Paul Brunton Philosophic Foundation homepage > Notebooks of Paul Brunton > Category 10: Healing of the Self > Chapter 2: The Universal Life Force

The Universal Life Force

There is a single source of Life which envelops the universe and pervades man. By its presence in himself he is able to exist physically and function mentally.

That Power which brought the body into existence originally maintains its involuntary functions, cures its diseases, and heals its wounds. It is within the body itself; it is the life-force aspect of the Soul, the Overself. Its curative virtue may express itself through various mediums--as herbs and foods, hot, cold, or mud baths, and deep breathings, exercise, and osteopathy--or it may express itself by their complete absence as in fasting, often the quickest and most effective medium. Or, disdaining physical methods entirely, it may act directly and almost miraculously as spiritual healing.

The role of physical treatments of any kind is to supply favourable conditions for the action of the universal life-force which does the real healing work, just as food, water, and air supply materials to this same force for the repair of tissue and the regeneration of cells.

If it is the heart's activity which enables the whole body to exist and carry out its function in the world, it is the life-force's activity which enables the heart to carry out its function in the body.

The body has its own natural intelligence which serves it when the skin is cut or the flesh is wounded, coagulating the blood and forming new tissue. This intelligence heals, repairs, and re-energizes, provided you put no obstructions in its way through wrong diet, excessive activity, or bad habits.

Nature is an expression of the Universal Mind. The plants are given to us for medicine or food. It is an insult to Nature to despise these remedies.

The physical body attracts solar energies from the surrounding atmosphere, and vital elements from food, air, and water, and incorporates them into itself. This gives it the force whereby its limbs make their movements. But the ultimate sustaining strength is derived from the Overself.

It is this intelligent life-force which regulates the hair's growth, keeps the body at an even temperature, and regulates contracting and expanding of the lungs. Man does not do these things consciously or ordinarily, but the force is well able to take care of them.

The life-force comes into play automatically when healing is required, but we put so much obstruction in its path that we prolong the disease until it may become chronic.

The belief that the body is permeated by a power which heals it when sick was accepted by the Greeks before Christ. The medical man's role is to co-operate with this power.

Just as there is one process in the body which decays it with the years and ultimately destroys it, so there is another process which beneficently recuperates and even heals it.

After all and in the end, it is Nature which brought us to birth on this planet. Can we not therefore credit her with the power of restoring the health needful to maintain the lives she has taken the trouble to originate?

Nature not only soothes troubled minds but heals troubled bodies. She provides them with curative herbs, barks, waters, rays, leaves--the woods are sanitariums.

The psychic poisons resulting from civilized man's excessive, exciting, and ego-stimulating activities must be treated on different levels, the antidotes being sleep, mental quiet, diet, rest, and relaxation.

The life-force displays one remarkable effect during sleep: it not only recuperates the body but--as in the cases of Napoleon and General Douglas MacArthur--keeps the body strong and tough even though never exercised. For these two men possessed the uncommon power of being able to fall asleep within a minute or two at will.

Incubation is the old term applied to the sleeping in a temple--usually a special shrine or sanctuary used for healing and healing-dreams and dream-oracles alone--as a means of healing. This was practised by ancient Greeks and Babylonians. It was also frequently practised in ancient Egypt at the temples of Isis and Serapis with effects similar to those of hypnotism. Five hundred years before Christ at the temple of Epidaurus, where the inspiring spirit or god was Aesculapius (the patron saint of modern medicine still), sick patients were put to sleep by priests at the foot of Aesculapius' statue. In many cases, they awoke suddenly cured.

That the real effectiveness of incubation was not the work of a departed spirit but of Nature in the sleep state combined with the sufferer's faith, was shown by the custom which still prevails in Greece. Here sleep in a temple of Aesculapius was simply replaced by sleep in the church associated with a Christian saint.

Consider a cut hand and how Nature at once sets to work to repair the damage. The anatomist tells us that the leucocytes in the blood automatically build a bridge of tissue over the wound's surface. But what orders the leucocytes to make the needed adjustment? What shows them how to make it? There is obviously an intelligence behind them, a mind within the body outside and apart from the conscious mind.

