"If you want to heal the body,
you must first heal the mind."
In this essay, we'll explore the metaphysical principles of spiritual healing. From our investigation, we'll outline the elements which allow us to understand and work with physical and mental regeneration and harmonization, as we'll define healing. By defining healing as regeneration and harmonization, we conceive of illness as a malfunctioning within our body or our mind (both the conscious and unconscious aspects). We'll also examine ways in which we can go beyond merely studying spiritual healing to actually learning to participate in it.
We'll examine a number of different sources of information concerning this spiritual process. As with all such investigations, we find certain thinkers who provide exceptional insights into spiritual healing, yet discover that we cannot agree with all aspects of their thinking.
"The spiritual measure of inspiration is the depth of the thought, and never, who said it." Ralph Waldo Emerson
As in all areas of thought and practice, we find exceptionally helpful ideas coming from persons who also hold beliefs we find untenable. Max Muller said of Philo Judaeus, "we have to hold our breath in utter amazement at so much folly united in the same mind with so much wisdom!" Similarly, we find it necessary to disagree with certain ideas coming from persons who at the same time provide outstanding wisdom concerning spiritual healing. 1
Terrestrial or spiritual elements can be used either for positive or negative purposes. The fact that counterfeit "spiritual healing" has sometimes been used in extortionist brainwashing scams doesn't mean that there are no instances of genuine spiritual regeneration and harmonization. As we investigate this entire phenomenon, we'll want to keep an open--yet critical--mind concerning the people and practices involved.
The usual superficial, pseudo-scientific gloss on spiritual healing has already occurred in the United States. In 1996 six medical schools received $10,000 from the National Institute for Healthcare Research to develop courses in spirituality. In December of that year, a conference on "Spirituality and Healing" at Harvard Medical School attracted nearly 1,000 health-care professionals, including many faculty members from public medical colleges. Among other things, participants discussed a survey conducted by the American Academy of Family Physicians, which found that 99% of family physicians believe that religious beliefs can help the healing process. Eighty per cent of those surveyed said that medical students should learn relaxation and meditation techniques as part of their formal training.
In this essay, we're not interested in scholastic, purely theoretical "studies" which assume that persons already totally committed to mechanistic-materialistic or dogmatic-religious points of view can contribute anything of value to spiritual studies.
We must not allow metaphysical and philosophical study to be hampered by the misuse of concepts by scholastics and self-appointed religious leaders (priests, ministers, pastors, rabbis, mullahs). Such concepts as "God," "faith," "belief," and many others have been so badly mangled by dogma peddlers of all stripes, that we're tempted to discard the concepts themselves in favor of others. But the better solution is to carefully re-define these terms--in reference to their essential meanings--then use them thoughtfully in gaining understanding and realization.
"Ignorance of God should no longer be the stepping-stone to faith." Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, 1875
In studying spiritual healing we must re-acclimate our minds to concepts which may have become hackneyed or seemingly pretentious. For example, the term "divine truth" may seem to us at first to be too high-blown and inflated to be useful. The difficulty is not with the term, but with our lack of understanding. Part of what we accomplish in the study of spiritual healing is a renewed ability to take constitutive and elemental terms seriously. We become aware that there really is divine truth concerning the spiritual and terrestrial realms. We can't avoid dealing with such realities through agnostic refusal to study and understand these phenomena.
Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato, Plotinus, Jesus, and other historical philosophical and religious figures, have been so misconstrued by those who claim to be their followers and exponents that it's necessary to explicate their lives and teachings in clear and definitive terms. These historical spiritual leaders are especially important in the study of spiritual healing, so an explanation of who and what they were becomes highly significant. In reference to Socrates and Plato, the reader will find an ongoing explication of their teachings in the series of studies on this Website on Platonic dialectic and related subjects. An introductory explanation of Jesus as a Perennialist savant can be found in the author's book The Perennial Tradition.
"Counterfeit gold only exists because there is such a thing as real gold."
As with all subjects dealt with in the metaphysical essays in this series, the author is a seeker, student, and "practitioner" (one who practices--not one who claims final knowledge) in the field of spiritual healing.
The Perennialist Sources of Spiritual Healing Knowledge
The Perennial Tradition has been transmitted throughout the ages by teachers who re-adapt Ultimate Truth to contemporary needs. The spiritual healing strain within the Perennial Tradition has been in evidence in each Perennialist teacher's activities. Whether the Perennialist teacher speaks of physical and mental healing as such, she or he always deals with regeneration and harmonization of human life--which we're here defining as spiritual healing.
All genuine Perennialist teachers--distinguished from persons who merely came in contact with the Perennial Tradition--recognize that this spiritual healing strain--along with all the other strains (for example, the philosophic--love of and search for wisdom--strain)--was a part of the Perennialist wisdom from time immemorial. Some contemporary thinkers, such as Mary Baker Eddy and Ernest Holmes have come into partial contact with some aspects of the Perennial Tradition, but have erroneously believed that they were the first to understand and teach about spiritual healing in a contemporary mode.
"The Bible does not tell us how to give a treatment. It is only within the last hundred years that the science which we are studying has been given to the world. It is not an old system of thought. The old systems of thought did contain the Truth, but one would never learn how to give an effective mental treatment by studying them. We would no more learn how to give a treatment by studying the Bible, than we would learn how to psycho-analyze a person. The principle of spiritual treatment is implied in the Bible as well as in other sacred writings of antiquity, but one could not learn how to give a treatment from reading any of these Sacred Books. From all these sources we gain a tremendous spiritual inspiration, but they do not teach how to give a treatment."
Ernest Holmes, The Science of Mind
It's interesting that both Mary Baker Eddy and Ernest Holmes--who claimed that their particular techniques of healing were their own personal creations--constantly referred to the teachings and activities of Jesus in the New Testament as teaching how to heal. In fact, if we look at their systems of thought, we find nothing more than the teachings of Jesus with some other elements thrown in for good measure:
- the theories of Phineaus Quinby in the case of Mary Baker Eddy
- the theories of Phineaus Quinby, Thomas Troward, Mary Baker Eddy, Thomson Jay Hudson (The Law of Psychic Phenomena. 1892), and Frederic W. H. Myers (Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death, 1903), in the case of Ernest Holmes
As we've seen, Plato's dialogues are replete with teachings about regeneration and harmonization (spiritual healing). We find the teachings of Clement of Alexandria (150-220 CE) and Shankara (788-820 CE) dealing with the same elements. Both Clement and Shankara taught that our Ultimate Reality is the Higher Self; that we fall into illusion by thinking that our lower self (sensuous experience) is Self; and that since delusory thinking creates illusion, so right-thinking will deliver us from deception and return us to understanding of our oneness with the Higher Self.
