing. Just a sense of knowing. And I’dget these great surges of energy from within and without. I don’t know if I can recallall of these experiences but they were very meaningful to me. I would get messagesfrom birds, and I would know someone was coming. I would be in exactly the rightplace at the right time and the first four or five years of my sober life and being aBaha’i and being native I prayed constantly, daily late into the night. I don’t know80what prayers I said, but I said a lot....after becoming a Baha’i and after sacredceremonies with the Sioux, and praying and fasting, my whole family sobered up”.Rob’s transformations started with his native spirituality. He says “1 havemany things that I was given but the stepping stone was through my own door,through my own culture, and I cannot call up the whole thing. I did my part I wentthrough this door, this particular door on my own path to get to here. And I’vecome to realize my purpose and meaning in life, my place in life”. At this stage Robhad used his native history as a healer. He says “ generations to the past wecarry those hurts and pain and sickness that weren’t dealt with. So that is why youcan use your history as a healer because you can look back and begin to clear thatwithin your own self so that the next seven generations who are considering that youare not being self-centered, you are being of service to those people that aren’t hereyet and you are doing a service for the past generations as well. Because the sevengenerations is very important....”Although native spirituality was the stepping stone for Rob’c transformation,yet he was not totally fulfilled and satisfied. He explains the need of the Baha’iFaith, for a religion, in his life in these terms “I felt the holiness and sacredness oflife and a chance for me to share globally and universally my potential, rather thanjust stick with a handful of my own people. I have a chance to share some of mygoodness with all humans and all creation and to have a better chance to realize mypotential because there is great connectedness. Like I realize in the Baha’i Faithand in the native religion it is not a separate thing it is a oneness. Like on themedicine wheel in sacred teachings of the native people, it is all one. They are notseparate from you, have your own uniqueness and in that uniqueness is atremendous power [and] you respect that....There is a great youruniqueness.. ..Everyone has a song.. .within their own unique self. Sometimes yoursong is just a sound coming through your soul trying to reach it’s creator. And the81vibration of that song has special effect as it comes through the spirit, and it isyour’s. All the millions and billions of people on the Earth, each person has theirown unique vibration, their own unique song which comes out in different ways...andit is very powerful. So there is many different things about the Baha’i Faith that it issuch a complete thing, total instead of being just a little band aid or a five minutesolution--so all encompassing. And when I look at my life, I need that otherwise I’lljust perish and be gone, without that. If I hadn’t found spirituality I would havebeen doomed to darkness and death. An early physical death”.Rob explains regaining his trust in religion in these terms “when I looked atspirituality, I looked at my own native religion and I seen all the goodness in it and Iseen basically what it was for and it gave me a knowledge, an insight of my own viewand the knowledge of the oneness and connectedness of all things and all peopleand of God. When I found this in the Baha’i Faith, it regenerated, stimulated andenergized and gave life to the teachings that I had on my native religion and it gaveit more scope and depth and more of my potential to share, to share my own innategoodness with all humanity. So the teachings in the Baha’i Faith and the native arebasically the same except for the laws that Baha-u-llah brought and there issomething so profound with native people, the connectedness of all things, ouroneness. And when I see that and all the teachings of the Baha’i Faith aboutoneness, one God, one people it gave me hope so that I got over my hurt, over thepain with my separation from myself, from God, from life and people. A verypowerful medicine.. ..Once I had seen the connectedness of life and religion andpeople and everything else through the Baha’i Faith I realized that all religions wasfor life, not for death and separation, and I began to look at the teachings of variousreligions, although I didn’t go into great depth, [and] I got the essence that they werefor life and that the spiritual teachings were all the same”. As a result Rob’cnegative attitude towards Christianity is resolved and he understands the differences82among the Christians. He says “[The] split in...their Christian religion happened wayback...because other things were brought into Christ’s teachings that were notoriginally there”.Rob mentions that he derives his strength in life from “...the word of God.God’s influence in my life through his written word, through his people and throughprayer. There are many prayers that I still say. That I don’t forget what I am about,why I am here and where I am going. So I have only God to thank for it”.When faced with problematic situations in life Rob says”...And I notice moreand more of my thoughts and my feelings and I check it. I check it as soon as ithappens when I haven’t even thought about some of them I say oh that is just an oldpattern. It is not really what I want. So I just have to say a prayer. And saysomething positive in my heart and my mind about these situations or those people.Whatever it happens to be at that moment. So now I am beginning to put intopractice that I have learned from native teachings and from my Faith. What theHidden words say, what the holy writings say and try and put it inside of you andmake it and put it out and practice it. Maybe I practise it much differently than saylike somebody from Persia or somebody from the south, south America, or fromNorth America. I may practice those very same teachings slightly different.This (difficult situations) brings me closer to my creator because of the needsand the problems in my life, I have to turn more towards it and I use the prayers andmeditation and the teachings that I have gotten and realize that everything will pass.The money will pass, the problems will pass, the poverty will pass, this life will passand the only things that I can take with me is my own kindness and my owngoodness, the things that I will remember in the spirit world is the times that I gotsomeone a tea or something like that, or the smile, or something, so I realize that alot of things about life and a lot of problems in life is to make me a better person”.83At present Rob has a positive outlook towards the adversaries that befell himin life. He mentions “Once I acknowledge [these negative attitudes] and see that itis going away from life I can turn it into medicine. Any negative situation can beturned into medicine, you can learn from it”. He further says “...I am starting toerase those [old tapes] by realizing my hopes, you know things that I wasgiven....sometimes when you have a negative thought coming or negative feedbackabout yourself you think about the oneness in yourself in reference to spirituality. Alot of times I...say, and still say sometimes, that a lot of things that happened aretests and difficulties...and...I realize the hope”.At times when predicaments become too intense for Rob to handle he findshimself doubting the power or effectiveness of prayers. Nevertheless, he does notgive up hope and uses other resources in coping with the problem. He uses humourin bringing about a change in his attitude. He says “I laugh because I realize thatisn’t what counts and that it is going to pass....I just look at temporary situations [andsay that] it is so temporary, so fragile....1 get all worried sometimes and I have toturn around and look at it and then I realize it is just like a breeze passing by. Thatis the way life is, like a breeze passing by and I have to laugh”.Rob has learned to transcend the painful experiences of the native history.In retrospect, looking at the hardships brought on the natives by the Europeans, hesays “...some of them were very sincere, although very sick....I understand that theydid the best they could....Now today I have to do the things...that I was brought herefor.. ..God gave me potential and I have to try to reach that. If part of that potentialis [to] understand life and...I understand these people...and it should help mebecome a better person”. When he found his ‘real self’ and ‘got a glimpse of his‘potential’, his ‘identity’, his ‘native spirituality’, he easily prays for others and doesnot hate them for causing afflictions upon the natives.84In viewing these obstacles as challanges, he believes that it is only throughspirituality that he can regard it as a learning experience. He says “But withoutspirituality it (the learning experience) becomes meaningless....If you train the heartand the mind at the same time along with your body the spiritual part can develop. Ican become more of who I am, what I am by trying to follow this, learning fromthese Europeans that came over, learning and then using it as a teaching tool formyself rather than picking up an axe and chopping heads off which is making melower then. I have to try and grow from that. And I feel that I am progressing”.In relation to his transformation experience Rob says “...all my experienceshave led me to new places, many different things, many people. I don’t hate peopleand I try to lead a good life... .Today I try to help people, and it doesn’t matter wherethey are from or what color or how old or young or how broke I am or whatever, Ijust try to help however I can. And that is a complete change from the way I used tobe....And I have more understanding of my own self and my own native religion,through the Baha’i Faith and through people. I get a lot of lessons from people anda lot of insights from people from across the world. I look at all the suffering,tremendous suffering. I think of all the Persian Baha’is and their suffering and theirgreat spiritual connection and the energy released from that suffering of the PersianBaha’is and the connection it has with me”.Rob mentions that his life’s purpose is “ To become a better keepgetting rid of all these things that was heaped upon me, to make a difference and tolearn from them, to learn from my history, and to help people realize their ownidentity their own goodness and their connectedness with their creator, theironeness with God, with life. And that is my purpose, that is my meaning. It givesmeaning to my life, otherwise I would be just working 9 to 5 to get material thingsand become comfortable”.85At present Rob is a drug and alcohol counsellor and works to help not onlythe natives but people from all strata of society. In his work Rob incorporatesspirituality to empower people confront their obstacles in life. He says “[I am a]drug and alcohol counsellor...I use anything that is needed at the time....I draw fromall my life experiences and the experience of the person or people that I am with...[ Iattempt] to help people realize their own identity their own goodness and theirconnectedness with their creator, their oneness with God, with life”.When asked where he sees himself now in the process of his transformationRob said “...the time of great rapid growth. Usually each year around this time ofyear I notice it.. the whole span of my life I see myself getting very close tosomething. A really profound change, extreme tests and a better ability to cope withthose tests. By cope I mean to deal positively with, to bring about positive change inmyself in dealing with theses tests ... [God] has given me ...unique talents andabilities and I really appreciate that. I like myself not in the conceited term but Iappreciate myself more.. .in the sense that I am God’s child.Rob describes his transformation path as “the process of becoming a realpeople is always full of trials and roles and chances to grow. And I am glad I am notstuck in that role because I realize that I have potential. ..and I realize that I am herefor the sake of God. And I realize that God is everywhere and in everyone andthere is no difference and that I have to try to understand that mine is not the onlyculture. Mine is not the only point of view. And that I am only here for a very, veryshort time, we call a life time and that while I am here I am to gain something good,to become a better person. During the treatment and the native teachings I foundout that all these laws and ceremonies were intended to make you a better person.And to pick up these good virtues and good qualities in this short life span so thatyou could continue advancing toward the creator and that you don’t harm anyoneelse or anything else here on this earthly life....when I look at my life I look at [it]86from this present day to the day I was conceived and it has gone, like the snap of afinger. And I have no reason to believe that the rest of my life is not going to go thesame. Past 46 years is gone. Imagine the next 46 whatever is going to go the sameway. So I don’t have much time to become a real person. To become all that I canbecome. I don’t have much time to help people. Not much time to enjoy it. So I dothe best I can with what time that I do have. To bring into reality the teachings ofBaha-u-llah...the teachings of my ancestors that came from God. To bring about mypotential I don’t have much time. But I am glad I can live in the present and learnfrom the past and plan for the future. Through native teachings, throughspirituality, through the Baha’i Faith, through people etc....To summarize I think [it]is finally getting the space and realizing my own identity, what I really was [and]what I am about, [and] what life is about. Getting involved through a treatmentcenter and. ..native spirituality, and then the power of continuing growth andtransformation was brought about by the Baha’i Faith--the teachings for today fromBaha-u-llah. I continue to grow and I am still growing through [the] Baha’i Faith....’.87COMMENTARYFor Rob the arrival of new settlers appeared to devalue and undermine thenative then existing way of life and spirituality which were the roots of his identity.While growing up, at the residential school, Rob was involuntarily disassociatedfrom his roots resulting in the loss of his identity which led to lack of self-esteem andself-worth. Subsequently, he developed a hatred for life, people and himself. Theenforced non-native religious teachings appeared to Rob controlling, punitive,against life, unjust, in contrary to native spirituality, and systems that werepenetrated by disunity rather than unity. Consequently, he was pervaded by fearand sorrow. The separation from native spirituality and way of life dispowered Robto anchor his life and values into a meaningful system. Thus he felt alienated fromGod, religion, and a spiritual way of living. He grew to mistrust and abhor anythingand anyone that was non-native.Rob seemed to have lost control of his existence and was left feelingexasperated and disillusioned with life. He was engulfed by sorrow and confusion athis way of life and condition of the world. Consequently, he took shelter in tangibleaddictions (drugs and alcohol). He became self-centered where attainment ofmoney, to consume drugs, was the focal concern of his life.He had hit the lowest point in his life where he utterly felt degraded andlonely. Rob was deeply depressed and contemplated suicide but, although he wasafraid of life he was also afraid of death. He had a deep feeling of disintegrationfrom which he found no way out. At this time in his life he met a significant friend,Beryl, who played a crucial role in his life. Her compassionate nature andhumaneness “inspired” Rob to seek help and relieve himself of his present state. Asa result he joined the Round Lake treatment center where the native spirituality andthe AA twelve steps were merged in together. While waiting for admittance, Robalmost lost his life several times but a phenomenal experience and faith instilled88hope in him. He had a vision of his late grandfather standing towards the Eastpraying for him in the native language. This belief imparted immense hope fordeliverance from devastation.A specific native spiritual ceremony (sweat-lodge), at the treatment center,gave Rob renewed strength and played a key role in his transformation. In thesweat-lodge he went through a process of training his will towards God. During thisceremony he experienced a feeling of connection with the native ancestors. Thisfeeling of unity with the spiritual world and with his ancestors rejuvenated Rob Hefelt connected with his “creator” and regained his self-identity. Participation innative sacred ceremonies and practices gave meaning and purpose to his life. Rob,in being re-connected with native spirituality, was able to feel re-united with thenatives giving rise to a sense of belonging which triggered strength.Rob also used his belief in native history as a means for change, where heidentified and recognized the problems of the bygone seven generations within himand through goodwill and good actions dispersed the problems of the past sevengenerations and paved the way for a healthy living for the next seven generations tocome. It is viable to say that Rob used his native history, spirituality and sacredceremonies as stepping stone for his transformation.At the treatment center Rob met another significant friend who introducedhim to the Baha’i Faith. The three basic principles of the Baha’i Faith (oneness ofGod, oneness of religion and oneness of people. Refer to pp. 38-39) instilled hopewithin Rob which empowered him to transcend over the negativities of life. Theseprinciples had several potent effects on him. First, they rejuvenated his belief andtrust in all religions and he realized that they were all life-inducing systems aimingfor harmony and not disunity. Rob was able to separate the practices of theorganized institutions (church) from the religious principles revealed by thefounders of the religions and develop an appreciation and reverence for the truth in89all of them. Second, they empowered him to transcend over the pain and hurt of hisseparation from people and connect with them globally. Lastly, he was able toconnect with God on a more deeper and meaningful level. They renewed Rob’sfaith in life and empowered him to overcome his hatred and fear of life, people andhimself. These principles were very meaningful concepts in Rob’c recovery andtransformation. They played crucial role in healing the painful wounds of hisseparation from God, religion, people, and his reality (i.e. soul) and revitalized astrong desire for living. Thus he affirmed his belief in the Baha’i Faith on Februaryof 1980. A re-connection with religion and faith in the manifestation of Godresulted in several meaningful spiritual experiences which raised his awareness tohigher levels of consciousness and Rob experienced phenomenal surges of energy.Rob’s belief in religion had several implications. First, Rob found the Baha’iFaith analogous to native spirituality and this similarity revitalized his strength andbelief in native principles and way of life. The awareness that religion was inharmony with native spirituality empowered him to overcome his mistrust of non-native religions. Subsequently, he derived deeper insight into the native spiritualitythrough the Baha’i Faith and people. These two variables (religion and people)played important roles in helping Rob to transcend to higher levels ofunderstanding.Second, A sense of connection is a strong theme in Rob’s life. Therefore, theBaha’i fundamental principle of “unity of humankind” in particular revived Rob as itgave him a universal perspective to the concept of unity. Rob yearned for a moreglobal unity, one in which he could not only share his potentialities and abilities withthe natives but also with people of other races and nationalities. He wasencouraged and felt confidant that the miseries of the world, that had tremendouslyhurt and perplexed him for so long, could be eradicated through a change in heartsleaning towards a feeling of global unity. Therefore he decided to put his efforts90into a cause that was universal and Divinely oriented. Third, The Baha’i Faith gavea broader perspective to Rob’s purpose in life.The feeling of unity is the underlying healing factor in Rob’s transformation.His life-style is pervaded by a sense of connection and unity. First, a unity with thenative ancestors; second, a sense of connection with God; Third, a sense of unitywith natives and the native spirituality; fourth, a feeling of unity and oneness with allthe people of the world through a belief in the Baha’i Faith, and fifth, a