This is Chapter 5 from Dr Linda Edwards’(info@drlindaedwards.com)doctoral thesis.

Introduction

After completing the analysis of the Isaac material, the editor of a national publication focused on wholistic approaches to personal well-being suggested that the New Zealander Clif Sanderson might be the kind of exceptional helper I was looking for. Clif has been awarded the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarian Service to Medicine by the Open International University in 1992 and the Premier Award for Service to Medical Science by the Russian Ministry of Health in Moscow in 1993[1] for his intentional healing work in Russia[2].

“Clif Sanderson brings a questioning, thinking intelligence to a subject which is frequently dismissed as not scientific. The results of his intensive scientific research work in Russia show that thoughts of loving kindness, unhindered by egotistic emotion, are often more powerful healing agents for ‘sick people’ than pills, drugs, or other forms of conventional medicine. He shows the true value of ‘being there’, not only with his physical body, but also with his mind and spirit.” (Newbury, 1993)

As with the last chapter, the aim is to document how my interactions with Clif affected my thinking on the research topic, the research process, and myself. Transcription and analysis was carried out as previously described. In addition to the interview transcripts and my researcher’s journal, the analysis is also based on Clif’s (1993b) book Making Outrageous Claims, the tape Conversations with Clif Sanderson No.1 Gloria Loew Ph.D. (Sanderson & Loew, 1996) , his CD called Mind Music(Sanderson, 1994), magazine and journal articles relevant to his work, and a healing session.

5.1 More Powerful Than Nuclear Radiation?

Above all, Clif gave me hope for the future of humanity. Like many others, I did not want to think about what was and still is happening in Chernobyl.

“We are especially troubled by the illnesses in children and teenagers which were uncommon before the Chernobyl accident. … In addition to thyroid cancer, we also see an increase in common somatic diseases in children. According to numerous data, a decrease in immunity in the children followed the accident. … There is a greater than four-fold increase in cardiovascular diseases in the republic. … an increase in the incidence of congenital developmental defects. … About 70% of the people living in the polluted areas have some neuro-psychological dysfunction, such as psychoneurotic reactions, neuroses and other psychosomatic diseases.” (Krissenko, 1997) .

See Appendix D.4 for more details from the medical literature.

I had also put the issue of nuclear waste in the ‘too hard basket’, consoling myself with the thought that my children would probably be dead before it became a serious problem. But Clif’s healing work in Russia has shown me that there is something we can do.

“Clif Sanderson worked in Polyclinic No.27 in December 1990. After the course of healing sessions all patients showed improvement in the state of their health. There were no registered cases of worsening state.” (Letter from L. Musatov, Chief Doctor of City of Moscow Polyclinic No.27, dated Dec. 1990 – See D.6)

“In September and October 1991, Clif Sanderson, a member of the National Federation of Spiritual Healers of Great Britain, New Zealand and Australia treated 43 children suffering from acute leukemia, trombocitopenic purpura and aplastic anemia at the Pediatric Clinic No.1 of Moscow. More than half of the cases showed positive improvement in the general state of health, improved mood, life activity and reduction in pain. The results as shown by our research data invite serious joint scientific investigation of this method of treatment. We welcome the use of this new method of treatment which shows rehabilitation of our patients during and after specific therapy.” (Letter from N. Phenogenova, Main Children’s Hematologist for Moscow, dated October 1991 – See Appendix D.6)

“In Summer, 1992 Clif Sanderson worked with 32 children living in the boarding school in the village of Vereiki, Belarus. For two weeks the children participated in a course of spiritual healing (aka psycho-rhythm healing), with each child given therapy each day. … Before treatment 38.89% of the children had a high level of radiation in the urine (more than 1510-9 Cu/ltr) (Table 1). After treatment an authentic reduction to 9.90% (p<0.05) was observed.” (Russian International Foundation for New Science published in (Sanderson, 1993a, p.803) )

This ‘something we can do’ has been observed by a number of medical practitioners and psychologists, such as Dr. Gloria Loew, to involve a powerful subtle all pervasive energy which is healing.

Gloria: Well, now I’m more aware of what goes on that is non-verbal … and the more subtle energies that flow back and forth between everyone actually, patient and doctor, but myself and whoever I am in closeness and proximity to.

Clif: You see, when you’re mentioning that flow, I’m thinking in terms of the medical practice, and its now more than 2,500 years since Hippocrates said, “when a doctor works with a patient, a practiced physician feels heat coming from the palms of his hands.” And it seems to me that we’ve missed looking at that energy as a valid part of medical science. Yet here are you saying – and you’re a very experienced practitioner – you’re saying, “I’ve been aware of something like that going on”.

Gloria And maybe not even that specifically as originating from the hand, but originating from one person to the other, even from the patient back toward me, and vice versa, and the loving space that’s created between two people and the relaxed space I feel is very important, and the healing occurs pretty much only in that space.

Clif: Right. See, I think what you are saying pretty much is what we are coming to see now. It’s not the healer as the practitioner that’s creating it. It might be the healer with experience with it that’s allowing it to be more available. But it seems to me it’s always been everywhere for everybody, just the same as the life force that makes the plants grow. You can’t isolate it and say, “Well, it only makes the plants grow when the plants are being healthy.” It’s available all the time. … we must be all swimming in the same energy field. … it’s not so much becoming the healer that’s the ultimate aim, it’s that becoming familiar with an energy that permeates everything … we can’t help being in the life energy. Being born means you are in it, and so therefore it must be available to all of us. It can’t be anything else. It’s just that some of us have been able to abandon the old model where the mind follows tracks like railway tracks and we can’t get off and we’ve said, “Wait a minute. If this is in everything, then it’s got to be available for everybody. It’s got to be the biggest most powerful energy in the Universe.” …. It’s just that we haven’t got to the point where we can measure it or know what it is yet. (Sanderson & Loew, 1996)

It seems to be an intelligent, all knowing, universal, organizing energy which pervades the mind (which also interpenetrates the body),

“… an overriding field of knowingness that we are born into … the mind exists throughout the body … it has a direct relationship to the subtle energy of life … we filter it through our physical vibrational pattern which is much lower and therefore we see it as separate, a la Einstein saying, ‘We think we’re separate from the Universe, but we’re not.’ We’re all an integral part of it, and therefore we can’t be continually trying to isolate the mind and analyse it in separation.” (Clif Sanderson Interview[3], 6/8/98)

which Einstein and many others (see Section 5.12) understood,

“You will hardly find one among the profounder sort of scientific minds without a religious feeling of his own. But it is different from the religiosity of the naive man. … The scientist is possessed by the sense of universal causation. … His religious feeling takes the form of a rapturous amazement at the harmony of natural law, which reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection.” (Einstein, 1954/1973, p.40)

and which can be photographed.

