Living in a materialistic culture, it is so easy to view disease as simply a physical disorder. Although attitudes towards health and illness are changing in this regard (we are becoming more aware of the psychological and social dimensions of illness), the usual response to disease is strongly biological. In short, we tend to rely heavily on drugs or other "physical" therapies to cure whatever ails us.
To gain a full understanding of Edgar Cayce's perspective, we must take a broader view. We must consider not only the whole physical body, but also include the interpersonal and transpersonal aspects of healing.
For example, regardless of the illness, the readings consistently emphasized the importance of purposeful living. This was especially true in cases of severe and prolonged disability where the healing process could be long and arduous.
Often, when the stricken individual would ask questions pertaining to the length of time required for recovery or even if recovery were a possibility, the readings would respond with some basic question about the reason for desiring health. Why would you be healed? How would you live your life differently? Why are you alive? Why continue living?
These questions address an essential aspect of the healing process - the spiritual dimension. They involve the purpose, meaning, and value of life. Finding the answers to these basic questions requires soul searching. In a certain sense, all illness, and particularly catastrophic illness, addresses these questions at some level. During such distress, we are encouraged to tune into the spiritual dimension; to pay close attention to our thoughts and feelings; to decide what our lives are about; to choose our future. Thus, healing can be a transformative process.
Healing the Healer
Such deep questions take on an added dimension in the context of an apparently irreversible degenerative illness. The sufferer may not even have the mental resources to understand these questions or respond in a coherent manner. In such cases, Cayce insisted that the load of responsibility falls on the caregivers to acknowledge the source of healing and the consequences of health.
This is where the spiritual qualities of the caregivers come into play. Through the application of the "fruits of the spirit," the sufferer may be awakened to the possibilities of living. Gentleness, kindness, patience, and persistence are powerful interventions which touch the spiritual essence of everyone, regardless of the state of health.
Regardless of the eventual outcome in strictly physical terms, this process does inevitably offer some degree of healing for the healer. The readings refer to this as soul growth.
The medical model of healing, which underlies most contemporary therapeutic interventions, is largely based on the assumption that treatment produces healing. The Cayce readings prefer to emphasize that it is attunement within the body that produces healing - not the treatments. In other words, in certain cases the correct treatment can be given and the body may simply not respond. Serious neurological diseases (such as Alzheimer's dementia) which involve brain degeneration, exemplify this therapeutic dilemma. In such instances, Edgar Cayce sometimes cautioned that a "wait and see" attitude would be necessary because deterioration was so advanced that a positive prognosis was problematic. Caregivers were cautioned to follow the suggested treatment plan and see if the body would respond. The spiritual dimension of the applications was strongly emphasized in these cases. One can sense Cayce's transpersonal perspective in these instances - the unconscious (or "soul forces") would have to be stimulated to regenerate the physical body. Without such a response from the "divine within self," recovery was impossible.
At this point, there is a serious problem for caregivers. If physical healing is not a certainty; if the body does not necessarily and automatically respond to therapy; how can one maintain an attitude of hopefulness and expectancy? How does one maintain faith in the face of such uncertainty?
The answer is simply that personal growth is a certainty if a spiritual emphasis is maintained. Regenerating the body is not a certainty. A return to complete normalcy may not happen. The guarantee lies in the promise that the good work that is done is never in vain. Regardless of the degree of physical healing that is accomplished, all persons involved do grow at a deep level of being - at a soul level.
The concept of soul development for all concerned is inherent in the healing process. The linkage of treatment with soul development is not implausible. In fact, consistent application of the various types of treatment recommendations in the readings will invariably lead to such growth. These therapies require that one apply spiritual principles on a daily basis. The necessity of applying spiritual qualities such as patience, persistence, gentleness and kindness are built into the treatment plan, so to speak. So while on the surface Cayce's approach has a strong physical or biological emphasis, be aware of its foundation in spiritual principles. The bottom line is: you cannot really use this approach without applying the "fruits of the spirit." Therefore, applying this approach with any degree of consistency will invariably lead to soul development for all involved.