Traditionally, spiritual healing is healing in which the healer is felt to be an instrument of the divine, allowing the power of the divine to heal through him or her. The healer acknowledges that he or she does not do the healing. In a sense, the healer is only the instrument through which the person seeking healing surrenders to the divine.
Many healers who do not call themselves “spiritual healers” acknowledge that they do not do the healing – this has become a well understood idea in healing — but to really live that fully is truly radical. Joel Goldsmith’s classic, The Art of Spiritual Healing, provides a taste of what spiritual healing is when lived fully and taken to its full conclusion. A Course in Miracles also embodies this radical perspective.
Energy Healing vs. Spiritual Healing
There is no standard definition for spiritual healing or energy healing and often they are considered to be the same thing. Both terms can refer to widely varying practices, and there are many ways in which they overlap.
Since everything is energy, energy healing can simultaneously affect all levels of life – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. Depending on the leanings of the healer and client, an energy healing session can have a spiritual focus and impact. On the other hand, what a spiritual healer does may look exactly the same as what an energy healer does, and can also affect all levels. What, then, would distinguish energy healing from spiritual healing, and vice versa?
An exploration of this question is actually quite complex, and it becomes clear that our current institutions and language do not adequately describe the tremendous variety of emerging healing practices. The understanding that everything is energy points to the impossibility of separating out the spiritual from the material. Energy healing truly bridges the gap between science and spirituality, and yet our institutions are either secular or spiritual. A healer who works purely with energy may may feel more aligned with either the scientific/medical model or a spiritual/religious model.
The key feature which distinguishes spiritual healing, at least in the traditional usage, is that the healer is seen as a vehicle for divine intervention. Many healers, however, also feel that they are divinely guided (regardless of the language used to describe this), and so even this key feature may not serve to distinguish spiritual healers from energy healers. Nevertheless, it could be said that spiritual healing in its purest form relies totally on the intervention of a “higher intelligence” — the healing occurs spontaneously without the healer making conscious choices. Usually a spiritual healer would not use particular techniques which are chosen based on some rationale of what technique works for a particular condition.
Spiritual healing often simply involves the use of prayer. Many miraculous healings occurred during the “miracle services” of renowned evangelist, Kathryn Kuhlman. Kuhlman never touched or even looked at those who received these healings. She didn’t know anything about human anatomy. From her point of view, she simply opened to the Holy Spirit, and had complete faith that all would be accomplished through this. A clairvoyant who observed one of Kuhlman’s services, however, was able to see how her aura flowed out energetically and interacted with the energy fields of those who were healed. This happened with out any specific intention or knowledge on Kuhlman’s part. The spiritual healer would not be able to say how the healing occurred, except to acknowledge divine intervention. The healer may even take the position that he/she sees only divine perfection in the one who seeks healing, and so would not even see disturbance or disease.
Spiritual Healing vs. Spiritism
Sometimes spiritual healing is very specific about the form of the divine which is being accessed for healing. Some spiritual healers refer to their work as coming from God or Source (or some other name for the divine). Others may say that angels and spiritual beings intervene. Yet another group of healers say that “spirits” of powerful healers who are no longer alive work through them. Both Rubens Faria and John of God, famous Brazilian healers, are said to channel spirits. Some would call this “spiritism” rather than true spiritual healing.
Energy healing, on the other hand, usually involves some conscious use of knowledge of the human energy field, as well as specific techniques to address disturbances. Programs which are based on the medical model will have an assessment of the energy field, and techniques will be chosen that address the disturbances found. After the energy healing is done, the healer would re-assess the field to discover the outcome of the treatment. These programs, however, recognize the importance of intuition and usually allow for intuitive work on the part of the healer. They also include the spiritual aspect of a client’s life in the overall treatment and recognize that the energy field has “spiritual layers”.
Cultural Bias Separates Science and Spirituality
The fact that the question would even arise as to what distinguishes energy healing from spiritual healing points to a cultural bias which separates the scientific from the spiritual. As we grow in our understanding and experience of the one reality which underlies these two seemingly different viewpoints, this separation should be bridged. Most people recognize the necessity of integrating complementary healing arts with our conventional medical system. This integration necessitates the development of a new paradigm which unifies what are often seen as contradictory approaches.
The Art of Spiritual Healing, by Joel S. Goldsmith. This book is a classic on spiritual healing.
A Course in Miracles (Workbook for Students, Manual for Teachers) — students of this course will find it is a teaching in spiritual healing.
Daughter of Destiny: Kathryn Kuhlman, Her Story by Jamie Buckingham. The only authorized biography of healer, Kathryn Kuhlman. This is a captivating story with a great deal of insight.
The Magus of Strovolos: The Extraordinary World of a Spiritual Healer (Arkana) by Kyriacos D. Markides. Fascinating reading about a spiritual healer from Cyprus.
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