Esoteric Principles of Inner Healing
About This Article
This article is written by Abbot George Burke (Swami Nirmalananda Giri), head of Light of the Spirit Monastery (Atma Jyoti Ashram), in Cedar Crest, New Mexico. He has written extensively on various aspects of practical spiritual life over the past 40 years. His writings can be found at OCOY.org.
“When Jesus was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him. And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus put forth [his] hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them” (Matthew 8:1-4).
This Gospel passage first tells us that Jesus came down from the mountain. In the holy Scriptures mountains usually symbolize the higher states of consciousness.
The coming down of Jesus from the mountain means the manifestation of power through the invocation of the primal designator or “name” of God: Om. So we are being given the picture of an aspirant to spiritual life who knows how to call directly upon the Lord through this sacred Syllable. The coming down of Jesus from the mountain is also a reference to the descent of divine transforming power which occurs as we intone Om in japa and meditation, when the channels to “above” have been fully opened through our practice.
In sum, then, we have the picture of an aspirant possessing both esoteric knowledge and esoteric empowerment. So Saint Matthew was writing for the Christians of the early centuries before the inner light became dimmed and eventually denied. Because of this we need to keep in mind that what is being set forth is not for the minimal Christian but rather for one who is fully equipped to pursue the path that leads to Christhood.
The Gathering of the Multitudes
We are told that when Jesus came down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him. That is, whenever Om is invoked by us, the vast multitude of the psychic patterns which lie stored within us from lifetimes beyond number come crowding around to hear the Pranava–the Word of Life. This can be unsettling to us, and we may consider that it is a worthless distraction. But it is not. It is necessary for our perfect healing. Also, we come to discover buried within us habits and traits that we never encountered in this lifetime–seeds that have been waiting to manifest in negative thought and action. By keeping to the invocation of Om we will keep ourselves on an even course and not be overwhelmed by inner negativity. But the inner negativity must come popping up to the surface of our mind, as the gas from decaying matter bubbles up to the surface of stagnant water. When this happens many people are horrified and wonder if meditation and japa might not be making them worse–perhaps even impelling them toward evil. Calm and steady invocation of Om is the remedy for those fears as well. We should keep in mind the assertion of Jesus that it is not the well but the sick who need a physician (Matthew 9:12). So naturally the sick will crowd around for help. The arising of some of the inner craziness will seem more like an attack than an appeal for help, but like David we can say: “In the Name of the Lord I overcame” (Psalms 118:9-13).
Out of the multitude following Jesus a leper came forth, bowed before Him, and said: “Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.” Lepers were the major incurables of the day, and shunned by all as “unclean.” Usually they had to stay away from crowds, and wherever they went they had to cry out “unclean, unclean” to warn others not to come near and be infected. People feared them far more than they felt compassion for them. Yet this man comes right up to Jesus. And this is how we must be. There can be no hesitation in spiritual life. We must take the plunge and boldly strike out for the goal. Furthermore, we must do our utmost to remove all that comes between our consciousness and God. Like Moses we, too, must speak face to face with God (Exodus 33:11). We bring ourselves into the presence of God through japa and meditation.
The leper bowed before Jesus–the King James translation is “worshipped him.” So, too, our approach must be one of humility. There is an esoteric aspect to this as well. In both East and West we find the tradition of bowing at the feet of the one being approached. This is especially true when greeting the saints. In India people always bow down and touch their heads to the ground, or touch the saint’s feet with their hands. The human body is like a series of magnets, the hands and feet being similar to the poles of a horseshoe magnet. Currents of life force continually flow from the hands and feet to whatever is aligned with them. So by bowing at the feet of a saint we receive the magnetic currents radiated by them into the higher centers of awareness in our head. By touching their feet we draw those forces directly into our bodies. In the same way we must know both how and where to approach Jesus. His consciousness is everywhere, in the heart of all things, and therefore in the heart of us. We must also seek Him internally through meditation and japa. Therefrom we can draw all life and healing.
