More and more people are turning to spiritual healing to find relief from their pain and suffering that conventional, biologically-based medicine can not provide.
In his commentary on the Bhagavad Gita, Paramahansa Yogananda, a self-realized master, explains that there are two main roots of all physical and mental diseases that are imperceptible to most people:
- malfunctions in energy flows to one or more organs of the body
- coming to fruition of karmic seeds i.e. deeds done in the past that did not originate in compassion.
A true spiritual (or psychic) healer may be intuitively able to perceive and to partially correct energy flow malfunctions. However, he/she cannot change the karmic blueprint of anybody; only an enlightened spiritual master can do so, and he/she will do it very rarely. Therefore, healers can facilitate our way by opening energy flows; but each of us must ultimately face the fruition of karmic seeds.
The Ripening of Karmic Seeds
What might this look like? Let’s say I was a tyrannical partner in marriage earlier in this life. I tyrannized my partner in order to get him to do what I wanted him to do. I won’t love you unless you….(fill in the blanks). When that “karmic seed” ripens, I may find myself locked in partnership with someone who seems to victimize me at every turn—demeaning my work to others, trying to control me, etc. In the present time, I shrink from this kind of treatment and learn what if feels like to be tyrannized. Hopefully, I find my way to become a partner who collaborates in a supportive way and drops the need to be a tyrant…but that may take many painful anxious situations, deep depression, and sleepless nights before I reach that conclusion. After the conclusion is reached, I still have to practice the skills of loving relationship with a partner I treat as an equal. If a spiritual healer just took away the anxiety or depression, poof, I would likely not go through the growth process I needed. If a magic bullet drug took away the anxiety or depression I might also not face what I needed to face.
The origin of this universal law of cause and effect is not punitive. It is to empower growth into wholeness. Each of us needs to become more balanced. Thus, each of us must experience the consequences of our own actions and learn from them the lessons necessary for our own spiritual evolution. When we become whole we are motivated by compassion and wisdom and feel peace of mind.
The Placebo Effect
Physicians, psychologists and therapists are well aware of the power of suggestion to influence the outcome of any healing treatment; positive suggestions often create the “placebo effect.” Thus, if a physician spends time providing information to a patient, making strong suggestions of the power of the drug to cure the disease, and if he/she has the trust of the patient, a powerful placebo effect will be added to the pharmacological action of the drug. The placebo effect often enhances the healing effect of the drug, and, in some cases, can even replace the need for a drug.
Recently it was discovered that most antidepressant drugs can be replaced by sugar pills and the patient will get the same benefit of being given the pharmaceutical. It works — if the patient believes he is being given the drug.
An important part of effective spiritual healing is often the result of powerful suggestions made to trusting individuals by charismatic healers.
Problems With Most Spiritual Healing
To improve their reputation and the power of their suggestions, some spiritual healers announce they are channels for enlightened souls who are actually performing the healing.
Consider three things:
1) If the channel is not enlightened, he cannot channel clearly 100% of the time, consistently. Few people who are disturbed by their personal problems have accurate discernment to differentiate what is accurate and what is not accurate. They are then vulnerable to the channel’s inconsistencies.
2) Unless the channel is enlightened, the most highly evolved beings will not come to him.
3) If the channel is enlightened, he/she will attempt to empower people to learn a meditation tool that cuts through to the seeds of karma.
We know from the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda and others that no truly enlightened soul can be coaxed to choose a human being as a channel to communicate with the material world. Healers can only channel beings who are still attached to the material world and not fully enlightened. The wisdom they impart and the healing they do is thus not originating from a fully enlightened source. The karma that created the suffering is likely not being removed. The relief from pain will be temporary and the suffering will reoccur in another place at another time.
Relief from Pain Through Spiritual Practice
Given that the work of a spiritual healer can be problematic and is usually temporary, it is far better to seek permanent relief from pain and suffering by one’s own inner work.
The seeds of karma can be dealt with in dedicated and deep meditation practices. In the Self Realization Fellowship it is suggested that the practitioner “roast the seeds of karma in the fire of Kriya Yoga” (a meditation which leads the practitioner to self-realization). When samadhi is reached through the purification that takes place in this meditation practice, all karma is washed out, and that person is then truly healed and free.
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Emma Bragdon, PhD, collaborated with Dr. Steven Brena on this article. Steven F. Brena, MD, (now 92 years old) was an Anesthesiologist. He founded and directed a pain clinic for many years. He is the author of several books including Yoga and Medicine as well as Pain and Religion. Dr. Brena has been practicing the meditations taught by Paramahansa Yogananda through the Self Realization Fellowship, yogananda-srf.org, since 1968.
Yogananda (Translation and Commentary) (1995) God Talks with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita. The Royal Science of God-Realization. Los Angeles: Self Realization Fellowship.