There are no miracles in Nature, but there are happenings to which science possesses no key. The human consciousness, for instance, is capable of manifesting powers which contradict psychological knowledge, just as the human body is capable of manifesting phenomena which contradict medical knowledge. Both powers and phenomena may seem miraculous, but they really issue forth from the hidden laws of man's own being. The processes take place in the dark only to us.

The vital body

This life-force, this invisible energy, is behind and within, around and above the physical body. Under certain circumstances its area can be seen and traced out and its recuperative healing power drawn upon. It forms an aura, the etheric or vital body of light, but not the still more elusive and subtle divine body of Light nor the aura of various colours, the astral body.

The life-principle is a nonmaterial reality which manifests as the aura in which the physical body is immersed. It keeps vital organs and vital parts in condition and activity until it vanishes at death and merges with the astral (mental-emotional) form instead. It can also manifest electromagnetically.

What are the "higher bodies"? Just as man has a physical body with which to operate in the physical world, so he has a vital body, an emotional body, and a mental body through which to express these other parts of his nature. This is the teaching of Theosophists, Hindus, and occultists. These bodies survive the death of the physical body, but are reduced to seed atoms when, between incarnations, man passes into a state of happy dreamless slumber. But from the philosophical viewpoint, the "higher bodies" are simply thought bodies, or, more correctly, states of consciousness.

The body's health or sickness shows only the surface of what is happening: the inner man is concerned with it too. His thought, feeling, attitude, and action--his whole character--reflect it. But the inner man is unseen; hence only fragments get known. For there lies the aura where causes precede the physical effects. Only now in recent years has the aura been clearly photographed, both in black and white and on colour film.

Just as a particular body may reject someone else's surgically transplanted organ, so a particular aura may reject someone else's as it impinges in close contact. Repulsion will be strongly felt.

Some aura of the owner clings to much-used and much-worn objects.

If the physical body has a limb amputated, the etheric body remains whole. If an eye is removed, the etheric eye remains untouched, whole.

Behind, within, and around the physical body there is another and invisible body which we may call the vital body. This is a kind of archetype or pattern for the physical body. On several points they coincide, but not on others. This subtler etheric body comes into existence before actual birth and remains for a while after actual death. During incarnation it is closely connected with the physical body and especially with its vitality, health, and sickness. The part of it which surrounds the physical body and which we may call the vital aura should not be confused with the other and larger aura wherein emotions and thoughts are reflected. During experiments which I made with a group of London physicians before the war, it was found that this vital aura extended for about forty-five centimetres beyond the physical body. When the vital aura was in a devitalized, fatigued condition, there was less resistance to sickness; but when it was energized the resistance increased. The life-force which we draw from the universal life-force enters into the vital body. Resistance can be increased by deep breathing, by exercise, and by imagining the life-force as a white light entering through the head and penetrating downwards into every cell of the physical body. This also helps the healing process in sickness. Not only are the cells permeated by these methods, but they are also purified.

Nature's healing power

The body does not function blindly like some machine. On the contrary, it is an expression of the divine wisdom and the divine power, which are taking care of every cell within it from head to toe. If the personal ego, with its materialistic ignorance and blind desires, did not wilfully or unknowingly interfere with the body's natural operation in health and in sickness, we would have much less trouble with it. Even so, despite the constant interference of the ego, the body is still a remarkable tribute to the wisdom and power inherent within it.

The healing powers of Nature truly exist, quite apart from the medical powers evoked by physicians, but they exist like electricity. To benefit by them we must draw them, focus them, and concentrate them on ourselves. This is done by our strong and sufficient faith, by our own concentration of attention, and by our relaxing and stilling of the whole being.

He will feel the Power moving through the flesh of his arm and hand, tingling in his fingers. He will feel the victorious attitude permeating his mind.

Because there is such peace revealed by the body, speech, and movements, wrinkles come slower to his face, if at all.

The modern man suffers from a certain physical sickness and some mental ailments which are of his own making. This is because his thoughts are forever centering in his personal ego, his emotions forever revolving round his little self. He can help to free himself from the one and heal himself of the other if he will create an oasis in this desert by daily and purposely withdrawing into the impersonal atmosphere of the higher nature.

What is the real power that works these cures? Who is competent to probe these workings and explain them accurately?

