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Healing of the Self
After he has felt the divine power and presence within himself as the reward of his meditative search, he may turn it towards the healing of his body's ailments. This would be impossible if he were less than relaxed, peaceful, assured, if either fear or desire introduced their negative presence and thus obstructed his receptivity to the healing-power's penetration. When the contact is successfully made, he should draw the power to every atom of his body and let it be permeated. The cure could be had at a single treatment, if he could sit still and let the work go on to completion. But although the power is unlimited, his patience is not. And so he must treat himself day after day until the outer and physical result matches the inner and spiritual achievement.
There are no miracles in Nature, but there are happenings to which science possesses no key. The human consciousness, for instance, is capable of manifesting powers which contradict psychological knowledge, just as the human body is capable of manifesting phenomena which contradict medical knowledge. Both powers and phenomena may seem miraculous, but they really issue forth from the hidden laws of man's own being. The processes take place in the dark only to us.
It is the routine activity of the brain, and especially the mental tendency toward anxiety and fear which is expressed through it, which interferes with Nature's healing processes--whether these be spiritual or physical or both--or obstructs them or delays them or defeats them completely. This anxiety arises through the sufferer's confinement to his personal ego and through his ignorance of the arrangements in the World-Idea's body-pattern for the human body's protective care. The remedy is in his own hands. It is twofold: first to change from negative to positive thinking through acquiring either faith in this care or else knowledge of it; second, to give body and brain as total a rest as his capacity allows, which is achieved through fasting and in meditation. The first change is more easily made by immediately substituting the positive and opposite idea as soon as the negative one appears in his field of consciousness. He trains himself not to accept any harmful thought and watches his mind during this period of training. This constructive thought must be held and nourished with firm concentration for as long as possible. The second change calls for an abstinence from all thoughts, a mental quiet, as well as an abstinence from all food for one to three days.
In a broad general division, philosophy finds three causes of sickness. They are wrong thinking, wrong living, and bad karma. But because karma merely brings back to us the results of the other two, we may even limit the causes of disease to them. And again because conduct is ultimately the expression of thought, we may limit the cause of disease finally to a single one of wrong thinking. But this is to deal with the matter in a metaphysical, abstract, and ultimate way. It is best when dealing with sickness in a practical way to keep to the threefold analysis of possible causes. Yet the matter must not be oversimplified as certain schools of unorthodox healing have oversimplified it, for the thinking which produced the sickness may belong to the far past, to some earlier reincarnation, and not necessarily to the present one, or it may belong to the earlier years of the present incarnation. In those cases, there is the fruit of an unknown earlier sowing, not necessarily of a known present one. Therefore, it may not be enough merely to alter one's present mode of thought to insure the immediate obliteration of the sickness. If we shoot a bullet in the wrong direction, we cannot control its course once it has left the gun. But we can change the direction of a second shot if we realize our error. We can continue our efforts, however, to change our first thinking, to get rid of negative harmful thoughts and feelings and thus improve our character. For if we do this, the type of physical karma manifesting as the sickness which they create will at least not come to us in the future, even if we cannot avoid inheriting it in the present from our former lives. Study of this picture would reveal what sickness as a karma of wrong thinking really means and why it often cannot be healed by a mere change of present thought alone. The proof of this statement lies in the fact that some people are born with certain sicknesses or with liability to certain diseases, or else acquire them as infants or as children before they have even had the opportunity to think wrongly at all and while they are still in a state of youthful innocence and purity of thought. Therefore it is not the wrong thoughts of this present incarnation which could have brought on such sickness in their case. Nor can it be correct to suggest that they have inherited these sicknesses, for the parents may be right-thinking and high-living people. By depriving themselves of faith in the belief in successive lives on earth, the Christian Scientists deprive themselves of a more satisfactory explanation of the problem of sickness than the one they have. They say that it was caused by wrong thinking, and yet they cannot say how it is that a baby or a child has been thinking wrongly to have been born with or to have acquired at an early age a sickness for which it is not responsible and for which its parents are not responsible.