sense ofunity and connection with all the revealed religions.After sobering up Rob prayed constantly late into the nights and derivedstrength from native sacred ceremonies and two specific Baha’i exercises, namelyprayers and fasting. In life Rob has been able to overcome difficulties and healwounds through his connection with God. He has been able to re-connect with Godthrough his native ancestors, teachings, spirituality, and history; religion; and afeeling of global unity from which he derives a deeper sense of belonging. Thissense of belonging has been a major source of strength and has generatedconfidence and has propelled personal growth.Rob makes conscious effort to identify the negative thoughts and feelings andthrough Baha’i prayers and exertion of his will transmutes them into positive ones.At these times He relies intensely on native sacred ceremonies and religious prayersand writings. In times of inescapable hardships he transcends suffering by adoptingpositive attitudes towards such moments. He looks at difficulties as learningexperiences that can be meaningful only through inculcation of the spiritual realm.He views them as spiritual tests and challenges that serve as catalysts for refinementof his character, and as strengthening forces that draw him closer to God. At timeswhen difficulties become too intense and he does not find prayers sufficient enough,he derives strength from humor. Humor assists him to transcend the transitorycharacter of these situations.91Rob does not dwell on the painful memories of the native history. Religionhas empowered him to transcend the painful history and engage himself inmeaningful act of service to natives. He assists the natives to overcome the pain byopening to them the door of spirituality and religion.Rob no more hates people but is concerned for their welfare and prays forthose entangled in difficulty, an act that was alien to him in the past. Rob’s yearningto help people from all strata of society has led to his genuine love for people andhas involved him in meaningful acts of service to humanity. He feels a deep sense ofunity with humanity and has developed a deeper understanding of the concept ofunity: unity within the diversity of cultures and not in conformity.Rob has gained a deeper insight into his true identity. In viewing his realityas a spiritual entity he has learnt to value himself which has generated heightenedself-worth. His desire for excellence leads him to strive ardently to develop hispositive potentialities. He has gained confidence and is engaged in active pursuit ofspiritual qualities and virtues taking the native spirituality and the writings ofBaha’u’llah as his guideposts.Rob has aligned his job to the meaningful purpose he has developed in life.Rob at present is a drug and alcohol counsellor and the focal point of his work israising the spiritual awareness of his clients. In so doing he is claiming to help theclients form an inner-unity within themselves, and an outer unity with life, otherpeople, and God. Rob, in his therapy work with people stresses on an awareness ofGod and the realization of spiritual qualities in his clients.In the process of transformation Rob’s source of strength has been God;Religion; Baha’i prayers, writings and fasting; native sacred ceremonies; a feeling ofglobal unity; transmutation of attitudes in inescapable suffering; and humor.92INFORMANT #3Marie is forty years old and is the oldest daughter of the family. She is afrench Canadian and comes from a very staunch Catholic family who upheld allrelative practices. She says “It didn’t matter what happened, you went to church.No matter what condition you were in, church was an obligation, going to mass onSundays, lent and all of the other disciplines and practices. Confession and penanceand doing social work in the community [was a must]”.Marie comes from a large family who associated closely with one another.Throughout her life she was encouraged by her parents to mingle closely primarilywithin the family. She explains “on my father’s side, grandfather came from afamily of thirteen children and my grandmother, came from five. My mother alsohad six in her family. I have so many relatives, cousins, that I wasn’t really allowed[or] encouraged to have other friends, because the priority was always the family.So I had.. .one or two close friends throughout the years, but the rest of them wereall family. My closest friends were my cousins.”.Alcohol was used in great amount among the family members. She says“There is alcoholism throughout the whole family particularly with [the] la Voie’s,my father’s side. Men and women. Alcohol was just part of our family...alcohol waspresented as a means to show your true appreciation of another individual. Offerthem a drink or give them a bottle [and] overfeed them with alcohol and getthem drunk and sick....”.Marie recounts a significant dream, she had on November of 1989, that sumsup her life story. She relates “I was going through a lot of soul searching at thattime and I had a dream that I didn’t really appreciate the significance of or graspwhat it really meant for about a year I dreamt that I came from a place like a void,and I stepped from that void onto the top of a staircase. When I stepped onto the93stairs I looked behind me and there was nothing there. Ahead of me when I lookeddown the staircase, there was about four or five stairs to walk down, there was snowall over the place. It was very cold...very dark and there was a parking lot. Therewas only one vehicle in this parking lot and the only other thing that was there wereseveral sets of tracks. From the tracks I could see that all the cars had been angleparked, backed out and driven away. My car was parallel parked. What I realizedwas that when I came to get my car it had been smashed in, both in the front and theback by the people trying to leave. I think from the difference in the angle....So I gotinto the car and thought, my God, it’s wrecked. I was devastated, I mean I wasreally upset that people, [that] somebody would do this. And also I felt that I hadbeen in the wrong, for parking parallel when everyone else had angled parked. Sowhen I got in I felt like I wanted to remove all traces of myself, of my existence as tothe ownership of that vehicle. I decided that, because it was dark and no one elsewas around, I was going to abandon the vehicle. I thought well okay I’ll try and startit, if it runs, I’ll drive it to a place where they don’t know me and dump it there. Istarted the vehicle, surprised at first that it started running and I drove away fromthere. I drove for a while and then I came to another place. It was still just as blackand there was snow all over the place. When I looked up to my right there was aslope and on top there was this building, an institutional type of building and it wasstill.., nighttime. I felt like it was [in] the middle of the night and no one was awake.No one was aware what I was doing and when I pulled into this parking lot therewere no tracks in the snow. This time I was the only one that had ever been there. Irealized or something told me that it didn’t matter what I did here that theywouldn’t wake up anyway. So I started to collect my things. I got a plastic bag andstarted putting in pieces of paper. I got them from the front seat and as I turnedaround I would find more things, more paper and pretty soon I realized that therewere too many things to carry while walking....Then when I turned around and94looked down by the drivers seat I stuffed monkey there. One that mygrandmother had given me as a young child. It was wedged between the brake petaland the side of the car and it was all bloody. I thought oh my God they haveattacked my monkey, and I was just crushed by this abuse you know of my dearestfriend, I guess this part of me. I thought I can’t leave my monkey behind but Irealized I couldn’t carry my monkey and all of this stuff at the same time. That I’dhave to stay with my vehicle. So I started it up again and I thought I just have to goas far as I can towards home before it breaks down and I have to walk. So I starteddriving, and as I started driving, I realized this wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.It was going to get me somewhere, so I started relaxing about it. As I startedrelaxing, I realized that the outside was getting brighter. Morning was coming, andit was green now. I found myself on a road, a country road, in the middle of a forest,on a little lane and there were roots growing over the road, and I’m bumping along.My car just barely fit between this fence that ran on either side of the road. Everyonce in a while there was a little pull off and I would go by these. As I was drivingalong I saw way in the distance a speck, so every once in a while I would pull overand I’d kind of wait to see if it got closer. After awhile I’d get tired of waiting andI’d pull out again and I’d go to the next one. I always left with a great deal ofanxiety because I never knew when the next pull off was going to be. I could see as Igot closer that it was a hay wagon, with horses pulling it. An old wooden hay wagonand it was full. There was a man by himself driving a team of horses. I realized thathis wagon filled the whole road too. That there was no room for both of us to passby each other and one of us had to pull aside and let the other one pass. I had astrong desire to be very courteous, while at the same time a need to go ahead. Ikept pulling off, waiting a little and then try again to get a little further. Finally Irealized I could move ahead no more until he passed and I pulled over. It was avery tight squeeze. I was able to get into that spot just moments before the wagon95came by. I wasn’t even sure that he was going to be able to get by me withoutscraping or getting hooked up on the side of the car. Instinctively I knew that I wasthe one who had to pull over otherwise we would collide. As I saw him go by andrealized that it was okay, I looked up and I waved to him. You know sort of out offriendliness and to indicate [to him that] everything is okay. I looked at the manand he had a totally white face, no color in him what so ever. He had eyes, but noeyes . ..he had a vacant look in his face and he was just riding on the wagon. Hedidn’t see me and I realized didn’t matter what I did [that] I wasn’t going toget his attention. He wasn’t paying any attention to me. I remember thinking thatgee it’s too bad that there wasn’t some kind of connection. But he just slowlyplodded off. And after he went past and I pulled out, I thought well I’ll just carry onmy journey. I didn’t really know where I was going but! knew I was going home. AsI carried on, the fences disappeared. Then I found myself driving in a large, openfield instead of the narrow confining road. Also it was much brighter and greener.It became full daylight and I realized then that I was safe. Everything was going tobe okay, that I had made it. Yes there were still hills to climb up and some roots todrive over but that the car was going to make it. I was heading home and I was veryhappy. Then I woke up from my dream”.Marie interprets her dream as follows: “What I’ve understood from thatdream was that the beginning when I came from the spot, was when I was born.Now I understand why I was so shocked at the world I was born into which was darkand cold [and] white snow. Although somebody told me that white means purity.Perhaps that was an essence of my “spiritual”purity at that time and that Imaintained my purity throughout it all even though I was in a very black, darkenvironment. I can see now why I turned around to see how I could get back and Irealized there was no way to go back. When I was born it was very dark spirituallyfor me....I think I was born into darkness in the sense that when I questioned or96asked things that I was criticized....What I remember about myself is I was reallyangry [because] people couldn’t answer my questions truthfully. They would ridiculeme, mock me for all my beliefs. I was sad.I remember doing a self portrait and I had a tear coming down my cheek. Itfelt like I was always crying inside, because of the lack of acceptance for who I was.I really wasn’t accepted. People were always trying to change me. They were tellingme I was wrong, to do things differently....I felt I was unloved...thought of suicide[ran through my mind],... [and] often I thought it was so much easier to die.”.Marie found herself being unlike others from an early age. She says “I wasdifferent, I’ve always been different in my concepts, in my beliefs [and] in my family.I think there was a lot of not intentional but certainly a lot of abuse I realized....Allthose papers I think were a reflection, a representation, of all the abuse and attacksthat I had experienced throughout my life for asking questions, both from my family,and my peers and my teachers and other people that were in authority....My motherverbally abandoned me thousands of times, always throwing me out of the door....”.Marie’s mother interfered in her life and attempted to manipulate thedecisions she would make in life. Marie felt controlled by both her parents andthroughout her life she would compromise to please them. She says “...I was alwaysproving myself to others...Seeking the approval from both of my parents was alifelong thing. ..I was always striving to be accepted and loved by them (her parents)for different reasons....I would lie to her (her mother), I would listen to what shesaid and I would tell her yeah I’ll think about it and then I would go off and do whatI wanted to do. So I would do whatever it took to placate her...I would hide a lot ofthings and I would lie in order to live my life. order to keep them happy and dowhat I had to do. There had to be a lot of compromises, lying being one....It reallywas an addiction, a very unhealthy way of relating between us...My mother wasalways very unhappy.97Another important event I remember, is that my mother had a nervousbreakdown. This was when I was 12-13 years of age. After that my father didn’twant us to do anything to upset her so we were raised to be responsible for heremotional well being and she was allowed to do whatever she wanted to do. Myfather held us responsible whenever she would go off on the oldest Iwas brought up to rescue....Because she lived her life on raw emotions she didn’tthink, so I would do the thinking for her. For me, it meant my motherwas neurotic in the sense that she wanted me to be a puppet, to be a clone. Youknow not to have a mind. She did and she didn’t.. .there were these constant mixedmessage and you’re always being jerked around emotionally, intellectually andspiritually. It created a very painful existence.I think that the fact that my vehicle was smashed both by the front and back,was perhaps because my parents “parked”or viewed life differently than me. Plusthey were not “there”for me and their inconsideration of my view was damaging tome in that sense. I was still able to move forward but I wanted to remove everytrace of myself and I did that for many years. I mean I would stay in someone’shouse and they wouldn’t even know that I had been there when I had left. I wouldleave everything exactly the way it was found because I didn’t want to be noticed.Because to me being noticed meant I had caused problems I always felt I wantedto was not a happy place for me....I would go through three or four days ofdeep depression.. .death was no fear to me...You know when I told you how I wantedto abandon my vehicle, I mean my vehicle is my body. I wanted to remove everytrace [of it]. I wanted to leave it where ever. I wanted to die. I mean I really felt Iwas a pain. ..because I had so many questions....”.Marie questioned the tradition and the rituals. She mentions “The nunswould say that there is a Trinity, the Holy Spirit, God the Father, and Christ theSon. I would ask them how that came about and they said they didn’t know, that you98just have to accept it. I also wanted to know what happens when you pray, why didyou have to say these prayers, what was the reason for it, and how come you have togo to church, into a building? Why was there a priest? Why be a nun? Wheneverwe were bad, my mother usually threatened to send us off to the convent. To methat was the greatest possible threat because to me there was no reason, no sense inbeing a nun....and whenever I asked these questions, I was either told to trust blindlyor that I was being sacrilegious. I was always challenged or attacked.. ..I had morequestions than answers. This caused me a great deal of anguish because I didn’t feelI could bring any children into the world when I couldn’t answer the basic,fundamental realities of life’. I certainly didn’t want to inflict upon them any of thepain I had experienced.Marie was full of ‘How’s and ‘Why’s. She says “From a child I’ve always beenan independent investigator....”But her teachers and family did not know how totackle her. She recounts a memory in her childhood where she was considered anuisance. She says “In religion class, I noticed over the years that the teachers wouldeither sit me in the very front of the class so that if they were tall enough they couldlook over my head because I was small. Or if they were short, they would sit me inthe back of the class. I mean they physically moved me at some point during thecourse of the year.. .so that they wouldn’t have to look at me [and that] they couldignore my hand. They didn’t want to deal with the questions....they were avoidingme [and it was] very, very frustrating....Some teachers were better than others butoverall the nuns and the teachers.. .didn’t have the answers so...they intimidated youinto being quiet in whatever way they could”.Another such significant incidence that Marie recalls is “...I was about twelveyears old and...I did my holy communion as a Catholic. They ask you at that time topick a name. The nuns came around expecting me to have a name and I hadn’tchosen a name. They said, c’mon Marie, pick a name. I said well I have to think99about it because they had asked me to pick a name to be a soldier of Christ, and Isaid what does that mean? They said you commit yourself to upholding theprinciples of Christ in your life. I said, I don’t know if I can do me it wasn’ta lighthearted thing that you just symbolically picked a name. I mean it wassomething that I had to think about whether I had the capacity to do or not. So Ineeded time to reflect. They were very upset with me at that time because theywanted me to just go through the formality and perform the act....They would forceyou to do things that I didn’t necessarily think...was correct....just casually choosing aconfirmation name without respecting the whole process of it....It is a very seriouscommitment, it is not something that you do idlely....I remember I spent few daysthinking about it and then I came back and told them, okay I feel I can do this. Tome it was at that time [that] I dedicated myself to be a soldier and fight to upholdChrist’s principles. I picked the name, Marie.”