"Health and knowledge are not the same; one is a result of study, the other of healing. In fact, if a person is sick, he cannot master any of the things taught him until he is first completely cured. We give instruction to someone who is sick for an entirely different reason than we do to someone who is learning; the latter, we instruct that he may acquire knowledge, the first, that he may regain health. Just as our body needs a physician when it is sick, so, too, when we are weak, our soul needs the Educator to cure its ills. Only then does it need the Teacher to guide it and develop its capacity to know, once it is made pure and capable of retaining the revelation of the Word. Therefore, the all-loving Word, anxious to perfect us in a way that leads progressively to salvation, makes effective use of an order well adapted to our development; at first, He persuades, then He educates, and after all this He teaches."
Clement of Alexandria
"Thinking things not self are I--this is bondage for a man. . . A man thinking 'this body is I,' calls it the Self, . . . accepting every changing mood of mind as himself, . . . he wanders, mean-minded, despicable-minded."
"There is no unwisdom, except in the mind, . . . the cause of the bondage to life; . . . when this dominates, the world dominates."
"Mind is the cause of man's bondage , and in turn of his liberation."
"Knowledge that the Eternal is not divided from him is the cause of freedom from the world, whereby the Eternal, the secondless bliss, is gained by the awakened."
"Therefore with powers of sense controlled enter in ecstasy into the hidden Self, with mind at peace perpetually; destroy the darkness made by beginningless unwisdom, through the clear view of the oneness of the real."
The Discovery of Spiritual Principles
The Unitary Quintessence--what people term God, the Divine, the Universe--works through elemental physical and spiritual laws (principles). We've discovered some of the physical laws through our development of the sciences. The laws of the spiritual realm were discovered and have been passed on by teachers within the Perennial Tradition throughout the centuries.
Most people are completely unaware that there are spiritual principles paralleling such physical laws as the Conservation of Energy: energy cannot be created or destroyed, but can change its form. As we gain an understanding of spiritual principles we develop the capability of working with elemental forces in bringing about regeneration and harmonization of our physical and mental aspects.
The Platonic Foundation of Spiritual Healing
The philosophical study of nature--what we now call science--began with the Egyptians and the Greeks in the tenth to fifth centuries BCE. The Greek philosopher Empedocles of Acragas (495-435 BCE) believed that reality is composed of matter consisting of four elements: earth, air, fire, and water. This theory was later developed by Aristotle. According to this view, reality is made up of visible, material elements.
It soon became clear that these four elements are themselves composed of minute, invisible particles which Leucippus of Miletus (ca. 435 BCE) and Democritus of Abdera (ca. 410 BCE) named "atoms," from the Greek word for "not divisible." They also believed that a space between the atoms made up of nothing had to exist. They called this space a void. They asserted that the world is made up of atoms moving in the void.
Atoms, they asserted, are solid particles which are homogeneous, each unique in its size, shape, and weight. They maintained that different substances with their distinct qualities were made up of different arrangements of atoms. Atoms were in continuous motion in the infinite void and constantly collided with each other. During these collisions they could rebound or stick together because of hooks and barbs on their surfaces. Thus, underlying changes in the perceptible world, there was constancy, since atoms were said to be neither created nor destroyed; change was caused by the combinations and dissociations of the atoms.
One of Plato's most important contributions to Western thought was his alternative explanation of how things in physical reality are made up. He saw that the concept of a material particle that is indivisible is self-contradictory: any particle, no matter how small, can in principle be divided into smaller parts. So Plato offered a different answer to the question of what is the ultimate constituent of physical matter. He examined physical objects and discovered that their "matter" is continually changing. Their forms are the only constant element. All things, he concluded, are made up of nonphysical, nonspatial, nontemporal, universal, eternal Forms (ideai, eide) manifesting in the physical universe as individual objects. Most leaders in the new world of quantum physics such as Max Planck, Louis deBroglie, Niels Bohr, Arthur Eddington, Erwin Schrödinger, and Albert Einstein agreed with Plato's view as to the ultimate makeup of reality.
Plato saw ultimate reality composed of two distinct "worlds" or dimensions of being. The world of physical objects in space and time is known through sense perception and ordinary thought. Apart from this is the metaphysical world of Forms known only through philosophic reflection and dialectical interchange--a realm beyond ordinary experience and requiring special capabilities to apprehend.
To explain what he meant by Forms, Plato referred to such entities as "triangle," "justice," "beauty," and "the good." "Triangle," for example, is that metaphysical entity which is known by a geometrician when he examines physical triangles drawn in chalk or ink or referred to in ordinary thought as "a plane figure enclosed by three straight lines."
Physical triangles are actual triangle-shaped objects or representations on blackboards and pieces of paper that are never perfect planes; actual pyramids or chalk or ink lines have some breadth, while the Form, "Triangle," is free of all dimensionality, abiding in a completely non-physical realm. So while a physical triangle is never identical to the Form "Triangle" it does have some resemblance and can help us reflect on and understand it. The Form "Triangle" is universal and metaphysical, not just a physical entity at a particular time and place.
The forms are eternal and changeless, but enter into a partnership with changeable matter to produce objects we perceive in the physical world. Physical objects are instantiations of the forms and are always in a state of becoming. Since the ever-changing temporal world participates in a succession of forms, it can only be the source of opinion. Plato likens the opinions derived from our senses to the perception of shadows of real objects cast upon the wall of a cave. True knowledge, however, is the perception of the archetypal forms themselves, which are real, eternal, and unchanging.
