As a teenager I was sent to the Christian Science church Sunday school, and was taught that matter didn’t exist, everything that occurred, occurred in our own minds, and was a figment of our own thoughts. If you analyse that, you will realise that there is no way that you can disprove it, theoretically. Practically of course it’s a different matter. Some of this teaching has stuck with me, and I practise it when needed. If you ever go for an operation, which is going to be rather unpleasant, especially in the case of the preliminaries, the surgeon or a nurse will say to you ‘concentrate on something else,’ because they know that this will reduce the traumatic effect of what they’re about to do. I have found in my own case, if I have severe discomfort for one reason or another, that clearing the mind totally, and preventing thoughts from taking hold, can be very beneficial, to the point where the pain no longer registers. At times like that I think of my mind as a room with many doors through which thoughts can come, and as soon as a thought tries to come through a door I mentally slam the door on it. This may sound absurd, and possibly you think it is rubbish, but I can assure you, it is often a help to me with insomnia.
For years I was very sceptical of faith healers, people who laid hands on you, gave you potions, and were looked upon by a lot of people as charlatans and quacks. There is no shadow of doubt that many of the people practising are not doing so under the control of any association or society, and the skill is not determined by anything other than being passed on by word of mouth. However, in one aspect I have had my mind changed. Some years ago I had a ganglion on the back of my hand, I went to my doctor to ask for an appointment with a specialist or have it surgically removed, but he said that this was not possible as it was on a tendon and this would be too risky. A lady I know, who is a practising healer, with people prepared to fly from one end of the United Kingdom to the other for a single consultation, offered to help me. She placed her hands some two to three inches above the ganglion and concentrated on what she was doing. As time went on, and I am talking only minutes, I felt the heat penetrating my hand, my hands tingling, and sensed that there was some form of energy literally flowing through my hand. All the time this was going on I was sceptical, I thanked the Lady, she went on her way, and then three or four days later the gangly started to diminish. Within a week it had gone completely and never returned. Once when I had a serious operation and the pain was considerable, she came and did the same for me. The surgeon who had operated and my own doctor told me that it would be very painful afterwards and that I should lay in a supply of painkillers. On the first day home their forecasts were fully justified, but the lady came and put their hands over the area once again, and within 24 hours I needed no more painkillers, even when the wound was being dressed. If you have read this blog to any extent, I believe that you will have found that I am a pragmatist, and not given to flights of fancy.
When it comes to potions, which Sophie believes in, I am more sceptical. The faith healing prescriptions, based on herbs and natural chemicals from the earth, diluted out of all recognition, seemed to me to cure on the basis of belief rather than any effective chemical reaction in the body. The fact that there are shops all over the world selling these things, and I believe that Chinese medicine in rural areas has a similar basis, would seem to substantiate that there is something in it. As a pragmatist with a scientific background I can only put it down to self hypnosis, as the amount of the product as a percentage of the whole potion is so small, and I cannot see how it can have such dominance. The corollary of this is the poisons and other substances which have an effect on the body, should be damaging us quite considerably as we come across them in our daily lives in much greater quantities. I personally cannot align these two concepts.
Over my long life I have seen the effects both good and bad of religion. I have seen people whose lives have been enriched because of their strong religious beliefs, and there have been those including my mother, who suffered for them. So it is not up to me to criticise what I don’t understand. We must work on the principle that if you think it does you good it probably will.