.Marie took her promise seriously in life and continued, through the church,to look for meaningful answers in life. But she found her search to be in vain. Sherecounts a significant incident in her life that made her loose all admiration for thechurch. She mentions “When I was eighteen, this was in the sixties about sixty nine,the Catholic church had talked about a letter that was sent to the Pope one hundredyears before and...they talked about this letter that was going to change [the world].A letter which talked about the return of Christ. I remember feeling really eagerabout that because I had dedicated my life to preparing for His return. I was asoldier of Christ, so I wanted to hear about His return. The letter was going to beread at this particular Easter, and we waited and waited. Easter came and went andthere were a lot of people asking to hear about it. Once again because, the Bishopsor Cardinals or whoever it was that decided, we weren’t ready the same way theyhad [decided] a hundred years earlier [when they] had received the message aboutthe return of Christ. At that time they decided the people aren’t ready to hear this100yet so we’ll leave it in the box. It was sealed in a box for a hundred years. They keptit in the archives at the Vatican. Then in 1969 they reviewed it and they decidedonce again that we weren’t ready for it. This incident somehow or other, intuitivelyor spiritually, made me lose all respect for the church. That they would decide notto tell us about something that was so significant. I had a really hard timeunderstanding that....and then at eighteen I had realized that the Catholic churchdidn’t have the answers that I was looking for”.Marie left the church and was looking for spiritual answers else where. Shementions “I think that I realized I have to carry the burdens and move forwardanyway and do the best I could even though I wasn’t sure where I was going. I leftmy home, when I was eighteen years old, and I started living on my own. I didn’t goto the church anymore....I began to realize that to really live the life of the teachingsof Christ wasn’t just once a day or this business of going to confession and repeatingthe same sins every week...I also found that mass was boring and I just order to be spiritual I don’t have to go into a building. It’s for more thanjust one hour in 7 days. It is everyday. So I told my parents when I was eighteenthat I wasn’t going to church anymore, that I was going to live my life according tothe teachings of Christ but that I was going to do it on my own and that I was goingto do it everyday, all day and not inside a building”.At the age of eighteen Marie left home, but prior to this incident she wentthrough a very difficult period in her life. She sought acceptance and love in thesexual relationship that she had with a man and at the age of seventeen she gavebirth to a son who she decided to give up for adoption. She mentions “...That is(referring to a period on her life line) when I was least accepted.. .when I wasseventeen I went through a difficult period. I had a child too, a boy I thought no Ican’t keep the child because I know that we will never have anything but a life ofanguish with this guy (her boyfriend) constantly destroying what was there. I gave101him away so he could have a normal life...that was very difficult. But I really prayedabout that [and] I am sure Abdul-Baha came to me in a dream because there was aman in a white turban with a beard and I thought it was like Christ gone old youknow. But now that I’ve seen these pictures (of Abdul-Baha) I don’t worry about itand it is incredible. This was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. What I learned fromthat is that I can do what is necessary even when it is very difficult. If it is moreimportant than my well being then I will sacrifice that of myself in order toaccomplish it. A very valuable lesson at a very early age....That caused me to againlook at myself and what I wanted to do. Again this is when I decided to do certainthings [such as] leave the church.Marie noticed a sense of disunity and discord among and between thefollowers of existing religions. As a result she did not choose to join any of theorganized religions. For about ten years Marie attempted to arrive at answersthrough means other than religion. She was in search of a better way of living, away that would give her more fulfillment and a way where her questions could beanswered. She affirms “...So when I left the church I just started living my life,...I[went] from eighteen to twenty eight without really any religion....People wouldmake promises about this path will lead you here....And so for ten years I lived mylife like that and I found it very difficult actually. I used the analogy of...walkingthrough a dark alley because I was still searching for answers and so I went throughdrugs, alcohol, sex, and travelling, looking for spiritual answers in the dust....I didthem all, I tried them all,.. .1 was experimenting. When I look back on it now I wassearching. I really was searching because even though I’d left the church I realizedthat there was a better way to know and to love God and I was looking for it.... Myoverall goal was to achieve a higher level of living. Unlike with drugs which youwere promised to be able to experience things that you weren’t able to experience.It wasn’t necessarily to be a better Christian but just to be a better person. I did all102kinds of drugs. I smoked cigarettes for five or six years. I started smoking when Iwas fifteen to about twenty one and by that time I was smoking about a pack and ahalf a day. That is quite a bit. I started smoking because my aunts, my father andall the people [that] I respected in my life who were sort of held up as examples forbeing successful and accomplished-people did these things. The people who went tochurch and said prayers regularly were ridiculed. So it took me some time to checkout all of the things that these people did, [those] who upheld themselves assuccessful and ridiculed the other people that led quieter and more contributinglives. There was a dichotomy between the people who said they were successful andwhat kind of live they actually lived. It wasn’t the kind of success I was looking forin my life.When I was seventeen I started drinking alcohol. I drank quite a bit....Idrank I guess you could say heavily and regularly for about another maybe ten years.Also when I was twenty one, I started using illegal drugs, intently for one year andthen occasionally until I was twenty-eight. I realized... [that] there was no quality inmy life, that it was actually very lacking in takes away even yourintelligence....I used to have these mood swings....I would swing from being full ofenergy, fun and sort of happy to full of anxiety...depressions, anger... [and] violentbehavior. As a teenager I would throw things [and] swear. ..sometimes people usedto run...and I used that as a control [in order] to get my own way. As an adult whenI saw these sick, unsociable behaviors come out in me I realized what the sourceswere. I found that each one of them was a vacant promise. It was very damagingand I let them go one by one. the best of my ability, within the surroundings thatI found myself. I removed myself from them”.Marie never lost her spiritual basis. She affirms that this foundation was theforce that helped her to detach herself from such bonds as alcohol and drugs. Sheasserts “...I appreciated the spiritual basis that I had [received] when I was young103because it saved me from being stuck in there. From this foundation I had thestrength to remove myself from a life of drugs or becoming a drug dealer orbecoming a social alcoholic or total bag of nerves [by] smoking....I was raised a verystrict Catholic, taught about respecting God, reverence and prayer and I reallyappreciate that background. [Although] it has been very difficult for me,overcoming some of the restrictions that the Catholic teachings reinforced, [yet] atthe same time it [has] given me the basic discipline that I think a person requires tohave a healthy balanced life.Marie’s two grandmothers’ lives played a significant role in her spiritualupbringing and beliefs. She says “...both my grandmothers actually were to mespiritual giants, in my eyes anyway. My mother’s mother died when I was nineteen.there was something about the way she handled her life. She had a very abusivehusband, he used to drink and then he would beat her. She never said anything badabout him.. .she never talked against him and she always had a sense of joy in herlife. Grandma always went to church and she would say the rosary regularly, shewas a very prayerful person. I could see the strength of her character, and my othergrandmother was the same. Grandma would say the rosary and read the Bibleeveryday. From them I could sense who was truly happy and what their source was.I saw this difference as a young child”.Marie viewed her grandmothers’ behaviors as examples of what definedspirituality. She aimed at incorporating those values into her life. Over time shefelt different from others in her family and kept her spiritual side of her to herselfand outwardly seemed to be rough and followed other significant people such as herfather or uncle in drinking. Marie mentions “...I kept the female side influence ofmy family to myself and on the outside I was the male side. Because the female sidehad always been attacked. You know the spiritual side was laughed at and so I104would not talk to people about what my beliefs were because they would ridicule[them].Now I moved to the next part [in the dream] which I think was mymarriage....”. Marie was made to believe that she would find life more meaningfulonce she married but to her surprise things did not change. She relates “My fatheralways asked me, Marie when [are] you going to get married and be fulfilled? WhenI got married...the next day I woke up and I felt absolutely no different. I was verydisappointed. I was supposed to be fulfilled. I still didn’t feel fulfilled; nothing hadchanged. What a shock of reality. I remember realizing that I didn’t have theanswers; I didn’t know what to do to make my life better.I married at twenty three...I had married with the intention of it being for lifebut there wasn’t the connection. My marriage was empty. It was an institution but itwas asleep and it didn’t matter what I said to my husband I didn’t get through tohim. The last two years of our six years marriage, we didn’t want any physicalcontact with each other at all. I mean in every way and the contact that we did havewas verbally abusive and destructive.. .we swore at each other, everything wascriticized.. .we were destroying each other. My husband would find any excuse hecould, anything at all to do something without me. What he chose to do was all thethings that I didn’t like. He would go gambling, he would go drinking, [and] hewould go fishing. He didn’t do those things before and what I realized was that itwasn’t necessarily the act itself but what he was doing [was that, he] was avoidingme. So he was doing these things that I knew were destructive in character, exceptfor fishing ofcourse, in order to get away....that is what the reality of the situationwas and as a result we couldn’t have a marriage.I had tried many times to reach out [and] talk to him. I said let us go forcounselling. We can’t figure this out ourselves bur he refused. His solution was tohave a child and I said no because I realized that would complicate the issue. I was105already married to a child. ...He didn’t want to change or to grow and for me growthwas essential and I guess that really was the key because if there was no growth inour marriage, then I felt I was going to die and he found growth threatening. I thinkthat is when I realized [that] we didn’t have a marriage though I felt obliged to keepremain there because we were Catholics. That’s when the destructiveness...and thecriticism started. I thought that was horrible, I mean this is not what a relationshipis designed to be. It is not what the institution of marriage holds even in theCatholic church...and I couldn’t accept that any universal force that had created youout of love would want you to stay in a situation that was destructive to you... and Icouldn’t believe for a minute that even the Pope would want you to stay marriedunder those situations.I had another dream at that point. I was trying to decide what to do aboutmy marriage and I had a vision. I get visions sometimes, and I could see that I hadreached a point of coming to a Y. When I looked to see what would happen if Icarried on in this relationship, I would die. Spiritually I was going to die and when Ilooked down the other path I saw this little light, just a speck. I have this ability toexplore areas or paths with my mind and I can only describe to you the feelings thatI had felt. When I went down the path of my marriage, when I just ventured a fewsteps into it I felt myself falling down and as I let myself fall I realized that there wasno end and I would never get back up. I would never see the light of day again.That I was going to be in this void of black nothing forever whereas the other pathwas dark but it was more like a tunnel. While I still wouldn’t be able to see veryclearly where I was going, it was like walking towards a light rather than fallingdown a pit. It is like I realized we would destroy each other. Spiritually we wouldbe living a life void of any fulfillment and happiness. I was standing at thatcrossroads and I had to make a choice. I decided to go for the light and to go for the106light meant I had to leave my husband....Without the light you die, you have to grow.And that’s when I realized that I had to carry on and I had to accept myself’.Marie’s parents were devout Catholics and the pressure from them made itvery difficult for her to go ahead with her decision. She felt controlled and thoughshe had compromised several years of her life in that marriage, she finally decidedto file for a divorce and to let go. Two significant incidences confirmed theappropriateness of her actions. Marie relates “...I applied for the divorce... [and] thedivorce court hearing lasted may be three minutes. By that time I was a Baha’i forsix months and I had prayed for God’s will to be done. If there was anyway that thismarriage would work I wanted the divorce not to be granted but the divorce wasgranted. ...we were divorced. A few years later he wanted to marry...anotherCatholic woman who had never been married and wanted to get married in theCatholic church. In order to do that you have to have an annulment. He applied forthe annulment and it was granted. At that time they were refusing annulments bythe thousands. They had three thousand applications every year...and they wouldonly grant six hundred throughout the world. It usually takes three years and ourswas granted in six months. Both the divorce and the annulment were very veryfast....I see that as a confirmation that this was not a marriage, that this was not aunity of two spirits or unity of anything except for friendship.After her divorce her life took a different turn. She says “...ever since then Ihave been progressing towards that light and shortly after I separated from myhusband I became a Baha’i. I decided after three months of investigation,recognizing, making that decision and taking that action has contributed to anothertransformation in my life which has led to many transformations. I think that, thiswas the stage in my dream when it started getting brighter, like dawn. The dawncame but I was still fenced in. Fenced in by old traditions, and restrictions and everyonce in a while when I would pull off to take a break. Just waiting for something to107happen. You know how you reach plateaus in your growth. I wasn’t progressing andI [would then] decide to venture again a little further, forward.”Marie came across the Baha’i Faith through her hairstylist. She says “...I hadbeen getting my hair cut by him for about six months and while I was there I hadnoticed a few things about him....I noticed first of all that he was Turkish and whileliving in Scotland for about a year he learned English over there. So he was a Turkspeaking English. Then within six months of coming to Canada he had...opened hisown salon and had started his own business all by himself, independently. He hadno family, he had nothing. And I know... [that] the business practices in Turkey...arevery very different than those in Canada so I thought...this person had to go througha transformation of great magnitude in order to get to where he was.Also, when I watched his behavior he seemed to know where he was going inhis life, he seemed to have a purpose, seemed to be walking towards a direction.Even myself, [although] I had my own business and I was successful, I found that Iwasn’t clear and I didn’t know. ...I mean I was in the back alley stumbling through thecans and the darkness. [But] he seemed to have a much clearer idea of what hispurpose in life was.What was it that he knew that I didn’t know? So I asked him one day whathe did for entertainment. He said he was a Baha’i, [and he did] a lot of Baha’iactivities. He also told me that he played soccer so I thought [that] Baha’i is asport...from Turkey. I left it at that and he didn’t say much more. The next time Iwas getting my hair cut I asked him what [have] you been doing, you know. He wasall excited. He’d just come back from this convention and he was talking about it.Suddenly I found myself totally unable to relate to what he was saying because Iwasn’t clear what he was talking about. So I had to stop him and I said I’m sorry butwhat is Baha’i; what does Baha’i mean? So he told me and that’s when I said wow! Ibelieve in that. I kept saying I believe that, I believe that and then I said well that’s108really interesting. I find it very interesting that you say it’s a religion and that it’s allorganized because I thought I was the only weird one like this and I’d like to hearmore about it. Then he talked more about it and the more I heard the more Irealized that yeah this is what I believe in...Then he told me that Baha-u-llah is the return of Christ and I had beenwaiting for the return of Christ for a long time. In fact I had realized that we [had]missed Him....I was very interested in knowing if this was true because I wanted toknow that for myself so I asked him if he had something to read and he gave me apamphlet. I was very shy at that time and not able to say things as clearly as I amnow. Also I didn’t want to insult him because I knew how sacred this was to him so Ithanked him for the brochure but it was like giving a crumb to a starving wasvery hard to be polite and say I don’t want just a pamphlet, I want a book. I want toread the words of Baha’u’llah. But I didn’t know how to ask for that, so I said Ifound the pamphlet interesting, do you have anything else something that says more.So he gave a small booklet titled ‘Reality of Man’. The ‘Reality of Man’ has a pageand a half of the writings of Baha-u-llah and twenty or thirty pages of writings ofAbdul-Baha, the son of Baha-u-llah. I knew the difference between Baha-u-llahand Abdul-Baha and what I thought [was] why is Christ not saying these things thatHis son is saying. If He is really supposed to be return of Christ then how come Heonly wrote a page and a half and His son wrote all the rest. I thought [that] therewas a discrepancy here but again I thought this would be very rude if I said this. Isaid well I’d like to read some more, hoping that I would get what I wanted but notknowing how to ask for it. I didn’t know in fact that there were numerous books [ofthe] writings of Baha-u-llah. He then gave me this book titled ‘Baha-u-llah and theNew Era’ which I found even more frustrating. Well I remember sitting at homeand I was all by myself. It was about sunset and I sat down to read this book. I wasflipping through and I realized that this was not what I was looking for. I didn’t109want to read about the daily activities and history. That to me was not ofimportance until I determined if Baha’u’llah was the return of Christ. That was tobe read later. I wanted to get to the core. I wanted to know if this person was whoHe claimed to be. So I asked God, “if Baha-u-llah is really the return of Christ Iwant to know but I don’t know how to find out. Could I use this book as a means? Iknow it hasn’t got the right information but please let me know...I want to dedicatemyself to this, to dedicate my life to Christ. I want to know”. I mean when you lovesomeone you want to know if it’s them. So I sat down, made myself comfortableafter asking for assistance and started reading the book. While I was reading I hadthis incredible sense of peacefulness and tranquility come over me. I realized that Ihad come home, that yes Baha-u-llah was the return of Christ and that intuitivelyand spiritually I had received that communication.... [later] I did read the Kitab-iIqan (the book of certitude) [and] it was wonderful. It was like letters from yourlover, you recognize them instantly. There is no question. I know if I would haveread the writings [of Baha-u-llah] I would have known right away, I would have hadthe same experience.”