Instead of the Empedoclean concept of reality being composed of four elements, modern science has adopted the Platonic view that reality is composed of forms: geometric patterns and "invisible fields." The prevailing hypothesis in science at present is that all matter consists in slightly more than one hundred different types of elements. Each element is uniquely identified by the number of protons in its atomic nucleus. And since early in the twentieth century, science has said that each atom consists of even more fundamental particles: protons, neutrons, electrons, and quarks. Physics and chemistry deal only with the way in which electrons interact with one another whereby matter is formed via these interactions (chemical forces, or chemical bonds). The smallest scale chemistry considers is at the atomic level. However, particle physics deals with entities more elemental than atoms that make up stable matter that we see and matter that only exists in high energy or in the early universe. It also studies forces acting on matter.
Most of these particles (or sub-particles) are "hidden" from chemistry, physics, and our daily experience. Special and extreme methods and tools have to be used in order to probe these particles and forces, such as the particle accelerator. This gigantic instrument detects the effects and products of collisions between very fast moving particles. High speed is necessary so that it is energetic enough to "crack open" the particles in order to reveal the inner structures that make up the colliding particles. Some of these sub-particles may only exist briefly before they disappear or change to another form. Particle accelerators can therefore be used to mimic the universe at the very early stage of formation. The equations of quantum theory no longer predict the outcome of experiments, only the probabilities of different possible outcomes. In other words, quantum physics at the particle level deals only with Platonic forms in their mathematical embodiment.
The objects studied in particle physics obey the principles of quantum mechanics, exhibiting wave-particle duality. Objects display particle-like behavior under certain experimental conditions and wave-like behavior in others. Theoretically, they are described neither as waves nor as particles, but as state vectors in an abstract Hilbert space.
After extensive research with bubble chambers, cyclotrons and linear accelerators, quantum physicists assure us that their conception of the nature of reality is correct, even though it now contains anomolies which place it beyond our ordinary world-view. A quantum object:
- Such as an electron, can be at more than one place at a time
- Can be a wave and when observed collapse into a particle manifested in ordinary space-time (quantum wave-particle duality)
- Ceases to exist here and simultaneously appears over there without traversing the intervening space (a quantum leap)
- Can influence other twin particles at a distance without any known causal connection (quantum nonlocality)
"The quantum domain has its antecedent in Plato's Theory of Forms." Andrew Powell, "Quantum Psychiatry - Where Science Meets Spirit"
With the birth of quantum mechanics in the twentieth century, Newtonian science was first knocked off its perch; the view that our physical world is solid, fixed and independent of mind was shown to be untenable. It's fascinating to realize that all the founders of quantum physics were basically Platonists in that they believed the world of physical objects to be a projection of a vaster, invisible, nonmaterial reality. Sir Arthur Eddington openly declared that the basic material of physical reality is what he called "mind-stuff." Here are just a few of the known aspects of physical objects that cohere with the Platonic view of reality:
The fact that the ultimate constituent of reality is nonmaterial, helps us understand the nature of spiritual healing: it is the direct working of thoughts, feelings, and energy fields of the ordinary mind and Higher Mind to effect immediate or eventual changes in physical objects. A nonmaterial thought, feeling, or energy field can affect the nonmaterial Form which constitutes the essence of a physical body.
- Ninety-eight percent of the atoms in our bodies were not there one year ago. Our skeleton has been re-created within the last three months, our skin every month, a new stomach lining every four days, with the actual cells in the stomach's surface that make contact with food being renewed every five minutes. We live in a structure whose building blocks are systematically and constantly being taken out and replaced with new ones. Yet we retain the same Form so we look like the same structure.The human body looks solid and permanent, yet through the processes of respiration, digestion, and elimination it is in a constant state of interchange with its world. The blueprint that is retained throughout all this massive demolition and rebuilding is a Platonic Form.
- It has been discovered that neuro-peptides and other brain particles spring into existence at the instigation of a thought or feeling, the instantaneous transformation of non-matter into matter. Quantum physicist Henry Margenau sees this phenomenon in terms of dualist-interactionism. He states that the components of the brain "are small enough to be governed by probabilistic quantum laws" and are "always poised for a multitude of possible changes, each with a definite probability." Further, Margenau believes that such changes may be influenced by the mind, which "may be regarded as a field in the accepted sense of the term. But it is a nonmaterial field... And so far as present evidence goes it is not an energy field in any physical sense, nor is it required to contain energy in order to account for all known phenomena in which mind interacts with brain."
Once we come to such quantum mechanical "realities" as "state vectors," "Hilbert space," and nonmaterial fields, we are speaking precisely of Platonic Forms.
- We discover Plato's Forms in medical studies of persons with multiple personalities. A study by Daniel Goleman of a person with multiple personalities, for example, revealed that when a particular personality dominated the young man, his entire body chemistry and psychological state changed. A personality with diabetes possessed the blood sugar levels of a diabetic, whereas when another personality dominated the individual, the blood chemistry changed entirely. A personality is a Form, a pattern of behavior and thought.
Along with the factors listed above, we also find evidence for direct effect of "mind" on "matter" in such phenomena as hypnotic suggestions causing actual blisters on the skin and the mind-set of fire-walkers causing fire to have no effect on the body. At a more mundane level, our own personal free will proves the existence of a nonphysical agent producing physical changes. Free will is explainable only as the conscious and intentional intervention of some nonphysical entity external to the system that it influences. Even Max Planck, a firm believer in determinism, conceded "...we have our most direct and intimate source of knowledge, which is the human consciousness telling us that in the last resort our thought and volition are not subject to this causal order." (Quoted in Sir Arthur Eddington's New Pathways in Science.).
When we examine a human brain to determine its essence, we conclude that it is an object that changes the thoughts of the mind (a non-physical reality) into thousands of chemicals every second. Not every thought or feeling of the ordinary mind and Higher Mind effects immediate or eventual changes in our physical body, so spiritual healing involves a search for those mental and spiritual ideas and sentiments which bring about regeneration and harmony. In other words, we have discovered the line of transmission--from mind-entity (thought, belief, idea, expectation) to body--but we now must work to understand two additional features:
- How to contact Higher Mind, so that it can work through us
- What kind of thoughts, beliefs, ideas, expectations, etc. from ordinary or Higher Mind are effective in bringing about healing
The second part of the Platonic foundation of spiritual healing consists in his insistence that the body and the soul must be treated together, not as separate spheres.
