inner life




Reflections on Deep Philosophical Issues

The conflict between science and spirituality is nowhere more evident than when considering the question of cure, life expectancy, and measures that purportedly extend life.

Let me put the issue in a form that demonstrates the disparity. On the one hand, people have come to anticipate longer lives, this probably more as a result of improved public sanitation and perhaps also personal hygiene.  In my estimation, there is relatively little proof that either vaccines or other advancements in medicine deserve credit for this change in life expectancy.

At the far extreme opposite end of the spectrum—but perhaps not in conflict with science—that the number of breaths we take in life is determined from birth.  We can, it is alleged, slow down our breathing, but I believe this skirts some of the argument for predestination.

There is an astrological technique called rectification.  In this one calculates the exact moment of birth by reference to events that have already transpired.  Included are any events that break the normal rhythm of life including deaths of family members, major illnesses, relocation, marriage, divorce, job changes, and profoundly life altering experiences such as drug trips, near death experiences, meeting a remarkable teacher or guru, or even shock.  In skillful hands, the process of rectification is not only accurate but the questions of choice and free will are practically obliterated by persuasiveness of dateline that emerges.

An Indian medical doctor once asked me for the birth data of patients.  I asked him what he planned to do with the charts.  He said he wanted to predict the date of death.  I asked if he would use this information as a doctor or keep his interest in medical astrology separate from his practice of medicine.  He intended to keep them separate.

An astrologer asked for my help in publishing a book on predicting death.  I said that it was exactly such practices that caused astrology to come into disfavor in the West.  Prior to this time, astrology was an integral part of the curriculum of medicine, as it still is in H.H. the Dalai Lama's Tibetan Medical and Astrological Institute in Dharamsala.  His Holiness fled Tibet in 1959 and the institute was opened in March 1961, showing the importance and priorities of these studies by the people in exile.  What is seldom appreciated is that the same integration of study existed in the West also but with the Renaissance and its emphasis on man as opposed to God, the concept of free will and the ability to achieve and conquer supplanted some traditional knowledge.  We saw the "positive" side of this rebirth in art, literature, and to some extent in liberation from various fetters, both secular and ecclesiastic.  However, the downside was geographic conquest and disturbance of our legacies from the past and presumably now to the future.  In short, it is possible that man does not have the requisite skills to dominate either the Planet or illness, but the wars on each other as well as disease continue.


In the last few days, many spiritual quests moved across the mirror of my mind.  I paused to reflect.  For instance, a Tibetan nun triggered my memory of one of my favorite Jataka Tales.  A goat who was about to be sacrificed exhibited conflicting emotions.  On the one hand, he was ecstatic that he had come to the end of a long cycle of lives as a goat; on the other, he felt pity for those who would now enter a phase of karmic correction for their deeds.

I always had an equal resistance to the notion that a deed could cause 500 unhappy future lives or x number of days in purgatory.  I was born suspicious of the attempts to reduce an energy to quantifiable time, and this is the key to escaping the consequences of patterns that have been set in motion in the past.  The actual law of karma states that an "equal and opposite" action is required to arrest the causal action.  For those who have not thought as long and as hard about this as I have, let me translate the ideas a little.  First, intensity is more important than time so the more fervent and sincere the correcting action, the more likely it is to take effect and produce the shift that is sought.

Second, the issue is "equal and opposite" which does not mean mind over matter but rather neutralization of the originating energy.  In work with past life recall, I have seen "karma" in everything from very innocent to horrendous forms.  For instance, let us say that someone is terrified of birds and the cause is traced to a time when a wounded person was left to die and the vultures circled around waiting for the heart to stop beating.  The flapping wings and intimidating behavior were the last conscious recollection of that lifetime and the carryover into this is an extreme aversion to all birds, not to vultures but to anything that flaps its wings.  Equal and opposite in this context can entail the use of creative imagination to separate the death experience from the realities of this era which practically preclude the odds of being left on a battlefield with vultures hovering over the bleeding body.  Likewise, if one is not a soldier, the risks of such a death might also be nil.  Studying the behavioral patterns of particular birds, including absolutely harmless canaries might also reduce apprehensions to only the birds that are potential predators.  Going deeper still, one might forgive the birds for the terror they added to the premature death by accepting the terror of the birds who died so one could eat them.  If one is very courageous, one can also accept that death probably would not have occurred in this manner if one had not joined the battle.  In other words, the last memory could be overwritten by another message:  the futility of trying to resolve differences by use of the sword.  In the end, there are bodies of all descriptions and origins, testimony to the idiocy of violence.  When one takes in these feelings, the motivating energy is terminated and the consequences therefore also end.