.The next stumbling block Marie needed to overcome was the willingness tojoin an organized religion. In order to do that she wanted to find out and see if theteachings of Baha-u-llah were being practised by His followers. Marie mentions “...Istarted saying [that] I should meet some of these people. I know Christ, but I alsoknow that good Catholics don’t necessarily live their life according to the teachingsof Christ. I want to see these Baha’is. I had read the ‘Reality of Man’ so I had someidea about what they were supposed to be doing. ...I wasn’t expecting them to bedemonstrating all of those qualities because I realized that it takes time to developthem, I mean [a] lifetime. But I wanted to see if there was any evidence that theyhad succeeded in any of it. So I went to a few events and what I found was,yes...they were struggling and that it was in varying degrees but it was there. I110decided that it was much more significant for me to associate myself and to put mycontribution or my efforts into developing the worthwhile structure of a new worldorder, than to wander around in this back alley for the rest of my life, not gettingvery far”.Thus Marie’s faith was restored back in religion. She mentions “....That iswhen I decided and I accepted to commit myself to all of the obligations of being [a]Baha’i and to fulfilling those. It is not all that different from being a Catholic, ratheran extension of being responsible for your spiritual development instead of letting apriest take care of it. Learning to turn directly to the Divine source rather thanthrough a man. That is when I felt the transformation and that is how I came tohave another family to compare to. Now I didn’t have only the alcoholic family asan example. That is when I started realizing that there were options and choices inlife and that I had rights and obligations. That these things that I had recognized atan early age that were ridiculed in my family and that I had learned to hide from theworld were actually tremendously valuable. I discovered that in this environment itwas safe to come out. So that is when the transformation took place and slowly likea plant that grows from a seed that’s planted [I have likewise been growing]....”It was at this phase in her life that she found meaningful answers to herquestions. She affirms “...It wasn’t until I became a Baha’i that most of my burningquestions about life were answered and that is when I became more relaxed aboutmy life. Remember I said in my dream that I just accepted my vehicle, which I feelwas my body, my life, my role here, or whatever it is, whatever you call it. As forwhat the man and the haywagon means I am still not entirely clear but to me I thinkit means the old world order and that I have successfully let it pass by. That I amnow beyond the point or a psychologically, intellectually and spiritual level of beingconnected to the old man-made traditions and whatever it was that has blocked orinhibited me from having a happy successful life.”.111The principle of ‘unity of religions’ attracted her mind (intellectually) to theBaha’i Faith. She mentions “when I was in grade 12, we had done a comparativereligion class of different religions. The conclusion of the class was that basically allreligions believe in the same God, they just call it a different [name] and we havedifferent social practices. That was really the only difference but more importantlywe concluded that all the teachings were the same. I don’t know what my otherclassmates did with this new found knowledge, but I decided to move through mylife with the understanding that there was only one God and that we were allcreated equally and that there was only really one religion because it was from thesame source and that we are all the same human beings even though we aredifferent colors and I believed in equality even though I didn’t see very much ofthese principles practised....This is how come when I heard about the Baha’iteachings, I said you mean there is actually a religion like that because I thoughtthat I was the only weird one. Because to me there was no one else around that Iknew of that believed these things or at least tried to live them. I was doing my bestto live those things in my life but I was limited in knowing the direct direction.Getting back to that dark alley, it was like going down the dark alley that was wetand dampfull of trash cans and pot holes. Figuratively speaking, I would bump intothem and hurt myself or I would fall over or step into a puddle unexpectedly. I wasalways fearful of someone jumping [on] me and attacking me because I never knewwhat was going to happen next. Dark alleys are dark alleys. When I became aBaha’i; when I recognized the Faith and became a Baha’i, to me it was like comingto the end of the alley, rounding a corner and suddenly there were street lights,paved roads, and wide sidewalks that I could walk on. I found that my progress inaccomplishing my life goals was like ten times, a hundred times faster than what Ihad experienced in the past...”.112‘Oneness of Mankind’ is the other principle of the Baha’i Faith that has had aprofound effect on Marie. She says “I’m now beginning to appreciate anotherprinciple. Other than words, I didn’t have much idea about the fullness of the truthof ‘Onness of Mankind’. I mean the extent of my understanding was limited tophysically being together and “live and let live”. I’m beginning to understand thatour very thoughts, or what I think of you will affect you. It will not only affect youbut it will affect me even more. If I think happy wonderful loving thoughts aboutyou then I get the same in return in my whole body. But if I think of how I don’t likethe way you do things...I can feel all the tension, anger and frustration come into mylife and into my body. That’s why I say it can affect the body. So my thoughts effectmy body like a thermometer and tell my spirit look at what’s happening. I thinkthere’s many aspects and multifacets to being and this reality is sometimes shockingfor people who believe in a black and white rationale”.This principle broadened her scope on interpersonal relationships and shebecame aware of the related addictions that had affected her life. Marie was nowclearly aware of the aspects of her character that needed working on. She alsorealized that this was not the end but the beginning of much hard work. She says“...This refers to the part where I think I was driving on the road (referring to thedream), and I’d slowly pull off to the side...It wasn’t until I had really let go, given upon the old way of living because of the pain it gave me that I really realized the fullextent of addiction that our society is in and how much they’ve affected my life. Thetangible ones like alcohol and drugs and cigarettes and bad eating habits and alsothe other more intangible spiritual ones of negativity or judgement or criticism andanger, addiction to love, addiction to whatever, over and above of what was right.That was when I think the cart went by and I realized that it wasn’t enough to drivecasually along or pull over and idle waiting for something to happen. You have toreally work at removing these things from your life. The only way to do it is to turn113to Divine guidance for assistance to discipline your mind, to clean up your thoughts,to enable you to go reach another level of transformation or to gain insight into thejoyful purpose for which we were created.”.Marie’s inter-personal relationship with her mother was one segment of whatconstituted her ‘old world order’. Her mother’s abuses took a different route at thisstage in her life. She mentions “...part of the spiritual abuse that I experienced [was]that when I became a Baha’i my mother...phoned me and said that in her mind, as aBaha’i the devil had possessed me and I was to be exorcised. She did her best forfive years to try to get me back into the Catholic church. ...Initially my motherwould call saying that she wanted to know more about the Baha’i Faith. That wasalways her hook. She really didn’t want to know, she wanted to use it as a means toask questions so that she could immediately pull in what she believed was good.One time she asked me, for example, to go to fireside. So I found a place that I feltwas appropriate. A place where she would feel comfortable. The fireside was goingto be given by a woman of her own age from a similar kind of background, becauseshe told me that she didn’t feel comfortable with people of different backgrounds atthat time. So I called her up and told her about the time and the place and that Iwould go with her. She said okay I’ll go to your fireside if you come with me on athree day retreat, a Catholic retreat. Immediately I felt like a caged animal....Ididn’t want to go, there was no desire, I hadn’t requested the retreat. So I said I’llthink about this. I thought about it for a while and I realized what the reason wasfor this coming up. The reason my mom was asking to go to a fireside was to makethe sacrifice to God so that she could get me to go to the retreat. That even if shewent to the fireside she wouldn’t hear a thing anyway because she was being themartyr, you know martyring herself to some extent to save her daughter. She wouldgo into the den of wolves to save her daughter from this situation and then shewould bring me to the retreat for purification. I thought, I don’t want to go to the114retreat, she is the one who has asked to go to a fireside. So I called her up and I toldher this is not up for negotiation. I am simply fulfilling a request of yours to go tofireside. I told you about it, you are welcome to come and I will go with you but thatis as far as it goes because if you don’t want to go that is fine too. I said but I am notgoing to the retreat in exchange. That is not the agreement. What it caused me torealize was the kind of manipulation that had been going on in my life and that iswhen I went through another transformation of letting go of the control. Of keepingmy mother happy by doing what she wanted so that she wouldn’t abandon me.The first two or three years, especially two years, was very very painful forboth of us and within the first three months or perhaps less, I made a decision,between loyalty to my relationship with my mother and my spiritual choice. Myright to have a choice over my own life. I chose personal responsibility for myspiritual life over my existing relationship with my mother. I chose to be responsiblefor my own life as opposed to letting someone else control it, which is basically whathas been the underlying theme throughout my life but this takes a lot of courage. Ithink the oniy way that you can do that is if you are truly committed to doing what isright in life”. Baha’u’llah’s writings gave me the courage and strength to claim whatwas mine and truly honor my mother and my father.It hurt me a great deal when we were separated like that for a few years.When she didn’t see me anymore. She saw this Baha’i, this devil that needed to beexorcised out of her daughter before she could have her daughter back. She wasn’tready to accept the change and the change was that I had decided to acceptresponsibility for my life in a way that she wasn’t sure of. I knew to go back wouldbe spiritual death for me. I also knew that if two people argue about religion thenboth are wrong so I called a truce with my mother and started praying for myparents well-being”.115In retrospect Marie looks positively at those difficult times and says “What Ifound in those attacks [is that] has actually caused me to think about what I amdoing and to really understand the foundation of what my motivation is. Mymother’s attacks actually resulted in my being a firmer Baha’i and has been acatalyst for greater growth or transformation of my person and my character. I alsonow know that I don’t do these things ideally or frivolously”.During the process of her change Marie saw a difference in her relation withher parents. She says “...a couple of years after I had been a Baha’i, I realized that Ialso wanted to develop my love for my father...I just decided one day to show himmore clearly that I loved him and that is where I needed to do--I recognized thatbecause of my insights as a Baha’i, I needed to go 75% of the way. To expect himto go 50% was unfair. He could go 25% as he did not have access to the guidanceand teachings for this age. I had the guidance and if I would go 75 then we couldhave a greater connection....I started accepting my mother and just praying for myparents everyday.I would do my best to honor my relationship with my mother even when wewere having these problems. I still prayed for her asking for some way that wecould have a relationship.. .Ten years after becoming a Baha’i when I was thirty eightyears old I decided to stand up and be more honest especially with mymother....Since then, our relationship has reached a level that I’ve neverexperienced before. I told them that “I am going to stop lying to you. That I amgoing to do what I want to do. Now I’m just going to tell you the truth even thoughit may upset you. I don’t necessarily need your approval although I value yourwisdom and I can appreciate that somethings I do will upset you. It’s unfortunatebut there are somethings I have to do. I am responsible for my life not you, notanymore”. And they accepted it.. ..without my spiritual focus I wouldn’t have been116able to achieve the transformation and get into a more mature relationship with myparents”. Thus Marie let go of another fence.Marie had taken actions at removing other fences that were surrounding her.She looked for alternative behaviors to swearing, violence and drinking. She says,“..J realized what its effects [were]...and I wasn’t even achieving the things that Iintended [to do, therefore] I started looking for alternatives....I was seeking a way ofletting go of alcohol...I was looking for an acceptable way of stopping. Then I metthis man, who was a Baha’i, who said yes I have a drink, I’ll have an orange juice.Bingo! I thought, well how simple. Thank you very much, I’ll have an orange juicetoo. It had not occurred to me before to consider orange juice as a drink. Alcoholwas one of the easiest things for me to free myself of, cigarettes wasn’t even thathard, but sex was hardest because for me it symbolized that I was loved andaccepted. It appeared to be a very tangible way of being accepted but when Ilooked closely at it I realized that no, I wasn’t getting that either. It took beinginvolved in several very destructive relationships to realize that sex without aspiritual basis leads only to pain and separation in the end.When I became a Baha’i I realized the importance of me, of taking care ofmyself and choosing what was important to me so I started choosing and behavingin ways that honored my own well-being. I started doing things like changing mydiet which helped me tremendously. I started praying and I lived my life as a Baha’i.I became a happier person. I learned to speak in public. I mean when I first read aprayer I could hardly say it because I was so scared. You develop a fear of speakingwhen you are always attacked and...nothing you say is right. So you loose a lot ofconfidence. I remember very clearly, when I was eighteen years old my boyfriendintroducing me to a friend of his and I could hardly get the word “hello”out, I was soshy. Now I find myself making presentations in front of sixty/eighty people.117Tremendous transformation in terms of personal development and service tomankind.When I was an adult....before I became a Baha’i...and before I improved my’diet...I [was] going through periods of black depressions and they continued for afew years after I became a Baha’i. I used to say this prayer, [and] I still do, ‘0 God,refresh and gladden my spirit. Purify my heart. Illumine my powers. I lay all myaffairs in Thy hand. Thou art my guide and my refuge.’; It would feel ok up untilthis point and then I would say; ‘I will no longer be sorrowful and grieved, I will bea happy and joyful being. 0 God, I will no longer be full of anxiety, nor will I lettrouble harrass me. I will not dwell on the unpleasant things of life.’; and when Isaid those words I thought how can I do that? You know, how can I be a happybeing? I can’t say that I’ll no longer be sorrowful and grieved because I was full ofit....And not to let trouble harass me, well I did. And not to dwell on the unpleasantthings of life - I did. I must have said this prayer thousands of times over the yearsand I still say it everyday. I have memorized it. I believe in what Abdul-Baha sayswhen He concludes with the words ‘ 0 God, Thou art more friend to me than I amto myself. I dedicate myself to Thee, 0 Lord.’. It was through that recognition anddedication that I received the guidance to be a joyful being. How to be free ofanxiety, how to let trouble not be a harassment in my life. I now look at harassmentas an opportunity to practice spiritual qualities and the anxiety evaporates. Slowlyover the years I have been learning these things. Now I have achieved that sense ofcalmness that I had when I first asked for assistance of identifying Baha-u-llah. Nowit is a permanent part of my life, whereas before it was only for brief moments...butnow I’m able to achieve it for many hours, a week. The periods are getting longerall the time. Maybe I’ll achieve years of it, I don’t know, but I really feel like nowI’m definitely around another bend. Now I [have] gotten not only into a car but118maybe even a jet plane or even a rocket. I’m not walking any longer, I’m movingmuch faster.....Although Marie sees a great change within herself yet she is aware of the factthat in every walk of life she may encounter difficulties. She mentions “...I have mystruggles. Moving with that speed...has it’s own hazards. ..and risks but at the sametime I really feel that everything I’ve done in my life has been for a purpose.Marie was out of darkness, it was brighter and her car seemed to be out on acountry road. But some fences still remained. Marie had reached another plateauin her growth and she decided to find out what these fences represented so that shecould work at removing them. She mentions”...two [or] three years ago I made acommitment to have clarity and joy in my life and it’s when I made that commitmentthat many other things came about”.At this phase of her life she encountered a tremendous difficulty whichmotivated her to find more ‘clarity’ in her life and which in return was a catalyst toher growth. She mentions “ I guess the final catalyst or as they say the straw thatbroke the camel’s back, was when I had accepted a contract with the Steven’sInternational School for five years to be their business manager. Here again Idelegated responsibility of my life to another person and they managed it to the bestof their ability but it wasn’t the way that I would have chosen. As a result I paid aheavy price for that delegation....”Although she was hired for five years Marie was laid off work after two years.This caused a lot of distress for her. She relates “I was really in anguish because myconfidence [was] totally destroyed. Also at that time it was unheard of to lay offmanagement. One simply didn’t lay off business managers so I was very unpreparedfor this action. Companies lay off everybody else but a business manager becausethe common thinking is that in my position I made them money. I didn’t cost themmoney, I more than paid for myself. Initially it was told to me that was a decision of119the National Spiritual Assembly so I accepted it. Being obedient to the NationalAssembly I waited for a couple of weeks and I didn’t get a letter; I didn’t getanything from them. I called one of the other National Spiritual Assembly memberswho [also] served on the school council. I called to find out when I was going to getmy letter. He told me that the National Assembly had never met about it nor was ittheir decision to lay me off. I can’t explain how shocked I was and I was very angryabout that. Painful, very painful. You know, an abuse of trust....The council decided that and since I had completed the renovation andestablished the operating structures they thought that the principal could managethe operation of the school himself. I expected him actually to stand up for memore than he did ... [but] by the time I decided to fight for myself it was too late, Iwas already out of the school... [and] fighting would worsen the situation...I think thatit was a lesson in realizing that I cannot delegate my life, my well being to the careof someone else.. .what I found was whenever I fell into situations where I gave over[the] responsibility of deciding how to act to someone else, which was usually a manbecause that’s what I was taught to do, that I again would become very unhappy....Irealized that I needed to have clarity in my life and the oniy way I could have claritywas to act responsibly and to stop waiting for permission to live my own life”.Shortly after Marie was laid off she met with an accident and since she wasnot able to work she had a lot of free time on her hands. She says” I spent a lot oftime going to the doctor’s. I was on UIC and I wasn’t able to work so....Thesituation formed a catalyst for me to spend sometime to explore different things. Iwas laid off in January [and] in March ...I went to an Alnon meeting with my mom.I left that meeting acknowledging for the first time that my father was a problemdrinker and that alcohol and his dedication to it had caused a lot of misery in thefamily and in my life. Then I read some books about Adult Children of Alcoholicsand I was devastated when I found out that, that is basically who I was. A lot of the120problems in my life were related to co-dependency, addictive behaviorsmanipulation and being manipulated. I knew that this was not a good way to livebut I didn’t know how to live any other way. It wasn’t until I heard about ACOA’s,had personal and group therapy and did a lot of my own independent investigation[that] I was able to see the myths [that] I had grown up with that I was applying inmy adult life and this destructive way of living was why I was having problems withclarity and lack of joy. So when I declared to God, to the universe, to anybody whowould listen that I want clarity and joy in my life, it opened up many doors and thisis what happened.Part of my clarity was seeing through the illusion that my dad was a