Healing is not a process but a revelation; for the revealing
of the perfect man always heals.
— Ernest Holmes[i]
As Ernest Holmes clearly understood, the truth will set us free, free from all forms of enslavement including disease. This article will reveal Simple Reality as that truth. The voices of many ordinary people who had extraordinary insights will lead us into just what physical and mental health might mean if profoundly understood and experienced. We will include how mainstream science and depth psychologists define health and how to attain it and learn, in the context of Simple Reality, how to dispel the illusion of pain and sickness. We must remain present enough and let the many sparkling facets of the dazzling diamond of Simple Reality help awaken us as we gaze upon a truth we are not used to looking at.
Those of you who study Simple Reality would expect that the content of the articles on “happiness” and “hate” would be intertwined with health in the human experience. You would be correct. From psychotherapist Lawrence LeShan: “From our experience in psychiatry and psychology, we can unequivocally say that there is a price tag that must be paid if we repress a major part of our being. The price tag is loss of joy and zest. The price tag is anxiety and aggression; it is hate and rejection of the self and hate and suspicion of others.”[ii] If we seek to weave a tapestry of happiness, we must realize that we cannot leave out the threads of hate and health.
The worldview of Oneness directly addresses how to avoid the “price tags” mentioned by LeShan above. “It is the way of the One rather than the way of the Many. It is the way in which we know we are all a part of one another and a part of the cosmos and that our separation, our alienation from each other is an illusion.”[iii]
The reductionist approach that science takes to understand health is fundamentally flawed. “Physician, Dr. Larry Dossey reveals part of the problem with form-based ‘medicine’ which he calls Era I or ‘materialistic medicine.’ ‘[The] emphasis is on the material body, which is viewed largely as a complex machine. Era I medicine is guided by the laws of energy and matter laid down by Newton three hundred years ago. According to this perspective the universe and all in it—including the body—are a vast clockwork functioning according to deterministic principles. The effects of mind and consciousness are absent, and all forms of therapy must be physical in nature—drugs, surgery, irradiation, etc.’”[iv]
Mainstream medicine is a P-B institution and can pose a barrier to achieving good health. “Our reigning medical paradigm is the poster child of Cartesian dualism, with a Grand-Canyon-like mind/body split. Modern medicine holds that genes, germs and bad habits are the harbingers of disease, not mental or spiritual factors. Thoughts, feelings, beliefs and behavior all contribute to the well-being of an individual, in addition to genes and germs. Those who embrace a more expanded view of health realize that the world’s sacred traditions have been telling us that for millennia.”[v]
Deepak Chopra, also trained as a doctor, believes that our intellect has a tendency toward reductionism. “We must remember that the Western medical ethic is based on the knowledge of ‘parts,’ rather than the whole being. Its very methodology reinforces isolation, separation, and fragmentation [the shattering of P-A]. I had no sudden insights or experiences in meditation, but I did experience a gradual evolution of my own understanding of the scheme of nature [Oneness].”[vi]
Experiencing the present moment involves transcending fear and has implications for our attitudes vis-à-vis our health. How much should a doctor tell a patient when the diagnosis reveals a terminal illness? Dr. Bernie Siegel gives his answer in a P-A context. “Despite the need for optimism, no part of the diagnosis should ever be hidden. The truth can always be delivered with hope, since no one can be certain of the future. Moreover, I can now accept illness and see my primary task as helping patients achieve peace of mind. This puts the physical problems in perspective. Getting well is not the only goal. Even more important is learning to live without fear, to be at peace with life, and ultimately death.”[vii] The denial so common in P-B institutions is more toxic than the problems we seek to solve within those institutions. We underestimate our ability to accept life on its own terms.
