7.6 The Healer Within (Part 1)


Sri Aurobindo leads us at the turn of this millennium:

Or we may find when all the rest has failed
Hid in ourselves the key of perfect change.” [1]

All life is a discovery of this hidden key, all outer difficulties a push to discover an inner door. All illness, all pathology, is nothing but a mask of God that hangs around our soul as the chrysalis covers and hides the beauty of an as yet incognito butterfly hidden in a caterpillar. Where is the butterfly hidden in the body of a caterpillar we may ask? For no amount of its anatomical or psychological dissection reveals to us any semblance, however remote of an emerging butterfly. How can one even imagine that a would-be lover of nectar is hiding within the skin of an insect which is busy devouring everything it can lay its feet upon? How can one even imagine that a flying wonder could emerge out of a crawling insect? But the wonder and the beauty emerge, we know it for sure. And if a child who has not seen it nor known it were to ask us how, the closest answer we could give is that we know it because we have seen it. Were the child to insist we could very well explain the stages but that too would be imperfect since we still would not know how or why this metamorphosis takes place. All that we could again say is that we know it is there, the butterfly inside a caterpillar, as a possibility but do not ask us to show you where it is sleeping inside. The same is true of the human soul. No amount of physical or psychological dissection can bring out or explain where this sleeping child of beauty and wonder hides or resides. But to those that have had a contact with it even for a few moments know that it is there and will emerge one day despite our habit of crawling and devouring, despite all that contradicts it in our human nature. For just as the butterfly waits for its hour inside the caterpillar, so too the soul waits for its hour inside the cocoon of matter that it has woven around itself. And the more the cocoon presses and pains, the closer is the hour of emergence, only and if only, we know how to wait and do not try to help wrongly by cutting off the painful cocoon prematurely with our surgical wisdom that sees only a part while missing the whole! In fact the only true help, if one there is, is to use the crisis and pain for hastening the process of our soul’s emergence much as a midwife helps by assisting the struggling child to emerge.


A Window of the Soul

This is the secret of all pain and suffering, the secret of death and difficulties — it is to assist in however devious or unseemly a way, the rapid emergence of the secret soul within us, our true self, the healer within. This is the first thing that we have to understand as an integral healer. That illness like everything else is an opportunity, even death is an opportunity, a means that Mother Nature in her deep wisdom has created to hasten the delivery of the secret soul. Just as difficult moments can bring out the best in us (or the worst) so also every obstacle of life is a means to bring out the best in us, if only we care to. It is a method to awaken our sleeping strength, to make it grow and take charge of our body-life-mind, which so far rule our nature. It is a cry for change. It is said, and rightly so, that small minds hastily judge and rapidly condemn while the wise in soul and the truly great minds patiently observe and deeply understand. They observe the many hidden lines along which our nature moves, through the obstacles towards a greater emergence of its powers and possibilities. The integral healer is accordingly not a judge who is busy pointing out mistakes, but a patient observer, who through his own awakened spiritual self, assists in the emergence of the client’s deeper and higher possibilities. In other words, he is at best a catalyst for this metamorphosis that hides behind the cloak of suffering and pain. This is true as much of our physical problems as it is true of our psychological problems.

In fact this is precisely what the integral healer sitting within us does. He uses difficulties of Nature as means of growth and ascension much as an adventurer and explorer uses the travails of his travels to develop in him skill and strength and wisdom. The soul within us does not judge, it does not condemn or criticize; it simply sees and heals, observes and puts a gentle pressure here and a little there for the desired change. Here we have to understand the role of time in healing. It is said that time heals, and rightly so. But how does it heal. It heals by readjusting the forces in the individual’s field. Therefore, coercion and excess use of force to change things without a readjustment of the total balance or without taking into account the totality of things is an exercise in futility. True and radical healing is a patient process. It cannot be otherwise. All impatience is therefore not only useless but in the end even harmful. Human nature contains in it many elements, some are ready for efflorescence, some are only buds and shoots, some yet in seed forms. All these have to be simultaneously taken into account and readjusted. This is a feat impossible for the human mind unless it has learned to subjugate itself to a growing inner light of the soul. For it is only the soul within us that knows each element of our nature and each issue of our life in the total perspective, and not as a thing cut off from the whole as the mind sees. The soul sees not only the present but also the past and the future; it sees not only the knot of the difficulty but also its temporal necessity. Therefore, all holistic and integral healing can come only through a contact with our soul. All other methods, sensible and insensible, are temporary. In fact no other part in us and no power or system as such can take into cognizance the entire complexity of human nature and its diverse forces in a single sweep. Therefore, the emergence in us of this inmost soul, called Psychic Being by Sri Aurobindo, is crucial.


