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A READER'S JOURNAL
Vol IV: Healing; Mental Purification; The Mind World
Hazrat Inayat Khan
ARJ2 Chapter: Spiritual Science
Published by Servire/NE in 1982
A Book Review by Bobby Matherne ©2011
Vol IV: Healing; Mental Purification; The Mind World
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The first part of this book, Healing, was published as a separate volume in 1931, and its content is so valuable and needed in today's time when Japan has just endured a great earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster. When spirits and hopes of the world are the lowest the need arises for powerful spiritual forces of the kind Hazrat Inayat Khan gives us in his writings. Over a period of ten years, I acquired all 12 volumes of his Sufi Message, of which this is Volume 4. I read and studied all of them, some of them more than once. This volume I read during a two month period in 1985 shortly after I bought it and I read it again during a two-month period in 1987. It was as if I had to re-confirm the powerful insights from my first reading that forced me to read it again. Nearly every page is filled with important ideas and concepts which are clearly marked by my marginalia which stare up from the pages to me as if pleading to be shared with the waiting world. For them, I interrupt my already full schedule of books to read, study, and review in order to share Hazrat Inayat Khan's thoughts with you as I first encountered them 26 years ago. In addition I will share with you how those thoughts have infused into me and my life during the same time period.
[PREFACE] When Health, the first book of this volume, was published in 1931 it met with great interest, for it is just as rare to find a book on spiritual healing in which the advance of modern medical science is appreciated, as to find acknowledgment of spiritual healing in a medical textbook. Hazrat Inayat Khan, the Sufi mystic, has set forth in the lectures and other papers included in Health, which were originally intended only for his pupils, the basic laws governing the divine healing power as well as several methods for its application. As with all mystical knowledge, the printed word alone can never confer the power and knowledge of healing upon anyone; a guide, a teacher is essential; but the reader will find in Inayat Khan's sober but profound words a wealth of material for further thought and meditation.
"Illness is an inharmony, either physical inharmony or mental inharmony, the one acts upon the other." The Cambridge educated mystic Hazrat Inayat Khan begins his book on Health by coining the word inharmony to speak about the origin of illness. Note how similar in construction is the word in-harmony to the more familiar word dis-ease. The word disease stems from the metaphoric expression dis-ease, meaning a loss of ease, comfort, or harmony in a human being. Every word begins as a metaphor(1), but over time and long familiarity the new word becomes just another word and most people lose sight of the power of its metaphoric roots. What is the power of harmony which brings us sustained health?
[page 15] If one continues to think harmonious thoughts it is just like regular beating of the pulse and proper circulation of the blood; if the harmony of thought is broken, then the mind becomes congested. Then a person loses memory; depression comes as the result, and what one sees is nothing but darkness. Doubt, suspicion, distrust, and all manner of distress and despair come when the mind is congested in this way.
Thinking back to that first reading of mine in 1985, I recall that I was surrounded by inharmony in so many ways in my life. I didn't like the work I was doing, I didn't like the people I was working with, and I was searching for answers out there in the world as to why this was the case. I remember noticing some folks in my world who suddenly sprouted curly hair, women and men both with previously straight hair, got permanent waves and their hair suddenly became kinky. Since hoses with kinks in them have restricted flow, I imagined that their lives had kinks which restricted their flow, so I began to avoid such people, not based on their hair style, but rather their restricted life style, which superficially might be represented in their mode of hairdo.
[page 16] Besides . . . the harmony of the body and the mind depends upon one's external life, the food one eats, the way one lives, the people one meets, the work one does, the climate in which one lives. There is no doubt that under the same conditions one person may be ill and another may be well. The reason is that one is in harmony with the food he eats, with the weather he lives in, with the people whom he meets, with the conditions around him. Another person revolts against the food he eats, against the people he meets, against the conditions that surround him, against the weather he must live in. This is because he is not in harmony; and he perceives and experiences similar results in all things in his life; disorder and illness are the result.
In 1976 I had moved back to the New Orleans area because I had decided that the weather, the food, and the people suited me better than any other place I had lived from the West Coast to the East Coast of the USA. I had to create a new set of friends, and among this new set were some who qualified as the kinks that I needed to weed out. They were all interesting people, especially the kinks, so it took some prodding from my study of Inayat Khan to begin the weeding out process. If you simply stop seeing or talking to a person over a long enough time, they disappear gently from your world, so this process can be done without hurting others. How was I to deal with a job which turned into one I no longer enjoyed doing? This was a big challenge. In my previous job history, I changed jobs every three to five years and by 1987, I had been in this one job already six years, and it provided me job security along with unfulfilling assignments. Note the similarity of unfulfilling and inharmony. Instead of getting upset, which brings with it inharmony, I worked on figuring out how to survive and thrive in an otherwise deadening environment.
