Energy and the Spirit

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Holding space in the background of my work is the belief that “Love is all there is.”  The writings of Paul Tillich underscore this perception and provide depth to its understanding. Tillich was a German-born existential theologian/philosopher who lived in the early-mid 20th century. Bringing a cosmic focus to his understanding of God and salvation, Tillich coined a unique vocabulary to express the nature and essence of God.  He saw God as the power and essence of unconditional love, calling him/her the ground-of-being, ultimate reality, ultimate concern, and being itself. God as infinite and indefinable, but at the same time as manifesting in the tangible as finite reality; in other words, God is in all things, but also above all things. Creation completely embodies God and God completely embodies creation. In this way, no separation is possible, because no separation exists.

According to Tillich, the human condition is estrangement; the belief that we are separate from God, causing us to feel incomplete, broken, and guilty. Tillich went so far to say that the cosmic disease afflicting mankind is this guilt we manifest over being disconnected from God our Source of Being. Because of this, he saw salvation as a healing process, a return to the wholeness that was lost in the process of estrangement. [1]   This includes individual salvation of course, but within the greater scope of cosmic salvation, the saving of all creation.

“When salvation has cosmic significance, healing is not only included in it, but salvation can be described as the act of cosmic healing… Salvation is basically and essentially healing, the re-establishment of a whole that was broken, disrupted, or disintegrated.”[2]

So the return to wholeness, our natural state, is the purpose of salvation.  Healing then is restorative. It reestablishes our connection to the divine on both an individual and cosmic level and reunites us with grace. The return to right relationship with God is also the return to right relationship with our selves.  From a Christian perspective, this is the saving work of Jesus.

Tillich’s perception of God as ground-of-being, and salvation as healing, are important concepts in understanding the spiritual dimension of healing. Seeing the energy of the universe as the power, essence, and love of God means that our embodiment by the Holy Spirit is the flow of the power of God within us. This indwelling of power/energy/Spirit/God as both life force and inner healer opens the door to understanding both how healing occurs in us and through us. It is natural then to see healing as a spiritual activity, a God-mediated process that brings restoration of our inherent wholeness. This brings me back full circle to the spiritual focus of my ministry and work. It is the Spirit that heals.


[1] This is a compilation of Tillich’s ideas that I made after reading transcripts of discussions he had with a professor of religious studies and his students at the University of California in Santa Barbara in the 1960’s. Later published in a book called Ultimate Concern: Tillich in Dialogue with D. Mackenzie Brown. Harper and Row 1965, this dialogue can be accessed online at http://www.religion-online.org/showbook.asp?title=538

[2] Paul Tillich, The Meaning of Health. Edited by Perry Le Fevre. Chicago, IL: Exploration Press, 1984, 17.

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