Importance of physical fitness

Dec 2012
What sort of spiritual importance is given in the Bahai Faith towards one's upkeep, general health/fitness etc? From the individual Bahais I have interacted with at my Ruhi classes, they are all very active (one does P90X in her late 40s, other runs 15 miles a week).

Maybe some quotes from literature would be nice as well
May 2011
I read an essay by Shoghi Effendi once that seemed to be directed toward college /University students, about the importance and advantages of physical fitness, -but can't find it atm.
If anyone can source it for me I'd be grateful too. :)
May 2011
'Make ye then a mighty effort, that the purity and sanctity which, above all else, are cherished by 'Abdu'l-Bahá, shall distinguish the people of Baha; that in every kind of excellence the people of God shall surpass all other human beings; that both outwardly and inwardly they shall prove superior to the rest; that for purity, immaculacy, refinement, and the preservation of health, they shall be leaders in the vanguard of those who know...'

(Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 150)

Found the link I was looking for:

The Function of Sports in Life
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Jun 2006
Health and fitness could be related to a chaste and holy life:

I like this one:

Such a chaste and holy life, with its implications of modesty, purity, temperance, decency, and clean-mindedness, involves no less than the exercise of moderation in all that pertains to dress, language, amusements, and all artistic and literary avocations.

It demands daily vigilance in the control of one's carnal desires and corrupt inclinations.

It calls for the abandonment of a frivolous conduct, with its excessive attachment to trivial and often misdirected pleasures.

It requires total abstinence from all alcoholic drinks, from opium, and from similar habit-forming drugs.

It condemns the prostitution of art and of literature, the practices of nudism and of companionate marriage, infidelity in marital relationships, and all manner of promiscuity, of easy familiarity, and of sexual vices....

- Shoghi Effendi "The Advent of Divine Justice" (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1984), p. 30
Dec 2012
Greetings Upadhyay,

Nice question. To examine this mind one needs to think in wider terms.

Within the Bahá’í Writings a degree of emphasis in some matters is directed out to the world at large. This does not mean it is not important, quite the contrary, but rather some things are better dealt within the wider field of science and this is not just western science of course. As both science and faith are considered to be complimentary to each other within the Bahá’í Faith, I hope you can see that this makes perfect sense. Indeed Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith, inferred that for every Bahá’í book one reads one should read a number of others. I cannot recall the exact amount he suggested, but it was something like 10. Therefore, in a manner of speaking, reading about other things helps you learning about the Bahá’í Faith too.

One thing you might find interesting to look at is the work of Aubrey De-Grey who is the Chief Science Officer of the SENS Foundation at Cambridge University in the UK. I first meet him at the Singularity Institute and thought he had an interesting approach so have been following some of his research closely over the past few years. He may look like an unconventional academic with a long beard and speak with a slight slur, but do not let that put you off his approach or research. Longevity of life is already here and I believe more people should be embracing it rather than thinking it will be for people in the next century. Naturally physical fitness goes with this.

De-Grey has already suggested that the first person to live to 150 (recorded) in the wetern world is already in there 70’s today. People younger than this, if they live right, could top 200. Indeed many suggest that with advanced computer research, namely once it surpasses human intelligence, and this will be in less than 20 years based on Moores law, it could enhance life spans much longer. There are sound reasons for this, but they are too complex to explain here. Essentially we are already living in a technology cusp where nanotechnology is very close to being reality. So some people are on a longevity programme of heath already in order to ride this technological cusp in order to hopefully benefit from it at a later date. To get there they know they have to live longer. This is why all people, especially young people, really should become far more informed of the opportunities good health offer. What is believed to be one of the oldest people in the world (recorded) died just a few days ago. You can read about her story here along with following a link to a person who lived to 122 in France Besse Cooper, World’s Oldest Person, Dies at Age 116 |

Longevity is not about defeating death or being afraid of death, such an aim would be absurd. It is more about having the time it takes to embrace life to a fuller extent. This would not have been possible till the last two decades, except in some remote areas in the Himalayas where it has already been claimed some have lived to 150 already.

