Save yourself, then you can worry about saving others if you still want to, but you won’t want to because after you open your eyes and see who and what and where you really are, you’ll see that nothing is wrong and no one needs help.
-Jedvaita: The Way the World Unfolds (2025), Jed McKenna
America has rich healing traditions, and I certainly do not know enough about all of them, for there are so many, and I am sure many have contributions to make if understood properly and applied at the right level.
One particular tradition of spiritual healing fascinates me particularly, and it runs from Mary Baker Eddy (MBE), via Joel Goldsmith (JSG) to A Course in MIracles (ACIM), and recently it got an interesting sequel in book form in i didn’t do it, I did, by Susan Pearson, which in a sense merges and harmonizes those strands in a startling new presentation that I found to be very inspiring.
Mary Baker Eddy, with her book Science and Health, charted out a very important new direction in the understanding of spiritual healing, which started a movement, Christian Science, that has quite outlasted her. Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) lambasted Christian Science, and his critique is quite interesting, though we should balance it with the fact that later in life Mary Baker Eddy evidently moved beyond the principles of Christian Science – as I am discussing further down.
Fundamentally, Mary Baker Eddy recognized that the process of healing is principally something that happens in the mind, but much in the spirit of her time, she applied that insight in a very doctrinaire way, which has caused all kinds of problems and disasters. The fundamental issue is that you cannot force anybody to handle healing any particular way, everyone should follow the path they are comfortable with. That aligns with the insight of today’s Dr. Joe Dispensa, and his book You Are the Placebo.
What MBE seemed to overlook in the formulation of Christian Science is the practical fact that not everyone can just jump to a level where they can actually do spiritual healing. Then, when people try to practice any kind of spiritual healing, it only produces frustration and guilt feelings because people will experience failure. Likewise there have been repeated dramas with people forcing these beliefs on their kids, and that does not work. Quite apparently, later in life she changed her views and realized that if people were not ready to experience a spiritual healing, there was nothing wrong with them seeing a doctor. You can only do the best you can, it makes no sense to pretend otherwise. Christian Science quite apparently never really embraced those changes. A Course in Miracles would later address these issues in and interesting way, explicitly talking about a compromise approach. But first we need to take a look at an important transition figure, Joel S. Goldsmith, who developed a fairly clear analytical understanding of these issues and also was quite aware of the later development of Mary Baker Eddy. Goldsmith in many ways pointed the way to the transition.
Joel S. Goldsmith
JSG has produced quite a long list of books that are mostly still available, and there are a lot of recordings of his teaching sessions that are available on a YouTube Channel called IWIHub. Here follows a seminar he gave in 1957 in Chicago, on Spiritual Healing, which contains some of the issues we touched on above, concerning how MBE changed her views later in life.
The most interesting comment for our present purpose is perhaps his discussion of MBE’s development after Christian Science became established and how she recognized that she had confused spiritual and mental healing, and how, evidently, she realized to some degree she had done this and tried to reverse herself.
JSG is crystal clear that true spiritual healing is all about cause and not about effect. Christian Science explored spiritual healing but mixed in what Goldsmith calls “mental” healing, i.e. seeking the psychological causes of physical ailments. Apparently, MBE had developed whole lists of what psychological problem caused which disease, proposing that the symptoms might indeed lead back to the cause, which could then presumably be healed. Evidently, she later came back on this approach and tried to recall the lists, not always successfully. To some degree, the damage was done. This type of thinking is very common, there are many examples of it long before her time and again since here time. A Course in Miracles offers a very clear explanation of why this type of thinking is a dead end in the section The Unhealed Healer in Chapter 8:
³Can you find light by analyzing darkness, as the psychotherapist does, or like the theologian, by acknowledging darkness in yourself and looking for a distant light to remove it, while emphasizing the distance? ⁴Healing is not mysterious. ⁵Nothing will change unless it is understood, since light is understanding. ⁶A “miserable sinner” cannot be healed without magic, nor can an “unimportant mind” esteem itself without magic.(ACIM, T-9.V.6:1-6)
Searching the mind (psyche) for specific causes of specific ailments becomes a trap if that’s all you do, for it may be the dawning of am insight that cause is in the mind, but it is not the end we seek, for what needs healing is the cause, not the effect. As long as mending the effect remains our focus, we are making the mind subervient to matter, which kind of defeats the purpose. Then, if we focus on changing the bodily symptoms we are likely to be disappointed, for sometimes they may change and sometimes they may not. Famous is the story of Sri Ramakrishna dying of throat cancer, and not attempting to heal it with his yogic powers. Evidently he knew his time had come and he entered Samadhi and let go of his body. The point of healing is not that the body become immortal, the point of healing is to experience that who and what we are is our immortal soul, and from that consciousness we can deal with the body whether it lives or dies, whether it is sick or well, for we have inner peace regardless of circumstances.