“… Kirlian photography[4]. They can now photograph the seed of a plant and the aura will show the plant as though it’s full grown. The energy that is around that seed, they can photograph to show the whole plant as it will be. Now we’ve got to stop thinking that this subtle energy doesn’t exist or it’s fraudulent or some crazy notion.” (CS, 16/7/98)

According to Clif, healing radiation sickness and other physical illnesses is not all this energy is good for. He has used it to restore mental hospital inpatients to full functioning in the community,

“In Sydney … we must have seen 150 people[5] who were brought to us from a government institution for this group[6] once a week. … We’d meet every Monday night. Eight years later, I went back and said to the person who was bringing them from the hospital, “What now, would you say had happened?” And the answer was, “One or two of them needed more counselling. All the others went back into society the next day, after years of drug-oriented help.” (CS, 16/7/98)

and it can also assist people who are physically and mentally ‘normal’ (see section 5.6).

5.2 Research Procedures, Attitudes & Limitations

Although I had not thought of this subtle energy as being useful for solving problems like Chenobyl, Clif’s wholistic way of viewing things is not new to me.

“… a move toward a more wholistic approach to the study of humans whereby emotional and sensual experience is included. This is indeed a move in the right direction for this study.” (Ph.D. proposal submitted to the Education Faculty, Monash University in May 1998, p.37)

However, because I am doing a counselling psychology doctorate, and because of the fear that my topic was too broad (a common concern of traditional research), I felt it was necessary to restrict my focus to psychological helping. Yet my involvement with Clif has made it clear that this is not possible: to force my study into examining just a few bricks in the house makes it impossible to appreciate the whole house and may lead to wrongly perceiving those few bricks. The process of discovery must not be limited by anything.

My plan was to interview exceptional helpers of both sexes from diverse cultural, religious and training backgrounds for the purpose of finding out something about helping which is free of such biases. What I am discovering through Clif, is that some if not all these exceptional helpers seem to have the ability to perceive things free of many, if not all, of these biases.

“People, once they form an established group, can dominate people and implant all sorts of their own ideas. So there’s no question that anyone who’s awake and aware will be influenced by that … because then all of your belief systems that you had culturally implanted as you grew up no longer hold true.” (CS 16/7/98)

In other words, their conditioning, that is, their attitudes and beliefs, have, to a large degree, fallen away. This means that when they experience something, they can meet it with no preconceived attitude, ready to perceive it in a fresh way like a little child who has not yet been ‘taught’ how to interpret what is seen[7].

5.3 Significant Change

Clif seems to be in agreement with Isaac: the significant change which occurs in people is a change in attitudes. Further, the most important attitude change is the change in attitude toward ourselves.

“A change in their attitude … or perception of who they are … And the change that’s come about them is things like: no longer dependent on other people’s opinion of how they are. That’s one of the most important ones. No longer constantly assuming that they have something wrong with them. No longer agreeing to a lot of the models that have been laid onto them, often by professionals, who label people very quickly and comfortably, yet there’s only a certain limited number of labels. … And when we become comfortable … with being identifiably individual, then there is no longer a psychiatric problem. … you just lose the idea that I keep needing to have more therapy, or that I need to keep investigating. …they don’t have an idea that who they are is in some case an error, or in some case incorrect.” (CS, 16/7/98)

Another important attitude change which he identifies is the change in attitude toward what happens in our lives.

“More, I would go so far as to say that when we relate to our surroundings in the sense that they’ve been beneficial to us then we don’t have the problem any longer. … If whatever arises for me, no matter how traumatic, I can see as an opportunity for advancement or learning, then it doesn’t matter. … I keep saying, “Isn’t this interesting?” Because if I say, “Isn’t this interesting?”, it diffuses the problem.” (CS, 16/7/98)

In his own case, he makes reference to changes in his attitude towards things he used to regret.

“… regrets about things that happened in the past … regrets about something that happened in childhood … regrets about something and it happened in a marriage situation, or something that I had or hadn’t done that … I was upset about my relationship with the children, and the difference is when you realize all of those things that have arisen can be used as a learning experience, and that at any time, almost all of us are doing the best we can anyway, then you realize that worrying about or even feeling guilty is of no value either to change a situation or for your own progress, and neither does it help the people you were involved with.” (CS, 6/8/98)

Regretting something can only happen when the mind makes a judgment that it would be better if what is regretted had not occurred. With experiential insight, a person can become aware that this judgment is false. While it is more often realized that we learn from our mistakes rather than our successes, it is perhaps much less well recognized that we learn more from our painful experiences than from our joyous ones. From our uninvited hardships we can learn the futility of worry and guilt and the healing power of acceptance. We can learn compassion for ourselves and others, and an experiential knowing of how to be with life in a way that minimizes suffering. Through living the hardships and losses life dishes out to us, we discover that the way to ‘be’ is to continually embrace whatever happens, for it is the pushing away of experience which creates anguish.

5.4 How Significant Change Happens

Unlike Isaac and most of the participants in my preliminary study, Clif’s most significant change did not happen because he was seeking to find and keep a state of happiness he had glimpsed, nor did it happen because he was consciously seeking to escape a crisis or profound suffering. It happened unexpectedly, by itself.