In addition to inharmony in my work assignments, I had to work long hours, often 60 to 84 hours a week, six and seven days a week. Plus there was my hour plus drive each way to and from work. With fulfilling work, I could work earnestly and gladly for long hours as I did many times before in other jobs. But how to deal with long hours and unfulfilling work added to a long commute time? So I worked on these conditions as I do on other problems. The solution came when I realized that I could train myself to read while driving. That would give me a minimum of two hours a day during which I could study the many subjects I was interested in. Was it safe? I had read twenty or so years earlier a short study in Scientific American that if your eyes glimpsed the road ahead at least once every four seconds, you could drive safely at about 60 mph. That was usually the top speed I drove on my commutes. I trained myself to naturally interrupt whatever I was reading and glimpse at the road for curves, blockages, slow vehicles, etc. On straight roads, especially Interstate highways, it was a snap. With my rack-and-pinion steering automobiles, I hardly had to move the steering but once every four seconds. There was another fact I had accumulated over the years: our peripheral vision, even though it lies outside of our sharp foveal vision region, picks up objects-in-motion better than foveal vision. So while I was reading and driving, I would notice important details such as a car approaching an intersection from the right or left, even though my eyes were focused on the reading material on my steering wheel. In addition, I learned to drive about five miles per hour slower than the prevailing traffic in the area. That kept me from sliding over the speed limit and also allowed for traffic to have to pass me up instead of vice versa. If I encountered a slow moving vehicle in front of me on an open highway, I had to decide either to pass it and slow down. Since I was reading, I was rarely in a hurry to get where I was going, so going slower was usually the better option as it got me there on time and maximized the amount of time spent reading.
Was I driving safely? Figure it out for yourself. I drove 80 miles a day for 300 days a year for 14 years or 336000 miles, and that's only commuting miles, without a single accident or speeding ticket. My insurance company which pays more attention to safety than paranoia calls me a very safe driver. The only moving accident I had came after I left the unfulfilling job and was driving on an Interstate one afternoon while not reading. If I had been reading the 18-wheeler Dump Truck would not have escaped my noticed as it barreled up behind me from a down ramp and caught my left rear wheel bringing it to a stop and causing my small Geo Metro LSI to slue 90 degrees left so I found myself being pushed down the center of the highway at 50 mph sideways! The truck stopped and I drove the car off the highway and home later. No injuries, except for the driver's side door was slightly collapsed.
The weather in New Orleans I learned to cope with by simply removing as much clothes as necessary until I was comfortable outside. Avoid the middle of the day outside in summer, but enjoy the early morning newspaper moment (when I retrieve the Times-Picayune from the yard) and the mild, dry twilights after the heat of the Sun has squeezed much of the relativity humidity from the humid Gulf of Mexico air.
After fourteen years, I had to resist a shout of Hooray! when I found that I was being forced to retire at age 55. I wanted to yell like B'rer Rabbit, "Please, Massah! Don't throw me in that briar patch!" I had managed to fill my otherwise unproductive time by writing and now I was going to be able to spend full-time working at my reading and writing. I must say that I rarely reach the two hours a day of good concentrated reading that I did when I was commuting two hours every day.
Not everyone is a reader, but each person can find something productive to do with their unfilfilling hours of each day that will lead them to a fulfilling life a life filled with harmony instead of disharmony, with ease instead of disease. If one doesn't manage to do this, the result can be revolting.
[page 16, italics added] There is no doubt that under the same conditions one person may be ill and another may be well. The reason is that one is in harmony with the food he eats, with the weather he lives in, with the people whom he meets, with the conditions around him. Another person revolts against the food he eats, against the people he meets, against the conditions that surround him, against the weather he must live in. This is because he is not in harmony; and he perceives and experiences similar results in all things in his life; disorder and illness are the result.
Everyone knows that arsenic is a poison and should be avoided at all costs. The US bureaucracy went so far as to make the slightest traces of arsenic a violation of an environmental standard. While they were doing that, I was reading in Rudolf Steiner about how a slight trace of arsenic can bring a pale, weak person back to robust health! Hard to believe that one chemical could have such dramatically different effects on a human being. Many of the medications prescribed by Steiner are homeopathic medications versus the allopathic medications we are familiar with from our large drug companies. Instead of fighting a disease like allopathic drugs strive to do, homeopathic remedies cause the symptoms of the very disease one is trying to eliminate and thereby triggers the body into creating the healing desired. This is similar to what happens during an inoculation. To combat smallpox, a cow pox virus is entered into the blood stream and the antibodies form to prevent one from ever having a full-blown case of smallpox.
[page 16] This idea can be very well demonstrated by the method that present-day physicians have adopted, of inoculating a person with the same element which makes him ill. There is no better demonstration of this idea than the practice of inoculation. This puts a person in harmony with the thing that is opposed to his nature. If one understands this principle one can inoculate oneself with all that does not agree with one, and with that to which one is continually exposed and from which there is no means of getting away. Woodcutters do not as a rule get sunstroke: seamen do not catch cold easily. The reason is the former have made themselves sunproof while the latter have made themselves waterproof. In short, the first lesson in health is the understanding of this principle, that illness is nothing but inharmony and that the secret of health lies in harmony.
Man has all of creation within him: earth, water, air, and spirit. As Inayat Khan says on page 17, "he is the fruit of the whole creation, he ought to be able to show his evolution in his balance." This advice mirrors that of Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian mystic and philosopher, who urged that we remove both the lows and the highs from our physical existence so as to maintain our balance as a full human being.
[page 17] When a person becomes sensitive to every little thing that he comes across, it changes the note of the tone; it becomes a different note to which his body is not accustomed; and that causes an illness. Too much despair or too much joy, everything that is too much should be avoided, although there are natures who always seek extremes; they must have so much joy and amusement that they get tired of it, and then they have a collapse with sorrow and despair. It is among these people that you will find continual illness.
