Open Collections

UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

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

Your browser doesn't seem to have a PDF viewer, please download the PDF to view this item.

Item Metadata


831-ubc_1994-0277.pdf [ 2.87MB ]
JSON: 831-1.0054037.json
JSON-LD: 831-1.0054037-ld.json
RDF/XML (Pretty): 831-1.0054037-rdf.xml
RDF/JSON: 831-1.0054037-rdf.json
Turtle: 831-1.0054037-turtle.txt
N-Triples: 831-1.0054037-rdf-ntriples.txt
Original Record: 831-1.0054037-source.json
Full Text

Full Text

THE ROLE OF RELIGION IN TRANSFORMATION: ITS IMPLICATION FOR COUNSELLING  by MITRA KHORASANI MANSOOR  B.A., Univeristy of Pune, 1981 M.A., University of Baroda, 1983  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF  MASTER OF ARTS  in  THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Department of Counselling Psychology)  We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA  May, 1994 ©  Mitra Khorasani Mansoor, 1994  ed in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanc the Library shall make it degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that permission for extensive freely available for reference arid study. I further agree that by the head of my copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted tood that copying or department or by his or her representatives. It is unders allowed without my written publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be In presenting this thesis  permission.  (Signature)  Department of  C  4Jrj ci c.L j .j 4  The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada Date  DE-6 (2/88)  jç  I 99 ‘-/  11  ABSTRACT  A multiple case study approach was used to understand the patterns of transformation from a state of meaninglessness to one of meaningfulness. The informants 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-depth interviews were subsequently written down in narrative accounts of their transformation experiences. These narrative accounts were validated by each informant. Common themes across the accounts were identified and as a final report these themes were synthesized into a general story. The common themes portrayed their movement from meaninglessness and purposelessness to meaningfulness and purposefulness. A meaningful purpose in life gave rise to the informants’ sense of agency in life. The common themes, among other things, emphasized the importance of friendship and belief in God in the transformation experience.  111  TABLE OF CONTENTS  Page Abstract  •  .  •  11  Table of Contents  •  .  .  111  Acknowledgement  V  Dedication Chapter One  Chapter Two  INTRODUCTION  1  Research Question Rationale for the Study Approach  1 3 6  REVIEW OF LITERTTJRE  Introduction Meaning and Spirituality Views of Transformation The Bahai Faith and Transformation Chapter Three  ..8 • 14 • 24 38  METHODOLOGY  48  Design Participants Interviews Procedure Analysis of Accounts  48 48 49 51 51  .  Chapter Four  CASE STUDIES  .  Account I Commentary Account 2 Commentary Account 3 Commentary Chapter Five  •  RESULTS Introduction Themes of Transformation i) Beginning ii) Middle iii) End  •  .  .  .  .  .  •  •  .  .  •  .  •  .  •  •  .  .  54 54 70 75 87 92 133  • 138 .  • 138 • 138 • 139 141 • 147  iv  Page Chapter Six  DISCUSSION  151  Findings Limitations Theoretical Implication Practical Implication Implication for Future Research Summary  151 151 152 155 157 158  .  BIBLIOGRAPHY APPENDIX 1 APPENDIX 2 APPENDIX 3 APPENDIX 4  160 Consent Form Life Line Data Collection Procedure Overview of the General Story  165 166 167 168  V  ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS  I would like to express my gratitude to Dr. Larry Cochran, my research supervisor, whose support to embark on this study generated hope and joy. His valuable guidance, through my study, has been an immense source of strength and confidence. My thanks to the other members of the research committee, Dr. Ray Johnson 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 with me, have not only made this study a possibility but have also enriched my life in various ways. In reminiscing, reviewing, and validating their experiences they take on the roles of co-researchers in this study. To study a phenomena without a supervisor is to sail an uncharted sea; to study it without the co-operation of the informants is to not go to sea at all. My thanks to family members, relatives, and friends for their support and encouragement at various stages of my study. It is important to acknowledge a few of my friends by name. I thank Bahram Gustaspi for his constant support and unceasing challenges that kept my spirits up. My gratitude and appreciation to Muriellie Brauer, who gratiously lent me the use of her computer throughout the course of my study. Her thoughtfulness and unconditional assistance not only eased the production of the printed material but also greatly touched my heart. My special and heartfelt thanks to Mitra Sanai who was there at times I most needed a friend. Her unfailing and constant support and encouragement, during the last months of my study, has been a significant source of strength. My sincere appreciation to Dick and Jane Grover who lovingly volunteered to edit and proof read the printed material.  vi DEDICATION  To  my parents and the soul of my brother, Shiva, who is now a free spirit.  1  Chapter 1: INTRODUCTION Research Ouestion  For centuries, religion served as a viable vehicle for meaning-fulfillment. At present, people seem to suffer from a crisis of meaning. Indeed, a sense of meaninglessness has become pervasive in the world. In assisting people in their search for meaning, counsellors have tended to ignore or neglect spiritual existence. This might be justified to some extent, but counsellors have tended to overlook religion as a way of creating meaning. “There is a cost to the field of psychology in ignoring religion, for it means a loss of understanding and a reduced ability to address pressing social issues adequately” (Strommen, 1984, p. 154). Psychology has neglected an exploration of spirituality due probably to its intangible nature, though it does acknowledge other intangible entities such as selfworth and self-esteem. Researchers have studied these constructs and psychologists use them to explain personality deficiencies, whereas spirituality and religion have been dismissed as factors in personality formation (Theodore, 1984). Yet it is this spiritual aspect that Frankl (1975) contends makes a person whole and that with its exclusion, 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 spiritual aspects” (Frankl, 1975, p. 28). Religion and psychology need not be antagonists but can rather work interactively to create meaning. Psychology can be a more accurate science when it forms a synthesis with religion in its study of human behavior (Strommen, 1984). I am not speaking of a blending of the two fields but in fact a cooperation between the two in the study of meaning. Franki (1969) writes: the essential difference between psychotherapy and religion, is a dimensional difference. Fusion of psychotherapy and religion necessarily results in confusion, for such fusion confounds two . .  2  different dimensions, the dimensions of anthropology and theology. As compared with the dimension of anthropology, that of theology is the higher one in that it is more inclusive. (pp. 143-144) They are two different and independent paths in the formation of meaning which, if united, may yield a more potent result. This research project will study how religion can help individuals to create meaning in their lives and will examine this kind of transformation. It also will investigate how religious awakening can contribute to change from a state of meaninglessness to meaningfulness. The question then posed by this study is: What is the pattern of human experience in the transformation from meaninglessness to meaningfulness? The concept of meaning is a broad and diverse topic. Therefore, to make this study manageable, I have chosen the most prominent theory of meaning used by counsellors, namely logotherapy. A second reason for this choice is Frankl’s acknowledgement of religion as a genuine foundation for the creation of meaning and its contribution to mental health. “Religion provides man with a spiritual anchor, 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 from all strata of society, whether they be agnostic or theistic. It merely forms a bridge between psychology and religion: Logotherapy leaves the door to religion open and it leaves it to the patient whether or not to pass the door. It is the patient who has to decide whether he interprets responsibleness in terms of being responsible to humanity, society, conscience, or God. It is up to him to 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 the  spiritual--which constitutes the noological dimension as distinct from the psychological dimension”. The spiritual or noological dimension is that aspect of the  3  human being that is specific to humans and differentiates humans from animals: “The noological dimension may rightly be defined as the dimension of uniquely human phenomena” (Franki, 1975, p. 13). Frankl (1986) states that ‘a psychotherapy which not only recognizes man’s spirit, but actually starts from it may be 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. The essence 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 or noological dimension of the person. Rationale for the Study:  Humans are beings in search of meaning. Our primary concern is to discover a meaning in life (Franki, 1978). This Frankl calls the “will to meaning”: “What I call the will to meaning could be defined as the basic striving of man to find and fulfill 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 will to decide what they are going to be. Meaning leads to action. Although the religions of today stress that people are saved through a belief in God, they nevertheless suggest 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 in life. Therefore, a person’s conscious actions and cooperation play an important role in their growth. “Fulfillment of the human potential only follows from commitment which is reciprocal.  .  .  Although a right will cannot by itself create holiness, it  appears to be a necessary adjunct to it” (Harrison, 1988, p. 313).  4  Franki (1975) states that being human is being responsible for one’s existence. The problem people seem to encounter today is the frustration of the will to 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 frustration as they did in the age of Adler and Freud. Today they come to see us psychiatrists because of feelings of futility. The problem that brings them crowding into our clinics and offices now is existential frustration, their ‘existential vacuum’. .the existential question of a meaning to life and the existential quest for a meaning to life are haunting people today. (Franld, 1978, p. 23) .  .  The loss or decline of optimal values, in our lives and society, is the major contributing factor to the prevalent feeling of meaninglessness. May (1953) states that “the values accepted as ideal by most people have been those of the HebrewChristian tradition allied with ethical humanism” (p. 50). Such values and goals of the past do not seem to exert their influence as effectively as before. “The upshot is that the values and goals which provided a unifying center for previous centuries in the modern period are no longer cogent” (ThLd., p. 55). The destruction of our values is such that we are engulfed by feelings of loneliness and an inner void which Franki (1967) calls an existential vacuum. Franki (1978) mentions that “the crumbling 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 and consequently has resulted in a feeling of emptiness and loss. It is important to note that meaning in this study also implies one’s purpose in life. Therefore meaning is something akin to purpose. Lack of purpose in one’s life leaves one lost and bewildered. “As soon as a man ceases to have a purpose in life the self begins to disintegrate and fall to pieces” (Hadfield, 1964, p. 72).  5  Purpose embraces a divine aspect, taking in religion as a basis for meaning-its nature is transcendental. Purpose suggests inclusion of and commitment to a higher or “ultimate” meaning. Franki (1969) states that: ultimate meaning, or as I prefer to call it, the supra-meaning is no longer a matter of thinking but rather a matter of believing. We do not catch hold of it on intellectual grounds but on existential grounds, out of our whole being, i.e., through faith. It is my contention that faith 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 and differentiate it from the human world. Although a concrete differentiation is not given by Frankl, he attempts to clarify the separation by analogy. To understand this possibility we need only consider the relation between man and animals. The human world includes the world of the animal. In a way man can understand the animal, but the animal cannot understand man. Now it is my contention that the ratio between man and animal is somewhat similar to the ratio between God 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 this reason is punctured again and again, is not able to grasp the meaning of its suffering, for with its limited intelligence it cannot enter into the world of man, the only world in which its suffering is understandable. Is it not conceivable that there is still another dimension possible, a world beyond man’s world, a world in which the question of an ultimate meaning of human suffering will find an answer? (JbLd., pp. 144-145) The acknowledgement of the existence of an ultimate being can also be observed in Einstein’s writings. Everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the universe--a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble. In this way the pursuit of science leads to a religious feeling of a special sort, which is quite different from the religiosity of someone more naive. (Einstein, 1979, p.33) Although it is the natural instinct of people to reach out for meaning, they seem to be consumed by a loss of meaning. Unfortunately, in psychology, the  6  literature is somewhat lacking in qualitative research (specifically on the Baha’i community) that examines religion as a medium for the creation of meaning. Several quantitative studies have been done in which religion was a variable in mental 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 not complete, and any study that would contribute to the possible improvement of such strategies is important. I hope that this study can contribute to a deeper understanding of the search for meaning as a fundamental part of human existence, and of the role of religious awakening in the creation of meaning as these bear on counselling methods. This can best be achieved through a careful study of the depth of my informants’ transformation experience. Approach I have chosen the case study methodology for four reasons. First, little is known about meaning and transformation and this approach gives a more in-depth study of the transformation experience as narrated by the individual persons. Second, personal reference points are needed to study meaning. These references give 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 or no research has been done using qualitative approaches. Most researchers studying the will to meaning have used the quantitative measures; thus, we need a different perspective from which to study meaning. Qualitative approaches have received too little attention in the study of this phenomenon. Lastly, the importance of such a method in the social sciences cannot be stressed enough: “Empirical study advances only when it is accompanied by logical thinking and not when it is treated as a mechanistic endeavor” (Yin, 1989, p. 12).  7  “It is the meaning of the situation as it exists for the subject that descriptions yield” (Giorgi, 1975, p. 74). Hence, with a detailed description of the experience of transformation, and consequently a more explicit and specific understanding of the spiritual dimension in human nature and in meaning making, researchers and therapists will be better able to facilitate the healing processes of their clients.  8  Chapter 2. REVIEW OF LITERATURE Introduction  From a developmental perspective counselling is a way to help people move toward a more meaningful position in their lives. The beginning position has been variously 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 or enters experience that sets events in motion” (Cochran, 1990, p. 17). At this stage the person is “incomplete”, to use Cochran’s term. The end position is one of psychological health and has been characterized as self-actualization, growth, meaning, becoming, discovery of identity, maturation, self-fulfillment, individuation, productiveness, emotional maturity, autonomy, selfintegration, or completion. People strive towards completeness and attempt to bring events to a closure: “We are beings who seek closure to experience, stamping the stream of life with impresses of meaning” (ibid., p. 19). In between these two points is the therapy process. Theorists are at odds on what constitutes this process of transformation. It has been variously characterized as an educational process, as homeostasis or lack of tension, as an exchange of faulty social values for social interests, as the recognition and correction of debilitating and self-defeating thinking patterns, as behavior modification, as cognitive restructuring, as expansion of the awareness of here-and-now, as gratification of basic 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 often described as an existential vacuum, the end state as that of becoming, and the middle as that of existential anxiety.  9  The existential vacuum, or feeling of meaninglessness, is pervasive in our age (Franki, 1964, May, 1953, Wild, 1964). People find themselves confronted with an inner 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 themselves alienated 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 human existence (Frankl, 1965a; May, 1953). It serves as an indicator of an existing inner conflict that may be constructively resolved (May, 1953): “Anxiety, like fever, is a sign that an inner struggle is in progress. So anxiety is evidence that a psychological or spiritual battle is going on” (p. 44). Existentialists view anxiety as a constructive element that propels people towards becoming and therefore is inevitable to human development. The end state is that of becoming. Individuals who have reached the end state are characterized by their realization and actualization of potentialities and values. They are aware of the limitations of their freedom and are cognizant of their responsibilities in life. They are aware of the choices open to them and do not hesitate to weigh options and make appropriate decisions to overcome difficulties. As agents, individuals are able to make responsible decisions and transcend their predicaments. Becoming results in a heightened awareness of the reality of the human being. People in this state are able to respond responsibly and decisively to the 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 existence in the light of long-term goals that are not purely oriented toward self, but toward expression of man’s fundamental condition of being-in the-world, that is, toward loving participation in a world of others, toward giving as well as receiving. (Reeves, 1977, p. 97)  10  From a constructivist’s perspective, the heart of counselling is meaningmaking. Individuals are seen as subjects whose lives involve inherent meaning. From Cochran’s perspective, meaning involves the capacity to weave experiences into a narrative form. Narratives unify one’s life events and episodes into a whole consisting of a beginning state, a middle, and an end position (Polkinghorne, 1988). Overall, the change from meaninglessness to meaningfulness can be characterized as the transformation of meaning. People move from a position of living that is less meaningful to one that is more meaningful. Meaning is the fundamental dimension of our lives, and yet many counselling approaches, in their effort to enhance the meaning in the lives of clients, have neglected the traditional vehicle of meaning-making, namely religion. For centuries religion has been the framework which people have used or have tended to use to endow life with meaning. Religious principles were invoked in choosing occupations, in the pursuit of those occupations, and in inter-personal relationships such as that between husband and wife. Religion was seen to add a fullness or a meaning to life. A synthesis of psychology and religion is essential for enhancing our understanding of human nature. Einstein asserts that “Science without religion is lame--religion without science is blind.” As well, investigations show that religion is conducive to mental well-being (McClure & Loden, 1982). Other statistical studies have shown that religious individuals have more meaning in their lives than non religious people (Crumbaugh, Raphael, & Shrader, 1970; Paloutzian, 1981). Burbank (1992) conducted an exploratory study to assess meaning in the lives of older adult clients. Among other factors, religion was reported as a crucial force in the creation of meaning in their lives. Kotarba (1983) conducted a survey to determine the role of religion as a source for meaning. The findings indicate that people with chronic pain are able to control their pain cognitively by turning to various religions. Ellison (1983) presents the Spiritual Well-Being Scale (SWBS)  11  which he developed with Paloutzian (1982). The SWBS was developed to examine the 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 between the subjects’ self-esteem and their spiritual health. Jacobson et al (1977) administered the Purpose in Life (PIL) test and the Allport-Vernon-Lindzey study of values (SOV) to a group of alcoholic patients at admission and at discharge to study the relations between existential and religious constructs such as meaning in life, 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 significant correlation between PIL score and the religious scale of SOV on the second administration. Soderstrom and Wright (1977) administered the PIL test to a group of students and concluded that religion is indicative of meaning in life and that religious commitment can assist the youth in their search for meaning in life. A telephone survey also indicated a positive relation between religious belief and psychological health (Ross, 1990). Alongside researchers, theorists also indicate that the neglect of religion in meaning formation is not justified. Maslow (1970) asserts that religion and science need to form a whole in order for either of them to be complete. Isolating two interrelated parts of a whole from each other, parts that need each other, parts that are truly parts and not wholes, distorts them both, sickens and contaminates them. Ultimately, it even makes them non-viable. Such a splitting off of mutually exclusive jurisdictions 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 the history of man” (pp. 163-164). Spilka (1986) points out the important role of religion in providing meaning and enhancing the growth of the distressed. When religion and spiritual values are excluded from counselling, the effective results will be short-term (Cunningham, 1983) and the benefits restricted (Lovinger, 1979).  12  Schnorr (1983) argues that the inclusion of religion and spiritual components in mental health services is crucial to the enhancement of the quality of the client’s life. About the significance of religion in the lives of people, James (1985) writes: Religion, occupying herself with personal destinies and keeping thus in contact with the only absolute realities which we know, must necessarily play an eternal part in human history. [Religious feeling] overcomes temperamental melancholy and imparts endurance to the subject, or a zest, or a meaning, or an enchantment and glory to the common objects of life. (pp. 396-398) Smith (1974) asserts that there is a direct and positive correlation between mental well-being and spiritual growth. The goals of the two disciplines are similar and thus their boundaries seem to be blurred (ibid.). Propst (1986) contends that there is a need for research examining the impact of religious faith on mental health. An intensive empirical approach may bring to light the relevance of religion and spiritual values to counselling. It is important to reflect on the reasons for the omission, rather than the examination, of this traditional vehicle. Religion appeared to be a competitor to the new field of Psychology and had to be eliminated rather than incorporated. The expulsion of religion from meaning-making is mainly a product of historical forces rather than being part of an authentic rationale. For example, religion was seen to be 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 and therefore were seen to be irrational by the scientific world (Maslow, 1970). The church seemed to be very conservative and resistant to any change. The answers to the questions of life given by the church were not considered to be logical and were not intellectually accepted by the scientific world (ibid.). Thus religion was viewed with suspicion and discarded. Therefore, historically, the reaction was against the organized and institutional church, whose belief system was  13  found to be rigid, dogmatic, and irrational. Thus the scientific approach of empirical experimentation was seen to be the only valid approach to the discovery of meaning. Another causal factor in the neglect of religion was the way that, in the course of history, knowledge came to be defined (Hardy, 1987). The scientific world took into account only objective knowledge and experiences and considered subjective knowledge and private experiences to be futile and baseless. True knowledge was perceived to be the objective, variety subject to tests of measurement. Psychology was rooted in empirical experimentation and the focus was on measurement of feelings, emotions, memory, and other psychological phenomena. Objective tests were developed to test these phenomena. Religion was seen as a system of subjective knowledge that was not governed by tests of objectivity (ibid.). The inner state of individuals during some spiritual experiences could not be measured (quantified) and therefore was discarded and categorized as unreal. Since spirituality was an abstract phenomenon that could not undergo the objective tests of scientific knowledge, religion was omitted from the study of human nature. Finally, religion believed reality to lie in the spiritual realm, whereas the scientific world focused on the material realm (James, 1985). The Scientific world saw the notion of the next world and the higher realms of consciousness (that religion expounded as real) as too abstract, unreal, and absurd. To science, reality lay in the world of sensations, of scientific laws and objects. But the vision of psychologists like James surpassed the limitations and bias of the scientific world: The world of our present consciousness is only one out of many worlds of consciousness that exist, and that those other worlds must contain experiences which have a meaning for our life. The total expression of human experience, as I view it objectively, invincibly urges me beyond the narrow ‘scientific’ bounds. Assuredly, the real world is of a different temperament. (p. 408)  14  Although religions were seen to be in enmity with psychology, both disciplines address the same issues. While psychology’s alignment with science has been 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 no way a justification for ruling out the subjectivity of experiences. Perhaps when psychologists are aware of these commonalties and form an integration with religion, 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 in the transformation from meaninglessness to meaningfulness. In this way, some of the significant oversights might be examined and might potentially be incorporated into counselling practice. Accordingly, the first section of this review will be concerned with meaning and spirituality. The second section of this review will be concerned with those aspects of a spiritual transformation that are relevant to counselling. The third section of this review will highlight the factors involved in spiritual transformation according to the Baha’i Faith. This will be preceded by a brief introduction to Baha’i Faith and principles. MEANING AND SPIRITUALITY  Terms such as meaning and spirituality are difficult to specify in any clear way. For this reason it is worthwhile to rely upon a clear statement of the meaning of meaning. One of the clearest statements can be found in the work of Czikszentmihalyi, which is also advantageous because there is a dimension of spirituality in his work. According to Czikszentmihalyi (1990), meaning in life involves three overlapping senses. First, an overall purpose imparts meaning to the lives of people. Second, life is meaningful if we express our purpose in actions through which individuals pursue their life goals with resolution. Third, we have meaning in life if there is a harmony among the various values and spheres of our life: the achievement of inner harmony.  15  People who have a purpose or who follow a significant goal in life find their lives worthwhile and meaningful: A unified purpose is what gives meaning to life. People who find their lives meaningful usually have a goal that is challenging enough to take up all their energies, a goal that can give significance to their lives. We may refer to this process as achieving purpose. (ibid., pp. 216217) This purpose unifies the goals of people’s lives, gives direction to their daily actions and imparts meaning to their experiences. If people have a purpose for which they live, 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 at present, Iranians who gave up and are giving up their lives, convinced that their Baha’i values are worth dying for. The purpose of the lives of these martyers has been to maintain a relationship with God. In an attempt to reach goals in life, we are able to overcome challenges and surmount obstacles that may result in personal transformation of various kinds. Czikszentmihalyi (1990) states: In the lives of many people it is possible to find a unifying purpose that justifies the things they do day in, day out--a goal that like a magnetic field attracts their psychic energy, a goal upon which all lesser goals depend. This goal will define the challenges that a person needs to face in order to transform his or her life into a flow activity. Without such a purpose, even the best-ordered consciousness lacks meaning. (p. 218) Czikszentmihalyi presents four ascending stages, spiral in nature, that individuals undergo in the development of meaning. First, the person is concerned with the safety of the body and the integration of basic needs and goals. At this stage the meaning of life revolves around survival and pleasure. “Self-interest alone will give meaning to life” (p. 222). In the second phase, the meaning in life is derived from compliance with a set of socially determined values which is taken as the standard or the norm: “the  16  welfare of the family, or the company, the community or the nation are the sources of 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 individual detaches from the self and moves towards a unity with others and with “universal values”. “In this final stage the extremely individualized person willingly merges his interest 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 another it is on the other. People do not necessarily go through all four stages in the course of their lifespan: Not everyone moves through the stages of this spiral of ascending complexity. A few never have the opportunity to go beyond the first step. When survival demands are so insistent that a person cannot devote much attention to anything else, he or she will not have enough psychic energy left to invest in the goals of the family or of the wider community. Self-interest alone will give meaning to life. The majority of people are probably ensconced comfortably in the second stage of development, where the welfare of the family, or the company, the community, or the nation are the sources of meaning. Many fewer reach the third level of reflective individualism, and only a precious few emerge once again to forge a unity with universal values. These stages characterize what can happen if a person is lucky and succeeds in controlling consciousness. (ibid., p. 222) The second way life may acquire meaning, according to Czikszentmihalyi, is through individuals’ strong intentions. That is, we actually follow through in our life intending to do certain things. Purpose expresses itself through actions. From this angle, action is the key word for formation of meaning. Active commitment to life  17  goals renders meaning to human existence (ibid.). Individual are responsible for striving towards the goals in their lives by overcoming the obstacles they encounter. Although action will enable individuals to reach their goals in life, Czikszentmihalyi emphasizes the combination of action and reflection as a more productive path towards achievement of these goals. Third, life also acquires meaning when there is a harmony among the various values and spheres of life. People are able to develop a coherent purpose through internalization of human goals and values that have existed from ancient times (Czikszentmihalyi, 1990). The predominant factor is the efforts of the individual to discover and freely choose these values in life. Meaning emerges out of a unity between our actions, feelings, and thoughts (i.e when these three are in accordance to one another). Individuals in the state of harmony seem to encounter a congruency 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 inner harmony that can be observed in people with inner strength, and in those seeming to be at peace with themselves (ibid.). In the midst of confusion that is caused by the wealth of opportunities and choices open to individuals and by pressing responsibilities, 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 it into a seamless flow experience” (Ibid., pp. 217-218). In times of predicament, people may achieve harmony through the interpretations they assign to a crisis and can thus give meaning to their lives  (Franki, 1959; May, 1953; Assagioli, 1965; Czikszentmihalyi, 1990). “To find a purpose in suffering one must interpret it as a possible challenge” (ibid., p. 233). Transmuting the negative into positive or the suffering into a challenge gives meaning to life (Franki, 1965a). A healthy person is one who is determined to  18  overcome challenges, while a neurotic is one who has given in to the challenges and does not seek a way out (Czikszentmihalyi, 1990). The approach individuals take in resolving difficult situations can determine the degree of harmony within their consciousness. “Altruistic way of generalizing solutions brings harmony to the lives of many” (ibid., p. 234). Czikszentmihalyi points out the path by which people can bring meaning and harmony into their lives: The strategy consists in extracting from the order achieved by past generations patterns that will help avoid disorder in one’s own mind. There is much knowledge--or well-ordered information--accumulated in culture, ready for this use. Great music, architecture, art, poetry, drama, dance, philosophy, and religion are there for anyone to see as examples of how harmony can be imposed on chaos. Yet so many people ignore them, expecting to create meaning in their lives by their own devices. (p. 235) Therefore meaning is to be discovered by the person. It can not be invented by the self 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 of connection 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 it the presence of a sense of something divine, something other. It is a sense of connection with divinity. It is a union with an operant force in the universe. It is beyond 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 reason obviously it is capable of being mistaken for hallucination, insanity or something else, yet nevertheless that is the heart of spiritual experience. Spiritual experiences have been divided by Rowan (1990), into nine categories: peak experience, pure energy, real self, self open to others, transcendental self, Deity as multiple, Deity as substance, Deity as process, and The  19  Ultimate. These nine categories are all instances of what James (1985) regards as a sense of something other. What people seem to be referring to in these experiences is a sense of presence--spiritual presence of something more, something else. These categories 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 with the whole”. Rowan (1990) states, At each point we leave one state of consciousness for a higher or deeper or more inclusive state of consciousness, we experience a breakthrough--a peak experience where we suddenly seem to be in contact with the Truth. (p. 236) This is the climax of a blissful state which transports people to higher levels of consciousness and thus may result in some sort of personal transformation. The effects may be so intense that the person may feel overwhelmed and the immediate effects may be mistaken for insanity. Maslow (1970) contends that during this experience the person encounters