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27. Faith Cure v. Ramanama
Here is fine banter from a friend:
"I wonder whether this Nature Cure has any close relation to what is being called Faith Cure. Of course, one should have faith in treatment. But there are some exclusive Faith Cures, for example, smallpox, stomach pain, etc. For smallpox, as you might know, especially in the South, no treatment is given but it is considered Divine Play. We do poojas to Goddess Mariamma and it is almost miraculous to see most of the cases come out successful. For stomach pain, even chronic cases, many make vows before the deity at Thirupathi; and finding themselves cured, fulfill their ablutions and other obligations. To give you a fitting example, my mother had the same pain and after her visit to Thirupathi, she is now free from that disease.
"Will you kindly enlighten me on this and may I ask why people should not have such faith in Nature Cure also and save the recurring expenditure to the doctors who, as Chaucer said, maintain a fine conspiracy with the apothecary to keep a patient always a patient, which is part of the natural order of things."
The examples that have been quoted are neither Nature Cure, nor yet Ramanama which I have included in it. But they do show how Nature cures without any treatment in many cases. They are undoubtedly cases which show the part superstition plays in Indian life. Ramanama, which is the centre of Nature Cure, is the enemy of superstition. Unscrupulous men will abuse Ramanama as they will any other thing or system. Mere lip recitation of Ramanama has nothing to do with cure. Faith Cure, if I know it correctly, is blind cure such as the friend describes and thereby ridicules the living name of the living God. The latter is not a figment of one's imagination. It has to come from the heart. It is conscious belief in God and a knowledge of His Law that make perfect cure possible without any further aid. That Law is that a perfect mind is responsible for perfect health of the body. A perfect mind comes from a perfect heart, not the heart known by a doctor's stethoscope, but the heart which is the seat of God. It is claimed that realization of God in the heart makes it impossible for an impure or an idle thought to cross the mind. Disease is impossible where there is purity of thought. Such a state may be difficult to attain. But the first step in the ascent to health is taken with its recognition. The next is taken when the corresponding attempt is made. This radical alteration in one's life is naturally accompanied by the observance of all other Nature's laws hitherto discovered by man. One cannot play with them and claim to have a pure heart. It can be said with justice that possession of a pure heart should do equally well without Ramanama. Only, I know no other way of attaining purity. And it is the way trodden by the sages of old all over the world. They were men of God, not superstitious men or charlatans.
If this is Christian Science, I have no quarrel with it. The way of Ramanama is not my discovery. It is probably much older than the Christian era.
A correspondent questions whether Ramanama avoids bona fide surgical operations. Of course, it does not. It cannot restore a leg that is cut off in an accident. In many cases surgical operations are unnecessary. Where they are required, they should be performed. But a man of God will not worry if a limb is lost. Recitation of Ramanama is neither an empirical method nor a make-shift.
Harijan, 9-6-1946