between Spirit and Medicine
National Cathedral, Washington, D.C.. December 1, 2006
Larry Dossey, MD
I want to thank the Cathedral College for inviting me, and also
the Washington Society of Jungian Psychology for co-sponsoring
this event. It is inspiring to be here, in one of the most glorious
cathedrals in the world, to talk about health and healing and
matters of the spirit.
I'm afraid I may depress
you at the outset. But the fact is, we are in big trouble in our
country where healthcare is concerned. There is a tremendous amount
of delusion about how well we're doing. I'm not talking about
the 40 million Americans have no healthcare insurance, although
that in itself is shameful. I'm referring to how well modern medicine
works for those who do have full access to it. Let's take a look.
a respected epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine,
reported in 2000 in the Journal of the American Medical Association
that each year in the United States over 200,000 patients die
in hospitals because of medical errors and the side effects of
pharmaceutical drugs. This makes hospital care the third leading
cause of death in America, behind heart disease and cancer.
Some authorities have
argued about these statistics, and have managed to demote hospital
care to "only" the fifth or sixth leading cause of death
in our country, as if this is some great achievement. It isn't;
these facts remain a national scandal.
It's not just medical
errors and the side effects of medications that are a concern,
but also how well they work even when they are used properly.
Richard Smith, editor
of the British Medical Journal, has said, "[O]nly about 15%
of medical interventions are supported by solid scientific evidence
Dr. David Grimes, of
the University of California/San Francisco School of Medicine,
writing in the Journal of the American Medical Association, agrees,
saying, "Much, if not most, of contemporary medicine still
lacks a scientific foundation."
As early as 1978, the
Congressional Office of Technology Assessment found that only
an estimated 10 to 20% of the medical interventions that physicians
use are empirically proven.
Things have gotten
a little better in recent years, but the situation remains serious.
For example, earlier
this year the British Medical Journal assessed 2,404 treatments
and found evidence that only 36% could be rated as either beneficial
or likely to be beneficial.
If you're not sufficiently
depressed, let me keep going.
We are the world's
wealthiest nation, yet we rank17th in longevity on a list of 33
industrialized nations. Among these 33 nations, we rank near the
bottom in infant mortality, better only than Latvia. ,
It looks as if we will
not be able to spend our way out of this situation. For example,
we already spend 2-1/2 times as much per capita on medical care
as in the UK. But according to an analysis published in the Journal
of the American Medical Association in May 2006, US residents
are much less healthy than our English counterparts, and these
differences exist at all levels - high, middle, and low-income
So what's missing in
our healthcare system?
One of the great consolations
of my life is that I am not assigned the task of fixing our healthcare
But I do have the luxury
of complaining about it.
One of my complaints
is that that something has been left out. This "something"
includes, I suggest, is a role for consciousness, mind, and spirit.
Now, don't hold your
breath for a precise definition of these factors. No one can define
them precisely, I invite you to define for yourselves what consciousness,
mind, and spirit may mean.
I think sometimes it's
best not to nail down these terms with specific definitions -
a position taken by Dr. Lewis Thomas, the famous essayist who
for many years was director of research at Sloan-Kettering.
So that's the approach
I'll take - and I invite you to use your own ideas for what these
terms may mean.
It may be blasphemous
to discuss these issues here tonight, because we are only a short
distance from the National Institutes of Health, the most prestigious
medical research organization in the world.
Many of my friends
at the NIH would not be comfortable making any link between spirit
and medicine. They would say that medicine ought to be about hard
science, not this mind or spirit stuff.
So why bring up this
notion of spirit?
One reason is that
ordinary citizens want it brought up. When people get sick, they
want more than drugs, surgery, and high-tech procedures.
In 2003, a survey of
nearly 2 million patients, involving a third of all the hospitals
in the United States, found that one of the lowest patient satisfaction
ratings was in the emotional and spiritual aspects of care they
experience when they get sick.
