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 Spirituality and Health: Conversations Between a Doctor and a Minister 

SIG: Ev, since we are collaborating on a book, I think it would be of interest to our readers to know why we felt we should write the book. I have no desire to write a book just to be writing a book. But I feel there's a real need for a book that brings together the wholeness factors of the individual for the sake, not only of so-called patients who need healing, but for ministers and psychiatrists and doctors and anyone involved in any way in the healing arts.

Perhaps, as we move into this book, we'll discover that the healing arts embrace a great deal more than we ordinarily think. I can see from my own viewpoint as a minister that there is a tremendous need for something of this nature. I feel that so often, as ministers, we use some pretty pat little phrases and often express glib ideas even about the healing power of God. We're probably agreed that there is only one healing power in the universe, but I find that it is easy to get lopsided and off-base unless we're in tune with what the rest of the world, and in this instance what the healing world, is doing.

Ev: I guess my real excuse is to share with others a deep feeling that the healing of the patient has to start within the patient or it will get nowhere. The doctor actually doesn't have much to do with the healing of the patient. He is something of a guide. He can help remove certain areas of resistance, such as surgically removing a diseased organ, which is only an end result of a process going on in that body.

It's been very aptly said by an Indian medicine man that there are four essentials in the healing process. First of all, the patient must want to be healed-he has to have a reason to get well. Second, the patient must have faith that he can be made well. Third, he must ask forgiveness of anyone in his life whom he has injured. And fourth, he must change his way of life and no longer follow just the material way.

This is equally true for us. I think we can learn a great deal by looking at some of the long-established traditions of healing, such as that of our American Indian. We have sent out little health stations and hospitals to all the reservations, but a large number of the Indians have not gone to these hospitals because they knew they had something we did not have.

We have undoubtedly helped them to control infectious diseases and a number of things of this nature. Now it's time for us to look and see what they have to give to us: It's this feeling of oneness with the totality of life, a feeling of the rhythms of life. It's the timing, the breathing in and exhaling of the life forces and the life energies and letting them become one with us. It's an identification with the growing seasons, an identification with the sun and the moon and the planets, an understanding that we have a cycle interrelated to their cycles.

This tremendous beat of the universe-the rhythm of the universe-seems to be deeply inculcated in their souls. I learned much of this from a wise Indian medicine man who visited us at Meadowlark and talked to us about his life as a healer.

SIG: I suppose part of the purpose in writing this book is to share with the patients and our coworkers in the healing profession the great truth that health or wholeness is a vital part of the universe-that the whole universe in a very real sense is interested in seeing that its creatures are whole and strong. As you mentioned through your experience and contact with the Indian medicine man, these are people who are very close to nature, and they have discovered and are utilizing elements in their natural environment-both the visible and invisible part of that environment-to heal.

Part of our purpose and intention, then, is to share with those in need of healing, regardless of who they may happen to be, that the desire for healing is a very natural part of their own make-up. It's part of the universe, and the elements for healing are also part of their own make-up and part of the universe.

We realize we are not miracle workers, but we do point to the miracle of healing; and the miracle potential of healing is a vital part of the whole person. Sometimes, when a person is ill or hurting it's difficult for him to realize this. Perhaps through the medium of this book, and the ideas and experience we can share in it, we can bring to the attention of the readers the fact that healing is a very natural element in our lives.

Health: The Natural State

Ev: Healing is such a very natural thing, yet in our system of medicine today we have made it unnecessarily complex. We associate it somehow with X-rays and laboratory tests, This must be very frustrating to the patient, and I think his healing is frequently put out of perspective. Back in medical school, a good many years ago, we were told that 65 percent of learning about the patient's illness is obtained from his history, about 25 percent from our examination, and about 10 percent from the laboratory. So often we see this reversed in practice because of the rush of patients through a doctor's office today.

Many patients who have come to Meadowlark, where I'm able to take a little more time to listen than I can at the office, are so relieved to talk about themselves. Things have been bottled up and they can give clues that they can't possibly provide in a fast ten-minute history. They begin to see in perspective some of the forces and energies that have taken them away from a sense of wholeness or a sense of health. I'm sure, Sig, that you find people coming to you who, perhaps, have regularly attended church but are still very much at odds with themselves about some crucial thing in life.

SIG: Yes. That's certainly true, Ev, and I suppose that one of the greatest healing elements is permitting a person to express himself, to tell about himself-about not only his hangups and his misdeeds and the things he's done wrong or the things he feels he's failed to accomplish, but also his dreams, some of the things that make him uniquely a human being. So often when people are in difficulty they are trying to find someone who will listen-who will accept them as they are, and who will hear them out.

I know it's true in my work. We are all so pressed for time that frequently we come up with a pat answer, an immediate answer that gets the patient or the individual "off our necks." Not that we do this in any negative sense, but we are forced to it because of the pressure of business. We feel we are on an escalator of some kind and must keep things going at a certain pace.