Many of us who have been seeking the cause or causes of both poor mental and physical health are finding they are profoundly connected. Fear remains the fundamental source of energy for P-B and it is not surprising that it is also the genesis of most of our health problems. Joan Borysenko’s research confirms this. “As miraculous as its achievements [modern medicine] were, they often proved insufficient. Patient statistics showed that up to 90 percent of the reason for visits to the family doctor were for ‘stress’ or anxiety-related problems.”[viii]
Marianne Williamson paraphrasing A Course in Miracles says “Disease is love turned into fear—our own energy, meant to sustain us, turned against ourselves. Energy cannot be destroyed. Our job is not to kill disease, but to turn its energy back in the direction it came from—to turn fear back into love.”[ix] Whatever we conceive of as our “problems”—the solution is always the same—compassion.
The narrative in which an individual or a community is contained directly influences the health of those who derive their identity from that story. “Experiences that carry emotional energy in our energy systems include: past and present relationships, both personal and professional; profound or traumatic experiences and memories; and belief patterns and attitudes, including all spiritual superstitious beliefs. [Notice the inclusion of the worldview attributes of beliefs and attitudes.] The emotions from these experiences become encoded in our biological systems and contribute to the formation of our cell tissue, which then generates a quality of energy that reflects those emotions. These energy impressions form an energy language, which carries literal and symbolic information that a medical intuitive can read.”[x]
Diseases manifesting in individuals have their corresponding expressions on a global level. Medical intuitive Caroline Myss is uniquely qualified to recognize these parallels. “What emotional and physical stress triggers a group’s chemistry to lead to illness? Thinking symbolically, I could almost see the manifestations of AIDS as a global illness. The lung disease Pneumocystis carini pneumonia may be symbolic of the destruction of the rain forests, from which the earth draws the greatest proportion of its oxygen supply. Similarly, Kaposi’s sarcoma, the cancerous skin lesions that form in many AIDS patients, is symbolic of the destruction of the earth’s natural surface, by toxic wastes and other forms of pollution. And finally, the human immune system could symbolize the earth’s ozone layer, which is now as fragile as the immune system in a very ill patient.”[xi]
For behold, I will send serpents among you which will not be charmed and they shall bite you, saith the Lord.
— Jeremiah 8:17
There is no better illustration of a jeremiad, a tale of woe, than the one where a person is bitten, metaphorically that is, by a snake without realizing that it happened and wonders why he is so sick. That snake for many of us is our shadow biting us with a “Freudian slip” or an inexplicable “out of the blue” violent reaction. We can be shocked, bewildered or shamed but we rarely understand how that regrettable behavior happened. We do know, however, that the behavior was not healthy.
Health problems, most of us realize, can originate below the level of our conscious awareness. Only by understanding how our shadow influences our behavior can we find the energy and resolve to undertake the comprehensive changes necessary to shift our identity and improve our health. The energy of the false-self can be seen expressing itself in these quotes taken from Abrams and Zweigs’ book Meeting the Shadow.
How the Unhealthy False Self Behaves[xii]
Behavior emanating from the power and control energy center can be seen:
- In the maximization of business growth and progress (expressed in leveraged buyouts, profiteering, insider trading, and the savings and loan debacle).
- In an uncontrolled power drive for knowledge and domination of nature (expressed in the amorality of the sciences and the unregulated marriage of business and technology).
Behavior emanating from the sensation, affection and esteem center can be seen:
- In a self-righteous compulsion to help and cure others (expressed in the distorted, codependent role of those in the helping professions and the greed of doctors and pharmaceutical companies).
- In a desire to control our innately uncontrollable intimate lives (expressed in widespread narcissism, personal exploitation, manipulation of others, and abuse of women and children).
Behavior emanating from the safety and security energy center can be seen:
- In a fast-paced, dehumanized workplace (expressed) by the apathy of an alienated workforce, the unplanned obsolescence produced by automation, and the hubris of success).
- In a materialistic hedonism (expressed in conspicuous consumption, exploitative advertising, waste, and rampant pollution).
- And in our ever-present fear of death (expressed in an obsession with health and fitness, diet, drugs, and longevity at any price).
