Book Reviews — 20 February 2018

Madhuri reviews five books: A Change of Heart, Healing Spirits, Healing Spirits, Eyes of an Angel, A. T. Still.

I just spent a month house-sitting for a wonderful healer who’d gone off to India: an osteopath/cranio-sacral practitioner named Sugandha, in Oadby, the Midlands. Her bookshelves are choc-a-bloc with books about Yoga, Tantra, Shamanism, etc, etc. I chose a little pile, and was immensely rewarded and nourished by the journeys I took within the books’ covers. I’ve even ordered some of them to give to friends. So I thought I’d like to share here too…

A Change of Heart by Claire Sylvia with William NovakA Change of Heart: The Extraordinary Story of a Man’s Heart in a Woman’s Body
by Claire Sylvia with William Novak
237 pages
Warner Books, 1997
amazon.comamazon.co.ukamazon.deamazon.in

A middle-aged dancer on the East Coast of the States is dying of a rare disease that effects the heart and lungs. She has a transplant from an 18-year-old boy who died in a motorbike crash. After this she finds she has new tastes – she suddenly craves fried chicken and beer – and must integrate an altogether alarming amount of physical energy. She also has dreams…which lead her to the young man’s family.

This book is a calm, practical-minded journey into the mysterious realms of body/mind/spirit, psychics, and a further look into the experiences of many people who have transplants – Ms Sylvia starts a support group for them.

She talked to surgeons who insisted that the heart is only a pump and that it cannot retain information from its previous owner. One wonders what kind of world-view can in good conscience support such an obviously absurd idea.

I found it a gripping read.

Healing Spirits by Judith Joslow-Rodewald and Patricia West-BarkerHealing Spirits: True Stories from 14 Spiritual Healers
by Judith Joslow-Rodewald and Patricia West-Barker
with photographs by Susan Mills
293 pages
The Crossing Press, 2001
amazon.comamazon.deamazon.in

14 healers in the States tell their stories – how they discovered and developed their gifts, how they work, how they see life and the Mysteries. The variety among them is great: there are Native Americans, Shamans, a Kabbalist, a Christian laying-on-of-hands healer, healers with sound, and much more. The interviews are done by a team of three women who travelled to meet them, and the warmth and openness of this arrangement comes through in the amazingly erudite and bright words of the healers. There were a couple of them I’d really like to see if I were ever in the States!

I was interested to read this passage from Kay Cordell Whitaker (a Shaman who was chosen by her Andean teachers, rather than the other way around. Initially reluctant, she ended up becoming deeply immersed and expanding her studies into other traditions; now she is an inspired and accomplished teacher):

“There are two major indigenous traditions for psychic, hands-on healing around the world: there is the win/win type and there is the warrior type. Warrior-type healers literally go to war with the disorder. They go into the patient’s system, confront the disease, wrestle it, overpower it, and force it out of the person’s body. Usually the way they force it out is to take at least some of the condition into themselves; they then wrestle it within themselves and expel it. This is not an easy way to do healing and warrior healers typically don’t have long lives.

“The other tradition is the one in which I was trained. Based on a win/win philosophy, its approach is one of peace. I learned to approach a disorder with respect and gratitude, providing some element of gain and win for everything involved in the process of healing. The organs win something; the disease wins something; your patient wins something; you win something. Everybody is happy.”

Long ago I was the first, warrior-type – taking into my body not just some of the disorder, but all of it; and trying to live out its unconscious energies for the person, right then – with full sound and fury. And yes, had I not stopped that way of working, my life would not have been long.

In the Mystery School in Poona, particularly in the work with the Heart chakra, I learned more about the second way…also in studying Voice Dialogue with Vasumati. This was a revelation. It is still a struggle to stay kind to the practitioner – me – but I was interested to see that I was not alone in the conundrum.

The book is a nice resource, and very encouraging. I’m so glad all those people are out there.

The Field by Lynne McTaggartThe Field
by Lynne McTaggart
357 pages
Element/HarperCollins, 2001
amazon.comamazon.co.ukamazon.deamazon.in

This one is just pure mind-blow. Lynne McTaggart met with an astronaut, physicists and other scientists – with top-grade credentials – who in their research had come across ‘impossible’ or ‘miraculous’ phenomena. Basically, it’s Quantum Physics Plus: she makes a case for the normally-ignored or discounted Zero Point Field, a sort of background hum of infinitesimally-slight waves that, if the math is done, actually completes the equation needed to show us the Universe as a living, all-encompassing, all-conscious field. In fact, she shows, we are participating in the creation of this vast awesomeness with every pulse of our living beings and perceptions.

The scientists featured here each became so intrigued by what they were seeing that they ended up spending the rest of their careers exploring these arcane-yet-central phenomena, doing exhaustive experiments so that empirical proof could be found.

The pursuit of these broader ways of looking at the world led these researchers into exploring psychic phenomena: mind-reading, particularly over distance; distant viewing of places; and Distance Healing. As a Distance healer myself, I was delighted to finally learn why it works – for I had always felt that it was working, somehow, in some level, but could not say why.

I was left with a sense of awe, joy, and great responsibility – the buck stops here.
And yet, a sense of comfort – all is connected, and nothing died; and it is beautiful.

My own opinion is that this book should be required reading in schools. The way it overturns Newtonian physics is so refreshing; and everybody needs to know how much we don’t know, and how wildly odd it all is; and how amazing.