Relating These Thoughts to Healing

Now, given that one's life is planned before incarnating, how can anyone hope to change the "handwriting on the wall?"

Because of my involvement with the escharotic treatment of cancer, I have had the opportunity to observe two patterns.  The first is that the physical process takes exactly as long as the inner process.  Some people have told me that they are grateful that this is the case because exhausted as they were by the dressing changes and other factors, they came to understand that the process was not about killing the tumor but about healing oneself.

Secondly, when the tumor is removed through this process, there is nearly always a cathartic experience when the tumor separates.  People are aware that some "negativity" that has been taking its toll on the body and psyche has left.  Some have had simultaneous mystical experiences or bouts of euphoria that made them want to hug everyone in sight.  One man said he felt he had given birth to Rosemary's baby.  He was elated to feel the separation and recoup his original innocence and bliss.  Another, a follower of an Eastern spiritual path, saw Jesus standing in front of her when the eschar detached.   Up until the moment this separation occurs, there is a coloring of the psyche by the malignancy.  However, our original nature is pure and evidently also happy so when the "not self" leaves and the issues are resolved so that the separation can occur, what is left is unbelievably wonderful.  This is our true heritage and the rest is an overlay.

Karma involves reaction.  People forget this.  There is action and then reaction.  For instance, in the recent Middle East crisis, two Israeli soldiers were captured, evidently with the intent of bartering a prisoner exchange; but this escalated to fierce retaliation and then further reactions and then name calling and devolvement into old and vexing patterns of intolerance and hatred, not to mention the finger pointing of who hit whom first.  This stops when the reactions stop.  This is like taking the fuse off all the bombs that have been stockpiled to use against the enemy.  One decides to do this or live with the potential that the bombs might actually be used in mutual annihilation.

My point is that there is no end in sight when there is no attempt to reframe the issues.  So, if we take matters closer to home, we look at people who are bored in their jobs or miserable in their marriages but they may be wedded to security so the security of a paycheck has to be weighed against the insecurity of such dissatisfaction that one becomes ill.  So long as no action is taken to overcome boredom or unhappiness, the seeds of discontent continue to grow. 

Objectively speaking, discontent is not really a cause of bad karma; well, compared to dropping a nuclear bomb on innocent people, it is "nothing" but it is not nothing if it has taken over the psyche and displaced creativity, inspiration, and happiness.  So, it is "something" and needs attention.  Often, it is not necessary to change jobs or divorce (or die to escape discontent); what is required is a shift that restores meaningful expression and harmony. These shifts might require action; i.e., someone has to initiate the transformation of the displeasing situations.  Waiting for someone else to offer a change can become a form of tedious procrastination so the karmic cause is tangled up with the tendency to drag one's heels instead of taking direct action.  One sometimes has to break the pattern down into its components and make smaller, incremental adjustments.


In high school, I wrote an essay on free versus destiny. Everyone had been assigned the same topic.  When my paper was returned, it had a 99 scratched out and replaced with 100 and a message that when she asked why she deducted one point, she could not come up with any answer except that she had never before given a score of 100 to anyone.  She asked me to see her after class.  She told me she was very deeply moved by what I wrote; as I turned to leave, she added, "Oh, and by the way, you were the only one in the class to have chosen predestination."

That was actually important information because it prepared me for some very unpopular positions, but my argument in the essay was that character is destiny so destiny does not change unless character does; otherwise, we will continue to make the same choices in the same circumstances.  There is a wonderful Ouspensky story in which the main character, Ivan Osokin, encounters a magician who gives him the chance to relive a moment he just fumbled.  While he is fingering a single kopek in his pocket, his girlfriend invites him to visit her family at their summer residence.  He wanted to tell her he loved her but did not have the means to travel, but the words did not come out.  The magician offered him the chance to go back to the train station and try that scene again.  Osokin was convinced he would not blow it, but the magician thought otherwise and to prove his point gave Osokin the chance to relive the last days in his mother's life.  Osokin was deeply troubled by his mother's illness and he wanted to tell her he loved her.  He rehearsed his juvenile speech but when he got down the stairs, she asked if he had done his homework, whether he was making a mess of the opportunities she had worked so hard to create for him.  The words got stuck.