The wonderful truth of reality hidden behind the illusion of this mortal world was the greatest and grandest discovery of Mrs. Eddy; but the belief that the finding of this reality would automatically bring perfect health and give power to bring perfect health to others was her illusion. No Adept who knows what reality is ever regards physical healings or physical miracles as being other than illusion, because he knows whence they proceed. He knows that the powers which work such miracles are hidden and latent powers of the human mind, and not of the divine self, and that you can awaken these powers by concentration or by yoga--if you concentrate deeply enough.

The first principle of healing is to stop the obstructive resistance of the little ego so carried away by the belief that it can successfully manage its own life. The method of doing this is to cast out all negative thoughts, all destructive feelings, and all excessive egoisms. The second principle is to attune the individual to the universal life-force. The method of doing this is to learn the art of relaxing body and mind.

The life-principle in man can certainly heal his body, but the faulty conditions in that body which he must put right can be put right only by himself. That is his share of the therapeutic work, and not the life-principle's. That is where he must give it his co-operation. If he expects it to do everything, and is too ignorant or indolent to do his part, he may get the healing but it cannot be more than an imperfect one.

If he succeeds in arousing the "Spirit-Energy" he may direct it, if he chooses, toward defective bodily structures or toward faulty organic functions. This will effectually supplement whatever remedial agent is being used and perhaps even supplant it.

How few have learned that it is not the quantity of medicine they swallow but the degree of contact with Nature's life-force that they establish which cures their diseases.

The same power which can illuminate the seeking mind can also heal the suffering body.

The practical method which is here presented differs radically from the method of the Christian Scientists, although a superficial reading may give the impression of similarity. The Christian Scientist asserts his inner nature to be divine and a part of God, but the assertion remains a mere intellectual statement unless he has previously opened up a channel to that inner nature with the tool of meditation, prayer, or aspiration. If he has done this, then the assertion rises into the realm of reality and may produce remarkable results; if he has not succeeded in doing this, then his assertion remains mere words, one thought out of the multitude which pass and repass through the brain of man. Moreover, so long as he possesses false notions of what constitutes "demonstration," so long as he thinks that he is entitled to prosperity, good health, and other desirable worldly things because of his spirituality, so long will he find--as so many Christian Scientists do find--that his successes alternate with startling failures. It would be an unpleasant task to illustrate this statement with instances of such failures, not in the rank and file, but in the foremost ranks of the Christian Scientists, and I shall not attempt it. These failures indicate that we must follow no narrow track of sect-ordained thought, but do some research on our own account.

It is a dramatic fact that remedial changes may take place in the organs themselves under the influence of this healing force.

The more he comes into harmony with the cosmic order, the more will his health and strength benefit, his thoughts and feelings become positive. But this is not to say that he will be cured of existing maladies or be kept in perfect health. Harmony means that due regard and attention will be given to the body's importance, hygiene, care, and correct feeding. It means that the thoughts and feelings will be constructive.

Nature's healing power will do its own work upon the sick body if not obstructed by man's foolish methods. Sometimes it will do this best if left entirely alone--as when he rests in bed and fasts from food. At other times it will be quicker and more effective if assisted by man's intelligent methods.

Exercises and meditations

It is possible to direct the healing power of the white light, in imagination and with deep breathing, to any part of the body where pain is felt or to any organ which is not functioning properly. This does not instantly remove the trouble, but it does make a contribution towards the healing process.

Amid the tumult of ego-directed thoughts and feelings, the distress brought on by an adverse circumstance which the ego has not been able to endure or set right can be lessened and relieved by relaxing, letting go, pausing, lying physically and mentally still, whether in a prayer for inner peace or a simple meditation, but in any case turning the affair over to the higher power as a sign of having let go. Such temporary withdrawal gives the Overself its chance to break through the ego's crust and to bring its ministering peace, help, guidance, or healing.

If you want to heal a man do not concentrate upon the nature of his disease, or you may strengthen it. Concentrate rather upon the nature of his Overself, that its mighty grace may be released to him. Do not even pray that he will be cured. Pray rather that the power of the Overself's grace may work within him, and do what it will.

The nape of the neck is one of these important--physically sensitive--centres. It can receive through the hand-touch of a healer the magnetism which affects the health condition.