Eyes of an Angel by Paul ElderEyes of an Angel: A True Story – Soul Travel, Spirit Guides, Soul Mates, and the Reality of Love
by Paul Elder
233 pages
Hampton Roads Publishing Company, 2005
amazon.comamazon.co.ukamazon.de

This is just plain fun, and ever-so-juicy. A Canadian politician – the mayor of a city – had had a Near-Death-Experience when he drowned at age 12. Later, as an adult, he spontaneously began leaving his body at night and flying around. He was overjoyed at this and began to cultivate the practice. Later he had a heart attack and another NDE*. He began frequenting the Monroe Institute in Virginia, where people learn to have OOBs** (using specially prepared sound frequencies) and talk to Spirit guides and so on – all lots of good fun.

The author is a confiding, simple soul, describing all these amazing experiences in the spirit world which are somehow, with their randomness, believable. These stories are immensely comforting, and it made me want to go to the Monroe Institute and hook myself up to one of the machines.

I noted with interest that at the end there is a really terrible long poem, all rhyming doggerel, which he channeled from Guides; and although it is technically terrible, with its naive rhymes, it has the touch of pleasant weirdness in it too. Because, you see, I also channelled a long poem once, with lots of awful rhymes, and my Guides steadfastly defended it against my own queasy doubts. So apparently spirit guides don’t really care about what we think of their poetry. Sometimes it comes like Rumi; sometimes it comes like argh bleuh. And it’s all okay.

A. T. Still by John LewisA. T. Still: From the Dry Bone to the Living Man
by John Lewis
428 pages
Dry Bone Press, 2012
Available directly from the author: www.atstill.com

This book tells one of the most extraordinary stories I have ever read. I was so moved, time and again, that I burst into tears. (The writer tells me that he too cried while he was researching and writing it.)

John Lewis was studying Osteopathy in London when he read the autobiography of the founder of the science, A.T. Still (1828-1917). Lewis ended up living for four years in Kirksville, Missouri, the town where Still had built up his College; researching this definitive biography.

I had perhaps never read the story of a man so exceptional, so gifted, so full of integrity, so real – a Mystic in every way – who, though he was hugely persecuted for the first decade of his healing work (despite the fact, or because of the fact, that he was profoundly, hugely, successful in bringing patients back to health), was eventually welcomed, loved, feted, celebrated and allowed to live out his natural life-span.

However, even as his revolutionary healing methodology was being taught and practised more and more widely, the medical establishment never ceased trying to squash him and his students – so there is fascinating courtroom drama here, with gratifying wins for Still – since many of the lawyers and judges or even senators involved had either been treated by him, or their relations had – often after the M.D.s had failed utterly.

A.T. Still was 1/16th Cherokee, the rest Irish/English/German. He came of age, homesteaded, and practised medicine, on the wild frontier in Virginia, Kansas and Missouri; he fought in the Civil War as an abolitionist. He lost three children to spinal meningitis, all within a few days of each other.

We hear, quite late in the book, that the epiphany which led him to his astonishing work – while it came during a conversation with a friend – was accompanied by an angelic Being smiting him between the shoulder-blades and enlisting his total commitment to this truly effective, holistic way to heal.

But what made me weep?

– How true he was, how courageous – how simple and profound, how generous (he gave money away as fast as it reached him, and treated poor people for free), how original in speech – how human; and yet plugged into the Vast. How he never compromised, no matter that people thought him a charlatan, a buffoon, a weirdo, or whatever. How finally the people of Kirksville understood that they were living in an extraordinary milieu, and that something very lively and wonderful was happening here indeed; and they began to regard with joy and wonder and gratefulness he who was among them. The town-wide parties they threw then, to celebrate his birthday, or a win in the legislature (where Mark Twain, who loved him, once spoke on his behalf).

But what is this science? Basically, it says that the human body contains its healing within it, and obstructions to blood and lymph flow just need to be got out of the way; via gentle manipulation, particularly of the spine, but other places too. To this end the practitioner needs to know anatomy inside and out, trust the moment and the occasion, trust his fingers, and be wholly present.

In this way, tweaking vertebrae and other bones, freeing up blood, lymph, and nerve flow, he, and later his students, had an astonishing cure rate for a wide variety of ills: cripplings, migraine, breast cancer, epilepsy, diphtheria, tuberculosis, heart disease, asthma, sciatica, and much much more – including mental illness.

Dr. Still says scathing things about medical drugs, refusing in almost every case to prescribe them. (I was very impressed to read somewhere that there are only three drugs in existence which actually cure something: antibiotics, aspirin, and something else I forget.) But after – and even before – his death his passionate “philosophy” as he called it was diluted and subverted by ‘normal’ medicine, so that the osteopathy you find in most places is not what he taught. I lived for four years quite near to Kirksville, and never heard of it or of Dr. Still – which just goes to show that people have short memories for a profundity of wisdom that is not their own; and that we must go on locating new springs of wisdom: our own.

Still says:

“Every bone in the body, every muscle nerve and blood vessel is continually telling you that they are parts of this great Creative Scheme, and when you study them intelligently and gain proper understanding of them, you are developing your spiritual understanding to the same extent… When I study anatomy, I not only develop understanding of the physical, but I unfold and enlarge my mental and spiritual qualities… It has been said I am not an orthodox believer. Perhaps in some ways I am not, but no man lives who has a deeper-seated, more implicit faith in the Power who created this human machine than I have, or a more exalted reverence for that Creator and his work.”

This book is a labour of love – it took 15 years to write – and this love comes through in every page, as a reflection of the love that Dr. Still embodied. You’ll love him too, and recognize in him the feisty, no-bullshit, humane presence of the extraordinary man. This book is a great story about a great being.

I cannot recommend it highly enough.

* NDE = near death experience
** OOB = out of body experience

MadhuriMadhuri is a regular contributor – www.madhurijewel.com

More articles, reviews and poems by the same author on Osho News


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