Dora van Gelder – USA
Healing, often called spiritual healing, has been practiced for thousands of years in many cultures throughout the world. Spiritual healing is difficult to define, but it can be described as healing – sometimes spontaneous and sometimes by stage – where no medication of any kind has been used. It would appear that in these cases a person (or healer) or a group of people can be the medium through which this restoration of wholeness takes place in a sick person.
The techniques employed vary greatly with each individual or group. The basic explanations for the healings are not necessarily the same, as everyone seems to react from his own background and is, of course, influenced by the culture into which he has been born. But whatever the method and whatever the ex- planation-whether the healer feels the Divine Power is using him, or that the direction comes from discarnate beings, or whether he describes the situation in some other way-the vehicle of healing is still a human being who reaches out to help others.
For many years now I have had the opportunity to be present when healings were taking place and have observed certain common denominators.
Most healers seem to agree that they, themselves, are not responsible for the results. There seems to be agreement among most of them that they are instruments through which a force flows, or that they are the focus of direction of that force. Some others feel, instead, that they themselves have experienced an expansion of consciousness and have achieved a sense of unity with all those involved, so that the same result is attained.
Another common denominator is found in the personalities of the healers. They must and do seem to have a great deal of self-confidence and faith in the importance of their mission. Accompanying this self-confidence is a sense of outgoing compassion or interest in others. I believe these qualities are essential.
In spite of these common denominators, however, there is a great deal of difficulty in understanding what makes a person a healer. Part of this difficulty lies in semantics, of course, but this is compounded by the great variety of techniques used and the different beliefs entertained by the healers. Such a lack of consensus makes it harder for skeptics and investigators to find a common thread of unity on which to base conclusions. Conferences of healers and sensitives would, I believe, iron out some of these differences, result in a common understanding, and make a study of the phenomena easier to undertake.
One of the great mysteries associated with healing lies in the fact that some people are greatly helped and others not at all. Apparently this is not always a matter of faith, as the following account will illustrate.
A few years ago I was present when a healer treated two cases of arthritis. Each had different symptoms, but in both instances the knee joints were badly affected. While one patient was firmly convinced of the reality of the spiritual force, the other was open-minded but skeptical. The healer put his hands on the affected parts every day for several days. The skeptic was helped considerably and the other patient not at all. 1 will go into more detail later on this illustration.
From my point of view, and from my own observations, each one of us has a vital or etheric vehicle through which flows a self- luminous force, in India called prana, or the life force. This radiance, which has been sensed by many people, is both in and around the physical body, and the brightness can vary in different persons from moment to moment. The degree of brightness and the width of the flow seem an indication of how well a person is. In the case of a sick person, there is a greater fluctuation in the brilliance, and when there is inflammation in a specific part of the body, as in the aforementioned arthritis cases, breaks in the pattern appear (around the knees in these cases). The acceleration of the natural healing process is caused by this vital force, the potential for wholeness, as it seems to dominate the mind and nervous system and can eliminate all pain.
But in a healer there is another interesting factor: at all times the radiant flow is brighter and wider than in others and has a greater power of expansion, especially during a healing session. It may be accentuated in and about the hands and the actual flow may double in width.
The interaction between the healer and the patient is interesting to watch; it varies greatly in each case. To mention again the two arthritis cases, when the healer touched the knees of the patient who believed in the healing process, the prana flowing through his fingers entered into the patient and increased the flow of energy in and around the knee. But strangely enough, it penetrated only to a certain depth and then bounced off. It never reached the bone. This indicated to me that no great benefit would result; and such proved to be the case. With the second person, the force seemed to penetrate in depth and to alter the whole area, filling out the breaks in the energy patterns. This patient was relieved of pain and swelling for several months.
Spiritual healing involves several levels of consciousness, but of course the visible results can be tested only in the body. The arthritis patient who benefited from the treatment had an open mind. However, although she responded so favorably she still was set in a rigid emotional pattern of skepticism which was not affected by the cessation of physical pain. I believe this was the basic cause of the return of her symptoms.
I have known many cases of permanent cures. I believe that when a complete healing takes place, the added energy a patient receives speeds up his own regenerative processes, so that there is an acceleration of his own natural forces. This can sometimes affect other facets of the personality. Occasionally, without a word being spoken, a patient goes through an emotional upheaval which acts like a catharsis, and only then a sudden speeding up of the healing takes place.
There are other methods than the laying on of hands. I have observed a healer go through a long religious service and then, at a given moment, declare that the Spirit was there and proceed, apparently at random, to pick out certain people in the huge audience and declare that these persons had been cured of special diseases. Apparently the cure had taken place before the persons appeared before the healer, and thus no direct touch was involved. In such instances, the most interesting and easily observable cases were the paraplegics, who threw away their crutches and wheel chairs and walked unaided. If these people were cured permanently (and, by their own testimony, some were), the healings were instantaneous. On this particular occasion, my observation was that the healer seemed to be a focus of forces, drawn partly from the audience through the long service, but also partly independent of any others present. During the final stages she was charged with a force which poured out as radiation around her. The only analogy I can suggest is that of a beam of light which took form in this radiant atmosphere and was directed to someone in the audience. This appeared very suddenly and I could not follow it further in the huge crowd. When the patients appeared on the platform, supposedly healed, I observed that in each one this, prana or life force had brightened and expanded and was pulsating rapidly.
I believe a healer has to have a developed intuition and an open-mindedness which leads him (as in the last cited case) to a sense of direction and thus to a knowledge of who in the audience has responded. An open mind (I have no better word for the attitude) is a basic necessity for a healer. Most of our minds are filled with self-concern and mountainous trivia. But, during a healing session, a healer must abandon all self-concern and, from moment to moment, have this sense of inner direction toward a patient or a group.
The healer is a catalyst of this force – which has the potential of wholeness at all times – and serves as its intermediary for the individual who is fragmented by illness. There are many other factors to be considered in this unusual relationship. Sometimes the healing process seems to be greatly accelerated; at other times it goes on quietly and steadily.
An open mind on the part of the patient also is helpful. I have noticed persons who thought they understood all about the process intellectually who did not respond to it at all. 1 felt that their set ideas or emotional reactions acted as a barrier to an unconscious receptiveness. This may explain why, from my observations, mental patients seem to respond slowly or not at all to this form of healing. I have often wondered whether the mental image a person has of himself may be a hindrance in some cases.
I believe there is another factor involved; in the East it is called the Law of Karma, or cause and effect. This would help to explain why some are helped but not cured. The healer cannot eliminate conditions which arise from the law. There are circumstances beyond their control which affect the destiny of the patient before them.
Healing is a fascinating subject about which much more needs to be learned, but everyone may be potentially able to help another. The mind of man itself is not yet understood. Science has discovered some of the laws of this orderly universe in which we live, but beyond these there is a vast human potential whose laws will need to be studied for many years to come.
The American Theosophist, y1971 v59 i5 May p121