his true identity, his real self. Rogers (1961) states that people in this state are “fully functioning”. Maslow reports that peak experiences give rise to several emotional and physical reactions. The emotional reactions range from awe, amazement, reverence, and humility to a feeling of smallness, devotion, or surrender to a greater other or force. The physical reactions are of two types: One is total excitement and elation and the other is a sense of relaxation, peacefulness and serenity. Peak experiences are intrinsically valid and are perfect and complete for the person. Second, others have reported spiritual encounters as a “pure energy”, where they find themselves in touch with some overwhelming power or energy. This phenomenal power energizes their whole being and gives renewed strength to their endeavors. Rowan (1990) states that individuals may experience significant surges  20  of 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 be linked with other forms of energy of a more universal kind. Language cannot really capture this one, and unless you have actually had the experience yourself, it may well seem hard to follow, paradoxical or non 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, the inner 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 spiritual experiences for ourselves: we cannot get them from someone else. This is the basic attitude of the mystic in all religious traditions--to get inside one’s own experience, to commit oneself to one’s own experience, to trust one’s own experience. (ibid., p. 237) This is the discovery of who one is. Through the process of self-knowledge, many conflicting situations in life are resolved. The knowledge of real self, the higher self leads to action-creating happiness (ibid.). During this state, we are aware that we are more than body and mind and that in essence the reality of humans is a spiritual one. Fourth, some spiritual experiences has been marked by a feeling of union with 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 experienced by themselves. It is like feeling one with other persons and experiencing their joy and their pain first hand. The traditional religions would term this as “one soul in two bodies”. In counselling situations, one encounters this experience when the counsellor “co-feels” or “co-understands” with the client (ibid.). It is likened to the entry 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 the client’s phenomenal world. The counsellor and client can integrate with one another. The personhood and identity of one can assimilate  21  or fuse with that of the other, and then the counsellor will have experiencings which are also occurring in the client. (p. 238) The transpersonal self is the fifth type of spiritual encounter described by Rowan, in which people experience the qualities of the higher self, higher nature, or the heavenly nature which is divine and sacred. This may result in individuals seeking religious counsel but it does not spare them from weighing options and from feeling a sense of responsibility. People are committed to taking actions, and when individuals realize and actualize values, one may say these individuals are working from 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 specific need in the person. For example, in Japan, there is a god for a corporation who is prayed to and given offerings for a prosperous year. All these god-forms are united to 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 or power, 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. In opening ourselves to his influence our deepest destiny is fulfilled. When we commune with it, work is actually done upon our finite personality, for we are turned into new men. (James, 1985, p. 406) During this incident, individuals feel in touch with the creator and are clear about the difference between humanness and creatorness or finiteness and infinity. Eighth, Deity as process is the feeling of being connected with the Divine on a daily and continuous basis (Rowan, 1990). It is a sense of oneness with the Higher Being, a sense of continuous association with the creator. Individuals are involved in a journey towards true contentment, happiness, and perfection while feeling a proximity to the Divine Being. People, in their union with the supreme reality find a  22  true end (James, 1985). Reading, prayer, and meditation may be ways to keep this ongoing contact alive within individuals: “Prayer or inner communion with the Spirit, is a process wherein work is really done, and spiritual energy flows in and produces effects, either psychological or material” (ibjd., p. 382). Ninth, some spiritual experiences take the form of a sense of nothingness, or humbleness before the infinite force. Individuals acknowledge their divine nature and yet feel nothing: it is the feeling “of being everything and nothing at the same time” (Rowan, p. 239). All these experiences express a sense of connection with the divine. It is  basically that something divine which pervades all these experiences. Spiritual experiences strengthen people and transport them to higher levels of living by opening up new possibilities in life (James, 1985). James sees spiritual experiences as indescribable, productive of knowledge and capable of producing deep and substantial changes within people. These experiences all have a transpersonal quality. Transpersonal experiences are not bound to time and space and transcend the realm of ego in order to tap into higher levels of consciousness (Grof, 1975). It would be difficult to define spirituality any further. Although it is hard to make our definition sharp, it is hoped that the experiences documented may help to elucidate the concept of spirituality. Spirituality plays a key role in meaning and living. First, a sense of spirituality enlarges our sense of purpose. We are not just moving forward in life setting egocentric purposes or goals that benefit a certain set of people but perhaps establishing 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 of meaning-formation, where the individual’s “ultimate goal [would] merge with a system larger than the person--a cause, an idea, a transcendental entity (Czikszentmihalyi, 1990, p. 222).  23  Other 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 is concerned with gratification of physical needs and goals. The meaning in life here revolves around attainment of a comfortable and easy life. “People in a sensate culture organize their goals and justify their behavior with reference primarily to pleasure and practicality rather than to more abstract principles” (ibid., p. 220). They have no regard for the idealized values and shape their purpose around material ends. The ideational phase is contrary to the sensate. They assign little importance to the material and “strive for the non-material and the supernatural ends. They emphasize abstract principles, asceticism, and transcendence of material concerns” (ibid.). Such a purpose would attend to the higher needs of humans rather than to their physical or basic needs. The idealistic phase is a combination of the other two. Individuals or cultures who shape their purpose in idealistic ways acknowledge the good points of each and disregard the negative ones. “They combine an acceptance of concrete sensory experience with a reverence for spiritual ends” (ibid., p. 220). Second, spirituality deepens a sense of intention, where peoples’ daily actions and 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’ intentions as they pertain to the accomplishment of life goals. Spirituality, by expanding our purpose, would help individuals to shape their ultimate goal in an idealistic manner: from both a practical and a transcendental perspective. The idealistic manner is infusion of spirituality into one’s daily activities in life where one not only takes active steps towards accomplishment of goals, but also contemplates life and reflects  24  on 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 are in keeping with such harmony. Spiritual values tend to be holistic rather than particular in nature. In order to establish a harmony, these values and beliefs need to be discovered by the person rather than given to the individual or accepted by people from outside forces (ibi_d.). Spirituality enables individuals to align what ought to be done with what one is willing to accomplish. When an individual is faced with conflicting values, beliefs, choices, and behavior, these holistic values help to restore inner harmony through reasoning and free-will. VIEWS OF TRANSFORMATION Two psychological approaches seem compatible with a religious framework. For the purpose of this study, this review will focus upon Viktor Frankl’s existentialism, namely logotherapy. But since the sense of spirituality and religious values is not explicitly stated in logotherapy, this review will also include the work of Roberto Assagioli, who, in contrast, has explicitly mentioned religion and spirituality as pivotal steps towards change. To avoid a certain fuzziness in language, I will attempt to avoid the unique terminologies of each approach in favour of plain statements of the beginning state, the end state and exactly how the transformation is supposed to take place. The beginning state, according to Franki (1978), is a state of meaninglessness. He asserts that a great sense of meaninglessness and purposelessness has gripped the people of today. The problem of the age is related to life orientation and a lack of a sense of personal meaning in life: “More and more 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 for counselling suffer from a sense of meaninglessness and value conflict; eighty percent  25  of the other problems have a potential connection to the present neurosis. This lack of meaning and purpose in life, she asserts, is indicative of some emotional maladjustment. People in this phase may experience anxiety, depression, apathy or anomie. They lack commitment to a task and are wandering aimlessly, feeling bored and restless. Meaninglessness is accompanied by a feeling of emptiness, an “inner-void”, which Franki (1965b) calls the “existential vacuum”. Existential vacuum, Franki (1969) states, is a spiritual problem entailing a “moral or ethical conflict”: “The doubt whether one’s life has a meaning is an existential despair, it is a spiritual distress rather than a mental disease” (Frankl, 1961a, p. 12). Spiritual or spirituality does not have a religious connotation, rather it indicates the specific human 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 the meaning of being human” (Frankl, 1969, p. 18). This new neurosis is manifested by boredom, despondence, and a dissatisfaction with life in general (thid.). People attempt to fill this existential vacuum 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 and intensifies feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. This feeling of emptiness can have dire consequences such as depression, suicide, violence, addictions, and indiscriminate sexual practices (Lukas, 1984). Existential vacuum, or the feeling of meaninglessness, Frankl (1978) asserts, is a “concomitant of industrialization”. Affluence, “repressed religiousness” and sudden changes in industrialized and technological societies are crucial factors in the rise of this new syndrome. Humans have lost their “instinctual security” and their old sources of anchorage, such as adherence to traditional values and respect  26  for social and family norms (Frankl, 1969). Conformity and totalitarianism have consequently come into prominence, exacerbating the feeling of emptiness (ibid.). Meaninglessness is linked to the modern sense of freedom: “We are free to walk in any direction; there are no barriers. But neither are there guideposts to a goal. 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’ t 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 with responsibility. “Freedom threatens to degenerate into mere arbitrariness unless it is lived in terms of responsibleness” (Frankl, 1969, p. 49). Frankl considers freedom and responsibility to be the constituents of human spirituality. From a general perspective, the demoralization that is caused by the breakdown of traditions and lack of any supporting faith to replace it is the cause of a sense of meaninglessness (Franki, 1965a). Specifically, lack and repression of a sense of responsibility has lead to the existing neurosis (ibid.). This repression impairs the person from finding and developing a sense of meaning in life. Frankl states that if we appeal to individuals’ sense of freedom and responsibility, then we have a chance to overcome meaninglessness. Humans are able to find meaning in life only as they act in a responsible way and commit themselves to the search for their personal task in life. Frankl views this sense of responsibility and meaning seeking to be transcendental--i.e. directed to something beyond ourselves: “We can be responsible only to an entity higher than ourselves” (ibid., p. xxi). Franki gives priority to the spiritual and value-oriented aspect of a person: “Dr. Franki proposes to 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 the  27  midst of life but also stresses the objective reality of values that stem out of the absolute value or ultimate meaning. Humans primarily seek meaning in life (Franki, 1969). The fundamental concern of humans is “the fulfillment of a personal meaning or the encounter with a human 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 be discovered by the individual persons (Franki, 1959). It cannot be arbitrarily given. Meaning transcends the sphere of human beings, it does not stem from the individual person: “Meanings and values stem from a sphere beyond man and above man” (Franki, 1961a, p. 9). Franki advocates a search for the concrete, rather than general, meaning of life which could vary from moment to moment and person to person. In one’s search for meaning, one’s conscience is the guiding light towards meaningfulness (Frankl, 1969). “Conscience could be defined as the intuitive capacity of man to find the meaning of a situation” (ibid., p. 63). One’s conscious enables one to discover the unique meaning of a situation and develop one’s spiritual values. The meaning of life is transcendental and embodies the “selftranscendent” quality of human existence. “Being human is directed, and pointing to something, or someone, other than itself’ (Frankl, 1964, p. 56) By virtue of their search for meaning, humans are distinguished from the rest of the animal world (Lukas, 1984). The discovery of meaning and acquisition of values alleviates the sense of meaninglessness (Franki, 1961a). But it does not spare people from making responsible choices in response to value conflicts (ibid.). Failure to make decisions responsibly will give rise to spiritual neurosis. One’s quest for meaning carries with it a certain amount of anxiety, which is inevitable and essential for personal growth. Mental health is based on the presence of an adequate state of tension, an appropriate tension that holds him steadily oriented toward concrete values to be actualized, toward the meaning of his  28  personal existence to be fulfilled. [This tension] arises from the unbridgeable gap between what a man has achieved and what he could accomplish. The cleavage between what I am and what I ought to become is inherent in my being human and, therefore indispensable to my mental well being. (ibjd., pp. 12-13) Franki goes beyond asserting that the remedy for today’s problem lies in the discovery of meaning. He proposes three ways through which this transformation from meaninglessness to meaningfulness can take place. These he terms “creative”, “experiential”, and “attitudinal” values. Creative values are made manifest through actions 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 in life and is committed to carrying it out. Therefore, meaning comes from fulfilling a task. Franki sees people approaching transcendence through existential acts. Finding meaning through creative accomplishments may be denied to some through illness, disabilities or other unavoidable circumstances. In such cases, people can find meaning by experiencing values and positive emotions: beauty in nature and art, sympathy towards others, or love for another human being. “Franki believes that 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 finds its deepest meaning in his spiritual being, his inner self. (Franki, 1959, p. 37) When people are denied the creative and experiential values, they can discover meaning through attitudinal values. What attitudes people adopt and how they handle their inescapable fate and unavoidable suffering can impart meaning to their existence. Therefore, regardless of the conditions of the person, life offers possibilities and opportunities for the individual realization of values: Life can be made meaningful by what we give to the world in terms of our creation; by what we take from the world in terms of our experience; and by the stand we take toward the world, that is to say by the attitude we choose toward suffering. (Frankl, 1962, p. 9)  29  Attitudinal values rest on two pillars: on people’s self-detachment and selftranscendence. Self-detachment refers to a person’s ability to step away from the self 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 choose their attitudes in order to take steps towards overcoming the problem. Selftranscendence is the ability to rise above oneself and the existing conditions: “Man transcends himself either towards another human being or towards meaning” (Franki, 1969, p. 19). By means of humour, Franki states, people are able to empower themselves to rise above their existing situations. These values, Franki asserts, cannot be understood by intellectual means for they transcend the finite understanding of humans. Attitudinal values bring forth yet another approach to the discovery of meaning: one’s quest for a higher meaning. An ultimate meaning by its very nature exceeds man’s limited intellectual capacity (ibid.). To a religious person or one who comes from a spiritual angle, this higher or ultimate meaning presupposes the existence of a higher Being called God (Groilman, 1964). Frankl (1986/87) calls it the Super-meaning or ultimate meaning: Is it not conceivable that there is still another dimension possible, a world beyond man’s world; a world in which the question of ultimate meaning of human suffering would find an answer? (p. 187) The pursuit of meaning through attitudinal values embodies a deeper spiritual perspective. The utilization of attitudinal values is the basis for a sound philosophy of life which helps individuals cope with the modern neurosis, namely the existential vacuum. Among the three paths of values, the attitudinal values play a 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 a  meaning in it (Frankl, 1965a).  30  The acquisition of values brings the individual person to the end state which Franki terms becoming. The end state is the culmination of one’s search for meaning. The characteristics of meaningfulness are the realization of objective values and the fulfillment of meaning. At this stage the person reaches the state of what he ought to be: “What I ought, however, is the actualization of values, the fulfillment 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 by the individual persons (ibid.). “Values have their moorings in a commitment to an absolute God and His imperishable laws” (Grollman, 1964, p. 22). The person finds life meaningful and self-actualization automatically follows as a side effect of meaning-fulfillment (Frankl, 1964). He finds identity to the extent to which he commits himself to something beyond himself, to a cause greater than himself. No one has put it as cogently as has Karl Jaspers: what man is he ultimately becomes 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 of their genetic make-up, their social environment, or their psychological drives. They are cognizant of the effect of these forces on their make-up and temperament, but acknowledge the power of their spirit in empowering them to transcend these limitations (ibid.). Humans have the potentiality to be good or bad, and the freedom of choice, and not conditions, determines which potentiality is actualized (Frankl, 1962). At this stage people are actively shaping and changing their lives and themselves for the better (Frankl, 1961a). People are aware of their limited freedom, 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 agents moving towards becoming. The gap between what one is and what one ought to be  31  is alleviated and the person reaches a stage of maturity and development (Franlcl, 1964): Stage of maturation and development has been reached where freedom becomes responsibleness. An individual is responsible for the fulfillment of the specific meaning of his own life, he is also responsible to something, be it society or humanity or mankind or his own conscience. A significant number of people interpret their own existence not just in terms of being responsible to something but rather to someone--namely, to God (p. 517). Franki further states “The integration of the subject presupposes direction toward an object”. (Franki, 1961a, p. 13) Frankl’s personal views support religion as a crucial factor in mental health and personal growth. But this is not carried explicitly into his philosophy of logotherapy. Rather, logotherapy maintains a neutral stance towards religion and leaves 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 overtly emphasizes the value of religion and spirituality in the formation and development of personality and mental health. His approach aims more directly towards bridging the gap between psychology and theology (Hardy, 1987). He does not prescribe any specific 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 to meaning-fulfillment. He considers the search towards religious truth as a search towards wholeness (ibid.). The growth of ethical and religious tendencies in people plays a significant role in meaning fulfillment, self-integration, and the development of a harmonious personality (Assagioli, 1965). Meaning can be fulfilled when people are ready to accept the source of knowledge that Assagioli asserts is conducive to human growth: “This source has been known in most of the major religions, and various terms have been used, including Atman, Tao, Suchness, God” (Hardy, 1987, p. 56).  32  Essentially, the inherent quality of Assagioli’s psychosynthesis is spiritual and transcendental in nature. It focuses on the soul and the development of the soul through acquisition of transcendental values and practical means. Assagioli has been audacious in incorporating the concepts of Transcendence (experiencing God as the “other” entity) and immanence (the acknowledgement of the human soul) into that of self-integration. According to Assagioli, the beginning state is that of a feeling of disintegration. People are dissatisfied with life and feel uneasy and are restlessly searching for something to give meaning to their lives. They are questioning the meaning of life and the purpose of all the existing suffering. They find themselves wandering 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 them pleasure. They sense a lack of something in their lives that is compounded by a sense of inner emptiness. People feel empty because they are not in touch with their souls, and thus their deeds are not emanations of their higher feelings and aspirations (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 of human nature. Individual experiences and reactions can vary from depression, intellectual doubt, or spiritual problems to moral crisis (ibId). The crisis of today, Assagioli contends, while it may produce physical symptoms such as insomnia, digestive disorders etc., is a spiritual crisis: The incidence of disturbances having a spiritual origin is rapidly increasing nowadays, in step with the growing number of people who, consciously or unconsciously, are groping their way towards a fuller life. (p. 40). The conflicts are produced by the new awakening tendencies, aspirations, and interests of a moral, religious or spiritual character. (p. 43)  33  These conflicts or the emotional and mental disturbances may be seen as a blessing in disguise, for they are indicative of a prevailing change and growth within the individual. Assagioli advocates a search for the awareness of the “spiritual Center”, or the soul, in humans, which is the causal factor for the synthesis of the human personality. He does not merely attach a religious connotation to the term “spiritual”. Rather, he also encompasses the higher qualities that belong to human nature. We are using the word ‘spirituality’ in its broader connotations which includes, therefore, not only the specific religious experience, but all the states of awareness, all the functions and activities which have as common denominator the possessing of values higher than the average, values such as the ethical, the esthetic, the heroic, the humanitarian, and the altruistic”. (p. 38) The fundamental drive in people, Assagioli asserts, is a need for selfintegration: “The drive towards integration has been rightly described and emphasized 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 the interests of the world takes precedence over the interests of the self. Assagioli’s work is committed to the whole of humankind. He sees the process of integration as growth towards a commitment to the welfare of the world and to selfless service to others. Assagioli’s vision of synthesis is one of unity--unity with others in time and space and a sense of responsibility for the whole: From a still wider and more comprehensive point of view, universal life itself appears to us as a struggle between multiplicity and unity a labor and an aspiration towards union. We seem to sense that whether we conceive it as a divine Being or as cosmic energy the Spirit working upon and within all creation is shaping it into order, harmony, and beauty, uniting all beings with each other through links of 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 either case the end result is self-realization, an inner unity that will help the individual deal effectively with the problems of life (ibid.). “The meaning most frequently given to  34  self-realization is that of psychological growth and maturation, of the awakening and manifestation 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 from disintegration to integration. First, through acquiring a full knowledge of their personality. This includes an objective exploration of the vast regions of the unconscious, i.e. the unexpressed and repressed lower and higher feelings and abilities. The nature and the origin of these repressed materials must be explored and analyzed objectively. Psychoanalysis can be of help in determining the lower qualities of the unconscious region that impede the progress of the person. “It is possible to penetrate the pit of our lower unconscious by the use of the methods of psychoanalysis” (ibid., p.21). Spiritual discipline and awareness can help people identify their repressed higher abilities and potentialities which can enhance growth towards self-realization (Assagioli, 1965). In this first stage, repression is counteracted 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 process of disidentification. The client identifies with the higher qualities and disidentifies or disassociates with the lower qualities or negative feelings. The negative forces of the unconscious need not be suppressed, rather one needs to detach oneself from these negative feelings, thus empowering one to bring about the desired changes. In situations where these negative forces cannot be eradicated, individuals need to control and utilize them for positive and constructive purposes. Transformation, at this stage, is through “coordination and subordination of the various psychological energies and functions” (Assagioli, p. 29). The focal point of the second stage is the freedom and activation of the human will and personal choice. Therefore change  35  can occur by transmuting the negative energies into positive ones. Assagioli asserts that religion and spiritual awakening empowers individuals to bring about this change: Important teachings and examples concerning the doctrine and practice of this transformation of the inner energies can be found in the yoga of the Hindu, in Christian mysticism and asceticism and in works on spiritual alchemy, while some points have been contributed by psychoanalysis”. (ibid., p. 28) The success of the second stage is dependent on the awareness of one’s spiritual 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 personal consciousness 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 to the maturation of the person; the active steps on the part of the individual coupled with various appropriate counselling techniques such as art, visualization, imagery, dream analysis, etc.; or in an indirect way through dedication to another being or a cause outside themselves. In one’s journey towards this synthesizing spiritual Center, or the soul, Hardy postulates seven steps through which one can become aware of and foster the growth of the self or the soul. They are: heroic deeds such as selfless service to humankind, love for another person, unconditional sacrifice, awareness and appreciation of the higher qualities and virtues of other human beings, genuine and systematic investigation of the source of life and the physical world leading to the conviction of the existence of God, devotion to the process of union with God through love, and participation in rituals and ceremonies. Spiritual discipline and counselling techniques can foster one’s awareness and growth of the soul 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 make  36  systematic plans and take active steps towards transformation, while others follow their intuition, allowing change to occur in accordance with the unfolding of their soul 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 as possible, the obstacles and resistances inherent in their personality; by widening the channel of communication with the higher Self through aspiration and devotion and then letting the creative power of the Spirit act, trusting and obeying it. Some take a similar attitude but express it in a different way; they speak of tuning in with the cosmic order, 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, both paths could be incorporated and balanced out through evocation, autosuggestion, and creative affirmation, coupled with a systematic training of the weaker faculties such as memory, imagination, will, etc. (Assagioli, 1965). In the arena of life, Assagioli contends, there is a constant battle between the lower and higher natures of human beings. And in their pursuit of meaning and integration, people struggle to allow their higher nature to dominate the lower nature, become conscious and aware of the Self, and attain a spiritual consciousness and a union with the cosmic force (ibid.). Thus, Assagioli contends, a knowledge of God, knowledge of the self, and performance of altruistic deeds are the guideposts along 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 latter to “the experience and awareness of the synthesizing spiritual Center”, namely the soul. Hardy writes: The self-actualizer is the person who, in psychosynthesis terms, has come to know the different parts of him or herself from a secure center. This self-actualizing person can live out freely, without fear, and do what he or she intends to in the world in a reasonably well harmonized way. These people tend to be ‘doers’ rather than meditators or contemplators. (p. 47)  37  Assagioli calls the end state self-integration or synthesis. The fulfillment of the higher potentialities in human nature, through practical and spiritual means, is indicative of the move towards integration (Assagiolli, 1965): “The larger and higher interests act as a magnet which draws up the ‘libido’ or psychic energy invested in the ‘lower’ drives” (jbjd., p. 51). The end state is not only an end but also a means to an end, for the process of growth and integration continues till the end of one’s life (Hardy, 1987). People at this state are aware that the search for meaning and the struggle towards synthesis and integration is a difficult and life-long process: Man’s spiritual development is a long and arduous journey, an adventure through strange lands full of surprises, difficulties and even dangers. It involves a drastic transmutation of the ‘normal’ elements of the personality, an awakening of potentialities hitherto dormant, a raising of consciousness to new realms, and a functioning along a new inner 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 transcendental and immanent qualities of life and are committed to actualizing the higher qualities and to removing or channelling the negative qualities which impede growth and integration. In describing the state of an integrated individual’s consciousness, Assagioli (1965) states: It is a state of consciousness characterized by joy, serenity, innersecurity, a sense of calm power, clear understanding, and radiant love. In its highest aspect it is the realization of essential Being, of communion and identification with the Universal Life. (p. 53) Therefore, synthesis or integration has several dimensions: first, it means being in touch with what Assagioli terms human nature, namely the soul or the higher self; second, recognizing and realizing the beauty and the soul in other beings and being aware of the transcendent and immanent qualities of life; third, strengthening the higher qualities or values and thereby working towards what one ought to be; fourth, living with an attitude of sacrifice, love and service towards  38  other beings; and finally, being committed to the tasks undertaken and exercising the human will in moving towards this synthesis. Thus it is obvious that Franki and Assagioli have both emphasized freedom and exertion of will as important components towards transformation. Though Franki acknowledges the repressed religiousness in every person, unlike Assagioli, he does not directly utilize it as a source of meaning-fulfillment and mental well being. Although both philosophies are spiritual in nature and focus on the potential of the spiritual aspect of human nature, Frank! focuses on the role of the immanent qualities of life in the process of change, while Assagioli brings in the transcendental and 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 of human responsibility in transformation. THE BAHA’I FAITH AND TRANSFORMATION The Baha’i Faith is a distinct religion based entirely on the teachings of its founder, Baha’u’lIah (The Gloiy of God). Baha’u’llah (1817-1892) proclaims that the Baha’i Faith is not a sect of any religion but is an independent divinely ordained religion like other major and recognized religions such as Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, etc. The Baha’i Faith may be considered to be the most recent chapter in the book of religion. The writings of Baha’u’!lah, which comprise of over one hundred books, cover a broad spectrum of human and social issues and needs. His books and manuscripts were written between 1853 and 1892 and cover a variety of topics such as the theme of progressive revelation of religions, principles of human life and conduct explaining the nature and purpose of life, laws and ordinances applicable for this age, the establishment of social and administrative institutions, the devotional, the mystical, the philosophical, and the historiographical (Hatcher and Martin, 1985).  