Even in the case of Jesus, we know that he gave a lot of different instructions and approaches, but when he was finally pushed into a corner-if one can look at it that way-and was asked "What is the greatest law, what is the greatest commandment? , He quoted from the Old Testament and said: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself, and on these two laws hang all the law and the prophets."
I'm sure that in your work as a doctor, as in my work as a minister, when we get down to the basic difficulty in dealing with anyone we always encounter a form of fear. I have never counseled anyone on a problem of any nature that I didn't find that fear was, in one way or another, at the root.
I have a feeling that religion and medicine and many of the other so-called service agencies of humanity have a partial responsibility for instilling this fear. Certainly in many of our basic religious approaches there is fear, and the threat of punishment, which is supposed to herd people into some kind of heaven. Perhaps even from a medical viewpoint we threaten people with the expected dire results of diseases.
Since we're discovering that we live in such a responsive universe whose rhythms are so subtle and so pervasive, I'm inclined to believe that the thoughts and feelings of humanity are somehow imprinted upon us. As long as there is fear of any kind in human consciousness, there will always be some little bug or microbe or some element in the universe that is going to have to respond to that fear. Even the atoms and cells and organs of our bodies ultimately have to bear the penalty I don't want to instill any more fear by fearful thinking.
In my opinion, the basic sin in the world is fear. If God is love-and even intellectually we can reason out that the Creator of all must be Love-then to be afraid of Him is a sin. This somehow is transmitted into everything we think and feel, probably even into the food we eat and the activities in which we engage.
Somehow the final healing, the final freedom of man, must come through the realization of Love. Our good friend, Donald Hatch Andrews, professor emeritus of chemistry of Johns Hopkins University and author of the book The Symphony of Life, defines love as freedom; he feels that love and freedom are
synonymous, that we live in a free universe, a universe in which even the atoms have independent streaks, and some how the only way we can work together in freedom is to work together in love.
Ev: I find the same things with my patients that you find with your counselees-that fear is the basic problem in all life and all diseases. The person who comes to you ill is a fearful person. This is the basic thing we should be treating. Anything else is ancillary and secondary. A doctor from India, trained in the West, has said he feels that empathy is probably responsible for sixty-five percent of healing. Without that love-empathy, there really is no healing.
I think you've touched upon another important point, Sig, and that is the basic need for this love in the physician and the minister. We don't pass anything on to another person that isn't evident in us and that we're not broadcasting into the space all around us. The doctor who is fearful or stands in awe of a disease, and has made it something of a god, is not going to be much help to that patient.
It is absolutely imperative that we, as physicians, become much more conscious of this basic interrelation between fear and illness. We must not pass on our own dread of disease processes to our patients, by giving them bad prognoses and instilling more apprehension in them. We put a limitation on their very life's breath by engendering feelings of fear in them because of our own personal, unresolved mastery of life.
The old adage "Physician, heal thyself" is the number-one commandment for physicians to obey. We must spend enough time in our own daily discipline so that we conquer fear and replace it with joy and love, which are essential parts of our own being, seen not only through our words but in our every act and in everything that we emanate. The patient is going to catch this emanation, and when we carry this presence with us the patient can't help but benefit.
SIG: In this connection, "Physician, heal thyself" could be paraphrased as "Physician, love thyself." This might be a project for ministers and doctors to get under way, because as the commandment points out, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Our attitudes toward ourselves are automatically transmitted and projected onto our neighbors. An apprehensive minister or doctor can't help but radiate that emotional reaction to the individual who consults him. As a matter of fact, we become so conscious of the deeper levels and rhythms of communication that often the lip-to-ear communication is at a relatively superficial level. We communicate more directly at subconscious or deeper levels of consciousness regardless of what we are saying or of the outer appearance.
Until, and unless, a minister, doctor, or psychiatrist who is working with an individual in need of healing really has an inner conviction of this love-the reality of it, and the potency and the power of it-he can't transmit it to his patient. If he has it, he can't help but transmit it. It flows automatically. As you pointed out, the sick person is a fearful person, and when he comes for help he is, in essence, coming to obtain love. The medication, or the meditation treatment, or any other therapeutic action we take is just a means or an avenue through which we channel the love; but the love is what he is really seeking.
In this connection, the greatest formula for healing is in | this simple statement from the Bible, "God is Love." Of course, the expansion of that statement is that those who love God live in God and God lives in them. This is what ultimately every healing center and every church is going to become. It will be a center of love, a center of healing, and a center of life.