Baha’u’lláh gave in indication of the type of foods people should eat. While people that follow His diet are hard to locate, here is the website of a woman that has been eating this way for over 27 years in the western world. Naturally I do not know if she is a Bahá’í or not, but that is irrelevant because in many ways she is already showing people the value of eating a diet that is ultimately designed for good human health JOURNEY TO HEALTH WITH ANNETTE LARKINS

Bahá’u’lláh has also indicated that food is a medicine. In reality this is becoming more and more known about and if you care to watch this video entitled The Shamans Apprentice, you can see why. In many ways this is nothing new, and it suggests that this is the way humans were always meant to live, but of course this would have been inconceivable at a global level for all of humanity before the age of exploration The Shaman's Apprentice - YouTube

The interesting thing with subjects like this is it gets you thinking about the world, life and health in a whole new way. All people really need to do is cultivate an appetite for life and then everything opens up for them. Physical fitness helps enormously here regardless of how old you are because a person does not die through old age they die through ill health. Maintain your mental and physical health and you will naturally live a longer fuller life unless fate intervenes. As for spiritual health, which I do think is equally important; the best exercise I can recommend is to put the Bahá’í Writings into practice. Like any physical exercise you need to warm up and appreciate you should not try to do too much at once or you will suffer an injury. Also, most importantly, you need to understand how to construct and employ any apparatus wisely. This means learning how to employ your spiritual skills in a way and manner where they obtain the best effect. In many ways it can be likened to long distance running. Some make it appear easy, this is because they have had built up the expertise and spiritual muscles to do this. Any person can get as physically, mentally and spiritual fit as their capacity permits. Those that do this set the standards for all of us.

As for Bahá’í Writings on exercise you might find the Lawh-i-Tibb (Tablet of Medicine) a useful place to start.

If you read this first Tablet to a Physician (Lawh-i-Tibb) then it will put the subject into a better context for you.

An unauthorized (Namely the translation has not been approved by the Universal House of Justice at this time) can be found here Lawh-i-Tibb (Tablet of Medicine)

The prayer within the Lawh-i-Tibb has been translated and approved and it can be found here Bahá'í Reference Library - Bahá’í Prayers: A Selection of Prayers Revealed by Bahá’u’lláh, the Báb, and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Page 87

Hopefully this might give you something to ponder on.

Good luck with the rest of the Ruhi course,
Jun 2011
Somewhere "in this immensity"
It is an excellent question, and I would hope that every Baha'i has a mind toward health and physical fitness in addition to spiritual health and fitness through prayer, meditation, reading the writings, and striving to live a chaste and holy life to the best of their ability.

I think about fitness this way, as a Baha'i. When we understand the body as the temple of our soul, it is not difficult to understand that the up keep of the temple is of great importance because it is something sacred. In this way, fitness is very important and, moreover, there is even scientific evidence presented by those like neurologist Andrew Newberg, showing exercise and fitness have very postive effects on not only the body, but mind/spirituality, making fitness necessary for us to acheive our utmost spiritual potential. It is in the Baha'i teachings the importance of science and religion, so, this type of researched based information should inform us of how to better accomplish the spiritual tasks that come as revealed information, in my opinion. Of course, the writings do mention things about health and cleanliness too, some of which has already been shared by others above.

Nov 2012
United States
I suppose, it's difficult to serve Humanity and God if you're fat, lethargic and stuck on the sofa with a bag of Cheetos.
Dec 2012
Thank you for all your illuminating responses guys. Lots to ponder over here. I am personally participating in one of these in a couple months for the first time:
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While I've been training for it, I definitely feel some spiritual force driving me on (mentally mostly) as the miles keep being pushed behind me. Physical strength does correlate to mental strength and moral resolve
Sep 2010
Normanton, Far North West Queensland
Thank you for all your illuminating responses guys. Lots to ponder over here. I am personally participating in one of these in a couple months for the first time:
<iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

While I've been training for it, I definitely feel some spiritual force driving me on (mentally mostly) as the miles keep being pushed behind me. Physical strength does correlate to mental strength and moral resolve
I can tell you if you come to Haifa and stay at the Port Inn, then you need to be very fit to do the walk up to the Shrines each day :happy: :noob:

Boy this is a hilly place....but we have done it a couple of times each day.

Regards Tony