This area had one of the worst ratings among all clinical care
indicators, and was an area in greatest need of improvement.
We often hear healthcare
professionals put down spirituality by calling it "touchy-feely."
What's so bad about
I think "touchy-feely"
is a grand compliment in disguise.
Modern medicine should
be about touch.
It should be about
Please permit me a
I bumped into the power
of touch quite accidentally when I was a senior at the University
of Texas at Austin, finishing my work in pharmacy and pre-med,
preparing to enter medical school that fall. I came down with
acute appendicitis. The surgery was a rushed-up affair that took
place in the Student Health Center. I never met the surgeon beforehand;
he thought it unnecessary. Neither did I meet the anesthesiologist.
When I awoke I was anxious, alone, and in pain. I still had not
laid eyes on my surgeon, nor did I know what was found at surgery.
Then something simple happened. A nurse came by and held my hand.
She said, "Don't worry, Larry; everything will be fine."
It was -as if a switch was turned: the pain vanished, along with
the anxiety, fear, and aloneness. A simple touch, and just a few
words. That event was seared into my brain and has stayed with
me ever since.
There's not enough
touch to go around in our hospitals. Studies in certain critical
care units have shown that patients can go up to 48 hours and
longer without actually being touched by a nurse or physician
or any other human being.
The champion of touch in the U.S. is Dr. Tiffany Field, a psychologist
who founded the Touch Research Institute at the University of
Miami School of Medicine.
Dr. Field has identified a touch deprivation syndrome in infants.
Studies in neonatal intensive care units show that babies who
are massaged three times a day for ten days gain weight faster
and leave the hospital an average of six days earlier than infants
who are not frequently touched and massaged.
She finds that massage lowers stress hormones in babies.
It stimulates the babies' production of growth hormone and insulin
- and serotonin, which is what many antidepressants do.
Research in orphanages in eastern Europe has shown that babies
who are deprived of touch experience severe growth delays.
In pre-school kids, massage boosts performance on intelligence
In adults, it increases performance of mathematical calculations.
So much for the "touch" part of "touchy-feely."
What about the "feely"
part - feelings: emotions, attitudes, meanings, and so on?
This moves us into
the content of our consciousness, our mind.
I became interested
in the role of the mind in health by a very circuitous route.
From my early teens, I was afflicted with classical migraine headache-not
just severe headache but also severe nausea, vomiting, incapacitation,
and-the worst thing-partial blindness. No medications worked;
I tried everything. In medical school it got much worse. I actually
tried to drop out of medical school because became an ethical
issue for me. I felt it was only a matter of time until I had
an attack of partial blindness while taking care of a patient,
perhaps in surgery, and I might harm them. My faculty advisor
would not permit me to drop out; he said it would get better.
It got worse. By the time I finished my training in internal medicine
in the early 1970s, a new treatment for migraine emerged: biofeedback.
Biofeedback was discovered
quite accidentally by researchers at the Menninger Clinic in Topeka,
Kansas, to be effective for migraine. As you may know, this is
a technique in which one uses imagery, visualization, and profound
relaxation to quiet the body and the mind, assisted by high-tech
gadgets that measure and feed back information to you about things
such as your muscle tension, skin temperature, blood pressure,
and other bodily processes you ordinarily are not aware of. I
chased all over the country, in desperation, attending workshops
on this technique. The result for me was astonishing. The headaches
stopped almost completely. This simple mind-body intervention
probably saved my career.
I was impressed. I
became certified in teaching biofeedback and set up a biofeedback
laboratory at the Dallas Diagnostic Association. For years I taught
biofeedback to my patients in my internal medicine practice.
I began to follow mind-body
research closely, which in the 70s and 80s was exploding.
Eventually I became
interested in not only the role of emotions in health, but the
role of spirituality as well.
This work was pioneered
by Dr. Jeff Levin, whose work on spirituality and health was funded
for years by the NIH. I strongly recommend his excellent book
God, Faith, and Health.
