Horatio W. Dresser
Spiritual Health and Healing
MANY years ago Dr. Quimby remarked that the time would come when people would once more be healed by word of mouth as in the case of the remarkable healings wrought by Jesus and the apostles. How is such healing possible and when may we expect “the greater works” promised by the Master?
At first thought the prospect of instantaneous healing seems incredible if not utterly impossible. This is probably the reason which led devotees of the church to classify scriptural healing as miraculous. Apparently there is no way by which a person can suddenly be lifted from a well-nigh hopeless state of disease, especially if it comes on gradually out of cumulative causes; for we know that time is required for recovery in case of diseases of long standing. There seems to be no way of ridding the human system of its disorders except through a regular series of changes.
If, however, we examine the scriptural record to learn what we can about the works of healing, we find that there is a certain resemblance in the several instances which affords us a clue. So far as the record informs us the works of healing were wrought among the “common people,” who heard the Master gladly. Such people, we know from acquaintance with them today, have greater emotional responsiveness, greater powers of self-abandonment, than the socially elect and the learned possess. These come by their maladies more quickly, and whatever they yield they let go of more readily. They are, therefore, able to give themselves with more implicit faith to any power or any person inspiring faith. It is wholly credible that people of this responsive type should so have given themselves in faith to the Master as to have been made suddenly “whole.”
Such healing would, let us say, lift the spirit of the sometime sufferer to a higher level of consciousness with such power, with such an impetus that a new mode of life would result, as in the case of those remarkable conversions which still occur from time to time through missionary work in the slums of a great city. This changed centre of equilibrium would bring its attendant consequences and make the cure complete so far as it could be wrought by another. The subsequent results would depend upon the intelligence of the individual in living the new mode of life thoughtfully.
From the point of view of the therapeutist, instantaneous healing would result from penetrating insight into the real state of soul, the true inner life of the patient. This insight would be accompanied by power to make it good. The keener the insight, the more sharp would be the separation made through the Christ-consciousness between the spirit of the patient and his former malady. The patient would not only receive the benefit of the display of healing power, but hear such a thrilling word as “Thy faith hath made thee whole,” “Take up thy bed and walk.” The Christ would both act and speak “as one having authority.”
Dr. Quimby used to say that “the explanation is the cure.” By this he meant the penetrating truth which struck home and touched the real cause of disease, whatever appearances might be. Strictly speaking, the cure was wrought by that insight, and if the patient grasped it, the cure was immediate, so far as the inner life was concerned. For we either see a thing or we do not. What leads up to it is preliminary. When the insight really comes, nothing more need be said. Hence Quimby very suddenly and convincingly spoke to some of his patients that illuminating word which carried the most far-reaching results, results affecting not only the health but the religion, business, mode of life and happiness of the patient. With the growth of this power of discernment, Quimby found himself able to speak the healing word more effectively. Hence, he foresaw the time when the clarifying word would itself be sufficient.
We have all on occasion made inner changes as quickly as that. For example, a man sees that he has been a fool, and in detecting his folly grasps in an instant the cause of much trouble and as quickly drops his trouble with all its side issues. A person realizes in a flash that he has been duped and in the same flash utterly changes his attitude toward the people and things involved. Thus in a moment of electrifying self-consciousness, a young person who has been infatuated realizes his predicament. The “affair” is all over at once. There is nothing more to say. It would be utterly out of the question to pretend to love the other partner to the experience. As quickly, also, a commercial deal may come to an end.
Granted truth-seeking and truth-telling people enough in the world, people would be taken out of their hypocrisies and pretensions right and left. Nothing is so swift in its effect as truth. The only difficulty in the world in this regard is that truth is not welcome. If we encouraged the man of insight, it would become customary for people to cure one another of their errors and conceits, to say nothing of what are called their “sins.”
We may expect the greater works promised by the Master when people more seriously adopt the healing principle which goes straight to the heart, down to the very foundation of human life. As of old, those who are responsive in type will give themselves most readily to such healing. But there is hope for us all. Ideally speaking, it is possible that a word should be spoken to any one of us which would take us immediately out of our darkness. When we see the light, the rest follows.
Many of the instances of spontaneous healing of which we hear from time to time are instantaneous in type. A bedridden invalid may suddenly do the impossible when a threatening fire breaks out and there is no one at hand to help. This happened in the case of one who rose from her bed, packed her trunk and dragged it down four flights of stairs to a place of safety, suffering no relapse. It sometimes happens when a physician or some member of the family despairingly resorts to a trick in order to arouse the bedridden creatures of habits to help themselves. If a shock may kill, a shock can also cure. What some people need is the equivalent of a shock.
But spiritual healing will become more intelligent as we proceed, and it will no longer be necessary to shock people into activity. That is to say, the sick and the sorrowing will be more quickly restored if they so will. There are always people who refuse to look at the truth as long as they are able to be evasive. Many could be cured quickly enough now if they wished to be. But people either avoid the effort or the direct view which discloses their inward self in all the actuality of concealed motives and intentions.
Death is probably an instantaneous healing for many people, or rather the process of coming to judgment which follows it when there is no longer any way to hide from oneself. Some of us would prefer to look reality straight in the eye here and now. There is marvelous help, there are unbounded resources for those who are ready to give themselves in full confidence to the Spirit. We might even be raised suddenly from a state of “spiritual death” into one of hearty responsiveness to the Life whose resources are infinite. It is not a question of the length of time the soul has lain in the tomb of carnal consciousness, but of the summoning power of the Christ. “Lazarus, come forth,” “Maiden, I say unto thee, arise!” is the great word.
Someone has said that the only healing is self-healing. This is true if by such healing we mean the dawning in our own consciousness of the truth which has set us free, the awareness of that Life to which we owe our restoration. So, too, a conversion or any other spiritual change becomes truly ours when we see it, and, touched to the quick, will to make the new life our own.
In a more profound sense, it might be said that the only genuine healing is the cure of our selfishness. Other healings are introductory. It is surely within our power to turn abruptly from our selfishness within a single day, in an hour, a moment. We do not even need to wait for a quickening vision like that which came to Saul on the road to Damascus and made him, by his consent, Paul, the greatest of apostles; for we have much more enlightenment now. The world now sees with crystal clearness that selfishness is the one great trouble. Then, too, there are countless aids at hand if one wills to become unselfish. We need not stop to plead, to ask for reasons and await results. As suddenly as an apparently obscure private may become a hero at the front by venturing to do the brave deed at which his comrades hesitate, so any one of us might step forth a new man; for either “we have the mind of Christ” or this transfiguring mind is close at hand in the person of someone who will manifest it in our presence. The response made to us by the Christ is never limited. “Be thou made clean.” “According to thy faith be it unto thee.”
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Spiritual Health and Healing
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