as we know it, is an invention of civilization. It is the
professionalization of the practice of healing. Healers and healing
surely appeared from the beginning of material existence. But, medicine
is relatively new in human experience.
The longer society has existed, the more inventive medicine and doctors
have become. But, that inventiveness – to the eyes of clear observers –
has brought quite possibly as much ill as good. This proposition was
suggested in an earlier essay, following particularly on the
thinking of Ivan Illich in his book entitled Medical Nemesis.
Regardless of the trail of civilization, we don’t have to go to medical
school to study our bodies and investigate our ills. Who knows our
body, mind and soul better than we do? Certainly not a medic with whom
we spend fifteen minutes in an office away from our usual surroundings.
Furthermore, all of us can be of aid and comfort, and even healing
benefit for self and others.
We must admit that there are many avenues for personal medical
investigation to discover layers of health. But, let us consider a few
possibilities including some obvious ones which Conan Doyle and
Sherlock Holmes would recognize. [Refer to recent essays.] Others may
not have been quite so apparent a century ago. These may take us a few
steps beyond the Great Doctor and his Detective Creation.
• COMMON SENSE
Common Sense seems to be a good place to begin. Our book People Medicine begins
with an anecdote on common sense from medical school days. All too
often medical doctors are trained to look for rarities rather than
simple common things in their efforts to diagnose ills. As an associate
of old days used to say, “When doctors hear hoofbeats, they look for
zebras – rather than horses.” Common things are commonly found, aren’t
We can learn from our illnesses, if we are open to that possibility. We
don’t need expensive tests and exams – unless we have minded ourselves
to believe so. Belief and perception are so important in life. The
media and medics have taught us to fear the worst, as well as look for
Lord Salisbury, three times Prime Minister of the United Kingdom wrote
circa 1880: “If you believe the doctors, nothing is wholesome: if you
believe the theologians, nothing is innocent: if you believe the
soldiers, nothing is safe. They all require to have their strong wine
diluted by a very large admixture of insipid common sense.”
Common Sense will remind us of
the fact that we are Spirits. We are Spirit Beings – made in the Image
and Likeness of God – having physical experiences on the way back Home.
In times of distress, we ought to remember this above all. Next in line
may be that there are no accidental illnesses. All is in Divine Order,
even when we appear or feel “out of order.”
So, you and I in our personal investigations – medical or otherwise –
should seek perspective on the order of our lives. Are they in line
with Divine Intent – consciously and unconsciously?
Mind is ever the builder – or
destroyer; creator – or desecrator. Thoughts are things – and what we
think on, we become. “As a wo/man thinketh in the heart, so is s/he.”
Dare we reflect upon the quality of our own thought life? Where do we
place our attention, interest, and thence our energies? We are
constantly co-creating the worlds in which we live. Worlds of beauty or
ugliness, vitality or depletion, truth or falsehood.
Simple question: “What are we perceiving and experiencing in our very midst?”
Many of our fellows focus their
lives in line with the old aphorism: “Eat, drink and be merry, for
tomorrow we die.” Well, we will all die one tomorrow day. But then, we
will be born again materially on this same planet Earth, carrying the
results of motives, thoughts and deeds of our past life: of our eating,
drinking, merrymaking, etc.
Divine Justice, aka Karma, acts in perfect form (more exactly than
computer memory) to carry the Essence of our past existences into
subsequent lives. We pick up in each lifetime where we left off in the
So, we might want to ask ourselves: “What is the Essence of this
lifetime carried from previous times into the present?” If we can get a
handle on it, then we should be able to recognize its influence on our
health as well as our ills from past to present and into the future.
We think of Substance generally
as something with bulk, strength, potency. But in fact, true Substance
is of much subtler, finer quality, It is that which Sub-stands outer
appearance and form. The Substance of a human body is the energetic
scaffolding upon which cells, tissues, organs and systems find their
place in a human being. That Substance persists for a whole lifetime
and its Essence continues ever onward.