The True Self

So what is this psychic being? What is its method, system and rationale of healing? How can we assist in its emergence? These are the crucial questions that an integral healer needs to ask or rather more importantly needs to aspire for. For just as the caterpillar cannot understand the butterfly, which is an intimate part of it, so too the human mind, however brilliant, cannot understand the soul within. The only way to know and truly understand is to live and be. That is why in days of old this knowledge was kept secret and revealed only to the ready initiate. But we have moved further since then. The human mind itself is bursting along its seams and seeking to know and grow beyond itself. Besides, a mental understanding of things that is beyond the mind need not necessarily be harmful. It may indeed be a help, provided it is received freely in a fertile mind ready to leap beyond itself. Mental understanding becomes a hindrance when it remains at the level of theory only or when the mind is too complacent to make the necessary effort along the lines suggested to discover this deeper principle. It is also a hindrance when it is forced prematurely upon a mind that is not ready and one sign of its readiness is the need to know. Seeking is itself a sign of the growing emergence of the soul, since it is only when the light of the soul falls upon the dark chambers of our mind that it begins to helplessly turn towards the deep and unseen source of this light. Until then, it is too content with itself and accustomed to the darkness, calls it light since that is the only light which it knows. The mind becomes also a hindrance when instead of seeking to grow by the contact of the soul, it tries to bind this deeper and freer truth into its fixed formulas and begins to hastily judge it by its own limited standards. To know about the soul requires a very patient effort and cannot be done in a trice. It is like discovering a new and far off continent where each failure only paves the way to a subsequent victory if we know how to persevere.

Therefore all our mental judgments are not only useless but also harmful when it comes to matters of the soul. The soul of an apparent atheist may be more developed than the soul of a so-called believer. The soul need not express itself in that dubious garb of religiosity, or through the curtains of a brilliant intellect. It need not show an interest in matters of social duty and be conventionally moral, things that our mind constantly confuses with the spiritual. It is not the voice of our conscience either, that close imitator of the soul. The soul is concerned with the truth of things and that is why it is often compared to a swan that can separate milk from water. It sees the truth behind religiosity but also the truth behind atheism and therefore can use both as means and materials of its progress. It sees the utility of reason but also its many limitations. It sees the truth of social and moral conventions but equally and simultaneously the truth of defying conventions and revolt against existing norms.

Therefore, it can truly help since it alone holds the key to our integral change. And therefore its moods and methods cannot be understood by the mind that tries to tie up everything into an either-or formula, simplistically, but nevertheless like all over-simplistic truths, partial and one-sided and therefore not true. The soul within us, that which we truly are, is the only part in us that makes a straight response to the truth of things. By truth we mean the fundamental, stable, one Reality that is at the base of all things and behind the manifold appearances of this world. By truth we also mean the force and law of evolution, the Consciousness Energy that is secretly leading all things towards their secret good. Finally by truth we mean the ways and processes, the outer and inner means and methods by which we can come in contact with this twofold truth (the truth of our stability and the truth of a progressive and evolutionary change) and grow in its law and likeness. This three-in-one formula of truth is single in a higher consciousness but in the human mental consciousness it is separated. This separation of the energy of stability and the energy of progressive transformation is the fundamental imbalance that lies at the root of all our maladies, including disease and death. And it is the inmost soul within which is the first of all powers to reset this lost balance spontaneously. This it can do with relative ease since the soul is the evolutionary element in us that survives death and transcends the limited formation of nature and personality that is put forward by itself in a single lifetime. We may say that it alone knows the hidden links and kinks of our nature since it has witnessed them all through the ages. All other witnesses disperse with the change of form, but the soul keeps the record of what is essential for growth and uses it as material for the future.


Balance of Forces

Most illnesses arise as a result of an energy imbalance between the forces of tamas (inertia), rajas (kinesis), and sattva (harmony and balance). An excess of tamas leads to an increased rate of destruction (catabolism) since the cells are unable to keep pace with the evolutionary pressure. An excess of rajas depletes the reserves since the demand is much more than the supply. The cells and body tissues are stimulated to build (anabolism) beyond their limits. This excess stimulation leads to an irritation of the organs and consequently a disturbed balance. Besides, an excess of rajasic activity is almost invariably followed by a recoil and relapse into tamas. The outer consequence of this is that people with an excess of one or the other energy have a matching lifestyle. Thus, people with an excess of tamas are the proverbial couch potatoes for whom the favourite pastime is sleep. They wake up only to sharp sensations and therefore resort sometimes to crude habits like alcohol to make themselves feel alive. Now we attribute many an illness to this sort of lifestyle but the lifestyle is itself the result of an excess of tamas in the system! That is why many of our well-meaning advices and do’s and don’ts fall flat on the face. Even the ‘all-knowing’ physician bound by his own nature finds it difficult to follow, unless thanks to some deep crisis of illness, he is pushed to the wall. Again, an excess of rajas leads to a type a lifestyle with much hype and fury. Picture the busy executive and the workaholic corporate boss crushing their hearts and coronaries in a blind race to move faster and faster. The heart begins to give up and we are told it is due to the lifestyle and attitudes. But what has determined this attitude? Genes, heredity, learning — or something more intrinsic? We have dealt with the relative influence of these factors elsewhere. But here again we find the inner imbalance due to an excess of rajas leading to energy flowing into unhealthy channels. But what about the sattvic man and his lifestyle? It is indeed full of balance and moderation, and that comes naturally to him. He leans and tends towards harmony. But since the three forces are divided in a human being (not yet in a unified harmony) the sattvic man strives for harmony by trimming down, denying or suppressing the excess rajas. This has its backlash though — for example, the easy fall into tamas, the reduction of life-force that can fight against problems and difficulties, the sudden outbursts of suppressed rajas upsetting the system not built or tuned to run in a hyper mode. The problem is further complicated by the fact that different parts of our nature may respond to different forces. Thus, the body may be full of tamas but the mind may respond to sattva. Or the body may be predominantly rajasic but the mind is in a state of tamasic inertia.