"The cure of the part should not be attempted without the cure of the whole. If the mind and the body are to be healthy, you must begin by curing the mind. And before that, let no one persuade you to cure the mind until he has first given you his soul to be cured. For this is the great error of our day in the treatment of the human body, that physicians try to cure the body before they have cured the mind and the soul." Plato, The Commonwealth
The Divine Does Not Play Favorites
The first principle we must get firmly in mind is that spiritual healing occurs by the Higher Force working THROUGH US, not FOR US. The One Quintessence has created laws according to which physical and spiritual realities operate. Our responsibility is to discover these laws and work with the Higher Force to bring about regeneration and harmonization.
For most people, prayer for healing--or anything else--is seen as an attempt to wheedle a reluctant divinity into doing us a personal favor. Most "prayers" go unanswered because the person petitioning the divine does not understand the elemental principles governing the universe.
"If we try turning on an electric iron and it does not work, we look to the wiring of the iron, the cord, or the house. We do not stand in dismay before the iron and cry, 'Oh, electricity, please come into my iron and make it work!' We realize that while the whole world is full of that mysterious power we call electricity, only the amount that flows through the wiring of the iron will make the iron work for us.
"The same principle is true of the creative energy of God. The whole universe is full of it, but only the amount of it that flows through our own beings will work for us."
The Healing Light, 1947
"Who would stand before a blackboard, and pray the principle of mathematics to solve the problem? The rule is already established, and it is our task to work out the solution. Shall we ask the divine Principle of all goodness to do His own work? His work is done, and we have only to avail ourselves of God's rule in order to receive His blessing, which enables us to work out our own salvation."
Mary Baker Eddy,
Science and Health, 1875
Spiritual Healing As a Science
When we say that the Universe does not play favorites, we mean that the One Quintessence operates through OBJECTIVE laws--not whim. 2 We've made great strides in understanding the physical universe by applying the scientific method:
- Forming hypotheses: the most reasonable theories about the phenomenon we're investigating; theories which explain unanswered questions and predict specific results
- Establishing criteria which tell us when a hypothesis is proven or not
- Experimenting with a hypothesis to see if it produces the results predicted
- Analyzing the experiment: accepting the hypothesis if it proves correct or revising it if it does not prove correct or forming another reasonable hypothesis to test
All metaphysics--including spiritual healing--should be approached in a similar manner: experimenting with ideas and procedures intelligently and with an open mind, recognizing that we are dealing with objective laws, not chaos or arbitrariness.
"The physical healing of Christian Science results now, as in Jesus' time, from the operation of divine Principle, before which sin and disease lose their reality in human consciousness and disappear as naturally and as necessarily as darkness gives place to light and sin to reformation. Now, as then, these mighty works are not supernatural, but supremely natural." 3
"This book suggests, for those willing to learn, a method so simple that it is child-like, as the more profound truths are apt to be. It is an experimental method. One decides upon a definite subject for prayer, prays about it, and then decides whether or not the prayer-project succeeds. If it does not succeed, one seeks a better adjustment with God and tries again. This is the method of the men who have discovered and harnessed the forces of God's world--the scientists." 4
Science, in both the terrestrial and spiritual realms, involves gaining knowledge to set energy fields free and direct their effect. Once we've discovered a spiritual principle, we should remain committed to experimenting until we achieve our desired result. If our home heating system isn't working, we don't immediately stop believing in the production of heat from the combustion of gas; we work to discover where the break in the flow of heat from ignited gas has occurred. If an experiment in spiritual healing doesn't work at first, we shouldn't abandon the effort and fall back on the dodge: "It's not God's will." We look for a "break:" a negative emotion, a muddled concept, a lack of commitment to the project. Edison is said to have made over 6,000 separate experiments before he discovered the material which worked successfully as an electric bulb filament.
Of course, our efforts to gain ability in spiritual healing involve primarily us: our beliefs, our attitudes, our actions. And very often, the last thing persons know about are their own internal ideas and feelings. They assume they believe, for example, in human freedom, but a careful examination of their beliefs and actions reveals that they handed over their decision-making to religious, family, or political leaders at a very early age and now have no real conception of or desire for genuine freedom.
"How will you ever know the Divine,
as long as you are unable
to know yourself?"
Hakim Sanai, The Walled Garden of Truth
Some aspects we explore in this essay may take months or years to master; for example, the necessity we discuss later of removing self-centeredness from our character. Work thoughtfully and assiduously with each element of spiritual healing as you come to it, staying with that phase until you master it. If you do continue past those phases of spiritual healing you've achieved full capability in--to preview the entire field of spiritual healing--then return to the earlier phases later to complete your effort.
The Main Approaches to Spiritual Healing
There are four major approaches to spiritual healing:
1. Religious healing
- In this approach, a person practicing spiritual healing appeals to God, believing that God works through the person's belief in His power to heal.
- Persons using this approach: Agnes Sanford, Rebecca Beard, Rufus Moseley, Glenn Clark, and some teachers within the Perennial Tradition
- "The first step in seeking to produce results by any power is to contact that power. The first step then in seeking help from God is to contact God. 'Be still and know that I am God.'
"Let us then lay aside our worries and cares, quiet our minds and concentrate upon the reality of God. We may not know who God is or what God is, but we know that there is something that sustains this universe, and that something is not ourselves. So the first step is to relax and to remind ourselves that there is a source of life outside of ourselves.
"The second step is to turn it on, by some such prayer as this 'Heavenly Father, please increase in me at this time Your life-giving power.' Or if we do not know this outside life as our Heavenly Father, we can simply say 'Whoever you are--whatever you are--come into me now!'
"The third step is to believe that this power is coming into us and to accept it by faith. No matter how much we ask for something it becomes ours only as we accept it and give thanks for it. 'Thank You,' we can say, 'that Your life is now coming into me and increasing life in my spirit and in my mind and in my body.'
"And the fourth step is to observe the operations of that light and life. In order to do so, we must decide on some tangible thing that we wish accomplished by that power, so that we can know without question whether our experiment succeeded or failed."
