This would seem to me to be precisely the area of a doctor's ministrations. He's trying to restore a state of wholeness. Certainly it's what the minister is doing. He's striving to bring the person back to a realization of his oneness in the Love that created him-his oneness in the universe and with his fellow man. Perhaps all healing is a restoration or return to the natural state that has always existed.
Another purpose for this book is to impersonalize the disease or the illness that the patient is experiencing by enabling him to realize that it isn't completely his problem. In other words, he must be made to understand that he also is part of the healing team and, to some degree at least, the illness is a problem that the doctor or the minister or the psychiatrist also has. If the professional who is involved in the case is healed-
that is, if he can see the wholeness that shines through the appearance of illness-a great stride is taken toward the healing.
The patient himself so often comes in with the feeling "What have I done wrong?" or "Has my thinking been off base?" or "Have I been doing something else that has got me into this state?" or sometimes with just his bewildered cry, "Why does this happen to me?" Somehow we must try to get him to feel that he is part of an activity that is working to solve a problem, to bring about a solution, a return to a state of wholeness, but that he's only part of it. The whole burden is not really on his shoulders. If the physician or the clergyman or the psychiatrist can't see beyond the disease, he is almost as much a victim of the disease as the person who carries it in his body and his mind!
I'd like to quote a case history at this point from a patient of some years ago who had had a cancer that had spread into the bones some twenty-five years after the original cancer. She went to a specialist and recorded what he had said to her. I'd like to give you an excerpt:
DOCTOR: How are you feeling this morning?
PATIENT: Oh, fine. In fact, right now, doctor, I'm sitting on top of the world. Isn't it wonderful that I feel so completely well!
DOCTOR: You'd better enjoy that feeling while you have it. Surely you know it's only transitory. I think I'd better inform you now so you can make suitable arrangements, that three months from now you'll be growing steadily worse, weaker, and more uncomfortable. In another three months you'll be quite helpless, paralyzed from the waist down. After that, well maybe six months at the most.
This is the kind of approach that really isolates a patient, hems him in, and traps him in a verdict of impossibility. Undoubtedly the doctor was sincere and perhaps even felt he was being kind and realistic in his statement, but we can imagine what effect this could have on the patient, her family, and friends, who are also a part of that healing team we have been describing. Do you concur?
Ev: Decidedly so, because that doctor really had no idea how long she was going to live; he was just impelled by a need to exhibit his superior knowledge. In fact, many a doctor who has made such a statement has died long before the patient to whom he gave the verdict. I think we physicians and ministers need to instill in our patients a confidence in life, not a confidence in death. Death is going to come when it's going to come, but we don't have to live in a state of constant anticipation of it. Every moment can be a tremendous experience.
SIG: I have a feeling that some ministers probably reach hell before the people they threaten with hell-fire and damnation. One of the quotations from the Bible that interests me (and I think it has application in the medical world as well as in ours) states that "any man who thinks his brother is a lost soul is himself headed straight for the fire of destruction." I believe that when we pass verdicts on someone else, regardless of the evidence on which we base that verdict, we set up a state of consciousness in our own mind that's bound to have some kind of effect.
The Healing Team
SIG: Well, we've done a great deal of talking about the healing team and I don't know exactly where to start, Ev, except just to get right into it. A healing team can consist partially of all the professional help that's available and might include a medical doctor, a psychiatrist, a psychologist, a minister, other counselors, and, if it is a hospital case, the nurses and the staff. I think that more and more doctors and ministers realize they are part of a healing team, that no one individual or no one profession has all the answers, that as we work together we can be a very potent combination.
We ministers would like to have the patient understand that he, too, is part of the healing team. He is not just an object of probing and research and analysis and laboratory techniques. He is part of a group working to bring about a solution to a problem.
Ev: I'd like to talk a little bit about our experience at Meadowlark with the healing team, which brings out some of these points you've raised. Our general approach has been, first of all, to examine the patient medically with the idea of finding out how we can help him physically. We are realizing increasingly that health of the body and the brain is very much dependent on proper conditioning and proper biochemical balance, which implies proper nutrition.
If the patient is not eating adequately, he cannot have a brain that is functioning adequately. The person who uses too many stimulants as a regular part of his daily life will soon begin to fail in mental capacity and, I would think, in his spiritual life. So we start out with a careful survey to see what we can do physically.
Our general tendency is to take people off tranquilizers and drugs as rapidly as we can, using them only for crutches, and stressing that tranquilizers and drugs are, for the most part, just crutches. They really don't have much to do with the healing process. They usually just mask symptoms. We're not interested in masking symptoms; we're interested in seeing people healed.