“… came about through no apparent desire of my own. … the day that I went into my own office and I sat down to write a radio commercial and it didn’t happen, was the most significant moment of my life because I didn’t know why it had happened*[8]. I hadn’t been telling myself ‘I don’t want to do this’. I was earning a lot of money, and I was apparently, in the world I was successful. So why it stopped I didn’t know. However, within half an hour I found myself saying, “Well, that’s it then”, and within two or three months, I’d sold all the businesses. I’d sold everything. I put the last few things that I couldn’t sell or that I thought I might need, like my camera, in the car, and I drove from Perth to Sydney, and said, “Right. Well, this is a new life.” And I had no idea why that happened. In other words it was psychological – it could have been a trauma, because suddenly I couldn’t have earned a living at what I was so skilled and trained at over many years. But seeing it as, “Oh well, that’s the end of that”, it didn’t arise as a problem for me. … ” (CS, 16/7/98)

He says there had been an unconscious process building,

“When I couldn’t write the ad, it became crystal clear that what I was doing wasn’t satisfying me, and at that exact moment, I knew that that was the end of doing that if I was going to be true to myself … and also in that moment came the strength to be honest and say, “Well, stop doing this.” … so that realization had presumably been growing over a period of time … I wasn’t particularly conscious. … I’m quite sure if you had asked me at the time, I would have said I’m really happy with … what I’m doing because of the security of it. You know, all the normal things we’ve been trained to look at and say, “That’s important”, and I bought into that if you like. I was in agreement that what I was doing was good because it was satisfying certain creative needs that I had, it was satisfying the financial side of things better than it had been at other times in my life and that camouflage was keeping me from knowing myself. … My children couldn’t understand what had happened to their father who had decided to give up what in their minds [was] also something that was pretty good. Successful business is a hard thing to achieve in years of devotion and seven days a week work. It’s not a normal person who suddenly says, “Well, I don’t want this and I’m just going to give it all up.” (CS, 6/8/98)

and he likened it to a dam bursting.

“I don’t think it’s like a sudden flash of lightning and that there was no building up to it. … I think the pressure builds until the dam breaks. So it’s at that moment that the dam breaks that the conscious mind gets it, if we’re awake … when we are stronger than the dam, where we hold it together despite these pressures that leads to illness of all sorts … I think there are … things happening physically as well as mentally that are resisting what we are choosing to do … it builds to the point where either the dam breaks and we get it, or it doesn’t break and we get sick.” (CS, 6/8/98)

Clif seems to be saying that the inner stress and turmoil builds to a point where we either experience an insight and change, or we get ill.

When asked about how significant change happens for people in general, he said that it comes unexpectedly through an insight experience.

“… deep, positive personal change as something that happens without the person’s apparent consent. That is to say, if we studied books on how to make change, it’s a struggle. You’d find it very difficult. If we are in consultation with a therapist who says, “Look, you’re doing this wrong. You should change that.” Very, very difficult. You find very limited results coming from direct voice or intellectual apprehension of change. It doesn’t seem to work that way. It seems to me that what we need to do is be presented with something different, that just pleases us more, or just appeals to us more at a deeper level. … It has to be an ‘aha’ experience. It has to be ‘just got it’. … And nobody can explain you to that point, because it’s only your experience.” (CS, 16/7/98)

Clif repeatedly alludes to both the need for an experience that brings insight and also the uselessness of intellectual investigation,

“Further investigation of the problem doesn’t resolve the problem … investigating it in minute detail – it still doesn’t release us from it. In fact, it makes it more stronger because we know more and more about it…” (CS, 6/8/98)

and the need to simply put it aside.

“We’re all carrying suitcases full of stuff. Now if we open the suitcase and riffle through the files, we get more and more and more of what we’re carrying with us. But if we leave them closed, and just put them down, and keep on walking, we find we didn’t need them anyway. It’s luggage we were carrying we didn’t need to investigate.” (CS, 16/7/98)

In an interview with Virato (1992) , Clif explains how this removal of our attention from our troubles requires a cessation of certain kinds of thinking and an insight which allows us to identify with that which is aware of our problem rather than with the problem itself.

“If I say I’m going to do nothing and think nothing, the body will do that. The body obeys, but the mind goes crazy. It wants to go on like it normally does. The trick is to ask yourself who was it that said I want to sit without thinking, without movement. You soon see that you are not your mind. When you know that you are not your mind, you start experiencing that finer, delightful core which is the Self. After that, there are no more questions. Not even any more meditation, because you’ve seen that you’re not the stuff that you’re involved with. Then you can become the observer.” (Virato, 1992, p.47)

5.5 Good Therapeutic Outcomes

As with Isaac, happiness seems to be the good psychological outcome.

“I visited New York regularly over many years, and a large number of the people who came to see me would have nothing physically or mentally wrong with them. But they get such a change in their life just by coming and spending that time with me, that they come back and back and back and they are happy* to* pay my* fee (laughs), and we all agree that there’s nothing identifiably wrong with them. But the benefits to their life and their happiness are incredible.” (CS, 16/7/98)

At this point I decided I needed to be clear on what people like Isaac and Clif meant by happiness. This is Clif’s answer.

“Happiness is like beauty. It’s hard to define for an outside person, isn’t it? It’s hard to say what is happiness. Happiness to me is contentedness with what’s happening in this very moment. It’s the loss of desire for change from what is happening now. It’s the ability to say, “I’m okay now”. It’s the ability to lose the stupid Western idea of optimism. Optimism is one of the worst things you can have, because it’s agreeing that now is not as good as it might become. … happiness is acceptance of this breath I’m taking now.” (CS, 16/7/98)

Sometimes this acceptance of what is happening now involves accepting an insight with widespread consequences for our lives. This, he says, often happens when people with relationship difficulties come for a healing.

“People become very clear on what they’re doing in their relationship. so that’s why I’m hesitant when you say, “heal relationship”, as though the object was to get people back together. But there are many cases that I’ve worked with actually when they finally realized that they wouldn’t be together appropriately anyway. So to me that’s a healing because it releases them from something they didn’t want to be involved in.” (CS, 16/7/98)

This didn’t at first appear to me to be acceptance of what is. But Clif clarified this for me.

“It would go without saying almost that if you’re now happy where you are, then you’re happy with the relationship as it stands or as it could be or you’re seeing it as a learning experience and you can be just as happy when it finished, if necessary.” (CS, 16/7/98)

Further, the decision that a relationship needs to end is ‘seen’ through experiential insight rather than ‘made’ intellectually or emotionally, and our resistance to it can cause mental or physical ‘dis-ease’.

