By Celia Coates
Dan Benor, who was a ground-breaking leader in his research into the nature of healing, left this life in July at the age of 81. In a WINN post in 2016, he wrote,
“I started out as a complete skeptic about healing. … All of my training and experience left me certain that spiritual healing was merely a variant on the placebo – the sugar pill effect. I was convinced that people resorted to healing out of a wish to avoid unpleasant treatments, a reluctance to face serious illness, or a fear of death.”
You can read his whole post here: www.winnpost.org/10/28/2016/research-into-healing/
I met Dan many years ago after he returned to America from England where he had been involved with the Doctor-Healer Network in which the British National Health Service supported healers and medical practitioners working together to provide healthcare. I had heard that he was going to hold a kind of symposium here for healers and researchers, pioneers in what was then an almost unknown territory, and I was immediately interested in learning more from them. I was so interested that, pushy in a way that was not characteristic of me, I called Dan and asked to be included in the gathering. After he learned of my great interest and that I had no credentials that would merit my joining the group, he said, “You can attend, but you have to be a fly on the wall.” I had to be both silent and unseen. His response taught me a lot about him – he was both open and generous and very careful not to jeopardize the seriousness of the then-fragile study of healing. Later I joined the supervision group that Dan led and had a chance to learn much more about healing. As the years went on, we would laugh about my start as a non-participating insect.
In 2013, while I was the editor of BRIDGES, the magazine for the membership of the International Society for the Study of Subtle Energies and Energy Medicine (ISSSEEM), Dan published an article titled, “Therapies for Our World”. Here is an excerpt,
“Opening to the collective consciousness is absolutely vital for the survival of life on our planet, and opening with our hearts is even more important than opening with our minds. I studied psychology, medicine and psychiatry in the 1960s and 70s when psychiatry was almost exclusively the practice of psychotherapy. I am passionate about helping people understand the patterns of thinking and feeling that get them into trouble and the ways they can get themselves out of trouble.
Over the years I studied numerous variations on the practice of psychotherapy. I’ve come to understand that people are not just bodies that develop symptoms and illnesses. Nor are we just biocomputers with minds that are the products of our brains. We are thinking, feeling, intuiting, spiritual beings who interact on many more levels than the physical in our journeys through birth, life, and existence between excursions into physical form. My wholistic perspective includes body, emotions, mind, spirit, and relationships with other people as well as with the environment. We must address all of these levels if we are to truly comprehend what it means to be human.
I made major shifts in my career because I became deeply disenchanted with the steady drift of psychiatry into the almost exclusive focus on prescribing drugs as the way for helping people with their psychological and relational problems. I have been equally saddened by the increasing tendency in general medicine to treat symptoms and diseases rather than helping people identify the root causes of their problems and to heal on every level of their being. Here, too, drugs have become the primary tool of the medical profession.
For many years I have studied healers and healing, as well as a broad range of complementary therapies, summarizing my findings in several volumes on healing research. The contrast between the gentle and safe benefits of complementary therapies and the risks of conventional medicine, left me puzzled: knowing the sad outcomes for so many people in our medical system, I found it hard to understand the lack of willingness to explore alternatives.
I’ve come to understand that any and every trauma can be an invitation to bring us into deeper awareness of our interconnections with other people and all of creation. Transpersonal therapists and spiritual healers have recommended that the best way to heal humanity’s collective traumas and psychopathology is for each person to heal her/himself. As each of us clears the dross of our personal, individual consciousness – releasing angers, resentments, hurts, and other negative feelings – we are contributing in a small way to a far broader clearing of the collective consciousness of our planet.
There is fascinating, impressive evidence for the existence of a collective consciousness that links the consciousness of every individual person into a vast combined awareness. Meta-analyses confirming telepathy, clairsentience, and psychokinesis as components of collective consciousness are of such high confidence levels that the chances that these results are random occurrences range between less than one in a million to one in ten million billion.
There is evidence indicating that subtle energy shifts occur in the collective consciousness worldwide with events that involve large numbers of people, as reflected in random number generators. * In traditional societies, prayers for healing of individuals will often include healing the family, community, nation, global community, and the planet. In these unbroken lines of healing that extend back into pre-recorded history, it is accepted that humans are all one with everything on the earth and with the Creator. Harming any aspect of creation is as unthinkable as harming ourselves, because we are part of creation and it is part of us. Healings may also be directed back in time to include ancestral energies that persist in those who are being treated in the here and now.
We need a shift in our awareness that allows us to live with this traditional wisdom. A major element in our slowness to respond to crises and our tolerance for so much suffering in the world is the prevalence of selfish personal, local, and national self-interests over the interests and needs of our global community.
We need to understand that we are part of one interrelated whole and that making things better involves caring for every part of that whole. Whether we are concerned with war and international violence, the disasters associated with climate change, our destructive medical system, or the suffering of people close to us, we must open our hearts to the knowledge that we are all one. We may then be able to find ways to address and heal humanity’s abuses of each other and of our planet through our collective consciousness.
We can use old and new therapies and healing practices to release the angers, fears and hurts that lead us collectively to behave in distorted and destructive ways. Beginning with ourselves, opening our own hearts to the pain and suffering around the world, we can come to greater awareness that we are all connected. The more we open to this, the more we will participate in what the world needs now. Harming ‘others’ – including all living beings and the air, water, and land of our planet – will then become unthinkable.”
Dan was a healer, a gentle and generous teacher, and a gift to many, many people with whom he shared his knowledge and his deep wisdom.
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* See the research of PEAR, the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research group.
Two of Dan’s books are:
SPIRITUAL HEALING: Scientific Validation of a Healing Revolution, with a foreword by Larry Dossey, M.D., Vision Publications, 2001. (Parts of this book first appeared in HEALING RESEARCH: Holistic Energy Medicine and Spirituality, 1992)
SPOON RIVER REVISITED (Prose poems inspired by the poetry of Edgar Lee Masters), Daniel, J. Benor, M.D., Wholistic Healing Publications, Bellmawr, NJ, 2012.