The world is fraught with much discussion, analysis and media activity regarding illness – focus and trends vary, and in particular cancer appears to dominate. The entire subject is fraught with complexity; with unanswered and seemingly unanswerable questions and the topic absolutely vibrates with fear. The ‘prevention of cancer’ joins the ranks of an infinite arena of pursuits designed to takes us down the labyrinthine rabbit’s hole of ‘health’. Complexity is the ego’s game. ‘Seek but do not find..’ and as long as we’re seeking ‘out there’ for the answers, for the golden key, the magical preventative, we will not look deeply within our own heart-mind, into our conciousness – wherein lies the cause.
Personally I have experienced that my health is a reflection of my state of inner peace. Perhaps you can feel the ease in that statement, the relief. I have found that over the years, through my study and application of the teachings in A Course in Miracles my health has improved. I have stopped trying to control my health and curiously my body is far healthier than 15 years ago. I put this down to an increased sense of inner peace; and when I do experience a head-ache for example, I am able to let it run its course, with medication if needed, and more importantly with inner peace. It passes ever so quickly with that combination. I no longer see the health of my body as priority; I see inner peace as my priority and then if my body reflects that.. well, that is interesting!
So if health is inner peace ‘how do I get some of that?’ you may ask, and the answer is not on the shelf of your local pharmacy or health store or in anything ‘out there’ in the world of form.
Inner peace infuses our being when we let go of grievances toward our self and others and when we release limiting beliefs. When we remember that we are as God created us we experience inner peace. When we remember ‘I am not a body, I am free’ we feel within us that sense of inner peace. When we stop the struggle and striving and surrender to Spirit we experience inner peace. When we accept ‘what is’ we find a lightening within us, a spaciousness of inner peace. When we practice forgiveness (seeing our brother as our self) and cease judgement we start to experience more inner peace. In using our body as a vehicle to communicate love (its true purpose), we experience inner peace. And as our mind changes from fear to love, inner peace takes root within us and our world ‘out there’ which includes our body and its energy field will reflect this shift as wellness. This is health.
‘Health is the result of relinquishing all attempts to use the body lovelessly.’ (T.8.VIII.9.9)
Please note that this is not to say that we abandon self-care such as medication and eating sensibly and appropriately for our body type. To care for the body is loving toward self. Rather, what is key is that we release any ‘fixation’ we may have around these things, and any guilt associated. Health, fitness, anti-ageing – these are prevalent issues in our modern world attracting much attention and obsession. There are many perils to avoid and a plethora of healthy options to choose from for the sake of our bodily preservation and health, and these can be overwhelming and frightening; we may find ourselves feeling virtuous for correct choices, and self-recriminating for unhealthy choices – these are both sides of the same ego coin.
Eminent Course teacher Kenneth Wapnick talked about watching the mind for any preoccupation. As he said it’s OK to have a messy house and it’s OK to have a tidy house. Both are neutral until we feel any anxiety or obsession over either – then we know the ego is involved. So it’s that letting go of making ‘healthy eating’ for example a big deal, by simply approaching it lightly and adopting it as a loving gesture toward Self.
Conscious eating when used as a vehicle of love and care for those we share the planet with is free of ego. However it can easily be used to accentuate differences – I am ‘conscious’ and ‘they’ are not. If we find we are separating ourselves from others because of our choices then that’s another clue fear is involved. If we feel special or ‘better than’ because of our chosen lifestyle then we know ego has a hand here. This applies to medicine too; those who don’t do ‘conventional meds’ may experience guilt when they have to resort to an anti-biotic. An inner conflict arises, and if there is judgement or a ‘charge’ this is an indication that there is something here calling for love and healing, and release. It’s the letting go of the ‘war within’ that brings health as a reflection of inner peace.
A wonderful illustration that ‘health is inner peace’ is the story of Wild Bill Cody, below. In response to this story a question often crops up – ‘So what about those seemingly enlightened people, or those dear souls who only exude love and kindness? How could they have died of cancer or other disease?’ We simply cannot know another person’s Atonement path or their own journey Home. Illness is often chosen by people as a jump-starter for spiritual evolvement, for themselves and for their loved ones, or as a curriculum for awakening. It is highly individual.
That said, it is understandable that we want to know and to understand why bad things like cancer happen to beautiful people, and how we can prevent such things – but all this can keep us in anguish, in conflict.. ‘I could see peace instead of this’ (ACIM Lesson 34) is so helpful here as it moves us into acceptance, and the conflict-free paradigm of ‘not knowing’ (and not striving). In ‘not knowing’ lies blessed inner peace. As David Hoffmeister says,‘When you stop trying to control the wind, the feather of serenity will find its way to you’. I have found ‘not knowing’ moves me out of the fear for perceived bodily vulnerability and into trusting in the invulnerability of Spirit. And therein lies my real strength.