Our body both philosophers Khan and Steiner tell us is a delicate instrument which must be kept in tune and not allowed to be knocked by everyone who comes by or it will get out of tune and out of order and out of harmony. How do we keep our divine instrument in order, in tune? By the food we eat and the air we breathe. If we imbibe alcohol, we are ingesting a substance which our body makes internally from the food we eat and this gets our body out of tune because it has too much alcohol. If we ingest tobacco in any form, our heart rate speeds up in relationship to our breathing causing the effect we misname, "shortness of breath". Our breathing gets out of kilter and we do not get enough air and our body goes out of tune, subjecting us to repeated infections of various kinds. We must keep our divine instrument in tune and clean.
[page 18] And how should we clean them? By carefulness in diet, by sobriety, and by breathing properly and correctly; because it is not only water and earth that are used for cleansing, the best means of cleansing is the air and the property that is in the air, the property that we breathe in; and if we knew how by the help of breathing to keep these channels clean, then we should know how to secure health.
We mentioned earlier how nicotine can cause a rise in the pulsation of the heart, but among those who never use tobacco, there is a very common way of increasing the pulse rate, and that is watching the news. What qualifies as news seems to be whatever is the latest catastrophe. We have seen the Iceland volcano spew ash over Northern Europe, BP spew oil over the Gulf of Mexico's waters, earthquakes in Haiti, and the latest combination of earthquakes, tsunamis, and nuclear catastrophes in Japan. These catastrophes are objective events existing out in the world but we let them inside of our body through the process of fear(2). They disrupt our rhythm and throw our body out of tune, out of harmony.
[page 18] If a person suddenly hears of something causing fear the rhythm is broken, the pulsation changes. Every shock given to a person breaks this rhythm. We very often notice that, however successful an operation, it leaves a mark, even for the rest of one's life. Once the rhythm is broken, it is most difficult to get it right.
Our rhythm when it is disrupted must be returned slowly and gently to its proper state. The best method is "regularity in habits, in action, in repose, in eating, in drinking, in sitting, in walking, in everything, gives one that rhythm which necessary and which completes the music of life." (Page 19) A child does not know how to do this but needs a mother's love and soft caress to restore the child to a balanced rhythm, after a fall, bruise, or any hurt. Each time the mother does this for her child, the child is enabled to grow into a adult who will know how to do this on one's own.
[page 19] When a child's rhythm and tone are disordered, the healing that a mother can give, often unconsciously, the physicians cannot give in a thousand years. The song she sings, however insignificant, comes from the profound depths of her being and brings with it the healing power. It cures the child in a moment. The caressing, the patting of the mother does more good to the child than any medicine when its rhythm is disturbed and its tone is not good. The mother, even without knowing it distinctly, feels like patting the child when it is out of rhythm, singing to the child when it is out of tune.
Church bells seem to ring much longer than would be necessary to simply mark the hours of the day, don't they? I never thought about the importance they play in healing, up until now. The ringing of the bells for the Angelus at 6 am and 6 pm in country churches signaled a time for the farm folk to bow their heads in silent prayer. This healing pause to begin and end each day has passed into desuetude unfortunately. I know when Del was born on April 12, 1945, the church bells were chiming all throughout the city for a long time, and across America also, because of the death of our beloved president Franklin Roosevelt. Undoubtedly it did much to help her achieve the good health she has sustained over her lifetime. The extensive chiming of the church bells for mourning a loved one also has the effect of helping the mourners to restore their body's natural rhythm and maintain their health. It is a wisdom of the ages that is lost on so-called modern people of today.
[page 20] There used to be a custom in ancient times, that instead of using an organ in churches four or five persons with the lips closed used to keep one tone, humming that one tone together. I was most impressed by this, hearing it again in a church in Russia after coming from India. The secret of the continual ringing of the bell practiced by the churches at all times and even up till now, is that it was not only a bell to call people; it was to tune them up to their tone, it was to suggest, 'There is a tone going on in you, get yourself tuned to it!!' But if that tuning is not done, even if a person has recovered from his illness, weakness still remains. An external cure is no cure if a person is not cured mentally. If his spirit is not cured the mark of illness remains there and the rhythm of mind is broken.
When one walked with Hazrat Inayat Khan, it was not a simple walk. After reading some 15 volumes of his writings, I can say that I have walked through many pages with this Sufi mystic and philosopher and experienced his manner of talking and walking.
[page 20] Once a pupil who accompanied me on my walk, in spite of all his kindness and pleasure in accompanying me, felt a great discomfort at times because he could not walk as slowly as I did. Being simple and frank, he expressed this to me. And in answer I said, 'It is a majestic walk.'
Our body is like a car's battery which will run-down if it is not recharged on a regular basis. When it runs down long enough, the battery will die. All the things which maintain the body's rhythm help to recharge it and keep it running. In this next passage, it seems as though Inayat Khan is saying, "A stitch in time saves nine lives!"
[page 22] Death is a change that comes through the inability of the body to hold what we call the soul. The body has a certain amount of magnetism, which is the sign of its perfect running order. When, owing to illness, the body, either suddenly or gradually, loses that magnetism by the power of which it holds the soul, it so to speak helplessly loses its grip upon something that it was holding; and it is this losing the grip that is known to us as death. . . . If there is a something a little wrong with it, one neglects it, absorbed in life as it is, and so allows it to become worse every day, drawing closer thereby the death which otherwise could have been avoided.