Iconoclastic science came into the world and in a few short centuries turned most of us into sceptics. It may therefore surprise the scientists to be told that within two or three decades their own further experiments and their own new instruments will enable them to penetrate into, and prove the existence of, a superphysical world. But the best worth of these eventual discoveries will be in their positive demonstration of the reality of a moral law pervading man's life--the law that we shall reap after death what we have sown before it, and the law that our own diseased thoughts have created many of our own bodily diseases.
The theoretical basis of this teaching about the physical manifestation of mental sickness lies in mentalism. The practical basis lies in observation and experience.
The psychological causes of disease have only recently come under investigation by the strict methods of modern science, but the general fact of their existence was known thousands of years ago. Plato, for instance, said: "This is the great error of our day, that physicians separate the inner being from the body."
It would be just as wrong to argue that every physical disease proves a moral fault or mental deformity to exist, as it would be to argue that the absence of such disease proves moral or mental perfection to have been attained. Many animals are quite healthy too!
It might be said that most organic physical disease is karmically caused and most functional physical sickness is mentally caused.
Healing Exercise and Meditation: (l) Lie flat on back on flat surface (for example, rug on floor). (2) Let body go completely limp. (3) Relax breathing with eyes shut, that is, slow down breathing below normal. Slowly exhale, then inhale; hold breath two seconds, then exhale slowly again. Repeat for three to five minutes. While inhaling, think that you are drawing in curative force from Nature. While exhaling, think that there is being taken out of your body the ill condition. (Note that on the inhaled breath, you--the ego--are referred to as the active agent, whereas in the exhaled breath this is not so and the change is being effected spontaneously.) (4) Let go all personal problems. (5) Reflect on the existence of the soul which is you, and on the infinite life-power surrounding you and in which you dwell and live. (6) Lie with arms outstretched and palms open, so as to draw in life-force either through palms or through head. (This makes contact with higher power through silent meditation, and it draws on the reconstructive and healing life-force attribute of this power.) Draw it into yourself. Let it distribute itself over the entire body. Let its omnintelligence direct it to where it is most needed, whether that be the affected part or some other part that is the first cause of the sickness. (7) Place hands on affected part of body and deliberately direct force through hands to body. A feeling of warmth should be noticeable in palms of hands. (8) Recollect through imagination the all-pervading sense of God and his infinite goodness.
Where physical laws of hygiene have been broken and continue to be broken, where gluttonous or ill-informed eating and intemperate living have led to bodily disturbance, the sufferer must still rectify his physical errors whether his spiritual healing is successful or not.
Strong alcohol paralyses the brain centre controlling spiritual and intuitive activity for two hours, and so nullifies meditation, which should not be practised within two hours of drinking it. Those who take such stimulants and still want to unfold spiritually should restrict their drinks to light wine or beer.
Smoking not only harms the body but also depresses the mind. The cumulative and ultimate effect of the poison which it introduces is to lower the emotional state by periodic moods of depression.
A great rage or an overwhelming fear affects the heartbeat until it slows down or quickens dangerously. A sudden tremendous fright can cause syncope, even death. Such is the known power of emotion over functions of the body's organs. When living habits are reformed and brought to conform to the requirements of hygienic laws so that the patient stops doing those things which gave his disease the requisite conditions for it to take hold, and when the different systems of physical therapy are applied as required without prejudice against or favouritism for any particular one, and when this is combined with faith in the spiritual healing power invoked by a practitioner or by the patient himself, the chances of a cure are raised to the highest.
Behind, within, and around the physical body there is another and invisible body which we may call the vital body. This is a kind of archetype or pattern for the physical body. On several points they coincide, but not on others. This subtler etheric body comes into existence before actual birth and remains for a while after actual death. During incarnation it is closely connected with the physical body and especially with its vitality, health, and sickness. The part of it which surrounds the physical body and which we may call the vital aura should not be confused with the other and larger aura wherein emotions and thoughts are reflected. During experiments which I made with a group of London physicians before the war, it was found that this vital aura extended for about forty-five centimetres beyond the physical body. When the vital aura was in a devitalized, fatigued condition, there was less resistance to sickness; but when it was energized the resistance increased. The life-force which we draw from the universal life-force enters into the vital body. Resistance can be increased by deep breathing, by exercise, and by imagining the life-force as a white light entering through the head and penetrating downwards into every cell of the physical body. This also helps the healing process in sickness. Not only are the cells permeated by these methods, but they are also purified.