In the 1980s, scores
of studies began to emerge suggesting that people who followed
some sort of religious path in their life had better health than
people who did not. This pattern was seen even following major
surgical procedures such as hip replacement. This trend appeared
to be life-long. If people stuck to a religious or spiritual practice
- it seemed not to matter which one they chose - they appeared
statistically to have a lower incidence of nearly all the major
diseases, including heart disease and cancer.
This effect was not
trivial. The data suggested that spiritual practices were correlated
with huge increases in longevity-from 7 to 13 years in some surveys.
In the late 80s, studies
examining the impact of intercessory prayer began to emerge. These
experiments suggested that one's prayers - or one's compassionate,
loving intentions for someone else - could make a difference in
that person's life, even when the individual was unaware they
were being prayed for.
Now, the medical schools
in our country had a hard time coming to grips with this all this
In 1993, only 3 of
the nation's 125 medical schools had any kind of course work examining
the relationship between spiritual practices, prayer, and health
But then something
amazing happened. If you fast-forward to today, over 90 of the
nation's medical schools have such courses.
What made this happen?
There is a pesky little
4-letter word that made all the difference: data.
What does it show?
Currently, there are
over 1200 studies suggesting that, as I have mentioned, people
who follow a spiritual path live longer and are healthier than
people who do not. And there is also a growing body of evidence
that intercessory prayer is correlated with better health outcomes.
Now let me give you
an insider's view of this spirituality-and-health field.
Already it has settled
into two domains. One is the religion-and-health area, in which
researchers examine the correlations between specific religious
behaviors, such as church attendance, on health. This field is
alive and well and is growing. It really is not all that controversial,
with a few exceptions, because most physicians can explain these
connections by way of common sense. For example, religious folk
often have pretty good health habits. They may smoke less and
drink less. They may tend toward vegetarianism. They have good
social support systems, by virtue of belonging to a socially cohesive
congregation of like-minded individuals. All theses factors are
good for your health. Combine them, and it's no surprise to many
that religious folk might live longer and be healthier than non-religious
But it's when one looks
at the prayer-and-healing field that controversy gets lively.
Why? Currently there is no accepted explanation about how remote,
distant, intercessory prayer could work.
Currently in medicine,
we are wedded to the notion that the mind and consciousness are
private. They stay home in the brain and body of the individual.
Your thoughts, emotions, attitudes, and beliefs may affect you,
but they just cannot make a difference in someone else.
But there is a problem.
The actual experiments don't seem to have got the message that
they can't work. Currently there are 19 major randomized, double-blind,
controlled clinical trials in intercessory, distant prayer. Eleven
of these studies show statistically significant results, suggesting
that prayer can influence others at a distance. Eleven out of
19 is far more than you'd expect by chance happenings.
Let me give you an
example of one of these studies, in which healers manage to bring
about a change in a distant subject.
Researcher Jeanne Achterberg
and her colleagues recruited eleven healers from the island of
Hawaii. Each healer selected a person they knew, with whom they
felt an empathic, compassionate, bonded connection, to be the
recipient of their healing efforts, which the researchers called
distant intentionality (DI). The healers were not casually interested
in healing; they had pursued their healing tradition an average
of 23 years. They described their healing efforts as sending energy,
prayer, or good intentions, or thinking of the individual in the
scanner and wishing for them the highest good. Each recipient
was placed in an MRI scanner and was isolated from all forms of
sensory contact with the healer. The healers sent forms of DI
that related to their own healing practices at two-minute random
intervals that were unknown to the recipient. Significant differences
between the experimental (send) and control (no send) conditions
were found; there was less than approximately one chance in 10,000
that the results could be explained by chance happenings (in the
language of science, p = 0.000127). The areas of the brain that
were activated during the "send" periods included the
anterior and middle cingulate areas, precuneus, and frontal areas.
In another phase of
this study, the healers tried to influence individuals they did
not know. In this no experiment, no positive results were found.
