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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
SIG: What you said, Ev, reminds me of one of my strangest experiences in counseling. A woman came in who was very fearful about a number of things. It seemed to me that I detected a beam of light flowing through her. I’m not given to seeing visions, but to me it was a very real thing.
As we discussed something of the nature of God as Love, and the goodness of life and the potentiality of healing and freedom, this light would straighten out and shine directly. Then she would go back and start enumerating her fears and I could see that light beam distort. Sometimes it almost disappeared completely.
It was a very startling thing to me to realize that in each one of us there is a beam of light. Of course Jesus said, “You are the light of the world,” and some of our top scientists now state that this is a literal scientific truth as well as a spiritual truth. But this was one of those rare occasions in my mind’s eye, or in whatever area of the consciousness one perceives such things. I could see so clearly that when she was relaxed and was beginning to think of God as Love, and life as love and joy, that the beam would straighten out and shine directly with no distortion. But the moment she began to turn to her fears and talk about them and to give in to those negative feelings, the light itself was completely distorted and sometimes turned off.
Perhaps one definition of health could be the flow of light without disruption through all our systems of self-expression. Love, of course, is Life, and Life is Light, so they’re all connected.
Sometimes people say, “How can I love my enemies, they’re so distasteful?” or “How can I love a condition that’s so distasteful?” We’re not talking about generating a state of affection as much as we are about releasing a beam of energy, of light, of spiritual power into the situation.
We learn to love by loving. Even though we might not know very much about the power or nature of love, a conscious effort to direct a beam of love as our friend did does produce results. We learn to think by thinking, we learn to fear by fearing, we learn to complain by complaining, and we learn to love by loving.
Ev: I think another very important thing, Sig, to bring up at this point is the problem of the person who has never received love, because we can’t realistically ask this person to love. We have to give him the opportunity to receive love before he can put it out. We’ve had a number of people come as guests to Meadowlark who have never experienced love. Perhaps the mother died in childbirth, or the father was an alcoholic. They have come to us with various types of illnesses. It is of tremendous importance to let them receive love, not one time but, as Jesus said, “Until seventy times seven.” We have to keep repeating this, because those of us who have been brought up with love in our childhood take it for granted and we know something about returning love. But the person who has never had this exposure must go through stages of loving.
Perhaps it’s appropriate to talk about the evolution of love. Love is a growth experience. It starts with a little baby being cast out into the world very much by itself, after having been held and cuddled within the mother’s womb. The tremendous importance of the mother’s breast-feeding is often deemphasized these days. The child needs to be held, needs to feel the closeness of the mother, needs to feel the warmth of the mother’s breast, needs to be cuddled and sung to and talked to. Many experiments have proven the importance of this. Multiple instances show that children raised in nurseries where they are scarcely touched by human beings and fed bottles without being held by any person will not do as well as the child who is close to the mother from the beginning.
SIG: Love is the ideal atmosphere in which children should be reared from their early childhood to adolescence. Unfortunately this doesn’t happen too often. Love is not so much a matter of permissiveness or strict discipline as it is a resiliency of spirit that expects the greatest good, the greatest potential from the child, without attempting to force him or her into a particular pattern. Love takes time, it takes interest, it takes attention. All too often in this busy age, parents are just too occupied running a home, making a living, and conducting a business to give the proper time and attention to the children. It is easier sometimes to be overly strict or overly permissive as a substitute for love.
Love itself is always on the job and it seeks not itself, not its own, but the unfolding and growth of the child’s potential. Love recognizes the individuality, the uniqueness-or if we put it in terms of rhythm, the different rhythm of each individual-and encourages him to stand in his own rhythm, and to live his own self into expression always realizing that there is a responsibility to selfhood. If the parent has the feeling of love, then he becomes a source of strength for the child.
There seems little doubt that in our childhood experiences we accept and establish patterns of thought and feeling, and ways of looking at life, that accompany us through our entire lifetime. I know a very successful Sunday school superintendent who exerts considerable discipline in a wonderful way. She says that she loves the children too much not to expect the best from them and to let them know that she expects it.
We speak a great deal of nutrition, both mental and physical. Probably one of the most painful lacks in life is love starvation. Love is an atmosphere in the home or the school or other educational center in which each individual is recognized as being a unique self-expression of life and encouraged to bring that uniqueness into greater unfoldment. Quite often it is easier to be overly permissive or overly strict than to encourage the uniqueness of life within each individual. But undoubtedly we are coming to that point in human unfoldment where, if we will take the time and the energy and provide the teachers, we can establish this kind of atmosphere.
Ev: Sig, I feel that the most distant stars, the sun, the moon and the planets, the surrounding atmosphere, the earth that grows our food, all are in relation to the temple of the body. The creatures of the sea, the world of insects, the birds and animals all have their place in one delicately balanced system. I wish I knew them better.
Most significant of all, the human beings who surround me every day, those whom I know by name and those whom I may never see, somehow all live in relation to me. Walt Whitman, in his “Song of Myself,” saw why you, my friend Sig, and I go away each year and rediscover ourselves in a truer perspective:
In all people I see myself, none more and not one a barleycorn less,
And the good or bad I say of myself I say of them.
I know I am solid and sound, To me the converging objects of the universe perpetually flow,
All are written to me, and I must get what the writing means.
I know I am deathless,
I know this orbit of mine cannot be swept by a carpenter’s compass,
I know I shall not pass like a child’s carlacue cut with a burnt stick at night.
I know I am august, I do not trouble my spirit to vindicate itself or be understood, I see that the elementary laws never apologize,
(I reckon I behave no prouder than the level I plant my house by, after all).
I exist as I am, that is enough,
If no other in the world be aware I sit content, And if each and all be aware I sit content.1
1. Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass (New York and Philadelphia: David McKay, 1900).