For example, Cat:
1. The cat family: members-the household cat, bobcats, Iynx, ocelot, tiger, lion, jaguar, cougar, and so on.
2. Parts: eyes, ears, nose, mouth, skin, tail, legs, claws, teeth, stomach, liver, kidneys, and so on.
3. Purpose and qualities: a companion, mouse-catcher
4. Familiar experiences: thought about a particular cat that was an important part of a household.
Such exercises as the above can be practiced, with daily notations as to success, with great benefit and will be very helpful for further progress on any path of self-realization.
Those who would make that next step into the life of the spirit must be strong and disciplined. To quote Walt Whitman:
Allons! yet take warning!
He travelling with me needs the best blood, thews, endurance,
None may come to the trial till he or she bring courage and health,
Come not here if you have already spent the best of yourself,
Only those come who come in sweet and determin'd bodies,
No diseas'd person, no rum drinker or venereal taint is permitted here.
(I and mine do not convince by arguments, similes, rhythmes,
We convince by our presence. ) 11
What is the answer? While it is as yet largely undefined, it seems to be a search for quality in life and a rejection of the amassing of material goods that has been so prevalent. Courses in comparative religion and classes in yoga and meditation are springing up everywhere. Life must have meaning, or the world will madly go on destroying itself. Let us hope our young people can make the change.
There are many and diverse paths into this land of the spirit, the domain of love-energy. The naturalist may find it in the out-of-doors, the artist on his palette or in his block of marble, the musician in a mystical relationship with his instrument, the astronomer in the starry sky, the church-goer in the silent moments of Holy Communion, the yogi in his meditation.
For a moment the curtain of time drops and one is immersed in timelessness; limitations of the body drift away and one is caught up in the immensity of the universe. He then knows that he is an integral part of the whole and belongs to it. While the experience may fade back into distant memory, it can never be entirely lost. It will always be something of a torch along the path of life.
The following comments are representative of those who have gained deep spiritual insight.
JOHN MUIR (naturalist): "Now all the individual things or beings into which the world is wrought are sparks of the Divine Soul variously clothed upon with flesh, leaves or that harder tissue called rock."12
ROBERT HENRI (artist): "I am certain that we do deal in an unconscious way with another dimension than the well-known three. It does not matter much to me now if it is the fourth dimension or what its number is, but I know that deep in us there is always a grasp of proportions which exist over and through the obvious three, and it is by this power of superproportioning that we reach the inner meaning of things."13
JOHANNES BRAHMS: "Spirit is the light of the soul. Spirit is universal. Spirit is the creative energy of the cosmos. The soul of man is not conscious of its powers until it is enlightened by Spirit.... Therefore, to evolve and grow, man must learn how to use and develop his own soul forces. All creative geniuses do this, although some of them do not seem to be as conscious of the process as others."14
GUSTAF STROMBERG (astronomer): "Then we tried to explore the mind and found it in constant communication with the cosmos."15
PIERRE TEILHARD DE CHARDIN (priest): Once and for all he understood that, like the atom, man has no value save for that part of himself which passes into the universe."16
SRI RAMAICRISHNA (yogi): "As long as one says, I know or 'I do not know,' one looks upon himself as a person. My Divine Mother says: 'It is only when I have effaced the whole of this Aham (I-ness) in you, that the Undifferentiated Absolute (my impersonal aspect) can be realized in Samadhi ' Till then there is the 'I' in me and before me."17
ALFRED LORD TENNYSON:
"I know not, and speak of what has been. 'And more, my son! for more than once when I Sat all alone, revolving in myself The word that is the symbol of myself The mortal limit of the self was loosed, And past into the Nameless, as a cloud Melts into heaven. I touch'd my limbs, the limbs Were strange, not mine-and yet no shade of doubt, But utter clearness, and thro' loss of self The gain of such large life as match'd with ours Were sun to spark-unshadowable in words, Themselves but shadow of a shadow-world."18
Jesus and Wholeness
In His ministry of healing, Jesus was concerned with Wholeness, or homeostatis. If one examines His healings, one will find evidence that there are two principles requisite in the attainment of the healing state of mind-namely, faith and love. Without this state of consciousness it is questionable that there can be any true healing of the Whole Person.
Jesus' disciple John relates the conversation between the man with an infirmity, at the pool called Bethesda, and Jesus. There is no diagnosis of a disease state other than the implication that the man is paralyzed. Jesus simply asks him, "Wilt thou be made whole?"
The Power of Faith
In true healing faith plays a dominant role. First there is faith in one's self, and then there is faith in the physician. We recall the instance of the woman with the "issue of blood," the account of which is related in three gospels (Matthew 9:20, Mark 5:25, Luke 8:43) and Christ's remark on feeling her touch His garment, "Daughter, be of good comfort, thy faith hath made thee whole."
Then there is the account of the power of faith in the man who sat at Lystra, impotent in his feet. A cripple from birth, he had never walked, but from the inspiration of Paul's words there was an instantaneous healing: "[Paul] steadfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed, said with a loud voice, 'Stand upright on thy feet.' And he leaped and walked" (Acts 14:8 ) .