Goldsmith emphasizes through his teaching that healing comes through recognizing the divine in my brothers and seeing them only in their spiritual essence as a child of God, pure and innocent. All needs to be forgiven for healing to occur. A Course in Miracles speaks of these things in slightly different terms, but it adds something that I believe is vital: what it calls the compromise approach.
The Compromise Approach to Healing
All material means that you accept as remedies for bodily ills are restatements of magic principles. ²This is the first step in believing that the body makes its own illness. ³It is a second misstep to attempt to heal it through non-creative agents. ⁴It does not follow, however, that the use of such agents for corrective purposes is evil. ⁵Sometimes the illness has a sufficiently strong hold over the mind to render a person temporarily inaccessible to the Atonement. ⁶In this case it may be wise to utilize a compromise approach to mind and body, in which something from the outside is temporarily given healing belief. ⁷This is because the last thing that can help the non-right-minded, or the sick, is an increase in fear. ⁸They are already in a fear-weakened state. ⁹If they are prematurely exposed to a miracle, they may be precipitated into panic. ¹⁰This is likely to occur when upside-down perception has induced the belief that miracles are frightening.(ACIM, T-2.IV.4:1-10)
As I discussed above, Goldsmith in effect went beyond the mixed bag of Christian Science and clarified that mental, psychological healing is not where it is at, and gets in the way of true spiritual healing. Both psychoanalytical approaches to healing and behavioral approaches such as positive psychology fall in this category, for they seek to make changes at the level of individual consciousness, our psyche. The pitfalls include, in psychoanalysis, finding the causes in the past and not focusing on the fact that I can let the past go and be free to make a change today. In behavioral approaches such as positive psychology, the tendency is to overlook and ignore the shadow, the dark side of the mind, the ego mind and the past and focus on motivating change without ever taking responsibility for the inner conflict that caused our train to derail in the first place, and that never works in the long run either. It tends to shuffle the inner conflict under the rug. In short, these two approaches serve the ego-purpose of rendering the problem unsolvable, either by placing it in the past and we cannot change the past, or by denial: shuffling it under the rug,
Ken Wapnick, who is the premier teacher of A Course in Miracles, emphasized throughout his work how the Course heavily relies on the psychoanalysis of Freud in the sense that it prioritizes cleaning out the Augias-stables of the mind through the process of forgiveness, a letting go of the past, instead of holding on to it. That really is the essence of our healing journey. Recently, his book on Freud and Jung, titled Touching the Heart of God, was published posthumously, even though it was left unfinished – it is substantial nevertheless. Volume 1 of the book focuses on Freud primarily and in it Ken shows us just how it is necessary to “know a bad thing when you see it,” i.e. the shadow, the dark side of our mind, the ego, the psyche. The beginning of the work is having the willingness to clean up our mess, once we recognize that we made the mess, and nobody else can clean it up for us. Spirit is who and what we are in truth, but is what’s left over after we get rid of the baggage.
Goldsmith emphasizes that in order to practice spiritual healing, we must stop judgment. Goldsmith focuses on perfect spiritual practice as a precondition for healing. ACIM in fact says the same, but indicates a practical aspect of the patient/therapist relationship, making it part of the process, in the pamphlet on psychotherapy:
Sickness takes many forms, and so does unforgiveness. ²The forms of one but reproduce the forms of the other, for they are the same illusion. ³So closely is one translated into the other, that a careful study of the form a sickness takes will point quite clearly to the form of unforgiveness that it represents. ⁴Yet seeing this will not effect a cure. ⁵That is achieved by only one recognition; that only forgiveness heals an unforgiveness, and only an unforgiveness can possibly give rise to sickness of any kind.