39  The 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 are the 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 by one 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 the comprehension of the human mind. Second, the Oneness of Religion is indicative of the unity of religions. The Baha’i Faith teaches that all the revealed religions are derived from one common source called God. Baha’u’llah in his book, Gleanings, states “These principles and laws, these firmly-established and mighty systems, have proceeded from one Source, and are the rays of one Light. That they differ one from another is to be attributed to the varying requirements of the ages in which they were promulgated” (pp. 287-288). This indicates that religious truth is relative and progressive. Baha’u’llah, elsewhere, in the Book of Certitude asserts that all the prophets of God “abide in the same tabernacle, soar in the same heaven, are seated upon 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 comparative potency of their light” (p. 104). Third, the Oneness of humankind has several implications. First, it means that all people--irrespective of colour, race and nationality--are equal in the sight of God and are given the same basic God-given qualities. Second the whole human race is viewed as one organic unity, which is the highest form of God’s creation, and is moving towards progress and maturity as a unified entity. The pivot of Baha’u’llah ‘s teachings is the unity of humankind. This unification will involve the birth of a global society. Baha’u’llah advocates a unity in diversity and not uniformity: a unified body which preserves the differences between the various cultures and ideas. Shoghi Effendi (1897-1957), the appointed guardian and  40  interpreter of the teachings of the Baha’i Faith in his book World Order of Baha’u’llah, gives us a clear view of this principle: The principle of the Oneness of Mankind--the pivot round which all the teachings of Baha’u’llah revolve--is no mere outburst of ignorant emotionalism or an expression of vague and pious hope...Its message is applicable not only to the individual, but concerns itself primarily with the nature of those essential relationships that must bind all the states and nations as members of one human family...It implies an organic change in the structure of present-day society, a change such as the world has not yet experienced....It calls for no less than the reconstruction and the demilitarization of the whole civilized world....It represents the consummation of human evoluion--an evolution 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 expanding later 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 around the 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 of some 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 all forms of superstition and prejudice, teaches that the fundamental purpose of religion is to promote concord and harmony, that it must go hand-in-hand with science, and that it constitutes the sole and ultimate basis of a peaceful, an ordered and progressive society. It inculcates the principle of equal opportunity, rights and privileges for both sexes, advocates compulsory education, abolishes extremes of poverty and wealth, exalts work performed in the spirit of service to the rank of worship, recommends the adoption of an auxiliary international language, and provides the necessary agencies for the establishment and safeguarding of a permanent and universal peace. (pp. 1-2) The primary or basic principles of the Baha’i Faith address the problems and difficulties of people today. The Baha’i writings describe the beginning state as lack of spirituality. According to the Baha’i writings the dilemma of today is caused by a loss in religious belief and an alienation from God. People seem to have lost touch with spiritual values and find no meaning or purpose in their existence. The present  41  problem is mainly manifested by a lack of unity. Disunity within oneself and among the peoples of the world. People live in a state of spiritual starvation and ignorance which manifests itself in moral degradation and frivolous conduct. They live in a spirit of competition and are hungry for power. They are attached to worldly objects and are excessively preoccupied with material gains which is viewed as a hallmark of success and achievement. In this competitive society people have become alienated from 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 why people do not find the traditional religions fulfilling: first, the teachings of these religions are limited to the understanding and maturation of the people of that particular 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 the founding figures of these religions. This has resulted in dogmatism, transforming these religions from a position of relative truth into absolute, fixed and indisputable institutions. ‘Abdu’l-Baha (1844- 1921), the son and appointed interpreter of the writings of Baha’u’llah, in his book Paris Talk, states: “Any religion that contradicts science or that is opposed to it is oniy ignorance--for ignorance is the opposite of knowledge” (pp. 130-13 1). The Baha’i writings indicate that a harmony between two capacities is essential for the realization of growth and maturity: The physical and the inner spiritual powers. The Baha’i view holds that the body is an instrument for the soul during its growth process in this earthly world. Physical needs and wants must be controlled and channeled positively in order for this growth to become a reality; one does not need to suppress them. The prerequisite for the development of the inner spiritual capacities is the recognition of the manifestation of God and adherence to his laws and ordinances. Shoghi Effendi contends that human effort and  42  responsibility play crucial roles in recognizing and accepting the Manifestation of God. He states that these inner spiritual capacities can be systematically developed through prayer, meditation, study of the writings of the manifestations of God, and active service to humankind. The spirit, rather than the amount, of prayer and service is a crucial factor in transformation. The spiritual capacities that empower individuals to grow and change are knowledge, love, and goodwill. The first pertains to the power or capacity of knowing. The second refers to the capacity of the heart or feelings, among which the most noble of feelings is love. The third alludes to the capacity for initiation and positive action. Baha’u’llah states that God’s greatest gift to humankind is the power of human reasoning and understanding. The human power of understanding entails the above three crucial spiritual capacities, which are ranked thus: knowledge is first, love is second and third is will or action. A harmonious functioning of all three is essential for growth. These capacities empower individuals to move from the beginning state to the end state. ‘Abdu’l-Baha, in Some Answered Ouestions, states: That which is the cause of everlasting life, eternal honor, universal enlightenment, real salvation and prosperity is first of all, the knowledge of God.., second, comes the love of God, the light of which shines in the lamp of the hearts of those who know God.... The third virtue of humanity is goodwill which is the basis of good actions. (pp. 300-302) Therefore, knowledge in this context refers to the knowledge of God. The Baha’i writings acknowledge that the purpose of life is the attainment of knowledge of God. Baha’u’llah in Gleanings claims: “The purpose of God in creating man hath been, and will ever be, to enable him to know his Creator and to attain His Presence” (p. 70). The knowledge of God, in the Baha’i view, is the same as the knowledge of self. Self-knowledge is a clear and vivid understanding of the limitations and powers of the self. Through knowledge of God humans get an  43  insight into their reality, namely the soul. The knowledge and understanding of one’s reality is the first step towards transformation. The Baha’i writings further state that due to human limitations, people can not comprehend the absolute reality of God or even of their own spiritual reality, the soul. Although knowledge of God is unattainable by the finite mind of human beings, ‘Abdu’l-Baha states that knowledge of the manifestations of God is like knowledge of God, for in them lie the bounties and attributes of God. Towards the attainment of this ultimate knowledge, ‘Abdu’l-Baha in his book, Some Answered Ouestions states: “Knowing God means the comprehension and the knowledge of His attributes, and not of His Reality. This knowledge of the attributes is also proportioned to the capacity and power of man; it is not absolute” (p. 221). From this realization comes a feeling of humility towards that Higher Power. The challenge of life for all individuals is to align their will to the will of God. The Baha’is view the unavoidable sufferings in one’s life as divine tests that come to humans for the sole purpose of the maturation of the soul and to help individuals align their will to the Divine will. The Baha’i writings state that unavoidable suffering enables mental and spiritual advancement, for it is through such dire straits that people turn to God, learn to attach themselves to Him and detach themselves from this world. But The Baha’i Faith does not suggest that people actively seek pain in the path towards spiritual growth. The Baha’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 of change. The highest form of love is love of God and obedience to His laws and ordinances not out of fear but out of a love for Him. ‘Abdu’l-Baha in his book Promulgation of Universal Peace mentions: “The love of God alone will attract them. ...the power which moves, controls and attracts the hearts of men is the love of God” (p. 239). It also indicates a love for other human beings--not a narrowly  44  sensual 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 be courageous in times of difficulty and thereby develops their motivation and desire to take appropriate steps towards change and growth. This internal change manifests itself through our actions. Love causes intention (i.e. it creates the whereabouts of an intention) and consequently goodwill by which people are motivated to act appropriately. Love motivates people to be of service to others. Therefore knowledge, love, and one’s intentions manifest themselves through one’s good-will and actions. Human will, according to the Baha’i view, is seen in the context of goodwill, through which emanates positive actions and moral behavior. Through continuous repetition of one’s actions, one is able to internalize the specific values that are being learned until they become a part of the person. ‘Abdu’l-Baha in Some Answered Ouestions, states that good actions by themselves do not suffice for growth and development: though a good action is praiseworthy, yet if it is not sustained by the knowledge of God, the love of God, and a sincere intention, it is imperfect... if to the knowledge of God is joined the love of God, and attraction, ecstasy and goodwill, a righteous action is then perfect and complete”. (p. 302) The middle stage of transformation is the result of one’s active efforts and sense of responsibility. Although human capacities impose certain limitations on the attainment of self-knowledge, they can still identify their weaknesses and strengths and bring them into harmony. For this development humans have full responsibility. Baha’u’llah in Gleanings states: “All that which ye potentially possess can, 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 will be his progress” (pp. 8 1-82). The Baha’i writings indicate that spiritual growth and  45  maturation is not a static phenomena. It is an eternal journey that continues after a person’s departure from this mortal world. Baha’u’llah states that the attainment of spiritual values is endless and continues, in all the worlds of God, after the soul has been severed from the body. Spirituality and refinement of character, the Baha’i writings further mention, is a long and arduous journey evoking the daily strivings of individuals, which activate their free will. In summing up the middle state, it is apt to quote Abdul-Baha on how transformation can take place: First, through the knowledge of God. Second, through the love of God. 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 these forces and attains to these requirements he will surely be deprived of the life that is eternal. (Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 226) The end state is characterized by spiritual awakening through a conscious belief in the manifestation of God. People in this state strive to realize and manifest virtues and perfections: knowledge, love, and will reach their peak points. Knowledge is manifested in truth, which is attained at two levels: first, truth as  truthfulness. The Baha’i writings state that the foundation of all human virtues is truthfulness. ‘Abdu’l-Baha states “Without truthfulness, progress and success in all the worlds of God are impossible for any soul” (Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, 460). p. Second is the search after truth, which is comprised of a search for the manifestation or prophet of God for that age. The Baha’is believe that reasoning needs to be applied to all aspects of human existence, be they spiritual or material. Those in this state respond positively and are obedient to the will of God. In doing so, they do not take a passive stance in the world but rather assume a greater sense of responsibility, human volition, and personal control. Although they are agents of life, they recognize their limitations and humbly submit their will to the will of a much higher sustaining force, namely, God.  46  The culmination of love is unity: unity with others and a sense of inner-unity within oneself, where one’s actions, feelings, and thoughts are in perfect harmony. This transformation leads to a well-balanced and harmonious personality and an inner-unity. People in this state also aim for a global or organic unity. Baha’u’llah in Gleanings states that one of the duties of individuals is to enhance or work towards the establishment of world unity. Unity and cooperation are the hallmarks of people in this state, for these qualities are conducive to spiritual growth. Spiritual growth and maturation, according to the Baha’i writings, involve both an individual and a collective phenomena. The collective phenomenon indicates the growth of a society which is conducive to the growth of individuals. The acme of human will is service. People in the end state perform acts of selfless service to humanity. The individual’s spiritual growth takes place in the context of the society the person lives in and interacts with. A person at this state demonstrates a high sense of social conscience and is keenly aware of his duties and responsibilities towards society and thereby shows initiative in providing service to the society. In describing the state of an individual in the last stage, after that individual has recognized the manifestation of God, Baha’u’llah, in the Book of Certitude states: Only when the lamp of search, of earnest striving, of longing desire, of passionate devotion, of fervid love, of rapture,, and ecstasy, is kindled within the seeker’s heart, and the breeze of His loving-kindness is wafted upon his soul, will the darkness of error be dispelled, the minds of doubts and misgivings be dissipated, and the lights of knowledge and certitude envelop his being. At that hour will the mystic Herald, bearing the joyful tidings of the Spirit, shine forth from the City of God resplendent as the morn, and, through the trumpet blast of knowledge, will awaken the heart, the soul, and the spirit from the slumber of negligence. (pp. 195-196) In conclusion, the growth from the beginning state to the end state involves three main steps. First, people become aware of their situation and how they function at that level of existence. Second, people assess the level of their  47  intellectual, emotional, and behavioral maturity. They analyze the level of maturity of their three inner spiritual capacities, namely, knowledge, love, and will. Third, taking the writings of the manifestations of God as their yardstick, they refine their character and correct any inadequacies they observe within themselves. Spiritual growth is an educational process where people learn to think, feel, and act in an appropriate manner that is consonant with their spiritual reality.  48  Chapter 3. METHODOLOGY  Design: The design of this research falls within the multiple case study strategy. Each case study is regarded as a single experiment. The data derived from one case can be tested and verified by other cases. Across the series of cases, themes are tested by replication. This study has utilized narrative accounts to portray the transformation from meaninglessness to meaningfulness. Across the narrative accounts of informants, common themes have been derived and as the final report of the study these themes have been composed into a general story. Participants: The participants in this study consisted of three Baha’is: a female French Canadian and two male Canadians of diverse cultural backgrounds, namely a native and a Caucasian, ranging in age from 31-46. I followed Colaizzi’s (1978) criteria for the selection of the participants of the study. According to Colaizzi, “experience with the investigated topic and articulateness suffice as criteria” (p. 58). The first criteria is that the informants should have experienced some sort of substantial transformation in their life. In order to ensure that the interested individuals met the criteria, I explained to them the nature of the research in detail and they felt confident that they met the criteria. I had heard of one participant’s transformation by word of mouth. All three expressed an interest in the research and were willing to participate in it. Secondly, all the three individuals were able to express themselves and clearly articulate their story. To Colaizzi’s criteria one more was added: the availability of the volunteers. I found my samples through referrals from people who were aware of my study, or through my own personal contact with friends, explaining to them the nature of my research. Initially, seven individuals expressed an interest in participating in the research. One moved out of the country, and one did not meet  49  the criteria of availability. One informant was later omitted from the study. After I interviewed 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 used for the study. The informants played a crucial role in reporting the relevant information for the study and validating the narratives. Their role was like that one of “highly effective research assistant[sj” (Hammersley & Atkinson, 1983, p. 188). The informants’ important role in this study makes them the authority of their life experience. Interviews: The three individuals were initially contacted in person. The study included three unstmctured audio-taped interviews plus several telephone conversations with each of the informants. The duration of each interview varied with the informants and was dependent on the nature of their experience, their ability and willingness to talk, and their perceptiveness. The one-shot interview does not empower the researcher to give adequate attention to particular circumstances of the informant’s life and therefore does not portray the essential or vital contextual basis for a satisfactory or suitable interpretation (Mischler, 1986). Thus the personal contact between the researcher and the informants in this study was a crucial factor for establishing a relationship between the two and sharing contextual understanding. A relationship had already been established with the informants prior to the first interview. During the first interview I familiarized the informants with the nature of the study and resolved any of their initial questions. The issue of confidentiality was addressed. I reminded the informants about the importance of  50  obtaining as much detail about their transformation experience as possible; if there was any information that they did not want publicized, it would be helpful to the study if they could share it with me in confidence and I assured them that their privacy would be respected. The informants agreed to comply with this request, though two of the informants wanted to maintain their confidentiality by not including their own names in the study. Some experiences were also kept confidential and are not included in the study. Each individual signed a consent form expressing their willingness to participate in the study. A copy of the consent form given to informants, is presented in Appendix # 1. Then the interview proceeded with the gathering of information regarding their transformation experiences. The informants were asked to relate their transformation experience in three chronological phases: their experiences prior to their transformation, during their transformation, and after the transformation. Before embarking on their story, informants were asked to draw a life-line that would show their life prior to, during, and after transformation. A life-line is a line drawn across a page where individuals put key events in chronological order. As an example, one of the informant’s (Darry) life-line is included in Appendix # 2. The use of the life-line was intended to assist the informants in organizing their thoughts and sequences of the events. They were asked to start anywhere on the line before the transformation. During the interview open-ended questions were asked to gather in-depth information and clarification of the informants’ experience. I asked the informants to relate any specific events which would help me understand their movement towards transformation. Except where situations demanded questions for clarification, my main role was that of an active listener. The second interview was used for the validation of the first draft of the narratives and for clarification of any questions that the informants or I had  51  regarding the accounts. The third interview was used for a final validation of the narratives. Procedure: I started recruiting individual persons for the study in September 1990. The interviews, transcriptions of the audio tapes, drafting of the case studies and the two validations of the first informant’s case story were done between January 1991 and October 1991. At this stage there was a drastic delay caused by an unexpected tragedy in my life that unknowingly and progressively debilitated me over time--my way 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 case studies to the remaining informants for verification. I then embarked on identifying the significant features in each narrative account, formulating a commentary for each account, which includes my interpretations of the narratives, followed by identification of the common themes across the accounts; this culminated in the write-up of the general story. Appendix #3 includes an overview of the data collection procedure. Analysis of accounts: When the first informant volunteered to take part in the study we met for the first 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 conducted the second interview, followed by the third one. I then concluded the transcription of the audio tapes of the interviews of all three informants. In order to gain a deep understanding 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, re reading the transcripts, and holding several phone conversations with the first informant, I was ready to write down the narrative of his experience. I prepared a  52  draft of the narrative and took it to the informant for validation. The informant modified and edited the narrative and returned it to me. I then revised the narrative and made the necessary changes and returned it to the informant for a second verification at which time no revisions were required. After the second verification of the first informant’s narrative, I started the same procedure with the second and the third informants. I then re-read the narratives and highlighted the significant features of each of the accounts. At this point, through extensive discussion with my research supervisor, I arranged the features into clusters of themes. A theme is a commonality among accounts that reflects experiences of individuals. In the final step I drafted a general story of the transformation experiences of the three informants. Appendix # 4 includes an overview of the general story. Design tests The tests that are related to case study approaches concern validity and reliability. Yin (1984) lists them as construct validity, internal validity, external validity, and reliability. Construct validity ascertains the rationality of an account or the strength of a description through establishing correct operational measures for the concepts being studied. Yin (1984) has noted three case study tactics for increasing the construct validity of a study. The first is the use of a multiple case study approach, as in this study. The second tactic is the establishment of a chain of evidence. This was followed through direct linkage of the inference to the collected data. The third tactic is to include the informants in the review of the draft case study report, a procedure that was followed in this study as the narrative accounts were reviewed twice and validated by the informants. The second test-- internal validity--is not applicable to this study. Yin states that this test is appropriate only for explanatory or causal studies because it deals with the causal relationships whereby certain conditions are seen to lead to other  53  conditions as opposed to a spurious relationship. This study, being a descriptive case study, does not require this test. The third test, as noted by Yin, is external validity. This deals with the issue of knowing whether the findings of a specific study are generalizable beyond that particular case study. Case studies do not rely on statistical generalization, as does survey research, but on analytical generalization. In analytical generalization the results are generalized to a theory where logic is used to describe specific ideas or experiences. 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 the patterns of transformation from a meaningless state to a meaningful state in life. The fourth test is that of reliability. Yin defines reliability as the demonstration that the operation of a study (for example the data collection procedures) can be repeated yielding the same 1ata. The procedures followed to collect this data has been carefully written down for replication of this study by other researchers. It is important to note that this definition of reliability may not be appropriate for the study, as researchers play a crucial role in the research and another researcher would elicit a different type of relationship with the informants. This study is reliable inasmuch as it assumes the meaning of trustworthiness and the researcher’s reflection of the informants’ experience in an honest and accurate manner, acknowledging one’s biases and point of view.  54  Chapter 4. CASE STUDIES INFORMANT #1 Background: Darry was born in a catholic family and although he tried to be a good catholic he found life and the world in general unjust. He remembers his childhood as an unhappy period in his life. He feared his father’s anger and thought he was often unjustly blamed and punished by his parents. He says, “It was awful...I remember 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 not have a positive view about women; and he did not believe in the existence of God and religion. In describing himself and his state, he relates “I was quite a street person. I would stay in hotels and I’d have my little apartment but I’d walk down the main streets at night and smoke up in the alley ways and hang around with...some fairly rough characters.. ..I guess that is how I was. I was a fairly rough character at that time. But I never got into very many fights. That is one thing I was able to avoid. I didn’t like the idea of pain too much or bleeding so I stayed away from those. And.. .women too. It goes up and all gets intermingled together”. The kind of company Darry kept seemed not only to be rough but also abusive. He says, “...a lot of people I knew...thought in quite abusive ways, like abuse alcohol, abuse women and just go out and get what you can get and forget the rest because nothing else really matters.” At the age of seventeen, in order to maintain his mental and emotional sanity, Darry got into alcohol and drugs. He looks positively at the initial stages of the experience. He affirms, “Drugs and alcohol were a good thing for me to get  55  into...I don’t know it wasn’t too bad. It actually was not a bad time in life compared to anything I’d felt previously....ya, it was quite fine....Here is how I explain it....The emotions are always trying for some sort of balance....It is their natural thing to try and maintain some sort of balance, and When they are out of balance constantly it is very very very difficult for them to get into balance. ...And quite often they get so far out of equilibrium that they need to be helped somehow. I think a close friend would have helped at this time...or something stable”. After a couple of years, in his working environment, his views towards consumption of drugs took a different stand. He mentions, “...when I was working I hit quite a low point...I used a lot of alcohol and drug to maintain a...balance while I was working there. Somewhere in there I hit a sort of really low point. I can remember becoming more and more reliant on drugs especially marijuana. I guess I was reliant, but it is more accurate to say [that] I used them as a tool but after a couple of years they started using me back. I don’t think I was ever physically addicted. That was quite a low point I hit there.. ..when you wake up feeling really empty...You go to work put your days work in and you come are just going through the motions, there is nothing there”. Darry’s initial attitudes towards women were derived from his brother’s books. He viewed women as sex objects. This attitude was heightened when he became a Street person. He states, “....the first...attitudes that I developed towards women came largely from my brother’s play boy books....When we were 13 and 14 we used to go and look at them and read them. This was largely what I thought women were...I would see women in very submissive poses and you’d read the little letters and it sounded like they were sex machines.... [at the beginning of] high school you learn that this is not really true...I didn’t know what was true. ...what I came to realize is that whenever you sleep with a girl an emotional bond is goes with the territory.. ..and every time you break up with her.. .that gets severed...and  56  you can get...scarred tissues on your heart....after a while your heart becomes numb to that feeling and you can go through relationships [and] it does not affect you....It does not painful... [you] get it together [and] form a bond, [and then] break the bond....It just works like that....and [therefore] through high school [through] to the time I was working ...I [had] girl friends and  ...  [changed] girl friends as the need  came up and so largely...women started fitting the role that I had in my mind, the model...that they were very good for a sexual relationships and good to have fun with 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 women and a good time and party... .and that was sort of the pinnacle. I really thought that this was it, but it wasn’t. In fact I can remember that there was this girl that we’d meet once a week...and we did not know each other that well but we were quite physically attracted to each other and we’d get together for a physical relationship once a week....One night I went over there and we started sort of getting intimate.. .and after a while it was like I wasn’t even there doing it. I was standing in the 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 just walked out of the door and I never ever called her back or even phone her to tell her [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  “  had hit pretty well a low point with drug and alcohol...I was using them a lot everyday after work...and feeling empty....That was about the age of 22....And I told you about the relationship with women and especially that one that I discussed....that left me with a horrible feeling ...a horrible feeling...empty empty feeling....To think that you are touching that intimately and not even touching inside....It is a lonely feeling....I didn’t know how to stop....I had girl friends after  I  57  her...I didn’t know how to stop....I thought this was the pattern of my life....I could see no way breaking through that pattern. ...It was not good. In fact it is quite bad but I don’t know anything better really...”. Darry had associated religion with the church. Therefore, around the age of seventeen, he gave up on religion and God because he found the expectations of the church to be unrealistic. He states “...It was completely impossible to live up to the expectation of religion...and I thought if this is what God wants of people then he is not very reasonable. And then you start to think that really could He possibly exist if He is this unreasonable...this unfair....To a large degree that was it. There was another aspect that bugged me a lot. [In the church] they teach you that God is big and great and wonderful and that He is everywhere and that He is quite awesome and large and then they have something called tabernacle....that is where they keep the host for when they give the communion.. ..And then we’d rather say that God is in that tabernacle and this does not jive. God is this all knowing, all omnipotent being and then He is under lock and key in this tabernacle and the minister or priest comes 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 the notion of the existence of God. Thus he was controlled by alcohol and drug; he found no fulfillment in his relationships with women, and he found life empty and meaningless. But life took a different turn for him. He says “Somewhere around 1983 was the real turning point”. Around this time Darry came to meet a friend, namely John, who played a significant role in his life and who introduced him to English Rock music. John did not seem to be as rough as the other friends Darry hung around with. On the contrary 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. ..we used to party together a lot but he was very decent. He used to love to get all ripped  58  out 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 he found a girl friend. He really treated her nicely. He’d drink with us and get sick with us and he’d...laugh about it. He didn’t try and be a rough character...he didn’t try and prove he was really tough. He just liked to have a good time and then reflect  on what he was doing. This is another thing that he ...did that others I hung around with didn’t....He really reflected on life....” Although Darry did not regard himself as decent as John, yet compared to his 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 quite as.. .refined as...John, but I was a bit reflective. I thought every so often. ..I wish I could 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 change into Darry’s life. He contends “...I started reading philosophical books...the novels of Don Won.. .these are quite famous books.. .[Carlos Castenida] has a lot of super natural experiences and he has a lot of them through drugs which was very attractive to me. But also he ...was learning about power.. .keeping your own power. He uses drugs in a specific way to gain certain powers...powers of the mind, powers of the psychic and this I found extremely appealing...the idea of using drugs to better yourself, to improve your awareness, or sort of expand your horizon. So I really got turned 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 reading these books...they really got me thinking a lot about spiritual things. By this stage I didn’t really believe in a God per Se. I had pretty well given up on religion at the stage....And they did get me thinking about something beyond the physical life--that is the key. It was very timely. I started thinking about that there was more perhaps than the physical being”.  59  Around 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 me with the Baha’i principles, at this time I was thinking about something more than just gratifying my physical desires...not much more but a little bit more. He told me about the concept of the equality of men and women and the concept of science and religion agreeing but what really got me was the idea of ‘universal language’. This  really floored me. I thought this was the most wonderful thing on Earth, the idea of being able to communicate any where on Earth”. Another noteworthy chapter, in Darry’s life, was the beginning of his friendship with Derek. He says “...he was quite out of the ordinary from any body I’d known....He had been to India and I started talking with him one time and he did chanting and meditation. ...this idea kind of tickled me. He invited experience this over at his house and...I went and gave it a try. ...I found it to be quite liberating. I found it to be very very nice, meditative and had a calming effect on me. It felt so good so we started doing that...fairly regularly”. Thus there were several spiritual experiences taking place consecutively in Darry’s life which substantially contributed to his transformation. He affirms “So there was...three things going on at that time. It was the chanting and the meditation; .the introduction to the Baha’i Faith... [and] the books [of Carlos ..  Castenida]. All these were sort of the same time on me”. Darry got intensively involved in the Siddha Yoga meditation activities. He mentions “I started going to a very regular meditation and chanting group. And then we went to Oakland see the guru [Mukta Nanda]...they were having this week-end intensive in Oakland... .1 had some experiences there that I really can’t explain. They were very mystical, very strange, very wonderful...the basic philosophy 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 where  60  you.. .