Before you read this story I invite you to bear in mind the following:
Wild Bill Cody lived for years in a concentration camp amidst absolute degradation and deprivation and he maintained his health and was infused with vitality. From what we know of these horrific camps it’s possible that Wild Bill lived on a diet of watered down soup, bread, and maybe a little porridge. Fruit, vegetables and vitamins were probably not top of the list in camp fare. It’s possible that daily he inhaled quantities of toxic fumes and smoke. It’s possible that he had little real exercise nor medical attention. He probably bathed in cold water in very cold temperatures and his clothing was no doubt inadequate. One can presume that he was exposed to lice, and it’s possible that frequently he was amidst prisoners who had influenza, TB, cholera and many other dreadful illnesses far more hazardous than what we are exposed in our day to day lives. It’s likely he would have smoked cigarettes or chewed tobacco. His sustenance as you will read came from within him with a decision he had made – to choose peace as his priority above all else.
The Story of Wild Bill Cody
An excerpt from ‘Return from Tomorrow’ by George G. Ritchie
“When the war in Europe ended in May 1945, the 123rd Evac entered Germany with the occupying troops. I was part of a group assigned to a concentration camp near Wuppertal, charged with getting medical help to the newly liberated prisoners, many of them Jews from Holland, France, and eastern Europe. This was the most shattering experience I had yet had; I had been exposed many times by then to sudden death and injury, but to see the effects of slow starvation, to walk through those barracks where thousands of men had died a little bit at a time over a period of years, was a new kind of horror. For many it was an irreversible process: we lost scores each day in spite of all the medicine and food we could rush to them.
Now I needed my new insight indeed. When the ugliness became too great to handle I did what I had learned to do. I went from one end to the other of that barbed wire enclosure looking into men’s faces until I saw looking back at me the face of Christ.
And that’s how I came to know Wild Bill Cody. That wasn’t his real name. His real name was seven unpronounceable syllables in Polish, but he had long drooping handlebar moustaches like pictures of the old western hero, so the American soldiers called him Wild Bill. He was one of the inmates of the concentration camp, but obviously he hadn’t been there long: his posture was erect, his eyes bright, his energy indefatigable. Since he was fluent in English, French, German and Russian, as well as Polish, he became a kind of unofficial camp translator.
We came to him with all sorts of problems; the paper work alone was staggering in attempting to relocate people whose families, even whole home towns, might have disappeared. But though Wild Bill worked fifteen and sixteen hours a day, he showed no signs of weariness. While the rest of us were drooping with fatigue, he seemed to gain strength.
“We have time for this old fellow,” he’d say.”He’s been waiting to see us all day.” His compassion for his fellow-prisoners glowed on his face, and it was to this glow that I came when my own spirits were low.
So I was astonished to learn when Wild Bill’s own papers came before us one day, that he had been in Wuppertal since 1939! For six years he had lived on the same starvation diet, slept in the same airless and disease-ridden barracks as everyone else, but without the least physical or mental deterioration.
Perhaps even more amazing, every group in the camp looked to him as a friend. He was the one to whom quarrels between inmates were brought for arbitration. Only after I’d been at Wuppertal a number of weeks did I realize what a rarity this was in a compound where the different nationalities of prisoners hated each other almost as much as they did the Germans.
As for the Germans, feelings against them ran so high that in some of the camps liberated earlier, former prisoners had seized guns, run into the nearest village and simply shot the first Germans they saw. Part of our instructions were to prevent this kind of thing and again Wild Bill was our greatest asset, reasoning with the different groups, counselling forgiveness.
“It’s not easy for some of them to forgive,” I commented to him one day as we sat over mugs of tea in the proceeding centre. “So many of them have lost members of their families.”
Wild Bill leaned back on the upright chair and sipped at his drink. “We lived in the Jewish section of Warsaw,” he began slowly, the first words I had heard him speak about himself. “My wife, our two daughters, and our three little boys. When the Germans reached our street they lined everyone against a wall and opened up with machine guns. I begged to be allowed to die with my family, but because I spoke German they put me in a work group.” He paused, perhaps seeing again his wife and children. “I had to decide right then,” he continued, “whether to let myself hate the soldiers who had done this. It was an easy decision, really. I was a lawyer. In my practice I had seen too often what hate could do to people’s minds and bodies. Hate had just killed the six people who mattered most to me in the world. I decided then that I would spend the rest of my life, whether it was a few days or many years, loving every person I came in contact with.”
Loving every person . . .this was the power that had kept a man well in the face of every privation.” ♥