6. This realization is the final goal of psychotherapy. ²How is it reached? ³The therapist sees in the patient all that he has not forgiven in himself, and is thus given another chance to look at it, open it to re-evaluation and forgive it. ⁴When this occurs, he sees his sins as gone into a past that is no longer here. ⁵Until he does this, he must think of evil as besetting him here and now. ⁶The patient is his screen for the projection of his sins, enabling him to let them go. ⁷Let him retain one spot of sin in what he looks upon, and his release is partial and will not be sure.(ACIM, P-2.VI.5:1–6:7)
In short, it is not looking for the therapist to be perfect in his spiritual practice, but willing to learn. So while Goldsmith emphasizes perfection in spiritual practice as a precondition of healing work, a principle which the Course also recognizes, when it says:
One wholly egoless therapist could heal the world without a word, merely by being there. ⁸No one need see him or talk to him or even know of his existence. ⁹His simple Presence is enough to heal.(ACIM, P-2.III.3:7-9)
In short, while the Course does speak of the highest levels of abstraction, it also recognizes the pedestrian reality most of us live in, patients and therapists (doctors) alie), at the extreme of abstraction it says:
Oneness is simply the idea God is. ²And in His Being, He encompasses all things. ³No mind holds anything but Him. ⁴We say “God is,” and then we cease to speak, for in that knowledge words are meaningless. ⁵There are no lips to speak them, and no part of mind sufficiently distinct to feel that it is now aware of something not itself. ⁶It has united with its Source. ⁷And like its Source Itself, it merely is.(ACIM, W-169.5:1-7), bolding mine
But then, in its discussion of the patient to therapist, it does not say for the therapist to not even attempt healing until their spiritual practice is perfect and they have forgiven all, but instead it emphasizes the relationship between two children of God, where the therapist can see the encounter as an opportunity to forgive and heal any unhealed thoughts within himself. Evidently, for the patient, likewise the highest use of the experience is to forgive themselves for the experience of sickness, taking responsbility for it, which is different from trying to analyze it with the ego. About healing it says :
Healing occurs as a patient begins to hear the dirge he sings, and questions its validity. ⁶Until he hears it, he cannot understand that it is he who sings it to himself. ⁷To hear it is the first step in recovery. ⁸To question it must then become his choice.(ACIM, P-2.VI.1:5-8), bolding mine
Questioning the dirge we sing is the foundation of forgiveness. Holding on to a problem is the opposite of forgiveness. Questioning our ego’s version of events opens the door for the change of mind which is the miracle, the moment of healing, regardless if that means our physical symptoms go away or it is simply our time to die, but we can do so peacefully.
The Course’s acceptance of the “compromise approach,” opens the door for accepting medical treatment, without judging ourselves in anyway for any lack in our spiritual practice, but simply doing the best we can at this present time. With the Course, we would see any crisis, health or otherwise, simply as an opportunity to heal.
Challenge is Opportunity
Our opportunities for growth come from the challenges in life, not from the periods of relaxation, so in that sense any challenge is an opportunity to forgive, until we’re done forgiving. The difference between Freud and the Course is that when we’re done peeling the onion, inside is nothing in Freud’s case, perhaps just easy living, free of conflict, but in the Course’s case when we’re done peeling the onion, we confront our final fear, the fear of God, for our ego believes God will destroy us, but the Course shows us that underneath our fear of God, is the Love of God, Heaving if you will, and we are home again, like the prodigal son, who traveled to foreign lands, but was welcomed back home with open arms.
Hopefully the above clarifies how the Course offers a milder more practical approach within this overall tradition of emphasizing healing as a spiritual process. It does this by not denying our lived experience in this body and the world, but simply accepting that this is where we are and doing whatever is most helpful.