It is more prudent and more conducive to a successful result if he is prepared to make necessary changes of thought and feeling and character. The greater the healing asked for, the greater the sacrifice he may in turn be asked to make. When, for instance Jesus asked the distressed sufferers to believe, they were not being asked to believe merely superficially, but rather so deeply that they would at least try to make the changes called for. Having contributed so much to the disease, they ought to contribute something to the cure.
When plague broke like a wave over the heads of mankind in the fifteenth century and spread with startling rapidity through the nations of Europe, the obvious physical causes were in themselves but agents of the less obvious soul-causes, defects in the very character of humanity. Insomnia and cancer, to take but two of the representative illnesses of our own epoch, are no less plaguelike in their menace to people of today, no less the products of causes inherent in imperfect human character, habit, or environment.
The art of healing needs all the contributions it can get, from all the worthy sources it can find. It cannot realize all its potentialities unless it accepts them all: the homeopath along with the allopath, the naturopath along with the chiropractor, the psychiatrist along with the spiritual ministrant. It does not need them all together at one and the same time, of course, but only as parts of its total resources. A philosophic attitude refuses to bind itself exclusively to any single form of cure.
Another extremely fanatical attitude of which we must beware is the belief that mental healing displaces all other systems and agencies for curing disease or keeping health; that its advocates may totally discard every branch of medicine and surgery, hygiene, and physical treatment. Sanity and balance call for the acceptance in its proper place of whatever Nature and man can contribute. With these preliminary warnings, we venture to predict that as the principles and practices of mental healing come to be better, namely more rationally understood, it will establish for itself a firm place in therapeutics which will have to be conceded--however grudgingly--by the most materialistic and most sceptical of medicos.
The services of a physician skilled in the knowledge of diseases and in the care of their sufferers should never be slighted. Orthodox allopathic medicine deserves our highest respect because of the cautiously scientific way it has proceeded on its course. It has achieved notable cures. But it also has many failures to its debit. This is in part due to the fundamental error which it accepts in common with other sciences like psychology--the materialist error of viewing man as being nothing more than his body. Only by setting this right can it go forward to its fullest possibilities. Its deficiency in this respect has forced the appearance and nourished the spread of unorthodox healing methods, of which there are many. Most of these have something worthwhile to contribute but unfortunately--lacking the caution of science--make exaggerated claims and uphold fanatical attitudes, with the result that they too have their failures and incur public disrepute. The extreme claims made by credulous followers and unscientific leaders of mental healing cults revolt the reason of those outside their fold and lead to distrust of the justifiable claims that should be made. But they have enough successes to justify their existence. Only by a mutual approach and interaction will they modify each other and thus bring a truly complete system of healing. They are already doing this involuntarily and therefore far too slowly. They have to do it willingly and quickly if the world of sick and suffering patients is to benefit by the full extent of present-day human knowledge.
My basic conclusion is that healing exists on all these different levels, which means its power comes from different sources. But this said, I feel that all healers should know their limits, their limitations, and I fear that many of them do not simply because they are carried away by their enthusiasm. Secondly, I feel that all healers would not only be none the worse for some knowledge of anatomy and physiology and the commoner maladies, but they should even attempt to acquire some of this knowledge. Otherwise many errors, many false or exaggerated claims, are made by the healers. I am not questioning their honesty; I believe most of them are honest. But I am questioning their lack of knowledge--I mean accurate knowledge and fuller knowledge. On the other hand, I criticize the medical profession for failing to enter into dialogue with the healers, for they would learn much to their own profit and to the improvement of their professional help if they adopted a humbler attitude towards the unorthodox healers.