Notice the wise words of the leper: “Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.” There is no doubt in the man’s mind that Jesus has the power to cleanse all uncleanness, to dispel all disease. This must be our faith as well. We must hold to the of Om with all tenacity, refusing to let it go for any reason whatsoever. Like Jacob we must wrestle to win the blessing of the Lord (Genesis 32:24-30).
Why Not Automatic Healing?
The only thing that we need is the operation of the will of the Lord. Why, then, are we not automatically purified and healed? Because our negative wills oppose it. In truth, since all things come from God–indeed are God–our wills are really manifestations of the divine will somehow set up in opposition to God. This is a terrible realization! But face it we must. We who are so weak and so mortal can thwart the will of the infinite, omnipotent God. All we need do, then, is stop the opposing of our will to Him and to provide the conditions for the operation of His will upon us. It is not God we need to plead with and cajole, but our own egoic lower self. In the mind of God our perfection is an accomplished reality. It is our ego and ignorance that denies and blinds us to that truth, and must be gotten out of the way, along with the accumulated psychic debris of ages. Then nothing can prevent our spiritual attainment. We are the problem. We must reform ourselves. This is why in the monastic tradition of Saint Benedict one of the vows taken is that of “reformation of life.” The spiritual life alone is the true “reformatory” in which we must confine ourselves if we would be corrected and restored to our original state in God.
Let us look at those words again: “Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.” Japa and meditation of Om, when no longer opposed by our will, and no longer inhibited by our ignorance, can make us clean and heal our spiritual leprosy that is holding us in the realms of death. It is indeed true that we must work a great deal at our own purification. This is needful for the re-forming in us of the divine image. But the great cleansing is done by Om Itself. The cleansing effected by japa and meditation is so profound that it is really a new birth. Yet birth is only a beginning. The process of life stretches onward before us, a path which we must walk. And part of that walking involves self-purification. Long and arduous purification falls to our lot. If we persevere then our story will be the same as the leper’s: “And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.”
The Two Touches
We must touch Jesus–Divine Conscious–and He must touch us. Action is required on both sides. Without these two touchings nothing can take place. All the religiosity, good thoughts and good deeds in the world can produce no healing of themselves. It is between us and God in the final analysis.
The leper’s healing was not the end of the matter. Then “Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.”
In one of the Upanishads of India it is stated: “He who tells knows it not. He who knows tells it not.” And: “He who says ‘I know’ does not know. But perhaps he who says ‘I do not know’ does know.” Therefore Jesus, Who had studied the Upanishadic lore with the Masters in India, transmits this teaching to us by living example. He tells the man not to boast of it to anyone, not to make claims of healing. Part of the reason we should not be going around making claims of spiritual attainment is the avoidance of egotism. But there is something else: the simple truth that we cannot judge for ourselves what our spiritual status really is. And since we really do not know it, we should keep silence on the matter.
Seeking the Wisdom of the Wise
Jesus does not end His instruction there, however. He then tells the man to show himself to the priest for declaration of healing. Historically this was part of the Mosaic Law. When a leper was cleansed he was to be examined by the priest and officially declared cured. So we need to submit our “case” to the wisdom of the saints and sages. This is because we often mistake the natural for the supernatural and often put great value upon what is really trivial. Nothing is more unreliable than our judgment of ourselves. In this Gospel reading we are being guided along the path of wise sobriety. We must at all times submit our development to the judgment of those who have experience, knowledge, and objectivity in these matters.
Evidence of Real Inner Healing
Jesus’ final direction to the man was that he should “offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.” That is, if we are truly cleansed, truly healed, then we have an obligation–an obligation to make the offering that is itself the testimony, yes, the evidence of true spiritual healing. And that offering is made clear by the words of Saint Paul: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). When we do this; when we make our entire life a living offering unto God, then we can know that our spiritual progress is real, that our experiences have value. And this is indeed only reasonable, for Saint Paul further states that the purpose of this offering is: “that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2). the will that still cleanses the lepers and restores the dead to life.