The Arab physicians use the prolonged fast treatment for advanced syphilis; the Hindu fakirs use mud packs for it. Thus both turn to Mother Nature, and do not always turn in vain.

After he has felt the divine power and presence within himself as the reward of his meditative search, he may turn it towards the healing of his body's ailments. This would be impossible if he were less than relaxed, peaceful, assured, if either fear or desire introduced their negative presence and thus obstructed his receptivity to the healing-power's penetration. When the contact is successfully made, he should draw the power to every atom of his body and let it be permeated. The cure could be had at a single treatment, if he could sit still and let the work go on to completion. But although the power is unlimited, his patience is not. And so he must treat himself day after day until the outer and physical result matches the inner and spiritual achievement.

Healing Exercise and Meditation: (l) Lie flat on back on flat surface (for example, rug on floor). (2) Let body go completely limp. (3) Relax breathing with eyes shut, that is, slow down breathing below normal. Slowly exhale, then inhale; hold breath two seconds, then exhale slowly again. Repeat for three to five minutes. While inhaling, think that you are drawing in curative force from Nature. While exhaling, think that there is being taken out of your body the ill condition. (Note that on the inhaled breath, you--the ego--are referred to as the active agent, whereas in the exhaled breath this is not so and the change is being effected spontaneously.) (4) Let go all personal problems. (5) Reflect on the existence of the soul which is you, and on the infinite life-power surrounding you and in which you dwell and live. (6) Lie with arms outstretched and palms open, so as to draw in life-force either through palms or through head. (This makes contact with higher power through silent meditation, and it draws on the reconstructive and healing life-force attribute of this power.) Draw it into yourself. Let it distribute itself over the entire body. Let its omnintelligence direct it to where it is most needed, whether that be the affected part or some other part that is the first cause of the sickness. (7) Place hands on affected part of body and deliberately direct force through hands to body. A feeling of warmth should be noticeable in palms of hands. (8) Recollect through imagination the all-pervading sense of God and his infinite goodness.

Healing Exercise: Inhale deeply but slowly and unhurriedly. With each breath fix the mind in the life-essence pouring in and permeating each part of the body until the whole of it is bathed and held by the stream.

Healing Exercise: Hold the thought that all these countless cells which compose your anatomy shall receive this transmuted energy. Along with the concentration inhale deeply, hold the breath, and exhale for an equal amount of time.

Acupuncture is a valid acceptable body of knowledge and skill, new only here but not in the ancient Far East. It should be allowed to integrate itself with our own scientific modern knowledge and medical techniques. There are still other techniques worth learning in most Oriental lands.

The medicines used in homeopathy include biochemical preparations--that is, minerals--which are generally beneficial, and, as with all homeopathic medicines, need a longer time to work their effects. Among them, there is kali mur, which is useful for colds in the nose, the throat, and the ears. There is natrum mur, which is useful against hives. Such medicines should be mixed with water and swallowed a few times during the day if they are in powder form. If, however, they are in tablet form, they should be dissolved very, very slowly in the mouth.

I have often suggested the use of eucalyptus oil, well diluted with warm water, to prevent colds or relieve their beginnings. The diluted oil can be applied externally to the nose and throat, or inhaled by increasing the temperature of the water. It is also useful as an excellent antiseptic for urinary troubles, against mosquitoes, and in other ways.

Before attempting to practise magnetic healing, expel the air from the lungs a few times in order to purify them. Only then should you apply the hands near to or nearly touching the patient, or the affected part of your own body.

The healing Light seen in vision is bluish-white.

As the Egyptian priests knew and as the Greek physicians believed, mental concentration upon symmetrical geometric patterns may help the healers work physically and the patient himself emotionally.

If, during the prayer or meditation, he succeeds in lifting himself above his ordinary level and the healing vibration begins to respond, he may find the change signaled by a gentle inner shifting.

In the moment when you feel that actual contact with the One Infinite Life-Power has been made, draw it into the body and let it permeate every part, every organ, and every atom. It will tend to dissolve sickness and drive out disease.

When visiting Perth, Western Australia, I was told about an interesting case. The wife of a local government scientist had had several operations for cancer until one buttock was almost entirely cut away. But she remained uncured. In despair she decided to invoke higher healing power and practised the sun-gazing exercise (which she had read in The Wisdom of the Overself) every day for a year. At the end of this period the doctors pronounced her cured.