We cannot have a successful health care system if we cannot define what being healthy means; and we cannot do that in P-B. Before we attempt to define good health, we must understand where we are and who we are, that is to say, our place in the universe and our identity. “William James, the physician and scientist who fathered American psychology at the turn of the century, coined the term soul sickness to describe the syndrome of unhealthy guilt, chronic stress, perfectionism, and its associated physical symptoms. Like Jung, he emphasized the need for man’s spiritual conversion.”[xiii] Most psychologists, unlike the father of American psychology don’t emphasize the connection between mental and spiritual health, but of course, they are the same thing.
Since physical and mental health are not separate problems healing strategies must address them as a single “dis-ease.” A fundamental component that must be understood in getting healthy is the “complex.” Complexes are eternally recurring human patterns of behavior with an exaggerated or obsessive concern or fear. Complexes are reactions with the function of reducing tension by reviving memories of past events and objects that are associated in some way with gratification. An important thing to remember about reactions is that they take us out of the present moment.
“That there is something positive in our symptoms and problems is fundamental to Jung’s finalistic psychology. Jung proposed that we should not only look at our maladies in a causal reductive fashion, but seek their direction and meaning as well. According to Jung our neurotic symptoms and complexes are elaborate arrangements designed by the unconscious as part of an urge toward self-realization. Imbedded in our neuroses and physical illnesses are unconscious values and patterns that are essential for wholeness. In order to discover their meaning, we need to ally ourselves with our illnesses.”[xiv] Or, at least, stop resisting and reacting to them.
“In the old, outworn Freudian view, complexes are repressions from childhood. Jung’s observations are broader, more nuanced and astute. In his therapeutic work, he observed many complexes resulting from repression, but he also noticed that there were others that never were in consciousness in the first place.”[xv] “Jung’s view will come as liberating good news in overwhelmingly Freudianized Western nations. Freud’s contention that complexes represent illness and pathology is, in contrast to Jung’s, cynical and pessimistic as well as shortsighted.”[xvi]
“Jung observed that if a complex displays mythical or universally human characteristics, we may conclude that it has arisen from the collective unconscious; if personal and individually acquired characteristics are expressed by a complex, we may safely say that it is a product of the personal unconscious.”[xvii] Both, however, show up as reactions and both respond to the healing energy embedded in The Point of Power Practice. “The reintegration of a personal complex has the effect of release and often of healing, whereas the invasion of a complex from the collective unconscious is a very disagreeable and even dangerous phenomenon.”[xviii] Dangerous, that is, for those not possessed of a healthy narrative and identity.
“Jung viewed complexes as part and parcel of the human condition, of the psychically healthy as well as the ill. For Jung, a troublesome complex ‘only means that something incompatible, unassimilated, and conflicting exists—perhaps as an obstacle, but also as a stimulus to greater effort, and so, perhaps, as an opening to new possibilities of achievement [emphasis added].’”[xix] Our complexes like physical diseases can be transcended.
The differences between the theories of Freud and Jung can be explained by their differences in worldview with Freud reaching conclusions more deeply influenced by P-B. Jungian analyst Eugene Pascal has just enumerated some of these distinctions and we can see that Jung’s context was more profound and moving toward P-A.
Carl Jung spent a lifetime with the problem of how to heal mental illness and concluded that, “All the great and most important problems of the life are fundamentally insoluble. They can never be solved, but only outgrown. This ‘outgrowing’ proved on further investigation to require a new level of consciousness. Some higher or wider interest appeared on the patient’s horizon [an insight], and through this broadening of his or her outlook [worldview] the insoluble problem lost its urgency. It was not solved logically in its own terms but faded when confronted with a new and stronger life urge [e.g., Simple Reality].”[xx]
What is the process of healing when profoundly understood; when intellect-driven “modern medicine” is transcended? Our false self is a shattered personality and, in an analogy to light, it needs to be integrated into a single clear beam. We would then become a phase-coherent beam of light, a laser. Or as Gary Zukav put it, “We are evolving into a species of whole individuals, individuals who are aware of their nature as beings of Light, and who shape their Light consciously, wisely and with compassion. Therefore, the physical phenomenon of phase-coherent light, light that does not struggle with itself, so to speak, has come into being.”[xxi]
Ernest Holmes was one of the modern proponents of New Thought emphasizing the power of the human mind to create its own reality. In other words, we can use thought to create health or disease keeping in mind that our natural state is one of perfect health. “The sources from which most diseases come are conscious observations, suppressed emotions, subjective inherited tendencies, and perhaps three-fourths of them, from race suggestion [the collective unconscious]. Disease is an impersonal thought force operating through people, which does not belong to them at all. Recognize that it is neither person, place, nor thing; that there is no law to support it; that it is a coward fleeing before the Truth; that there is nothing but the Truth.”[xxii] Disease then, is an illusion as is all ephemeral form.