Agnes Sanford, The Healing Light, 1947
2. Metaphysical-religious healing
- This approach conceives of God as the only reality there is and spiritual healing consisting in realizing the perfection of each person as an embodiment of the divine.
- Persons using this approach: Mary Baker Eddy; Ernest Holmes; a loosely organized confederation of religious and quasi-religious organizations that comprised the International New Thought Alliance (INTA), first inspired by writers such as Horatio Dresser, Ralph Waldo Trine, and Emma Curtis Hopkins; and some teachers within the Perennial Tradition
- "The era of science comes in on this statement and its proof; viz., that all is mind, and there is no matter. Sickness, sin, and death are creations of mortal mind, that Life, and Truth destroy. Order and beauty emanate from the mind of Soul, that is immortal; and the scientific statement that all is mind, will gain its first proofs in healing the sick on this Principle. A single demonstration of this is important evidence."
"To understand that It is Intelligence, and this the one God, enables man to gain the immortality of Soul, and to destroy the errors of sense, and make the body harmonious and eternal, because it is governed by Spirit; but to believe ourself nerves, bones, brain, etc., is to accept the aid of matter to control the body, virtually admitting God incapable of the entire government of man."
Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, 1875
3. Psychosomatic healing
- In this approach, the human mind alone is believed to be able to effect changes within the body.
- Persons using this approach: Norman Cousins, Arthur Preston Smith, Larry Dossey (Healing Words), Frank Caprio and Joseph R. Berger (Healing Yourself with Self-Hypnosis), and some teachers within the Perennial Tradition
- "Psychosomatic healing is a very real, if not common, phenomenon. . . It is also a natural process, i.e., it need not involve any supernatural Divine intervention. If it involves God's action at all, then God is acting through natural processes. Evidence from numerous sources, such as the placebo effect, the new science of psychoneuroimmunology, scientific studies and experiments, and historical events, . . support the first thesis. Although this evidence strongly supports the proposition that thoughts, attitudes and beliefs can significantly affect health, it tells us nothing about the interaction involved, if any, between the mind and the brain."
Arthur Preston Smith, "The Power of Thought to Heal: An Ontology of Personal Faith," (see the Bibliography below)
4. Metaphysical-physical healing
- Beginning with Plato, spiritual regeneration and harmonization have been achieved through the love of and the search for wisdom--philosophy. This approach assists people to rid themselves of illusions (as in the use of such allegories as the Cave) and gain understanding of the Forms within Higher Reality: Goodness, Beauty, Love, Truth, Justice. Persons using this approach also recognize the (relative) reality of the terrestrial realm and its avenues of regeneration and harmonization.
- Persons using this approach: Teachers within the Perennial Tradition such as Hermes, Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato, Plotinus, Iamblicus, Proclus, and Betty and Stewart Edward White
- "The word 'healing' really should be used here in a wider sense than the mere righting of bodily derangements. It should be made to mean also any effort toward restoration of harmony wherever harmony has been disturbed. . .
"The method most appropriate to any specific case depends on the factors of that case--all the factors, mental, spiritual and physical. No man can say without knowing these factors which school of healing is going to work. Any of them may work provided they have basically the power to administer frequencies that will 'take,' so to speak. The purely mental and faith treatments will have no effect whatever on the sceptic; they will help greatly the one open to such frequencies."
Stewart Edward White, With Folded Wings
The Necessary Conceptual Basis for Spiritual Healing
If we're to use prayer effectively for healing, then we must understand the nature of prayer and the understanding of God which makes prayer possible. For most of us, prayer goes something like this:"God, you don't seem to be doing things quite right, so I want to make some suggestions. I need this particular effect in my life and you don't seem to understand that. So, I'm informing you of what's wrong with your universe and asking you kindly if you won't fix it according to my desires.
"Oh, by the way, thanks."
This reveals what kind of God we think rules the universe and the Higher Realm: a being who doesn't quite understand--and needs our constant guidance, an arbitrary deity who succumbs to special pleading. If we're to pray for regeneration and harmonization (healing), then we must drastically change our conception of the divine.
To hope for any success in spiritual healing, we must conceive of the One Quintessence--God, the Universe, the Divine--as Supreme Goodness, Beauty, and Love. We must understand that His will for us is for our highest good, nothing less.
If our concept of God is that of a vengeful tyrant who demands human suffering for man's fallen state, then spiritual healing becomes unthinkable. A person who believes that there is no power in human reason to know God or His will, certainly could not hope to bring about regeneration or harmonization within the human body or mind.
If you believe--as do many people--that spiritual healing ended with the closing of the Christian New Testament period, or that only divine prophets have the power to heal, then those ideas will make it impossible for you to work with spiritual healing. As we examine ourselves, we may find that we believe that everything in life is merely a matter of material substance--a belief that makes spiritual healing impossible. Only the correct spiritual and terrestrial concepts enable contact with the One and allow us to gain a practical understanding of Its laws.
"God is intelligence. Can we inform the infinite Mind of anything He does not already comprehend? Do we expect to change perfection? Shall we plead for more at the open fount, which is pouring forth more than we accept? God is not moved by the breath of praise to do more than He has already done, nor can the infinite do less than bestow all good, since He is unchanging wisdom and Love. We can do more for ourselves by humble fervent petitions, but the All-loving does not grant them simply on the ground of lip-service, for He already knows all. . .
"The mere habit of pleading with the divine Mind, as one pleads with a human being, perpetuates the belief in God as humanly circumscribed, - an error which impedes spiritual growth." 5
"We have tried often to make this creative power flow through us, saying, 'Oh, God, please do this or that!' And He has not done this or that, so we have concluded that there is no use in prayer, because God, if there is such a Being, will do as He likes regardless of our wishes. In other words, we doubt the willingness or the ability of God to actually produce within our lives and bodies the results that we desire." 6
"He perceives what his creatures need
before the desire for it has been conceived."
Hakim Sanai, The Walled Garden of Truth
As you develop an understanding of the Unitary Quintessence--God, the Universe, Divine Mind--however you choose to relate to the divine--that will allow spiritual healing to take place, put your concepts and beliefs into a Spiritual Healing Meditation Outline.