Direct treatment of the patient is not the only way a healer uses. Absent treatment is also effective. The healing power can cross oceans and traverse continents as readily and as speedily as can radio waves or thought. Telepathy is a fact and the basis of this operation.

The ministrations of absent healing are most successful when the patient is passive and receptive to them. Hence the work of its power is most effective when the sufferer is sleeping or relaxing.

In the Orient the yogi's touch is deemed a beneficent thing, and many a time while out walking with one in a village I have had to stop as he paused to permit passers-by to touch his feet. The English had a somewhat similar tradition in medieval and even later times, though it was the king who then held "divine power" and it was his hand which bestowed the benediction. The ceremony of touching is taken very seriously in the Orient, and more than once I was reminded of cynical King William III, who would bestow the following gratuitous prayer upon his subjects as he touched them: "May God give you better health and more sense!"

After he has done what medical authorities--both orthodox and unorthodox--recommend, or what he may have been guided to do from within, he should place his sick friends or relatives in the hands of God without further anxiety concerning their condition.

Hindu religion worships light in its intensest form--the sun. The Hindu holy men say that the sun-bath is good for the body; if taken when its rays are mild--that is, at dawn and at dusk--it can cure the body of many diseases. They further claim this practice will re-absorb the semen into the blood stream and thus strengthen the physical body.

Since this Power is everywhere present and since one's mind can touch the mind of another even though he be far away, use this period of contact to help anyone whom you wish to benefit. You can help him spiritually or you can even help him physically--the distance will not stop the working of the Power flowing through you to him. To what extent your help will go depends on more than one factor and therefore cannot be predicted. It may be little or much.

Nor is it always needful for the healer to see the patient or person; the latter may be cured by correspondence alone.

Homeopathy uses poisons--such as aconite, belladonna, strychnine, and calomel. Hence it represents the dark principle. Also, why does it go out of its way to create the symptoms of disease?

Self-healing Relaxation Technique: Allow at least about twenty minutes to a half hour for this practice each day, but you should continue for a much longer period if the desire or capacity for it arises. Select a time of day when you can be alone, free from disturbances, and when you are free from emotional reactions to any personal matters other than this need of being cured. It would be useless to treat these instructions in a merely superficial and external way, for then they could be followed and finished in about sixty seconds. There are two prerequisites that must be satisfied for these instructions to be effective. First, the whole of one's mind and feeling should be concentrated on each of their separate parts as unfolded in each sentence. Second, it is essential that you should not leave any part and pass on to the next one before you have fully soaked yourself in and surrendered yourself to it. There must be no haste. (1) Posture: Assume supine posture, lie flat on your back on a couch, completely limp, no tenseness in the body, entirely comfortable, quiet, and relax all muscles from head to foot. Merely lying down is not enough; loosen also the muscles in your lips, eyes, and hands. Close the eyes. (2) Breathing: Concentrate on the rhythm of breathing for a couple of minutes. Give it all your attention for this period until you are so immersed as to become unified with it. While concentrating, make the inhalation and exhalation breaths of equal duration. They should be long deep slow and even, not jerky and not strained. This slowing down of respiration should result in a lessening of tension. (3) Making contact on the physical level: Begin to think of and dwell upon the One Infinite Life-Power, filling all space and pervading the entire universe, existing everywhere, containing and permeating all creatures, all humanity, including one's self. Accept and stress its existence. Next call on its help, then concentrate on the idea of its recuperative power, which develops and sustains every cell of the body from birth, heals its wounds and knits its broken bones, for your own case. (4) Treating the body: Imagine this Power to be flowing into you as a White Light. Mentally draw the current into the body, through the forehead, the palms, and the solar plexus. Lastly, bring it to the diseased part of the body needing healing and concentrate it there. Place a hand lightly over this part and bathe both hands and affected part with the White Light, trying to feel this intensely, for about two minutes. Forget the rest of the body, and hold full intense attention here. Then with the mind's eye, forget the sick part. Become relaxed again, letting the Light immerse in and distribute itself throughout the entire body. (5) Reaching to the soul: Think of the whole body as being a manifestation of Creative Intelligence and as a projection of the higher self. Next regard it as a perfect thought in the World-Mind. Finally forget it entirely. Lift consciousness above the plane of the physical world. Immerse thought in the concept of the higher self alone, forgetting its projected personal self. Next, empty the mind as far as possible of all thoughts and seek inward sacred stillness. (6) Supplementary work: (a) At fixed or odd times during the day he stops the pressure of life and people on himself and learns by repeated recollection to remain consciously relaxed throughout the day, even if it be only for a minute or two.

