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Healing Is Spiritual

Recently, there have been news stories about scientists who are cloning pigs. The great benefit of this research, say the newscasters, is that pigs are anatomically similar to humans so they hope to clone organs that can be used for human transplants. Science fiction? No. Bizarre? Yes. Well, maybe not so bizarre. Medical science has been using animal products to treat human disease for years. Diabetics take insulin derived from pigs. Some vaccines are derived from animal diseases. Pigskin has been used for grafts on human skin. Many “breakthroughs” in medical science are made by doing experiments on animals and then the experimental treatments are tried on people.

How can doctors expect human beings to benefit from animal research? When they view the body as a physical machine divorced from any soul or spirit, it is easy. A body is a body. Parts are parts. Surgeons take one tube and replace it with another. A piece of intestine may be used to replace an esophagus. A vein in a leg is used to repair a heart. What difference does it make if the part comes from another human or an animal?

Not all doctors believe that human beings are just a collection of body parts. Some years ago I interviewed Dr. Bernie Siegel for Thresholds Quarterly. You may be familiar with Dr. Siegel (who likes to be referred to as “Bernie”) as the author of several books, most notably Love, Medicine, and Miracles. Bernie was educated as a surgeon and discovered through his practice that his greatest ability to help his patients came not from performing surgery or giving drugs, but from listening to them. Bernie learned through trial and error that people become ill because of their response to events in their lives. Knowing about their hopes and dreams, their lives, and their loves, helped him to help them.

He learned also that the greatest healing power is that of love. Bernie never learned any of that in medical school, and was, in fact, disappointed and angry that his education had not prepared him to treat people. He was envious of the nurses who had learned to understand patients as people, to nurture them, to learn about their emotional needs as well as their physical comfort. His medical school training taught him about disease and anatomy, about bodies rather than people. He laughed ironically, explaining that the medical students learned anatomy by dissecting corpses; thereby being taught that a dead body was the same as a live one.

In a similar vein, I spoke recently with another medical doctor who just moved to Arizona to practice medicine on an Indian reservation. She was consulting with the doctor on the reservation, a Native American male who has been trained as a western medical doctor. Having grown up on the reservation with Native American ideas, he said that in the Native American tradition he was taught that health has four spokes. He drew a medicine wheel with four corners, which he described as Spirit, Mind, Heart, and Body. Native Americans believe that health involves all four spokes in balance. He said, “as a medical doctor, what I’m taught is that the body is the only thing that’s the factor in health and disease. So it’s no wonder that our patients don’t get well, if all we’re looking at is the body, and we leave out the spirit and the mind and the heart.”

How have we gotten so far removed from the truth about healing? In the Bible and other holy scriptures, there are many stories about healing. The New Testament is full of parables about Jesus healing people. Why is that? If healing was a purely physical thing, if it was a purely medical endeavor, it probably wouldn’t be mentioned in holy scripture. Healing is a spiritual practice. In order for someone to heal, they need to move toward greater awareness of their Real Self, their spiritual self. When a person is sick, they are disconnected from their own spirit and from their Creator in some way.

Health, or wholeness, means that we are living like the Creator who made us. We are in alignment with Universal Law, or God’s Laws. Think of some of the infinite qualities of our Creator: being loving, compassionate, generous, forgiving, disciplined, truthful. When you live your life to exemplify these qualities and others that are universally good, you become whole. When you move away from this universal goodness, when you’re greedy, selfish, selfcentered, lazy, hateful, or bitter; you have a tendency to get sick. The more you live to be like your Creator, the more whole you are and the healthier you are. The more you exist for purely physical reasons, the more prone you are to sickness.

Because we have free will we get to choose to be in alignment or out of alignment with our Creator’s plan. Animals, rocks, and plants don’t have that free will. They are naturally in harmony; they don’t have to think about it. We do, so we can choose to be “good” or we can choose to be out of harmony. In the Bible, this state of disharmony is referred to as “sin” or “evil.” One of the things that illness gives to us is the awareness that we are out of harmony with the Universal laws. Illness can help us become self-aware or self-reflective. When we use the experience for that purpose, it is one of the first steps toward healing.

In the Bible, when Jesus heals, he usually asks people questions. The first question is, “Do you want to be healed?” That’s one of the most important elements in healing—a desire.

“There was one man who had been sick for thirty-eight years. Jesus, who knew he had been sick a long time, said when he saw him lying there, ‘Do you want to be healed?’ ‘Sir,’ the sick man answered, ‘I do not have anyone to plunge me into the pool once the water has been stirred up. By the time I get there, someone else has gone in ahead of me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Stand up! Pick up your mat and walk!’ The man was immediately cured; he picked up his mat and began to walk.” (John 5:5–9)

Why is desire so important? When one wants to be healed, their conscious mind cooperates with their subconscious mind. The subconscious has a duty to fulfill the desires of the conscious mind, so when a person desires healing, all the invisible and magnetic forces of the universe converge to effect the healing, often in miraculous ways. Desire is a potent force, drawing to it that which will fulfill it.

Next, Jesus asks them if they have faith, or he recognizes their faith: “As they were going, a woman who had suffered from hemorrhages for twelve years came up behind him and touched the tassel on his cloak. ‘If only I can touch his cloak,’ she thought, ‘I shall get well.’ Jesus turned around and saw her and said, ‘Courage, daughter! Your faith has restored you to health.’ That very moment the woman got well.” (Matthew 9:20–22)

“And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him, crying, and saying, ‘Thou son of David, have mercy on us.’ And when he was come into the house, the blind men came to him: and Jesus saith unto them, ‘Believe ye that I am able to do this?’ They said unto him, ‘Yea, Lord.’ Then he touched their eyes, saying, ‘According to your faith be it unto you.’ And their eyes were opened.” (Matthew 9:27–30)

“Your faith has restored you to health.” What does this mean? Those who are sick or diseased believe in something that will heal them. It might be a doctor, or a prescription, or God. They may not know where this healing power comes from or how it works, but they have faith that there is some greater power than what they’re experiencing right now. They believe that this power can restore them to health. That’s the second element: faith.

A couple of years ago my husband John was very ill. A diabetic for over two decades, his kidneys were failing, his body was prone to infections, he had gained more than 40 pounds in water weight. He was angry and irritable and miserable. In this state he went to see a specialist in California, a doctor of Oriental medicine educated and raised in China who also holds a Western medical degree. With much experience treating diabetics, Dr. Yeh was familiar with Western prescriptions and methods as well as acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, his specialty.