Contacting the Force
"This world is engendered by the Real, and has the Real as its Self, the Real is its material altogether. That Real than which there is none higher, THAT THOU ART, the restful, the stainless, secondless Eternal, the supreme." Sankaracharya, The Crest-Jewel of Wisdom
We live in a universal spiritual substance by virtue of which all living things exist through their ability to transmute this general force into something individual. Humans are energy transformers; we are alive and developing in proportion to how much of this universal force we accept and how freely it flows through us.
The better we transmit this energy or allow it to flow through us, the higher grade we occupy; the more alive and contented and effective we become. The great common carrier of universal spirit is an immense ocean connecting all individuals. The energy field, the all-surrounding substance in which individuals are suspended, is a great sea of undifferentiated force.
All Perennialist teachers have taught about and worked with this universal substrate of divine creative and healing energy. This elemental essence, without whose activity no existence would be possible, has been given many different names by individual teachers and investigators:
- The Hermetic tradition refers to it as Materia Prima [elemental substance]
- Heraclitus called it Fire, "the father of all things"
- Plato named this most elemental phenomenom "the One"
- Jesus referred to it as the life-essence of the mystical Vine of which we are the branches
- Medieval investigators termed it the Lumen Gloriae (divine illumination) and Magnus Ignis (the great spark)
It is this "One Unitary Thing," una sola Res, which is the root life-essence underlying the entire phenomenal universe. It is the source not only of light external to us, but of light internal also; the well-spring of all intellectual light; that without which there could be no consciousness at all. This pure matrix is not externalized as a sense-object and can only be cognized introspectively, by the "inwardly turned eye" of the mind. "It is gotten 'in Divine contemplation,' by penetrating that darkness which comprehendeth it not, but in which it lies concealed." 7
In beginning your spiritual healing meditation--or prayer--you must make contact with the Unitary Quintessence--God, the Universe, the Divine. In seeking to work with the creative and healing energy at the foundation of Reality, we must first contact that Power."A realization of the Presence of God is the most powerful healing agency known to the mind of man."We can't assume we are in contact with the Higher Reality merely because we think about it or have a positive feeling toward this Primordial Being. We must experiment with various processes of meditation and contemplation and diverse concepts of the primordial healing energy to discover how to come into an active awareness of and connection with the Unitary Quintessence. 8
Ernest Holmes, The Science of Mind
"When I turn to the source of my being . . . I am as a cell of an harmonious body illuminated beyond my comprehension. My only reaction is one of security and glowing content, a state of rarefied happiness.
"It is . . . nearly akin to being aware of a breath-taking and gorgeous Doing and eagerly seeking a minute part in it, allowing the vast Doing itself to flow through and model you to its purposes. You are, however, not passive at all; you are eagerly active, as a child is active." 9
We contact the Healing Force by turning away from the material senses and focusing on the imperishable realities of the Spirit. We separate ourselves from the belief and dream of the terrestrial realm and enter into the divine life through realizing that life and intelligence are purely spiritual--neither in nor of matter. We enter into our mental closet and shut the door by closing our senses and stilling the mental turmoil, entering our "quiet sanctuary of earnest longings."
By focusing on the Higher Reality, we learn to see and realize it. It then is not merely a concept or a mental image, but a definite reality.
"The appearance as the separate self, of the Self, the Seer, who is without qualities, without form; essential wisdom and bliss, arises through the delusion of the understanding; it is not real; when the delusion passes, it exists no longer, having no substantial reality.
"Its existence, which is brought into being through false perception, because of delusion, lasts only so long as the error lasts; as the serpent in the rope endures only as long as the delusion; when the delusion ceases, there is no serpent." 10
The religious approach to healing which Rufus Moseley followed involved entering into union with Jesus.
"Jesus, according to His last night's promise to His first disciples, and after a manner similar to His appearance to them on the night following His Resurrection, is manifesting Himself still--from without, and breathing and infusing Himself within, giving the keys and the secrets of an abiding, fruitful and transforming identification and union with Himself."
Our task is to cast off our bondage to the senses that cause attachment to the impermanent and temporary and regain sight of the permanent and eternal. We come into more and more intimate conscious relation to the inner principle which underlies all phenomena and we cognize unity in diversity, the realm of the Spirit. In our search for Higher Consciousness, we must "unself ourselves," as Hakim Sanai phrases it, ridding ourselves of ego-obsession and ego-blindness.
It's impossible to develop any type of spiritual capability--including spiritual healing--as long as we gaze at a universe with our self at its center. You know persons who are totally obsessed with themselves--their pleasure, their success--because their number is so large these days. And from your acquaintance with such self-obsessed persons you've seen how they don't actually see anyone but themselves. If they appear to be "looking at" another person or a separate object or event, it's only for the purpose of manipulating that person or element for their own purposes.
If we are to "be" in a Higher Consciousness where spiritual healing takes place, if we are to see the Higher Purpose, we must first gain a wider, more inclusive vision of Reality.
"God is his friend, who is no friend of self;
no man with eyes on self has eyes for God."
Hakim Sanai, The Walled Garden of Truth
Through his meditations in Higher Consciousness, Plotinus discerned that our possession by the sensory world comes about by "self-glorification."
"Often when I come to myself on awaking from bodily sleep and, turning from the outer world, enter into myself, I behold wondrous beauty. Then I am sure that I have been conscious of the better part of myself. I live my true life, I am one with the divine and, rooted in the divine, gain the power to transport myself beyond even the higher world. After thus resting in God, when I descend from spiritual vision and again form thoughts, I ask myself how it has happened that I now descend and that my soul ever entered the body at all, since, in its essence, it is what it has just revealed itself to me. What can the reason be for souls forgetting God the Father since they come from the beyond and belong to Him, and, when they forget Him, know nothing of Him, or of themselves? The first false step they take is indulging in presumption, the desire to become, and in forgetfulness of their true self and in the pleasure of only belonging to themselves. They coveted self-glorification, they rushed about in pursuit of their desires and thus went astray and fell completely away. Thereupon they lost all knowledge of their origin in the beyond, just as children, early separated from their parents and brought up elsewhere, do not know who they themselves and their parents are." Plotinus
"For the life eternal, that which we call the one life, lies outside and beyond all personal aspirations, and hopes, and fears. It lives and moves in all, and has lived and will live from eternity to eternity, ever the great enigma to all that is personal and temporary. The personal devotee who loses his life for his faith, does so in the hope of a personal reward, it is still the personal 'I' who will meet in heaven with all 'I' hold blessed; 'my' friends, 'my' loved ones, 'my' ideal of a personal God and a personal Savior. This is not a renunciation, but an intensification of the personal, and therefore temporary and finite.