socialdrinker and accepting that he was a functioning wasn’t until I realizedand accepted this that I understood why my dad placed business and alcohol aboverelationship with us...and also that my mother [was] a co-dependent and [had]neurotic behavior. I saw clearly how these problem behaviors had many manyramifications in our whole family. As children, we also learnt this behavior.”This discovery shed light on her own behavior at Stevens school. She says..I wasn’t being honest enough. If I would have been more honest and directinstead of being nice then I wouldn’t have found myself in that position. Iremember situations when we would go to council meetings and I would play therole of the co-dependent. Like making light of certain situations rather than beingfrank so as not to make your boss or other people look bad. So in the end I’m theone who carried the weight. I learned a lot”.Once Marie was able to identify the problem she embarked on a new voyage.She started individual and group therapy in September. Bibliotherapy played aprominent role in her recovery. She says “...I was going to counsellors, reading lotsof books, [and] I came across this one book by Anthony Robbins. Almost on thefirst page of his book I read this one line that said ‘The road to success is always121under construction’. All of a sudden the reality of this statement hit home for mebecause before that all my life I’d been looking for a door, where is the key, where isthe door, where is the door that is going to open, which door do I have to gothrough? When I realized the importance of his statement and I looked back at mylife then I was able to identify all the successes. Each one accumulated, added toanother and summed up to my being very successful. What was causing metremendous pain was the denial of the process. So I realized that my road wouldalways be under construction. I was very excited and I remember bouncing into thecounsellor’s office that day excited [saying] I’ve found out the answer and I told herabout this”. Marie continued her therapy for about a year and it was coming to anatural conclusion when her father died. She says “Before he died I felt that I hadaccomplished what I wanted to do”.Among the books that she read was ‘Struggle for Intimacy’. Marie says “Iread this one book called ‘Struggle for Intimacy’. It talks about relationships andthe myths of intimacy in relationships. This was the second book which helped meto recognize and shatter patterns in relationships that I knew, as a Baha’i, were notprofitable in my life, patterns that brought me nothing but pain and for which I wasseeking a way of letting go but I hadn’t found the source. When I read that book myinitial feelings from it were one of total devastation of everything I had beenbrought up with. Concepts and behaviors that I’d want to get rid of, along withothers that I thought were ok were destroyed completely. My life structure, the wayI lived my life, my patterns of relating to other people all swept away. Irealized...the manner in which I was so familiar with living...needed not to becleaned up or altered or repaired but rather it needed to be condemned. I wasliving in this structure that was always giving out on me at unexpected moments, thevery times I was looking for support from it. While reading the book I stopped tomeditate upon where I was and that is when I realized that the structure that I was122familiar with was gone, was just wiped out. I found myself in this oblivion ofgrey...there was nothing there, nothing familiar. I had never experienced this, itwasn’t [as] dark [as] that fork in the road. It was grey and it was swirling like fog”.When asked as to why she did not see the road as black as before, Marie says“Maybe it was because I myself had developed spiritually and as an energy or as aspirit I myself have light. So I was radiating light into the situation and before whenI had [light], in that marriage, I was a very small dots of light. I didn’t have thatsame kind of energy. It is like the difference between a campfire and a 100 wattbulb. The kind of quality of light that you can get from each is very different”.The book, Struggle for Intimacy, played a significant role in Marie’s life. Shefurther mentions “For a few minutes after the myths that I had lived with werewiped out, I was full of despair and anxiety wondering what I am going to do. ThenI stopped myself [and] I made a commitment to look for the good things. I ask nowwhat is good about this? I forced myself to stop dwelling in my anguish and look forthe good. To have the courage to look because I believed that if I had the courageto use my spiritual eye to look for the good thing in that situation that I would find itbecause I knew that the only thing that was holding me back was the courage. I hadto force myself to look because I had learned to live my life scared to look but I hadalso discovered that you live your life in an illusion of fear when you don’t look. So Ilooked and suddenly it came to me that now I could construct a solidfoundation....what I saw was, yes now I can truly replace the old order instead ofbeing deluded into repairing it. Now I can go out and search for the things that Iknow will give me a good foundation. That is what I have been doing. I’ve beenreading and finding out what is a healthy life, what are good relationships all about.What brings joy and happiness and how do you function in a healthy environmentand I’ve been building. I have been learning a new way of life based on the spiritualguidance of the Baha’i teachings.”123Marie experienced several painful relationships with men. The book‘Women who love too much’ brought into forefront the patterns of her behavior thatcontributed to her problem. She says “...thirty one to thirty three I went through avery difficult relationship with a man and it was very cruel not physically butmentally....Then when I was thirty five I started another relationship that I thoughtwas really great. We were going to get married actually until one day he decided tochoose the hedonistic way of life and broke off the engagement..he said that hepreferred using drugs, drinking and partying to leading a spiritually enriching life. Itwas a very good lesson and plummeted me into probably one of the most painfulperiods of my life...There was tremendous anguish for me... and the blessing wasthat it taught me how to find was great lesson in the sense of learningdetachment. I read this book called ‘Women Who Love too Much’ [and] that iswhen I realized a lot of my patterns were dysfunctional in relationships, sacrificingand denying all yourself for the benefit of the man. Not because you choose to butbecause you think it is part of your role as a partner--an obligation. There is a bigdifference between choosing and thinking it’s an obligation. [It] caused me to thinkabout what could I have been ignoring. Now when I look back on it there weredefinitely signs, things that were there but I hadn’t wanted to recognize or believethem. Again it was being the master co-dependent, master of the illusion, also anadult child of alcoholic being utterly loyal to the bitter end, beyond recall. Theseexperiences have acted as purifications to further developments, catalysts to growth.I thank these people. I thank this man. Actually he was a very gentle spirit teachingme a very critical lesson. I could have had much worse teachers come and teach me.He was very gentle even though it was very painful. Thus I learned to use the painto educate myself rather than wallow in self pity, blind to the patterns.Another book that contributed to Marie’s recovery was ‘Affirmations’. Mariementions “Later I read this book called ‘Affirmations’ and what I learned from this124book was how to lighten up in my life. How to affirm myself. I had been looking forthirty nine years for others to affirm me without satisfaction. It wasn’t until I startedaffirming myself that I realized that actually is why we are asked to pray. Throughprayer we can affirm the true nature of our spirit consciously and regularly everydayand even if someone says something critical, it gives us the strength not tonecessarily take it in our heart....’.These affirmations helped boost Marie’s self-esteem and instill confidencewithin her. When Marie was going through group therapy she receivedunconditional affirmations from the group and this had a profound effect on her life.She relates “I remember it was the second time I’d been to this particular workshopcalled a Reiki workshop. I knew about three or four people from the previousworkshop when I came to the Friday night session, missed Saturday and came backon Sunday. I remember when I came in on Sunday I walked in and everybody washappy to see me. I couldn’t understand their happiness or their obvious love for me.I hadn’t said very much, they hadn’t seen me Saturday and had only come backSunday but they were thrilled to see me. They gave me a welcome like I was an oldfriend. I was going through group therapy at that time and I remember telling mycounsellor that I didn’t do anything to deserve their welcome or love. I explainedhow I’d just come there and I hadn’t said anything of significance. The groupquestioned me more on this and what I realized in the end was that I believed that Ihad never been accepted or loved for who I was and this was very rare andunfamiliar to me. What I realized was for most of my life, in order to get love I hadto perform, I had to do astounding things in order to catch attention and to deservethe love. I was not familiar or used to being loved as [it is mentioned] in the‘Hidden Words’, where it says ‘I love thee hence I created thee’. I deserve to be lovedfor no other reason than because I was created”.125Marie changed her perspective towards her father’s love for herself. Shecame to understand her father’s alcoholic behavior when after her father’s death sheread the book ‘When Society Becomes an Addict’. She says “...I read another bookcalled ‘When Society Becomes an Addict’ and realized then the complications [of]the addictive behavior and how there is almost no choice for addicts. It takestremendous effort [to make a choice] and that is when I realized how much courageit takes [to do so]...the way I resolved the pain (of her father’s death) was first toacknowledge his death, then pray to be given assistance to resolve my anger aroundit, to wait for the answer and then act upon the indirect suggestion to read this bookthat came shortly after my prayers. Reading this book helped me to accept thesociety that he grew up in and to understand what his choice was. Then I couldaccept that his choice wasn’t a denial of me, that it was just his way of life and thatthat was the best he could do. Initially the anger was covering up the hurt and theperceived rejection but when I dared to probe, I realized that it wasn’t reallyrejection; that my father had loved me to the best of his ability. Thus I laid anotherdemon to rest and gained peace”.Thus her experience with the Stevens school was like a blessing in disguise.Although initially she experienced pain it instigated her to seek therapy and toresolve hidden issues. She mentions “Stevens school created the desire, the accidentcreated the means and my access to (Baha’i) writings provided the guidance....thebooks on psychology were like a focused source of light and identification of wherethe problem lies. Plus when I asked for clarity I wasn’t expecting that much clarity.It was hard, but I accepted responsibility for what I had asked for it so I didn’t fightit. I knew I wanted joy in my life and that I needed more clarity and understandingabout how to manifest Baha’u’lIah’s guidance to achieve this joy. I had sufferedenough to cause me to stop living my life according to man-made guidance andwilling to follow firmly divinely inspired guidance. I thank God for His mercy in126that I was almost completely blind to the extent of how much I would have to severemyself from my old training order to proceed at all. I was able to clearly see whatbrought me pain and sadness, how to eventually avoid these things and recognizewhat patterns in my behavior [that] not only encouraged disfunctions but created orensured that they would result in pain.This transformation and insight has made a big difference in my quality oflife. I now know without a doubt that there is nothing you will not be assisted inresolving if you are willing to face your own insecurities, fears and weaknesses, toaccept them as a part of reality and a gift for your growth, to thank God for thatenlightenment and to focus your energies on strengthening and working on thoseareas rather than to get caught up in self pity and remorse. That is the kind ofsecurity I possess now, this is the behavior I am going to develop. I know I am notperfect and will continue to make mistakes but now I have a much better idea ofhow to correct my life if it has sadness.”Marie came to see how she had contributed to the problem and what shecould in turn learn from it. She says “This is what I always look for, what have Idone, what is my part because that is really the only part I can have control over....Ithink that in everything that happens there is an opportunity or purpose in it...I seethat I have an opportunity to learn while I’m going through it. As quickly as I can, Iidentify what is the principle behind it, what can I learn from this, where do I needto grow, where are my weaknesses, what do I need to strengthen. It is like a testrun. You learn something and you apply it. You can drive your car until the brakesdon’t work and then you have run into something to stop. It hurts a little but thenyou learn that this behaviour is dangerous and you change your behaviour whilefixing the brakes. I found out the steering didn’t work and I was in trouble. When Idecided to take what appeared to be the easier route and I relied on someone elseto steer, we got into an accident. I can’t blame anybody for that, it was my choice,127I gave them permission to steer and then they steered in a direction I didn’t want togo in. Am Ito be criticizing them? No, what it tells me is that I need to be steeringall the time. Not steering according to my desires and fancies but steering accordingto God’s guidance for my well-being. Now actually I’m really grateful for all mylife’s experiences. If nothing else, I learned how not to do it. I realize now even thatis important”.In the process of her recovery and transformation Marie combined spiritualand scientific means in her growth process. She used the writings of Baha-u-llah,individual and group therapy, and bibliotherapy to free herself from the fences thatsurrounded her. She asserts “I’ve always done that (combined spiritual and scientificmeans). Reading the books, going for counselling, going for acupuncture they areall alternative means of healing yourself. As long as it fits within the principles Ibelieve in and am committed to I would certainly use it ....absolutely they have allcontributed. I cannot do it alone. I am not an island....and that is what I’ve had tolearn. If I am working on something and it is not working out quite right, I justrecognize my own limitations and humbly ask for assistance (from God) to provideme with the means or to direct me in the right direction to teach me what I need toknow and grant me the strength to do it.I have many tools available to me. Whereas when I was young I had nothingexcept for maybe my own constant thoughts [and] prayers in my quest for assistance.[They] are powerful but not as powerful as prayers from Manifestations [of God]and [Their] writings. There is also the psychology [of] human relationships, interrelationships [and] all of these concepts [that] enable you to function better....”.Marie learnt to realize that the fences denoted different things at differenttimes in her life. At one time the fences signified the type of work environment thatshe would like to work in. She says “I was fenced in and it can be interpreted asrepresenting a number of things. In one form, I was fenced in trying to live a life of128harmony and unity, cooperation and support, nurturing and patience and all of thesevirtues within a corporate structure or a business. That destroyed me that there isno place or tolerance for [it]. Again, I was finding that I was having to compromisewhat I believed in, in order to function in a structure where I had to earn a living....Irealized that...I had to form my own [work-place environment]...[in order to] takeanother step towards transformation to really live that much more of the life of aspiritual being. This allows me to regulate my thoughts in my daily activities and todevelop my own organization based on the principles that I know are correct. Nottry and function within what is available. Again getting back and doing what is rightas opposed to doing it the right way or norm. You know it would be easy for me togo out, get a job and to work as a manager or director and earn a substantial living.But there is a lot of anguish in that because the goals and ideals I have accepted tolive by are much higher than most jobs or people allow or are aware of. Naturallythere is conflict. Now I found [a] company that I may work with, that supports andencourages those concepts and ideals I have learned to value. In fact without thoseprinciples in action it just doesn’t work. So I’m able to live what I believe in twentyfour hours a day, rather than compromising several hours a day and then goinghome, feeling guilty about the compromise and feeling frustrated about it. I’m somuch happier too”.Marie at present is in consumer-direct sales working with the Melaleuca, Marie feels comfortable working with the Melaleuca, Inc. because shedoes not feel she has to compromise her values in doing her daily work. Whenspeaking about it she mentions “ is like an applied course in human sciences andit’s also like a vehicle for me to put into practice the teachings of the (Baha’i) Faith.Like being generous in prosperity, kind to others, patient and tolerant, and learninghow to welcome people with joy. Working with Melaleuca allows me to practiceand develop the spiritual skills which I have learned are truly of prime importance.129I find [that] I don’t have to compromise any of my beliefs in order to do thisbusiness. In fact I’m able to bring them out into the full light, dust them off and toapply them. It is much more challanging this way”.Marie’s strength has empowered her to be of assistance to her friends in theirtime of difficulty. Her friends are able to derive strength from her suggestions andcounsels. She relates “...friends have many times told me that when they really wanta clear answer, they come and talk to me because they know that I will give themthe truth. They also tell me that I am their greatest test. Well, I have learned toappreciate that. I thank God for being of service. It is not an easy service but atleast I know I am being useful. I am acting as a catalyst through reflections that willlead to something better in the long term”.Marie’s strong sense of intuition has played a key role through her spiritualjourney and transformation. She says “...One of my gifts I have discovered is that Iam very intuitive. I find that before I knew much about the (Baha’i) Faith I woulddo things intuitively that I thought was correct spiritually and out of reverence.Later I found that Baha-u-lIah had actually written that, that this was the correctway to do it, or [that] Abdul-Baha had actually [said or written that]. So I know thatI have developed an inner vision and I don’t necessarily need to read it in order toperceive what is right. I know I have this very strong instinct about what’s goodalthough I do not always have the necessary strength to act upon it correctly.Sometimes it takes me a long period of seeking before I get a sufficientunderstanding like that the first twenty eight years of my life where I was exploring,finding out what was right and seeking answers because I always questioned”.In times of difficulty Marie says “What I now know to be most important ishow I view life, what my attitude is towards it and accepting that the best standard tosafely develop my attitude is the writings of Baha-u-llah. There I find a truemeasure, [and] standard. When I’ve lived my life according to man’s standard, I130found a lot of pain. Now I find that the more I’m able to live my life in harmonywith spiritual principles, the less I suffer on this Earth. I still have my struggles andsometimes I forget. Sometimes these old habits die hard and usually it (thedifficulties) becomes more sophisticated. Whenever I have any trouble in my life Ilook for what is the spiritual principle underlying this situation. The sooner I canidentify that the sooner it will be resolved, and then harmony and peace comesback....”Thus when encountered with a problem Marie focuses on two main aspects:firstly, the nature of her being