There is an ancient Buddhist story that tells of a woman—a mother—whose child died. The mother carried her deceased daughter from place to place begging for help—as if she could still bring her back to life. The mother was turned away time after time, as each person she asked could see that there was no bringing the child back to life. Finally, someone told her that if she went to the Buddha, perhaps he could help.
So the mother traveled to the Buddha and begged him to save her child. “I can help you, he said, “but first you must go and find a mustard seed and bring it back to me.”
The mother was overjoyed, as she knew she could do this. “I will go right away,” she said, and still holding the body of her child, she prepared to go.
The Buddha stopped her as she began to go. “One more thing,” he said. “you must bring the seed from a home that has not experienced loss or death.”
As the woman knocked on doors to find a home that had been spared loss or death, she encountered the sorrow and empathy of others. She heard their stories and felt their compassion and was eventually able to put her child to rest and accept her own loss.
Often the cure that we are seeking is not possible. The only thing that can heal is our own acceptance. The pain we feel does not exist on a physical level. In the story above the spiritual master recognized this. He did not tell the mother to rest, to try this cure or that, or to put down the heavy body of her child. The illness was not in her body, nor was it just her spirit or within her mind. The despair that took hold of her whole being had caused her to seek some cure which she began to look for in myriad different places and ways. The master knew that by accepting her loss she would be healed on a whole different level that she realized she needed—so he sent her to others who had also experienced the despair of grief.
There are similar parables of healing in all the religious traditions. We find the story where Jesus meets the blind beggar on the road. When the blind man heard that Jesus of Nazareth was about to pass by, he cried, “Jesus, Son of David, Have mercy on me!” Those around him scolded the man and asked him to be quiet. But cried out even more. When Jesus reached him, Jesus stopped and asked the man, “What do you want me to do for you?” “let me receive my sight, Lord,” he replied. “Then receive your sight!” Jesus then adds, “Your faith has made you whole.”
As Jesus addresses the beggar in that final declaration, “Your faith has made you whole,” he states that the man’s faith had healed him. With such a declaration Jesus uses the word “sozo” a Greek word that means “save” or “deliver.” As well, “sozo” also had the quality of unique inner healing and deliverance in which the main aim is to get to the root of those things hindering your personal connection with God. Interpreted in the Christian tradition, “sozo” meant deliverance out of danger and into safety and was principally used in terms of God rescuing the believer from the penalty and power of sin – and into His provision of comfort and safety. Used as a verb, the word is used in the “active” tense meaning that one actively seeks whatever deliverance may be available. In the story of the blind beggar, Jesus uses the verb form “sesoken” (a derivative of “soso”).
This is all to say that many times healing is something that we must seek—and through that search we find health and wholeness. The bereaved woman of Buddhist tradition and the blind beggar both became seekers after healing. During the time of pandemic and social isolation, when all around us seems to be difficult and unsure, how might you be seeking the healing that you need?