Ernest Holmes, an American mystic was a student of Judge Thomas Troward, a British mystic, and quotes him here in the last italicized portion of the following sentence. “Life and Truth are already there. Once the thought is turned away from false concepts of sickness and limitations, from belief in disease to belief in perfect life here and now, it is possible for Divine Mind to assert itself and restore the patient to the consciousness of health and wholeness ‘the basis of all healing is a change of belief.’”[xxiii] Or to paraphrase Seth, “we create our own reality by the means of what we believe.”
The founder of New Thought, the American, P. P. Quimby, demonstrated the function of the True self in relationship to the healing process. In the words of one of his biographers, Ervin Seale, “Our task is to become a medium of wisdom and to shut the door on opinions.”[xxiv] Opinions are the product of the intellect which has no connection to the source of all healing.
We would do well to continue to reveal the truth to ourselves that we are here to experience reality. This has a bearing on whether we are healthy or not. Once more, the British mystic Thomas Troward makes the connection. “If we start with the assumption that sickness and death of the body result from imperfect realization of life by the soul, and that the extent and mode of the soul’s realization of life is the result of the extent and mode of its realization of union with its Divine Source, then it follows that the logical root of healing must be in the removal of the sense of separation.”[xxv]
Troward is obviously calling for a paradigm of Oneness as the context that will re-connect our “soul” to a healthy identity and healthy behavior. A change in identity would recognize the Oneness worldview in the way described by Joan Borysenko as “the enduring connection of the individual consciousness to the greater Whole—of the soul to the Spirit.”[xxvi]
We can count on Seth to make the connection between the mind and the body and the ultimate energy concrete. “You must understand that it [the conscious mind] is not cut off from the inner self. The inner self keeps the physical body alive even as it formed it. The miraculous constant translation of spirit into flesh is carried on with inexhaustible energy by these inner portions of being, but in all cases the inner self looks to the conscious mind for its assessment of the body’s condition and reality, and forms the image in line with the conscious mind’s belief.”[xxvii] We have come to the unavoidable conclusion that the basis for all healing is a change in belief, a shift in paradigm.
What is that belief specifically? Again Thomas Troward. “Now the only conception you can have of yourself in the absolute, or unconditioned, is as purely living Spirit, not hampered by conditions of any sort, and therefore not subject to illness; and when this idea [Simple Reality] is firmly impressed on the sub-conscious mind, it will externalize it.”[xxviii] What we believe to be true is critically important. “No idea slips insidiously past your awareness to affect your involuntary system unless it fits in with your own conscious beliefs.”[xxix] John Ruskan expresses Troward’s insight more succinctly: “Bringing suppressed feelings into consciousness, with complete acceptance, is all the expression that is required for their release.”[xxx]
There is nothing that can make us healthy, no surgery, no medicine, nor any practice in and of itself. Healing comes from the energy flowing from the Implicate Order, the life force flowing through each individual. Any treatment that encourages that to happen is “healing.” “In William Blake’s language, the body is the soul. From that perspective, it makes no sense ever to treat the body as though it were only physical. I might prefer the awkward but telling word, pathopoetics, meaning illness as poetry. Illness expresses what is going on in the world and in the soul.”[xxxi]
A Course in Miracles contains a simple gospel or “good news” in regard to healing that we can all take comfort in. “Healing is always certain. It is impossible to let illusions be brought to truth and keep the illusions. Truth demonstrates illusions have no value. Healing is accomplished the instant the sufferer no longer sees any value in pain. The acceptance of sickness as a decision of the mind, for a purpose for which it would use the body, is the basis of healing. Who is the physician? Only the mind of the patient himself. The outcome is what he decides it is. What do guilt and sickness, pain, disaster and all suffering mean now? Having no purpose, they are gone. And with them also go all the effects they seemed to cause. Cause and effect but replicate creation. Seen in their proper perspective, without fear, they re-establish Heaven.”[xxxii]
Piero Ferrucci also points out that our new identity in P-A is replete with many benefits. “Seen from a transpersonal perspective, illness takes on a new significance; the reality of pain is no longer an overwhelming presence but an opportunity for reviewing one’s life and changing one’s outlook. Patients can learn not to identify themselves solely with a sick body, but to understand that their identity extends to regions of their being where sickness and pain never reach.”[xxxiii]
[i] Holmes, Ernest. The Science of Mind. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1938, p. 179.