and secondly the purpose of her life. She says “...I amprimarily a spiritual being... [an] evolving spiritual being. My purpose, everythingthat I do in life and always my goal, is to know and to love God. What I’ve learnedto identify is that if I’m not happy, it is because I’m not doing something where I canfulfill my purpose. Now after so many years and opportunities to practice it hasbecome much easier for me to correct my behavior to one which will lead me to joyand harmony. So instead of taking me five years it takes me five minutes becauseBaha’u’llah’s teachings has allowed me the insight and clarity in what makes mehappy and what brings joy to my heart. I have experienced enough spiritual joy thatI’m able to identify it....I now prefer and choose to focus in on seeking the goodquality of even a very difficult situation, and every time I find something joyousabout it. This is much more rewarding”.Marie looks back at her life and says “I [have] grown tremendously from it.All the pain and sorrow and misery and abuse and many paths that I’ve gone downthat have led me to a dead end and I’ve had to come back [and] start overagain....They’ve all been of use to me because I know both where I’m not goinganymore, and where I’m now going....Those that attack me, attack only my physicalbeing and it has nothing to do with me. It does not penetrate nor do I feelabandoned or feel the need to rise up and please that person just for the necessity of131being accepted or loved. This is true liberty. I’ve learned to identify that I have alot of love and that if a person at that point is unable to love that is ok. It hasnothing to do with my overall being. That to me is a tremendous transformation fora person who at one time was unable to achieve peace in her life”.She further says “ transformation has always come when I have lookedinside and I’ve realized what I need to change in order to be a better moreharmonious, more balanced person. If it means not listening to destructiveinfluences outside your mind then that is what I do. Sometimes it means correctingmy own behavior and thoughts, particularly my thoughts because my behavior is justa manifestation of my thoughts and this is where I’ve always applied the principle ofindependent investigation.Now I have reached a point in my life where I’m beginning to understandhow to love people. I wasn’t taught how to love people. I would check myse1f hidemyself, not trust them. I’m going through another transformation, how to lovepeople, how to feel connected with them. Up until even just a few months ago Ireally didn’t know how to feel connected to anybody....So I’ve updated and I’vegrown”.The desire to connect with people has motivated Marie to participate ingroup activities, such as the ‘Bayan Toastmasters’ which was started by theVancouver Baha’i deepening committee. She states “I find Toastmasters provides asimilar kind of opportunity (as in group therapy) for me. Ofcourse we do not talkabout personal problems but I am able to develop the behaviour I learned that Ihave to strengthen in order to connect with people. My group was wonderfulenough to explain to me when I asked of the things I was doing (my behaviors) thatprevented me from connecting to groups of people and gaining their empathy. I wassabotaging myself actually. We all need that kind of support and frankness to grow.What I find with Toastmasters now is that I am able to develop my ability to connect132in group dynamics. It provides the vehicle to force myself to enjoy seeking thesupport and attention of people11.Consequently Marie has recognized several changes within herself. She says...and since then I now feel that I no longer have those barriers....I feel I’ve gonethrough many skins, yes a series of transformations. Like a snake that sheds its skinevery year. Now I am at the stage where...I have made a stronger spiritualconnection to God or the creator or whatever you call it. I call it God for sake ofidentification”.Marie looks at her transformation experience and says “The road is alwaysunder construction and sometimes you have a little bit of light, sometimes it is alittle bumpier than others and sometimes you have paved parts. That is life. WhatI’m going through now is learning how to be flexible and adjust to the varianceswhile going through the process of transforming and degrees of it so that I can beever more joyous and happy”.133COMMENTARYMarie is an adult child of a religious, alcoholic family. Marie’s existence could becharacterized as chaotic and abusive. She lived a life of spiritual starvation andemotional depravation. She often felt frustrated and angry at the world, (family,friends, and the teachers) who challenged and attacked her inquiring mind. Sheexperienced life as harsh, punitive, and constraining. She also had bouts ofdepression coupled with suicidal thoughts. She felt manipulated and oftenmanipulated others by her violent behavior. As a result of these experiences shedeveloped low self esteem and lack of confidence where she was intensely afraid ofspeaking in public. She was afraid of life and yearned for a life of security, stabilityserenity, and spiritual fulfillment.Marie’s grandmothers’ spiritual lifestyle and nature played a significant rolein her early upbringing (they said their prayers and the rosaries regularly, and wentto the church repeatedly). But because their lifestyle was ridiculed by others,overtime, she suppressed her spiritual upbringing and digressed from it. She did,however, have a strong desire to re-connect with Christ on a level that she foundmeaningful. Marie had a strong yearning for Christ’s return. After Holycommunion she had considered herself the ‘so1dier of Christ”and was devoted toupholding principles of Christ. At the age of eighteen she was overjoyed when thechurch announced it’s intention of reading a letter that was sent to the Pope in the1860’s addressing Christ’s return. Unfortunately for Marie, on reviewing the letterthe church agreed that the people were not ready for this message and decided notto disclose it. As a result of this incident she felt betrayed and lost hope in findinganswers through the church. Unable to relate to any other religion or religiousdenomination (as she thought they were pervaded by disunity) she becameestranged to religion. Her yearning to reconnect with Christ, on a meaningful level,led her to a search using existing non religious means, namely, travelling, alcohol,134drugs and sex. Other than travelling, these paths were unfulfilling practices. Shedescribes her search as a path of “experimentation11a breaking through theboundaries that to her seemed as constraints rather than answers.Marie was seeking fulfillment in life and searching for a meaningful lifestyle.Eventually she realized that these paths were counter-productive, leading herfurther and further away from her goal: seeking spiritual growth and closeness toChrist. She found her life lacking quality and began to feel despondent. Her earlyspiritual upbringing gave her the strength to identify the problem and developed adesire to remove herself from them. But she did not know how to go about it.During this period, she met a friend--her Turkish hairstylist, Mustafa-- who played asignificant role in her transformation. She observed a sense of tranquility andpurposefulness in him that she admired and envied. Marie was curious to know thesource of Mustafa’s inner-contentment and harmony. At this time, he introducedher to the Baha’i Faith. The principles of the Baha’i Faith gave her a sense of reliefbecause they were congruent with her own religious beliefs which in the past wereridiculed by her family and friends and she, in turn, had learnt to suppress these.She was filled with excitement and exhilaration to hear of Christ’s return. Shedecided to investigate this for herself, thus leading her path of search back toreligion. Her search was initially frustrating because she was too shy to ask foraccess to the writings of Baha’u’llah. The books Mustafa gave her did not addressher burning question: Was Baha’u’llah the return of Christ? and she was overcomewith anguish. In complete humility she supplicated to God for guidance andassistance. This act of supplication led to the peak experience (refer to case study#3, p. 109) that resulted in phenomenal feelings of serenity, peacefulness andrelaxation which imparted a meaningful answer to her question. Marie felt a senseof unity among the members of the Baha’i community and it instilled hope withinher and thus her faith was restored back in religion. By accepting the Baha’i Faith135she did not feel separated from Christ but rather felt re-connected to Him on adeeper level. The two basic principles of the Baha’i Faith, namely the unity ofreligions and oneness of humankind had a profound role in Marie’s transformation.She felt a higher awareness of unity and a sense of connection to all people whichled to a deep sense of belonging. Marie felt more relaxed and comfortable as shewas able to acquire meaningful answers to her life-long questions through the Baha’iwritings. Religion and her spiritual upbringing gave her the strength to supplant thenegative addictions and actions with positive behavior and substitutes. Herfriendship with Mustafa, raised her awareness to higher levels which made adifference in removing herself from a life of drinking. In her growth process shedepended immensely on the Baha’i prayers and found religion the source of strengthfor change.A critical incident (being laid off work) led Marie to realize the existence ofcertain inadequacies in her which hampered her personal growth. As a result of herfamily back-ground she lacked courage and confidence to assert herself. She gaveresponsibility for decision making in her life to others and subsequently felt bitterabout this. She was unaware of the source of this problem and prayed to God,seeking clarification of the difficulties. Following an accident which left her withample time to explore the source of her problem, she began to utilize the existingservices within the community (Alnon, ACOA meetings, individual and groupcounselling and bibliotherapy). These were of great benefit to Marie and helpedher to gain insight into the effects of her dysfunctional family life, upbringing andpatterns of behavior. This revelation filled her with feelings of devastation anddemolition. These feelings paved the way for growth. Community services gaveinsight and Baha’i writings provided the means for bringing about change(developing a healthy attitude and lifestyle). She relied heavily on a specific prayerrevealed by Abdu’l-Baha which she recites daily to date.136A significant author, Anthony Robins, played a crucial role in her change.One significant line in his book (“the road to success is always under construction”)gave her new insight and hope in life. She was thrilled at the new discovery and feltrelieved to know that growth is a life long process. Thus Marie was able torecognize and validate her own accomplishments and successes in life. She reflectedon her behavior and thoughts and mustered the courage to take step towards changeusing the Baha’i principles. Trust in God and active personal efforts, she believes,have led to the changes.She met another friend, Michael, who played an important role in herprogress. His sudden severance of their relationship was a painful experience forMarie. But she believes it taught her detachment from worldly pre-occupations.Marie actively strives to look for the underlying lesson in hardships and makesconscious effort to change attitudes as a process of growth. In times of difficulty herfocus is on the immanent and transcendental qualities of life and derives strengthfrom these capacities and forces. The knowledge of her identity, spiritual core, givesher strength, courage and feelings of liberation.Marie has developed a vivid purpose in life: To know and to love God. Shebelieves that diversion from her purpose brings her moments of unhappiness.At this stage of her growth Marie is able to love and trust people and connectwith them on a deeper level. She has developed a more mature and intimaterelationship with her parents. The realization of a specific spiritual quality(honesty) has helped enrich her relationship with her mother. Marie takes joy andhappiness in acts of service to others. She has the courage to give publicpresentations and feels secure about herself. She transmutes painful experiencesinto learning incidences and finds hardships purposeful and opportunities forpersonal growth. She has the courage to look for her weaknesses and using theBaha’i writings transmutes them into strengths. Marie has made positive changes to137her lifestyle by substituting healthy alternatives to previous addictions and hasdeveloped healthy eating habits. She is able to connect with God and relies heavilyon Him for growth. Her yearning for excellence has made her focus on thedevelopment of spiritual qualities. Spiritual values govern her practice at work (sheis in consumer-direct sales working with the Melaleuca, Inc. Company) and gives ameaningful dimension to her job.138CHAPTER 5. RESULTSThe experiences of the informants have been synthesized into one commonstory highlighting the commonalties in the beginning, the middle, and the end of thestory. In describing a story, Cochran (1986) writes:The basic organizing principle of a story is a gap between two poles. Allstories begin with an “is” for which there is an “ought to be”. Scholars haveused various terms to describe the beginning, such as disequilibrium,problem, disturbance, or upset. The path toward resolution of difficulty isthe middle of the story. And the story ends when the initiating disturbance iscalmed. (p. 13)In this study, the two poles in the story are of a state of meaninglessness andpurposelessness in life and a state of meaningfulness and self-fulfillment in life. Themiddle encompasses events and feelings that lead to the change.Themes of Transformation:In deriving the themes of the story, I dwelled extensively on each accountuntil I was sensitive to and aware of its flow and details. While going through eachaccount, I noted the significant features and patterns of each narrative. As a resultof extensive discussion with my research supervisor, I framed these accounts intomeaningful pivots in the story and by comparing the sets of pivots, identified thecommonalties across the accounts.The following general story involves various themes. Each theme isdescribed, giving examples from the lives of the three informants. These themespresent commonalties of experience across individual accounts. They do notnecessarily follow the sequential order of the events in the lives of the individualpersons, but rather are indicative of the movement of the story from the beginning,through the middle, to the end.139BEGINNINGThe beginning is characterized by a sense of deflation and debilitation. Invarying degrees, all three individuals feel deflated by life. Their existence hasprogressively depreciated in quality and they seem to be sinking in depths ofdisintegration. This is best exemplified by a common feature in Marie’s and Rob’scases where they experience bouts of depression coupled with suicidal thoughts.Also, in varying degrees, all experience abasement, lack of self-esteem, and loss ofconfidence. For example, Marie, Rob, and to some extent, Darry have to complywith the external punitive rules of the family or society which has led to feelings ofinadequacy and a lack of self-worth. Their existence can also be characterized by afeeling of alienation and loss. All three feel a severance either from themselves,people, life, God, religion, spiritual values or from a combination of these. Thisfeeling of alienation has given rise to grave feelings of loneliness. Consequently,they lack a sense of belonging and have no emotional anchor.Their lives are pervaded by fcg. Lack of emotional anchorage has led tofeelings of mistrust and misery. For example, Marie has developed a tremendousfear of speaking in public lest she be ridiculed and mocked. She also feelsdisillusioned by the concept of fulfillment in marriage. Darry fears his father’spunitive approach to him and to life, and Rob has developed a fear of life andpeople in general. Their lives lack agency. They feel controlled by others and viewthemselves as victims of their circumstances. They are unable to assess their optionsin life and take action towards change. They feel unable to exert their will andjudgement in making productive decisions and taking charge of their lives. Forexample, Rob feels controlled by non-native culture and religion, leading to feelingsof exasperation and disillusionment. Marie feels controlled by her family, whodictate the norms by which she must live her life. And Darry feels enslaved to hisbasic physical urges and desires (i.e. drugs and sex).140From their case studies, it is apparent that they have become self-centeredindividuals, insensitive to the needs of others. For example, Darry’s focal concern isthe gratification of his own physical desires with no concern for the feelings of thewomen he gets involved with; Rob’s main concern is to beg enough money frompeople to satisfy his addictive needs. Yet another strong theme in the lives of theseindividuals is their abusive life-styles. In varying degrees all three have experiencedemotional neglect and abuse. They in turn have begun to abuse their bodies,through alcohol and drugs, and to abuse others by violating their rights anddisregarding their feelings. For example, Marie has been emotionally abandonedand rejected by her parents. She in turn abuses herself through over-consumption ofdrugs and abuses others through her violence and addictive behavior. The threeinformants have gone through life abusing people, themselves, and life in general.Given this negative ground of experience, there arises a strong yearning forsomething better in life. Individuals ache for a different way of living that couldalleviate their misery. But lack of a direction towards change and of alternate waysof living leaves them feeling hopeless and powerless. They feel insecure and ill-equipped to deal with the demands and hardships of life because they lackinformation about alternatives. Darry’s case best exemplifies this yearning. Hewants wisdom and a better quality of life but has no role models to follow or learnfrom. Also, his thinking is short-term and he is unable to make long-term plans.Darry lacks the inner and outer resources for change. Marie yearns for a morefulfilling way to connect with Christ, and Rob yearns to reconnect with people andwith his roots, but both find their resources for change to be inadequate. The threeinformants lack guidance, direction, and information to help them discover andexamine alternate ways of living. They experience an intense feeling of debilitationand thus are unable to form a clear path for change.141MIDDLEThe onset of the middle state is usually experienced as a very disturbingperiod in life. The three individuals in this study have had a crisis point in their liveswhere they hit a very low point from which they can sink no further. Darry hashorrible feelings of emptiness and loneliness, Rob feels utterly degraded,disintegrated, and depressed, and Marie experiences betrayal and feels let down byorganized institutions in her search for Christ. Two of them have contemplatedsuicide because they can see no way out of their misery. Rob, however, is as muchafraid of death as he is afraid of life.It is precisely this crisis point that propels people towards change andsubsequently leads to a shift in the story. During this period, a significant other(s)plays a crucial role in the lives of people. Up to this point, individuals have felthopeless of any change but with the appearance of role models, life takes a differentturn. Renewed hope for change can develop in several ways and one possiblemeans is the presence of effective role models or friends. The life of these rolemodels may either be similar, as in the case of Darry, or in contrast, as for Rob andMarie, to the lifestyle of the individual. But in any case, such a model represents anideal way of being for the person. All three individuals have established friendshipsthat have initiated change and have taken them through the process oftransformation. Darry’s and Marie’s admiration for their friends’ lifestyles instillshope in them, and Rob is touched by a friend’s humanity and compassionate naturewhich has “inspired” him to seek help. In varying degrees, all three have receivedinspiration from their friends to change. These friends, or role models, introduce analternative way of living to the three informants that has triggered courage andstrength for change. For example, one friend’s lifestyle has given Darry thedetermination to seek help, another has introduced him to spiritual practices in lifeof chanting and