Those who are born with healing skills, probably brought over from former births, function on different levels. The commonest is that which radiates life-force and energizes the cells of the sick person. This kind of healer must first put himself into a passive mood and then, when he feels the vibratory force of the life-force active within him, let it pass, with or without touching the patient, into the latter. The vibrations of the life-force are universal; they are not the healer's own personal property. He simply possesses a skill in letting himself be used as a channel, and it is usually concentrated in his hands. A healer like Saswitha, who says he is merely drawing the therapeutic power from his patient and redirecting it or returning it back to the patient, forgets that if this is so the patient himself gets it from the cosmic forces. It is not his own personal property.
An informed friend asked me to warn against egoistic healing; it is dangerous for people still in the ego to heal others, and safe only in self-healing.
The New Thought mental healing cults do not understand the difference between those occult powers (healing is one of them) performed by the ego deliberately and those occult powers performed through the ego spontaneously at the Overself's bidding. The first kind are on an inferior level and keep the practitioner still enchained within egoism. But of course, by contrast to the orthodox church teaching, this New Thought teaching is certainly broader.
The Theosophical denunciation of hypnotism as a black art is too sweeping. Hypnotism can be good or evil. That depends partly upon the intentions with which it is practised, the depth of knowledge of the operator, and partly upon the methods used. In the field of healing it may offer useful although often merely temporary relief. The same is true of the field of psychological and moral re-education. If the hypnotist is more than that, if he is also an advanced mystic, it is possible for the alleviations which he brings about to be of a durable nature. Thus the vice of alcoholism can be and has been at times cured instantaneously. The changes are brought about by the impact of the hypnotist's aura upon the patient. When this occurs and when the hypnotist places his will and mind upon the suggestion which he gives, there is a discharge of force dynamically into the patient's aura. It is this force that brings about the change, provided the patient has been able to fall into a passive, sleepy condition. In the case of an advanced mystic, the various physical techniques which bring about this condition are not required. It is then enough if the patient has sufficient faith and is sufficiently relaxed. The mystic can then accomplish the discharge of force merely by gazing intently into the patient's eyes.
The mild use of tobacco and the mild indulgence in alcohol are better in the end than the sudden breaking away from them under the spell of a hypnotic "cure." For in the one case the addict still has some room left for the development of self-control, whereas in the other, not only has he none but he is liable either to relapse again or else to divert his addiction into some other channel which may be not less harmful and may even be more.
Mrs. Eddy, I regret to say, made these and other errors but it is not my purpose to evaluate either the merits or demerits of her cult. She had her part to play in the spiritual instruction of the Western world, and if she made serious mistakes, she nevertheless brought to birth a widespread movement which, as she says, has done much good. The system which she founded contains elements of the highest truth, and if her followers will only have the courage to remove the fetters which have been placed upon their independent thought, if they will not hesitate to utilize the powers of free inquiry which God has bestowed upon them, and if they will not shut their eyes but adopt an attitude of wider sympathy and less intolerance towards other systems, they may avoid the fate which overtakes most spiritual movements, when growing numbers kill the spirit and adhere to the letter. I have introduced Mary Baker Eddy's name into this book to render some small service of correction for the sake of her large following, if not for the benefit of the world at large. I cannot conceal a certain admiration for the dignified way in which Christian Science is doing its work in the world, much as I deplore its fanatical narrowness and intellectual mistakes. It contains truths which are sorely needed by ignorant humanity today.
Even if Christian Science and New Thought sects produce healings, they are still not truly "divine." They use some lower force--some vital force, as the Indians say. For they are all attached to the ego, which is itself a consequence of their unconscious belief in its reality. The ego has cunningly inserted itself even into these highly spiritual teachings and is still the hidden source behind both their prophets and their followers. This explains Mary B. Eddy's and so many New Thought teachers' commercialism as well as the errors which are contained in the teachings of Emmet Fox, which led to his own mental-physical breakdown and death.