[ii] LeShan, Lawrence. How to Meditate. New York: Bantam, 1984, p. 125.
[iv] Borysenko, Joan. Guilt is the Teacher, Love is the Lesson. New York: Warner, 1990, p. 15.
[v] Stewart-Patterson, Chris. “Do Good and Be Well.” Shambhala Sun. Boulder, Colorado, January 2002, pp. 25-27.
[vi] Chopra, Deepak. “The Healing Reality.” Science of Mind. Los Angeles, November 1989, p. 16.
[vii] Siegel, Bernie S. Love, Medicine and Miracles. New York: Harper, 1986, p. 42.
[viii] Borysenko, op. cit., p. 15.
[ix] Williamson, Marianne. A Return to Love. New York: Harper Collins, 1992, p. 209.
[x] Myss, Caroline. Anatomy of the Spirit. New York: Crown Publishers, 1996, p. 34.
[xi] Ibid., p. 25.
[xii] Zweig, Connie and Abrams, Jeremiah. Meeting the Shadow: The Hidden Power of the Dark Side of Human Nature. Los Angeles: Jeremy P. Tarcher, Inc., 1991, pp. xxii-xxiii.
[xiii] Borysenko, op. cit., p. 21.
[xiv] Zweig, op. cit., p. 254.
[xv] Pascal, Eugene. Jung to Live By. New York: Warner Books, Inc., 1992, p. 73.
[xx] Fox, Matthew. Original Blessings. Santa Fe: Bear and Company, 1983, p. 25.
[xxi] Zukav, Gary. The Seat of the Soul. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1989, p. 109.
[xxii] Holmes, Fenwick L. Ernest Holmes: His Life and Times. New York: Dodd, Mead, & Company, 1970, p. 202.
[xxiii] Holmes, Ernest, op. cit., p. 140.
[xxiv] Seale, Ervin. Mingling Minds. Linden, New Jersey: Tide Press, 1986, p. 66.
[xxv] Troward, Thomas. Bible Mystery and Bible Meaning. New York: Dodd, 1913, pp. 274-275.
[xxvi] Borysenko, op. cit., p. 21.
[xxvii] Roberts, Jane. The Nature of Personal Reality. New York: Bantam, 1974, p. 86.
[xxviii] Troward, Thomas. The Edinburgh Lectures on Mental Science. New York: Dodd, 1909, p. 87.
[xxix] Ibid., p. 101.
[xxx] Ruskan, John. Emotional Clearing. New York: Broadway Books, 2000, p. 161.
[xxxi] Moore, Thomas. Dark Nights of the Soul. New York: Gotham, 2004, p. 275.
[xxxii] A Course in Miracles © Volume Three: Manual For Teachers (Farmingdale, New York: Coleman Graphics), published in 1975, by the Foundation for Inner Peace, P.O. Box 598, Mill Valley, CA 94942-0598, www.acim.org and firstname.lastname@example.org. pp. 16-17.
[xxxiii] Ferrucci, Piero. Inevitable Grace. Los Angeles: Tarcher, 1990, pp. 345-346.