Substance, in other times and traditions, is called prana, mana, chi, kia, elan vital, anima, magnetism,
etc. Or simply energy. Eastern sages and thinkers have known and worked
with energies for ages. Now, westerners are also beginning to
understand and work with them.
Our Substantial energies allow for growth from day to day, for repair
after injury, healing after disease. So, we ought to ask ourselves:
“How am I using my energies? Am I acting inertly or forcefully; miserly
or extravagantly; haltingly or rhythmically?”
All these factors lead to the Storyline of our life. Chapter after
chapter, a life unfolds with lessons and challenges, obstacles and
opportunities based on: our relationship to Divine Spirit; the life our
Minds build day by day; how we deal with the Essentials brought from
previous experiences; and how we channel the Substance which flows
through our hearts and souls, emotions and hands.
Story is somewhat easier than
the other principles for most people to “handle” because we can more
readily visualize things than ideas. This is one of the reasons the
greatest of Teachers used parables in their teachings. “Jesus spoke all
these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them
without using a parable.” (Matthew 13)
So now, we can “get to the meat” of our investigations in several ways
besides the Common Sense angle with which we began our discussion. We
can view our Story through:
• Dreams – We may look at our life as if it were a dream. Take it
apart. Choose the obvious symbols involved and ask, “What could this
symbol mean? What could that symbol mean?” We add that interpreting
one’s own dreams can be quite a task. So, we might consider requesting
a friend to, “Look at my life as a dream and help me interpret it.”
• Symbols – Many dream symbols are common throughout human experience,
as Carl Jung taught. But, there are others symbols which may be more
specific to us personally. Think for a moment about your own signs,
symbols, and emblems. Surely, they are worthy of particular
attention. Do remember, “Your car is a sex symbol.” States of health
and illness are also symbols.
• Heavenly Symbols – Natal horoscopes demonstrate that we all have our
own ruling planets and stars. We can discover them through astrological
study in order to understand the energetic challenges we pass through
from time to time. Experienced help may be warranted for those new to
• Chakras – The Centers of Consciousness can afford a wonderful way to
look at our illnesses. The Chakras are agents of the Soul which
transduce the subtlest of Substance into our bodily forms. Studying
them can help us relate our ills to the powers and forces which are
intended to move fluently through the different centers and organs of
our bodily natures.
We must remark that illness as
well as health are part of Natural life: Nature. Just as humans are
part of Nature. Whether we realize it or not, each of us is part of
Nature – “The Garment of God” (according to Goethe).
None of us imperfect beings pass through life without experiencing a
variety of collective illnesses (communicable diseases) as well as ones
peculiar to the function of our individual centers of consciousness.
We begin as Natural and Spiritual Beings. But, over the ages our lives
have become increasingly distracted, engulfed and overwhelmed by
artificial (man-made) existence: cities, machines, motor vehicles,
technology, pollution, etc. We have lost contact with Nature of which
we are fundamental parts. “Man has become divorced from Nature,” J.J.
Rousseau remarked centuries ago.
In individual situations, it may be worthwhile to examine ourselves in
order to sense our place amidst the Natural as well as Spiritual
worlds. They are quite magically woven together. But, they do often
become tangled, worn, and beg for restoration.
“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains.” C.S. Lewis
Life is ultimately a process of
healing, building toward wholeness – regardless of how ugly the process
may appear to our myopic eyesight. Believe it or not, illness and
injury are part of the Divine and Natural package which leads to
healing, wholeness, and eventually holiness.
We begin as Spirit and return to Spirit at the end of each lifetime.
Over eons of time passing through hundreds of lives in every form,
color, creed, nation on Planet Earth, the prodigal children return as
Conscious, Perfected, Whole Beings.
For those who dare to imagine the Big Picture, our illnesses – however
distressing – can be recognized and honored as part of the fiery,
refining process ordained by the Great Spirit.
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