“The decision just happens, meaning the person sees it. … A number of people come to me with that[9] as the primary problem, but more often than not, they’ll know that’s the primary problem but they’ve allowed it to evolve into a physical problem or a mental state, and they’ll know that their mental state or the physical problem is being caused because they can’t make up their mind where* they’re going.” (CS, 16/7/98)

5.6 How Does Helping Happen?

After hope for humanity, the next most important thing that stood out for me in my interactions with Clif was the same kind of paradoxical speaking I had noticed with the Advaita non-teacher, Isaac Shapiro. Like Isaac, Clif was very clear that helping does not happen through investigation of the problem, putting oneself in a superior position to the client, thinking one knows how to help, trying to help, nor paying attention. He says there is no method.

“I do nothing at all.[10] I pretend to do nothing at all. I don’t have a method. I have scoured out the idea that a method will work.” (CS, 16/7/98)

All that is required is proximity to the person,

“The therapist is required to do literally nothing more than be in the proximity of the patient forming a quiet spaciousness for the utter relaxation of mind and body which invariably results in a flooding memory of peaceful healthy understanding. This is being ‘at one’ with the universe in a down to earth, practical and useful way which is dependent neither on intellectual agreement nor on devoted ‘faith’.” (Sanderson, 1993b, p.75)

“It’s not what you are saying, but your being there that is what’s going to make the difference.” (CS, 6/8/98)

and having a general life-purpose type intention to be helpful in contrast to the specific intention to fix,

“So my intention overrides my attention and then, that’s how it happens. … attention diminishes your intention. … You can’t maintain attention. … I would see 300 people a day. How can I possibly believe or kid myself that I would give each one of them 100% of my attention? … My intention was to be helpful in this world. This other person’s intention was to be helped, in this case. Our intention has been answered by the universe bringing us together.” (CS, 16/7/98)

and yet Clif does have a method.

“… when they walk in I say, ‘Oh, I don’t talk about your problem, because you’ve probably told your story so many times, and you wouldn’t be coming to see me if you’d got success anywhere else anyway, so let’s not pretend that the retelling of your medical history is going to be of any value at all. So we’ll start with that.’ And it’s amazing how many people say, ‘That’s great. I’m so pleased not to have to go through that’, and they put down their suitcase full of their x-rays and all their prescriptions, and they sort of start feeling embarrassed even, and I like them to feel embarrassed that they thought they needed to bring it. And then I say, ‘Just lie down here’. And so they lie down on a comfortable couch, not what doctor’s call it – an examination couch … and I do sit above the head and I put my hands on their shoulders … or under the head, it depends how I’m feeling at the time. They know where I am and they go into deep relaxation. Now as well as that … I play to most people a CD track that I deliberately produced, and it has two parts to it … repetitive rhythm which is not music … and then periodically on the same track, a voice comes along, quite harsh, speaking in a language the person won’t know. Both hemispheres are diverted into a situation that is calming and resting and occupying it, and that’s when the contract happens. That’s when the exchange of energy arises.” (CS, 16/7/98)

He also has a rationalization for this method,

“The more we can get our mind out of the way, the more we can allow that person’s state, physiologically and mentally, and if you want, spiritually, their state will shift of itself, will drift of itself, towards perfect harmony or resonance or whatever the term that is comfortable with the different cultures.” (CS, 16/7/98)

but like the method, it seems that this is just to satisfy the client.

“talking to a nun from Thich Nhat Hanh’s [11] ashram in France, and I said to her, “What is skilful action?” … she said, “What I do is I don’t talk to the people. They come and they sit there. I make a cup of tea, and we drink the tea until they are ready to go home.” That’s all she does. … in that I’m working not as a seemingly religious figure … people expect some more clinical approach.” (CS, 16/7/98)

If the therapist is a nun or a psychologist, it may be more appropriate to offer a cup of tea.

“A therapist says ‘Oh this person’s paying money’ or ‘They’ve made an appointment. I’d better talk to them’, or ‘I’d better do something – manipulate a bit of arm muscle or something’. As soon as you do that, you are lost. …all of that is dressing that we now know we don’t need. … we’re finding that the less of those accoutrements we add to the event the more powerful it becomes. …. Perhaps say, ‘Have a cup of tea’. Sit there. Don’t say anything. … There’s no need to do anything. You will be absolutely astonished at the response from people.” (CS, 16/7/98)

Again, paradoxically, after explaining how helping happens, that is, through a subtle energy transfer (symbiosis) which occurs when two people are in proximity to each other and their minds are quiet and the therapist holds an intention [12] to be helpful but has no idea how helping will happen,

“Intentional Healing avoids the debate arising from misguided perceptions of intelligence by creating for the seeker a simple, quiet, uninvolved space where the mind is lulled into a state of neither expecting nor rejecting, not grasping for nor pushing away, neither wishing nor hoping, simply residing in a state of unattached neutrality while the overwhelming memory of naturally being well invades the cellular structure.*” (Sanderson, 1993b, p.18)

he also says

“We don’t know.[13] [14]” (Sanderson, 1993b, p.84)

“Is virus the outcome of an illness or the cause? … We have to keep coming back to not knowing.” (CS, 16/7/98)

“We can never understand why one person contracts a terminal illness and their neighbour doesn’t, even though eating the same food, living in the same house, and of the same psychological state. We can’t get to that. …As soon as we attempt to uncover that, we are pretending that we can know, and since clearly we can’t, both the therapist and the inquirer are already out of balance, because we’re adopting a stance that we can’t support. No matter how much we study, no matter how much we agree with the present model of how we should relate to another person in illness, we can never get beyond that point that we don’t know. We will not ever know what is the actual cause of, why does this person have the illness. … You know, some of the great thinkers – George Bernard Shaw for example – suggests that viruses were the outcome of the illness, not the cause of it. In other words, by contracting the illness by some other means, the viruses were able to multiply, and that’s how we first observed that that was an illness. .. we have to keep coming back to not knowing.” (CS, 16/7/98)

and thinking we can help, gets in the way of helping.

Linda: Surely most therapists have the intention for healing to happen?

