Some people wonder whether human beings can change. Another way of putting it is to ask whether they can find spiritual healing. I would suggest that the answer depends on our view of human nature. We all know that there are differences in the temperaments of children. Some cry more easily and some sleep less soundly. As the child grows older individual differences in personality begin to emerge, like extraversion, and nervousness.
Personal Orientation and Need for Healing
We all seem to have a different mix of good and bad human inclinations. The good tendencies include having to some degree a sense of humour, friendliness and helpfulness. The bad ones seem to revolve around self-orientation.
We each have physical senses that can perceive the things around us. And so we have learned to become aware of being a separate, self-contained individual with a mind and body of our own apart from other people and other things. When we are only aware of the world around us from the point of view of self, then we are susceptible to developing self-concern and even becoming self-centred and selfish.
Self-orientation taken to extreme means we experience difficulty not only in a sense of isolation when relationships don’t work out but in other ways; self-consciousness becomes painful shyness, self-concern becomes neurotic worry, and self-indulgence becomes greed. That’s when we need spiritual healing.
Inflow of Inner Healing
I believe there is a spirit of inner life unconsciously flowing into our hearts and minds. It has a positive and a negative side. The positive side can be seen in illuminating ideas we sometimes have, the creative energies that can take hold of us, and the sense of wonder that sometimes inspires our respect and admiration for the beauty in nature and in other people around us. These are heavenly states.
The negative aspects of this inflow however are the irritable and anxious moods that sometimes can come out of the blue, the sense of boredom and apathy that can take hold if we are not careful, and the impulses to say and do what is bad.
We can experience hellish states of mind when self-orientation causes us to be engulfed by such a negative inflow. Then anger, depression and fear may have taken hold over us for a while.
Balance of Healing and Negative Inflow
The heavenly and hellish inflow is in balance and so we are free to tip our lives in either way. We are responsible for tuning into the good or the bad once we recognise their different qualities.
The academic discipline of psychology has demonstrated many factors that affect individual behaviour. Our actions may be constrained and our attitudes affected by many causes, however we feel we make our own personal choices and there seems deep down within the human spirit to be an inner freedom to think and feel as it wishes.
For example every adult mind has to some extent good sense amounting to a higher rational understanding. One is free to exercise this in preferring the general teachings of religion or the deterministic view of science, in primarily looking towards the needs of oneself or towards the needs of others, and in trying to act on what one wants or on what one sees as right. We are free to turn towards the positive or negative spiritual inflow that surrounds us every moment of our lives. The positive inflow is one of spiritual healing and the negative one of spiritual disease.
Healing of Character
Children mature as they grow older and become aware of the family values and cultural norms to which they are exposed. However, the process of spiritual maturing continues in varying degrees in different people beyond adolescence. As we exercise our inner freedom in adult life, the desires that rule our lives become more consistent and we begin to form for ourselves our own character.
Some people grow in good sense and caring attitudes whereas others remain self-centred. Some gain a sense of fulfilment from leading a useful life contributing to the welfare of their family and community whereas others lack inspiration to live a life that goes beyond the values of materialism with its priority given to seeking bodily comforts and social status.
Practical Healing Suggestions
I believe we all have a potential for experiencing spiritual healing and thus the inner life of contentment, joy and peace that comes from turning away from self-orientation. My practical suggestions for achieving this are to:-
- Find out more about ourselves and what religion teaches about the best way to lead our lives,
- Seek an enlightened understanding about such matters,
- Acknowledge the need for personal change,
- Resolve to change our personal priorities,
- Make the effort to resist old ways
- Learn to trust in the divine power to create a new heart and mind within our lives.
Copyright 2013 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of Heart, Head & Hands Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems