This is another quote taken from Be Careful What You Pray For... by Larry Dossey. It's a bit long but I thought it was interesting. No doubt each reader of this account will perceive it in different ways, but I think the questions are worthy of consideration. Also, psychoneuroimmunology has already documented much on the mind's role in healing..
In the early 1970s [astronaut Edgar Mitchell] founded the Institute of Noetic Sciences in Sausalito, California, which is dedicated to investigating the mysteries of human consciousness.
In 1972, just prior to opening the doors of his new institute, Mitchell was asked to deliver a series of lectures at a conference in Little Rock, Arkansas. The occasion was special for Mitchell because his mother, who lived in neighboring Oklahoma, would be able to drive to the meeting and spend time with him. But there was a problem; his mother, then in her sixties, had developed severe difficulties with her vision because of glaucoma. She considered surgery too risky. By now she was legally blind without her glasses, which through the years had grown progressively thicker, and without which she simply could not see.
During the conference Mitchell met several remarkable men and women. Among them was Norbu Chen, an American who had studied a form of ancient Tibetan Buddhism that embodied a great deal of shamanistic practice. Norbu Chen purported to be a healer.
One evening Mitchell introduced him to his mother. He wanted to determine if Chen was "real or just talk" and to see if Chen could help his mother with her vision. Mitchell was skeptical anything would come of it. He also was uncertain about how Mrs. Mitchell would respond to Chen. "My mother," he said, "a fundamentalist Christian all her life, had definite and traditional ideas about how the mind was capable of influencing matter through healing--either by the hand of God, or by that of Satan. There was no middle ground."
Chen was convinced he could help, but he made no promises. He merely suggested they try and see what would happen. Mitchell's mother proved to be a good sport about the whole thing and agreed that something good might result.
The next day Mitchell, his mother, and Norbu Chen met in Mitchell's hotel room. Chen asked her to sit in a chair and relax, and then he appeared to enter a meditative trance through singing his mantra. Soon his hands floated over Mrs. Mitchell's head and rested over her eyes. Mitchell felt that his mother was accepting and trusting. After a few minutes, Chen announced that he was finished and suggested that Mrs. Mitchell go to bed, get some sleep, and treat herself gently, as if she had been through major surgery. He suggested that she consume grape juice and broth for nourishment.
Although Mitchell was exceedingly curious and wanted something to have happend, at the same time he was trying to be the detached, clinical observer. Nonetheless, he had the sense that he had witnessed something extraordinary. He was not wrong. At 6 A.M. the next morning his mother rushed into his room and exclaimed, "Son, I can see, I can see!"
To prove it, she grabbed her tattered Bible and began to read from it, while holding her glasses in hand. Then she said quietly, "I can see. Praise the Lord, I can see!" As if to demonstrate her faith, she dropped her glasses to the floor and ground the thick lens into shards under her heel. "Needless to say," Mitchell states, "I was impressed."
Mitchell could neither deny nor explain what had happened. He conceded that this was not science--no careful before-and-after exams had been conducted on his mother's eyes and visual acuity--but he knew her reaction was authentic and believed she had not been duped. Besides, she drove back to Oklahoma alone, a distance of several hundred miles and she did it without her glasses, which she was incapable of doing before.
Then an event happend that confirmed for Mitchell his growing conviction in the power of belief. His mother had returned home and assumed her routines, still unassisted by contact lenses or eyeglasses. One day she called Mitchell to inquire whether or not Norbu Chen was a Christian. She realized that his name sounded Asian, which meant that his religious ideas probably did not coincide with her beloved faith. Though Mitchell did not want to pursue this, she was adamant in demanding to know the faith of the man whose efforts had helped restore her sight. "Reluctantly, and perhaps ominously," Mitchell relates, "I told her Norbu was in fact not a Christian, and the moment I did so the deep pain of regret was clear in her voice."
Mrs. Mitchell insisted that her new sight was not the work of the Lord but of the darker forces of this world. Norbu Chen, she was absolutely certain, was an instrument of evil. No matter what her son said to her, she would not be dissuaded. Her restored vision was the work of Satan. "Hours later, the gift slipped away and thick new glasses were required."
Mrs. Mitchell's healing seemed real. She had been legally blind, and overnight her vision was restored. The improvement continued until, through a change in belief, it fizzled. Suspicious of the healer's Asian roots, she became convinced she had come under the influence of Satan. In her mind her healing was transformed into a demonic act. As she became convinced she had been victimized by evil forces, the miracle of sight was retracted.
These events raise important questions. Where do curses come from--from some disembodied, evil force in the world, from our own mind, or both? How often do we sabotage our own healing? Are our religions, in their attempts to carve the world into the divine and demonic, actually causing illness and disease by condemning healers outside that particular faith as agents of darkness? Are our religions so out of touch with healing that their believers sometimes prefer disease to getting well? By obstructing the work of compassionate healers such as Norbu Chen, can religious beliefs become a curse?