Clif: Yes, but then they disturb it by the overlaying of it with these conditions; the conditions of being superior to a patient; (Right) the condition of authority; the condition of claiming what they can do. Now can you imagine what happens to a patient’s mind when authority says, “We have the answer to your problem”, and puts you through these hoops. (CS, 16/7/98)

The answer to this paradox appears to be in first, the recognition that the ‘knowing nothing’ refers to conceptual knowledge, not experiential knowledge,

“If we don’t have experience, we haven’t got anything. If I don’t have an experience of it, it’s no good me having a faith or belief, because that’s like a tree without roots.” (CS, 16/7/98).

“To me, the only thing that is useful is personal experience. Never mind the words, never mind the talking, never mind the records or the results of the ….. If a person, actually, for themselves experiences the energy that’s available, it can never be denied. It doesn’t matter what science says. It doesn’t matter whether the media scoffs at it or ridicules it. … Without that experience you are only repeating something someone else has told you.” (CS, 6/8/98)

and secondly that concepts can be appropriate or true in the sense of being useful in a particular context which must be sensed intuitively, and it is conceptual rules that cannot be laid down.

Linda: So how would you say it to them?

Clif: That is extremely difficult for me to put into words, because I can only say it when I’m there with that person because each one is different, so there’s no formula. There’s no way you can say, “Do this, do this”, and bingo, you’ve got it, because that’s not going to work that way.

Linda: An intuitive knowing or something?

Clif: It’s an intuitive knowing. It’s a reaction to the response minute by minute, second by second, so …. you can’t lay down hard and fast rules. (CS, 6/8/98)

Thus, while no method is generally applicable, and therefore nothing can be known in a general sense, particular behaviours work well with particular therapeutic contexts. However, which behaviour is applicable for a particular person must be determined intuitively. In addition, because this intuition or pull to provide a particular behaviour arises by itself, it can be seen as non-doing or doing nothing.

5.7 The Research Question

This brings my research question back into doubt again.

Linda: When you say, “Thinking we know something about how healing happens gets in the way”, does that mean if I am to be an effective helper, I must never be able to intellectually answer my research question of “How does helping happen?”

Clif: Yes. You can’t answer that if you’re going to be effective.

Linda: You say, “If we don’t have experience, we haven’t got anything”; are you arguing that scientists need to discover through experience, and that the answer to my research question must be an experiential knowing rather than an intellectual knowing about how something happens?

Clif: Yeah. I think where modern so-called science has gone off the rails is that they will only take into account what they can measure in a way that’s distinctly separate from their involvement in it. And yet quantum physics says the experimenter affects the outcome of the experiment. So until science catches up where physics is, where quantum physics is, there will always be this difficulty where science says, ‘We can’t measure therefore it isn’t true, or it isn’t so.’ And the answer to your question is: it can only arise in a personal knowing. There’s no intellectual way of getting what I’m talking about. That’s where even many healers fall in a trap of trying to explain it to people who are only intellectual and they say, “Oh, it’s all rubbish because I can’t intellectually understand it.” But it’s nothing to do with intellect.” (CS, 6/8/98)

Thus, while my interviews with Isaac left me clear that the purpose of my research is to ‘touch’ the reader non-conceptually (section 4.2), my interviews with Clif are showing me how this will happen: through the vicarious experience the reader gets from following my own experiential learning process as described in these pages.

“The next breakthrough will not come from a scientifically trained mind, but from the understanding of a feeling person.” (Einstein cited in (Sanderson, 1991) )

5.8 Characteristics of Effective Helpers

According to Clif, these are people who hold a life purpose of helping,

“It’s our intention[15] that is drawing us to this work. Everything else is irrelevant. … In other words, our desire is irrelevant, our ego, our need to prove it…” (CS, 6/8/98)

without trying to help.

“The more effective healer has no desire for an outcome.” (Sanderson & Loew, 1996)

They have no idea of how to help and they do nothing (see section 5.7). However, they remain exotic to the client

“So the more exotic the “healer” is to the “patient”, the more likelihood that the mind of the inquirer is confused or is unable to tie it down and imagine what is going to happen, but therefore change will happen.” (CS, 16/7/98)

but without any sense of superiority,

“It puts the healer superior to the person, and they immediately don’t feel that they are entitled to this. It’s the healer or the person doing this saying, “See my certificate on the wall? I’m a master.” You see. And that’s a superiority. It’s like a doctor wearing a white coat. It’s an adopted authority that the mind of the person doesn’t agree with. Doesn’t matter how you dress it up, the mind of the inquirer doesn’t agree that you’re superior to that person. So you need to present at the same level, or “We’re doing this together”. … We know that psychologists put their certificates on the wall and live from the status of the University or the Academy that gave them their authority.” (CS 16/7/98)

and are willing and able to enter the client’s reality.

“They recognize that I’m the first person usually who’s ever taken it as real, who’s ever said, “Well, look, tell me about this voice I’m hearing*”, and not in a framework that it shows that you’re mentally disturbed in some way. … it is their reality. No question. They hear it, and they dare not talk about it in most circumstances because of the fear of it leading to them being classified as mentally disturbed prevents them from talking about it.” (CS, 6/8/98)

They avoid using models of helping which do not fit the beliefs of the client,

“And we have to also look into different cultures which I’ve been fortunate to do. I’ve worked in more than 20 different countries. …. if I’m using the faith of the English countryside and then when* I’m in Siberia, they would think I was crazy, and maybe, to them,* I would be.” (CS, 16/7/98)

and they experience the subtle energy which heals simply through the helper being in proximity to the client (see sections 5.2, 5.7).

Not everyone is equally suited to being a good healer.

“It’s a bit like everyone could paint a painting. But some people ten years old, they can paint a masterpiece, and another person * could never do it. So I think it’s just like that. I don’t think it’s any big thing. And I know that it doesn’t mean the person’s anything special. … I believe everybody would have this ability to do it from time to time.” (CS, 16/7/98)

And there is a way of telling who is more suited.

“There are certain physiological things that happen when you do this work. For example, your skin resistance changes. You’ll see it in my book. And, even interestingly enough, a trained cardiologist can read your ECG and say, ‘Yes. You can do this work’.” (CS, 16/7/98)

And in Russia, those who pass the test can be registered as non-drug therapists and work in the hospitals (Shevchenko, 1997) .

