Excerpt from Reiki, Pure and Simple
If you were educated in the last century it is likely you grew up, as I did, with an entrenched mechanistic viewpoint, believing life can be explained by the laws of physics and chemistry.
Given all we currently know about the workings of the human body, it’s hard to appreciate that 300 years ago renowned thinkers and scientists were in the middle of a great debate about what delineated living from non-living matter. The general belief was that living organisms were ‘vital’ because they had a spirit or a spark which set them apart from non-living things. In religion that ‘vital spark’ took the form of God, and in science it took the form of an organizing, non-physical force or element. Medicine, during this era, saw healing as an art – part intuition, part knowledge – in which the patient was very much involved. The healer or doctor provided the catalyst to help the patient find their own ‘vital spark’, the invigoration of which was a critical element for health and healing.
As science grew increasingly mechanistic, more and more medical doctors and researchers swung towards the idea that life was simply a chemical phenomenon.
With wonderful breakthroughs such as the discovery of penicillin in 1929, the advancements in cellular biology and the unravelling of the DNA code, it seemed increasingly conclusive that all human workings could be deciphered via chemical reactions. As a result of this focus on the mechanics of biochemistry, medicine began to treat the body, to put it bluntly, as a robotic machine.
There began a split in thinking between what we know today as conventional medicine and holistic or complementary medicine. Conventional medicine focuses on treating the body when it is already broken or breaking down, and likens the healthy body to a well-oiled machine. Conventional medicine places little emphasis or study as to what keeps us healthy and vital. There is also little research on why some people remain healthy when others around them succumb to viruses and disease, or why some people seem to be able to heal from ‘incurable’ disease. Advances in conventional medicine are celebrated when researchers discover ways to treat an existing disease or cure an illness that has already taken hold.
In contrast, the focus of holistic medicine is prevention and bolstering the body’s own defences to maintain balance. A healthy body is viewed as one in which a strong immunity is developed d