(b) Whenever possible, take off five minutes every hour for relaxation practice at fixed times.

"I practised the self-healing technique for some weeks before going into the hospital. Faith is essential and I had it in full. I prayed for strength and later saw a great white light--heard beautiful voices calling. I passed consciously out of the body--falling into deep sleep for several hours. I awoke refreshed and was pronounced cured by the amazed physicians. Since then I feel sustained, guided, and protected by a higher power." This was related to me by a woman who suffered from terribly destructive diseases. When she first approached me she was on the verge of suicide.

Exercise I: To Relieve Tension and Cultivate Relaxation

(a) Sit upright on a chair of comfortable height, with the knees and legs together, if comfortable, or slightly apart if not. Lean slightly forward, keeping the spine straight, and allow both the arms to hang down full length and lifeless, like heavy weights, from the shoulders completely relaxed.

(b) Both hands are then lifted very slowly at the elbows, almost to shoulder height, then abruptly dropped, palms upright, on the upper thighs. Keep the feeling of limpness and heaviness in the arms, with the lower part of the body utterly relaxed.

(c) Picture an ethereal aura of pure, white, electrifying Light all around you. Then, imagine this magnificent Light is actually pulling you upright by the top of your head. Its compelling force should, as a result, automatically straighten the spine, and the back of your trunk, neck, and head form a perfectly erect line. Finally, imagine the Light is pervading inside the whole of your body.

This exercise should give a feeling of physical refreshment and complete physical relaxation. It is also useful when having to listen to lengthy talks, lectures, and so on, or when reluctantly trying to practise meditation after a fatiguing day. Exercise II: To Promote Harmony

Repeat Exercise I, then add:

(a) Try to see and feel that the aura of Light has an actual substance and that It is becoming part of you, that you are melting into It, becoming one with It. Next, think of it as being the pure essence of Love, especially in the region of the heart.

(b) When this Love has been experienced as a sensation of heart-melting happiness, let it then extend outwards to embrace all the world.

This exercise should give a feeling of being in harmony with Nature, the universe, with all living beings, and with humanity as a part of Nature. Exercise III: To Heal Sickness

Repeat Exercises I and II, then add:

(a) Think of the white Light as being Nature's intelligent and recuperative Life-Force.

(b) Let it pour in, through the top of your head, passing directly to the solar plexus centre, which is the region which must first be worked on and affected if the healing force is to become efficacious. Thence send it to any afflicted area, remaining there. Feel Its benevolent, restorative, and healing presence working upon it.

(c) In order to be fully effective this exercise must be accompanied by intense faith in the recuperative powers of this Light.

Astonishing proof of its effectiveness in relieving a troubled organ or curing a diseased part of the body, when persevered in for a sufficient period of weeks or months, has been clearly shown by results. In some cases, paralytics have regained full use of their disabled limbs by following the outline given here. Exercise IV: To Establish Telepathic Harmony or Help

Repeat Exercise I, II, and III (a), then add:

(a) Let the White Light enter the region of the heart, remaining there.

(b) Form a mental image of the face of the individual you wish to contact, and reduce it in size until it is small enough to fit into the palm of your hand.

(c) Place this tiny image in the centre of the white Light permeating your heart.

(d) Endeavour actually to see the individual there in your heart. This exercise should be used to promote physical or mental help to a distant friend, to bring about goodwill from one who has expressed enmity, or to establish a deeper spiritual relationship. It is also useful in the student-teacher relationship, because it promotes better sympathy and affinity, as well as strengthening the telepathic link. Note: Where imagination is well developed the attempt to visualize light may be used, but where either the intellectual or the instinctive preponderates over it, the attempt need not be made--only the unseen power invoked and directed by faith.

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