“Ministry of Health passed a law[16] that this could be in the hospitals throughout the country, providing people passed a certain examination test that we worked out, and now there are 500,000 registered doing this in Russia.” (CS, 16/7/98)

5.9 Assessing Helping and Who Can Be Helped?

Clif agrees with Isaac that there probably isn’t anyone who can’t be helped.

“Even if they don’t want to be helped … even if it’s several layers back into the mind they don’t want to be helped, that’s not the point. The power of life is more important and more available than anything the mind’s been traumatized with in the meantime.” (CS, 16/7/98)

“I have had people who come to me who say, “I don’t believe in this.” In fact, a perfect case was a man who said, “I’m only going to sit here for half an hour because my wife’s sitting in the car outside the door, and she insists that I see you. But I don’t believe that it will work.*” Two days later his tumor had disappeared. This is actual measured fact, because he was there and I was there.” (CS, 16/7/98)

Even if everyone can be helped, it isn’t always possible to see when helping has happened. We don’t always get feedback and even if we do, people aren’t always conscious when change happens.

“We don’t know that they haven’t been helped … I know some people I never see again, then I’ll hear later that they went to another therapist and this was the beginning of their journey. It’s very, very difficult and I can never agree that people don’t get changed. Just because we can’t see it or measure it doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened. And the other side is very often that* there will be change but their own mind will deny it.” (CS, 6/8/98)

Thus, helping is a mystery. It is not even possible to count how many people have been helped, let alone measure the degree to which they have been helped. It may take time to see an outcome.

“It may take several generations before we can see the result of our work. …” (CS, 16/7/98)

It may not be obvious at the time,

“Often it’s not obvious at the time, and frequently people just see me once and then say nothing happened and they don’t come back. But regularly I hear from them a year later or two years later, and they say, “I’ve just suddenly realized that that didn’t happen any more.” (CS, 16/7/98)

and the process of measuring is likely to destroy the outcome,

“It’s often so subtle that attempting to measure it is more likely to destroy the possibility of that change, because for the person it’s dragging it back down into the mind level, whereas if it’s just accepted that it happens, as it is in cultures like the Philippines, Brazil, and other places – if it’s just accepted that it happens, it just happens.” (CS, 16/7/98)

and yet there is no shortage of good anecdotes.

Clif: I can quote many cases … a man from Greece who was in a straight-jacket 24 hours a day*, needing nursing and care. He’d been all over the world and ended up in Moscow because no one else had been able to fix his problem. I perceived his problem to be a disturbance of the energies of the soul … And I spoke to him not knowing that he could speak English even because he hadn’t said a word in six months. … And I started talking to him about releasing the energies that were with him, and in about five minutes he said, “How did you know what was wrong with me?” And there was a hush went over the auditorium with all these psychiatrists, because they’d never got a word from him. He could speak English, so now it had to be translated back into Russian for them.

Linda: Do you know what their diagnosis was?

Clif: Schizophrenia. … He went back to Greece perfectly healthy, perfectly sane. (CS, 16/7/98)

And in the interview with Virato (Virato, 1992) , Clif relates how the cases are sufficient to convince highly regarded medical practitioners.

“The senior oncologist from Moscow, Professor Eugene Stranadko, stood up after my lecture and said, ‘I don’t believe what you said. I’ve never seen such results. We have extra-sensory work here, and people who claim to be healers, but I’ve never seen it and I don’t believe it. I am cynical. But if you would like to lecture at the Central Oncological Hospital, I will set up my staff to hear you.’ That was a clean offer. He said he didn’t believe, but was willing to listen, and I would then fall or rise on my results. So I lectured at the hospital, and they brought patients to me, and we began seeing changes. At the end of the day, the senior oncologist still said he wasn’t a believer, but asked that I come back the next day to see what happens. When I returned the next day there were over two hundred patients waiting for me at the front door, who were turned away from the hospital! Patients from the day before also showed dramatic improvement. By the end of the day, this doctor asked me to teach him what I was doing.” (Virato, 1992, p.16)

But there is another paradox here. Whereas Clif seems to be saying that it is not necessarily possible to measure outcomes, the Russian data appears to have provided statistically significant evidence of improvement in certain important parameters (Sanderson, 1993a) .

For example, there was a statistically significant improvement in the concentration of radioactivity in the urine (p<0.05) as well as measures of immunity, blood pressure and pulse.

Perhaps then, what Clif is really saying is that we cannot ‘try’ to get an outcome, and we cannot expect to find ‘consistent’ evidence. This does not prevent significant outcomes from sometimes occurring provided we are not trying to make them happen. Maybe this also explains why there is not a significant improvement in some of the other parameters measured. For example, in spite of obvious individual cases of psychological improvement, the aggregate results are not statistically significant.

5.10 Developing Exceptional Helper Characteristics

While Isaac said the would-be helper needed a passionate interest in truth and the willingness to explore his own mind, Clif appears to say something quite different.

“The first step is to be aware of the energy … once you’re felt it … that’s enough … you can no longer deny it … and then of course there’s your intention. … if we are talking about being an effective helper, I think the first thing is that we have to believe that’s what we’re here to do. I mean, I don’t have a choice in my life.” (CS, 6/8/98)

If Isaac’s exploration of our own mind is exploration of that energy which pervades everything and is truly who we are, and if Clif’s “awareness of the energy” happens to refer to the energy which is who we truly are: the consciousness that pervades everything, then maybe these two people are saying the same thing in different language.