We are drawing nearer in the book to where my acronym for health comes into play frequently, EAT-O-TWIST. It means simply, Everything Allways Turns Out The Way It's Supposed To. In all things and in all ways, what we suppose to happen in the world will happen if we keep supposing it long enough. Taking care of oneself after an illness is not enough one must also change the supposing that goes, "My illness may return." Inayat Khan says it this way, "It is as necessary to take care of oneself as it is to forget about one's illness." (Page 24) It is not easy to do. Try to forget about a pink elephant, for example. Now what color was it? See. But with practice one can learn to think of health returning and staying around, and by supposing that reality, i. e., believing in it, the specter of the recent illness will dry up and blow away. To do otherwise is to keep the disease around or bring it back. The supposing of health within, and supposing is something which each of us has control over, will show itself in the form of health without, that is, in the outside world of our body.
[page 25, 26] As long as the patient believes that he is ill he is giving sustenance to that part of the disease which is in the subjective world. Even if the germs of the disease were destroyed, not once but a thousand times in his body, they would be created there again; because the source from which the germs spring is in his belief, not in his body, as the source of the whole creation is within, not without.
To seek first the Kingdom of God, rightly understood, means: 'Rise above the facts first, and by the light that you gain from there, thrown upon facts, you will see the facts in a clear light.' Simply put, EAT-O-TWIST!
[page 27] There is no lack of honesty if you deny the fact of illness; it is no hypocrisy if you deny it to yourself first. It is only a help, for there are many things in life that exist because they are sustained by your acknowledging their existence. Deluded by outwardly appearing facts you hold them in your thought as a belief; but by denying them you root them out, for they cannot exist when starved of the sustenance for which they depend upon you.
If you suppose your disease to be in control of your body, EAT-O-TWIST! EAT-O-TWIST never breaks. Why fight it? If it always works, why not put it to work in your favor, in the favor of your health and well-being right now? Do you need some money-back guarantee for something which is offered to you freely without price? Given that it always works, you have a choice when you see a friend has caught a cold: you can think either, "I will catch cold." or "I am healthy and will remain so." Which supposing do you naturally do? What would keep you from making the healthy choice? Do you suppose that you cannot change your own supposing? EAT-O-TWIST!
[page 28] We often see that the more a person is afraid of a thing, the more he is pursued by it, for unconsciously he concentrates upon it.
If you have a fear, it's time to change your supposing. First remove the fear by a Speed Trace so you will no longer have bodily states from the fear stimulus, then change your supposing about the fear, suppose it to have been an artifact of your early pre-five life that has been returning given the right trigger every time, up until now. Then create new supposings for yourself about the same situation from now on. I could not recommend this procedure to you if I had not used it many times over the past twenty-five years.
Here is one example. About ten years ago we had planned an auto trip to the far north in the winter time. I woke up the morning we were due to leave, stood up and experienced a huge wave of vertigo which sent me falling back into bed and for minutes later the room continued to swim around above my head. Fears about this being a permanent condition came into my head and I invited them to leave immediately. I remembered the only other time I felt the room dance around my head. I was 17 and had been drinking a lot of beer that night. It was horrible. I decided immediately to do a Speed Trace on the vertigo and dizziness, which was easy because the symptoms were still raging. They disappeared as I completed the trace, and I immediately began to suppose that the vertigo was triggered by some sinus condition which called up some severe dizziness from my childhood. I completed my supposing that this vertigo had now played itself out completely and any future episodes would be merely minor ones caused by rising out of bed too quickly. For over a decade now, that has been exactly the case and I suppose it will continue to the case.
The other option is for someone to ponder their illness for so long that the very pondering fuels the illness. This is not a practice to be commended to anyone, but considering it will allow many to recognize the syndrome and thereby avoid it before it gains control over their own life.
[page 29] Then there are others who become too careful, they think of nothing else except their illness. The first question before them is, 'How shall I get well?' Pondering upon their illness they give a kind of fuel to that fire of illness from their thoughts, keeping it burning; they do not know that by their unconscious effort the illness is kept alive. In order to keep the health in perfect order one must keep a balance between body and mind, between activity and repose; and it is the psychological outlook on one's health which helps more than any medicines.
Khan visited a patient who had been treated for an illness for twenty years and was still unable to move. He gave her a simple thing to do in the morning and evening. To the surprise of everyone she became able to move her arms and legs. Yet, the patient had been so inured to her illness that she couldn't believe it was gone. The doctors said, "This illness has made such an impression upon her that she thinks that it is nature for her, and that to be well is a dream, an unreality." Instead of the disease holding her, she was holding onto to the disease!
Doctors often create diseases by giving them a name, which allows patients to hold onto the disease. Dr. Axel Munthe reported that his cases of appendicitis began falling off when it was reported that American doctors were cutting away appendices. His patients wanted a disease that was safe from the surgeon's knife and colitis came along to solve their problem, or rather to give another name to it. Soon his office was filled again, this time with colitis patients. One can laugh at this folly, but consider this, the most frequent complaint which gastroenterologists have to deal with today is irritable bowel syndrome, the latest in a long series of names for the same symptom.
[page 30, 31] As medical science has advanced in modern times the different diseases and complaints have become more classified. Each separate complaint has been given a name, and in this way even if a person has only a slight complaint, after the examination by a physician he is told its name. His complaint may be only as big as a molehill, but it is turned into a mountain. There is no greater misfortune than hearing from a doctor that one has contracted an illness which is dangerous, the name of which is frightening. What then happens? That name being impressed on the heart of the man, creates the same element and in the end the man sees the thing come true about which he was told by the physician. In the same way the impression that the words of a fortune-teller make upon one in many cases brings about the realization of his fortune-telling in the end.
