The word medicine is derived from the Latin 'ars medicina' and means the 'art of healing'. However, science has long since replaced art and the primary focus has shifted from healing the sick to curing the disease. Disease is a term for any condition that impairs the normal functioning of an organism and has specific symptoms and signs. Illness refers to the perceptions and experiences that a person has of his condition and will be his narrative of the condition. This blog post will take a look at some of the differences between healing and curing and expand further on the understanding of healing as I know it to be esoterically and energetically. The subject of healing is vast and thus each post only touches on some areas. I presented some aspects of healing in the blog post 'Illness and disease are Healing' and you may wish to read that post as well as this one. I am well aware that people can have different understandings of healing that can lead to confusion, misunderstanding or misinterpretation. For example some people might think that healing and curing are just different words for the same thing where both mean eradication of disease/symptoms, or that in order to be healed, one must be free of disease. These misunderstandings have been contributed to by the lack of clear definition in the medical profession.
As Egnew pointed out in 2005, it is a curious paradox that medicine, otherwise known as 'the healing profession', has no operational definition of healing nor explanation of the mechanisms of healing apart from physiological processes.1
He went on to declare that healing is independent of illness, impairment, cure of disease or death and although I would agree with him on that point now, I previously would have rejected it out of hand. How can one be healed and yet still have disease present? How can one be healed and yet still be impaired in some way? How can healing be independent of death, or where death itself is seen to be part of the healing? It sounds crazy! If we equate healing with removal of disease then it does not make sense - but healing is about much more than the removal of disease. Healing can occur with or without the removal of disease.
The root or etymology of the word healing is haelan from hal in Olde English and means to ‘restore to wholeness’. Hal is the root word for ‘health’, ‘whole’ and ‘holy’. So perhaps healing and true health comes from knowing one is already whole and holy and living from that knowing, such that all of one's choices are fed by it. To know that one is already whole, already holy, with an essence that is full of love, no matter what illness or disease is present - is the healing. It is the restoration of harmony to the being, irrespective of the physical state of the body. Thus one can be healed and have impairment or disease present. If this is fully understood, it could even be said that we are already healed and that there is no healing to do. However, it is one of those paradoxes that it is true that there is healing to do and yet in-truth we are already healed, already whole. I'll explain this a bit further.
As human beings we are multi-dimensional beings with a body, mind, heart, spirit and soul. Although we have a physical body, we are more than physical. The soul is love and that is our true nature and that aspect does not require any healing. However, we have lived in separation to our soul for aeons and thus have accumulated many ways and ills that are harming to us/the physical body and these ways need healing, if we are to live free from suffering. The body is but a vehicle for the light and love of the soul/of God who lives within us all. The creator lives in the created, the stuff of God (love), is the stuff of man also. It is an energetic fact that we are love, that we have an invincible essence that is only pure love - that cannot be harmed or destroyed by ANYTHING. This can be known and felt by all. It is one thing to know that we are love, and it is another thing to live that knowing on a daily basis. Just as our ills arise from living as if we are in separation to this love, to the divine, by our emotional ways of living and relating, so then does the root of healing come back to knowing who you are, that you are pure love and living from that knowing in how one expresses. By ceasing to express in an emotional way, we are no longer fuelling the body with that which is harming to it and this is a key part of healing. The fact that we do not live it on a daily basis, with our emotional reactions, ups and downs, tells us there is healing work to do. We are so engrained in certain ways of living and relating, reacting to life's situations, becoming emotional over this or that, that we can easily deviate from living the love that we are. We all do it and it's not about beating ourselves up for reacting or being emotional but just having the simple recognition and awareness that in those moments we are not being ourselves, we have separated from the love that we are and in that separation we can allow all sorts of ugliness to emerge that is not really us! When we express with the energy of anger or frustration or indeed any emotion, we are not expressing according to our true nature and over time this takes it toll, affecting our biophysiology and ultimately can result in the manifestation of illness and disease. The fields of psychoneuroimmunology, epigenetics and psychosomatic medicine are beginning to provide the scientific evidence that affirms these understandings. However, as we heal and develop a way of living and being that is coming from our innermost essence of love, then we are more consistent, less reactive, more centred, joyful, playful, and less affected by the stresses and strains of life yet fully immersed in and committed to life on earth.
Put simply we can express with love or that which is not love. The good news is that if we recognise we are being emotional or not being love, we can take steps or a few breaths to return to love. Part of healing is addressing the underlying reasons for the emotional reactions we have, such that we no longer have them - thus we stop feeding the body with that which is harming to it. Likewise the more we express from the love that we are, we will build love in the body and contribute to the healing process. At the same time, who we already are is Love, always has been and always will be - but it is the degree to which we choose to live and express from that love that determines our course.
Let's break this down a bit further with some practical examples to illustrate difference between healing and curing.
If a disease is cured, it means the signs and symptoms have been eradicated. However, it is possible to be cured of a disease but not healed of the underlying reasons that gave rise to that disease in the first place. So for example, taking out my gallbladder cured me of the symptoms I had from the gallstone but it did nothing to address the underlying reasons that led me to have the gallstone in the first place - thus whilst I am cured, I am not healed unless I address those underlying reasons. According to esoteric medicine, issues in the gallbladder are at root level due to the emotions of rage, frustration, resentment and bitterness. So by dealing with the underlying reasons for these emotions and returning to the truth of who I am (love) and living from there, I can be healed as well as surgically cured.