5.11 Implications

If Clif is correct, psychological helping and counselling psychology research cannot be a conceptual task. Instead, they are tasks of the heart[17]. But then maybe it is not that different from the natural sciences, where Einstein points out that:

“The supreme task of the physicist is to arrive at those universal elementary laws from which the cosmos can be built up by pure deduction. There is no logical path to these laws; only intuition, resting on sympathetic understanding of experience can reach them. … The state of mind which enables a man to do work of this kind is akin to that of the religious worshiper or the lover; the daily effort comes from no deliberate intention or program, but straight from the heart.” (Einstein, 1954/1973, p.226-227)

“Those whose acquaintance with scientific research is derived chiefly from its practical results easily develop a completely false notion of the mentality of the men who, surrounded by a skeptical world, have shown the way to those like-minded with themselves, scattered through the earth and the centuries. Only one who has devoted his life to similar ends can have a vivid realization of what has inspired these men and given them the strength to remain true to their purpose in spite of countless failures. It is cosmic religious feeling that gives a man strength of this sort.” (Einstein, 1935/1940, p.28)

5.12 Reflexivity and Supporting Literature

Some readers may find all this paradox uncomfortable and/or unacceptable and merely a convenient excuse for not providing empirical evidence of Clif’s outcomes. Yet the Russians, out of desperation to find a solution to the radiation sickness problem, have been willing to be guided by their intuition when empirical science has failed them. Even without this desperation, there are some in the West who recognize the value of Clif’s work (see quotes in Sections 5.1, 5.2).

Another way to ground the results is to look at Clif’s impact on myself and those around me. As I have already mentioned, Clif has given me hope for the future of humanity. Radioactivity is no longer in the ‘too hard basket’ and that has had an impact on my own work as a therapist. Although I was familiar with the nursing research based therapeutic touch literature (Gagne & Toye, 1994; Greenspan, 1994; Spence & Olson, 1997; Wilson, 1995) and I had nearly ten years experience using energy which had sometimes appeared to produce spectacular physical healings or remissions (e.g. cancer, arthritis, rheumatism, insomnia and stomach ulcers), there were too many occasions when I could not see anything happening. However, when Clif presented me with the findings on the change in level of radioactivity in the urine of the Chernobyl children (section 5.2), I became open to the possibility that the life force energy might be more powerful than nuclear power and let go of the conceptual limitations which I had unconsciously held concerning what it was possible to accomplish with this energy. As a result I started to place more trust in energy healing, whether I could see results or not, and found that my clients began to do the same. This seemed to lead to my combining energy work more often and more effectively with psychological work, and also to using it exclusively with some people who appeared to need a totally unconscious process.

I also incorporated some of Clif’s practices into my own way of being with clients. For example, Clif places his hands under the neck and the back of the head. I have found that this is less threatening and less ambiguous for the client than the positions commonly used in modalities such as Reiki[18]. It is also close to the old reptilian brain and seems to energetically facilitate regression and healing when working with emotions which have their origin in early trauma.

Clif’s work has also had an impact on people close to me. One of my therapist friends, whom I introduced to Clif’s intentional healing, had a session with him and reported a significant positive change. She felt it “opened the floodgates” and she became aware of many suppressed feelings back to the time she was born. She has also incorporated some of his practices in her Reiki work. However Clif’s influence is not limited to physical contact. My supervisor reported being affected positively by Clif as a result of listening to the interview tape.

I also recalled reading books which supported what Clif was saying and doing. This support came from both medical practitioners

“Modern medicine … is largely based upon Newtonian models of mechanistic behavior. It is a system of understanding which must now expand and grow by incorporating the newer discoveries in science. Just as Einstein was initially thought to be crazy when he first expounded upon his radical theories, many of today’s proponents of energetic and vibrational physiology are also considered to be too far out. This is often the case with far-sighted thinking that is a little too ahead of its time. It took more than 60 years for scientists to begin to validate what Einstein had told them. Now he is heralded as a genius. Such examples of common roadblocks to progress suggest some of the difficulties in acceptance encountered by pioneers like vibrationally minded healers who are also just a little too ahead of their time. Unfortunately, growth is often painful not only for individuals but for human cultures and civilizations as well. As we evolve toward new paradigms in science, and embrace the Einsteinian understanding of matter as energy and physiological systems as interactive energy fields, doctors will begin to slowly replace older drug and surgical techniques with more subtle and less invasive methods of treatment. The newer systems of subtle energy medicine will not only relieve the symptoms of illness, as does traditional medicine, but they will also address the emotional, mental, bioenergetic, subtle environmental, and spiritual causes of disease. The future vibrational physicians will be more than doctors who dispense pills and potions. They will be healers and sensitives.” (Gerber, 1988, p.498)

“I came to realize the truth of what many historians of science have described: A body of knowledge that does not fit with prevailing ideas can be ignored as if it does not exist, no matter how scientifically valid it may be. Scientists, including physicians, can have blind spots in their vision. The power of prayer, it seemed, was an example. … 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.” (Dossey, 1993, p.xv-xvii)

including psychiatrists

“Three main theses are woven together in the therapeutic approach that I am developing which I call ‘core energetics’. The first is that the human person is a psychosomatic unity. The second is that the source of healing lies within the self, not within an outside agency, whether a physician, God, or the powers of the cosmos. The third is that all of existence forms a unity that moves toward creative evolution, both of the whole and of the countless components. … I would say that unity and interaction connect everything that is in the totality of existence. For while the individuality of each being is quite real, the interchange of energies among all beings is continuous and coextensive with the universe. … The basic substance of the person is energy. The movement of that energy is live. The freer the energy movement within each component, in keeping with its own integrity and cohesion, as well as that of the whole organism, the more intense the life. … Everything … is consciousness. … Since every minute particle of life knows exactly what it is doing, it is not whimsical to say that it has a mind: a reason, which understands its inner plan, and a will, which directs its actions to that plan. … The difference between the apple tree and the person, in very simplified terms, is that the human being knows that it knows. … From this hierarchy of consciousness in nature, the French phenomenologist Teilhard de Chardin concluded that “… universal energy must be a thinking energy.” (Pierrakos, 1987, p.12-16)

and leading researchers in psychological medicine.