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 sounded so 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 then looked more closely into the Baha’i Faith. He says, “...when I came back I started thinking about that. I thought that [it] seems a bit unrealistic, and I started looking more closely at...the Baha’i principles and finding them to be immensely more practical. I found just the same spirit within them but I found the Baha’i teachings to be practical and then I started investigating them a lot more seriously. And as I started investigating them I started using the prayers. I’d used them for my chants and my meditation, and then I’d just use them because they gave me such a good feeling”. Darry uses the analogy of a glass of water to distinguish between his experiences 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 the glass was left empty and meditation and chanting did not fill anything else in the glass. So [I] needed something else to fill the cup with and that is when [I] looked into the teachings of the Baha’i Faith....meditation would make me feel empty myself but then leave me feeling somewhat empty whereas the Baha’i teachings.. .made me feel very full”. At the onset Darry’s mind was attracted to the Baha’i principles but later a person’s behavior was the catalyst for the change in his heart. He recollects the importance of a particular lady’s actions in the course of his transformation, “There is a lady who lives in Victoria and I don’t remember her name and she will never ever know, may be she will know in the next world how much she helped me to become a Baha’i one time. He [Gary] was moving.. .to some other apartment...and  61  this woman...had a truck and she had to come home from work [and] go pick up her children with this truck and take them home and give them their dinner and some where in the middle of all that she found time to go early from work [and] come over and help this guy move with her truck and quickly drop off this stuff and go get her children in time and rush home. And she thought nothing of it... [she was] just happy to do it. And I couldn’t believe it... .it...struck me people like that live on Earth. I did not know anybody who would do that with a smile on their face. So you start 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 in God and religion as, “It is an incredible high point (referring to the life line). Total euphoria and it only lasted a short short time, few months....This starts the night I declared as a Baha’i....That was a very mystical...event....I went away to my friend’s place (Gary)....His personality...drove me nuts but I’d always go see him and I’d always leave the place feeling better than when I went in. ...and sometimes...we’d say prayers on leading to the night and I’d leave there feeling like walking on air. It felt so good. And this fine evening I walked in and said.. .can we say some prayers, I just feel awful, I just feel so heavy.. we started to pray instead of getting a light feeling like I usually do I felt even heavier. It almost felt like a physical weight on my shoulders....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 more because of the weight of whatever was pushing on me... .It surprised me and it agitated my brain. I said why is this happening, this is not happened before. These prayers are not working because they usually take this load off my mind... .after I said a few prayers he launched into a story.. .for about an hour and a half two hours may be, I didn’t hear a word he said...because my mind was so worked up about this and about two or three in the morning...I hit upon this idea of signing the Baha’i declaration card and then it quickened my brain. ...And I signed it....It was like this  62  weight that had pushed me down all night had come off my shoulders. I don’t know if you’ve ever walked on a trampoline, but if you bounce on a trampoline and then you go on to the ground you walk with a bounce for a while because you still feel bouncy. This is exactly how I felt. I was bouncy as I walked after that....imagine walking with a heavy pack and taking it off and then walking , you feel so light. This was the feeling. so...there that was the high point. There was this little blip on this graph”. Darry cannot pinpoint a specific incident that brought back his belief in God and religion. He attributes it to the process of finding a balance in his life. He maintains that he started believing in a God “when I started feeling a bit of peace and contentment again. When I started feeling a balance in my life....when I was doing prayers and when I was doing chanting and meditation...I felt a sort of balance come into my life. I mean a relative balance. And I realized that this balance did not come from wasn’t my brain that balanced all this stuff and it didn’t come from another human being somewhere. And I wandered where, how, why, and this is 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 willingly gave up alcohol and drugs. He contends “It was strange because the desire to drink and do drugs just left me. It just left me. I had all these drugs in my freezer and I gave them away to my friends....and it wasn’t like it was hard to do...I didn’t need those...because I had found something that could help me maintain this balance that was better than what I had found previously”. At the beginning he found it difficult to help his family realize that he does not take alcoholic drinks. They found it hard to accept the change but over time they developed a tolerance for it. He says “...our family is really involved with alcohol and that is sort of always has been...before becoming a Baha’i I was just in step with the I am out of step with the family. They look at me  63  differently because I don’t drink with them....I think this is what they notice more than anything....”. In the process of his transformation, Darry consciously took active steps towards a change in his attitudes and behavior towards women. This was a challenge for him. He confirms “...from the time I became a Baha’i, I was reading the Baha’i laws and one of them is that you should not have sex before marriage and it struck me as a pretty stupid rule so I think for the first six months I just carried on with my girl friends . But a particular incident drove Darry to become more 11 sensitive to the dimensions of interpersonal relationships. He relates, “There was one [girl] that was so nice.. .and I really liked her. We carried on for a little while and she had never been to bed with anyone before. So we went to bed and I could see from the look in her face that she really really wanted to have...a steady sort of a relationship and I knew full well that I wasn’t able to give that to her because that is not what I wanted. And I knew if I slept with her she would think that...I wanted some sort of a permanent relationship....even though I knew that I didn’t do anything about it.. .and as it turned out.. .1 really hurt her badly and I just hated doing that. I didn’t have the strength or I didn’t have the knowledge to stop that from happening. So at that stage I really started looking at some of Baha’u’llah’s writings on interpersonal relationships and started applying them”. Darry felt stronger as he applied those principles into his life. He was also cognizant of the happiness and contentment that the change had brought about in his life. He relates an incident where he actively took steps towards the change. He says” ...There was this very cute...short little girl and we were getting all friendly and it was.. .all going to happen in the usual [way], I could see the pattern...and for the first time I stopped it. I stopped it from happening...I...said no and left....She never talked to me again...but it felt good. I knew that was the right thing to do because...with that. ..whole idea removed, my relationships with women just  64  improved so much. I found I could relate to a lot of different women from very different personalities and enjoy it. Enjoy people and chat with them. And from there it just snow balled into better and better understanding, better and  better relationships. So that was the major change”. With this change Darry no more viewed women as sexual objects and therefore could perceive women as equals and as friends and consequently felt enriched with their relationship. He explains “...this led into a change in my led into a big change...I started having girls that were really good friends, really nice people. That is what they were now people. And since then I have been...learning more and is a never ending thing”. Along with the freedom of choice, Darry had to encounter other responsibilities. He mentions “ you try to internalize the Faith it becomes more and more difficult. And then you realize a little bit more what you have embraced and what is expected of you and you try to incorporate that into your life and you have to give up other tendencies and other ideas. But at that stage my heart was really 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 for further education and advancement in the field of a career. He affirms “Now I find myself back at university. I never thought I’d go back to university....if I get into jobs that I can be the decision maker then I think it would be a lot more challenging and a 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 I never read very much and I read now; I never used to have plans about living and now I sort of think in general long term plans. That is a definite change. I would like to have a permanent relationship with one women rather than temporary  65  relationships with...a few. That is a fairly major change. I want to finish school so that 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 this act as a service to humanity. He says “I would go overseas for Baha’i purposes”. In his attempt to clarify his intentions he relates it to his grandfather who left the old country and came to Canada for pursuit of better opportunities. Darry feels indebted to him and says “...he came, he didn’t know it was south America or North America 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, and because he did that I have these tremendous priviledges...affluence, opportunity, and education...but I also have this tremendous opportunity to recognize the next revelation [Baha’u’llah] which is like the greatest opportunity of all....I know that one day I will go back to that country where he came from...and bring this to that area. That is what I mean by Baha’i purpose”. Darry is a family-oriented person and has strong family ties with his family of origin. He recognizes many existing problems among the family members and yearns to be of some help in allieviation of the pain and difficulties. But he finds himself helpless in this matter. He mentions “ far as my relationship with them I am out of step with what they sort of want to do or their general pattern. The first few times I went back home after becoming a Baha’i it was the same general pattern of relating to each other.... [the] pattern of talking and then not speaking to each other and then sort of erupting at each other after a certain point. This was a general pattern that I saw. I think...after I became a Baha’i I was able to recognize this pattern. I wasn’t able to change it at least not at first but I got to the point where I could recognize that there was a pattern here and I hadn’t realized that before. I hadn’t had the perspective by which I could make that realization. So  66  after having made that realization I really try and...stop it at some point....Unfortunately I am at the stage where sometimes the only thing I could do that is to pull is just to pull back from them for a while....” The transformation process has assisted Darry to gradually take a different outlook towards life.  He states “...ever since I have become a Baha’i I’ve been  pretty happy in’ve hit your highs and your lows but I’ve always been above the zero line (referring to life-line), always been happy”. In retrospect Darry remembers an incident that did not make things easy for him in life. The incident was related to his experiences and interpersonal relationships 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 was limited. 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 is following it. That was really sad. Also you realize how much you are not following it. When I was over there I really realized how far I have to go....five years I had read a lot of the writings but what it made me realize is that I had an intellectual understanding of the writings but until you go out there and apply them or go out there and have some experience that they are just intellectual concepts. took me eight months to get over this depression. I honestly believe it was compounded by staying with my family. That was not healthy at all.... [but] mostly it was the result of seeing my own weakness. I think I thought I was really quite a spiritual boy. I think I thought I was really quite deepened and really quite a good little Baha’i....When you are there whatever you have got inside you will come out....You end up finding out that there are some base instincts that are very bad [and] that are still there [and] they still come out. It was really depressing”.  67  At 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 the higher lesson....there must be a reason...there must be a lesson in here somewhere...I knew that there was a purpose in it...and I can live with this because may be I’ll learn something from made me constantly review my past experiences and how I am feeling. This is something L..would not have done before...always always I knew that there would be a light at the end of the tunnel. This was not a permanent condition....This was the first time I’d been depressed in my whole life. It really surprised me because I’d had major set backs...but not depression”. Though Darry had experienced depression for the first time in his life yet he did 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 below zero (referring to the life-line) is that, first of all I had something to anchor me and in my most depressed moments I wasn’t always have the prayers and the writings from the bolster you. Also this general perception that there is a God [that] He is actively involved in your life and He teaches you things. ...What I came to realize is that the goal of life is not to be happy. The goal in life is not to have a lot of things. The goal of life is not to have a beautiful wife and children and house. The goal in life is to draw closer to God. That is the goal of life regardless of the outside environment around you and regardless of these surface things like how you happen to be feeling that day... .with this goal then this depression you can see it as part of a process. I am going through this depression there must be a reason for it. I hope I find it soon...I’d like to find it do eventually and you know there is light at the end of that tunnel somewhere because you know that you will never be abandoned, never”. This experience shed more insight into his life. It brought about a change in his attitudes and views towards life’s problems. He asserts “...coming out of the  68  depression I feel much stronger...I know that if I get down again that life has these valleys and these peaks and it doesn’t really matter. These valleys and peaks don’t really matter. What matters is [that] you are learning your lessons, that you are drawing closer to your source. I mean...they are going to effect you when they first hit you they seem like such a big deal...but they are just valleys and peaks and they come and they go....I have that perception for all the time...I have that to fall back on....valleys and peaks come [and] you always get through”. Darry uses the analogy of a mountain to describe his life before and after the transformation, he says “ would be a mountain....before becoming a Baha’i I had managed 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 and the more you will understand about why the world is the way it is. When you don’t see 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 the population lived like this because that is what I always saw. The nine tenth of the population I saw were like this. So I was about this far up the mountain (referring to the sketch of the mountain) and this is what I could see. Now Baha’u’llah gives you 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 larger perspective as to understanding the world and how it works and why it works...when I perceive things it is on a grandeur scale and I can incorporate good things and bad things. These things happen it is a natural part of things, it is a natural part of 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 worse than any body else on Earth. But when you are up here you don’t have to think that way because you can clearly see that some people have it better than me [and] some people don’t have it as well....then it is easier to accept...what you are given in life.  69  It is not only easier to accept it but to try and do something with it, which is another thing 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 thing at the time but you can change it. You have that much power that you can change it.. really come to realize how much free will you are given....if you apply the power of your will to something you can change it....So you are the same person [it is] just an internal change, [a] change in perspective”. Looking at his transformation experience Darry states, “ mind felt so much more liberated...when you can see more things you can synthesize more things with your brain.. .you can make more comparisons in your imagination and make wiser brain then became a tool for me rather than...a dictator. That was a big major change. I am in control of the mind rather than the mind is in control of .1 know I may be right or I may be wrong but I’ll do this and I’ll see what happens and if I am wrong it will soon become apparent and I’ll try something 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 the corner, 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 great priviledge...Abdul-Baha put it very nicely when he.. .said about the levels of perfection... .the levels of perfection are endless. So you can attain to a level of perfection and then there is another level of perfection to aspire to and this is what we are trying to transform. It is sort of like...the plant must die in order to give the seed, like a part of you must die in order for a part of you to grow...that is the process”.  70  COMMENTARY From childhood Darry experienced tremendous fear and sorrow. His father was 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 had grown up associating religion with the church and although God was portrayed as omnipotent but the concept of the terbenacle perplexed his mind and he could not regard God as the Supreme, Mighty, and Powerful Being that was espoused by the church. Darry found God unjust and unreasonable in His expectations and therefore, at the age of seventeen he disassociated himself from God, religion, and spiritual values and sought to balance his emotions through drugs. Drugs served as the anchor by which he could maintain an emotional balance and harmony in his life. Darry’s life can be characterized as “abusive” where he abused alcohol, drugs and women. He developed distorted view of women resulting in shallow relationships with them. Most of his experiences were directed towards self-interest, seif-centeredness, and gratification of physical desires. Attainment of pleasure and egotism 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, drugs and women, which led to feelings of emptiness and loneliness. There was a horrible feeling of void that troubled him and made Darry uncomfortable. His existence seemed devoid of any meaning and purpose. Alcohol and drugs controlled him, and his relationships with women lacked intimacy. Darry’s life lacked quality and he felt disgusted with his life-style. He yearned for an alternate way of living and being but felt 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 life style was similar to Darry, (street person) Darry admired his reflective attitude upon life, his kindness towards women, and his lack of desire for violence. Through  71  comparison with John’s character, Darry found himself inadequate and desiring for something better. This yearning was the gateway to his transformation. His friendship with John brought about a tremendous change in the future direction of his life. John introduced Darry to rock music and the books of Don Won. Darry developed an interest and appreciation for music and the books addressed his yearning for understanding life and acquiring wisdom and intellectual growth. The books of Carlos Castenido made Darry feel good and gave him an inkling of insight into the spiritual phenomena. To a very small degree, they started making him think beyond and above the physical realm. His experience with John instilled hope in him for change. At this time, Darry accepted minimal responsibility for change and 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 of religion for Darry and introduced him to the Baha’i Faith. One of the major principles 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 and communicate with people from all over the world. At this stage Darry had acquired a minimal yearning towards gratification of non-material desires, but he did not have any desire to pursue religion seriously for he still felt alienated from God. In conjunction with these experiences Darry met another friend who also played a crucial role in his personal growth and change. Darry was fascinated by Derek’s life-style. Derek introduced Darry to Sidha Yoga spiritual practices that were mystical in nature (meditation and chanting). It appealed to Darry and he decided to get involved regularly and intensively in the Sidha yoga spiritual practices of guru Mukta Nanak. During this time, Darry took a great step towards agency and acceptance of responsibility for personal growth. He had several mystical experiences that gave him a feeling of serenity and peacefulness but he was left  72  feeling incomplete, feeling a lack of something in his life. In order to feel fulfilled he saw the need to balance the mystical experiences with practical spiritual principles. Subsequently, he embarked on the path of religious investigation and came to look more closely at the Baha’i Faith. He found a combination of mysticism and practicality in the Baha’i Faith which appealed to him. On a regular basis, he started using the Baha’i prayers in his chants and meditation and overtime it led to an inner-harmony and happiness which gradually led to a belief in a power transcending human power, namely, God. For Darry the acts of a fourth significant person, Jane, was the apex of these experiences in his life. Jane’s selfless service, to Gary, carried out with utmost joyful attitude baffled his mind, touched his heart and in some ways affirmed his belief in religion. This meaningful experience enabled Darry to become acutely aware of the spiritual world, a realm transcending the physical realm of human existence. The key 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 of religion). The experiences of these relationships brought Darry in contact with spiritual phenomena, spiritual discipline and involvement in spiritual practices. Darry’s peak-experience brought his search towards becoming to a culmination. This phenomenal moment in his transformation is described as a euphoric state (refer to case study #1, pp. 6 1-62) which was generated by conscious affirmation of and a belief in religion. It was very mystical in nature which was preceded by a state of ardent praying and triggered immense faith, confidence and relief. The continuous and systematic usage of Baha’i prayes has empowered Darry to: transmute to higher levels of growth; develop a love for the manifestations of God; re-connect with God on a deeper level and have total trust in God as his anchor in life.  73  Darry places great emphasis on developing and strengthening his spiritual qualities (virtues) in life. Regular utilization of Baha’i prayers and writings has strengthened Darry’s will and has empowered him to make choices towards realization of a better lifestyle. Two examples may be cited here: First, he lost his yearning for alcohol and drug and was able to dispose of them with no pain or difficulty as now he sought to balance his emotions through prayers. Second, lack of strength and knowledge to deal appropriately with women eventually led Darry to turn to Baha’u’llah’s directives for guidance in proper application of interpersonal relationships. Applying these divinely ordained guidelines in his life gave Darry the strength to make responsible decisions, as the time came up, and take charge of his personal 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) of intellectual growth, thus fulfilling his yearning for wisdom and bringing it to a culmination. He has developed a yearning and desire to serve humankind and has subsequently been involved in many meaningful acts at home and abroad. He is able to relate to all women on a deeper and a substantial level resulting in: many strong friendships; and a desire to form a permanent and intimate relationship with one woman. A major change has been his ability to control his mind, rather than fall prey to it and subsequently has acquired a sense of agency in life. There is a change in his attitude towards unavoidable hardships in life. He looks for higher lessons to be learnt and views difficulties as spiritual tests that are intentionally sent by God for the progress of his soul. He views difficulties as opportunities to draw closer to God. Darry no longer worries about a sense of emptiness as about challenges to be overcome during spiritual tests. In dire moments and difficulties he relies heavily on religious spiritual practices and derives strength from them (revealed prayers and writings). He has developed a vivid and meaningful purpose  74  in life: To draw closer to God through religion (Divine in nature), religious spiritual practices, and realization of spiritual qualities in the context of everyday living. In conclusion, realizing that transformation is an educational process, he has developed an awareness that growth is a life long process involving the accomplishment of endless levels of progress. Thus one success over the other generates strength and confidence within him.  75  INFORMANT #2  Rob is a 46 year old man. He is a native Canadian who views the entire history of the natives as part and parcel of his life. With the coming of the Europeans, the native spirituality was undermined and they were forced to conform to the Christian laws. Rob asserts, “ my early history or identity, the way of life was taken from us”. Rob feels a great sense of connection with the natives and he refers to them as ‘my people’. At school, like his grandfather and father, he was compelled to totally disassociate with his native tongue and way of life and comply with the European life-style. The new enforced practices seemed foreign to Rob and the rest of his people. As a result he was unable to identify himself with any norm or standard in life and incapable to anchor his value system into any existing standards. He felt helpless and seemed to have lost control with his life. The wounds were deep and as a result he developed a very low self-esteem. Unable to practice his native spirituality he grew to hate the existing religions and mistrusted everything that went towards a religion. Rob drifted further and further away from any religious belief. He affirms “...I was so filled with such a loathing for religion, after what happened to me and what happened to my people that I didn’t trust anything connected with any religion....”. He particularly grew to have a more negative attitude towards Christianity because of the unjust ways some of the priests behaved towards the natives. He says “....They hung my grandfather to make an example out of him. He found a dead woman on the beach and then reported it to the rest of the village. But he took a ring off her finger. She had drifted ashore from a shipwreck in a big storm and was dead on the beach when he found her. But the priest said you killed her and wanted to make an example out of him so that the others would start obeying him and conform to his laws and way of  76  life....And this left a very deep mark on the people because they realized the value and sacredness of life and the importance of relatives and what happens when they go into the spirit. We are not allowed to deal with that properly in our traditional way because of changing from traditional spiritual ways to Christianity”. A strong component of Native spirituality is the preservation of family unity which plays an important role in Rob’s life. Rob mentions “And then another relative, another grandfather seeing what the priest was doing, he was getting the ones who said okay we see the good in Christianity, and we believe, to spy on the traditional people and [this] caused disunity and split [among] the people. And in my traditional way at home it is very important that unity be preserved in the families and relatives. So my grandfather took a gun and shot the priest in the arm and then he went off into the woods and then killed himself. Now this left another very deep deep hurt among my people because they know what happens when you take 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 of Christianity began to come. Different diseases, different attitudes formed, different behaviors formed and...the spiritual way of life more and more was left behind for a material existence....Families believed in Christ and yet they would be at each other’s throats because one believed differently than the other. There was great disunity. 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 principles we live by we [were] lost with the coming of the Europeans and the Christians. And people like myself who went to a Christian residential school who were taken away from everything that went towards life... [and had to] conform to the law that was against life, that took away the time I finished school I personally was disillusioned, exasperated and left without any kind of self-esteem. ...and I began to  77  hate myself. And I began to hate people, I began to hate life, I began to fear life, I didn’t enjoy life. So I took to drugs. I could see the beginning of the disintegration of my people and myself, looking at my history, my family history, my private history”. Alcohol and drug predominated his life. His main aim became to acquire money to drink. He mentions, “I was so self centered and always just thought of myself and how I could get more money to get more drugs and more booze....My whole family drank. We were one of the worst families on the coast....” As a result Rob lost touch with reality. He had no place or friend to go to and he hit a very low point in his life. He would beg for money on the streets and get enough to drink or take drugs. He says, “I was sleeping under news papers...because I didn’t have any place to go. I had gone that low and had no friends, no money, no job. And I would beg for change...just always managed to get enough to get into the bar. Once in the bar friends would come in. So, that was one of the really low points in my life”. At this 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, “1 have contemplated suicide when I was in the depths of my drug addiction  and  alcoholism 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, no friends, no job and no money, yet because of his innate quest for spirituality and the yearning for a re-connection with his native culture and ancestors, Rob attended the Round Lake treatment centre. At this time Rob met a friend, Beryl, at the Friendship centre. She was an alcohol and drug counsellor. Her humaneness touched his heart and when she inquired if he would agree to accept help, he agreed to comply if it was the native treatment centre. He mentions, “because of her compassion, goodness I was inspired to take treatment at the centre. They postponed my admission several times and I almost died several times waiting to get  78  into the treatment centre”. When asked what kept him going and what was the motivating force behind him not giving up, he answered smiling “A belief. I could almost see my grandfather facing the east and praying. Even in the depth of my degradation I could see him praying in our language and that belief kept me hopeful and going”. Rob was aware that he needed help in overcoming alcoholim but since he did not trust anything non-native he did not want to join the AA programme. He says “...I always thought the people in Alcoholics Anonymous were a bunch of hypocrites etc.; and other names I had for them. And people who went to church were the same. Anybody from any other religion they were the same, a bunch of hypocrites etc”. At the Round Lake treatment centre the AA twelve steps was merged in with the native spirituality. At the treatment centre Rob attended a sweat lodge. He explains a sweat lodge in these terms “A sweat lodge is a place to purify..jandj train your will a little more”. This experience was the turning point in his life. Rob explains, “...I went to a sweatlodge which helps you emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually and also trains your will towards God. And in that sweatlodge I had a great sense that my ancestors were there. We believe very strongly in our ancestors, in native spirituality. 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 sweat lodge was the trigger point towards his change. Rob affirms “...It was exactly that because I began to identify who I was and what I was and felt the presence of my ancestors and creator”. With the re-connection to his native spirituality he became aware of a balance between the created world and the creator. He found a specific purpose and meaning in his native rituals and spirituality. His participation in native ceremonies seemed very substantial and meaningful in the process of his change.  79  At the treatment center Rob met a friend who was a Baha’i and who introduced him to the Baha’i Faith. Being skeptical of any religious beliefs he questioned the loyalty of his friend to the native values. Rob mentions “I found my native spirituality and my identity, and right around that same time I found the Baha’i Faith through a good friend of mine. He was [a] counsellor. And he too became one of my teachers. I kept asking this man what was different about this Baha’i Faith and he would tell me that I believe that Baha-ullah is a messenger and teacher for this age. And he would tell me stories about the Faith and the beginning of the Faith and what it meant to him. And he told me when he began to look at the Baha’i Faith he thought he had everything in his native spirituality and he said I looked at everything I could get my hands on in the Baha’i writings...but he said he couldn’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 real disagreement between him (Baha-u-llah) and his native spirituality, native way of life but he couldn’t find anything. So he eventually became [a] Baha’i. So when I began to look at it I instantly recognized the truth in it, because all my life I had this deep sorrow and state of perplexed feeling, confused feelings and sorry feelings about the condition I would see people in... .In my native religion I [had] seen a little bit of what I could be and I began just to try to be the best that I could and when (in Feb. 1980) I found the Baha’i Faith.. .all the while I was having great spiritual experiences and a sense of great joy and knowing. Just a sense of knowing. And I’d get these great surges of energy from within and without. I don’t know if I can recall all of these experiences but they were very meaningful to me. I would get messages from birds, and I would know someone was coming. I would be in exactly the right place at the right time and the first four or five years of my sober life and being a Baha’i and being native I prayed constantly, daily late into the night. I don’t know  80  what prayers I said, but I said a lot....after becoming a Baha’i and after sacred ceremonies with the Sioux, and praying and fasting, my whole family sobered up”. Rob’s transformations started with his native spirituality. He says “1 have many 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 went through this door, this particular door on my own path to get to here. And I’ve come to realize my purpose and meaning in life, my place in life”. At this stage Rob had used his native history as a healer. He says “ generations to the past we carry those hurts and pain and sickness that weren’t dealt with. So that is why you can use your history as a healer because you can look back and begin to clear that within your own self so that the next seven generations who are considering that you are not being self-centered, you are being of service to those people that aren’t here yet and you are doing a service for the past generations as well. Because the seven generations 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’i Faith, for a religion, in his life in these terms “I felt the holiness and sacredness of life and a chance for me to share globally and universally my potential, rather than just stick with a handful of my own people. I have a chance to share some of my goodness with all humans and all creation and to have a better chance to realize my potential because there is great connectedness. Like I realize in the Baha’i Faith and in the native religion it is not a separate thing it is a oneness. Like on the medicine wheel in sacred teachings of the native people, it is all one. They are not separate from you, have your own uniqueness and in that uniqueness is a tremendous power [and] you respect that....There is a great your uniqueness.. ..Everyone has a song.. .within their own unique self. Sometimes your song is just a sound coming through your soul trying to reach it’s creator. And the  81  vibration of that song has special effect as it comes through the spirit, and it is your’s. All the millions and billions of people on the Earth, each person has their own unique vibration, their own unique song which comes out in different ways...and it is very powerful. So there is many different things about the Baha’i Faith that it is such a complete thing, total instead of being just a little band aid or a five minute solution--so all encompassing. And when I look at my life, I need that otherwise I’ll just perish and be gone, without that. If I hadn’t found spirituality I would have been doomed to darkness and death. An early physical death”. Rob explains regaining his trust in religion in these terms “when I looked at spirituality, I looked at my own native religion and I seen all the goodness in it and I seen basically what it was for and it gave me a knowledge, an insight of my own view and the knowledge of the oneness and connectedness of all things and all people and of God. When I found this in the Baha’i Faith, it regenerated, stimulated and energized and gave life to the teachings that I had on my native religion and it gave it more scope and depth and more of my potential to share, to share my own innate goodness with all humanity. So the teachings in the Baha’i Faith and the native are basically the same except for the laws that Baha-u-llah brought and there is something so profound with native people, the connectedness of all things, our oneness. And when I see that and all the teachings of the Baha’i Faith about oneness, one God, one people it gave me hope so that I got over my hurt, over the pain with my separation from myself, from God, from life and people. A very powerful medicine.. ..Once I had seen the connectedness of life and religion and people and everything else through the Baha’i Faith I realized that all religions was for life, not for death and separation, and I began to look at the teachings of various religions, although I didn’t go into great depth, [and] I got the essence that they were for life and that the spiritual teachings were all the same”. As a result Rob’c negative attitude towards Christianity is resolved and he understands the differences  82  among the Christians. He says “[The] split in...their Christian religion happened way back...because other things were brought into Christ’s teachings that were not originally 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 through prayer. 