Susan Pearson integrates all of it in a very unique way in her book i didn’t do it, I did! She finds her own way of expressing this inner growth process and the meaning of healing, rooted in both the Goldsmith tradition and A Course in Miracles, but putting it in her own language. Undoubtedly, her book can be helpful to many on the way to honoring their own style of learning and growing and healing our inner conflict. Susan’s graphics can be very helpful, every detail from typography to the graphics is part of the message of this book.
The upshot of this exploration is that we cannot heal unless we recognize our problem and we need to take responsibility for our situation whatever it is, but that does not mean feeling guilty over it, merely accepting the fact that this is my life and nobody else’s and wherever I am it is always my best opportunity for choosing wholeness and healing, and accepting that it is a process. We engage with the process, and we learn that healing is a choice that we are free to make at any time. The Course uses the expression Choose Once Again, reminding us it is never too late to change our mind.
Choose Once Again
Temptation has one lesson it would teach, in all its forms, wherever it occurs. ²It would persuade the holy Son of God he is a body, born in what must die, unable to escape its frailty, and bound by what it orders him to feel. ³It sets the limits on what he can do; its power is the only strength he has; his grasp cannot exceed its tiny reach. ⁴Would you be this, if Christ appeared to you in all His glory, asking you but this:
⁵Choose once again if you would take your place among the saviors of the world, or would remain in hell, and hold your brothers there.
⁶For He has come, and He is asking this.
Postscript: Aisklepios and Apollo
In Greek myth, Aisklepios (Latin: Aesculapius) is the god of medicine, but Healing is of Apollo, the Sun God. In other words, there was a distinction between attending to and mending the body on one hand and spiritual healing on the other. ACIM resolves that dichotomy by honoring the fact that we see the problems of the body first, and we should not deny our experience, but still shift our attention to cause, while letting our hands and feet do what is appropriate on the physical level, in terms of medicines, doctors and therapies. In Christian Science the tendency was to deny the physical in an effort to promote spiritual healing, which intensifies and prolongs the conflict so that the physical experience becomes an obstacle to healing. In the work of Joel Goldsmith, the shift was towards great clarity about the meaning of spiritual healing, but with a tendency to think that the bodily symptoms automatically followed, which is also not true, for then the physical symptoms once again would define the healing.
I conclude with a post from Mark Palmer, who provides a crystal clear FB post about the meaning of sickness and healing in A Course in Miracles. Here is the link, followed by the complete text:
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When the ego (the desire for separation) wrote all the separation scripts in the original instant it made sure to include the “duality of opposites”: good and bad, rich and poor, hot and cold, up and down, ying and yang, wet and dry, sickness and health.
So it’s absolutely crucial, from the egos perspective, that we continue to believe that “rich” is better than “poor” and “health” is better than “sickness”. Because without this belief in the “hierarchy of illusions,” or the “duality of opposites,” judgement becomes impossible. And without judgement the ego simply cannot survive.
So, from the Holy Spirits perspective, asking “how can I stay healthy?” is no different from saying “how can I stay rich?”. Both are equally illusory. Health and sickness are two sides of the same illusory coin.
We know from ACIM that the body is an illusion. So you can’t really have a “healthy illusion.” All illusions are equally illusory.
When judgement is relinquished, the mind is healed and we don’t see the difference between any of the dualistic opposites. It’s all seen as one “illusory ball of wax” and the One Christ is seen underneath everything, regardless of outer appearances.
ACIM. M-8.6. The body’s eyes will continue to see differences. But the mind that has let itself be healed will no longer acknowledge them. There will be those who seem to be “sicker” than others, and the body’s eyes will report their changed appearances as before. But the healed mind will put them all in one category; they are unreal.
The real “sickness” is actually believing that we are a body in the first place.
ACIM – “I am not a body, I am free, for I am still as God created me.”
Believing we are a body is like a puppeteer believing he is one of his puppets. Or a writer believing he is the pencil. It’s a “sick-minded” perception. A form of insanity. So by focusing too much on the puppet, we are just displaying the level of that insanity.
Also, we don’t choose sickness on this level – from the puppet-mind, the body-mind. (dream figure)
Sickness was made by the larger split mind, the larger ego, in the original seeming instant of separation. It’s all pre-scripted.
Just like whether you will be rich or poor, who you will marry, when you will die etc – it’s all pre-scripted.