meditation, from which he derives profound feelings of serenity.142And yet another’s selfless act of service has touched his heart and has affirmed forhim the existence of a world beyond this physical world. For Marie, Mustafa’s (herTurkish Baha’i friend) lifestyle has offered her a desirable alternative to alcohol.Her friend plays a crucial catalytic role in helping her free herself from alcoholism.In essence we can say that the three informants are reaching out to another personfrom whose lifestyle they derive strength and guidance.In some ways, these role models address their yearning for a fulfilling life.This yearning can manifest itself in various ways. In this study the informantsexpress it either through aiming at attaining higher levels of insight and growth,through a search for unity, or a partial realization of this yearning in religion. Theirfriendship experience is a potent force of strength and encouragement stimulatinghope for the future. Their encounter with these role models gives the threeindividuals a glimpse of the meaningful lifestyle they would like to work towards.The attainment of such a goal is no longer viewed as an impossibility. Desiring adifferent lifestyle is one thing and experiencing it, no matter how minimally, is quiteanother. This experience has allowed the informants to embark on attainment ofthe higher levels of growth and insight. Darry finds himself engaging, thoughminimally at first, in the gratification of non-material desires. He has startedappreciating music and his quest for wisdom has led him to read philosophicalbooks, which generate an insight into spiritual phenomena. He affirms thatphilosophical books have started to make him think about the possibility of a realmbeyond the physical one. Rob recognizes the connection between this world and thespiritual world in the native sacred ceremonies at the treatment center, and Marieembarks on self-validation that generates an increase in self-worth.This yearning is also partially fulfilled by their search for unity. All threeinformants stress unity, perhaps as a counter to the personal chaos they have livedthrough. The sense of unity and connectedness with people plays a potent role in143the formation and direction of their lifestyles. Each approaches the sense of unityfrom a different angle. For example, disunity among people and religions has madeRob feel exasperated and confused about life. The three basic principles of theBaha’i faith, namely, the oneness of God, the oneness of religions, and the onenessof humankind have revived him, inducing feelings of hope for a meaningful andfulfilling life. Marie, on the other hand, approaches this sense of unity from twoangles: a unity and harmony within herself and a sense of unity among people. First,Marie experiences great pain as there is no conformity between her thoughts,actions, and feelings. She is able to correct this inner disunity through the utilizationof the community support services of professional helpers coupled with religiousdirectives. This growth adds a meaningful dimension to her life. Secondly, she hasgrown to mistrust all religions due to her perception of a prevailing disunity amongtheir members. Though struggling in varying degrees, she finds the Baha’icommunity working ardently towards this feeling of unity and thus she regains hopein her search for a meaningful lifestyle. The sense of disunity is not as prominentfor Darry as it is for the other two; nevertheless, a feeling for unity is as much astrong component of his yearning. Darry is greatly moved by one of the majorprinciples of the Baha’i Faith, namely, universal language. He is elated at theconcept because with that in view, he is able to connect with all the people of theworld. Therefore the possible attainment of unity is a channel to a fulfilling andmeaningful life for all the three informants.Religion appears as a way to realize one’s yearning for a fulfilling life.Partial realization of their yearning in religion is vividly detectable in all three casestudies. In varying degrees religion has become a source of strength in their lives,imparting meaning and generating mental well-being. For example, for Darry, thelove for the manifestation of God and trust in God leads to immense feelings ofinner-strength and confidence: “ that stage my heart was really won by144Baha’u’llah and I really knew at that stage that He could help me. And I didn’tthink there was anything else on Earth that could.’ Trust in and love for God seemsto be a strong anchorage of life for all three informants.There are various ways that the path to a fulfilling life may lead to religion.Such ways could be literature, media, another person, and so on. The informants inthis study are introduced to the Baha’i Faith through their friends. Introduction toreligion does not necessarily guarantee an instant acceptance of the path. Forexample, although Darry is introduced to religion and feels impressed and delightedby the Baha’i principles, he is not yet ready to accept religion in his life. Readinessto accept religion in their lives needs to be prepared for through other spiritualpractices. For example, Darry gets involved in Sidha Yoga meditation and chantinggroups and Rob in the spiritual practices of the native culture. Marie, on the otherhand, has embarked on some unfulfilling practices in her search for Christ. She isdistracted in her quest and eventually (finding them defective and harmful) shereturns back to the path of religion in her search.All three are looking for ways to attain an inner harmony, balance andgrowth in their lives. With this in mind, they are engaged in spiritual exercises ofvarious kinds which culminate in the religious practices of the Baha’i Faith. Thepower of revealed prayers to effect change is conspicuously evident in all the threecase studies. For example, Darry incorporates the Baha’i prayers in his chantingand meditation and derives phenomenal strength and courage to the point where hediscards drugs with no hesitation or difficulty. Marie feels empowered to rid herselfof tangible and intangible addictions, and Rob too is transformed in various waysthrough utilization of native and Baha’i spiritual exercises. Regular and intensiveutilization of the spiritual exercises has led to some significant meaningfulexperiences which result in partial realization of a balanced life. While Robexperiences surges of energy, Marie and Darry achieve a phenomenal peak145experience in their life. These experiences generate, for Marie, feelings of immenseserenity and relaxation, and for Darry and Rob, feelings of intense exhilaration andelation. The peak experiences of Darry and Marie may be observed as theculmination points or the final experiences whereby the individuals are able toconfirm their commitment to religion in their life. The culmination point may bearrived at gradually, as in the case of Rob, or as a result of phenomenal experienceas witnessed in Darry and Marie’s lives. The apex of this realization is theirrestoration of belief in religion. Commitment to incorporate religion into life canlead to feelings of relief, as is seen in all three case stories. This commitment alsospurs feelings of confidence in them. Although each one follows a different path intheir search to find an inner harmony, all eventually find their answer in religion andthus commit themselves to it. In their quest for an inner harmony and fulfillment(in particular in Marie’s search for Christ), an Arabian proverb is very apt: “Whososeeketh out a thing with zeal shall find it”. *Belief in religion is not the end of the road of personal growth. All threeinformants are acutely aware that transformation is a life-long process involving along arduous journey of education and hard work on their part. But at this point inlife they feel confident that they are on the right path and have access to right andvalid guidelines and directives for further growth and fulfillment. Therefore, intheir resolution to improve, they accept responsibility for personal growth andactively enforce alternatives and transmute weaknesses into strengths. In takingactive steps towards change they are developing a sense of agency in life. Themiddle story is concerned with taking responsible, active steps towards change andbecoming. As can be observed in their case studies, all three have taken conscioussteps towards the actualization of spiritual qualities in the context of everyday living.For example, Marie has made an effort to develop honesty in her relationship with*Seven Valleys and Four Valleys of Baha’u’llah.146her parents; and Darry takes steps to control his mind and not fall prey to it. Thiscan be observed in his attempts to forsake unhealthy relationships with women andto work towards mature relationships with them. They have adopted a pro-activerole in initiating change in their lives which is accompanied by regular and intenseengagement in the spiritual exercises and by the support of friends. In two casesthere is a spread of religious exercises to life. Marie utilizes the community supportservices of helping professionals in identifying the obstacles to her personal growth,thus aiming for optimum growth. And Rob, in his initial steps toward personalgrowth, joins the Round Lake treatment center. In life, people are exposed tovarious difficult or trying experiences. They may derive strength from role modelsand religious directives and exercises, as in the case of Darry, or a combination offriends, religious guidelines and exercises, and community support services, as in thecases of Marie and Rob, with a sharper focus on the religious aspects.In the three case studies it is abudantly clear that a unanimous and strongchange has been the adoption of alternative attitudes to unavoidable suffering. Theprocess of becoming is by no means a smooth journey. Life is full of unanticipatedtests and difficulties from which one is not spared, no matter what level of growthone attains. Growth depends on how one interprets these hardships. The crucialfactor is one’s attitude towards such hardships. All three informants look sincerelyfor the higher lesson to be learnt from such hardships. They sense a serenity andconfidence from resigning themselves to and trusting in a Higher Being. Forexample, Darry, in the midst of his depression (caused by awareness of his own andothers’ inadequacies), is confident that he is not alone and that he needs to learn thehigher lesson that is being presented to him by the situation. The informants in thisstudy view inescapable suffering as an opportunity for drawing closer to God andattaining higher levels of growth. For example, a painful experience in Marie’s lifesets her on the path of learning detachment from worldly pre-occupations, and the147opposition of her mother gives her strength in her beliefs. Rob has learnt from thenegative experiences at the residential school by changing his attitudes towardsthose involved and developing a new meaning and interpretation of his suffering.He believes that those experiences have enabled him to constantly remind himselfof his purpose in life and that he needs to make the best of every situation byhelping others. He also takes relief in the transient nature of the difficulties.Hardships in their lives have generated intense trust in God. Hardships remindindividuals of the provisional nature of life and the limited opportunities forrealization of values and life tasks. For example, Rob constantly reminds himself ofthe speed with which his forty six years have gone by and thus is strongly motivatedto be of the utmost service for the remaining years of his life.The new sense of self addresses a transcendental nature to the human reality.This new sense of self fosters strength and confirmation in the way they look atunavoidable difficulties. Rather than viewing themselves merely as physical entitiesneeding physical gratification, they now consider themselves also as spiritual entitiesthat need to develop spiritual qualities in order to move from what they are to whatthey ought to be.ENDThe end of the story is the state of becoming. Here one can observe the endresult of the development of new attitudes and lifestyles. This process includes whatthe individuals have achieved in their personal growth. Those who have successfullymoved to this state are in a better position to assess their options in life and worktowards further personal growth. In viewing the end, one can notice five themesnamely, the informants’ meaningful lifestyle, meaningful mature relationships,meaningful purpose in life, sense of belonging and unity, and their arrival at higherlevels of growth.148In varying degrees they have established a meaningful lifestyle wherein theyfind life fulfilling. The three informants have expressed a general sense ofsatisfaction with life, its direction, challenges, and opportunities. Marie hasdeveloped positive substitutes for her addictive behavior, for example, practisinghonesty in her interactions with her parents and using a positive substitute fordrinking. Darry is able to make long term plans and has entered university andembarked on concrete steps toward intellectual growth. In so doing he has begun ashift in his orientation to the future, focusing his thoughts on long-term plans. Robno longer harbors any cultural prejudice, rather he sees a universal connectedness inall people and from this union derives strength and courage. The informants havedeveloped an enlarged perspective on life and in examining the meaning of sufferingthey reflect on life and appreciate its trials and difficulties. For example, Marie sawher painful experience with Michael (her boyfriend) as an opportunity forrealization of detachment from worldly preoccupations. All three are involved inmeaningful jobs that not only give personal satisfaction but are also congruent withtheir purpose in life. In examining their lifestyles they have begun to realize thatthere is more to life than a mere 9-5 job, and they feel they need to act responsiblyto meet their life tasks. They have developed a transcendental purpose. Fromreading the case studies or the commentaries, one can interpret the meaningfulpurpose they have adopted. Darry sees his purpose as maintaining a trust in Godand a love for the manifestation of God. Rob views his purpose in life as theactualization of spiritual qualities, service to people, and closeness to God. Marieconsiders her purpose to be the attainment of knowledge and love of God. Shebelieves that difficulties in life come when she finds herself digressing from herpurpose in life.In the process of becoming, the informants of this study have developedmeaningful and mature relationships with others. They have developed the ability149to connect with people on a deeper level and are concerned with and sensitive toothers’ needs and interests. Rob is able to love, trust, and connect with people of allcultures and nationalities, Marie is able to experience genuine love for everyone,and Darry has learned to develop a substantial relationship with all women and isready fOr an intimate relationship with one. In being able to form a meaningfulrelationship with all people, they feel they are able to connect with God on a deeperlevel. This is so because they have been able to develop a universal sense ofbelonging or unity. This implies a sense of universal unity, one in which people areaware of a different sense of community. All three have developed a strong sense ofglobal unity, transcending the boundaries of race, nationality, or culture. This senseof unity can be observed in different aspects of their lives. For example, Rob is ableto sense an inner unity through his connection with native ancestors, people, andreligion. Rob does not limit himself merely to the native community: he has a senseof belonging to the world at large, i.e., a sense of global community. Marie hasstrongly connected to Christ through her belief in Baha’u’llah, and Darry has beenable to connect with life in general. Overall the three informants in this study havearrived at higher levels of growth. At this level of growth they have transcended theshortcomings and inadequacies of the past and are aiming at actualization of furtherprogress. They view their process of becoming as a never- ending journey. Theyhave developed an appreciation for self, giving rise to self-worth and self-esteem.Marie has learnt to validate herself and not depend on others for validation. Shedoes not feel the need to perform in order to receive her parents’ love or attention.Rob has developed a sense of reverence for all religions, as he is able to decipherthe truth in all of them. Darry, contrary to the past, is able to make long-term planswhich helps bolster his confidence. All three recognize the importance of religion,people, and community support services as important tools for growth. Lastly, invarying degrees, all three individuals are involved in meaningful acts of service to150humanity. Service to others endows their lives with significant meaning, from whichthey derive strength and fulfillment.151CHAPTER 6. DISCUSSIONFINDINGS:In this study, three informants have generated three narratives. Thesenarratives describe individual movement from a meaningless to a meaningfullifestyle. On the basis of these narratives, I have identified a total of twenty-twothemes: six themes at the beginning, eleven in the middle, and five at the end.The themes in the beginning portray the negative position people take whenimmersed in a pool of meaninglessness and oblivion. This position subsequentlyleads to a yearning for something better and more meaningful in their lives. In themiddle, the themes explain the motivating factor for change and the diverse ways ofenactment for realizing this yearning of life. And the themes in the end amount tothe new-found meaningful lifestyles which generate self-fulfillment in the individual.The flow of the themes reveals the progressive nature of transformation.LIMITATIONS:There are four limitations presented here. First, this study is limited in thesense that the number of informants is small and therefore some may feel that thefindings cannot be generalized as in statistics. Second, the study is also limited bythe informants’ ability to articulate their experiences and their conscious willingnessto disclose personal and sensitive issues at the beginning stage. Third, theresearcher’s own cultural background and insight into other cultures can also putlimitations on the interpretation of the findings. Fourth, since the interpretation ofthemes can be fallible (Cochran,1986), the researcher’s personal perspective ininterpretation may be considered as another of the limitations of the study.Despite these limitations this study can be helpful in determining theapplicability of theories, (such as (logotherapy, psychosynthesis, andCzikszentmihalyi’s theory) to the experiences of the informants’ meaning-formationand transformation.152THEORETICAL IMPLICATIONSSeveral themes of this study support the three steps of meaning-formation inFrankl’s theory. First, the informants derive meaning from their actions such asexistential acts of service, or involvement in satisfying and meaningful jobs. Second,their lives gain meaning through their various experiences. For example, Robexperiences a significant feeling of connection with his ancestors at the sweat lodgewhich endows his life with meaning and direction. At some point in theirtransformation, all the three informants find life meaningful through experiencing abelief in religion and the realization of various positive qualities and values in life.Marie’s experience of the actualization of truthfulness brings meaning to her life.For Darry, the experience of chanting and meditation practices give a partialfulfillment and meaning to his life. Another example from Darry’s life is the forgingof meaningful relationships with women.Third, informants discover meaning in life by their conscious endeavors toadopt positive attitudes towards unavoidable suffering. Through the process oftransmuting negative attitudes into positive ones, during inescapable hardship, theyare able to transcend and detach themselves from those situations. But due to theprogressive nature of transformation, as indicated by this study, the adoption andacceptance of alternative attitudes can only be realized at a particular level ofmaturity. At lower levels of growth this change in attitudes is meaningless to peopleand thus is an ineffective avenue for meaning formation, a point that is not noted byFrankl.The themes of new sense of self and resolution to improve support Franki’sand Assagioli’s concepts of self and responsibility for meaning-formation andgrowth. The informants in this study are empowered to make a difference and tofind a meaning in life through development of a new concept of self (i.e., spiritualentities) and through engagement in active and responsible steps