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 more and more of my thoughts and my feelings and I check it. I check it as soon as it happens when I haven’t even thought about some of them I say oh that is just an old pattern. It is not really what I want. So I just have to say a prayer. And say something 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 into practice that I have learned from native teachings and from my Faith. What the Hidden words say, what the holy writings say and try and put it inside of you and make it and put it out and practice it. Maybe I practise it much differently than say like somebody from Persia or somebody from the south, south America, or from North America. I may practice those very same teachings slightly different. This (difficult situations) brings me closer to my creator because of the needs and the problems in my life, I have to turn more towards it and I use the prayers and meditation 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 pass and the only things that I can take with me is my own kindness and my own goodness, the things that I will remember in the spirit world is the times that I got someone a tea or something like that, or the smile, or something, so I realize that a lot of things about life and a lot of problems in life is to make me a better person”.  83  At present Rob has a positive outlook towards the adversaries that befell him in life. He mentions “Once I acknowledge [these negative attitudes] and see that it is going away from life I can turn it into medicine. Any negative situation can be turned into medicine, you can learn from it”. He further says “...I am starting to erase those [old tapes] by realizing my hopes, you know things that I was given....sometimes when you have a negative thought coming or negative feedback about yourself you think about the oneness in yourself in reference to spirituality. A lot of times I...say, and still say sometimes, that a lot of things that happened are tests and difficulties...and...I realize the hope”. At times when predicaments become too intense for Rob to handle he finds himself doubting the power or effectiveness of prayers. Nevertheless, he does not give up hope and uses other resources in coping with the problem. He uses humour in bringing about a change in his attitude. He says “I laugh because I realize that isn’t what counts and that it is going to pass....I just look at temporary situations [and say that] it is so temporary, so fragile....1 get all worried sometimes and I have to turn around and look at it and then I realize it is just like a breeze passing by. That is 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, he says “...some of them were very sincere, although very sick....I understand that they did the best they could....Now today I have to do the things...that I was brought here for.. ..God gave me potential and I have to try to reach that. If part of that potential is [to] understand life and...I understand these people...and it should help me become 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 does not hate them for causing afflictions upon the natives.  84  In viewing these obstacles as challanges, he believes that it is only through spirituality that he can regard it as a learning experience. He says “But without spirituality it (the learning experience) becomes meaningless....If you train the heart and the mind at the same time along with your body the spiritual part can develop. I can become more of who I am, what I am by trying to follow this, learning from these Europeans that came over, learning and then using it as a teaching tool for myself rather than picking up an axe and chopping heads off which is making me lower 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 experiences have led me to new places, many different things, many people. I don’t hate people and I try to lead a good life... .Today I try to help people, and it doesn’t matter where they are from or what color or how old or young or how broke I am or whatever, I just try to help however I can. And that is a complete change from the way I used to be....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 and a 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 their great spiritual connection and the energy released from that suffering of the Persian Baha’is and the connection it has with me”. Rob mentions that his life’s purpose is “ To become a better keep getting rid of all these things that was heaped upon me, to make a difference and to learn from them, to learn from my history, and to help people realize their own identity their own goodness and their connectedness with their creator, their oneness with God, with life. And that is my purpose, that is my meaning. It gives meaning to my life, otherwise I would be just working 9 to 5 to get material things and become comfortable”.  85  At present Rob is a drug and alcohol counsellor and works to help not only the natives but people from all strata of society. In his work Rob incorporates spirituality 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 from all my life experiences and the experience of the person or people that I am with...[ I attempt] to help people realize their own identity their own goodness and their connectedness with their creator, their oneness with God, with life”. When asked where he sees himself now in the process of his transformation Rob said “...the time of great rapid growth. Usually each year around this time of year I notice it.. the whole span of my life I see myself getting very close to something. A really profound change, extreme tests and a better ability to cope with those tests. By cope I mean to deal positively with, to bring about positive change in myself in dealing with theses tests  ...  [God] has given me ...unique talents and  abilities and I really appreciate that. I like myself not in the conceited term but I appreciate myself more.. .in the sense that I am God’s child. Rob describes his transformation path as “the process of becoming a real people is always full of trials and roles and chances to grow. And I am glad I am not stuck in that role because I realize that I have potential. ..and I realize that I am here for the sake of God. And I realize that God is everywhere and in everyone and there is no difference and that I have to try to understand that mine is not the only culture. Mine is not the only point of view. And that I am only here for a very, very short 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 found out 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 that you could continue advancing toward the creator and that you don’t harm anyone else or anything else here on this earthly life....when I look at my life I look at [it]  86  from this present day to the day I was conceived and it has gone, like the snap of a finger. And I have no reason to believe that the rest of my life is not going to go the same. Past 46 years is gone. Imagine the next 46 whatever is going to go the same way. So I don’t have much time to become a real person. To become all that I can become. I don’t have much time to help people. Not much time to enjoy it. So I do the best I can with what time that I do have. To bring into reality the teachings of Baha-u-llah...the teachings of my ancestors that came from God. To bring about my potential I don’t have much time. But I am glad I can live in the present and learn from the past and plan for the future. Through native teachings, through spirituality, 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 treatment center and. ..native spirituality, and then the power of continuing growth and transformation was brought about by the Baha’i Faith--the teachings for today from Baha-u-llah. I continue to grow and I am still growing through [the] Baha’i Faith....’.  87  COMMENTARY For Rob the arrival of new settlers appeared to devalue and undermine the native then existing way of life and spirituality which were the roots of his identity. While growing up, at the residential school, Rob was involuntarily disassociated from his roots resulting in the loss of his identity which led to lack of self-esteem and self-worth. Subsequently, he developed a hatred for life, people and himself. The enforced non-native religious teachings appeared to Rob controlling, punitive, against life, unjust, in contrary to native spirituality, and systems that were penetrated by disunity rather than unity. Consequently, he was pervaded by fear and sorrow. The separation from native spirituality and way of life dispowered Rob to anchor his life and values into a meaningful system. Thus he felt alienated from God, religion, and a spiritual way of living. He grew to mistrust and abhor anything and anyone that was non-native. Rob seemed to have lost control of his existence and was left feeling exasperated and disillusioned with life. He was engulfed by sorrow and confusion at his way of life and condition of the world. Consequently, he took shelter in tangible addictions (drugs and alcohol). He became self-centered where attainment of money, to consume drugs, was the focal concern of his life. He had hit the lowest point in his life where he utterly felt degraded and lonely. Rob was deeply depressed and contemplated suicide but, although he was afraid of life he was also afraid of death. He had a deep feeling of disintegration from 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 and humaneness “inspired” Rob to seek help and relieve himself of his present state. As a result he joined the Round Lake treatment center where the native spirituality and the AA twelve steps were merged in together. While waiting for admittance, Rob almost lost his life several times but a phenomenal experience and faith instilled  88  hope in him. He had a vision of his late grandfather standing towards the East praying for him in the native language. This belief imparted immense hope for deliverance 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 the sweat-lodge he went through a process of training his will towards God. During this ceremony he experienced a feeling of connection with the native ancestors. This feeling of unity with the spiritual world and with his ancestors rejuvenated Rob He felt connected with his “creator” and regained his self-identity. Participation in native 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 the natives giving rise to a sense of belonging which triggered strength. Rob also used his belief in native history as a means for change, where he identified and recognized the problems of the bygone seven generations within him and through goodwill and good actions dispersed the problems of the past seven generations and paved the way for a healthy living for the next seven generations to come. It is viable to say that Rob used his native history, spirituality and sacred ceremonies as stepping stone for his transformation. At the treatment center Rob met another significant friend who introduced him to the Baha’i Faith. The three basic principles of the Baha’i Faith (oneness of God, oneness of religion and oneness of people. Refer to pp. 38-39) instilled hope within Rob which empowered him to transcend over the negativities of life. These principles had several potent effects on him. First, they rejuvenated his belief and trust in all religions and he realized that they were all life-inducing systems aiming for harmony and not disunity. Rob was able to separate the practices of the organized institutions (church) from the religious principles revealed by the founders of the religions and develop an appreciation and reverence for the truth in  89  all of them. Second, they empowered him to transcend over the pain and hurt of his separation from people and connect with them globally. Lastly, he was able to connect with God on a more deeper and meaningful level. They renewed Rob’s faith in life and empowered him to overcome his hatred and fear of life, people and himself. These principles were very meaningful concepts in Rob’c recovery and transformation. They played crucial role in healing the painful wounds of his separation from God, religion, people, and his reality (i.e. soul) and revitalized a strong desire for living. Thus he affirmed his belief in the Baha’i Faith on February of 1980. A re-connection with religion and faith in the manifestation of God resulted in several meaningful spiritual experiences which raised his awareness to higher levels of consciousness and Rob experienced phenomenal surges of energy. Rob’s belief in religion had several implications. First, Rob found the Baha’i Faith analogous to native spirituality and this similarity revitalized his strength and belief in native principles and way of life. The awareness that religion was in harmony with native spirituality empowered him to overcome his mistrust of nonnative religions. Subsequently, he derived deeper insight into the native spirituality through the Baha’i Faith and people. These two variables (religion and people) played important roles in helping Rob to transcend to higher levels of understanding. Second, A sense of connection is a strong theme in Rob’s life. Therefore, the Baha’i fundamental principle of “unity of humankind” in particular revived Rob as it gave him a universal perspective to the concept of unity. Rob yearned for a more global unity, one in which he could not only share his potentialities and abilities with the natives but also with people of other races and nationalities. He was encouraged and felt confidant that the miseries of the world, that had tremendously hurt and perplexed him for so long, could be eradicated through a change in hearts leaning towards a feeling of global unity. Therefore he decided to put his efforts  90  into a cause that was universal and Divinely oriented. Third, The Baha’i Faith gave a 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 the native ancestors; second, a sense of connection with God; Third, a sense of unity with natives and the native spirituality; fourth, a feeling of unity and oneness with all the people of the world through a belief in the Baha’i Faith, and fifth, a sense of unity and connection with all the revealed religions. After sobering up Rob prayed constantly late into the nights and derived strength from native sacred ceremonies and two specific Baha’i exercises, namely prayers and fasting. In life Rob has been able to overcome difficulties and heal wounds through his connection with God. He has been able to re-connect with God through his native ancestors, teachings, spirituality, and history; religion; and a feeling of global unity from which he derives a deeper sense of belonging. This sense of belonging has been a major source of strength and has generated confidence and has propelled personal growth. Rob makes conscious effort to identify the negative thoughts and feelings and through 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 prayers and writings. In times of inescapable hardships he transcends suffering by adopting positive attitudes towards such moments. He looks at difficulties as learning experiences that can be meaningful only through inculcation of the spiritual realm. He views them as spiritual tests and challenges that serve as catalysts for refinement of his character, and as strengthening forces that draw him closer to God. At times when difficulties become too intense and he does not find prayers sufficient enough, he derives strength from humor. Humor assists him to transcend the transitory character of these situations.  91  Rob does not dwell on the painful memories of the native history. Religion has empowered him to transcend the painful history and engage himself in meaningful act of service to natives. He assists the natives to overcome the pain by opening to them the door of spirituality and religion. Rob no more hates people but is concerned for their welfare and prays for those entangled in difficulty, an act that was alien to him in the past. Rob’s yearning to help people from all strata of society has led to his genuine love for people and has involved him in meaningful acts of service to humanity. He feels a deep sense of unity with humanity and has developed a deeper understanding of the concept of unity: unity within the diversity of cultures and not in conformity. Rob has gained a deeper insight into his true identity. In viewing his reality as a spiritual entity he has learnt to value himself which has generated heightened self-worth. His desire for excellence leads him to strive ardently to develop his positive potentialities. He has gained confidence and is engaged in active pursuit of spiritual qualities and virtues taking the native spirituality and the writings of Baha’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 is raising the spiritual awareness of his clients. In so doing he is claiming to help the clients form an inner-unity within themselves, and an outer unity with life, other people, and God. Rob, in his therapy work with people stresses on an awareness of God 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 of global unity; transmutation of attitudes in inescapable suffering; and humor.  92  INFORMANT #3  Marie is forty years old and is the oldest daughter of the family. She is a french Canadian and comes from a very staunch Catholic family who upheld all relative 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 on Sundays, lent and all of the other disciplines and practices. Confession and penance and 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 primarily within the family. She explains “on my father’s side, grandfather came from a family of thirteen children and my grandmother, came from five. My mother also had 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 were all 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 was presented as a means to show your true appreciation of another individual. Offer them a drink or give them a bottle [and] overfeed them with alcohol and get them drunk and sick....”. Marie recounts a significant dream, she had on November of 1989, that sums up her life story. She relates “I was going through a lot of soul searching at that time and I had a dream that I didn’t really appreciate the significance of or grasp what 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 the  93  stairs I looked behind me and there was nothing there. Ahead of me when I looked down the staircase, there was about four or five stairs to walk down, there was snow all over the place. It was very cold...very dark and there was a parking lot. There was only one vehicle in this parking lot and the only other thing that was there were several sets of tracks. From the tracks I could see that all the cars had been angle parked, backed out and driven away. My car was parallel parked. What I realized was that when I came to get my car it had been smashed in, both in the front and the back by the people trying to leave. I think from the difference in the angle....So I got into the car and thought, my God, it’s wrecked. I was devastated, I mean I was really upset that people, [that] somebody would do this. And also I felt that I had been in the wrong, for parking parallel when everyone else had angled parked. So when I got in I felt like I wanted to remove all traces of myself, of my existence as to the ownership of that vehicle. I decided that, because it was dark and no one else was around, I was going to abandon the vehicle. I thought well okay I’ll try and start it, if it runs, I’ll drive it to a place where they don’t know me and dump it there. I started the vehicle, surprised at first that it started running and I drove away from there. I drove for a while and then I came to another place. It was still just as black and there was snow all over the place. When I looked up to my right there was a slope and on top there was this building, an institutional type of building and it was still.., 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 there were no tracks in the snow. This time I was the only one that had ever been there. I realized or something told me that it didn’t matter what I did here that they wouldn’t wake up anyway. So I started to collect my things. I got a plastic bag and started putting in pieces of paper. I got them from the front seat and as I turned around I would find more things, more paper and pretty soon I realized that there were too many things to carry while walking....Then when I turned around and  94  looked down by the drivers seat I stuffed monkey there. One that my grandmother had given me as a young child. It was wedged between the brake petal and the side of the car and it was all bloody. I thought oh my God they have attacked my monkey, and I was just crushed by this abuse you know of my dearest friend, I guess this part of me. I thought I can’t leave my monkey behind but I realized I couldn’t carry my monkey and all of this stuff at the same time. That I’d have to stay with my vehicle. So I started it up again and I thought I just have to go as far as I can towards home before it breaks down and I have to walk. So I started driving, 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 started relaxing, I realized that the outside was getting brighter. Morning was coming, and it 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. Every once in a while there was a little pull off and I would go by these. As I was driving along I saw way in the distance a speck, so every once in a while I would pull over and I’d kind of wait to see if it got closer. After awhile I’d get tired of waiting and I’d pull out again and I’d go to the next one. I always left with a great deal of anxiety because I never knew when the next pull off was going to be. I could see as I got closer that it was a hay wagon, with horses pulling it. An old wooden hay wagon and it was full. There was a man by himself driving a team of horses. I realized that his wagon filled the whole road too. That there was no room for both of us to pass by each other and one of us had to pull aside and let the other one pass. I had a strong desire to be very courteous, while at the same time a need to go ahead. I kept pulling off, waiting a little and then try again to get a little further. Finally I realized I could move ahead no more until he passed and I pulled over. It was a very tight squeeze. I was able to get into that spot just moments before the wagon  95  came by. I wasn’t even sure that he was going to be able to get by me without scraping or getting hooked up on the side of the car. Instinctively I knew that I was the one who had to pull over otherwise we would collide. As I saw him go by and realized that it was okay, I looked up and I waved to him. You know sort of out of friendliness and to indicate [to him that] everything is okay. I looked at the man and he had a totally white face, no color in him what so ever. He had eyes, but no eyes ..he had a vacant look in his face and he was just riding on the wagon. He .  didn’t see me and I realized didn’t matter what I did [that] I wasn’t going to get his attention. He wasn’t paying any attention to me. I remember thinking that gee it’s too bad that there wasn’t some kind of connection. But he just slowly plodded off. And after he went past and I pulled out, I thought well I’ll just carry on my journey. I didn’t really know where I was going but! knew I was going home. As I carried on, the fences disappeared. Then I found myself driving in a large, open field 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 to be okay, that I had made it. Yes there were still hills to climb up and some roots to drive over but that the car was going to make it. I was heading home and I was very happy. Then I woke up from my dream”. Marie interprets her dream as follows: “What I’ve understood from that dream 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 dark and 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 I maintained my purity throughout it all even though I was in a very black, dark environment. I can see now why I turned around to see how I could get back and I realized there was no way to go back. When I was born it was very dark spiritually for me....I think I was born into darkness in the sense that when I questioned or  96  asked things that I was criticized....What I remember about myself is I was really angry [because] people couldn’t answer my questions truthfully. They would ridicule me, mock me for all my beliefs. I was sad. I remember doing a self portrait and I had a tear coming down my cheek. It felt 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 telling me 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 was different, 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....All those papers I think were a reflection, a representation, of all the abuse and attacks that 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 mother verbally abandoned me thousands of times, always throwing me out of the door....”. Marie’s mother interfered in her life and attempted to manipulate the decisions she would make in life. Marie felt controlled by both her parents and throughout her life she would compromise to please them. She says “...I was always proving myself to others...Seeking the approval from both of my parents was a lifelong 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 she said and I would tell her yeah I’ll think about it and then I would go off and do what I wanted to do. So I would do whatever it took to placate her...I would hide a lot of things and I would lie in order to live my life. order to keep them happy and do what I had to do. There had to be a lot of compromises, lying being one....It really was an addiction, a very unhealthy way of relating between us...My mother was always very unhappy.  97  Another important event I remember, is that my mother had a nervous breakdown. This was when I was 12-13 years of age. After that my father didn’t want us to do anything to upset her so we were raised to be responsible for her emotional well being and she was allowed to do whatever she wanted to do. My father held us responsible whenever she would go off on the oldest I was brought up to rescue....Because she lived her life on raw emotions she didn’t think, so I would do the thinking for her. For me, it meant my mother was neurotic in the sense that she wanted me to be a puppet, to be a clone. You know not to have a mind. She did and she didn’t.. .there were these constant mixed message and you’re always being jerked around emotionally, intellectually and spiritually. 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. Plus they were not “there”for me and their inconsideration of my view was damaging to me in that sense. I was still able to move forward but I wanted to remove every trace of myself and I did that for many years. I mean I would stay in someone’s house and they wouldn’t even know that I had been there when I had left. I would leave 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 wanted  to was not a happy place for me....I would go through three or four days of deep depression.. .death was no fear to me...You know when I told you how I wanted to abandon my vehicle, I mean my vehicle is my body. I wanted to remove every trace [of it]. I wanted to leave it where ever. I wanted to die. I mean I really felt I was a pain. ..because I had so many questions....”. Marie questioned the tradition and the rituals. She mentions “The nuns would say that there is a Trinity, the Holy Spirit, God the Father, and Christ the Son. I would ask them how that came about and they said they didn’t know, that you  98  just have to accept it. I also wanted to know what happens when you pray, why did you have to say these prayers, what was the reason for it, and how come you have to go to church, into a building? Why was there a priest? Why be a nun? Whenever we were bad, my mother usually threatened to send us off to the convent. To me that was the greatest possible threat because to me there was no reason, no sense in being a nun....and whenever I asked these questions, I was either told to trust blindly or that I was being sacrilegious. I was always challenged or attacked.. ..I had more questions than answers. This caused me a great deal of anguish because I didn’t feel I 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 the pain I had experienced. Marie was full of ‘How’s and ‘Why’s. She says “From a child I’ve always been an independent investigator....”But her teachers and family did not know how to tackle her. She recounts a memory in her childhood where she was considered a nuisance. She says “In religion class, I noticed over the years that the teachers would either sit me in the very front of the class so that if they were tall enough they could look over my head because I was small. Or if they were short, they would sit me in the back of the class. I mean they physically moved me at some point during the course of the year.. .so that they wouldn’t have to look at me [and that] they could ignore my hand. They didn’t want to deal with the questions....they were avoiding me [and it was] very, very frustrating....Some teachers were better than others but overall the nuns and the teachers.. .didn’t have the answers so...they intimidated you into being quiet in whatever way they could”. Another such significant incidence that Marie recalls is “...I was about twelve years old and...I did my holy communion as a Catholic. They ask you at that time to pick a name. The nuns came around expecting me to have a name and I hadn’t chosen a name. They said, c’mon Marie, pick a name. I said well I have to think  99  about it because they had asked me to pick a name to be a soldier of Christ, and I said what does that mean? They said you commit yourself to upholding the principles of Christ in your life. I said, I don’t know if I can do me it wasn’t a lighthearted thing that you just symbolically picked a name. I mean it was something that I had to think about whether I had the capacity to do or not. So I needed time to reflect. They were very upset with me at that time because they wanted me to just go through the formality and perform the act....They would force you to do things that I didn’t necessarily think...was correct....just casually choosing a confirmation name without respecting the whole process of it....It is a very serious commitment, it is not something that you do idlely....I remember I spent few days thinking about it and then I came back and told them, okay I feel I can do this. To me it was at that time [that] I dedicated myself to be a soldier and fight to uphold Christ’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. She recounts a significant incident in her life that made her loose all admiration for the church. 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 hundred years 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 eager about that because I had dedicated my life to preparing for His return. I was a soldier of Christ, so I wanted to hear about His return. The letter was going to be read at this particular Easter, and we waited and waited. Easter came and went and there were a lot of people asking to hear about it. Once again because, the Bishops or Cardinals or whoever it was that decided, we weren’t ready the same way they had [decided] a hundred years earlier [when they] had received the message about the return of Christ. At that time they decided the people aren’t ready to hear this  100  yet so we’ll leave it in the box. It was sealed in a box for a hundred years. They kept it in the archives at the Vatican. Then in 1969 they reviewed it and they decided once again that we weren’t ready for it. This incident somehow or other, intuitively or spiritually, made me lose all respect for the church. That they would decide not to tell us about something that was so significant. I had a really hard time understanding that....and then at eighteen I had realized that the Catholic church didn’t have the answers that I was looking for”. Marie left the church and was looking for spiritual answers else where. She mentions “I think that I realized I have to carry the burdens and move forward anyway and do the best I could even though I wasn’t sure where I was going. I left my home, when I was eighteen years old, and I started living on my own. I didn’t go to the church anymore....I began to realize that to really live the life of the teachings of Christ wasn’t just once a day or this business of going to confession and repeating the same sins every week...I also found that mass was boring and I just thought order to be spiritual I don’t have to go into a building. It’s for more than just one hour in 7 days. It is everyday. So I told my parents when I was eighteen that I wasn’t going to church anymore, that I was going to live my life according to the teachings of Christ but that I was going to do it on my own and that I was going to do it everyday, all day and not inside a building”. At the age of eighteen Marie left home, but prior to this incident she went through a very difficult period in her life. She sought acceptance and love in the sexual relationship that she had with a man and at the age of seventeen she gave birth 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 was seventeen I went through a difficult period. I had a child too, a boy  I thought no I  can’t keep the child because I know that we will never have anything but a life of anguish with this guy (her boyfriend) constantly destroying what was there. I gave  101  him away so he could have a normal life...that was very difficult. But I really prayed about that [and] I am sure Abdul-Baha came to me in a dream because there was a man in a white turban with a beard and I thought it was like Christ gone old you know. But now that I’ve seen these pictures (of Abdul-Baha) I don’t worry about it and it is incredible. This was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. What I learned from that is that I can do what is necessary even when it is very difficult. If it is more important than my well being then I will sacrifice that of myself in order to accomplish it. A very valuable lesson at a very early age....That caused me to again look at myself and what I wanted to do. Again this is when I decided to do certain things [such as] leave the church. Marie noticed a sense of disunity and discord among and between the followers of existing religions. As a result she did not choose to join any of the organized religions. For about ten years Marie attempted to arrive at answers through means other than religion. She was in search of a better way of living, a way that would give her more fulfillment and a way where her questions could be answered. 