No one could have made the issues of patterns easier to understand than Ouspensky.  So, whether one wants to view this as a character trait or a need to develop somewhat more effective communication skills, the waves are in motion and will continue just exactly as long as there is no equal and opposite correction.  This said, the correction may be as simple (and as difficult) as learning to say "I love you" when the opportunity is there.


My view is that healing occurs when the factors contributing to the illness are resolved.   Assuming that some issues are physical and some have a deeper cause, there is an implied limit to how effective or complete a treatment can be.  Let me approach this complex topic from another angle.  When I have been privileged to observe spontaneous remissions, I have always noticed that they are complete in that the disease disappears totally.  The question of "getting it all" simply does not arise because the energetics underlying the condition have been transformed in such a manner as to prevent recurrence.  While the cure may be instantaneous, preparation may have taken a long time.  This preparation can entail faith and/or psychotherapy or perhaps receptivity to allowing a miracle to happen; however, the transformation cannot occur unless the individual seeking the transformation has given permission for the change to take place.  This implies a willingness to experience life without disease which, in turn, means the disease is no longer perceived to be serving any useful function.  I am sure all cures involve at least some of this magic and the weapons we line up to destroy illness are just war cannons, and like all other violence, there are consequences for the use of such measures to solve problems, including destruction of part of the patient.

This does not mean that one should not address the physical signs of illness with physical measures, but I have had many occasions on which to question whether or not life is extended.

Early in my career as a healer, I read about a study conducted at UCLA with 2000 outpatients who were divided into four groups.  One group was told nothing was wrong, one was given a placebo, and the other groups were given treatments.  At the end of six months, the patients were evaluated and it was found that the same percentage in each group had recovered, this despite the fact that some had had no treatment at all.  The results did not surprise me at all.  There are cycles to which we are sensitive and ones to which we are less responsive.  We could fall ill under the influence of one of these cycles and presumably many would develop symptoms on or about the same time.  When the cycle changes, many would feel better; but the ramifications in terms of medicine are unbelievably difficult to interpret because the implication is that doing nothing at all is just as effective as doing something . . . and that "really" doing something is just as effective as believing one is doing something.


Given what I know and believe, it is simply not possible for me to attribute to any modality the capacity to cure anyone of any disease.  This said, where I believe we do have choice is in how we handle the issues that arise as a result of the disease as well as how we choose to manage the symptoms.  Moreover, I am convinced that the measures that feel good are actually the best because they evoke no resistance and are therefore most likely to bring the individual back into harmony . . . and I definitely posit the idea that originally we were in harmony with the Divine as well as the various parts of ourselves.  Then, events transpired that caused us to react and these reactions have, for many of us, been in motion since first caused . . . back in times for which most of us have no conscious memories.

For me, if there is a healing, it is because the patterns have shifted.  If no healing has occurred, it is because the measures used to address the disease failed to touch the causes.  The question of whether or not anything actually extends life is unanswerable.  Despite the horoscope and the evidence that comes through rectification, I believe it is possible to bring the entire experience to a higher level for everyone.

For instance, what if instead of dying, my father moved into an entirely different relationship with all those with whom he had a contract?  I am using this as an example because an astrologer from India looked at my horoscope and told me, correctly, when my father died, implying therefore that not only did he have a date with destiny but that my soul was aware of this and signed onto that contract when I incarnated.  "What if?" is then a monumental question because it means that he, my mother, his second wife, my sister, and I and probably countless others all had to be able to share in some transformative experience.  The odds are against this, but the power of transformation is so enormous that when it does occur, the ramifications for others are great as well.  What then does healing oneself mean to the physician and the patient?


Copyright by Ingrid Naiman 2006


Ingrid Naiman
15 August 2006




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Sacred Medicine Sanctuary

Copyright by Ingrid Naiman 2006


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