Still, there is a general level of the human consciousness and of all the three, sattva is the best bet as of now. We say now, because in the not so distant future, when man has learned to consciously handle these forces and the force of evolution leads him to higher and higher energies than these primal three, he will be able to recover their spontaneous unity and harmony in a transformed nature. Tamas then will be transformed into its original force of Peace of which tamas is a degradation. Rajas will be transformed into Consciousness-Force of which it is a lower derivation. And so also sattva will change into its higher counterpart of Light and Ananda, the Light that creates harmony by knowing the right place of everything, and the Ananda that is the natural result of this harmony. In other words, to use a significant ancient Indian terminology, tamas-rajas-sattva will change into their original higher counterparts Sat-Chit-Ananda or ‘Sacchidananda Consciousness’ of the Divine within us. That is what is meant by the mystic saying that man will be free from all afflictions when the kingdom of heaven descends upon earth and man grows into the likeness of God. If that be the radical cure presupposed by Nature, the cure towards which evolution is secretly leading us, then we need to discover the mediating philosopher stone that can work out the miracle swiftly rather than slowly in the natural course for us. This cannot happen by advices and conventional health education, which can at best only propagate a more moderate and sattvic lifestyle with its precarious balance. More is needed and this more and this mediation of transfer from the lower to the higher can only be done by the inmost soul, the psychic being in man. For it is only the psychic being, which is a child born of the energies of the higher hemisphere, but which has descended into the little room and plot of our mortality, that knows both, the Divine parentage and the fallen nature. And therefore once awakened it can lead man gradually and progressively out of darkness, bondage, falsehood, suffering, and death towards light and freedom and truth and bliss and immortality.


Healing from Within

Finally, the psychic consciousness puts us in touch with the healing forces from above, forces from beyond the frontiers of form, forces of peace and joy, harmony and love, health and trust. The role of these deeper forces in health and healing is yet to be recognized, though we have at least begun to admit one of them, that is faith. These forces, normally not accessible to our narrow and closed ego-bound life begin to naturally enter a person who is open to the soul within, effortlessly, just as butterflies are attracted to a flower. The psychic touch therefore not only balances the lower nature and its forces but invites and invokes and opens the doors to a higher nature for which illness and suffering is impossible.

The Mother puts it very simply and directly:

This peace and fullness and joy given by the psychic contact … gives an openness towards the true consciousness … So long as the openness is there, the peace, the fullness and the joy remain with their immediate results of progress, health and fitness in the physical, quietness and goodwill in the vital, clear understanding and broadness in the mental and a general feeling of security and satisfaction.” [2]

This does not mean that the psychic contact will free us from all illnesses. That cannot be till the energies that move our nature are transformed into their divine counterparts. But it will surely reduce the frequency and blunt the edge of it all. Besides, the emergence of the soul in a rajas prone person will encourage a tendency towards sattva from within even without any imposition from outside by putting our nature into an accelerated evolutionary mode of which sattva is a significant step. Finally, it will open the doors definitively towards the not so distant future transformation, which is also the true and definitive road to radical healing. It is only in a transformed human nature that immunity will be spontaneous.

Is there some evidence to suggest that the psychic touch truly heals from within? There is indeed the everyday evidence in the form of sleep. Our everyday contact, even if for a few moments, takes place during the deepest phase of sleep. It is this that heals us so often of our daily anxieties and troubles. How often do we wake up with a fresh mind and body ready for a new start as if the load of the previous day has been taken off? Taken off indeed, partly by the psychic contact setting things right and partly by the impressions sinking down into the subconscient as seeds of the future. Equally, many illnesses are preceded by a phase of disturbed sleep, or else start during our prolonged sojourn in the vital worlds, where straying too long and too far, we have little time left for the psychic contact. The release of our consciousness from the grip of our outer mind facilitates this reverse process of going within. In other words, to discover the inmost soul consciously, we have to do the reverse concentration of going within in the heart where in the silent depths beyond thoughts and emotions and desires, in the cave of God there dwells our secret soul. One of the methods of contacting is given below. There are others and one may choose according to one’s temperament. But whatever the method chosen, one must be armed with patience and sincerity. It takes time and persistence. Radical breakthroughs have their price and this one is the most radical of all efforts, with results and effects that would last beyond a lifetime and for all future lives to come.

[1] Sri Aurobindo, Savitri Book II, Canto X, p. 256

[2] The Mother, CWM 12, On Education, p. 45

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