Many times people don't realize that fear is their real problem, and as a result of it they become afraid of the concept of fear. One of our great presidents, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Sometimes we become more afraid of fear than anything else. If we are willing to take a look at it and face up to it, we can begin to overcome it. The realization that God is Love, and therefore the nature of the universe is Love, means that there is nothing in the universe to fear regardless of what we have done, what we have been, what we have thought, what we have felt. The antidote of Love is never punishment or condemnation; it is always forgiveness and growth. When we understand this, we have the key to helping people, no matter what the outer situation in which they find themselves.
We live in a world conditioned by fear. I recall that as a freshman in college I was a member of a group that subscribed to "hellfire and brimstone" religion. It finally came to the point where something in me rebelled so strongly that I couldn't contain myself. I went up to the minister after a service and said that if he was right then I would rather do business with the devil than with the God he was preaching. I could trust the devil: He was a stinker all the time, but the God who was going to put most of humanity into hell for eternity just couldn't fit into my way of thinking.
Naturally I was told that I'd committed an unforgivable sin against the Holy Spirit. I suppose this made some kind of impression on me, but I'd gone beyond the point of no return. I said I didn't care. If that was God's nature, then I'd just have to go to hell for eternity.
The interesting thing is that this stand on my part revealed something in my own consciousness, because for the next six months every time I walked around the corner I was sure the heavens were going to open and that God was going to strike me dead with a bolt of lightning. I had been so deeply conditioned into this fear concept-and I think in many ways much of humanity has been-that even though I rejected it consciously, I still had these old elements of fear in me.
As I let it boil up from within me so I could examine it, there was still something in me that was so certain this couldn't be God's way of working with his creatures that I said that no matter what, I had taken my position and was going to stand firm in it. Eventually I began to see some of the ridiculous aspects of the fears and the old images of God that I had picked up through association and through my religious training.
I won't say that I'm anywhere near being free from fear, because I think anybody who is honest realizes there are many elements of fear within him. From a psychological viewpoint and from a medical and spiritual viewpoint, these apprehensions are always active even if they are submerged in our subconscious mind. I definitely feel that they are the cause of our diseases and illnesses. If we truly attempt to overcome the fears that constantly plague us, the key energy we can arouse to carry on the fight rests in the understanding that God is Love.
Ev: It might be appropriate at this point to give an example of what we're talking about in terms of an actual patient. The person I'll be describing is a thirty-year-old woman, a mother, who came to Meadowlark with a history of two- or three-day headaches that recurred about every two weeks; other symptoms included swelling of her tongue and face, loss of vision in her right eye, and drooping of her right eyelid. All of these symptoms were accompanied by intense salivation. The whole thing was a very frightening experience to her.
She had undergone heart surgery ten years previously. Going back further into her history, we found that she had matured at the early age of nine. She was the child of a very strict and domineering father, often frightening in his strong disciplinary actions and in his perfectionist tendencies. She was never allowed to cry.
As a child she studied piano and had taken lessons for twelve years. She had studied voice, but she had not been able to sing or play the piano for the previous three years. Her arms had become so tense that she could scarcely write a letter. She was seen by a number of doctors, most recently an allergist, who had taken her off most foods and contactants; she had built up a great sense of fear and anxiety. She was put on fasts but experienced only temporary improvement. She was told that she was allergic to a great number of foods, to many contactants, and even to the gas used in heating her home.
We set up periods of meditation during the attacks described above, and she was soon able to release tears for the first time. The blocked creativity that was so strong in her began to find release. The salivation had taken over her tear function. Her headaches were also expressions of this suppressed creative energy.
Gradually as she began to feel the love of a group of people around her and the freedom to express herself and came to realize that it was her life force and her life energies that had to find expression for her to live, she began to improve. With this improvement she started to play the piano and to sing and soon found new creative interests. And the healing process began to manifest itself.
One of the first things that fear produces in patients is a sense of isolation. The sicker the person, the more isolated is that person, because fear and isolation go together. Love and a joining together similarly are associated closely. Whether the patient is mentally, physically, or emotionally ill, this same isolation is evident. With it there is a turned-inwardness as though the signals broadcast from the antennae, instead of reaching out to the world, had been curved around going back into the self. Such a person can think only of himself and seems to have lost contact with friends and everything else around him. Very often at this point the first treatment has to be love and acceptance.
The group working with me at Meadowlark waits on these guests, loves them, and assures them that nothing is asked of them. I believe that healing has to start in this great dimension of love. Gradually, as some of this love seeps into their cells, the cells begin to respond with healing. Isolation is less apparent, and the guest who previously was unable to come to meals and insisted on eating meals in his own room gradually and rather fearfully comes to the table to share a meal. Slowly he begins to open up, to talk, to establish a relationship with other people. So it is that many things seem to start with this great activity of love. Without this activity there can be no healing in a true sense.