Tim Boyd – USA
The author speaks at Adyar
Healing and healers are subjects that are not noticed as much as they should, at least in our formal theosophical literature. I have been fortunate to have come in contact and worked with some powerful healers of different backgrounds. Often when we find people who are physical healers, if we were to ask them about the source of the energy or power that flows through them, those who have not had any exposure to theosophical teachings would say that “it is a gift from God.” This is not entirely incorrect, but the fact that this ability to heal exhibits itself is often regarded as a supernatural gift.
During one of the often overlooked periods of Col H. S. Olcott's life, he was involved in an extensive work of dynamic and powerful healing. During his visits to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) his primary work was to revive Buddhism, which he regarded as an expression of the Ageless Wisdom. In Ceylon of that time, Buddhism had fallen into very low states. Then at one point, the Christian missionaries, who were actively working to undermine Buddhism in Ceylon, made an announcement that they had discovered a healing well of water that had the potential of healing in the name of Jesus and the Catholic Church.
Olcott, being who he was, approached the Buddhist monks and said: “Before this takes root in the people's mind, you must do some healing. You as Buddhists must heal.” But nobody stepped forward. So, Olcott, being the practical “can do” Yankee that he was, decided he would do the healing. Knowing that all healing comes from the same source, he did it in the name of the Buddha. Thirty years earlier he had been exposed to the teachings and work of Anton Mesmer. He had even made a few attempts at Mesmeric healing.
In The Mahatma Letters a lot is written about mesmerism and its healing powers. Olcott had studied it and decided that, for this occasion, it was required. So he found a patient with a paralyzed arm, and Olcott worked on him. The man went home, and he reported the next day that he had experienced great relief. Olcott said that this increased his level of confidence. So he worked on him again, and this time it was a complete reversal of the man's paralysis, and, of course, the news spread.
From that point onward, for the next three years, Olcott had no time for peace or privacy, because he was continuously surrounded by people demanding healing from this great “Buddhist” healer. As was his habit during that three-year period, he kept a record showing that there were more than 7,000 people who had experienced healing of various types: paralysis, deafness, blindness, and so on. Because it was taking too much of Olcott's life force, demanding too much of his personal energy, and it did not allow him the time to really invest himself in the theosophical work that was his primary focus, his Master ordered him to stop.
Just before the Theosophical Society (TS) came into being, Anton Mesmer and his healing methods came to the fore. So this was very much in the minds of H. P. Blavatsky (HPB) and others. It is also called animal magnetism, but theosophists understand it more as the accumulation and projection of etheric energy, what they called “the vital fluid” back then. It is more deeply explained in The Mahatma Letters.
In a letter from Mahatma KH to Sinnett, a higher approach to this type of healing is discussed. Sinnett had written to the Master, and KH had given the Sinnett family a lock of his hair specifically so that it could be kept close to Sinnett’s son, Denny, who was in poor health from birth. The idea was that the magnetism from this lock of hair would have a positive influence on the boy. Sinnett wrote to the Master asking if he could use this lock of hair to attempt cures along the lines of the Mesmer approach. The letter that we have is the Master's response to Sinnett, and it expands on this idea of healing.
In that letter the Master says to Sinnett that he can make attempts to cure with this lock of hair, but of itself it has no power to heal. It is simply an accumulator of the energies of the person from whose hair it was cut. Just like an electric battery, it has no power unless a connection is made between the source and the object on which it is focused. The connecting power that is all-important in any work of this type is the power of a focused will. In the absence of will, there is no healing; the object of power is essentially powerless in the absence of a focused will.
The Master went on to add that a certain purity is not required, because the energy is in the object, but purity and benevolence of intention can have a magnifying effect. In essence, what he said was that purity of mind, benevolence of intention, connects the talisman to the buddhi of the healer. In that condition, the healing becomes magnified beyond mere Mesmerism or the energy in any hair or object. The talisman and buddhi come into sympathy, and in this process profound healing can take place.
In discussing his healing methods Col Olcott said that it took place in two ways. On the one hand, it was by the Master's presence and influence through a connection that was made. Part of what we are advised in various teachings is that whatever we do that is good, we should formulate a practice of offering it in the Master's name. This is a way that Jinaräjadäsa expressed. To heal, to help, to assist, is all done in his name. This has a capacity to attract that presence when we are truly pure in our motives.
Olcott said that the bulk of the healing that he did was based on this connection and outreach imagination and will, to his Master. He had several confirmations of this. He mentions one case in which he was healing a blind man. While Olcott was working, the man was describing a vision of someone who was standing in front of him during the cause of the healing. He described it in great detail, and it was very clear that the description was of Olcott’s Master. The method of healing was the accumulation and projection of energy using Olcott’s own will.
Health is described as a condition of wholeness. When we are whole, undivided, is when we are healthy. That obviously has layers of meaning, but the process of healing is a restoration of wholeness. So, we who aspire to be on the spiritual path are engaged in a process of healing at its deepest levels. It is the process of restoring a forgotten wholeness of our natural condition from which our “normal” way of living continually separates us.
The human being has been described in our theosophical literature as “highest spirit and lowest matter linked by mind.” This linking agency of mind is the area where we find all of our troubles. It is also the area where we find our greatest hope. Any healing, in essence, is a healing of the mind, of its ability to link highest spirit with lowest matter. We are fragmented simply by virtue of the process of coming into birth.
