Healing and religion: a true relationship
Healing and religion: a true relationship
I grew up without the influence of organised religion in a largely atheist household, and as a result had no meaningful experiences I would ever have called religious.
My experience with what I might once have called healing however was vast, being involved in and passionate about health and fitness for most of my younger years including study of natural medicine over a period of time.
To link the words healing and religion during this time however, could not have been more absurd in my view and so to arrive at a point today where I now link healing and religion inextricably, reflects a paradigm shift in understanding to say the least.
If we consider healing, I dare say for most the word has lost its real meaning in everyday life and would be considered synonymous with current dictionary offerings of: alleviating, palliating, easing, helping, softening, lessening, mitigating, attenuating, allaying of symptoms and so on.
In many cultures, historically religion and healing have shared a close relationship with shamans and priests holding the ‘power’ to ‘heal’ the sick. This they did in their view through restoring the relationship of the individual with the unseen dimensions.
It was a disturbance in this relationship that was seen, and still is amongst some religious enthusiasts, as a valid cause of illness. This understanding, particularly in the face of our adoption of evidence-based medicine, has for many taken a radical turn away from these historic origins.
Today an apparent relationship between religion and healing would appear to exist primarily amongst those who remain religious enthusiasts, or within cultures where this relationship with the unseen dimensions remain an intrinsic part of daily life.
What does it mean to heal?
So what does it mean to ‘heal’ really? And what is the relationship we have with this in everyday life?
The true meaning of the word healing appears to be of Germanic origin. From the German heilen and Dutch helen which in translation means ‘to make whole’. From these come the old English word heilen: which is ‘to cure, save, make whole, sound and well’.
This begs a further question then as to what does it actually mean to ‘make whole’? Is that merely the alleviation of symptoms and discomforts, as our current thesaurus synonyms would suggest, as well as what the majority of our current health-care system is geared towards? Or is there more to us than meets the eye, so to speak, and are we in fact not capturing what it means to ‘be whole’ in our current paradigms?
What is true religion?
What does it actually mean to be ‘religious’? And then what is true religion?
From its history, we know it is a word derived from the Latin word ‘religio’, which means to ‘re-read, re-trace, re-consider diligently the connection or relationship with God’. However, there is no question that our current understanding and use of that word has strayed far from these origins.
From this original meaning, it appears a distinctly personal relationship is referred to and not one necessarily fostered by or belonging to an institution, an organised religious movement, a building or a designated individual. It is, by this inference, a personal relationship that refers to that which re-unites us with our essence, or in other words, reunites us with the divinity we are.
There is a very apparent parallel to be understood when it comes to healing.
What then is the real relationship between the meanings of healing and religion?
The entire movement of ‘holistic medicine’ over the past 30 years has rested on the fact that there is more to us than a physical body. Naturopathy and Chinese Medicine in particular are two prime examples. They rest their tenets and approach on the body being influenced by not just a myriad of external influences but also by emotions, mental activity and what is loosely referred to as ‘stress’. There is no question these are valid observations, as most of us would acknowledge these things in life can affect our sense of wellbeing and vitality, and life is made up of all these.
What does it mean to make ‘whole’?
These approaches however, while perhaps taking into consideration a greater acknowledgement of a ‘whole’, would still appear to be leaving us way short of the mark, if in fact we are also in some way to re-unite with a divine aspect within in order to ‘make us whole’, as true healing requires.
To make whole means to restore something that is fundamentally complete, intact, everything it was in its origins. And if we are from divinity, then this implies that to be ‘complete’ or ‘whole’ means also to be re-united with that part of us.
No wow factor, no hail-Mary’s necessary, simply a restoration of a completeness that would have us feel utterly and completely normal, albeit a new-normal you might say, for in this ‘whole’ state we would also be fully aware of the fact of our divine essence, as well as our physicality, emotionality and our mental aspects. The connection between healing and religion in that sense becomes very clear, but there is an even more decided reason for these words to be so intrinsically linked.
What I have discovered in working with Universal Medicine Therapies and applying the teachings of the Ancient Wisdom, is that it is the divine essence that IS the very life-giving principle responsible for instigating healing within the body. Restore our connection and relationship to it, and we will also restore the body’s enormous capacity to rebalance and heal, thus supporting and sustaining our vitality and function.
What is the ‘healing principle’?
The ‘healing principle’ within the body is something wondrous and constant – just watch the miraculous healing unfold when our skin is broken, something occurring on a micro-level we observe and for the most part, take for granted every day. This ever-present healing aspect is captured at a physical level by the concept of homeostasis: the body’s unceasing movement towards healing itself, rebalancing. It is us and our moment-by-moment choices that create the obstacles to this natural and unceasing movement towards healing.
We have a world constantly searching for meaning in life with a growing sense of urgency. We have every possible institution and industry on earth to support seeking this way or that – we have many billions of people involved in organised religion and religious movements, subscribing to various systems of belief, paths of spiritualism and schools of philosophy – and yet unrest, disharmony and dis-ease are increasingly prevalent the world over.
It follows that if religion, in its truest sense, is synonymous with true healing, then what humanity is historically and presently engaging in on the whole cannot be true religion and our efforts to heal cannot be true healing either. The two cannot exist in isolation to one another, regardless of what we call it; when one is truly healing, one must be in true religion at the same time.
Separation from Essence = dis-ease
The ultimate relationship between religion and healing is reflected in one word: essence. If the human essence is in fact divinity, then any disconnection from or discordance with that essence is basically us not living or being what or who we truly are, complete and united. From this perspective, it’s then easy to understand how that disconnect or discord would underlie all dis-ease and disharmony within the body.
And so, it is through religion we heal and through healing we find religion, in the truest meaning of these words.