If the doctor is a wise doctor, as Dr. Ellenbroek was in the 1970s, he might take the name of the disease and turn it into a verb. Consider what happens if you change from saying, "I have acne!" to saying "I am acne-ing!" The first is a solid condition you have, and the second is something you are doing. When the good doctor used this approach on the teenagers who came to see him, all of whom were suffering from severe acne, their acne condition began to clear up after a short period of going around thinking, saying, and therefore supposing, "I am acne-ing." Most of them decided that if it was something they were doing, they could just as easily stop doing it, and their acne went away. EAT-O-TWIST!
Our doctors are less wise in many ways than ancient doctors who refused to give their patients a name for their condition. A modern doctor might suppose, "Well, they just didn't have a name for many diseases." A truly modern thinker might suppose, "Well, they knew better than to create a permanent name for some otherwise temporary condition their patient is going through."
[page 31] Among ancient people only the physicians knew the names of diseases; but the physician was not allowed to tell the patient what complaint he had, because from a psychological point of view he would be doing wrong. This was not only a medical science, there was a psychological idea attached to it.
Wise doctors do not project their own supposings upon their weakened and susceptible patients, after all, doctors are bound by their oath to first of all, do no harm. Yet, it happens.
[page 34] I knew a person whom a physician had examined and had told that he would die within three months. No doubt if that person had been imaginative he would have taken that impression. But he came to me and he said, 'What nonsense! Die in three months! I am not going to die even in three hundred years from now.' And to our great surprise within three months the doctor died and this man brought me the news! We must learn to respect the human being and realize that a human soul is beyond birth and death, that a human soul has a divine spirit in it, and that all illnesses and pains and sufferings are only his tests and trials. He is above them, and we must try to raise him above the illnesses.
You may have heard of a famous physician called Avicenna, but perhaps you didn't know he was a Sufi or that he operated completely using his intuition.
[page 35] Avicenna, the great physician of ancient times, on whose discoveries medieval science was based, was a Sufi who used to sit in meditation, and by intuition he used to write prescriptions. Just lately a physician has discovered the great treasure that this man had given to medical science and has written a book to interpret the ideas of Avicenna in modern language.
Instead freeing patients from their disease, many doctors insist on locking up their patients because of the disease, as if trying make sure the patient continually ponders the disease which has them captured. An interesting example of this rush to confinement happened within a few miles of where I live. A young girl of about 14 in a junior high school gave birth in the Girls' Restroom (WC) at the school, completely unattended. The baby went home later, perfectly fine. But the EMT's noticed that the girl was still bleeding and seemed have another baby inside so they rushed her to the hospital where doctors successfully delivered the second baby. She had twins. The first one born in an unsanitary girl's toilet, the second one born in a modern sanitary hospital, delivered by a doctor. The first one went home healthy, the second one developed a serious bacterial infection and had to kept in the hospital for a week before recovering.
[page 37] The system that we know today of keeping patients shut up in hospitals, in asylums, is just like making them captives to the disease. The atmosphere of the place and the very thought of being in the hospital make them feel ill; and so it is with the life in asylums. . . . They could be helped better than by putting them in places where they can think of nothing but their illness. I have myself seen many cases whom relations or friends have looked after, and they have been helped much more than by what they would have received in a hospital.
What is this power of supposing? It is a free will choice of a human being to exert one's own power of spirit over some matter in the world. One might say, "Okay, this only happens in insignificant things, its power is surely limited." And one would be wrong in saying that, as the evidence is great to the contrary.
[page 39] One often wonders to what extent the spirit has power over matter; and the answer is that, as matter is the outcome of spirit, spirit has all power over matter.
"Every miracle is a change of attitude." That, in essence, is the meaning of "The Course in Miracles". A popular Earl Nightingale course in the 1970s stressed the importance of attitude to success in life. Inayat Khan stresses the importance of attitude in one's return to health.
[page 40] The mystics have always known and practiced in a most perfect way the idea which is generally talked about in its most elementary form the idea that by repeating to oneself, 'I am well, I am better, I am better,' one becomes better. There are many who do not see any reason in it, but you will see that in time the most materialistic people will come to realize the truth that it is the attitude of mind, the willingness to be cured, the desire to get above one's illness, the inclination to fight against disorder, which help one to health.
In addition to the above, Inayat Khan offers a prayer to be said every day, with every thought. With it one focuses on healing, purifying, and perfect health.
[page 48] One should think, 'Every ray of the sun cures me, the air heals me, the food I take has an effect upon me; with every breath I inhale something which is healing, purifying, bringing me to perfect health.'
Inayat Khan says that there is one illness for which there is no remedy, the imagination.
[page 48, 50] In every illness the imagination plays its role. The greater the imagination, the greater becomes that illness. . . . With children pain increases with imagination, and therefore the one who understands this can stop the pain of a child more quickly than by medicine, for the child is responsive to suggestion. A grown-up person who holds his imagination in hand and does not let it loose, is difficult to help, but a child can be helped in a moment. A child may be crying in pain, and in a moment's time, if you can get its imagination away from it, you can cure it.
But, if there is no remedy for the imagination's power, that selfsame power can be redirected to healing.