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 would make promises about this path will lead you here....And so for ten years I lived my life like that and I found it very difficult actually. I used the analogy of...walking through a dark alley because I was still searching for answers and so I went through drugs, alcohol, sex, and travelling, looking for spiritual answers in the dust....I did them all, I tried them all,.. .1 was experimenting. When I look back on it now I was searching. I really was searching because even though I’d left the church I realized that there was a better way to know and to love God and I was looking for it.... My overall goal was to achieve a higher level of living. Unlike with drugs which you were 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 all  102  kinds of drugs. I smoked cigarettes for five or six years. I started smoking when I was fifteen to about twenty one and by that time I was smoking about a pack and a half a day. That is quite a bit. I started smoking because my aunts, my father and all the people [that] I respected in my life who were sort of held up as examples for being successful and accomplished-people did these things. The people who went to church and said prayers regularly were ridiculed. So it took me some time to check out all of the things that these people did, [those] who upheld themselves as successful and ridiculed the other people that led quieter and more contributing lives. There was a dichotomy between the people who said they were successful and what kind of live they actually lived. It wasn’t the kind of success I was looking for in my life. When I was seventeen I started drinking alcohol. I drank quite a bit....I drank 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 and then occasionally until I was twenty-eight. I realized... [that] there was no quality in my life, that it was actually very lacking in takes away even your intelligence....I used to have these mood swings....I would swing from being full of energy, fun and sort of happy to full of anxiety...depressions, anger... [and] violent behavior. As a teenager I would throw things [and] swear. ..sometimes people used to run...and I used that as a control [in order] to get my own way. As an adult when I saw these sick, unsociable behaviors come out in me I realized what the sources were. I found that each one of them was a vacant promise. It was very damaging and I let them go one by one. the best of my ability, within the surroundings that I found myself. I removed myself from them”. Marie never lost her spiritual basis. She affirms that this foundation was the force that helped her to detach herself from such bonds as alcohol and drugs. She asserts “...I appreciated the spiritual basis that I had [received] when I was young  103  because it saved me from being stuck in there. From this foundation I had the strength to remove myself from a life of drugs or becoming a drug dealer or becoming a social alcoholic or total bag of nerves [by] smoking....I was raised a very strict Catholic, taught about respecting God, reverence and prayer and I really appreciate that background. [Although] it has been very difficult for me, overcoming some of the restrictions that the Catholic teachings reinforced, [yet] at the same time it [has] given me the basic discipline that I think a person requires to have a healthy balanced life. Marie’s two grandmothers’ lives played a significant role in her spiritual upbringing and beliefs. She says “...both my grandmothers actually were to me spiritual 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 abusive husband, he used to drink and then he would beat her. She never said anything bad about him.. .she never talked against him and she always had a sense of joy in her life. Grandma always went to church and she would say the rosary regularly, she was a very prayerful person. I could see the strength of her character, and my other grandmother was the same. Grandma would say the rosary and read the Bible everyday. 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 defined spirituality. She aimed at incorporating those values into her life. Over time she felt different from others in her family and kept her spiritual side of her to herself and outwardly seemed to be rough and followed other significant people such as her father or uncle in drinking. Marie mentions “...I kept the female side influence of my family to myself and on the outside I was the male side. Because the female side had always been attacked. You know the spiritual side was laughed at and so I  104  would 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 my marriage....”. Marie was made to believe that she would find life more meaningful once she married but to her surprise things did not change. She relates “My father always asked me, Marie when [are] you going to get married and be fulfilled? When I got married...the next day I woke up and I felt absolutely no different. I was very disappointed. I was supposed to be fulfilled. I still didn’t feel fulfilled; nothing had changed. What a shock of reality. I remember realizing that I didn’t have the answers; 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 life but there wasn’t the connection. My marriage was empty. It was an institution but it was asleep and it didn’t matter what I said to my husband I didn’t get through to him. The last two years of our six years marriage, we didn’t want any physical contact with each other at all. I mean in every way and the contact that we did have was verbally abusive and destructive.. .we swore at each other, everything was criticized.. .we were destroying each other. My husband would find any excuse he could, anything at all to do something without me. What he chose to do was all the things that I didn’t like. He would go gambling, he would go drinking, [and] he would go fishing. He didn’t do those things before and what I realized was that it wasn’t necessarily the act itself but what he was doing [was that, he] was avoiding me. So he was doing these things that I knew were destructive in character, except for fishing ofcourse, in order to get away....that is what the reality of the situation was 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 for counselling. We can’t figure this out ourselves bur he refused. His solution was to have a child and I said no because I realized that would complicate the issue. I was  105  already married to a child. ...He didn’t want to change or to grow and for me growth was essential and I guess that really was the key because if there was no growth in our marriage, then I felt I was going to die and he found growth threatening. I think that is when I realized [that] we didn’t have a marriage though I felt obliged to keep remain there because we were Catholics. That’s when the destructiveness...and the criticism started. I thought that was horrible, I mean this is not what a relationship is designed to be. It is not what the institution of marriage holds even in the Catholic church...and I couldn’t accept that any universal force that had created you out of love would want you to stay in a situation that was destructive to you... and I couldn’t believe for a minute that even the Pope would want you to stay married under those situations. I had another dream at that point. I was trying to decide what to do about my marriage and I had a vision. I get visions sometimes, and I could see that I had reached a point of coming to a Y. When I looked to see what would happen if I carried on in this relationship, I would die. Spiritually I was going to die and when I looked down the other path I saw this little light, just a speck. I have this ability to explore areas or paths with my mind and I can only describe to you the feelings that I had felt. When I went down the path of my marriage, when I just ventured a few steps into it I felt myself falling down and as I let myself fall I realized that there was no 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 path was dark but it was more like a tunnel. While I still wouldn’t be able to see very clearly where I was going, it was like walking towards a light rather than falling down a pit. It is like I realized we would destroy each other. Spiritually we would be living a life void of any fulfillment and happiness. I was standing at that crossroads and I had to make a choice. I decided to go for the light and to go for the  106  light 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 it very difficult for her to go ahead with her decision. She felt controlled and though she had compromised several years of her life in that marriage, she finally decided to file for a divorce and to let go. Two significant incidences confirmed the appropriateness of her actions. Marie relates “...I applied for the divorce... [and] the divorce court hearing lasted may be three minutes. By that time I was a Baha’i for six months and I had prayed for God’s will to be done. If there was anyway that this  marriage would work I wanted the divorce not to be granted but the divorce was granted. ...we were divorced. A few years later he wanted to marry...another Catholic woman who had never been married and wanted to get married in the Catholic church. In order to do that you have to have an annulment. He applied for the annulment and it was granted. At that time they were refusing annulments by the thousands. They had three thousand applications every year...and they would only grant six hundred throughout the world. It usually takes three years and ours was granted in six months. Both the divorce and the annulment were very very fast....I see that as a confirmation that this was not a marriage, that this was not a unity of two spirits or unity of anything except for friendship.  After her divorce her life took a different turn. She says “...ever since then I have been progressing towards that light and shortly after I separated from my husband I became a Baha’i. I decided after three months of investigation, recognizing, making that decision and taking that action has contributed to another transformation in my life which has led to many transformations. I think that, this was the stage in my dream when it started getting brighter, like dawn. The dawn came but I was still fenced in. Fenced in by old traditions, and restrictions and every once in a while when I would pull off to take a break. Just waiting for something to  107  happen. You know how you reach plateaus in your growth. I wasn’t progressing and I [would then] decide to venture again a little further, forward.” Marie came across the Baha’i Faith through her hairstylist. She says “...I had been getting my hair cut by him for about six months and while I was there I had noticed a few things about him....I noticed first of all that he was Turkish and while living in Scotland for about a year he learned English over there. So he was a Turk speaking English. Then within six months of coming to Canada he had...opened his own salon and had started his own business all by himself, independently. He had no family, he had nothing. And I know... [that] the business practices in Turkey...are very very different than those in Canada so I thought...this person had to go through a 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 in his 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 I wasn’t clear and I didn’t know. ...I mean I was in the back alley stumbling through the cans and the darkness. [But] he seemed to have a much clearer idea of what his purpose in life was. What was it that he knew that I didn’t know? So I asked him one day what he did for entertainment. He said he was a Baha’i, [and he did] a lot of Baha’i activities. He also told me that he played soccer so I thought [that] Baha’i is a sport...from Turkey. I left it at that and he didn’t say much more. The next time I was getting my hair cut I asked him what [have] you been doing, you know. He was all 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 I wasn’t clear what he was talking about. So I had to stop him and I said I’m sorry but what is Baha’i; what does Baha’i mean? So he told me and that’s when I said wow! I believe in that. I kept saying I believe that, I believe that and then I said well that’s  108  really interesting. I find it very interesting that you say it’s a religion and that it’s all organized because I thought I was the only weird one like this and I’d like to hear more about it. Then he talked more about it and the more I heard the more I realized that yeah this is what I believe in... Then he told me that Baha-u-llah is the return of Christ and I had been waiting 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 to know that for myself so I asked him if he had something to read and he gave me a pamphlet. I was very shy at that time and not able to say things as clearly as I am now. Also I didn’t want to insult him because I knew how sacred this was to him so I thanked him for the brochure but it was like giving a crumb to a starving was very hard to be polite and say I don’t want just a pamphlet, I want a book. I want to read the words of Baha’u’llah. But I didn’t know how to ask for that, so I said I found 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 page and a half of the writings of Baha-u-llah and twenty or thirty pages of writings of Abdul-Baha, the son of Baha-u-llah. I knew the difference between Baha-u-llah and Abdul-Baha and what I thought [was] why is Christ not saying these things that His son is saying. If He is really supposed to be return of Christ then how come He only wrote a page and a half and His son wrote all the rest. I thought [that] there was a discrepancy here but again I thought this would be very rude if I said this. I said well I’d like to read some more, hoping that I would get what I wanted but not knowing how to ask for it. I didn’t know in fact that there were numerous books [of the] writings of Baha-u-llah. He then gave me this book titled ‘Baha-u-llah and the New Era’ which I found even more frustrating. Well I remember sitting at home and I was all by myself. It was about sunset and I sat down to read this book. I was flipping through and I realized that this was not what I was looking for. I didn’t  109  want to read about the daily activities and history. That to me was not of importance until I determined if Baha’u’llah was the return of Christ. That was to be read later. I wanted to get to the core. I wanted to know if this person was who He claimed to be. So I asked God, “if Baha-u-llah is really the return of Christ I want to know but I don’t know how to find out. Could I use this book as a means? I know it hasn’t got the right information but please let me know...I want to dedicate myself to this, to dedicate my life to Christ. I want to know”. I mean when you love someone you want to know if it’s them. So I sat down, made myself comfortable after asking for assistance and started reading the book. While I was reading I had this incredible sense of peacefulness and tranquility come over me. I realized that I had come home, that yes Baha-u-llah was the return of Christ and that intuitively and spiritually I had received that communication.... [later] I did read the Kitab-i Iqan (the book of certitude) [and] it was wonderful. It was like letters from your lover, you recognize them instantly. There is no question. I know if I would have read the writings [of Baha-u-llah] I would have known right away, I would have had the same experience.”. The next stumbling block Marie needed to overcome was the willingness to join an organized religion. In order to do that she wanted to find out and see if the teachings of Baha-u-llah were being practised by His followers. Marie mentions “...I started saying [that] I should meet some of these people. I know Christ, but I also know that good Catholics don’t necessarily live their life according to the teachings of Christ. I want to see these Baha’is. I had read the ‘Reality of Man’ so I had some idea about what they were supposed to be doing. ...I wasn’t expecting them to be demonstrating all of those qualities because I realized that it takes time to develop them, I mean [a] lifetime. But I wanted to see if there was any evidence that they had 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. I  110  decided that it was much more significant for me to associate myself and to put my contribution or my efforts into developing the worthwhile structure of a new world order, than to wander around in this back alley for the rest of my life, not getting very far”. Thus Marie’s faith was restored back in religion. She mentions “....That is when 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, rather an extension of being responsible for your spiritual development instead of letting a priest take care of it. Learning to turn directly to the Divine source rather than through a man. That is when I felt the transformation and that is how I came to have another family to compare to. Now I didn’t have only the alcoholic family as an example. That is when I started realizing that there were options and choices in life and that I had rights and obligations. That these things that I had recognized at an early age that were ridiculed in my family and that I had learned to hide from the world were actually tremendously valuable. I discovered that in this environment it was safe to come out. So that is when the transformation took place and slowly like a 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 her questions. She affirms “...It wasn’t until I became a Baha’i that most of my burning questions about life were answered and that is when I became more relaxed about my life. Remember I said in my dream that I just accepted my vehicle, which I feel was my body, my life, my role here, or whatever it is, whatever you call it. As for what the man and the haywagon means I am still not entirely clear but to me I think it means the old world order and that I have successfully let it pass by. That I am now beyond the point or a psychologically, intellectually and spiritual level of being connected to the old man-made traditions and whatever it was that has blocked or inhibited me from having a happy successful life.”.  111  The principle of ‘unity of religions’ attracted her mind (intellectually) to the Baha’i Faith. She mentions “when I was in grade 12, we had done a comparative religion class of different religions. The conclusion of the class was that basically all religions believe in the same God, they just call it a different [name] and we have different social practices. That was really the only difference but more importantly we concluded that all the teachings were the same. I don’t know what my other classmates did with this new found knowledge, but I decided to move through my life with the understanding that there was only one God and that we were all created equally and that there was only really one religion because it was from the same source and that we are all the same human beings even though we are different colors and I believed in equality even though I didn’t see very much of these principles practised....This is how come when I heard about the Baha’i teachings, I said you mean there is actually a religion like that because I thought that I was the only weird one. Because to me there was no one else around that I knew of that believed these things or at least tried to live them. I was doing my best to 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 wet and dampfull of trash cans and pot holes. Figuratively speaking, I would bump into them and hurt myself or I would fall over or step into a puddle unexpectedly. I was always fearful of someone jumping [on] me and attacking me because I never knew what was going to happen next. Dark alleys are dark alleys. When I became a Baha’i; when I recognized the Faith and became a Baha’i, to me it was like coming to 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 in accomplishing my life goals was like ten times, a hundred times faster than what I had experienced in the past...”.  112  ‘Oneness of Mankind’ is the other principle of the Baha’i Faith that has had a profound effect on Marie. She says “I’m now beginning to appreciate another principle. Other than words, I didn’t have much idea about the fullness of the truth of ‘Onness of Mankind’. I mean the extent of my understanding was limited to physically being together and “live and let live”. I’m beginning to understand that our very thoughts, or what I think of you will affect you. It will not only affect you but it will affect me even more. If I think happy wonderful loving thoughts about you then I get the same in return in my whole body. But if I think of how I don’t like the way you do things...I can feel all the tension, anger and frustration come into my life and into my body. That’s why I say it can affect the body. So my thoughts effect my body like a thermometer and tell my spirit look at what’s happening. I think there’s many aspects and multifacets to being and this reality is sometimes shocking for people who believe in a black and white rationale”. This principle broadened her scope on interpersonal relationships and she became aware of the related addictions that had affected her life. Marie was now clearly aware of the aspects of her character that needed working on. She also realized 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 the dream), and I’d slowly pull off to the side...It wasn’t until I had really let go, given up on the old way of living because of the pain it gave me that I really realized the full extent of addiction that our society is in and how much they’ve affected my life. The tangible ones like alcohol and drugs and cigarettes and bad eating habits and also the other more intangible spiritual ones of negativity or judgement or criticism and anger, 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 drive casually along or pull over and idle waiting for something to happen. You have to really work at removing these things from your life. The only way to do it is to turn  113  to 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 the joyful purpose for which we were created.”. Marie’s inter-personal relationship with her mother was one segment of what constituted her ‘old world order’. Her mother’s abuses took a different route at this stage 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 a Baha’i the devil had possessed me and I was to be exorcised. She did her best for five years to try to get me back into the Catholic church. ...Initially my mother would call saying that she wanted to know more about the Baha’i Faith. That was always her hook. She really didn’t want to know, she wanted to use it as a means to ask 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 felt was appropriate. A place where she would feel comfortable. The fireside was going to be given by a woman of her own age from a similar kind of background, because she told me that she didn’t feel comfortable with people of different backgrounds at that time. So I called her up and told her about the time and the place and that I would go with her. She said okay I’ll go to your fireside if you come with me on a three day retreat, a Catholic retreat. Immediately I felt like a caged animal....I didn’t want to go, there was no desire, I hadn’t requested the retreat. So I said I’ll think about this. I thought about it for a while and I realized what the reason was for this coming up. The reason my mom was asking to go to a fireside was to make the sacrifice to God so that she could get me to go to the retreat. That even if she went to the fireside she wouldn’t hear a thing anyway because she was being the martyr, you know martyring herself to some extent to save her daughter. She would go into the den of wolves to save her daughter from this situation and then she would bring me to the retreat for purification. I thought, I don’t want to go to the  114  retreat, she is the one who has asked to go to a fireside. So I called her up and I told her this is not up for negotiation. I am simply fulfilling a request of yours to go to fireside. I told you about it, you are welcome to come and I will go with you but that is as far as it goes because if you don’t want to go that is fine too. I said but I am not going to the retreat in exchange. That is not the agreement. What it caused me to realize was the kind of manipulation that had been going on in my life and that is when I went through another transformation of letting go of the control. Of keeping my 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 for both 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. My right to have a choice over my own life. I chose personal responsibility for my spiritual life over my existing relationship with my mother. I chose to be responsible for my own life as opposed to letting someone else control it, which is basically what has been the underlying theme throughout my life but this takes a lot of courage. I think the oniy way that you can do that is if you are truly committed to doing what is right in life”. Baha’u’llah’s writings gave me the courage and strength to claim what was 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 be exorcised out of her daughter before she could have her daughter back. She wasn’t ready to accept the change and the change was that I had decided to accept responsibility for my life in a way that she wasn’t sure of. I knew to go back would be spiritual death for me. I also knew that if two people argue about religion then both are wrong so I called a truce with my mother and started praying for my parents well-being”.  115  In retrospect Marie looks positively at those difficult times and says “What I found in those attacks [is that] has actually caused me to think about what I am doing and to really understand the foundation of what my motivation is. My mother’s attacks actually resulted in my being a firmer Baha’i and has been a catalyst for greater growth or transformation of my person and my character. I also now know that I don’t do these things ideally or frivolously”. During the process of her change Marie saw a difference in her relation with her parents. She says “...a couple of years after I had been a Baha’i, I realized that I also wanted to develop my love for my father...I just decided one day to show him more clearly that I loved him and that is where I needed to do--I recognized that because of my insights as a Baha’i, I needed to go 75% of the way. To expect him to go 50% was unfair. He could go 25% as he did not have access to the guidance and teachings for this age. I had the guidance and if I would go 75 then we could have a greater connection....I started accepting my mother and just praying for my parents everyday. I would do my best to honor my relationship with my mother even when we were having these problems. I still prayed for her asking for some way that we could have a relationship.. .Ten years after becoming a Baha’i when I was thirty eight years old I decided to stand up and be more honest especially with my mother....Since then, our relationship has reached a level that I’ve never experienced before. I told them that “I am going to stop lying to you. That I am going to do what I want to do. Now I’m just going to tell you the truth even though it may upset you. I don’t necessarily need your approval although I value your wisdom and I can appreciate that somethings I do will upset you. It’s unfortunate but there are somethings I have to do. I am responsible for my life not you, not anymore”. And they accepted it.. ..without my spiritual focus I wouldn’t have been  116  able to achieve the transformation and get into a more mature relationship with my parents”. 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 I intended [to do, therefore] I started looking for alternatives....I was seeking a way of letting go of alcohol...I was looking for an acceptable way of stopping. Then I met this 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 juice too. It had not occurred to me before to consider orange juice as a drink. Alcohol was one of the easiest things for me to free myself of, cigarettes wasn’t even that hard, but sex was hardest because for me it symbolized that I was loved and accepted. It appeared to be a very tangible way of being accepted but when I looked closely at it I realized that no, I wasn’t getting that either. It took being involved in several very destructive relationships to realize that sex without a spiritual 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 of myself and choosing what was important to me so I started choosing and behaving in ways that honored my own well-being. I started doing things like changing my diet 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 a prayer I could hardly say it because I was so scared. You develop a fear of speaking when you are always attacked and...nothing you say is right. So you loose a lot of confidence. I remember very clearly, when I was eighteen years old my boyfriend introducing me to a friend of his and I could hardly get the word “hello”out, I was so shy. Now I find myself making presentations in front of sixty/eighty people.  117  Tremendous transformation in terms of personal development and service to mankind. 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 a few 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 my affairs in Thy hand. Thou art my guide and my refuge.’; It would feel ok up until this point and then I would say; ‘I will no longer be sorrowful and grieved, I will be a happy and joyful being. 0 God, I will no longer be full of anxiety, nor will I let trouble harrass me. I will not dwell on the unpleasant things of life.’; and when I said those words I thought how can I do that? You know, how can I be a happy being? I can’t say that I’ll no longer be sorrowful and grieved because I was full of it....And not to let trouble harass me, well I did. And not to dwell on the unpleasant things of life I did. I must have said this prayer thousands of times over the years -  and I still say it everyday. I have memorized it. I believe in what Abdul-Baha says when He concludes with the words 0 God, Thou art more friend to me than I am ‘  to myself. I dedicate myself to Thee, 0 Lord.’. It was through that recognition and dedication that I received the guidance to be a joyful being. How to be free of anxiety, how to let trouble not be a harassment in my life. I now look at harassment as an opportunity to practice spiritual qualities and the anxiety evaporates. Slowly over the years I have been learning these things. Now I have achieved that sense of calmness that I had when I first asked for assistance of identifying Baha-u-llah. Now it is a permanent part of my life, whereas before it was only for brief moments...but now I’m able to achieve it for many hours, a week. The periods are getting longer all the time. Maybe I’ll achieve years of it, I don’t know, but I really feel like now I’m definitely around another bend. Now I [have] gotten not only into a car but  118  maybe even a jet plane or even a rocket. I’m not walking any longer, I’m moving much faster..... Although Marie sees a great change within herself yet she is aware of the fact that in every walk of life she may encounter difficulties. She mentions “...I have my struggles. Moving with that speed...has it’s own hazards. ..and risks but at the same time 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 a country road. But some fences still remained. Marie had reached another plateau in her growth and she decided to find out what these fences represented so that she could work at removing them. She mentions”...two [or] three years ago I made a commitment to have clarity and joy in my life and it’s when I made that commitment that many other things came about”. At this phase of her life she encountered a tremendous difficulty which motivated her to find more ‘clarity’ in her life and which in return was a catalyst to her growth. She mentions I guess the final catalyst or as they say the straw that “  broke the camel’s back, was when I had accepted a contract with the Steven’s International School for five years to be their business manager. Here again I delegated responsibility of my life to another person and they managed it to the best of their ability but it wasn’t the way that I would have chosen. As a result I paid a heavy 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 my confidence [was] totally destroyed. Also at that time it was unheard of to lay off management. One simply didn’t lay off business managers so I was very unprepared for this action. Companies lay off everybody else but a business manager because the common thinking is that in my position I made them money. I didn’t cost them money, I more than paid for myself. Initially it was told to me that was a decision of  119  the National Spiritual Assembly so I accepted it. Being obedient to the National Assembly I waited for a couple of weeks and I didn’t get a letter; I didn’t get anything from them. I called one of the other National Spiritual Assembly members who [also] served on the school council. I called to find out when I was going to get my letter. He told me that the National Assembly had never met about it nor was it their decision to lay me off. I can’t explain how shocked I was and I was very angry about that. Painful, very painful. You know, an abuse of trust.... The council decided that and since I had completed the renovation and established the operating structures they thought that the principal could manage the operation of the school himself. I expected him actually to stand up for me more than he did  ...  [but] by the time I decided to fight for myself it was too late, I  was already out of the school... [and] fighting would worsen the situation...I think that it was a lesson in realizing that I cannot delegate my life, my well being to the care of 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 man because that’s what I was taught to do, that I again would become very unhappy....I realized that I needed to have clarity in my life and the oniy way I could have clarity was 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 was not able to work she had a lot of free time on her hands. She says” I spent a lot of time going to the doctor’s. I was on UIC and I wasn’t able to work so....The situation formed a catalyst for me to spend sometime to explore different things. I was 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 problem drinker and that alcohol and his dedication to it had caused a lot of misery in the family and in my life. Then I read some books about Adult Children of Alcoholics and I was devastated when I found out that, that is basically who I was. A lot of the  120  problems in my life were related to co-dependency, addictive behaviors manipulation and being manipulated. I knew that this was not a good way to live but 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 in my adult life and this destructive way of living was why I was having problems with clarity and lack of joy. So when I declared to God, to the universe, to anybody who would listen that I want clarity and joy in my life, it opened up many doors and this is what happened. Part of my clarity was seeing through the illusion that my dad was a social drinker and accepting that he was a functioning wasn’t until I realized and accepted this that I understood why my dad placed business and alcohol above relationship with us...and also that my mother [was] a co-dependent and [had] neurotic behavior. I saw clearly how these problem behaviors had many many ramifications 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 direct instead of being nice then I wouldn’t have found myself in that position. I remember situations when we would go to council meetings and I would play the role of the co-dependent. Like making light of certain situations rather than being frank so as not to make your boss or other people look bad. So in the end I’m the one 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 a prominent role in her recovery. She says “...I was going to counsellors, reading lots of books, [and] I came across this one book by Anthony Robbins. Almost on the first page of his book I read this one line that said ‘The road to success is always  121  under construction’. All of a sudden the reality of this statement hit home for me because before that all my life I’d been looking for a door, where is the key, where is the door, where is the door that is going to open, which door do I have to go through? When I realized the importance of his statement and I looked back at my life then I was able to identify all the successes. Each one accumulated, added to another and summed up to my being very successful. What was causing me tremendous pain was the denial of the process. So I realized that my road would always be under construction. I was very excited and I remember bouncing into the counsellor’s office that day excited [saying] I’ve found out the answer and I told her about this”. Marie continued her therapy for about a year and it was coming to a natural conclusion when her father died. She says “Before he died I felt that I had accomplished what I wanted to do”. Among the books that she read was ‘Struggle for Intimacy’. Marie says “I read this one book called ‘Struggle for Intimacy’. It talks about relationships and the myths of intimacy in relationships. This was the second book which helped me to recognize and shatter patterns in relationships that I knew, as a Baha’i, were not profitable in my life, patterns that brought me nothing but pain and for which I was seeking a way of letting go but I hadn’t found the source. When I read that book my initial feelings from it were one of total devastation of everything I had been brought up with. Concepts and behaviors that I’d want to get rid of, along with others that I thought were ok were destroyed completely. My life structure, the way I lived my life, my patterns of relating to other people all swept away. I realized...the manner in which I was so familiar with living...needed not to be cleaned up or altered or repaired but rather it needed to be condemned. I was living in this structure that was always giving out on me at unexpected moments, the very times I was looking for support from it. While reading the book I stopped to meditate upon where I was and that is when I realized that the structure that I was  122  familiar with was gone, was just wiped out. I found myself in this oblivion of grey...there was nothing there, nothing familiar. I had never experienced this, it wasn’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 a spirit I myself have light. So I was radiating light into the situation and before when I had [light], in that marriage, I was a very small dots of light. I didn’t have that same kind of energy. It is like the difference between a campfire and a 100 watt bulb. 