It’s all part of your dualistic (play of opposites.) Your – “life story”.
Like a movie that’s already been filmed. Yes, there are alternative scenes etc, but it’s all still within a fixed system. Perhaps a video game is a better analogy, with different potential scenes to play. So physical healing can definitely seem to “play out”- but not always.
Sickness is predetermined based on the ego’s script, or the pre-programmed video game.
That’s why we should never feel guilty or “unspiritual” if we get sick. Nor should we judge someone else as “unspiritual” if they get sick. They could be fully enlightened for all we know, and just demonstrating how to deal with sickness with a perfectly peaceful mind. (No different from someone demonstrating how to be poor with a perfectly peaceful mind.) There is absolutely no way to judge these things.
Judging content by form is a classic form/content error.
Forgiveness in the mind is the only real healing. And if we can achieve that then perhaps we will switch to an alternative pre-filmed scene where the body is healed. But not always. The most important thing is whether or not we are in the right-mind in the present moment, or the wrong-mind. Everything else is incidental.
Who has made more spiritual progress: a “super healthy rich person” who spends most of his life in the wrong-mind, or a “disabled poor person” who spends most of his life in the right-mind? Obviously the latter.
ACIM – “Choose once again what you would have him be, remembering that every choice you make establishes your own identity as you will see it and believe it is.”
We should see them both as the equal Christ, regardless of their outward appearance.
ACIM – “Nothing so blinding as perception of form.”
From the ACIM Psychotherapy Pamphlet:
“The process that takes place in this relationship is actually one in which the therapist in his heart tells the patient that all his sins have been forgiven him, along with his own. What could be the difference between healing and forgiveness?”
Forgiveness then is seeing us ALL as “The sinless Christ,” regardless of how healthy or sick the body looks. That is the true healing. That is the true perception.
From that true perception maybe we will see “physical healings” like the Biblical Jesus did, and maybe we won’t.
Perhaps by seeing “someone else” as perfectly innocent, regardless of appearances, it could potentially help release that persons unconscious guilt? And perhaps, therefore, they don’t need to watch that particular pre-filmed “sickness scene” anymore? Now they perhaps switch to a “healed body” scene? Who knows? But judging by form is always back to ego-vision. They are still the perfect Christ regardless of what happens to the body.
The most important thing is whether we are right-minded (without judgement) or wrong-minded (with judgement).
Therefore, what happens in form is not our real concern. The “Vision of Christ,” or the “Vision of Sameness” is the main thing to aim for. To be right-minded. Not the healing of the body.
Sometimes the body may seem to be healed and sometimes it won’t. But once we have the “Vision of Christ”, we won’t care about the duality of opposites anymore (sickness and health). Everyone is seen as EQUALLY the Christ regardless of appearances.
There is only one mind. So we must always keep bringing it back to forgiveness in OUR mind and healing in OUR mind, and not get too caught up in form and form outcomes.
ACIM – “What is the single requisite for this shift in perception? It is simply this; the recognition that sickness is of the mind, and has nothing to do with the body. What does this recognition “cost”? It costs the whole world you see, for the world will never again appear to rule the mind.”
This quote means that whatever happens in the “pre-filmed movie” won’t ever be able to take your peace of mind away again.
Look at Jesus on the cross as an extreme example. He was guilt free, so whatever happened to the body (as per the script) didn’t affect him. In the same way some enlightened masters “die” of cancer, but it doesn’t affect the peace in their mind, because they are already guilt free.
So, there is nothing wrong with having a preference for a healthy body, just like there is nothing wrong with having a preference to be rich, but the real issue is always going to be what is happening in the mind, right now, in the present moment.Mark Palmer, posted on Facebook, 8/25/2021 at 8:43AM
Some more On Joel S Goldsmith
There is a series of four hour-long presentations on The Art of Spiritual Healing by JSG from 1958 on YouTube, which is quite amazing and at the end of the fourth tape, he discusses the healings by Jesus as they were reported in the NT on the basis of his own insight and experience, and he very much makes sense to me:
It makes sense to me that Goldsmith should have died just before the dictation of A Course in Miracles was starting with Helen Schucman and Bill Thetford in NY.