A physician is not a healer–until there is an awareness….
During my seven years of training before entering private practice, the notion that I might be a healer never arose.
The term seemed too archaic, unscientific, even verging on shamanistic or fraudulent. After all the only kind of "healers" I had heard about were "faith healers" and we all 'knew' that they were fakes.
It was only after I began to explore Kabbalistic notions of how the universe came into being that tikkun or healing began to have meaning to me.
According to the cosmology of 16th century Kabbalist Rabbi Isaac Luria the universe came into existence when the Creator, known as Ein Sof [the unknowable] decided to withdraw Its energy,[tzimtzum] thereby creating a vacuum into which the physical universe could emerge.
According to this metaphor, Ein Sof emanated a beam of energy which filled primitive " vessels" known as sephirot. Only three vessels were capable of holding this energy. Six others shattered and spilled their holy sparks of 'God-substance'. Much was reabasorbed, but that which fell into the newly created physical world became covered with shells, kelippot. Evil entered the world through the presence of kelippot as well, implying that redemption exists within the core of evil. A tenth sephira connected the sephirot [known as the Tree of Life] to the physical world.
This shattered physical universe seemed to be a catastrophe. How and why could this occur? The answer that Kabbalists have supplied is this–humankind is offered the opportunity to help repair, heal, rectify and further the Divine plan. To heal means to "make whole" and raising holy sparks becomes humanity"s greatest challenge and greatest opportunity.
This can occur through the performance of good deeds [mitzvot] and following the commandments. Interpretations clearly differ as to how rigorous the 'rules' of Judaism need to be followed. But clearly the ethical and moral teachings are available to one and all. Charity, acts of kindness, humility, gratitude, awareness and joy are therefore tools by which to perform these acts of tikkun.
So in effect, Kabbalah taught me that we are all healers. We all can perform acts of tikkun. These deeds serve two major purposes. They allow us to heal ourselves [tikkun ha nefesh] and to heal the world [tikkun ha olam]. Through exercising our free will choices we can help our fellow beings on this planet. In doing so, in addressing the needs of others, we are simultaneously healing our own spiritual deficiences.
It became clear to me that my patients were far more than their physical complaints and conditions. They were complete beings with emotional and spiritual components as well. Failure to consider these others aspects would make healing unlikely. By recognizing all aspects of the individual who sat in my examinattion room, by expressing understanding, compassion and caring as well as dispensing medical knowledge, I could legitimately claim the title of healer.
Healing is not identical with curing. To me it means guiding another towards reconciling their physical, emotional and spiritual selves. Finding serenity amidst a sea of suffering is healing. At times this may mean making peace with a chronic illness, even one that is inevitably leading to one's death.
In this way, Kabbalah has offered me the awareness, offered me the permission to be —a healer.