[page 50] But at the same time imagination plays a great role, and it is better for a person to analyze to what extent imagination plays a part in his complaint. And he may analyze it by trying to forget his pain, to forget it entirely, by trying to deny facts which stand before him as evidence of illness. When a person is able to do so to that extent, then he will be able to realize how much of it is illness and how much imagination. He will also observe this phenomenon: that as soon as he withdraws his imagination from his illness, he starves his illness of the food which maintains it; and it is possible that by this starvation illness will die.
This all sounds rather far-fetched, I'm sure, to those who have not watched this process in operation, but Inayat Khan has done so on apparently many occasions. Take this next example.
[page 51] I have often made an experiment with a person who said he had got a very bad headache. I have asked him to sing, and in the end he found that he was cured. Anything that take the mind away from the imagination of the illness cuts down the props that support the illness; then the illness cannot stand on its feet. There must be something to hold it, and that is the imagination.
When I was thirty-five, I came down with red measles. I didn't know I had red measles, after all, I had already had them as a child, and my mother who raised four boys when I was a child, knew what red measles looked like. My local doctor couldn't diagnose my symptoms, so he sent me to an internist. I sat in the office after the doctor interviewed and probed me, and through an open door I noticed the doctor with a fellow doctor poring through a large medical reference book! My imagination ran wild. What horrible disease could I have to cause such consultation to take place? The doctor came in shortly and said, "Don't worry. It's rare we get an adult case of red measles. We simply wanted to be sure of the symptoms." I was relieved to know the cause of the red spots on my body and why I couldn't stand to have any light on in the room. What I didn't understand at the time was why my body decided to give me a second case of red measles at exactly this time. Looking back years later I realized that the shenanigans of my wife to which I became privy during that week I stayed at home in bed were instrumental in my leaving her and returning to New Orleans. My illnesses gave me permission to stay home inactive all week. That is one of the prime benefit from an illness: permission to do something you wouldn't do under any other circumstance. The other prime benefit on an illness: protection from something that would have happened to you if you had not been ill.
Another example of the permission benefit: a young man, who was in a psychotherapy group I ran back in the 1970s, was very active and an animated speaker. He basically talked all the time, filling the air time so few others got to speak. He had been sick for a week and I asked him the protection/permission questions. First: what would have happened to you if you had not been sick? "Just more work," he answered. Then: what did not happen as a result of you being sick? "Nothing," he said. So I questioned him further about what he actually did while he was at home. Some friends had visited him and during those visits, and because he was ill and didn't feel like talking, he had some intimate conversations with his friends that would not have happened but for his illness. This is the type of analysis which one can apply in one's own life in regard to some illness and determine for oneself whether it was a permission or protection benefit which arose from the illness. Every behavior of the body has a good intention, but the body is mute as to its intention, and it is up to the owner of the body to translate the mute gestures of the body into meaning.
Supposing something to be the case over a long period of time turns into belief and belief grows into faith. And, as Inayat Khan says, "Without faith even medicine cannot help."
[page 53] No treatment can give good results where faith is lacking. Faith is the first remedy; everything else comes afterwards. All our failure, sorrows, disappointments, difficulties in life are caused by our lack of belief. Illness means lack of belief. Beyond and above all other evidences illness is the sign of the lack of belief; if one believed, there would certainly be no place for illness. But illness takes the place of belief. One cannot disbelieve in what one believes. Illness becomes one's belief; that is where the difficulty come in. When a person says, 'I am fighting against my illness', that means, 'My imagination is fighting against my belief.' He affirms, 'I am fighting against my illness', which means he establishes illness in himself. He fights against something which he affirms to be existing. In his belief he gives the first place to the illness; the second place in his belief he gives to the imagination of curing it. thus the power with which he wishes to remove his illness is much smaller than the power which is already establish in him by illness. He fights something which he affirms to be existing.
What is the power of belief? That reminds Inayat Khan of a story, a story about the power of belief. If you see this story as silly, you are giving evidence that you, unlike Bayazid in the story, believe strongly that the power of belief is silly, and you are thereby exercising the most powerful part of your human ability to trivialize itself. When you meet the living Ka'ba, you will walk by without a second thought, continuing on a long pilgrimage to find something which doesn't exist in you because of your lack of belief.
[page 54] It is people like Bayazid, whom many consider 'in the clouds' (silly), who prove in their lives what belief means. Bayazid was going on a pilgrimage to Mecca. A dervish was sitting by the way on his journey. Wanting to pay homage to a spiritual man, he went to that dervish and sat down to receive his blessing. The dervish asked him, "Where are you going?" He said, 'I am going to Mecca.' 'On a pilgrimage? what do they do on a pilgrimage?' Bayazid replied, 'They walk around the holy stone of Ka'ba.' The dervish said, 'You do not need to go so far for that pilgrimage. if you will make circles round me and go back your pilgrimage is done.' Bayazid sad, 'Yes, I believe this.' He circled around the man and went back home; and when people asked, "did you make a pilgrimage to the Ka'ba?' he said, 'Yes, I made a pilgrimage to a living Ka'ba.'
The importance of a theory is the belief it generates. One can look at history and see when the dramatic increase of importance happened with Einstein's theory of relativity. No one but him believed his theory until Sir Arthur Eddington made a pilgrimage halfway around the Earth to view a total eclipse of the Sun and proved that the apparent position of a distant star moved due to a curvature of space in the region of the Sun, exactly as Einstein's theory had predicted.
[page 54] If one believes in what does not exist, the belief will make it exist; if there is a condition that one believes in, even if that condition does not exist, it will be produced.
