Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Visit to Healer

I went to a professional healer today, at the urging of two friends. He has supposedly cured a number of people of cancer. I’m a bit skeptical about most alternative therapies, but I thought I should try him out because my friends swore by him.

He asked me some questions about my cancer and offered some observations such as, “You have at least six tumors”, then later on in the session, “You have more than ten tumors”. This wasn’t too difficult a deduction since I’d told him the cancer was all over my chest and in my lungs.

He told me a few other things about myself. He said I had no “joy”. I told him I thought I was a pretty happy person, cancer aside. He said I might be happy, but I didn’t have “joy”. He didn’t elaborate.

He had me lie down on a massage table and yanked at my arms, legs, and cracked my neck. He said this was to release my energies. He had me float my hand over my heart and asked if I felt any warmth. I tried to feel it; I willed myself to feel it. But I didn’t.

He said I needed to believe in his methods or they wouldn’t work on me.

This is the same circular logic that gets me stuck with Christianity. Either you’re in the circle of faith or you’re out. And if you don’t have faith, which by definition is belief without reason, then you can’t be saved. I wish I could have faith, but I don’t. It’s just not there. I don’t know how to get it, but I’m pretty sure I’m not going to be able to buy it at $120 an hour.

The healer said I had cancer because I didn’t “know myself” and if I were to “find myself”, then I’d be cured of my cancer. This idea of finding oneself is so vague and subject to so many interpretations. I find this obsession with finding one’s “essence”, whatever that means, can be quite egocentric and selfish. This is what bothers me about Buddhism. I never liked the idea of these monks forsaking the world, abandoning their families and loved ones, so they can go sit on some mountain and reach nirvana. Isn’t that the ultimate in self-centeredness?

I think we’re always learning new things about ourselves and some people are more self-aware than others. I think finding oneself is like finding happiness – it’s the process that’s important and people aren’t meant to sit back at some point in their lives and say, “Aaah, I’ve found myself. I’m truly happy.” Because once you reach that point, what are you supposed to do next?

This healer might have helped many cancer patients, but so have doctors. I’d wager that the percentage of cancer patients saved by conventional medicine far exceeds the percentage saved by alternative therapies. I’ve heard many stories about miraculous cures, people whose cancers completely disappeared without any medical intervention. I believe that’s possible through a confluence of events, including environmental and lifestyle factors – the same myriad factors that came together to cause the cancer in the first place. We can’t explain them because they’re too complex. They’re miracles.

If you believe in miracles, then miracles will happen for you. A rainbow is a miracle or a sign from God. Or it’s the result of the refraction and dispersion of sunlight by moisture in the air. It’s more beautiful to think of it as a miracle, so I don’t begrudge people who can see it as such. They might be the lucky ones. But I can see a rainbow’s beauty and still appreciate the science behind it. I can see myself being cured of this cancer and appreciate the science behind it – a science which I believe is in itself a miracle.


Marge said...

I'm with you, babe. In the science vs. miracle debate I come down on the science side. Which is not to say that I - or you - are not spiritual. You can be spiritual and agnostic and hopeful and pragmatic all at once.
I love you, Shin, in all your complexities.
Meantime, did I read in a subsequent blog entry that you're planning to be in the States around Christmas? If so, I can plan to come meet you!


Anonymous said...

no Shin, reaching nirvana is not necessarily only through forsaking everyone you know and go to some deep forests and meditate until you die. reaching nirvana means you are at complete peace with yourself and the universe.
by the way, although you wrote this long time ago, may I know which healer you went to?

Shin said...

Dear Ice,

I obviously have a limited understanding of Buddhism. In fact, all I know about it came from a high school course called, "World Religions", in which we studied the five major religions of the world in three months. Not a good basis for forming opinions, is it?

I've always wanted to learn more about it, so I was going to start with the book, "Buddhism for Dummies" , but then cancer took over all of my time.

Anyway, I'm sorry if I've offended you in any way, and please feel free to educate me.

As for the healer's name, I'd rather not mention it in this public forum, but if you e-mail me, I'm happy to let you know.

March 12, 2008 1:39 AM