This study suggests
that compassionate, healing intentions are real, and that an empathic
connection between the healer and the recipient is a vital part
of the process-just like with prayer in real life.
I like this study because
it uses prayer the way it's used in real life. For example, we
say we "pray for our loved ones." This means we know
them, we care deeply for them, and we pray for them unconditionally.
But some prayer experiments,
such as the well-known Harvard prayer experiment that made headlines
in the spring of 2006, and which failed to show any positive results
(and which in fact found negative results suggesting harm), fail
to replicate prayer as it's used in real life. The Harvard study,
for instance, was made up of strangers praying for strangers.
Prayer was not offered unconditionally to two of the three groups.
Nowhere in the world is prayer used like this. It is not surprising
that these studies do not show positive results.
Critics of this field
abound, as you might expect, because these findings contradict
our conventional beliefs about the nature of consciousness - that's
it's a material process originating in the brain, and confined
to an individual person.
Critics know in advance
that these studies must be wrong, even though they sometimes cannot
This conviction often
goes beyond science and begins to resemble blind faith - which
is ironic, because "faith" is what the critics accuse
believers in prayer as being guilty of.
I take a perverse pleasure
in collecting comments from leading skeptics of the idea that
the mind can do something out there in the world, as in healing
For your amusement,
here are some examples.
G. R. Price, an expert
in the field of game theory, said, "Not 1000 experiments
with ten million trials and by 100 separate investigators giving
total odds against chance of one-thousandth to 1 [could make me
Hermann von Helmholtz
(1821-1894), one of the greatest physicists of the 19th century,
said, "I cannot believe it. Neither the testimony of all
the Fellows of the Royal Society, nor even the evidence of my
own senses would lead me to believe in the transmission of thought
from one person to another independently of the recognized channels
of sensation. It is clearly impossible."
The famous French physicist,
Jean Bernard Foucault (1819-1868), said, "If I saw a straw
moved by the action of my will, I should be terrified
the influence of mind upon matter does not cease at the surface
of the skin, there is no safety left in the world for anyone."
One famous scientist
who was critical of this general field said recently, "This
is sort of thing I would not believe in, even if it were true."
What is going on here?
These comments suggest that openness in science is not as great
as it is often claimed.
Scientists can be as
prejudiced as anyone else where new ideas are concerned - particularly
when these ideas involve consciousness and spirituality.
Critics often defend
their position by saying, "extraordinary claims require extraordinary
But who decides what
No matter how extensive
the evidence for a role of consciousness and spirituality in healing,
the evidence is never enough.
Skeptics simply raise
the bar a little higher, or put the goal line a little farther
away - or apply what's been called the "rubber ruler."
There is a joke that
expresses this point.
A man gives up his
day job and runs off to the circus. He tells the circus owner
that he wants to join the circus. The owner says, "Show me
what you do." The man climbed the mast post to the top of
the tent. Then he jumped off. He flapped and flapped his arms
and flew all around the top of the tent. Then the man made a perfect
landing in front of the circus owner. The man said to the owner,
"What do you think?" The circus owner said, "You
can't be serious. All you do is a bird imitation?"
Why are these ideas
met with so much resistance?
For one thing, there's
the problem of bad timing. New ideas can be premature and not
fit with current concepts. As Harvard psychologist William James,
the father of American psychology, said in the late 1800s, "We
feel neither curiosity nor wonder concerning things so far beyond
us that we have no concepts to refer to or standards by which
to measure them."
Then there is the problem
of sheer obstinacy and resistance to change. It is simply more
comfortable to stay in a rut. Don't rock the boat.
As Mark Twain said,
"I'm all for progress. It's change I can't stand."
A classic quote comes
from a leading biologist to Harvard psychologist William James,
around 1900. The skeptical scientist said, "Even if
[an afterlife] were true, scientists ought to band together to
keep it suppressed and concealed. It would undo the uniformity
without which scientists cannot carry on their
Dean Radin, one of
the most gifted consciousness researchers in the country, has
written a fine book titled Entangled Minds. In it, he described
four stages that all scientific truths in medicine pass through.