This simple example allows us to deepen the understanding of healing even further. We often quite rightly enlist the help of others like doctors, nurses, physios, pharmacists and medications etc to help us with our conditions, to cure us of our symptoms and diseases and this is also part of healing as outlined in the blog post 'illness and disease are Healing'. Similarly we may go to a complementary health practitioner to assist us with healing, to come to a deeper understanding of why we have what we have based on a holistic understanding of the human person. However, ultimately all healing is self-healing. Whilst others can assist us along the way, the choice to be love, to express with love or not is always ours. One delivers healing and the other perpetuates the suffering - it is as simple as that. We get to choose which one we live by - love or that which is not love. This makes sense of the well-know dictum 'physician heal thyself' for ultimately we can only heal ourselves and for a physician to truly assist another with healing, the physician must do it for him/herself first.
It is important to not mis-interpret the phrase that 'ultimately all healing is self-healing' to mean that one does not need medical treatment or surgery. That is not what it means nor implies. That is a bastardisation. We do need medicine, we do need surgery and medications to help us with our conditions and it is part of being self-loving to look after the body in this way by combining the best of conventional medicine with esoteric medicine - that way we can use conventional medicine and esoteric medicine together to both cure the disease if possible and assist us with healing the underlying root cause. Even if the disease is considered to be terminal, it is possible to heal the underlying reasons for the condition and for the person to experience themselves as healed and whole - even though the body may be filled with disease.
Another example that might help illustrate this further is with respect to breast cancer. It is important that women with breast cancer have the best of conventional medicine in the form of surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy as deemed necessary to endeavour to cure the disease, to eradicate it from the body. However, in terms of healing there is a much bigger picture at play when breast cancer is approached from a holistic understanding that says we have what we have as a result of how we have lived, as a consequence of our choices over many years. Esoterically and energetically the root ill in breast cancer is a lack of self nurturing and so when it comes to healing, it is about addressing the reasons for that lack of nurturing and beginning to be more self-nurturing in one's daily way of being. These understandings are not part of conventional medical thinking as yet, although there are some who are aware of it. Thus it is for people to feel for themselves if this could be true or not. For me, it is empowering to know that my gallstone and its symptoms arose as a result of my choices, my way of living, my emotions etc because then I could choose to do something about it in terms of healing. Whereas, if I did not know that, then I am kept in the dark, a victim of circumstances beyond my control, a body run awry for no reason - and that is disempowering, it gives me nowhere to go, nothing I can do to change it or to heal. So it is for women with breast cancer - keep them in the dark, say it's in the genes or that we don't know why they have it, and they too are disempowered, with no recourse to heal, to make changes, to be empowered. In contrast, if they accept that it could possibly be due to a lack of self nurturing, then there are lots of things they can do to address that and to heal including how they feel about themselves as women, whether they have given their power away to men, been submissive, been falsely nice, always putting others needs first, suppressed their anger and on and on it could go in terms of the issues that could have fed the lack of self nurturing that ultimately resulted in the breast cancer. In this way, a woman who is open to this approach can have the surgery and whatever is required to address the physical disease, but she can also take a more holistic approach in terms of healing why she developed breast cancer in the first place. Healing the lack of self-nurturing is assisting her to return to herself, to her true nature that is deeply nurturing, exquisitely loving and profoundly tender. It is no wonder that by undertaking such a healing journey, some women can comment that breast cancer was the best thing that ever happened to them because it has the potential to deepen their awareness about themselves and their lives and bring them back home to themselves and the love that they are.
I have only used a couple of examples here but the principles are similar for other conditions as well. Everything has a root ill or cause when understood energetically that ultimately boils down to us living in apparent separation to the love we are and where healing is the restoration of harmony by reconnecting with and living from that essence of love and ceasing the errant loveless ways.
One of the commonest questions doctors are asked and do not always have the answer for is 'why do I have this condition' whatever it may be. Esoteric medicine can present understandings that can answer those questions, that calls the individual to take responsibility for their life and to be willing to make a deeply honest appraisal of how they have been living. Of course, many people do not wish to go there and that too is fine. Some even feel that saying such things is not on as they feel it is blaming the person for why they have the condition. Again, this is a bastardisation and mis-understanding of what is being said and what healing is. If how we live our lives results in the conditions we have - then keeping people in the dark about that is not going to help it or change it. It just keeps people buried deep in the illusion that they are victims of circumstances beyond their control. Whilst it can be painful and hurt like hell to realise and fully appreciate the harm we do to ourselves by our wayward ways of living, given where we come from and who we are, it is the messenger of love that is willing to help people awaken out of their stupor regarding their ill ways such that they may know who they are also - to be that still, loving, consistent presence irrespective of the flak that comes his or her way.
Just as the root of our ills is due to living as though we are in separation to the divine, to the love that we are, the key to healing is dissolving that apparent separation, to know who we are - Sons of God who's essence is Love; to reconnect to that Love that lives within and to express from that place of Love and stillness on a daily basis to the best of our ability with no outcome based need or focus but just because it is who we are. To know that we are much, much more than a physical body but that how we live and express will affect the physical body. Thus if we have a physical condition or suffering of any kind, let us have the strength, the openness and willingness to look at how we have been living that has led to that instead of cowering in fear and blaming everything outside of ourselves, for that will only keep us stuck on a merry-go-round of suffering. We are in a physical body and we can use it to express the light and love of Our Father on earth or not as we so choose. In doing so, we may arise others to know that for themselves or not as they so choose OR we can perpetuate and keep spinning the merry-go-round of suffering. The choice is ours.
So perhaps it is time that 'the healing profession' reclaimed its roots and combined the best of the scientific endeavour with the healing art of Love.
Feel free to comment and share your understandings or anything that has arisen for you in this post.
1.Egnew TR. The Meaning of Healing: Transcending Suffering. Annals of Family Medicine. vol 3 issue 3 pg 255-262