Quickly following on our birth, and the soul's close association with a forming personality, we take on multiple fragmented identities: nationality, gender, religious affiliation, and so on. All of the things that we think of as who we are tend to be isolating and fragmented. We go through life in this condition of a divided state. Ultimately, somewhere within us we know that the possibility for unification exists, the possibility to restore wholeness. and this largely makes up the search that we and others engage in over the course of a lifetime. Searching for that “thing” that will somehow make us whole.
Prior to the time where we find value in a spiritual approach, it takes other forms: searching for the perfect mate, the perfect job, the perfect spot on earth where there is peace and harmony, where all of the things that we do not feel within ourselves are present as a restorative influence for our condition. It is called a “condition” because it results from “conditioning”, this separative condition of mind that is the habit and inheritance of anybody who takes birth.
When we are on the spiritual path the nature of the healing changes. No longer is there the idea of something that can be found, a missing piece to the puzzle, exterior to our own consciousness. The focus of our searching shifts. That shift in focus brings about the fundamental change in our human conditioning, affecting us in this life and in lives to come. We begin to look within, toward the ever-present spiritual dimension of our being.
The scriptures of the world’s religions attribute healings of all sorts to their founder, whether it be Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, Apollonius. They were all known for their spiritual teachings, but they also were known to have exhibited profound healings during the course of their lives. Although it is not widely spoken of, or perhaps not even widely known, J. Krishnamurti was a profound healer, with numerous instances of “miraculous” healings of incurable conditions: deafness, tuberculosis, cancer, and so forth. It was mainly done by the effect of his will and of his touch. He wisely chose to downplay, or not make known, this healing ability. This was partly because he could witness the history of the TS and some of the things that occurred with HPB and others in exhibiting certain occult powers, and the sort of glamor and distraction that it became to the essential teachings.
One of the facts of the spiritual life seems to be that anybody who engages in it in a genuine manner ultimately becomes a healer; it is unavoidable. This is not necessarily by the laying on of hands, or the mesmeric methods of Olcott, although these are possibilities. In the Christian Bible there is a beautiful passage that describes an incident that occurred, probably both factual and symbolic. In some town, Jesus the Christ was passing through, and there was a woman who had been ill. They said that for twelve years she had had an issue of blood, and there was no healing that she could find. He was walking near to where she was. As she became aware that he was passing, she reached out and touched the hem of his garment, and healed. The story goes on to say that the Christ was aware that somebody had touched his garment, and told the person that she was healed. By the very presence of the spiritual-unfolded individual, the healing took place.
This story addresses the nature of the work that we do. As we actually connect ourselves with those deeper dimensions of our own being that somehow seem to be suppressed by the process of living, certain things unfold, and healing takes place. There is the will, but it also takes place through the presence of an unfolded soul. This is something we all know. All of us have had occasion to seek out those individuals who we are drawn to for their sense of peace and serenity.
Although I never personally met N. Sri Ram, I have heard stories about people who would go to talk with him, bringing with them problems that disturbed their peace of mind. On more than one occasion I heard people say that after talking with him they had left feeling renewed, refreshed, feeling that the conversation with him had been so helpful. But then they would realize that Sri Ram had said almost nothing, and that in his presence a reversal in their inner state had taken place. It is said that the prayers of a righteous person have great power. The silent exercise of our being has great power.
In The Key to Theosophy, HPB wrote the questions that she posed to herself and then answered as the “Theosophist.” At one point she described the remarkable healings done by Apollonius – how he raised people from the dead, and so on.
So the question was asked: “Is the aim of the TS to produce such healers?” Her response is worth considering, She said that the TS has several aims, but the most important of its aims is to relieve the suffering of humanity by whatever means are available. That suffering can be moral or physical, but that the most important aspect of it was the moral suffering. The frame of mind that determines everything we do the values that we hold, the things we regard as right or wrong, the activities we engage in – is determined by our ethics. The ethics of Theosophy is what she put forward as ‘the great healer.”
In this regard something that we experiment with over the course of a lifetime, are the laws that govern Nature, that govern our behavior. In The Voice of the Silence compassion is stated to be the “Law of laws.” In terms of our ethical behavior (of the unfoldment of the spiritual dimension of our being and its effect on ourselves, and the presence that we carry in the world) this compassion is something with which we need to make a continual experiment in our lives. What does it mean? As the “Law of laws”, how can it apply? Brotherhood, compassion, unity, healing, all of these flow from the deeper ethic.
When we think of ethics, normally we think of morality, behaviors, structures of thought. We surround this inexpressible thing we call spirit with words. We try to drape it in ideas and thoughts so that it can have some presence, some visibility, some meaning to us.
This ongoing experiment that is the spiritual life is our attempt at a deeper understanding of what it means to be spiritual, to be pure and whole. It is good for us to remember that there is a healing dimension to this work that we do. It is a healing that begins with ourselves as individuals, but one of the fundamental purposes of the theosophical work, and of the Theosophical Society, has been the broader purpose of a deepening healing that must take place in humanity: the formation of this nucleus of Brotherhood, the recognition of the possibility for unity, for wholeness.
These are the things that we can experiment with in the laboratory of our own consciousness.
[This article was previously published in the September 2017 issue of The Theosophist, Vol. 138 N0. 12]