Food intake is extremely important. After all, food nourishes the body instrument, and if our mind and soul are to function in this body form, we'd better have a good instrument with which to work. It means a return to natural foods. We will go into many more particulars in our chapter on nutrition.
We also find that the glands of internal secretion, or the endocrine glands, are very critical in adapting the body to life stresses and situations. A smoothly functioning endocrine system is extremely important. So we look to the patient's hormone needs.
Then we feel that the body is given limbs to exercise and lungs with which to breathe in air containing the oxygen that is so necessary in the utilization and conversion of food into energy. An adequate exercise program is a very strong part of the daily schedule. Relaxation techniques and relaxation itself are another extremely important thing. We emphasize creative exercise for relaxing muscle tissue because many of us have extremely tight muscles that are working, although performing no useful function at the time. We find that with free body movement in the arts (including dancing, working with pastels, colors, clay) we can begin to get an inner feeling of freedom; a chance to express ourselves on paper or in some other concrete form as a manifestation of the functioning of our own creative center, which, due to various stresses in life, has become atrophied. Next we believe that a psychological survey is important. We usually conduct a simple psychological test that will point out things in the personality that need further development or are perhaps overdeveloped, thus producing a sense of imbalance. This test is done with the help of a professional psychologist.
In addition, we feel that the role of the minister in looking at our spiritual life is tremendously important. Very often this area carries over things from childhood that are unhealthy, need stimulation or a kind of new birth. Sig, I'm sure you can comment specifically in this area.
SIG: When you're dealing with nutrition, the mental aspect of a diet is as important as the physical. I'm sure you agree with me on that point. It is essential to give the person a new mental and emotional diet, a new way of looking at himself, a new self-image, and a new sense of his relationship to the Creator and to life itself. This borders on the spiritual and is a part of it.
Also from the spiritual viewpoint, the person must have faith in something greater than himself, greater than his own personal desires, his own personal work, his own personal hangups and pain and misery; he must realize that he's part of something greater than himself. Then, as he lifts his vision, or even begins to think about it, he must also realize that there might be changes that make all the other things more effective. The diet and the medical treatment and the relaxation are ways to a destination which is the return of the individual to the source of wholeness. To put it in orthodox religious terms, we would call it a return to God. The name we give to it is not too important so long as we understand that it is basically a return to the source of wholeness, which involves many factors.
The most significant element is that of forgiveness. Quite often an individual who is ill for one reason or another has entered a state of unforgiveness. In some way, he's unwilling to forgive himself or forgive someone else. He's unwilling to accept himself not only as a spiritual being, but as a human being. He probably looks back on things he has done with remorse, regret, or resentment. Somehow we must try to help the individual to find a greater sense of his own worth and potential, of his own capacity for living and forgiving and for making a new start.
So often, in states of so-called incurable disease or mental- conditions, the person has reached an end to life, a milestone o f finality in his experience. There seems to be no real purpose in going on. At least, there's not any discerned purpose that will call up the elements within his own being and enable him to rise out of the particular experience, or disease, and instill in him a firm will to live. We really need a purpose that goes beyond personal desire if we're going to engender a will to live strong enough to utilize effectively the professional skill and techniques and medicines and diets that are available. We must gain the patient's cooperation in searching for a purpose in living. This, of course, isn't something that is performed by magic.
Quite often I find, and I'm sure you do, too, that in times of trial an individual is more receptive to spiritual concepts or spiritual approaches than he would ordinarily be. Perhaps he feels he's come to the end of the other ropes available to him. Many times people will indicate they are open to a spiritual experience. That is, they're open to questioning the "why" of the disease or perhaps the significance of it. They're willing to listen to a suggestion that there may be something that goes beyond the physical or medical or even psychological dimensions of the problem confronting them, with the possibility of looking at it in terms of its relationship to their whole existence. It may indicate a change in life that's been resisted, or a change that should have taken place. There are all kinds of elements here from a spiritual viewpoint, and it seems to me that they are all a part of the treatment of the whole person.
Love and Fear
SIG: It seems to me that the final healing, or the great healing, is something that has to take place in individual consciousness with the realization that God the Creator, the Source of all, is Love. As I see it from a spiritual viewpoint, the cause of all disease and the cause of death is fear. Fear and all of its elements lead to procrastination, indecision, unwillingness to give ourselves completely to life. Fear disrupts the basic rhythms of the universe and the rhythms of wholeness or health. As long as we retain fear in any of its many degrees in our consciousness, we are going to have disease and death.
In reading the scriptures of the world, one finds that every great leader and every great savior ultimately winds up with this conclusion: that Love is the final answer. Love of God, love of self, love of neighbor, love of life these are the only permanent solution. And it seems to me that even some of the saviors themselves-the great spiritual leaders and lights of the world-are brought to this conclusion almost reluctantly.