The popular image of faith healers tends to be a rather tarnished one, yet it is repeatedly being demonstrated that dramatic successes in the healing of many problems – both of physical and psychological disease -often follow when a patient submits, or surrenders himself, to a new faith. Cynics may say that if vast numbers of ordinarily intelligent men and women succumb to the foibles of commercially-minded quacks and rogues, then it is up to the doctors to tell them that they have been duped and fooled. But because the perpetrators of the ‘cures’ may have been shown to be, if not exploitative rogues and crooks, then empiricists, there is something intrinsically phoney about the cures themselves. Such an argument is often fallacious. A criminally insane surgeon could, for instance, carry out an efficient appendectomy operation and save a patient’s life. In other words, the nature of the cure need have nothing to do with the personality, morals, or ideas of the healer. Rather, it is to do with what the healer does to his patient.
When cures follow a pattern that is at loggerheads with the tenets and beliefs of orthodoxy, it is common to look on them as being dubious ‘faith cures, and much has been written on this subject from both sides of the medical blanket. An unprejudiced examination of faith cures shows us that faith, as such, is a powerful thing when it is firmly in control of a situation. Another factor intrinsic in such cures is the generation in one form or another of the relaxation response.
Meditation is the cornerstone of many religions and cults, for example in Zen Buddhism. Primarily designed by religion to benefit the soul, it is also excellent stuff for the body. In these days straightforward meditation rather than prayer is a feature of Oriental religions. But the Retreat has always had its place in the Church of Rome and is becoming popular in other religious persuasions too. Often, of course, the mantra has a different name, and the type of breathing learned in the 10-day plan may be more related to the canticle than the pendulum.
In recent years a new approach by the Occident to the Orient has been tentatively made in which the principles we have been concerning ourselves with in this book are more directly used.