If, in the latter part of the twentieth century, we physicians had as much faith in God and in Nature's inherent ability to heal as we have the faith in the destructive power of disease and death, we would certainly see many more recoveries from illness than we are seeing today.
Faith is not something that can be taught in school. It is a self-discipline, and its attainment is only possible to those who are ready to make the necessary sacrifices. The tuning of the body is very demanding and involves a whole new way of life with control of the senses, prayer, fasting, and meditation. It implies carrying on our everyday life, but, at the same time, secretly, at an inner center, touching an inner point of reverentia1 silence. This is beautifully described by the late mystic-philosopher Thomas Kelly:
There is a way of ordering our mental life on more than one level at once. On one level we may be thinking, discussing, seeing, calculating, meeting all the demands of external affairs. But deep within behind the scenes, at a profounder level, we may also be in prayer and adoration, song and worship, and with a gentle receptiveness to divine breathings.19
In the act of faith one drops his mortal limitations, and, merging into a consciousness that transcends his own personality, he contacts an inner source of wisdom. In such a moment the lecturer puts aside his carefully prepared notes and gives the best speech of his life. If you should ask him afterward what he had said, he might well be unable to tell you.
The other essential ingredient in healing is love. Pitrim Sorokin speaks of this power as the great cohesive force of the universe. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin equates it with cosmic energy. In the touch of a hand, in the look of an eye, a charge of energy passes from one to another and healing is under way.
We are told that Jesus, departing out of Jericho, saw two blind men sitting by the wayside and that he had compassion on them and touched their eyes, and immediately they received their sight. Love and faith of this degree are certainly not common today, and its results rarely speed up the process of healing to this extent, yet there is no doubt in my mind that such acts of love initiate healing.
The role of faith and love in the healing process is told not only in the Bible but also by the Indian medicine man, the Buddhist priest, and in the secret healing agent of all who truly have experienced the power of these two great forces.
In a more recent time, The Book of Miracles, by Henry Cadbury, recounts the story of the healing at the hands of the founder of the Society of Friends, George Fox.20 Many of the individual accounts in Cadbury's book were deleted, for they were then, as they are today, embarrassing to physicians and clergymen. Today more and more of such accounts are being recorded. The healings at the shrine of Lourdes in France have been studied and documented by a group of 5,000 physicians. Dr. Alexis Carrel made the pilgrimage to Lourdes as a surgeon and doubter and came back as a believer, as described in his account The Voyage to Lourdes.21
The healings are not the symptom patch-up that is so much practiced in medicine today, but healings of the whole person. In this life-stirring process, there is not always a physical healing, but there seems always to be a whole new pattern of life- a change from a life lived to find individual happiness to a life lived in the service of others and a life of far greater happiness and meaning.
The case of Mrs. Eileen Nader, a sixty-seven-year-old woman who came to me for treatment of a lump in her breast, illustrates this type of change. During the preoperative days, she was asked to face herself and search for the meaning of this hiatus in her everyday life. She went through her surgery for cancer with a real and deep knowing that she would completely recover. She described a dream she had as follows:
"When in the recovery room following surgery, something happened to me. I saw myself out of my body, whole and complete like before my illness. Then I turned and looked at myself. There were six tall men, all the same age, dressed in black, standing, three on each side. They were not talking; still I knew they were telling me to follow them. Then I found myself in a very big room.
The men in black had disappeared and from the west, advancing toward the east, a tall man dressed in a gorgeous white robe and a tall hat like a saint appeared. He was holding a large book in his hand and he strode toward an altar to deposit it. He then told me without words to come to his side.
Here was a square box with white sand in it. The sand was warm. He told me to shuffle my feet in it. At this point everything disappeared and I found myself alone in the middle of the room A tremendous white light appeared, like that of the sun, and I heard a loud voice say, 'This is sanctification' You are now sanctified.' I then reentered my body."
Prom that day on, Eileen was a different person as her life became one of service to others. There was something different about her appearance, particularly the look in her eyes. For the next five years of her life, before she died of pneumonia, she devoted a day each week organizing rummage sales to aid the program at Meadowlark.
The tremendous role of love in the healing picture can hardly be overestimated. This fundamental ingredient of healing is basic, and its presence is far too often completely overlooked. We physicians are all too ready to take the credit that I am sure we frequently do not deserve. The faithful attention of a loving and encouraging friend, minister, or nurse is likely to be overlooked.
The best medical program, or the most technically advanced surgical operation, is valueless if there is an absence of love in the patient's environment; at most, it can only give temporary relief. First, there must be love for one's own self and a vision of meaningful living; second, a love for one's friends and associates; and, last, a love of the Creator of life -God.
My former teacher in medical school, the late Dr. Smiley Blanton, illustrated well the importance of this love factor in healing in his book, Love or Perish.22 Every act committed without the positive, creative power of love is a nail in my own coffin and implements the degenerative processes at work in my body. Why does one man grow old at fifty while another is still in the prime of life in his late eighties? Oliver Wendell Holmes and Albert Schweitzer are great examples of men who did not age; both were men with a great capacity to love.