“Twenty-first century health care will be based upon the subtle energy principles and interventions involving the mind, body, environmental, and spiritual dimensions which are so authoritatively documented in Vibrational Medicine. Clearly, this is a landmark book which is a challenging, controversial, and brilliant tour de force of major historical and clinical significance.” (K.R. Pelletier quoted in (Gerber, 1988) )

“For thirty years now there has been a slow shift in paradigm of healing from the monotheism of scientific medicine toward a concept of holistic medicine and more recently one which has been called sometimes energy medicine. Dr. Gerber’s use of the word ‘vibrational’ falls into this category. This is a book for those at the interface. It covers extremely well the transition from science to metaphysics and will serve as a useful guide to those ready to begin the path toward energy consciousness. Unfortunately, the deeper search needed to establish ‘the etheric world of energies’ remains to be done and until it is completed satisfactorily, scientists and physicians steeped in the ‘Newtonian model of reality’ are unlikely to be ready to begin thinking along these lines.” (C.N. Shealy quoted in (Gerber, 1988) )

I also found that Clif’s perspective was common in ancient Chinese[19] and Hindu philosophies as well as early Western thinkers such as Pythagoras, Hippocrates, Paracelsus and Spinoza (Pierrakos, 1987, p.30-42) . However, a search of the modern medical literature revealed that articles in some of the most prestigious British medical journal (Dixon, 1998; Hodges & Scofield, 1995) are now acknowledging that spiritual healing works and that the National Health Scheme is paying many thousands of registered healers to work both in and outside of the hospitals. I have reviewed this phenomenon in more detail in Edwards (1999) which is bound into the back of this thesis.

5.13 New Questions

As I complete this analysis, I find myself wondering if there can be any conceptual answers which apply over time and circumstance, that is, can there be any generalizations about how helping happens?

5.14 Summary

In conclusion, Clif seems to be presenting us with a paradox. There is a good outcome of happiness which occurs through a significant change in attitudes and which happens by itself rather than by trying to change. However, a helper can facilitate a good outcome, but only when they cease trying, do nothing, and admit they have no idea how to help. In addition, these good outcomes cannot be measured without interfering with the outcome, and often it is impossible to know that they even happened. To the intellect, this makes no sense at all. No wonder exceptional healers are often ridiculed.

“This sort of work is obviously not going to be well received. The media’s going to make a joke of it, ghost-busting and all those ugly things. … it’s a reality and a therapy whose time hasn’t yet come.” (CS, 6/8/98)

Yet, through experiential insight, it makes total sense. According to Clif, this is because our conceptual mind is only a small part of the human psyche and there is another part of our being which is able to experience the subtle energy and the healing it facilitates.

“The [cognitive] mind’s such a minute part of our whole being, of our whole structure, of our whole psychological makeup.” (CS, 16/7/98)

All of this is consistent with Wilber’s (1990) view. He says that when the conceptual thinking mind tries to understand and describe what the other part of our psyche experiences, it can only generate paradox.

“When the mind speaks of spirit[20], it generates paradox or contradictory interpretations. That’s as it should be. But what is verified in meditation itself is not a particular interpretation of spirit, but a direct and immediate identity with and as spirit, and that occasion is not subject to interpretation because it is not a symbolic or mediated event. On the mental level, however, there are only interpretations of the event, most paradoxical, and that is inescapable.” (Wilber, 1990)

Before interviewing Clif, I could not have stated this paradox so clearly. And now, it seems to me that this may explain why psychotherapy research has achieved such an embarrassingly poor show for the gigantic number of man-hours and other resources consumed over the last forty to fifty years. It also provides confirmation that my chosen methodology is appropriate for the phenomenon being investigated.
References

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[1]The originals of these awards, together with his doctoral degree from the Open International University, have been sighted and copies are included in Appendix D.5.

[2 This involved laying his hands on the head, neck and shoulders of large numbers of seriously ill children in Belarus and Moscow for approximately 5-10 minutes per day over a few weeks. See section 5.7 for more details of the way in which this intentional healing is done.

[3] Henceforth referred to as CS.

[4] Kirlian photography is a process in which living objects placed in a high frequency, high power and low current electrical field produce electric discharge trails which are captured on photographic film. The colours of the corona discharge images that result depend on the type of film used and the characteristics of the electrical field (1985; Hahnemann, 1982/1810) cited in (Gerber, 1988) .

[5] One person per week.

[6] This was a number of people laying hands on the one person.

[7] This is direct perception and is also similar to what Isaac is saying in Chapter 5.

[8] * means Clif requested a change from the transcript, usually to improve comprehension.

[9] Relationship problems.

[10] This doing nothing while appearing to do something is explained well in the Bhagavad-Gita (Easwaran, 1985, p.86-87) . See Appendix D.7 for relevant verses (16-20 in Chapter 4) taken from the Penguin Edition translated by J. Mascaró (1962).

[11] Thich Nhat Hanh is the author of about 30 Buddhist books. See, for example, The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching (Hanh, 1998) .

[12] “According to some Qigung texts, intent of itself can cause healing – intent is the healing power and thus is synonymous with Qi.” (Cohen, 1997, p.56) .

[13] “Socrates readily said himself that he knew only one thing – and that was that he knew nothing.” (Gaarder, 1990/1996) .

[14] “Train your lips to say as often as possible – I don’t know.” (Florensky, 1993, p.163)

[15] For Clif, intention to be helpful is an on-going life purpose which has no specific focus, as distinct from a desire to help or fix arising out of some neurotic need of the ego.

[16] It turns out that this was a government regulation and that the article by Shevcchenko discusses the need to create a law for added protection.

[17] This idea is recognized by some psychotherapists, e.g. Ira Welch’s (1998) The Path of Psychotherapy: Matters of the Heart.

[18] Hand positions traditionally used in Reiki would contravene most psychological ethics codes concerning touching the client and usually it is not necessary to touch the torso although it can be very helpful to do that in modalities such as the bodywork of Grof’s Holotropic Breathwork (See Appendix A.5). Further comments on ethics of touch are included in my article (Edwards, 1999) which is also included in Appendix G.3.

[19] “Qigung masters speak of Yi Niam Liao, ‘Mind-intent healing’, the ability of consciousness to directly affect one’s own or a patient’s health. A Qigung healer thinks of healing a patient, the patient’ health improves even without any measurable emission of energy. Mind-Intent healing is instantaneous and does not depend on the proximity of the patient and healer. This suggests that consciousness can bring about changes unmediated by transfer of energy.” (Cohen, 1997, p.62)

[20] Whether Wilber’s ‘spirit’ and Clif’s ‘subtle energy’ or ‘life energy’ are the same is unclear. However they are all phenomena observed by some other part of the psyche than our minds.