Here we are, visiting Sister Stan and “Now is the Time” again. This blog we are looking at her chapter on healing
All spiritual development and the gaining of wisdom has to do with healing. I’m still not sure why this is, why we find ourselves in a barren desert of ill-health; spiritually, emotionally and, often, physically. In Buddhism, it is considered the effects of karma, we reap what we sow, but why do we sow so poorly over so many lives? Christianity believes in original sin, the sin of Adam and Eve, and explains our fall from grace that way.
In both cases our current, unfortunate, state originates primarily from the actions of others, or of ourselves, in previous lives or times. I find that rather difficult to accept; when a existing and identifiable situation is explained by circumstances which are neither existing or identifiable it reeks of what we scientists would have to call “bad science”. Not that i’m necessarily disagreeing with the hypothesis that our current situation is due to previous events but by nature i am a skeptic, a reformed cynic. I admire the idea of Hinduism, at least earlier Hinduism, where the search for truth encompassed all questions and beliefs. When someone told you what they believed, all you wanted was to know why and what were the circumstances of the development of that belief. You would not find it threatening just because someone believed something different to you.
Ekhart Tolle, in the “Power of Now”, considers that our current, fallen, state is due to a fall from a state of grace, “Humans have been in the grip of pain for eons, ever since they fell from the state of grace, entered the realm of time and mind, and lost awareness of Being. At that point, they started to perceive themselves as meaningless fragments in an alien universe, unconnected to the Source and to each other”. I’m not sure whether Tolle is talking about individuals or essences which have been reincarnated. Lets assume for the moment, he is talking about individuals. If we do, what he says make a lot of sense, more obvious sense to all of us than invoking the theory of reincarnation. So lets keep it simple to start with.
In the words of another of my musical heroes, Van Morrison,
“Whoa you got to keep it simple nowadays and that’s just that
Whoa you got to keep it simple nowadays and that’s just the way it is
And you got to keep it simple these days ‘cos that’s the way it is”
So lets assume that we only have one life, one shot at enlightenment. We have a soul, an essence, a sliver of divinity, of Brahman, but its cased in a human body, with human thoughts, desires, fears and hungers. Are babies enlightened? I don’t think so, i think they are innocent. That is much the same thing except to be enlightened we have to be aware. But it doesn’t last does it, this innocence. For whatever reason, we lose our innocence as we grow older. That’s mainly because of awareness; it is not possible for someone else, our parents or guardians, to meet all our needs and desires as and when we experience them, so we learn fear, hunger, rejection and all the other negative emotions as we grow up. Depending on our family circumstances and behaviour, we lose our innocence to one degree or another. Rather like Adam and Eve after tasting the forbidden apple, we become aware of ourselves, our egos develop, we experience pain and suffering.
Which brings us to our fallen state. Except perhaps we should not consider it a fallen state, rather an inevitable staging post on the journey from a state of innocence to a state of enlightenment. A spiritual equivalent of being a teenager, full of promise, fluctuating between self-absorption and universal awareness, between awesome wisdom and equal foolishness. Who blames a teenager for being a teenager? We do not consider teenagers as being children who have fallen from a state of innocence but rather as individuals on the road to adulthood. Perhaps we should view our spiritual development through the same eye-piece.
Lets return to healing. Because our spiritual development is not guaranteed. All teenagers become adults, in age at least, without doing anything about it but, for most of us, we can’t become enlightened without making an effort. The healing process is that effort.
In early December last year, i attended a Medicine Buddha Empowerment ceremony in my local Buddhist center. The idea of being a healer, of being able to heal others as well as myself has always appealed to me. But i was focused on physical healing. Not surprisingly i suppose, there has been so much illness and physical suffering in my extended family over the last couple of years. Physical healing though is only a small part of it. Geshe Kelsang Gyatso tells us that by relying on the Medicine Buddha sincerely, living beings can be cured of physical and mental disease, and can find release from the pain of delusions. A month later, when i look back and see how the whole circumstances of my life have been substantially healed in a few short weeks, i am astounded.
Sister Stan tells us, “Healing is possible at all times”, and she acknowledges the healing power of prayer and meditation, “Men and women of prayer, hidden away in monasteries and hermitages, bring healing in unknown ways to a world that is hurting, like hidden pumps irrigating dry lands”. Like Ekhart Tolle and most religions, Sister Stan believes that we all suffer pain. She believes that we can heal ourselves and help heal others but, “unless we are open to our own woundedness and our need to be healed, then we cannot be open to the woundedness of others, and so we cannot act as healers”.
So by gaining awareness we lose our innocence but receive the ability to be enlightened and the ability to help others heal. A fair trade it would seem. Somewhere along the path, human civilization lost sight of of this, of the reason for our existence and began to concentrate on the material aspects of life. Enough was never enough. We developed greed, envy and insatiable hungers; industry played its part, manufacturing more and more material offerings for us to desire.
We have lost our way on this planet, in this life.
I have lost my way on this blog also, much of what Sister Stan tells us about healing we must leave for another day.
Let us find our way back to the healing path – remember, be still.