While I was presenting a program at a long-established spiritual retreat center, several participants and I were eating lunch at a picnic bench next to a snack bar. As we finished, one of the participants stood behind me and began to gently massage my neck and shoulders. I, of course, was delighted to receive this gift. I sat at the bench with my eyes closed, soaking it up.
Suddenly I was jarred by a deep voice booming, “No healing allowed here!” I was certain this was another student playing a joke, and I opened my eyes to see who it was. To my surprise, the retreat center security guard was standing behind us. He looked the part: burly, a close-shorn crew cut, and a well-substantiated gut brimming over his belt. His name badge said “George.” I looked at George in disbelief.
George uttered authoritatively. “No healing is allowed on the campus except in the healing temple. If you want to be healed, you have to go there.”
I looked around at my friends and we cracked up. We thought this was a practical joke. After all, who would make a rule against someone being healed? We looked again at George and realized this was no joke. The student removed her hands from my shoulders and sat down.
After lunch I walked back to my room for a siesta. By that time I decided the situation was quite funny. Who, then, do you think I encountered along the way? You guessed it! Officer George. I decided I would have some fun with George. “Sorry about that healing back there,” I told him. “I can’t imagine what came over me.”
George remained quite serious. “I hope you understand. If I let you do healing there, before you know it, people will be healing all over the place!”
I had to muster all the will power I could to keep a straight face.
I told George, “And that’s the last thing we would want to see happen, isn’ it?”
“That’s right,” he answered.
I dashed to my room, closed my door, and roared. This was too strange to be true. Then I remembered a Bible story that put my experience in perspective.
Jesus was admonished by the Pharisees for healing on the Sabbath. Now, if you value healing, you would love to see anyone who needed healing, receive it, right? My God, if you were in pain and someone came along who could help you feel better, you would jump at the opportunity. But not the Pharisees; they had rules, you know. Later Jesus chastised them, “You pay more attention to the letter of the law than the spirit. . .You strain over a gnat, and miss the whole camel.”
Now I’m sure that George was a very nice man, and he was just doing his job to the best of his ability. I took the experience as a lesson that I cannot afford to miss the Big Picture because I have gotten caught in the details. And what about other ways that we push healing away? What about the various actions we believe are prerequisites for healing? Do you believe that you need to attain a certain level of spiritual purity before you can be healed? Or quit smoking? Or meet the right guru? Or master your sexual desires? Or be a vegetarian? Or have the right mate? Or earn enough money to have the right medical treatment? Or lose 10 pounds? Or? Or? Or?
Healing can happen anywhere, in any way, under any circumstances, through any person or avenue. The universe is always trying to deliver well-being to us. There are no obstacles outside of us. The only obstacle is our own resistance to it. No external condition whatsoever is required for healing. The only conditions are internal. What makes or breaks healing is our belief, our desire, our willingness, our openness, our readiness. One thing is or sure: the moment you are ready and willing, the healing must come.
A Course in Miracles tell us that all that is required for healing is “a little willingness,” and that “the real doctor is the mind of the patient.” We choose doctors or external agents who tell us what we want to hear. If you want to be healed, you will find a doctor who will tell you that you can get better, If you hold some investment in staying ill, there are plenty of doctors who will agree with you.
When my mother was seeing an oncologist, one day I accompanied her to his office and asked him about my mother’s prognosis. He told me it was not good. When I asked him if there was anything he could do for her, he answered, “We are not the masters of biology.”
Right then and there I knew he and I had nothing to talk about. He believed that cells are in charge of the universe, and I believed souls are in charge of the universe. End of conversation.
My mother, you see, was ready to leave. A few months later she passed away, but before she did, she told me that she was ready to go. She told me that she had led a good life, she was very proud of me, and she had done everything she had wanted to do. It was her choice to move on. Interesting, isn’t it, that she picked a doctor who agreed with what she intended to do anyway?
There are many cancer patients who are not ready to go, and they find Bernie Siegels and Andrew Weills and others who say, “You have a choice. If you choose to be alive and well, I can help you to do that.” These doctors would be the first to admit that they are not the source of healing; they are the agents chosen by the patients to assist them with their intentions. There are Patients who realize that spirit is the master of life, not biology.
Healing is allowed here. Healing is allowed wherever it is chosen.
By Alan Cohen