"Far deeper than that lies the path to life eternal. It lies within, not without; in the innermost of our own Being, in that Life which is itself the One Life, the One Being. The life Eternal which we must find will never be found in a heaven of personal bliss, where we seem to approach 'God' as we would approach the throne of an earthly king.
"To know 'God' is to know our own life and Being as part of his Life and Being, and to merge all personal interests in that larger life which is 'no respecter of persons.' Let those who can do so, put away from themselves all that conceit which places them in some specially favoured relation to a 'God' who takes a personal interest in every little triviality of their life. For if we are to understand the term 'God' in any sense which is adequate to the conception of the universe in its totality, as the sum of all Being, all consciousness, and all manifestation, and not merely as an expression of one or other of those anthropomorphic conceptions which have gathered round special names of the deity in various ages: then we must recognize that that One Life, expressing itself in countless forms of manifestation, . . . lives and moves, and has its being in and through all." 11
Realization as the Essence of Spiritual Healing
As we saw above, to attain the capacity for spiritual healing we must develop concepts and practices which make this possible. We must honestly and forthrightly acknowledge that God creates all good, and wishes us to have all good.
"He heals our nature from within,
kinder to us than we ourselves are.
A mother does not love her child
with half the love that he bestows.
Hakim Sanai, The Walled Garden of Truth
It must become a surety to us that we have at our disposal, in what we call our subconscious mind or soul, a power that is limitless, because it is at this point that we are one with Higher Consciousness.
"Knowledge that the Eternal is not divided from him is the cause of freedom from the world, whereby the Eternal, the secondless bliss, is gained by the awakened."
Shankara, The Crest Jewel of Wisdom
Spiritual Healing is Not Incantational Magick
It's necessary at this point to understand that by using conceptual affirmations and verbal pronouncements we are not working with magick in which mere spoken words are believed to bring phenomena into reality, along the lines of abracadabra, presto, or hocus pocus.
In spiritual healing, we do not try to coerce spirit entities; we clear ourselves so the Great Power can operate through us. It is as if an electric lamp said: "Look at me, I can bring light into being through my wonderful mechanism." Like the lamp, we are merely conduits for a Higher Power--electricity or healing energy. We are simply channels through which power or energy flows.
At the same time, our role in healing is significant, in that we serve as conductors through which the Higher Power passes. That's why it's so necessary that we get our bloated ego out of the way, so the healing energy can flow in an unimpeded manner.
Spiritual Healing is Not Self-Indoctrination
Healing affirmations and pronouncements of divine truth are for the purpose of assisting our own minds to realize the true nature of our being. These affirmations and pronouncements are not of the nature of self-indoctrination. Indoctrination refers to mindless propagandizing or conditioning, with the subject acting as a passive recipient of ideas without reflection or reasoned consideration. We affirm and pronounce divine truths in our mind so we become progressively aware of their meanings and implications and to assist our mind to become increasingly convinced of their certainty. This is similar to the experience we all have of suddenly saying to ourselves: "Oh, now I realize the truth of that idea."
"Thereafter, the divine Word, a turning of the mind to it, a constant thinking on it by the pure one, long and uninterrupted.
"Then ridding himself altogether of doubt, and reaching wisdom, even here he enjoys the bliss of Nirvana.
"Then the discerning between Self and not-Self that you must now awaken to, that I now declare, hearing it, lay hold on it within yourself."
Shankara, The Crest Jewel of Wisdom
One of the primary ongoing healing ideals which we work for is a mind that knows for certain its oneness with God. Our affirmations and pronouncements--what the Science of Mind calls "treatments"--consist in stating with genuine conviction that we are divine beings and removing any obstruction in mind--dissolving all false mental conceptions and all false physical appearances--to allow the free flow of divine truth through us.
"Through the power of my word, operating as the Truth and Reality of Being, God can do all things in and through me."
You may find that the best procedure to follow in seeking spiritual healing is to combine the various approaches discussed in this essay. This essay is, in fact, an amalgamation of the different conceptions of spiritual healing. It may appear that the diverse ideas of spiritual healing are so disparate--and so contradictory to one another--that they wouldn't work in association. I suggest that they can be formed into a unity if we take the essence of each and disregard any rejection of other approaches by any of the several conceptions.
I'm not suggesting a watered-down synchretism or simplistic eclecticism. Each of the different conceptions of spiritual healing contain powerful understanding of spiritual regeneration and harmonization and can be used independently as well as in combination. If we concentrate on one approach, we must be sure we've gained a full understanding of its concepts and procedures, allowing it the best possible chance to bring about the desired effect.
For the Healing of the World
Spiritual healing deals with the mental and physical disharmonies that individuals experience, but also with the diseased condition of a world suffering from war, poverty, murder, oppression, tyranny, ignorance, and egomania. In Judaism, it is thought that an integral part of being Jewish involves Tikkun Olamthe: repair and healing of the world. The teacher Chujow-Rinpoche spoke of what he called the coming of the Kingdom of Shambhala as an internal phenomenon of healing the world, having to do with our own awakening, our own inner spiritual journey.
"There comes a time when all life on Earth is in danger. At this time great powers have arisen, barbarian powers. Although these powers have wasted their wealth in preparing to annihilate each other, they have much in common: weapons of unfathomable devastation and technologies that lay waste to the world. It is just at this point, when the future of all beings seems to be hanging by the frailest of threads, that the Kingdom of Shambhala emerges.
"You cannot go there because it's not a geopolitical entity. It exists in the hearts and minds of the Shambhala Warriors.
"You can't recognize a Shambhala Warrior by looking at him or her, because they don't wear uniforms - no insignias. They wave no banners, they don't even have barricades on which to climb to threaten the enemy or hide behind to rest or to regroup. They don't have any home turf. Ever and always they move on the terrain of the barbarian powers.