"Do not hide your light under a bushel basket," Jesus admonished us in the Bible. Likewise Inayat Khan says:
[page 54] The difference between the mind of the believer and the mind of the unbeliever is this, that the mind of the believer is like a torch and the mind of the unbeliever is like a light which is covered by something which does not allow it to spread its light.
Inayat Khan talks about many aspects of healing: balance, breath, tracing of disease, reason for disease, reason for tiredness, pain, healing by medicine, and healing with the finger-tips. The last one I would like to focus on because I am familiar with its manifestations through my own massage study and work. A good masseuse heals with his finger-tips. He keeps his hands clean, his fingernails trimmed, and always shakes off his hands after doing an important piece of massage work. Why the hand shaking?
[page 58] Hygiene is the first subject to consider in healing with the tips of the fingers. Hands that have been engaged in any work or that are stained with an liquid must be washed for healing. The healer must first observe the hygienic rules of keeping his body, as well as his clothes pure and clean; especially at the time of healing he must be absolutely free from all that is unhygienic. The sleeves, at the time of healing, must be rolled back, and the finger-nails must be clean and properly trimmed. After healing one should wave the hand, as it were shaking it, to shake off any fine atoms, or even vibrations, so that a poison taken from the painful part of the patient may not be given to the patient again.
The next advice is important and contains a recommendation that I had encountered before: when to apply deep pressure and when not to.
[page 55] There are cases in which the sensation of the body is deadened by the pain, and the pain has gone into the depth of the affected part of the body. In such cases waving the hand or touching is not enough, rubbing is necessary. When dealing with the effects of poison from the sting of a bee or scorpion, or from snake-bite or the bite of any other poisonous animal, a simple soft touch or stroking of the affected part is indicated; if the pain is more intense touch is not necessary, simply the waving of the hand close to the affected part.
Even the breath of the healer plays an important part, and like the hands, often the presence of the breath is enough direct breathing upon the affected part is not necessary.
[page 67] When the breath is developed and purified it is not necessary for the healer even to make an effort to throw his breath upon the patient, but the atmosphere that his breath creates, the very presence of the healer brings about a cure, for the whole atmosphere becomes charged with magnetism.
This magnetism Inayat Khan refers to is not what we called electromagnetism, but a healing spirit infused in the air around the healer.
[page 69] By the mastery of this spirit diseases are cured, age is mastered, even death is conquered. When this spirit is lacking, energy is lacking, intelligence, joy, and rest are lacking, and when there is this spirit there is hope, there is joy, there is rest; because the nature of this spirit is to hold intact the body of atoms and vibrations. Comfort lies in its being held, discomfort when that spirit is not sufficient to hold the body intact. Thus it is the lack of this spirit that is the cause of a great many diseases. By the development of this spirit in himself the healer can give a part of his spirit to another, and that be comes the best source of healing.
What one supposes to be case, becomes the case. This is a most important aspect of healing. If one concentrates one's imagination on a wound, the wound remains; if one concentrates on the suffering, the suffering gets worse. The energy of one's supposing cannot be used to fight some disease since fighting something makes it stronger. One should concentrate one's attention on the healing of the wound, on comfort replacing the suffering and pain.
In 1977 when I was busy moving from one house to another, my brother Paul and I were carrying a glass which had covered a large wooden desk of mine for 14 years. It had been moved from New Orleans to California, to New England, and back to New Orleans, but on this move, as I raised my end of the large sheet of glass, the lower corner hit the small U-Haul trailer and a large triangular shard of glass fell to ground slicing across my left arm an inch or two above my wrist. It was bleeding and I immediately sat down and concentrated intensely, in my imagination seeing the wound closing up and healing quickly. Within minutes without any other first aid, my arm had stopped bleeding and that was scant sign of any wound. I never even put a bandage on it. Del and her son who was helping were amazed at what happened. I had never done anything like that before, but as I reflect upon what happened I was exactly following the process that Inayat Khan recommends for healing in the next passage.
[page 78] Before a person attempts to heal another he must develop in himself the power of concentration. The concentration of a healer should be so developed that not only when sitting in meditation and closing his eyes can he visualize the desired object, but that even with his eyes open he should be able to hold fast the picture that his mind has created in spite of anything that may be before his eyes. In healing it is necessary to know what picture one should hold in one's mind. If the healer should happen to hold the picture of a wound, he would help the wound to continue instead of begin healed; and so if he thought of pain it might perhaps be continued more intensely by the help of his thought. It is the cure that should hold in mind; it is the desired thing that he must think about, not the condition. In all aspects of life this rule must be remembered; that even in trouble one must not think of the trouble and in illness one must forget about illness. Man often continues life's miseries by giving thought to them. The healer must from beginning to end hold the thought of cure and of nothing else.
On New Year's Eve on 1981, a friend of mine was saying goodbye as she left the party at my house. She had recently returned from a tour to China with a symphony orchestra. I asked her about the silver rondel she had hanging on a chain around her neck. It seemed to be some Chinese ideogram. She explained that some old man in China had given it to her, explaining that it was composed of three characters, the Sun (box), a tree-shape, and C-shaped symbol meaning East. He said, "In ancient China it was thought to be very good fortune for one to see the Sun rising in the East from the trees." As she said those words, my eyes widened, and seeing the expression on my face, she immediately took the necklace off and placed it around my neck, where it has remained to this day. It seemed to me to be a good luck charm, so I have continued to wear it 24/7 and have replaced the chain several times in the ensuing three plus decades. I learned later that the word meant "good fortune" or "happiness" and is pronounced "foo". What the old Chinese man said made me think of this symbol as an ancient Christ symbol, as Christ rose in the East from a Tree. That thought made this a sacred word to me. Reading this next passage some four years later made me think of this good luck charm. Here was a word which means "happiness" in thought, created a special feeling in me, can be spoken as "foo", and is written in sterling silver and hangs around my neck.