Lord Lothian was for many years deeply interested in Christian Science and ardently devoted to its study and practice. Yet when the supreme test came in December, 1940--that is to say, when he was entrusted with the most important mission of his life time as British Ambassador to the United States at the most critical period of the relations between the two countries--he suddenly died from a form of blood poisoning known as uraemic infection. That is to say, at the time when it should have justified itself most, Christian Science completely failed to cure him. Not only that, but he died at the comparatively early age of fifty-eight. The proof of every theory is its consequence in practice. We hear much about the success of Christian Science, but nobody ever takes the trouble to inform us about its failures which must outnumber the former by hundreds to one at least. If it were really scientific, it would not be afraid, as it is, to publish the record of its failures. The discrepancy between exaggerated claim and modest result, between far-fetched theory and defective practice, is as noticeable here as in most other cults.
The psychoanalysts work busily on the ego all the time, thus keeping the poor patient still imprisoned in it. But a reference to the Overself might help him really to get rid of some complexes.
The mistake of the analysts is to treat lightly what ought to be taken seriously, to regard as a parental fixation or sex repression what is really the deep spiritual malady of our times--emptiness of soul.
Psychoanalysis is primarily a search for what is wrong with man; philosophic analysis is a search for what is right with him. Psychoanalysis seeks to correct the false self; philosophy to reveal the true one that is underneath it. Psychoanalysis probes the dead past of childhood; philosophy the living present of maturity.
We need also to remember that the attitude of the advanced soul towards personal suffering is not the same as the common one. His standpoint is different. So far as we know human history on this globe, all the facts show that sickness, pain, disease, and death are parts of the conditions governing the physical body's experience because they are inescapable and inevitable parts of all physical-plane experience for highly organized forms, whether human or otherwise. That is, they are part of the divine plan for man. We humans resent such experiences, but it may be that they are necessary to our rounded development and that the Illuminated who have approached closer to the infinite wisdom perceive this and drop their resentment. Here we may recall Sri Ramakrishna's attitude towards the cancer in the throat from which he died, Saint Bernadette of Lourdes' attitude towards her painful lingering and fatal disease of consumption, Ramana Maharshi's fatalism about his bodily pains and ailments, and Sri Aurobindo's reply to the physician who attended him for a broken knee after a fall: "How is it that you, a Mahatma, could not foresee and prevent this accident?" "I still have to carry this human body about me and it is subject to ordinary human limitations and physical laws."
Deep down within the heart there is a stillness which is healing, a trust in the universal laws which is unwavering, and a strength which is rock-like. But because it is so deep we need both patience and perseverance when digging for it.
The attunement of man's mind to the Universal Mind, of his heart to the fundamental love behind things, is capable of producing various effects. One of them may be the healing of bodily ills.
That Power which brought the body into existence originally maintains its involuntary functions, cures its diseases, and heals its wounds. It is within the body itself; it is the life-force aspect of the Soul, the Overself. Its curative virtue may express itself through various mediums--as herbs and foods, hot, cold, or mud baths, and deep breathings, exercise, and osteopathy--or it may express itself by their complete absence as in fasting, often the quickest and most effective medium. Or, disdaining physical methods entirely, it may act directly and almost miraculously as spiritual healing.
Those who seek healing only to be restored to sensual courses and selfish designs, may commit further errors and be worse off in the end.
To pray for a bodily cure and nothing more is a limited and limiting procedure. Pray also to be enlightened as to why this sickness fell upon you. Ask also what you can do to remove its cause. And above all, ask for the Water of Life, as Jesus bade the woman at the well to ask.
Those who do not understand the Overself's workings expect it always to manifest--if it manifests at all--in all its naked purity. If they desire healing, they think that the Overself's help can show itself only in a direct spiritual healing, for instance. The truth is that they may get the cure from a purely physical medium, like a fast, a diet, or a drug; yet that which roused them to seek this particular medium or gave it its successful result was the Overself.