"Great courage is required of the Shambhala Warrior. Moral courage and physical courage. Because the Warriors are going right into the heart of the barbarian powers to dismantle the weapons. They're going into the citadels and the pits and pockets where the weapons are stored. Weapons, in every sense of the word. They're going into the corridors of power where decisions are made, in order to dismantle the weapons that threaten all life on Earth.
"The Shambhala Warriors are able to do this because they know these weapons are mind-made. The dangers that confront us in this time are not visited upon us by some extraterrestrial force, or some satanic deity, or even by a preordained fate. They arise out of our choices, our relationships, our life styles. Made by the human mind they can be unmade by the human mind. In this time the Shambhala Warriors go into training.
"Shambhala Warriors train in the use of two weapons. One is compassion, and the other is insight into the interdependence of all phenomena. You need both. Compassion, because it provides the fuel that is the motive power. That is what moves you to engage, to take part in the healing of the world. That openness to the pain of our world is essential. Not to be afraid of it. But by itself it is not enough. By itself it can just burn you up, burn you out. You need the other, you need that insight into the interdependence of all beings and all things. With that you know that the battles we face are not battles between good and evil, but that the line between good and evil runs through the landscape of every human heart. Insight by itself is a cool knowledge; it must be married with the heat of compassion." 12
Healing In Community
"Soon we learn that praying for healing is not exactly the right prayer. The right prayer is more likely to be: Please show me the way of healing. Show me the healing path. Now we are closer to the possibility of healing. Healing becoming a way of life, not a single event. A way of life that affects others. And what might the healing path be? A path in alignment with Spirit. Rather than asking the Divine to extend a boon to us, we find ourselves asking to live according to Divine precepts that are beneficial for the whole, in such a way that benefits all beings. This turns out to be the way of our healing. We have started to heal our lives so that our lives can heal us.
"In my mind, there is a direct relationship between the healing of my body and the healing of the world. Where healing and peacemaking are one, they are the bridge between individual healing and the healing of the community. I do not ask for my healing without committing entirely to the healing of the other as the small possibilities of the healing of the world are sacred gifts extended to me as well. The world's body. My body. The same. This is the very nature of healing." 13
Participating in Spiritual Healing
We learn about spiritual healing so we can actively participate in the regeneration and harmonization of ourselves and others. Spiritual healing is not a power reserved only for special people; we all have the innate capability for healing within ourselves. We learn to feel the presence of divine love moving through us and connecting with the same presence of love inside other persons. Through persistent effort, we gain the ability to experience our hearts opening, our consciousness opening to divine healing energy. We are as healed by the presence of this love as is the person receiving the healing through us. We experience a sense of peace, wholeness and harmony.
It's not just a matter of laying hands on people, asking for divine energy to flow into us and through us, and expecting illnesses to disappear immediately. Each individual, ourselves included, is a complex web of emotions, memories, beliefs, attitudes, and habits. We become aware of the importance of discerning each person's web in their healing process.
We learn to empower ourselves and others to participate in our own healing process. Our importance as healers effecting regeneration and harmonization, is secondary to the value of helping people awaken the healer within themselves--their innate, God-given potential, especially the power of love to heal body, mind and spirit.
"Plato taught by his example that man possesses within himself the power to cure the diseases of his body, that in the end, every man is his own priest, and every man is his own physician. Wisdom is a universal medicine and is the only remedy for ignorance, the great sickness of mankind. This is the doctrine of the mystics, the doctrine which they learned in the old temples, the doctrine which someday must be the foundation of all enlightened therapy." 14
"Knowing what you know,
be serene also, like a mountain;
and do not be distressed by misfortune.
He is the provider
of both faith and worldly goods;
he is none other
than the disposer
of our lives.
He is no tyrant:
For everything he takes,
he gives back seventy-fold;
and if he closes one door
he opens ten others to you."
Hakim Sanai, The Walled Garden of Truth
We gain an understanding that whatever is taking place is a necessary experience on our path to enlightenment. We realize that our greatest difficulty may be the precise moment of darkness that constitutes a springboard into ultimate illumination. This kind of understanding goes beyond merely tolerating life and its vicissitudes; it is a process of changing our entire mind-set by seeing perfection in everything, appreciating that life consists in necessary steps toward transformation and wholeness. This way of discernment comprehends that facing challenges--and overcoming them--is a process in which consciousness is being awakened. We gain a special inner quality that is the mark of a transformed life. We achieve regeneration and harmonization--spiritual healing.
1 Some readers may find Agnes Sanford's personal belief in Jesus incompatible with their own conceptions of spirituality. Similarly, some may find that Mary Baker Eddy's belief in her unassailable position of authority within her "church" unacceptable. Nonetheless, many of their ideas about spiritual healing are exceptionally helpful and should not be rejected out of hand.
2 Whim: a capricious or eccentric and often sudden idea or turn of the mind; fancy; arbitrariness
3 Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, 1875
4 Agnes Sanford, The Healing Light, 1947
5 Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, 1875
6 Agnes Sanford, The Healing Light, 1947
7 Introduction to Mary A. Atwood, Hermetic Philosophy and Alchemy, 1850, 1960, p. 33
8 This essay deals with this subject
9 Betty White and Stewart Edward White, With Folded Wings, 1947
10 Shankara, The Crest Jewel of Wisdom
11 William Kingsland, Esoteric Basis of Christianity: or Theosophy and Christian Doctrine, 1891
12 From: Joanna Macy, "The Shambhala Warrior"
13 Deena Metzger, Healing in Community
14 Manly Palmer Hall, Healing: The Divine Art
- Rebecca Beard, Everyman's Search, 1951
- Frank Caprio and Joseph R. Berger, Healing Yourself with Self-Hypnosis
- Deepak Chopra, Quantum Healing
- Larry Dossey, Healing Words
- Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, 1875
- Ernest Holmes, The Science of Mind, 1964
- The Mitchell May Story
- Andrew Powell, "Quantum Psychiatry - Where Science Meets Spirit"
- Other essays by Andrew Powell and associates
- Peter Russell, Waking Up In Time
- Excerpts from Agnes Sanford, The Healing Light, 1947
- Arthur Preston Smith, The Power of Thought to Heal
- States of Consciousness