[page 80] There is a great power hidden in the mystery of the repetition of a sacred word, but there is a still greater power in writing a sacred word; because the time taken to write a sacred word carefully is perhaps five times or ten times as long as the time taken to repeat a sacred word. Besides, action completes the thought-power better than speech. In writing a sacred name it is the completing of a thought which is even more powerful than uttering the word. But when a person thinks, feels, speaks, and writes, he has developed the thought through four stages and made it powerful. Sufis, therefore, give a charm to the faithful who they think believe in the healing power of the charm. They call it Taviz. The patient keeps it with him night and day, and links his thought with thought of the healer, and feels at every movement that he is being healed.
In India they put a charm in silver or gold plate, or keep a charm engraved upon stone or metal; and the very fact of realizing that he possesses something in the form of a charm that has a healing influence upon him becomes such a help to the believer that he feels that every moment of the day and night he has the healer with him, and that he is being healed.
Where do our healing practices come from? Where do our various healing medicines come from? Let me tell you a story. Our beloved Schnauzer named Steiner got sick once when he was about nine years old, which is almost a full life span for a miniature Schnauzer. We noted no symptoms of this illness, but it seemed to be a sickness onto death because Steiner suddenly began hiding in the bamboo in the yard and sleeping there overnight. His usual habit was to come into the house via his doggy door and sleep in his soft bed on the floor of the utility room. He stopped eating also. This went on for about a week, and then suddenly we saw him walking around the yard and his appetite had returned. He lived another three years after that episode. Clearly he knew intuitively how to heal himself and did so very capably. We saw no impairment in his health afterward. We may not be aware that each of us have such intuitive healing processes because we seldom allow ourselves the need to exercise them, so quickly do we go to some medical doctor and charge them with finding out what is wrong with us.
[page 88] Consciously or unconsciously every being is capable of healing himself or others. This instinct is inborn in insects, birds, and beasts, as well as in man. All these find their own medicine and heal themselves and each other in various ways. In ancient days the doctors and healers learned much from animals about the treatment of disease. This shows that natural intuition has manifested in the lower creation as well as in the higher. The scientists of today should not, therefore, claim with pride that they are the inventors of chemical remedies, but should humbly bow their heads in prayer, seeing that each atom of this universe, conscious of its sickness, procures for itself from within or without a means for its restoration. In other words, medicines were not discovered by physicians, but were intuitively found in creation as the necessity for them arose.
Which strengthens a person more: self-healing or being healed by someone else?
[page 89] Self-healing is more desirable than healing by others; the former strengthens the will, the latter weakens it.
If a person has been in therapy with a psychotherapist for a long time and finally tells the therapist, "I'm leaving you," the person will feel an increase of personal will power by the decision. Freudian psychoanalysts called the process breaking of the counter-transference, breaking of the close-knit bond with the analyst, and consider the patient as cured. What Inayat Khan takes note of, which most therapists would not, is that a patient who has been deemed to be cured by a therapist has left therapy with a weakened will, no matter what proclaimed benefits the therapist may say the patient received. People would do well to say, like Groucho Marx did(3), "I would not want to be treated by any therapist who would have me as a patient!"
That reminds me of a story, a story which I first read in this book, about a boy who was addicted to eating dates and spent all of his money and his mother's money on dates, leaving her penniless. She petitioned the Holy Prophet to speak to her son. The holy man agreed to talk to her son after five weeks. He explained the situation to the young boy and the young boy seeing the pain he was causing his mother, gave up his date addiction. This was a happy ending for everyone except the holy man's disciples who quizzed him as why he waited five weeks to give this advice to the woman's son.
[page 92] The Holy Prophet explained, saying, "I myself am fond of dates, and I felt that I had no right to advise the lad to abstain from them until I had myself refrained from eating them for five weeks." The healer of character should never for a single moment try to heal another of weaknesses to which he is himself addicted.
This is a short synopsis of some of the healing practices laid out in this book by Hazrat Inayat Khan. Some are practical, some are deeply spiritual, some are given in Sufi stories, some in common sense instructions. From whatever walk of life you come to Inayat Khan, you will find him opening up to you and giving you a charm which will lead you through a life of good eating, good thinking, and healthy living.
---------------------------- Footnotes -----------------------------------------
Footnote 1. Ralph Waldo Emerson famously wrote that "A word is a dead metaphor." How do metaphors turn into words? By becoming flattened into everyday usage as a living squirrel might be by traffic on a busy street. The outline of the squirrel might be visible, but its living vibrancy is gone. Such is the fate of living metaphors: they may die in order to become incorporated into language.Return to text directly before Footnote 1.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Return to text directly before Footnote 2.
Footnote 3. Groucho Marx wrote in reply to an invitation for him to join the prestigious Friars' Club in Beverly Hills, "I would not want to be a member of any club which would have me as a member." Groucho was nothing if not strong-willed.Return to text directly before Footnote 3.
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