First, skeptics say
there is no effect.
Second, skeptics concede
that there may be an effect, but it is not clinically significant.
Third, they admit that
the effect is real and is more significant than they thought.
Fourth, they say, "We
thought of it first."
So we shall keep plugging
away in the consciousness-and-spirituality field in medicine,
realizing all along that not everybody will be convinced by the
evidence. Some people will never come around, no matter how profound
As physicist Max Planck
said, paraphrasing, "Science changes funeral by funeral."
I admire advice that
was given by the late astronomer Carl Sagan in his commencement
speech at UCLA June 14, 1991: "It is the responsibility of
scientists never to suppress knowledge, no matter how awkward
that knowledge is, no matter how it may bother those in power.
We are not smart enough to decide which pieces of knowledge are
permissible and which are not...."
We are in one of the
world's great cathedrals, and we are approaching Advent.
So let me mention two
issues that are appropriate for this time and place.
The first is the power
of music -specifically, the power of Christmas carols.
Consider the case of
Gerry McGlinchey, a 66-year-old man who suffered a brain hemorrhage
from diving into a swimming pool in September 1999 in Cyprus.
After spending 5 weeks in a coma, he was flown home to University
Hospital, Aintree, Lancashire, where he could only respond with
"Yes" and "No" to questions. Things changed
abruptly on December 21 when a volunteer choir visited the hospital
to sing Christmas carols. When they sang "Hark! The Herald
Angels Sing," McGlinchey suddenly chimed in as his relatives
listened in amazement. Then, with gusto and word-perfect clarity,
he sang his heart out with "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,"
"The First Noel," and "We Wish You a Merry Christmas."
Around the same time,
Shawn Culle, a 27-year-old school teacher lay unconscious in Basildon
General Hospital in Tilbury, Essex, as a result of meningitis.
Then 15 children from St. Mary's Primary School, where he was
a teacher, arrived and sang Christmas carols to him. From the
moment they started singing, Culle began twitching and kicking
and tried to remove his endotracheal tube. The nurses started
to weep. Soon after, he was taken off life support. He was discharged
two weeks later and made a full recovery.
David Aldridge, Chair
of Qualitative Research in Medicine, University of Witten Herdecke
in Witten, Germany, reports other cases in which comatose patients
in intensive care units have gained consciousness when a music
therapist softly sings certain melodies to them.
The second phenomena
that is particularly appropriate for this time and place is miracle
cures - or what the timid in my profession call "anomalous
Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
said, "There are only two ways to live your life. One is
as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything
is a miracle."
David Ben-Gurion agreed,
saying, "[I]n order to be a realist you must believe in miracles."
Here's what one looks
Rita Klaus fist developed
her first symptoms of multiple sclerosis as a cloistered nun in
Unable to meet the
demands of convent life, she was given dispensation from her vows,
finished her college degree in biology, and became a science teacher
in a junior high school outside Pittsburgh.
She married and had
Her disease progressed
rapidly and soon she was confined to a wheelchair, with complete
paralysis of both feet and ankles. Contractures and muscle spasms
caused deformities of her legs, along with intractable sciatic
Certain she would never
walk again, her doctors surgically severed the tendons in her
legs that kept her kneecaps in place. This permitted her to hobble
short distances inside her house with full-length leg braces and
Although formerly extremely
religious, her spiritual beliefs evaporated like a snowball on
a hot stove. "It's a bunch of malarkey," she said. "God
does not intervene in the natural order. Every time I see these
televangelist creeps, I feel like puking."
In spite of her rejection of her former beliefs, she allowed her
husband to take her to a church service where healing was performed,
during which she was prayed over, touched, and hugged. She felt
"the strangest experience.... There was just this white light,
a feeling of absolute love like I'd never felt coursing through
me. I felt forgiven and at peace. I wasn't physically healed,
but had peace of heart, of knowing I was loved and could weather
The years passed and
her disease got worse. Her doctors told her that her nerves and
tissue were damaged irreversibly, that there was no hope of improvement,
and that it was only a matter of time before she would be bed-ridden.
