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It’sCayce built his reputation with physical readings, and left a rich legacy of information covering many of the ills humans experience. Although these physical readings were always very specific to the individual, common remedies and general principles have kept the readings alive and relevant to this day.

But it may be Cayce’s mental-spiritual readings that give us a clue to the role that illnesses can play in our spiritual growth. “Mind is the builder,” suggests that our illnesses are not haphazard and meaningless. Our thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes  “build” our illnesses as surely as they create any of our other experiences.  Taking responsibility for our own ills can be quite liberating (unfortunately it can also make us feel guilty, stupid, powerless, and ineffective).

Do serious illnesses come to help us? Yes. God—the Higher Self, Creative Forces, All-That-Is—communicates with us in basically two kinds of messages, and we receive these messages 24 hours a day, even as we sleep and dream.

Because our own thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes create our daily experiences, daily life is also like a dream. Since I believe that dreams come to us with a healing intent, I would say that daily experiences also come to us with a healing intent. When daily life includes serious illness, accidents, or other crises, those problems usually come to us to help us become whole.

One kind of message is the message of hope, expansion, and spiritual growth. These positive messages strive to draw us forward into our greatest possibilities, revealing to us our power, beauty, creativity, and divinity, for us to expand into or avoid as we choose.

The second kind of message tells us about our fears, doubts, imbalances, and daily diseases. A nightmare or other kind of negative emotional dream is this kind of message. A nightmare does not come to frighten us, but to make us aware of fears we already have.  A nightmare comes as a helpful message. The illness itself is not the problem, but points to a pre-existing problem. The illness is the culmination of days, months, or years of dis-ease and imbalance, whether physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, or any combination (my belief is that all dis-eases are at their basis spiritual, however they may manifest themselves).

Therefore, illness, even serious illness, presents an opportunity for important spiritual growth and positive changes in many different areas of life. Following are some of the ways in which illnesses can serve our growth, positively as well as negatively.

The first thing that a serious illness does for us is stop business-as-usual. Life is disrupted. Our personality or self-concept itself may be disrupted or de-structured. To the extent that we value ourselves for our role in society, whatever that role may be, we lose that value. One of the positive potentials of an illness, then, is to learn to value ourselves for who we are and not for what we do.

The questions to ask about our current role in life and current self-definition are: Where did they come from? (Of course much of our self-definition comes from our childhood and our roles will naturally grow from that.) How does that self-concept and role now serve us? (We’re getting something out of being our current self, even if it’s not positive.) What is the risk in letting our current self change?

Such an illness also disrupts structures around us, structures such as family, friends, and work. It’s possible for some of these structures to be strengthened by the illness. A whole family can be healed by the illness of one member. A sometimes painful refining process can occur in which you lose some of your current friends and associates. But if you emerge from the illness with a new self you will also attract different friends who support your new self.

An illness sometimes results in a complete change in career or life-style. One woman who contracted cancer recalled frequently saying, “This job is killing me.” Such statements or thoughts are clues to dis-ease. This same woman found that her cancer helped her cut the apron strings from her two youngest (but grown) children, something the “healthy” self was unable to do.

One of the obvious reasons for a serious illness is to rest. Some people only allow themselves to rest if they are sick. Those who become sick and try to “tough it out” may be interfering with one of the main purposes of the illness. If we do not use our illness to heal our dis-ease, we may have to contract another one. Healing of symptoms does not necessarily heal the precipitating dis-ease. If we do not heed our nightmares we may need to have more nightmares.

Besides the enforced rest to the body that an illness can bring, it also allows us the time to turn our attention away from external things and search our inner self. One form of imbalance is being too active in the world and neglecting the inner self and its equally important needs.     Continued >>

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