Ev: I think we in the United States have a great tendency, certainly as outsiders see us, to get very fanatical on certain things. For five or ten years something seems to be the thing, and everybody goes out after it. I think this is true, too, as far as healing is concerned. Groups of people feel compelled to go off to a certain center for a weekend where they hope to find something that's going to change their lives; or they have to eat a certain food that is supposed to do wonders for them; or they are supposed to take a brand-new miracle drug they've seen advertised. These various things seem to capture the popular imagination. So often people have sought after these various modalities, only to be very much disappointed.

SIG: I can recall a time when it was very popular to remove the tonsils and adenoids and the appendix. In fact, I heard doctors say it would be well if, every time a child was born, they just automatically removed the tonsils and the adenoids. I think the same principle applies in our so-called religious structure in trying to help people. We get all hung up on certain sins and we conclude that a person is in difficulty because he's done thus and so.

A certain sin seems to be popular for a time, and then, fortunately, humanity outgrows it. Perhaps that's the way it's handled. I'd like to have the people who read this book-the lay people and the professional people-realize that ministers and doctors aren't gods. We don't have all the answers; in fact, I'm not sure we have many of the answers to anything. The answer more likely lies within the individual himself.

Somehow we must bring out the idea that the minister and the doctor are part of a healing team. We're part of a group of human beings, each one with his own limitations. Perhaps by pooling our understanding, our know-how, our enthusiasm, our faith, our love, our skill, we can make healing more effective. I'm convinced that health is a natural state. It's a natural state of the body, a natural state of the mind. In a sense it is never absent from us; it's just obscured by some of the attitudes or some of the activities, or perhaps by some of the processes that take place in the mind and the body of the individual concerned.

Ev: So it would seem that to find health all we're trying to do is rediscover the natural harmony that should be ours and has been ours but from which we have departed for an interval. Rather than a book concerned with diseased states of body, mind, and spirit, we're really looking at the person in health and trying to discover how he can stay that way. How does he maintain this harmony that is associated with wholeness, and health? Hopefully, as a result of this process, the disease or the dark state of mind will disappear.

SIG: In this connection, it might be helpful to think about what health or wholeness really is. Perhaps if we spent as much time in the medical and religious professions in studying health and wholeness as we do in studying disease and sin and evil, we'd have a completely different result. We do discover that the elements or factors to which we devote our concentrated attention tend to reveal themselves to us. Accordingly, it might be very helpful to take a look at the positive side. From a medical viewpoint how would you define health, Ev? What sort of state is it? Ev: First, I'd like to comment on what you say to back up this point. I have noticed that doctors who enter a certain specialty frequently die of a disease in that specialty, because, as you say, they have spent their lives concentrating their mind on a particular area. I recall a famous surgeon who did a great deal of research on lung cancer and who died of lung cancer. I know of two doctors specializing in diseases connected with the rectum who died of cancer of the rectum. We regularly see this phenomenon. That which the mind dwells on seems to be that which the individual becomes. "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he," as it is stated in the Bible.

Frequently health has been thought to be the absence of disease. Somehow I can't be satisfied with that concept because I know a number of people who are outwardly not diseased. To all appearances they're in excellent health, yet I would say they are far from whole. So I think rather than the absence of a negative state, that health must be a tremendously powerful state of potent ongoing awareness and growth.

SIG: I like that. It would probably be true from my viewpoint, too, that health is a state of wholeness or holiness (they both come from the same root) in which the individual is dynamically and vitally in tune with his Creator, with his fellow man, and with his environment. It seems to me that that would be a good all-around definition of health. When the person departs from that position, he is sick.

He may depart from it on a rather passive basis. As you pointed out, just the absence of disease or, theologically, just the absence of sin, isn't enough in itself. That doesn't really mean anything. Health is not a neutral state. Health is an active, dynamic, vital state in which the individual participates in the life of the universe, in his own life, and in his own activities in a constructive, vital, healthy, and whole-hearted way where he senses his importance as an individual as part of the creative plan.

Ev: If I'm correct, Jesus spent about sixty percent of his recorded ministry in healing, and it seems to me that frequently instead of saying "be made well" of a certain disease he said, "be thou made whole." Would you like to comment on what you think he meant by this statement?

SIG: What the words mean to me is that you must be restored to the natural state. In other words, if somehow you have stepped out of attunement, now you need to get back in tune with things as they are. Jesus always seems to me to possess that sense of wholeness. He could see through a disease, whether it was the man with the withered hand or the man who had been blind from birth or the woman taken in adultery. He seems to have had the capacity to look right through what the seeming difficulty was to that which tended to warp or blunt the state of wholeness. He had the faith, the conviction, and the power, to speak the word, or to think the thought, or to share the feeling that restored that person to a state of wholeness. Healing could take place instantaneously.

(Excerpted from Healing for Everyone)
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 About The Author
Evarts Loomis MDRegarded as “the father of holistic medicine,” Evarts G. Loomis, MD, was an internationally known homeopathic physician, surgeon, author, lecturer, and visionary. Preferring to be called “Evarts” rather than “doctor,”......more
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