But in the ensuing
years her faith returned and she resumed her prayers. One night
she had a dream which she interpreted as a summons to the healing
site in Medjugorje, Yugoslavia. But she had no money to travel
- until a month later when someone gave her a financial gift that
made the trip possible. She made the trip, but nothing dramatic
happened that would suggest a cure for her disease.
On her return home,
while she was praying the rosary one day, she heard a gentle voice
say, "Why don't you ask?" so she prayed earnestly once
again to be healed of MS.
She awoke the next
day, went to a class in her wheelchair, and began to feel sensations
of heat and itching in her lower legs. To her astonishment she
realized she could wiggle her toes. Thinking this must be muscle
spasms, she dismissed it. Then, when she got home, she bent down
to remove her leg braces and noticed that her right kneecap, which
had been in a deformed, sideways position since the tendons were
cut, had somehow migrated back to its normal position. She said
later, "I just remember screaming, 'My God, my God, my leg
is straight!'" Then she shed her remaining braces, removed
her socks, tucked up her skirt, and said to herself, "If
I am cured, I can run up the stairs!" - which she did, all
thirteen steps. Her next venture was outdoors. She ran from the
house through the woods, jumped a creek, came back covered with
leaves and mud, and called her priest, shouting, "I'm healed!
I'm healed!" The poor man thought she had gone mad. "I
want you to sit down, calm down, take some aspirin and call your
doctor," he stammered. Still babbling, she called a girlfriend,
who came over and shared a good cry. The following Monday her
husband took her to the rehabilitation hospital. Authors Caryle
Hirshberg and Mark Barasch, in their book Remarkable Recovery,
describe what happened:
The doctors who convened
to examine her were flabbergasted. As the nurses scurried for
her charts and patients gawked and craned, the doctors' reactions
tellingly varied: [Klaus said,] "One of my doctors saw me
and started to laugh. He thought I must have had a twin who I'd
brought in to play a practical joke on him." Her neurologist,
she says, was "so angry! He said there is no cure for MS,
no such thing as miracles. He even called people at the hospital
and told them I was a fraud and a fake.
There seemed little
doubt about Klaus's cure. Dr. Donald Meisner examined her and
found no trace of MS. When word of the case leaked out, he said
to a local newspaper, "Spontaneous remissions of multiple
sclerosis are possible. The only thing that doesn't fit here is
that usually the permanent damage that had occurred up to the
point of remission does not go away. In Rita's case, every evidence
I could see would suggest that she is totally back to normal."
Some of Klaus's physicians
were happy about her recovery. Her urologist, who had last seen
her with her bladder swollen to many times normal size and incontinent,
retested her and confirmed the organ had returned to normal. "He
said there was no way he could explain it, that it was the most
beautiful thing he'd ever seen in all his years of practice, and
then he cried." Klaus's neurological reports from around
that time. It read,
of any equipment....She has regained full strength of both lower
extremities....Her deep tendon reflexes are all symmetrical and
normal....A tremendous recovery, I am not sure where to place
it in this short period of time. The patient did not get tired
of demonstrating to me how good she was...I am very happy....
Rita Klaus's case is
telling. I could you about many more that are equally dramatic.
Let us admit that we
don't understand how these events are even possible. As Sir Arthur
Eddington said about the uncertainty principle quantum physics
in the early 20th century, "Something unknown is doing we
don't know what."
I mentioned earlier that this event is being co-sponsored by the
Washington Society of Jungian Psychology.
Where does Jung come
The ideas of Carl Jung,
who lived from 1875 to 1961, fit hand-in-glove with what we have
been saying here tonight.