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. She further mentions “For a few minutes after the myths that I had lived with were wiped out, I was full of despair and anxiety wondering what I am going to do. Then I stopped myself [and] I made a commitment to look for the good things. I ask now what is good about this? I forced myself to stop dwelling in my anguish and look for the good. To have the courage to look because I believed that if I had the courage to use my spiritual eye to look for the good thing in that situation that I would find it because I knew that the only thing that was holding me back was the courage. I had to force myself to look because I had learned to live my life scared to look but I had also discovered that you live your life in an illusion of fear when you don’t look. So I looked and suddenly it came to me that now I could construct a solid foundation....what I saw was, yes now I can truly replace the old order instead of being deluded into repairing it. Now I can go out and search for the things that I know will give me a good foundation. That is what I have been doing. I’ve been reading 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 environment and I’ve been building. I have been learning a new way of life based on the spiritual guidance of the Baha’i teachings.”  123  Marie experienced several painful relationships with men. The book ‘Women who love too much’ brought into forefront the patterns of her behavior that contributed to her problem. She says “...thirty one to thirty three I went through a very difficult relationship with a man and it was very cruel not physically but mentally....Then when I was thirty five I started another relationship that I thought was really great. We were going to get married actually until one day he decided to choose the hedonistic way of life and broke off the engagement..he said that he preferred using drugs, drinking and partying to leading a spiritually enriching life. It was a very good lesson and plummeted me into probably one of the most painful periods of my life...There was tremendous anguish for me... and the blessing was that it taught me how to find was great lesson in the sense of learning detachment. I read this book called ‘Women Who Love too Much’ [and] that is when I realized a lot of my patterns were dysfunctional in relationships, sacrificing and denying all yourself for the benefit of the man. Not because you choose to but because you think it is part of your role as a partner--an obligation. There is a big difference between choosing and thinking it’s an obligation. [It] caused me to think about what could I have been ignoring. Now when I look back on it there were definitely signs, things that were there but I hadn’t wanted to recognize or believe them. Again it was being the master co-dependent, master of the illusion, also an adult child of alcoholic being utterly loyal to the bitter end, beyond recall. These experiences 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 teaching me 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 pain to educate myself rather than wallow in self pity, blind to the patterns. Another book that contributed to Marie’s recovery was ‘Affirmations’. Marie mentions “Later I read this book called ‘Affirmations’ and what I learned from this  124  book was how to lighten up in my life. How to affirm myself. I had been looking for thirty nine years for others to affirm me without satisfaction. It wasn’t until I started affirming myself that I realized that actually is why we are asked to pray. Through prayer we can affirm the true nature of our spirit consciously and regularly everyday and even if someone says something critical, it gives us the strength not to necessarily take it in our heart....’. These affirmations helped boost Marie’s self-esteem and instill confidence within her. When Marie was going through group therapy she received unconditional 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 workshop called a Reiki workshop. I knew about three or four people from the previous workshop when I came to the Friday night session, missed Saturday and came back on Sunday. I remember when I came in on Sunday I walked in and everybody was happy 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 back Sunday but they were thrilled to see me. They gave me a welcome like I was an old friend. I was going through group therapy at that time and I remember telling my counsellor that I didn’t do anything to deserve their welcome or love. I explained how I’d just come there and I hadn’t said anything of significance. The group questioned me more on this and what I realized in the end was that I believed that I had never been accepted or loved for who I was and this was very rare and unfamiliar to me. What I realized was for most of my life, in order to get love I had to perform, I had to do astounding things in order to catch attention and to deserve the 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 loved for no other reason than because I was created”.  125  Marie changed her perspective towards her father’s love for herself. She came to understand her father’s alcoholic behavior when after her father’s death she read the book ‘When Society Becomes an Addict’. She says “...I read another book called ‘When Society Becomes an Addict’ and realized then the complications [of] the addictive behavior and how there is almost no choice for addicts. It takes tremendous effort [to make a choice] and that is when I realized how much courage it takes [to do so]...the way I resolved the pain (of her father’s death) was first to acknowledge his death, then pray to be given assistance to resolve my anger around it, to wait for the answer and then act upon the indirect suggestion to read this book that came shortly after my prayers. Reading this book helped me to accept the society that he grew up in and to understand what his choice was. Then I could accept that his choice wasn’t a denial of me, that it was just his way of life and that that was the best he could do. Initially the anger was covering up the hurt and the perceived rejection but when I dared to probe, I realized that it wasn’t really rejection; that my father had loved me to the best of his ability. Thus I laid another demon 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 to resolve hidden issues. She mentions “Stevens school created the desire, the accident created the means and my access to (Baha’i) writings provided the guidance....the books on psychology were like a focused source of light and identification of where the 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 fight it. I knew I wanted joy in my life and that I needed more clarity and understanding about how to manifest Baha’u’lIah’s guidance to achieve this joy. I had suffered enough to cause me to stop living my life according to man-made guidance and willing to follow firmly divinely inspired guidance. I thank God for His mercy in  126  that I was almost completely blind to the extent of how much I would have to severe myself from my old training order to proceed at all. I was able to clearly see what brought me pain and sadness, how to eventually avoid these things and recognize what patterns in my behavior [that] not only encouraged disfunctions but created or ensured that they would result in pain. This transformation and insight has made a big difference in my quality of life. I now know without a doubt that there is nothing you will not be assisted in resolving if you are willing to face your own insecurities, fears and weaknesses, to accept them as a part of reality and a gift for your growth, to thank God for that enlightenment and to focus your energies on strengthening and working on those areas rather than to get caught up in self pity and remorse. That is the kind of security I possess now, this is the behavior I am going to develop. I know I am not perfect and will continue to make mistakes but now I have a much better idea of how to correct my life if it has sadness.” Marie came to see how she had contributed to the problem and what she could in turn learn from it. She says “This is what I always look for, what have I done, what is my part because that is really the only part I can have control over....I think that in everything that happens there is an opportunity or purpose in it...I see that I have an opportunity to learn while I’m going through it. As quickly as I can, I identify what is the principle behind it, what can I learn from this, where do I need to grow, where are my weaknesses, what do I need to strengthen. It is like a test run. You learn something and you apply it. You can drive your car until the brakes don’t work and then you have run into something to stop. It hurts a little but then you learn that this behaviour is dangerous and you change your behaviour while fixing the brakes. I found out the steering didn’t work and I was in trouble. When I decided to take what appeared to be the easier route and I relied on someone else to steer, we got into an accident. I can’t blame anybody for that, it was my choice,  127  I gave them permission to steer and then they steered in a direction I didn’t want to go in. Am Ito be criticizing them? No, what it tells me is that I need to be steering all the time. Not steering according to my desires and fancies but steering according to God’s guidance for my well-being. Now actually I’m really grateful for all my life’s experiences. If nothing else, I learned how not to do it. I realize now even that is important”. In the process of her recovery and transformation Marie combined spiritual and 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 that surrounded her. She asserts “I’ve always done that (combined spiritual and scientific means). Reading the books, going for counselling, going for acupuncture they are all alternative means of healing yourself. As long as it fits within the principles I believe in and am committed to I would certainly use it ....absolutely they have all contributed. I cannot do it alone. I am not an island....and that is what I’ve had to learn. If I am working on something and it is not working out quite right, I just recognize my own limitations and humbly ask for assistance (from God) to provide me with the means or to direct me in the right direction to teach me what I need to know and grant me the strength to do it. I have many tools available to me. Whereas when I was young I had nothing except 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, inter relationships [and] all of these concepts [that] enable you to function better....”. Marie learnt to realize that the fences denoted different things at different times in her life. At one time the fences signified the type of work environment that she would like to work in. She says “I was fenced in and it can be interpreted as representing a number of things. In one form, I was fenced in trying to live a life of  128  harmony and unity, cooperation and support, nurturing and patience and all of these virtues within a corporate structure or a business. That destroyed me that there is no place or tolerance for [it]. Again, I was finding that I was having to compromise what I believed in, in order to function in a structure where I had to earn a living....I realized that...I had to form my own [work-place environment]...[in order to] take another step towards transformation to really live that much more of the life of a spiritual being. This allows me to regulate my thoughts in my daily activities and to develop my own organization based on the principles that I know are correct. Not try and function within what is available. Again getting back and doing what is right  as opposed to doing it the right way or norm. You know it would be easy for me to go 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 to live by are much higher than most jobs or people allow or are aware of. Naturally there is conflict. Now I found [a] company that I may work with, that supports and encourages those concepts and ideals I have learned to value. In fact without those principles in action it just doesn’t work. So I’m able to live what I believe in twenty four hours a day, rather than compromising several hours a day and then going home, feeling guilty about the compromise and feeling frustrated about it. I’m so much happier too”. Marie at present is in consumer-direct sales working with the Melaleuca, Inc. company. Marie feels comfortable working with the Melaleuca, Inc. because she does not feel she has to compromise her values in doing her daily work. When speaking about it she mentions “ is like an applied course in human sciences and it’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 learning how to welcome people with joy. Working with Melaleuca allows me to practice and develop the spiritual skills which I have learned are truly of prime importance.  129  I find [that] I don’t have to compromise any of my beliefs in order to do this business. In fact I’m able to bring them out into the full light, dust them off and to apply them. It is much more challanging this way”. Marie’s strength has empowered her to be of assistance to her friends in their time of difficulty. Her friends are able to derive strength from her suggestions and counsels. She relates “...friends have many times told me that when they really want a clear answer, they come and talk to me because they know that I will give them the truth. They also tell me that I am their greatest test. Well, I have learned to appreciate that. I thank God for being of service. It is not an easy service but at least I know I am being useful. I am acting as a catalyst through reflections that will lead to something better in the long term”. Marie’s strong sense of intuition has played a key role through her spiritual journey and transformation. She says “...One of my gifts I have discovered is that I am very intuitive. I find that before I knew much about the (Baha’i) Faith I would do 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 correct way to do it, or [that] Abdul-Baha had actually [said or written that]. So I know that I have developed an inner vision and I don’t necessarily need to read it in order to perceive what is right. I know I have this very strong instinct about what’s good although 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 sufficient understanding 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 is how I view life, what my attitude is towards it and accepting that the best standard to safely develop my attitude is the writings of Baha-u-llah. There I find a true measure, [and] standard. When I’ve lived my life according to man’s standard, I  130  found a lot of pain. Now I find that the more I’m able to live my life in harmony with spiritual principles, the less I suffer on this Earth. I still have my struggles and sometimes I forget. Sometimes these old habits die hard and usually it (the difficulties) becomes more sophisticated. Whenever I have any trouble in my life I look for what is the spiritual principle underlying this situation. The sooner I can identify that the sooner it will be resolved, and then harmony and peace comes back....” 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 am primarily a spiritual being... [an] evolving spiritual being. My purpose, everything that I do in life and always my goal, is to know and to love God. What I’ve learned to identify is that if I’m not happy, it is because I’m not doing something where I can fulfill my purpose. Now after so many years and opportunities to practice it has become much easier for me to correct my behavior to one which will lead me to joy and harmony. So instead of taking me five years it takes me five minutes because Baha’u’llah’s teachings has allowed me the insight and clarity in what makes me happy and what brings joy to my heart. I have experienced enough spiritual joy that I’m able to identify it....I now prefer and choose to focus in on seeking the good quality of even a very difficult situation, and every time I find something joyous about 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 down  that have led me to a dead end and I’ve had to come back [and] start over again....They’ve all been of use to me because I know both where I’m not going anymore, and where I’m now going....Those that attack me, attack only my physical being and it has nothing to do with me. It does not penetrate nor do I feel abandoned or feel the need to rise up and please that person just for the necessity of  131  being accepted or loved. This is true liberty. I’ve learned to identify that I have a lot of love and that if a person at that point is unable to love that is ok. It has nothing to do with my overall being. That to me is a tremendous transformation for a person who at one time was unable to achieve peace in her life”. She further says “ transformation has always come when I have looked inside and I’ve realized what I need to change in order to be a better more harmonious, more balanced person. If it means not listening to destructive influences outside your mind then that is what I do. Sometimes it means correcting my own behavior and thoughts, particularly my thoughts because my behavior is just a manifestation of my thoughts and this is where I’ve always applied the principle of independent investigation. Now I have reached a point in my life where I’m beginning to understand how to love people. I wasn’t taught how to love people. I would check myse1f hide myself, not trust them. I’m going through another transformation, how to love people, how to feel connected with them. Up until even just a few months ago I really didn’t know how to feel connected to anybody....So I’ve updated and I’ve grown”. The desire to connect with people has motivated Marie to participate in group activities, such as the ‘Bayan Toastmasters’ which was started by the Vancouver Baha’i deepening committee. She states “I find Toastmasters provides a similar kind of opportunity (as in group therapy) for me. Ofcourse we do not talk about personal problems but I am able to develop the behaviour I learned that I have to strengthen in order to connect with people. My group was wonderful enough to explain to me when I asked of the things I was doing (my behaviors) that prevented me from connecting to groups of people and gaining their empathy. I was sabotaging 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 connect  132  in group dynamics. It provides the vehicle to force myself to enjoy seeking the support and attention of people . 11 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 gone through many skins, yes a series of transformations. Like a snake that sheds its skin every year. Now I am at the stage where...I have made a stronger spiritual connection to God or the creator or whatever you call it. I call it God for sake of identification”. Marie looks at her transformation experience and says “The road is always under construction and sometimes you have a little bit of light, sometimes it is a little bumpier than others and sometimes you have paved parts. That is life. What I’m going through now is learning how to be flexible and adjust to the variances while going through the process of transforming and degrees of it so that I can be ever more joyous and happy”.  133  COMMENTARY Marie is an adult child of a religious, alcoholic family. Marie’s existence could be characterized as chaotic and abusive. She lived a life of spiritual starvation and emotional depravation. She often felt frustrated and angry at the world, (family, friends, and the teachers) who challenged and attacked her inquiring mind. She experienced life as harsh, punitive, and constraining. She also had bouts of depression coupled with suicidal thoughts. She felt manipulated and often manipulated others by her violent behavior. As a result of these experiences she developed low self esteem and lack of confidence where she was intensely afraid of speaking in public. She was afraid of life and yearned for a life of security, stability serenity, and spiritual fulfillment. Marie’s grandmothers’ spiritual lifestyle and nature played a significant role in her early upbringing (they said their prayers and the rosaries regularly, and went to 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 found meaningful. Marie had a strong yearning for Christ’s return. After Holy communion she had considered herself the ‘so1dier of Christ”and was devoted to upholding principles of Christ. At the age of eighteen she was overjoyed when the church announced it’s intention of reading a letter that was sent to the Pope in the 1860’s addressing Christ’s return. Unfortunately for Marie, on reviewing the letter the church agreed that the people were not ready for this message and decided not to disclose it. As a result of this incident she felt betrayed and lost hope in finding answers through the church. Unable to relate to any other religion or religious denomination (as she thought they were pervaded by disunity) she became estranged 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,  134  drugs and sex. Other than travelling, these paths were unfulfilling practices. She describes her search as a path of “experimentation , a breaking through the 11 boundaries 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 her further and further away from her goal: seeking spiritual growth and closeness to Christ. She found her life lacking quality and began to feel despondent. Her early spiritual upbringing gave her the strength to identify the problem and developed a desire 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 a significant role in her transformation. She observed a sense of tranquility and purposefulness in him that she admired and envied. Marie was curious to know the source of Mustafa’s inner-contentment and harmony. At this time, he introduced her to the Baha’i Faith. The principles of the Baha’i Faith gave her a sense of relief because they were congruent with her own religious beliefs which in the past were ridiculed 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. She decided to investigate this for herself, thus leading her path of search back to religion. Her search was initially frustrating because she was too shy to ask for access to the writings of Baha’u’llah. The books Mustafa gave her did not address her burning question: Was Baha’u’llah the return of Christ? and she was overcome with anguish. In complete humility she supplicated to God for guidance and assistance. This act of supplication led to the peak experience (refer to case study #3, p. 109) that resulted in phenomenal feelings of serenity, peacefulness and relaxation which imparted a meaningful answer to her question. Marie felt a sense of unity among the members of the Baha’i community and it instilled hope within her and thus her faith was restored back in religion. By accepting the Baha’i Faith  135  she did not feel separated from Christ but rather felt re-connected to Him on a deeper level. The two basic principles of the Baha’i Faith, namely the unity of religions 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 which led to a deep sense of belonging. Marie felt more relaxed and comfortable as she was able to acquire meaningful answers to her life-long questions through the Baha’i writings. Religion and her spiritual upbringing gave her the strength to supplant the negative addictions and actions with positive behavior and substitutes. Her friendship with Mustafa, raised her awareness to higher levels which made a difference in removing herself from a life of drinking. In her growth process she depended immensely on the Baha’i prayers and found religion the source of strength for change. A critical incident (being laid off work) led Marie to realize the existence of certain inadequacies in her which hampered her personal growth. As a result of her family back-ground she lacked courage and confidence to assert herself. She gave responsibility for decision making in her life to others and subsequently felt bitter about 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 with ample time to explore the source of her problem, she began to utilize the existing services within the community (Alnon, ACOA meetings, individual and group counselling and bibliotherapy). These were of great benefit to Marie and helped her to gain insight into the effects of her dysfunctional family life, upbringing and patterns of behavior. This revelation filled her with feelings of devastation and demolition. These feelings paved the way for growth. Community services gave insight and Baha’i writings provided the means for bringing about change (developing a healthy attitude and lifestyle). She relied heavily on a specific prayer revealed by Abdu’l-Baha which she recites daily to date.  136  A 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 felt relieved to know that growth is a life long process. Thus Marie was able to recognize and validate her own accomplishments and successes in life. She reflected on her behavior and thoughts and mustered the courage to take step towards change using 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 her progress. His sudden severance of their relationship was a painful experience for Marie. But she believes it taught her detachment from worldly pre-occupations. Marie actively strives to look for the underlying lesson in hardships and makes conscious effort to change attitudes as a process of growth. In times of difficulty her focus is on the immanent and transcendental qualities of life and derives strength from these capacities and forces. The knowledge of her identity, spiritual core, gives her strength, courage and feelings of liberation. Marie has developed a vivid purpose in life: To know and to love God. She believes 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 connect with them on a deeper level. She has developed a more mature and intimate relationship with her parents. The realization of a specific spiritual quality (honesty) has helped enrich her relationship with her mother. Marie takes joy and happiness in acts of service to others. She has the courage to give public presentations and feels secure about herself. She transmutes painful experiences into learning incidences and finds hardships purposeful and opportunities for personal growth. She has the courage to look for her weaknesses and using the Baha’i writings transmutes them into strengths. Marie has made positive changes to  137  her lifestyle by substituting healthy alternatives to previous addictions and has developed healthy eating habits. She is able to connect with God and relies heavily on Him for growth. Her yearning for excellence has made her focus on the development of spiritual qualities. Spiritual values govern her practice at work (she is in consumer-direct sales working with the Melaleuca, Inc. Company) and gives a meaningful dimension to her job.  138  CHAPTER 5. RESULTS  The experiences of the informants have been synthesized into one common story highlighting the commonalties in the beginning, the middle, and the end of the story. In describing a story, Cochran (1986) writes: The basic organizing principle of a story is a gap between two poles. All stories begin with an “is” for which there is an “ought to be”. Scholars have used various terms to describe the beginning, such as disequilibrium, problem, disturbance, or upset. The path toward resolution of difficulty is the middle of the story. And the story ends when the initiating disturbance is calmed. (p. 13) In this study, the two poles in the story are of a state of meaninglessness and purposelessness in life and a state of meaningfulness and self-fulfillment in life. The middle encompasses events and feelings that lead to the change. Themes of Transformation: In deriving the themes of the story, I dwelled extensively on each account until I was sensitive to and aware of its flow and details. While going through each account, I noted the significant features and patterns of each narrative. As a result of extensive discussion with my research supervisor, I framed these accounts into meaningful pivots in the story and by comparing the sets of pivots, identified the commonalties across the accounts. The following general story involves various themes. Each theme is described, giving examples from the lives of the three informants. These themes present commonalties of experience across individual accounts. They do not necessarily follow the sequential order of the events in the lives of the individual persons, but rather are indicative of the movement of the story from the beginning, through the middle, to the end.  139  BEGINNING  The beginning is characterized by a sense of deflation and debilitation. In varying degrees, all three individuals feel deflated by life. Their existence has progressively depreciated in quality and they seem to be sinking in depths of disintegration. This is best exemplified by a common feature in Marie’s and Rob’s cases where they experience bouts of depression coupled with suicidal thoughts. Also, in varying degrees, all experience abasement, lack of self-esteem, and loss of confidence. For example, Marie, Rob, and to some extent, Darry have to comply with the external punitive rules of the family or society which has led to feelings of inadequacy and a lack of self-worth. Their existence can also be characterized by a feeling of alienation and loss. All three feel a severance either from themselves, people, life, God, religion, spiritual values or from a combination of these. This feeling 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 to feelings of mistrust and misery. For example, Marie has developed a tremendous fear of speaking in public lest she be ridiculed and mocked. She also feels disillusioned by the concept of fulfillment in marriage. Darry fears his father’s punitive approach to him and to life, and Rob has developed a fear of life and people in general. Their lives lack agency. They feel controlled by others and view themselves as victims of their circumstances. They are unable to assess their options in life and take action towards change. They feel unable to exert their will and judgement in making productive decisions and taking charge of their lives. For example, Rob feels controlled by non-native culture and religion, leading to feelings of exasperation and disillusionment. Marie feels controlled by her family, who dictate the norms by which she must live her life. And Darry feels enslaved to his basic physical urges and desires (i.e. drugs and sex).  140  From their case studies, it is apparent that they have become self-centered individuals, insensitive to the needs of others. For example, Darry’s focal concern is the gratification of his own physical desires with no concern for the feelings of the women he gets involved with; Rob’s main concern is to beg enough money from people to satisfy his addictive needs. Yet another strong theme in the lives of these individuals is their abusive life-styles. In varying degrees all three have experienced emotional neglect and abuse. They in turn have begun to abuse their bodies, through alcohol and drugs, and to abuse others by violating their rights and disregarding their feelings. For example, Marie has been emotionally abandoned and rejected by her parents. She in turn abuses herself through over-consumption of drugs and abuses others through her violence and addictive behavior. The three informants have gone through life abusing people, themselves, and life in general. Given this negative ground of experience, there arises a strong yearning for something better in life. Individuals ache for a different way of living that could alleviate their misery. But lack of a direction towards change and of alternate ways of living leaves them feeling hopeless and powerless. They feel insecure and illequipped to deal with the demands and hardships of life because they lack information about alternatives. Darry’s case best exemplifies this yearning. He wants wisdom and a better quality of life but has no role models to follow or learn from. 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 more fulfilling way to connect with Christ, and Rob yearns to reconnect with people and with his roots, but both find their resources for change to be inadequate. The three informants lack guidance, direction, and information to help them discover and examine alternate ways of living. They experience an intense feeling of debilitation and thus are unable to form a clear path for change.  141  MIDDLE  The onset of the middle state is usually experienced as a very disturbing period in life. The three individuals in this study have had a crisis point in their lives where they hit a very low point from which they can sink no further. Darry has horrible feelings of emptiness and loneliness, Rob feels utterly degraded, disintegrated, and depressed, and Marie experiences betrayal and feels let down by organized institutions in her search for Christ. Two of them have contemplated suicide because they can see no way out of their misery. Rob, however, is as much afraid of death as he is afraid of life. It is precisely this crisis point that propels people towards change and subsequently 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 felt hopeless of any change but with the appearance of role models, life takes a different turn. Renewed hope for change can develop in several ways and one possible means is the presence of effective role models or friends. The life of these role models may either be similar, as in the case of Darry, or in contrast, as for Rob and Marie, to the lifestyle of the individual. But in any case, such a model represents an ideal way of being for the person. All three individuals have established friendships that have initiated change and have taken them through the process of transformation. Darry’s and Marie’s admiration for their friends’ lifestyles instills hope in them, and Rob is touched by a friend’s humanity and compassionate nature which has “inspired” him to seek help. In varying degrees, all three have received inspiration from their friends to change. These friends, or role models, introduce an alternative way of living to the three informants that has triggered courage and strength for change. For example, one friend’s lifestyle has given Darry the determination to seek help, another has introduced him to spiritual practices in life of chanting and meditation, from which he derives profound feelings of serenity.  142  And yet another’s selfless act of service has touched his heart and has affirmed for  him the existence of a world beyond this physical world. For Marie, Mustafa’s (her Turkish 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 person from 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 informants express 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. Their friendship experience is a potent force of strength and encouragement stimulating hope for the future. Their encounter with these role models gives the three individuals 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 a different lifestyle is one thing and experiencing it, no matter how minimally, is quite another. This experience has allowed the informants to embark on attainment of the higher levels of growth and insight. Darry finds himself engaging, though minimally at first, in the gratification of non-material desires. He has started appreciating music and his quest for wisdom has led him to read philosophical books, which generate an insight into spiritual phenomena. He affirms that philosophical books have started to make him think about the possibility of a realm beyond the physical one. Rob recognizes the connection between this world and the spiritual world in the native sacred ceremonies at the treatment center, and Marie embarks on self-validation that generates an increase in self-worth. This yearning is also partially fulfilled by their search for unity. All three informants stress unity, perhaps as a counter to the personal chaos they have lived through. The sense of unity and connectedness with people plays a potent role in  143  the formation and direction of their lifestyles. Each approaches the sense of unity from a different angle. For example, disunity among people and religions has made Rob feel exasperated and confused about life. The three basic principles of the Baha’i faith, namely, the oneness of God, the oneness of religions, and the oneness of humankind have revived him, inducing feelings of hope for a meaningful and fulfilling life. Marie, on the other hand, approaches this sense of unity from two angles: 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 utilization of the community support services of professional helpers coupled with religious directives. This growth adds a meaningful dimension to her life. Secondly, she has grown to mistrust all religions due to her perception of a prevailing disunity among their members. Though struggling in varying degrees, she finds the Baha’i community working ardently towards this feeling of unity and thus she regains hope in her search for a meaningful lifestyle. The sense of disunity is not as prominent for Darry as it is for the other two; nevertheless, a feeling for unity is as much a strong component of his yearning. Darry is greatly moved by one of the major principles of the Baha’i Faith, namely, universal language. He is elated at the concept because with that in view, he is able to connect with all the people of the world. Therefore the possible attainment of unity is a channel to a fulfilling and meaningful 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 case studies. In varying degrees religion has become a source of strength in their lives, imparting meaning and generating mental well-being. For example, for Darry, the love for the manifestation of God and trust in God leads to immense feelings of inner-strength and confidence: “ that stage my heart was really won by  144  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.’ Trust in and love for God seems to 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 in this study are introduced to the Baha’i Faith through their friends. Introduction to religion does not necessarily guarantee an instant acceptance of the path. For example, although Darry is introduced to religion and feels impressed and delighted by the Baha’i principles, he is not yet ready to accept religion in his life. Readiness to accept religion in their lives needs to be prepared for through other spiritual practices. For example, Darry gets involved in Sidha Yoga meditation and chanting groups and Rob in the spiritual practices of the native culture. Marie, on the other hand, has embarked on some unfulfilling practices in her search for Christ. She is distracted in her quest and eventually (finding them defective and harmful) she returns back to the path of religion in her search. All three are looking for ways to attain an inner harmony, balance and  growth in their lives. With this in mind, they are engaged in spiritual exercises of various kinds which culminate in the religious practices of the Baha’i Faith. The power of revealed prayers to effect change is conspicuously evident in all the three case studies. For example, Darry incorporates the Baha’i prayers in his chanting and meditation and derives phenomenal strength and courage to the point where he discards drugs with no hesitation or difficulty. Marie feels empowered to rid herself of tangible and intangible addictions, and Rob too is transformed in various ways through utilization of native and Baha’i spiritual exercises. Regular and intensive utilization of the spiritual exercises has led to some significant meaningful experiences which result in partial realization of a balanced life. While Rob experiences surges of energy, Marie and Darry achieve a phenomenal peak  145  experience in their life. These experiences generate, for Marie, feelings of immense serenity and relaxation, and for Darry and Rob, feelings of intense exhilaration and elation. The peak experiences of Darry and Marie may be observed as the culmination points or the final experiences whereby the individuals are able to confirm their commitment to religion in their life. The culmination point may be arrived at gradually, as in the case of Rob, or as a result of phenomenal experience as witnessed in Darry and Marie’s lives. The apex of this realization is their restoration of belief in religion. Commitment to incorporate religion into life can lead to feelings of relief, as is seen in all three case stories. This commitment also spurs feelings of confidence in them. Although each one follows a different path in their search to find an inner harmony, all eventually find their answer in religion and thus 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: “Whoso seeketh out a thing with zeal shall find it”. * Belief in religion is not the end of the road of personal growth. All three informants are acutely aware that transformation is a life-long process involving a long arduous journey of education and hard work on their part. But at this point in life they feel confident that they are on the right path and have access to right and valid guidelines and directives for further growth and fulfillment. Therefore, in their resolution to improve, they accept responsibility for personal growth and actively enforce alternatives and transmute weaknesses into strengths. In taking active steps towards change they are developing a sense of agency in life. The middle story is concerned with taking responsible, active steps towards change and becoming. As can be observed in their case studies, all three have taken conscious steps 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.  146  her parents; and Darry takes steps to control his mind and not fall prey to it. This can be observed in his attempts to forsake unhealthy relationships with women and to work towards mature relationships with them. They have adopted a pro-active role in initiating change in their lives which is accompanied by regular and intense engagement in the spiritual exercises and by the support of friends. In two cases there is a spread of religious exercises to life. Marie utilizes the community support services of helping professionals in identifying the obstacles to her personal growth, thus aiming for optimum growth. And Rob, in his initial steps toward personal growth, joins the Round Lake treatment center. In life, people are exposed to various difficult or trying experiences. They may derive strength from role models and religious directives and exercises, as in the case of Darry, or a combination of friends, religious guidelines and exercises, and community support services, as in the cases 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 strong change has been the adoption of alternative attitudes to unavoidable suffering. The process of becoming is by no means a smooth journey. Life is full of unanticipated tests and difficulties from which one is not spared, no matter what level of growth one attains. Growth depends on how one interprets these hardships. The crucial factor is one’s attitude towards such hardships. All three informants look sincerely for the higher lesson to be learnt from such hardships. They sense a serenity and confidence from resigning themselves to and trusting in a Higher Being. For example, Darry, in the midst of his depression (caused by awareness of his own and others’ inadequacies), is confident that he is not alone and that he needs to learn the higher lesson that is being presented to him by the situation. The informants in this study view inescapable suffering as an opportunity for drawing closer to God and attaining higher levels of growth. For example, a painful experience in Marie’s life sets her on the path of learning detachment from worldly pre-occupations, and the  147  opposition of her mother gives her strength in her beliefs. Rob has learnt from the negative experiences at the residential school by changing his attitudes towards those involved and developing a new meaning and interpretation of his suffering. He believes that those experiences have enabled him to constantly remind himself of his purpose in life and that he needs to make the best of every situation by helping others. He also takes relief in the transient nature of the difficulties. Hardships in their lives have generated intense trust in God. Hardships remind individuals of the provisional nature of life and the limited opportunities for realization of values and life tasks. For example, Rob constantly reminds himself of the speed with which his forty six years have gone by and thus is strongly motivated to 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 at unavoidable difficulties. Rather than viewing themselves merely as physical entities needing physical gratification, they now consider themselves also as spiritual entities that need to develop spiritual qualities in order to move from what they are to what they ought to be. END The end of the story is the state of becoming. Here one can observe the end result of the development of new attitudes and lifestyles. This process includes what the individuals have achieved in their personal growth. Those who have successfully moved to this state are in a better position to assess their options in life and work towards further personal growth. In viewing the end, one can notice five themes namely, the informants’ meaningful lifestyle, meaningful mature relationships, meaningful purpose in life, sense of belonging and unity, and their arrival at higher levels of growth.  148  In varying degrees they have established a meaningful lifestyle wherein they find life fulfilling. The three informants have expressed a general sense of satisfaction with life, its direction, challenges, and opportunities. Marie has developed positive substitutes for her addictive behavior, for example, practising honesty in her interactions with her parents and using a positive substitute for drinking. Darry is able to make long term plans and has entered university and embarked on concrete steps toward intellectual growth. In so doing he has begun a shift in his orientation to the future, focusing his thoughts on long-term plans. Rob no longer harbors any cultural prejudice, rather he sees a universal connectedness in all people and from this union derives strength and courage. The informants have developed an enlarged perspective on life and in examining the meaning of suffering they reflect on life and appreciate its trials and difficulties. For example, Marie saw her painful experience with Michael (her boyfriend) as an opportunity for realization of detachment from worldly preoccupations. All three are involved in meaningful jobs that not only give personal satisfaction but are also congruent with their purpose in life. In examining their lifestyles they have begun to realize that there is more to life than a mere 9-5 job, and they feel they need to act responsibly to meet their life tasks. They have developed a transcendental purpose. From reading the case studies or the commentaries, one can interpret the meaningful purpose they have adopted. Darry sees his purpose as maintaining a trust in God and a love for the manifestation of God. Rob views his purpose in life as the actualization of spiritual qualities, service to people, and closeness to God. Marie considers her purpose to be the attainment of knowledge and love of God. She believes that difficulties in life come when she finds herself digressing from her purpose in life. In the process of becoming, the informants of this study have developed meaningful and mature relationships with others. They have developed the ability  149  to connect with people on a deeper level and are concerned with and sensitive to others’ needs and interests. Rob is able to love, trust, and connect with people of all cultures and nationalities, Marie is able to experience genuine love for everyone, and Darry has learned to develop a substantial relationship with all women and is ready fOr an intimate relationship with one. In being able to form a meaningful relationship with all people, they feel they are able to connect with God on a deeper level. This is so because they have been able to develop a universal sense of belonging or unity. This implies a sense of universal unity, one in which people are aware of a different sense of community. All three have developed a strong sense of global unity, transcending the boundaries of race, nationality, or culture. This sense of unity can be observed in different aspects of their lives. For example, Rob is able to sense an inner unity through his connection with native ancestors, people, and religion. Rob does not limit himself merely to the native community: he has a sense of belonging to the world at large, i.e., a sense of global community. Marie has strongly connected to Christ through her belief in Baha’u’llah, and Darry has been able to connect with life in general. Overall the three informants in this study have arrived at higher levels of growth. At this level of growth they have transcended the shortcomings and inadequacies of the past and are aiming at actualization of further progress. They view their process of becoming as a never- ending journey. They have 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. She does 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 decipher the truth in all of them. Darry, contrary to the past, is able to make long-term plans which helps bolster his confidence. All three recognize the importance of religion, people, and community support services as important tools for growth. Lastly, in varying degrees, all three individuals are involved in meaningful acts of service to  150  humanity. Service to others endows their lives with significant meaning, from which they derive strength and fulfillment.  151  CHAPTER 6. DISCUSSION FINDINGS: In this study, three informants have generated three narratives. These narratives describe individual movement from a meaningless to a meaningful lifestyle. On the basis of these narratives, I have identified a total of twenty-two themes: 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 when immersed in a pool of meaninglessness and oblivion. This position subsequently leads to a yearning for something better and more meaningful in their lives. In the middle, the themes explain the motivating factor for change and the diverse ways of enactment for realizing this yearning of life. And the themes in the end amount to the 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 the sense that the number of informants is small and therefore some may feel that the findings cannot be generalized as in statistics. Second, the study is also limited by the informants’ ability to articulate their experiences and their conscious willingness to disclose personal and sensitive issues at the beginning stage. Third, the researcher’s own cultural background and insight into other cultures can also put limitations on the interpretation of the findings. Fourth, since the interpretation of themes can be fallible (Cochran,1986), the researcher’s personal perspective in interpretation may be considered as another of the limitations of the study. Despite these limitations this study can be helpful in determining the applicability of theories, (such as (logotherapy, psychosynthesis, and Czikszentmihalyi’s theory) to the experiences of the informants’ meaning-formation and transformation.  152  THEORETICAL IMPLICATIONS Several themes of this study support the three steps of meaning-formation in Frankl’s theory. First, the informants derive meaning from their actions such as existential acts of service, or involvement in satisfying and meaningful jobs. Second, their lives gain meaning through their various experiences. For example, Rob experiences a significant feeling of connection with his ancestors at the sweat lodge which endows his life with meaning and direction. At some point in their transformation, all the three informants find life meaningful through experiencing a belief 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 partial fulfillment and meaning to his life. Another example from Darry’s life is the forging of meaningful relationships with women. Third, informants discover meaning in life by their conscious endeavors to adopt positive attitudes towards unavoidable suffering. Through the process of transmuting negative attitudes into positive ones, during inescapable hardship, they are able to transcend and detach themselves from those situations. But due to the progressive nature of transformation, as indicated by this study, the adoption and acceptance of alternative attitudes can only be realized at a particular level of maturity. At lower levels of growth this change in attitudes is meaningless to people and thus is an ineffective avenue for meaning formation, a point that is not noted by Frankl. The themes of new sense of self and resolution to improve support Franki’s and Assagioli’s concepts of self and responsibility for meaning-formation and growth. The informants in this study are empowered to make a difference and to find a meaning in life through development of a new concept of self (i.e., spiritual entities) and through engagement in active and responsible steps toward change.  153  Four themes of this study go beyond Franki’s theory of meaning and transformation and can augment his concept of meaning-formation. First, in this study friendships play a crucial catalytic role in the discovery of meaning. But Franki 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 for counsellors and/or other professional practitioners, Frankl’s general outlook towards this path of meaning-formation does not provide sufficient insight into the importance of friends, role models, or mentors in change. Second, a search for unity with oneself and with others is a crucial factor leading 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 of change and meaning as, according to this study, it fosters growth and meaning in life., Third, in varying degrees, all three informants were able to partially satis’ their yearning for a fulfilling life through religion. Although Franki’s personal view is 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 logotherapy is engagement in spiritual exercises. This study has shown that engaging in spiritual exercises leads to a meaningful lifestyle, a factor not considered in logotherapy. With reference to Assagioli’s theoretical contribution six themes in this study support his steps to meaning-formation: yearning for a fulfilling life through a search for unity and religion, engaging in spiritual exercises, restoration of belief in religion; resolution to improve, adoption of alternative attitudes to unavoidable suffering, and the new sense of self. These themes can be taken in order of his four steps toward the creation of a meaningful lifestyle. First, the informants make attempts to gain a deeper insight into themselves by identifying their hidden or  154  repressed higher and lower feelings and abilities. An objective exploration takes place through either community support services, philosophical books, or religious guidelines. Second, the theme resolution to improve supports Assagioli’s second step by which individuals make attempts to discover meaning in life. The informants take active responsible steps toward change by transmuting their weaknesses into strengths. They orient their lives to the realization of values and spiritual qualities. Third, they add meaning to life by forming a new sense of self through their various experiences, and a knowledge of God through religion. And fourth, understanding their true reality as a spiritual entity empowers them to take steps to develop abilities that are in harmony with their new sense of self. In doing so, they have followed both paths that Assagioli advocates: the way of active responsible actions and the way of submission to the will of God. Similar to Frankl, the theme of establishing friendship goes beyond Assagioli’s psychosynthesis. Assagioli too has not emphasized or mentioned the role of friends in the transformation of meaning. I reiterate here the importance of this theme to the transformation of meaning as can clearly be observed in all three case studies. In my opinion, this theme is a positive addition to psychosynthesis. As for Czikszentmihalyi’s contributions (cited in the review of literature), this study supports his three ways of acquiring meaning in life. First, all three informants have 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 of developing their growth-enhancing potentials and realizing values in life. In general, the informants of this study seem to oscillate between the third and the fourth stages. In varying degrees their purpose in life also incorporates the feeling of global unity which is Czikszentmihalyi’s fourth stage of purpose-shaping and meaning-formation.  155  Second, they are committed to their life goals. Their actions revolve around their purpose in life. This is verified by themes such as meaningful lifestyle, meaningful and mature relationships, sense of belonging or unity, and higher levels of growth. Third, the informants are able to give meaning to their lives through the establishment 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 and actions 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 the significance of friendships in meaning-formation. This study has shown that friends act as significant role models or mentors for discovery of meaning and enhancement of growth and agency in life. This study then, can add an effective extension to his theory of meaning and growth. PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS: Reflecting on the themes generated by this study, the following nine suggestions can be put forward as requirements for effective counselling. First, in the beginning, counsellors might help people focus upon the negativity of their lives in order to intensify the yearning for a fulfilling life. Second, in the middle, the varying crisis points can be highlighted as motivating indicators that channel the path for change. In this way counsellors can empower and instill hope in people for the realization of a possible change by helping them adopt a different outlook towards low points in their lives.  156  Third, based upon a strong theme of this study, counsellors can enhance the growth process of their clients by assisting them to develop a better, more positive social network that may include role models, positive friendships, and mentors. Fourth, counselling practice should perhaps involve the inculcation of a sense of global unity in clients. A global unity pertains to the development of a larger perspective in their interactions and connections with people in the world, where the emphasis is on a spiritual or universal unity among people. This may be assisted by community services or relevant practices. Fifth, counsellors may be able to enhance the effectiveness of their services by incorporating, in an unbiased fashion, the inherent values of traditional spiritual exercises to promote insight, reflectivity, and sensitivity in their clients. They might be 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 partial realization 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 place religion in various stages of meaning-formation. Thus counsellors can perhaps consider the possibility of repressed religiosity in their clients at some appropriate stage in their counselling process. Counsellors may perhaps help their clients to attain higher levels of growth through development of a new sense of self in which they view themselves as spiritual entities that need to orient their lives toward values and abilities of higher qualities. This insight might empower clients to bring about a substantial change in their life. Seventh, counsellors may be able to empower clients by actively assisting them to develop their sense of responsibility through the actualization of as many values and qualities of the higher nature as possible.  157  Eighth, the counselling practice should perhaps involve clients in an active educational process of discovering and adopting alternative attitudes to unavoidable suffering. Counsellors may need to direct these alternative thoughts into positive channels. Ninth, in the end stage, counsellors may help clients develop meaningful lifestyles and attain higher levels of growth in all aspects of their lives by incorporating a meaningful purpose, transcendental in nature, into their lives. IMPLICATIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH: Narrative is an effective tool for gaining authentic and rich information on the research topic. It gives first-hand, factual information about people’s life experiences. In my opinion, this overrides the potential inability of a person to articulate his or her thoughts, feelings, and experiences. On a larger scale, it would be of immense benefit to counsellors in general if this study were to be replicated using a larger and more representative sample. It would be of significance to note whether such a study confirmed and supported the findings of this study and to explore further the commonalties or possible discrepancies 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. It would be of significance if future research could carry out this study using as their sample informants from different religious backgrounds and tracing their steps from the beginning through the middle to the end, noting the commonalties between the followers of various organized religions and demonstrating a similarity or a difference between the informants. A significant research project would be an in-depth study of the turning point of transformation in various individuals. The exploration of situations and circumstances that relate to turning points would greatly enhance our understanding  158  of the human yearning for a fulfilling life and the succeeding ongoing process of transformation. It would be of great interest to see whether current counselling practices involve spiritual exercises, for example the use of prayers. Future research on this question would enlighten counsellors as to practices of others in their field. I believe with Propst (1986) that there is a need for much research investigating the impact of religion on mental health and meaning-formation. Intensive empirical approaches might be of great benefit. SUMMARY: I have used the case study approach to understand the patterns of transformation experience. I have conducted an in-depth interview with each informant. The informants are a female and two males, Canadians in whose lives people, spiritual exercises, and religion play a significant role in change and meaning-making. The narratives are derived from in-depth interviews and were validated twice by each of the informants. Each narrative is followed by a commentary which includes the researcher’s interpretation. Also there is a synthesis of 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 destructive lifestyle. The middle state starts with a crisis point leading into events and feelings of transformation. The end state is the end result of becoming and mastering some of the inadequacies of their lives. Transformation is viewed as a life-long process involving several levels of growth and progress. The study includes three main theoretical implications which address the person’s movement from a state of meaninglessness to one of meaningfulness and becoming. The study supports and confirms Franki’s, Assagioli’s and Czikszentmihalyi’s ideas about personal growth, adding several suggestions for the extension of their theories of meaning-formation.  159  From the point of view of practical implications, this study presents the general story model as an effective informational base for counsellors. A recommendation to counsellors is the incorporation of Frankl’s and Assagioli’s models of intervention into their counselling work, along with the extentions to their theories suggested by this study.  160  BIBLIOGRAPHY  ‘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 Publishing Trust. ‘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 1119 12. New Delhi: Bahai Publishing Trust. Assagioli, R. (1965). Psychosynthesis: A collection of basic writings. New York: The Viking Press. Baha’u’llah (1817-1892). The Book of Certitude (Trans. by Shoghi Effendi, 1931). Wilmette, IL: Bahai Publishing Trust. Baha’u’llah (18 17-1892). Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah (Trans. by Shoghi Effendi (1939). Wilmette, IL: Bahai Publishing Trust. Baha’u’llah (1817-1892). The Seven Valleys and the Four Valleys (Trans. by Marzieh Gail (1945). Wilmette, IL: Bahai Publishing Trust. Burbank, P.M. (1992), An exploratory study: assessing the meaning in life among older adult clients. Journal of Gerontological-Nursing, JS(9), 19-28. Cochran, L. (1986). Portrait and Story: Dramaturgical Approahces to the Study of Persons. New York: Geenwood Press. (1990). The Sense of Vocation: A Study of Career and Life Development. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. Colaizzi, P.F. (1978). Psychological research as the phenomenologist view it. In R.S. Valle & M. King (Eds.)., Existential-Phenomenological Alternatives for Psychology (pp. 48-7 1). New York: Oxford University Press. Crumbaugh, J.C., Raphael, M., & Shrader, R.R (1970). Frankl’s will to meaning in a 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’i Publishing Trust. Effendi, 5. (1980). World Order of Baha’u’llah. Wilmette, IL: Bahai Publishing Trust.  161  Einstein, A. (1979). The Human side: New Glimpses from his archives, Selected and edited by Helen Dukes and Banesh Hoffman. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University 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. Boston, Beacon press, 1959; paperback edition, New York, Touchstone, 1984. (1961a). Dynamics, existence and values. Journal of Existential Psychiatry, 2(5), 5-13. (1961b). Religion and psychiatry. Gordon Review, , 2-10. (1962). Will to meaning. The Living Church,114, 8-14. (1964). The will to meaning. Christian Unity, .Sj(1), 515-517. (1965a). The doctor and the soul: From psychotherapy to Logotherapv. New York, Alfred A. Knopf, mc; second, expanded edition, 1965; paperback edition, New York, Vintage Books, 1986. (1965b). The concept of man in Logotheraphy. Journal of Existentialism, .(53), 53-57. (1967). Psychotherapy and Existentialism: Selected Papers on Logotherapy. New York: Washington Square Press. (1969). The Will to Meaning: Foundations and applications of Logotherapy. New York and Cleveland: The World Publishing Company, 1969; paperback edition, New York, New American Library, 1970. (1975). The unconscious God: Psychotherapy and Theology. New York: Simon and Schuster. (1978). The Unheard Cry for Meaning: Psychotherapy and Humanism. New York: Simon and Schuster. (1986-1987). Logotherapy and the challenge of suffering. Review of Existential Psychology and Psychiatry, 2(1-3), 63-67. Giorgi, A. (1975). An application of phenomenological method in psychology. In A. Giorgi, G.T. Fischer and E.L. Murray (Eds.), Duquesne studies in phenomenological psychology, Vol. 2 (pp. 82-103). Pittsburgh: Duquesne University 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.  162  Hadfield, 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 Evolutionary Context. 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 Global Religion. San Francisco: Harper and Row. Jacobson, G.R.; Ritter, D.P.; Mueller, L. (1977). Purpose in life and personal values among adult alcoholics. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 3(1), 314-316. James, W. (1985). The Works of William James: The Varieties of Religious Experience. Harvard University Press. Johnson, P.E. (1961). Logotherapy: A corrective for determinism. Christian Advocate, 5(23), 12-13. Kennedy, R. (1986). Religion and psychology. Issues-in-Ego-Psychology, .9(1), 6673. Kotarba, J.A. (1983). Perceptions of death, belief systems and process of coping with 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. New York: Trove Press., Inc. Maslow, A.H. (1968). Toward the Psychology of Being. New York, NY: Van Nostrad Reinhold Company. Maslow, A.H. (1970). Religions, Values, and Peak Experiences. New York: The Viking Press. May, R. (1953). Man’s Search for Himself. New York: W.W. Northan & and Company Inc. May, R. (1967). Existential Psychotherapy. Toronto: CBC Publications. McClure, R.R., & Loden, M. (1982). Religious activity, denomination, membership and life satisfaction. Psychology: A Quarterly Journal of Human Behavior, 19, 12-17. Mischler, E.G. (1986). Research Interviewing: Context and Narrative. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.  163  Moser, L.E. (1973). The Struggle for Human Dignity. Los Angeles, CA: Nash Publishing Paloutzian, R.F. (1981). Purpose in Life and value changes following conversion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 4j, 1153-1160. Polanyi, M.& Prosch, H. (1975). Meaning. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Polkinghorne, D. (1988). 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 and mental health: Interface the 80s. Counseling and Values, pp. 112-121. Reeves, C. (1977). The Psychology of Rollo May. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers. 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 ScientificStudy of Religion, 29(2), 236-245. Rowan, J. (1990). Spiritual experiences in counselling. British Journal of Guidance and Counselling, IS(3), pp. 233-249. Rowland, S.J., Jr. (1962, June). Viktor Frankl and the will to meaning. Christian Century, 19, 722-724. Schnorr, M.A. (1983). Point: Religion--cause or cure? Perspectives-in-Psychiatric Care, 21(1), 26, 34-35. Shea, J.J. (1975). On the place of religion in the thought of Viktor Frankl. Journal of Psychology and Theory, .(3), pp. 179-186. Singer, I. (1992). Meaning in Life: The Creation of Values. New York: The Free Press. Smith, D.E. (1974). The next decade of dialogue: Religion and health. Journal of Religion 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? Yesbut. Psychotherapy in Private Practice, .4(4), 93-100. Strommen, M.P. (1984). Psychology’s blind spot: A religious faith. Counseling and Values, 2S(4), pp. 150-161.  164  Theodore, R.M. (1984). Utilization of spiritual values in counseling: An ignored dimension. 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.). Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications, Inc. Yoder, J.D. (1989). Logotheraphy: Meaning and intimacy. The International Forum of Logotheraphy,12(1), pp. 28-39.  165  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA CONSENT FORM  The role of religion in transformation: Its implications for counselling Mitra Khorasani Monsoor 322-1913  Larry Cochran Research Supervisor 822-6317  Purpose To study and explore the lives of three individual Baha’is who have gone through a transformation as a result of adopting spiritual values that has given a new meaning to their lives. Procedure The informants are asked to recall and describe in a series of three approximately two-hour audio-taped interview, their experiences of transformation. A written summary of these interviews will be provided to the participants for verification, correction or addition. These procedures will be further described and elaborated on during the interview or at any request. Confidentiality Since the participants are involved in the verification of all the written summaries of information, they have the ability to determine exactly what personal information is included in the report. While participants have the right to have their efforts acknowledged, each participant is free to determine the degree of confidentiality desired. Please check your option: All personal reference to names or identifying features will be deleted or disguised. Personal references are acknowledged with the understanding that certain, specific shared information will be edited or disguised. All tape recordings of interviews will be erased upon completion of this research project.  Right of refusal All the participants have the right to refuse or withdraw from participation in this study at any time. Consent The signature below acknowledges consent to participate in this study and receipt of a copy of this consent form.  Participant  166  Appendix  2.  Life Line  +ve  0 -ye  18 yrs.  6 yrs.  12 yrs.  17 yrs.  28  yrS.  yrs.  23 yrs.  30 yrs.  167  APPENDIX # 3 DATA COLLECTION PROCEDURE  Selection of informants Initial Interview Transcription of the individual audio-tape Interview of second informant Interview of third informant Transcription of audio-tapes Draft of first informant’s narrative accounts Initial validation interview Revision of the narrative account Return narrative account to the first informant Second validation interview Repeat for other two informants Read narratives and identified significant features Formulation of commentary for each account Identified themes across accounts Draft of general story  168  APPENDIX # 4 OVERVIEW OF THE GENERAL STORY  BEGINNING Feelings of deflation Feelings of alienation Fear lack of agency Self-centered Abusive lifestyles Yearning for something better MIDDLE Crisis point in life Established friendship Received inspiration to change Yearning for a fulfilling life search for unity. aiming to attain higher levels of growth. partial realization of this yearning in religion. Introduced to the Baha’i Faith Engaged in spiritual exercises Partial realization of a balanced life Restoration of belief in religion Resolution to improve Adoption of alternate attitudes in unavoidable suffering. New sense of self  169  END Meaningful lifestyle Meaningful purpose Meaningful and mature relationships Sense of belonging or unity Arrived at higher levels of growth.  


Citation Scheme:


Citations by CSL (citeproc-js)

Usage Statistics



Customize your widget with the following options, then copy and paste the code below into the HTML of your page to embed this item in your website.
                            <div id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidgetDisplay">
                            <script id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidget"
                            async >
IIIF logo Our image viewer uses the IIIF 2.0 standard. To load this item in other compatible viewers, use this url:


Related Items