The basis of higher healing work is the realization of man as Mind. But the latter is a dimensionless unindividuated unconditioned entity. It is not my individual mind. The field of Mind is a common one whereas the field of consciousness is divided up into individual and separate holdings. This is a difference with vast implications, for whoever can cross from the second field to the first, crosses at the same time from an absurdly limited world into a supremely vital one. Consequently, genuine and permanent healing is carried on without one's conscious association and can be effected by dropping the ego-mind and with it all egoistic desires. Hence the first effort should be to ignore the disease and gain the realization. Only after the latter has been won should the thoughts be allowed to descend again to the disease, with the serene trust that the bodily condition may safely be left in the hands of the World-Mind for final disposal as It decides. There should not be the slightest attempt to dictate a cure to the higher power nor the slightest attempt to introduce personal will into the treatment. Such attempts will only defeat their purpose. The issues will partly be decided on the balance of the karmic and evolutionary factors concerned in the individual case. And yet there are cults which do not find it at all incongruous to suggest to the Infinite Mind what should thus be showered upon one, or to dictate to karma what exactly it should do! Once surrender is truly made, the desires of the self go with it and peace reigns in the inner life whether illness still reigns in the external life or not. Thus there is a false easy yielding of the will which deceives no higher power than the personal self, and there is an honest yielding which may really invoke the divine grace.
Humbled by feelings of personal littleness and moral unworthiness, he is awed by this discovery that he has become a channel though which a power that is not his own, and is indeed beyond his own, flows out for the helping and healing of other men.
Jesus' primary intention was to heal the inner man, to promote a directional change in his thought and feeling, to divert him from a sinful to a righteous attitude towards life, and to convert him from spiritual indifference to spiritual enthusiasm. The healing of the body was but a by-product and took place only after these inner processes had been successfully carried out. When the higher elements in a man's character got the better of his lower ones, the victory was followed by, and symbolized in, a return of health to the sick body. It was a visible sign of the reality of the invisible healing. Jesus could not have cured the physical sicknesses if the sufferers had not previously felt his greatness, repented of their former way of life, asked forgiveness, and resolved to become righteous. The Gospels record the cases of those who were able to do this; they do not record the cases of the far larger number who could not and whose bodily maladies therefore remained uncured. Most readers erroneously believe that Jesus could heal any and every person. Nobody can do that because nobody can force faith, conversion, penitence, moral evolution, and spiritual aspiration into a stubborn man's heart. There is a further factor in Jesus' healings. They were often accompanied by the proclamation that the patient's sins were forgiven him. This means first, that the aforesaid prerequisite conditions had been established and second, that the man's Overself had intimated its gracious cancellation of the particular bad destiny which had expressed itself in the sickness. The forgiveness came through Jesus as a medium; it did not originate in him. Those who believe that Jesus personally could unburden all men's evil fate, err. He could do it only in those cases where a man's own higher self willed it. Jesus then became a medium for its grace.
The New Thought or Christian Science claims, where correct, are true only of the adept, for he alone has fully aligned himself with the Spirit.
Healing is but a mere incident in the work of a sage. Such a one will always keep as his foremost purpose the opening of the spiritual heart of man.
It is a great error for an ordinary person to sit down when confronted by practical problems and say, "God will take care of this for me." God may do so but it is just as likely that God will not do so. John Burroughs wrote the lines, "I sit serene, with folded hands and wait, My own, my own, shall come to me," as also found in the sayings of Lao Tzu: "He who takes a back seat shall be first. He who hides his own greatness shall be put in front," etc. These assertions are perfectly true--but only of the Adept. For him, he need only sit still and all things come to him; but for the others--the unrealized, the materialistic--they must strive, struggle, and suffer for everything they need.
Pain and suffering, sin and evil, disease and death, exist only in the world of thoughts, not in the world of pure Thought itself. They are not illusions, however, but they are transient. Whoever attains to pure Thought will also attain in consciousness to a life that is painless, sorrow-free, sinless, undecaying, and undying. Being above desires and fears, it is necessarily above the miseries caused by unsatisfied desires and realized fears. But at the same time he will also have an accompanying consciousness of life in the body, which must obey the laws of its own being, natural laws which set limitations and imperfections upon it. This much can be said to be the element of truth contained in some theoretical doctrines of Vedantic Advaita and Christian Science.
If he can apply this teaching now, if he can put his faith in and make his contact with the higher power from this very moment, if he can forget himself for an instant, he can receive healing instantaneously.
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