many experiments, a simple attitude of prayerfulness--an all-pervading
sense of holiness and a feeling of empathy, caring, and compassion for
the entity in need--seemed to set the stage for healing."
Larry Dossey, Healing Words, Part
A major event in this process was my discovery during medical school
of the philosophies of the East, particularly Buddhism and Taoism. I
read widely and insatiably the works of Eastern mystics and Western
commentators. I was delightfully surprised to discover that their core
teachings were not just Eastern but universal, appearing also in the
esoteric traditions of the major Western spiritual traditions. I found
that Western mysticism has periodically been just as vibrant as in the
East, although not as well known. Feeling the need for a practice in
addition to a philosophy, I began to meditate. This was somewhat
difficult in Texas in those days. Unlike now, there were scarcely any
meditation instructors, teachers, or gurus, and "meditation"
was still a dirty word. But a few wise books on meditative practice had
just begun to emerge, and I put their instructions to good use. With
immense difficulty and struggle, I gradually adopted an eclectic
philosophy that was more spiritually satisfying than anything I had
grown up with.
Even so, the experimental data on prayer that I turned up caught me
off guard. I really wanted nothing to do with it. Meditation was
acceptable, but the thought of "talking to God" in prayer was
reminiscent of the fundamental Protestantism I felt I had laid to rest.
Yet the results of the prayer experiments kept forcing themselves into
These studies showed clearly that prayer can take many forms. Results
occurred not only when people prayed for explicit outcomes, but also
when they prayed for nothing specific. Some studies, in fact, showed
that a simple "Thy will be done" approach was quantitatively
more powerful than when specific results were held in the mind. In many
experiments, a simple attitude of prayerfulness--an all-pervading sense
of holiness and a feeling of empathy, caring, and compassion for the
entity in need--seemed to set the stage for healing.
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