Spiritual health is not tackled by conventional modern medicine. Such medicine has made great strides, but all the
specially formulated chemical substances and sophisticated surgical
techniques with their high-tech electronic aids, have led to an
understanding of Health and Wholeness which has increasingly been
concerned with the 'point of pain' rather than the 'person in pain'.
Spiritual health is concerned with the human spirit that feels, thinks and experiences and is neither
chemical nor computerised, but a living consciousness with non-physical
(as well as physical) dimensions. The saying that beauty is more than
skin deep is equally true of health, the whole person is far more than
the outer physical shell.
Emanuel Swedenborg maintained that there is an intimate relationship
between the human spirit and the human body, between the spiritual plane
and the natural plane of life. The spiritual plane is the plane of
causes, the natural that of effects, and for anything to come into being
it will have a spiritual origin. In the case of diseases this can be due
to the spiritual condition within ourselves or the spiritual environment
around us, or a combination of both. This is not to say that it's all in
the mind, very far from it: a magnificent cathedral is not only in the
mind, but its origin was in the mind; its bricks and stones are a
natural expression of those who built it, their sense of a sacred space
- a deeply felt spiritual reality of feeling, thought and imagination.
If this is true of the buildings we inhabit, is it not very probable
that it is equally if not more true of the bodies we live in? To change
a house to suit our needs requires thought and imagination as well as
the right materials. It is surely reasonable to expect that both
physical and spiritual action are needed to complement each other in order to achieve both physical and spiritual health. Swedenborg writes:-
"Things existing in the natural world are nothing else than effects;
their causes exist in the spiritual world... tithe natural part of a
person's being were separated from the spiritual part it would be
separated from the entire cause from which it has its being and so from
all that brings it We, Even so this does not make it impossible for a
person to be healed by natural remedies, for the Lord's providence works
in co-operation with means such as these."
Arcana Caelestia 5711, 5713
For some, the priority is physical health, with
spiritual health and wholeness
seen as of lesser importance. Swedenborg, taking the
larger perspective of a life that only has its early beginnings on the
earth-plane of existence, seeks to show us the overriding importance of
the health and wholeness of the spirit or soul.
Divine Providence is
concerned with our physical health, but from the starting point of the
needs of the heart, mind and life itself.
Modern medicine well recognises that disease, stress and anxiety are
significant health risks, and the list of 'stress related' illnesses
includes digestive, coronary, and cancerous conditions. Too often,
however, the positive placebo effect, where recovery takes place through
faith in the treatment. even if phoney, is simply seen as something to
eliminate in a clinical trial.
The nature of the
correspondential link between spiritual and natural
is a constantly recurring theme in Swedenborg's Writings and needs to be
reconsidered. Many recognise that the pollution of personality caused by
unresolved conflicts, worry, hatred, envy, grief, undermines not just
spiritual health and well-being but physical health. Few deny the effects of love,
humility, forgiveness, peace and prayer in the promotion of health. But
to penetrate the problem of those who 'do the right things' yet still do
not find healing, while others do, we need Swedenborg's clearer
understanding of underlying causes, and the relation-ship between inner
and outer, between spiritual and material.
It is high time we faced the importance of developing
inner spiritual health and wholeness and outgrow the myth that our state
of health is no more than the state of the molecules of which the body
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