The Secrets of Healing

The secrets of healing have long been known but it’s taken science a long time to catch up.

There’s an old story about a group of eminent scientists climbing the mountain of knowledge. They scramble up to the top of a steep slope, only to see an even higher peak in the distance. They climb the next peak, only to see yet another beyond that. They climb that and….. guess what? There’s yet another. Finally, exhausted, they pull themselves over the final rock, only to be greeted by a group of healers and metaphysicians who had been sitting there for centuries!

This analogy was not lost on Einstein. ‘Creating a new theory is not like destroying an old barn and erecting a skyscraper in its place,’ he wrote. ‘It is rather like climbing a mountain, gaining new and wider views, discovering unexpected connections between our starting points and its rich environment. But the point from which we started out still exists and can be seen, although it appears smaller and forms a tiny part of our broad view gained by the mastery of the obstacles on our adventurous way up.’

Every year, while most scientists continue to circle the base of the mountain, some climb a little higher. Enormous advances have been made in the last couple of decades, some of which has yet to reach the general public.

Healing and Consciousness

The healing methods applied in societies throughout history have always been closely related to the consciousness of those societies and its individuals. They have depended on how they saw the nature of the human body and its relationship with the environment in which we live. At some point in history, humans woke up to the fact that they could do something to heal themselves when they were injured or ill, and not merely alleviate discomfort. Previously, like the animals, they would have crawled into a cave or clearing and waited until they felt better before leaving it – or died.

Then at some stage those early humans realised that even death could be postponed by applying certain healing methods. They discovered that certain plants could help and that healing ceremonies and rituals could speed up the process. The earliest healers were shamans; evidence of shamanic healing goes back over fifty thousand years. Shamans studied the relationship between humans and their natural environment. They tried to harness the laws of nature to initiate health and bring about healing.

Around two and a half thousand years ago, healing became more scientific. The Greeks, worshippers of the healthy body and surely one of the most progressive and cultured of all ancient societies, began using a more systematic approach based on observation and reason. They used animal and human dissections to improve their understanding of how the body functions. By New Testament times, Greek doctors already had a good idea of the functions of the main organs and had mapped the circulatory system.

As early Christendom sank into a deep mistrust and contempt for the physical body, the next great era of anatomical research in the West took place when Muslim doctors added to earlier knowledge and explained the workings of the muscles and digestive system. I say ‘in the West’ because on the other side of the world, the Chinese were already far ahead in their healing techniques.

In the Middle Ages and beyond, Western medicine remained largely in the grip of the Greek physician often referred to as the ‘Father of Medicine’, Hippocrates, and his followers. This led to some strange practices. Hippocrates believed that there were four types of fluid in the body, which needed to be in perfect balance if health were to be maintained. So, for example, if you had a fever, you had too much blood and would be subject to leeches and other purging methods to reduce blood levels. The patient would often be so weak afterwards it would take weeks to recover. Bizarre? Yes, but won’t some of our 21st Century medical practices seem equally bizarre in the future?

In the past three hundred years, great strides have been made in the medical field – yet almost every great pioneer in most fields of medicine was ridiculed by the ‘experts’ of their day. Some of the great pioneers were accused of ‘humbug!’ and called ‘quacks’ by their contemporaries.

Today, in the early years of the 21st Century, global medicine is in the group of one particular school of thought, a view of the body perpetrated by those who see humans mainly as thinking machines ruled by our biochemistry. I say ‘global’ because even societies, like China and India, with rich healing traditions of their own, are succumbing to the power of the pharmaceutical mega-businesses that straddle the planet. But the medical/pharmaceutical establishment will one day give way as a new holistic paradigm is rising. They are so worried that they spend huge sums specifically to discredit holistic medicine, discouraging the public from ‘wasting’ their hard-earned money on ‘unproven’ healing systems and techniques. Anything outside the realms of chemicalised, mechanized, industrialised medicine is roundly condemned.

Medical history is like a parade of innovators who were far ahead of their time and dismissed as cranks in their day. Some lived long ago; some are still alive today. To appreciate them requires the willingness to critically all our beliefs about healing. We must forget what we’ve been told about what can be healed, what can’t be healed, who can heal, who can’t heal and how healing takes place.

The healing methods employed in any society say a great deal about its beliefs about what humans are and how we relate to the universe. All too often we go round in circles as we head up the mountain of knowledge. As T.S. Elliot pointed out:

‘We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.’

©David Lawrence Preston, 4.5.2019

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