In rural West Bengal, India, many people harbor the strange belief that if they have been bitten by a dog, they have become pregnant with its puppies. The fearful victims run to a witch doctor, who administers yogurt and herbs and tells them they are no longer pregnant. Then they go home relieved.
The dynamic behind Puppy Pregnancy Syndrome illustrates what A Course in Miracles describes as “magic,” the belief that material things outside of us can hurt us or heal us. The Course takes a firm stand that our pain and healing are more a function of our thoughts than physical causes. It tells us, “You are not bound by all the strange and twisted laws you have set up to save you. You really think that…a small round pellet or some fluid pushed into your veins through a sharpened needle will ward off disease and death.” The Course teaches that we are sustained not by medicine, money or lovers. We are sustained by the love of God.
The Course goes on to explain that the real physician is the mind of the patient; we choose doctors as agents who play out our intentions. Because we have been invested by God with the ability to create, we are capable of making up stories of sickness and healing, and then manifesting them in our experience.
Considering the Course’s bold stance on the power of the mind, Puppy Pregnancy Syndrome is not so different from the ways we manufacture and offset more accepted diseases. We dream we are sick, we go to a doctor who believes in the same dream (or, more precisely, is an actor in our own dream), the physician prescribes dream medicine, and then we experience a dream healing. Yet, in spite of the apparently solid story line, we were never really sick in the first place. We are eternal, whole, spiritual beings created in the image and likeness of a perfect God. We got mixed up thinking we are bodies, became subject to all the “laws” that govern bodies, and produced the stories that bodies go through. Yet, even as this drama unfolds, we remain as God created us.
Neither I nor the Course are suggesting that you should avoid, deny or discredit doctors and medicine, all of which help in important ways. Good doctors and medicine are blessings that serve nobly to relieve suffering. We achieve healing in accord with the way we are willing to accept it. Better to get yourself out of pain than hold out until you are enlightened.
Meanwhile we can work to peel away our beliefs in magic. We must examine our thoughts and attitudes and recognize their link to the condition of our health. Edgar Cayce said, “Mind is the builder.” Thoughts build illness and they build healing.
In a sense, all disease is psychosomatic. Not that we don’t have physical symptoms, which certainly feel real in the world of the senses. Yet, physical symptoms do not appear randomly. They are always connected to our consciousness. Physical illness is the last step in a progression of thought and emotion. Louise Hay did groundbreaking work identifying the relationship between belief, feeling, illness, and healing. Her books, Heal Your Body and You Can Heal Your Life, provide clear roadmaps tracing obvious symptoms to more subtle causes. When I coach a client who has a physical illness, I pull one of Louise’s books from my desk drawer and read to the client the correlation between the mental pattern and the disease. In almost every case, my client has an “aha!” and hooks up cause and effect. Then we mobilize Louise’s suggested affirmation of truth that offsets the illusion to which the client has been subscribing.
Yogis tell of a man who went to visit a friend in the country. During the night the visitor got up to go to the bathroom and saw a deadly snake coiled at his feet. In the morning the host found his guest dead on the ground, next to a coiled rope. The guest had gotten so frightened that he died of a heart attack. Even though there was no snake, he was just as dead as if a deadly snake had bit him. A Course in Miracles tells us, “Illusions are as strong in their effects as the truth.”
No one has ever gotten pregnant from a puppy bite, but plenty of people give birth to diseases resulting from stress and fear, both of which, A Course in Miracles explains, are entirely unnecessary and founded in illusion. While we may be tempted to laugh at ignorant rural Indians, we all suffer from ignorance. Fear bites worse than any dog, and love heals more powerfully than yogurt and herbs. Rather than running to a witch doctor to cure a disease we made up, let us run to reality, the ultimate healer. Let’s not attempt to escape from one illusion by trading it for another. If we are going to escape from illusions, the only place to escape to is reality.