toward change.153Four themes of this study go beyond Franki’s theory of meaning andtransformation and can augment his concept of meaning-formation. First, in thisstudy friendships play a crucial catalytic role in the discovery of meaning. ButFranki does not specifically acknowledge the important role of friends in change.One may argue that this aspect can be found in Frankl’s experiential values, but forcounsellors and/or other professional practitioners, Frankl’s general outlooktowards this path of meaning-formation does not provide sufficient insight into theimportance of friends, role models, or mentors in change.Second, a search for unity with oneself and with others is a crucial factorleading to a fulfilling and meaningful lifestyle. This is not evident in Frankl’s theory.The inclusion of this theme may be an important addition to Frankl’s theory ofchange and meaning as, according to this study, it fosters growth and meaning inlife.,Third, in varying degrees, all three informants were able to partially satis’their yearning for a fulfilling life through religion. Although Franki’s personal viewis in accordance to this theme, it is not a part of his philosophy of logotherapy. This,I believe, can be a significant addition to his theory.Fourth, another theme that can be of benefit to the extension of logotherapyis engagement in spiritual exercises. This study has shown that engaging in spiritualexercises leads to a meaningful lifestyle, a factor not considered in logotherapy.With reference to Assagioli’s theoretical contribution six themes in this studysupport his steps to meaning-formation: yearning for a fulfilling life through asearch for unity and religion, engaging in spiritual exercises, restoration of belief inreligion; resolution to improve, adoption of alternative attitudes to unavoidablesuffering, and the new sense of self. These themes can be taken in order of his foursteps toward the creation of a meaningful lifestyle. First, the informants makeattempts to gain a deeper insight into themselves by identifying their hidden or154repressed higher and lower feelings and abilities. An objective exploration takesplace through either community support services, philosophical books, or religiousguidelines. Second, the theme resolution to improve supports Assagioli’s secondstep by which individuals make attempts to discover meaning in life. Theinformants take active responsible steps toward change by transmuting theirweaknesses into strengths. They orient their lives to the realization of values andspiritual qualities. Third, they add meaning to life by forming a new sense of selfthrough their various experiences, and a knowledge of God through religion. Andfourth, understanding their true reality as a spiritual entity empowers them to takesteps to develop abilities that are in harmony with their new sense of self. In doingso, they have followed both paths that Assagioli advocates: the way of activeresponsible actions and the way of submission to the will of God.Similar to Frankl, the theme of establishing friendship goes beyondAssagioli’s psychosynthesis. Assagioli too has not emphasized or mentioned the roleof friends in the transformation of meaning. I reiterate here the importance of thistheme to the transformation of meaning as can clearly be observed in all three casestudies. In my opinion, this theme is a positive addition to psychosynthesis.As for Czikszentmihalyi’s contributions (cited in the review of literature), thisstudy supports his three ways of acquiring meaning in life. First, all three informantshave developed an overall purpose in life that imparts meaning to their existence.The development of their purpose, as Czikszentmihalyi states, is spiral in nature.All three seem to have reached the third stage, as all are continuously aware ofdeveloping their growth-enhancing potentials and realizing values in life. Ingeneral, the informants of this study seem to oscillate between the third and thefourth stages. In varying degrees their purpose in life also incorporates the feelingof global unity which is Czikszentmihalyi’s fourth stage of purpose-shaping andmeaning-formation.155Second, they are committed to their life goals. Their actions revolve aroundtheir purpose in life. This is verified by themes such as meaningful lifestyle,meaningful and mature relationships, sense of belonging or unity, and higher levelsof growth.Third, the informants are able to give meaning to their lives through theestablishment of inner unity and by bringing life into harmony with various values.This is realized through religion, responsible behavior, triumph over suffering,adoption of alternate values in life, and finally by transmuting negative thoughts andactions into their positive counterparts. The themes that support this emphasis are:yearning for a fulfilling life, restoration of belief in religion, resolution to change,and adoption of alternative attitudes to suffering.Similar to Frankl and Assagioli, Czikszentmihalyi does not seem to stress thesignificance of friendships in meaning-formation. This study has shown that friendsact as significant role models or mentors for discovery of meaning and enhancementof growth and agency in life. This study then, can add an effective extension to histheory of meaning and growth.PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS:Reflecting on the themes generated by this study, the following ninesuggestions can be put forward as requirements for effective counselling. First, inthe beginning, counsellors might help people focus upon the negativity of their livesin order to intensify the yearning for a fulfilling life. Second, in the middle, thevarying crisis points can be highlighted as motivating indicators that channel thepath for change. In this way counsellors can empower and instill hope in people forthe realization of a possible change by helping them adopt a different outlooktowards low points in their lives.156Third, based upon a strong theme of this study, counsellors can enhance thegrowth process of their clients by assisting them to develop a better, more positivesocial network that may include role models, positive friendships, and mentors.Fourth, counselling practice should perhaps involve the inculcation of a senseof global unity in clients. A global unity pertains to the development of a largerperspective in their interactions and connections with people in the world, where theemphasis is on a spiritual or universal unity among people. This may be assisted bycommunity services or relevant practices.Fifth, counsellors may be able to enhance the effectiveness of their servicesby incorporating, in an unbiased fashion, the inherent values of traditional spiritualexercises to promote insight, reflectivity, and sensitivity in their clients. They mightbe more open to value spiritual exercises of various Faiths such as Baha’i,Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, or Hinduism.Sixth, counsellors perhaps should recognize and encourage the partialrealization of a balanced life in religion, which might be discounted by some people.As can be observed in this study, the progressive nature of transformation may placereligion in various stages of meaning-formation. Thus counsellors can perhapsconsider the possibility of repressed religiosity in their clients at some appropriatestage in their counselling process. Counsellors may perhaps help their clients toattain higher levels of growth through development of a new sense of self in whichthey view themselves as spiritual entities that need to orient their lives toward valuesand abilities of higher qualities. This insight might empower clients to bring about asubstantial change in their life.Seventh, counsellors may be able to empower clients by actively assistingthem to develop their sense of responsibility through the actualization of as manyvalues and qualities of the higher nature as possible.157Eighth, the counselling practice should perhaps involve clients in an activeeducational process of discovering and adopting alternative attitudes to unavoidablesuffering. Counsellors may need to direct these alternative thoughts into positivechannels.Ninth, in the end stage, counsellors may help clients develop meaningfullifestyles and attain higher levels of growth in all aspects of their lives byincorporating a meaningful purpose, transcendental in nature, into their lives.IMPLICATIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH:Narrative is an effective tool for gaining authentic and rich information onthe research topic. It gives first-hand, factual information about people’s lifeexperiences. In my opinion, this overrides the potential inability of a person toarticulate his or her thoughts, feelings, and experiences.On a larger scale, it would be of immense benefit to counsellors in general ifthis study were to be replicated using a larger and more representative sample. Itwould be of significance to note whether such a study confirmed and supported thefindings of this study and to explore further the commonalties or possiblediscrepancies between individual experiences.It would be fascinating to undertake a longitudinal study of this nature,starting with a very large sample of informants experiencing the beginning state. Itwould be of significance if future research could carry out this study using as theirsample informants from different religious backgrounds and tracing their steps fromthe beginning through the middle to the end, noting the commonalties between thefollowers of various organized religions and demonstrating a similarity or adifference between the informants.A significant research project would be an in-depth study of the turning pointof transformation in various individuals. The exploration of situations andcircumstances that relate to turning points would greatly enhance our understanding158of the human yearning for a fulfilling life and the succeeding ongoing process oftransformation.It would be of great interest to see whether current counselling practicesinvolve spiritual exercises, for example the use of prayers. Future research on thisquestion would enlighten counsellors as to practices of others in their field. Ibelieve with Propst (1986) that there is a need for much research investigating theimpact of religion on mental health and meaning-formation. Intensive empiricalapproaches might be of great benefit.SUMMARY:I have used the case study approach to understand the patterns oftransformation experience. I have conducted an in-depth interview with eachinformant. The informants are a female and two males, Canadians in whose livespeople, spiritual exercises, and religion play a significant role in change andmeaning-making. The narratives are derived from in-depth interviews and werevalidated twice by each of the informants. Each narrative is followed by acommentary which includes the researcher’s interpretation. Also there is a synthesisof all three narratives into one general story, with a beginning, a middle, and an end.The beginning state is a depiction of their initial ungratifying and destructivelifestyle. The middle state starts with a crisis point leading into events and feelingsof transformation. The end state is the end result of becoming and mastering someof the inadequacies of their lives. Transformation is viewed as a life-long processinvolving several levels of growth and progress.The study includes three main theoretical implications which address theperson’s movement from a state of meaninglessness to one of meaningfulness andbecoming. The study supports and confirms Franki’s, Assagioli’s andCzikszentmihalyi’s ideas about personal growth, adding several suggestions for theextension of their theories of meaning-formation.159From the point of view of practical implications, this study presents thegeneral story model as an effective informational base for counsellors. Arecommendation to counsellors is the incorporation of Frankl’s and Assagioli’smodels of intervention into their counselling work, along with the extentions to theirtheories suggested by this study.160BIBLIOGRAPHY‘Abdu’l-u-Baha (1844-1921). Promulgation for Universal Peace. Wilmette, IL:Baha’i Publishing Trust.‘Abdu’l-Baha (1909). Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Baha. Wilmette, IL: Baha’i PublishingTrust.‘Abdu’l-Baha (1918). Some Ouestions Answered. Baha’i Publishing Trust,Wilmette, Illinois.‘Abdu’l-Baha (1977). Paris Talk. Addresses given by ‘Abdu’l-Baha in Paris in 19 11-19 12. New Delhi: Bahai Publishing Trust.Assagioli, R. (1965). 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King (Eds.)., Existential-Phenomenological Alternatives forPsychology (pp. 48-7 1). New York: Oxford University Press.Crumbaugh, J.C., Raphael, M., & Shrader, R.R (1970). Frankl’s will to meaning ina religious order. Journal of Clinical sychology,, 206-207.Cunningham, 5. (1983). Spirituality seen as neglected aspect of psychotherapy.APA Monitor, p. 21.Effendi, S.. (1942). Selected Writings of Shoghi Effendi. Wilmette, IL: Baha’iPublishing Trust.Effendi, 5. (1980). World Order of Baha’u’llah. Wilmette, IL: Bahai PublishingTrust.161Einstein, A. (1979). The Human side: New Glimpses from his archives, Selectedand edited by Helen Dukes and Banesh Hoffman. Princeton, NJ: PrincetonUniversity Press.Ellison, C.W. (1983). Spiritual well-being: Conceptualization and measurement.Journal of Psychology-and-Theology, 11(4), 330-340.Franki, V.E. (1959). Man’s search for meaning: An introduction to logotherapy.Preface by Gordon W. Allport. 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The Unheard Cry for Meaning: Psychotherapy and Humanism.New York: Simon and Schuster.(1986-1987). Logotherapy and the challenge of suffering. Review ofExistential Psychology and Psychiatry, 2(1-3), 63-67.Giorgi, A. (1975). An application of phenomenological method in psychology. InA. Giorgi, G.T. Fischer and E.L. Murray (Eds.), Duquesne studies inphenomenological psychology, Vol. 2 (pp. 82-103). Pittsburgh: DuquesneUniversity Press.Grof, S. (1975). Realms of the Human Unconscious. London: Souvenir.Grollman, E. A. (1964). Viktor E. Frankl: Bridge between psychiatry and religion.Conservative Judaism, j9(1), 19-23.162Hadfield, J.A. (1964). Psychology and Morals: An analysis of character. Methuen& Co Ltd.Hammersley, M., & Atkinson, P. (1983). Ethnography: Principles in Practice.London: Tavistock Publications.Hardy, J. (1987). A Psychology with a Soul: Psychosynthesis in EvolutionaryContext. London and New York: Routeledge & Kegan Paul.Harrison, S.M. (1988). Santification and therapy: The model of Dante Alighieri.Journal of Psychology and Theology, j(4), 313-3 17.Hatcher, W.S., Martin, J.D. (1985). The Baha’i Faith: The Emerging GlobalReligion. San Francisco: Harper and Row.Jacobson, G.R.; Ritter, D.P.; Mueller, L. (1977). Purpose in life and personal valuesamong adult alcoholics. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 3(1), 314-316.James, W. (1985). The Works of William James: The Varieties of ReligiousExperience. Harvard University Press.Johnson, P.E. (1961). Logotherapy: A corrective for determinism. ChristianAdvocate, 5(23), 12-13.Kennedy, R. (1986). Religion and psychology. Issues-in-Ego-Psychology, .9(1), 66-73.Kotarba, J.A. (1983). Perceptions of death, belief systems and process of copingwith chronic pain. Social Science and Medicine, 17(10), 681-689.Lovinger, R.J. (1979). Therapeutic strategies with religious resistances.Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice, j, 4 19-427.Lukas, E. (1984). Meaningful Living. 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Narrative Knowing and the Human Sciences. Albany,NY: State University of New York Press.Propst, L.R. (1986). The Psychology of Religion and the Clinical Practitioner.Journal of Psychology and Christianity, 5(2), 74-77.Purdy, B.A., Simari, C.G., & Colon, G. (1983, January). Religiosity, ethnicity andmental health: Interface the 80s. Counseling and Values, pp. 112-121.Reeves, C. (1977). The Psychology of Rollo May. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-BassPublishers.Rogers, C. (1961). On Becoming a Person. Houghton Mifflin.Rogers, C. (1980). A Way of Being. Houghton Mifflin.Ross, C.E. (1990). Religion and psychological distress. Journal for the Scientific-Study of Religion, 29(2), 236-245.Rowan, J. (1990). Spiritual experiences in counselling. British Journal of Guidanceand Counselling, IS(3), pp. 233-249.Rowland, S.J., Jr. (1962, June). Viktor Frankl and the will to meaning. ChristianCentury, 19, 722-724.Schnorr, M.A. (1983). Point: Religion--cause or cure? Perspectives-in-PsychiatricCare, 21(1), 26, 34-35.Shea, J.J. (1975). On the place of religion in the thought of Viktor Frankl. Journalof Psychology and Theory, .(3), pp. 179-186.Singer, I. (1992). Meaning in Life: The Creation of Values. New York: The FreePress.Smith, D.E. (1974). The next decade of dialogue: Religion and health. Journal ofReligion and Health, 13(3), 161-179.Soderstrom, D.; Wright, E.W. (1977). Religious orientation and meaning in life.Journal of Clinical Psychology, 3(1), 65-68.Spilka, B. (1986). Spiritual issues: Do they belong in psychological practice? Yes-but. Psychotherapy in Private Practice, .4(4), 93-100.Strommen, M.P. (1984). Psychology’s blind spot: A religious faith. Counseling andValues, 2S(4), pp. 150-161.164Theodore, R.M. (1984). Utilization of spiritual values in counseling: An ignoreddimension. Counseling and Values,.2$(4), 163-168.Wild, J. (1964). Being, Meaning, and the World. Review of Metaphysics, j, p. 427.Yin, R.K. (1989). Case Study Research: Design and Methods (Rev.). NewburyPark, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.Yoder, J.D. (1989). Logotheraphy: Meaning and intimacy. The InternationalForum of Logotheraphy,12(1), pp. 28-39.165THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIACONSENT FORMThe role of religion in transformation:Its implications for counsellingMitra Khorasani Monsoor Larry Cochran322-1913 Research Supervisor822-6317PurposeTo study and explore the lives of three individual Baha’is who have gonethrough a transformation as a result of adopting spiritual values that has given a newmeaning to their lives.ProcedureThe informants are asked to recall and describe in a series of threeapproximately two-hour audio-taped interview, their experiences of transformation.A written summary of these interviews will be provided to the participants forverification, correction or addition. These procedures will be further described andelaborated on during the interview or at any request.ConfidentialitySince the participants are involved in the verification of all the writtensummaries of information, they have the ability to determine exactly what personalinformation is included in the report. While participants have the right to have theirefforts acknowledged, each participant is free to determine the degree ofconfidentiality desired. Please check your option:_____All personal reference to names or identifying features will be deletedor disguised.Personal references are acknowledged with the understanding thatcertain, specific shared information will be edited or disguised.All tape recordings of interviews will be erased upon completion of this researchproject.Right of refusalAll the participants have the right to refuse or withdraw from participation inthis study at any time.ConsentThe signature below acknowledges consent to participate in this study andreceipt of a copy of this consent form.Participant166+ve0-yeAppendix 2. Life Line306 12yrs. yrs. yrs.18yrs.17yrS.23yrs.28yrs.yrs.167APPENDIX # 3DATA COLLECTION PROCEDURESelection of informantsInitial InterviewTranscription of the individual audio-tapeInterview of second informantInterview of third informantTranscription of audio-tapesDraft of first informant’s narrative accountsInitial validation interviewRevision of the narrative accountReturn narrative account to the first informantSecond validation interviewRepeat for other two informantsRead narratives and identified significant featuresFormulation of commentary for each accountIdentified themes across accountsDraft of general story168APPENDIX # 4OVERVIEW OF THE GENERAL STORYBEGINNINGFeelings of deflationFeelings of alienationFearlack of agencySelf-centeredAbusive lifestylesYearning for something betterMIDDLECrisis point in lifeEstablished friendshipReceived inspiration to changeYearning for a fulfilling lifesearch for unity.aiming to attain higher levels of growth.partial realization of this yearning in religion.Introduced to the Baha’i FaithEngaged in spiritual exercisesPartial realization of a balanced lifeRestoration of belief in religionResolution to improveAdoption of alternate attitudes in unavoidable suffering.New sense of selfENDMeaningful lifestyleMeaningful purposeMeaningful and mature relationshipsSense of belonging or unityArrived at higher levels of growth.169


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