As we have seen, scores
of experiments suggest the ability of consciousness to make a
difference "out there" in the natural world. One of
the primary features of these studies is that distance and time
do not matter; healing through intentions and prayer, for example,
appear to be as effective from the other side of the world as
at the bedside. Moreover, many studies suggest that the effects
of intentions are not limited to the present moment.
This suggests that,
in some dimension, our consciousness is not confined to the individual
brain and body, as we've maintained throughout the twentieth century.
Human consciousness appears unbounded. It seems to be, in some
sense, nonlocal - a fancy word meaning "infinite."
Now, if something is
infinite in time, it is forever; it is immortal. If it is infinite
in space, it is everywhere; it is omnipresent.
Minds that are unbounded
in space and time cannot be walled off from one another. In some
sense they come together and form what our ancestors called the
Universal Mind, or what Erwin Schrödinger, one of the great
physicists of the 20th century, called the One Mind.
Now, bear in mind that
infinitude in space and time are qualities that we have always
associated with the divine. This means that we share qualities
with the divine, or what Jung called the Godhead.
And so, over his lifetime,
Carl Jung crafted a model of consciousness that included all the
features that flow from the experiments we've looked at, including
infinitude in space and time, immortality, unboundedness, and
the unity of all minds.
Here's a sample of
what Jung had to say on these points:
question for man is: Is he related to something infinite or not?
That is the telling question of his life."
"For him [the
Westerner], the 'soul' is something pitifully small, unworthy,
personal, subjective...[But the] soul is assuredly not small,
but the radiant Godhead itself. "
"Spatial distance is, in the psychic sense, relative...[and]
psychically contractile....[T]his nullification of space proceeds
with great speed, so that perceptions of this kind occur almost
simultaneously with the accident. We can therefore speak of a
psychic nullification of time as well."
Jung believed that
the afterlife, though perhaps not perfect, was nevertheless blissful.
He nearly died from a heart attack in January 1944 and experienced
a near-death experience. Afterward he wrote, "What happens
after death is so unspeakably glorious that our imagination and
our feelings do not suffice to form even an approximate conception
of it.... The dissolution of our time-bound form in eternity brings
no loss of meaning...."
"A man should
be able to say he has done his best to form a conception of life
after death, or to create some image of it - even if he must confess
his failure. Not to have done so is a vital loss."
"As a doctor,
I make every effort to strengthen
the belief in immortality."
None of the formal
experiments in distant intentionality that I have mentioned were
done during Jung's lifetime; they lay just around the corner.
But Jung clearly seemed
to see them coming.
Jung arrived at his
non-local view of consciousness through many, many avenues - his
work with patients; his work in mythology, alchemy, and comparative
religion; his own experiences -
- and also through
his awareness of what was going on in certain areas of modern
This was influenced
by this association with the Nobel physicist Wolfgang Pauli, who
was also a patient of Jung's.
I leave you with a
I've suggested that
scientific medicine should make room for matters of the spirit.
But spirituality should
never be held hostage to science, or made to be subservient to
Science can never really
get its hands on spirit. Scientists have no spirit meters or soul
In other words, everything
that counts cannot be counted.
The greatest scientists
have known this.
So too have the greatest
sages and mystics.
They are not waiting
in the graves for the latest pronouncement from science, or for
the results of the latest experiment in prayer.
Science can never give
us the final word on spirit. In fact, "final" is not
a concept that even belongs to science.
So, since nothing is
final in science, we are always dealing with partial knowledge.
This is particularly
true where mind, consciousness, and spirit are concerned.
That does not mean
we should throw up our hands and ignore these issues, as I have
tried to show.
Richard Horton, editor
of the prestigious medical journal The Lancet, says, "We
must act on facts and on the most accurate interpretation of them,
using the best scientific information. That does not mean that
we must sit back until we have 100 percent evidence about everything.
When the...health of the individual is at stake...we should be
prepared to take action to diminish those risks even when the
scientific knowledge is not conclusive...."
Or as Murray Cohen
reminds us, "The ark was made by amateurs, and the Titanic
by the experts. Don't wait for the experts."
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