According to Phillipians 4:7 in the King James Cristian Bible, “the peace of God surpasseth all understanding”. But, in a world where spirituality and science are both matters of faith for millions of people around the world, it is not only the peace of the divine that appears to be beyond our collective powers to grasp.
Scientific proof, planted as it is upon a bedrock of empirical evidence, can only explain so much. In particular, it has proven to be at best only partially successful at accounting for individual and subjective phenomena. Science cannot satisfactorily demonstrate why we should love our children, nor why every single human society in history has entailed some sort of belief system founded on the supernatural, the religious or the mystical. There is only so much that science can teach as we seek to unravel the mysteries that surround us and, at the same time, that are part and parcel of each and every one of us.
In a world that is increasingly focussed on the technological and the material aspects of our lives, the steadfast few who seek to retain the status of the spiritual are all the more valuable, representing as they do a connection with the deepest part of our collective consciousness.
Much of what is practised within this arena is dismissed by sceptics as being of unsound or unproven value. For those with such closed minds, the terms by which they establish their proof are fundamentally flawed. Medical science is highly adept at numerically mapping what happens across large scale populations. It is far less able to predict or explain what will happen to each one of us.
A striking example of this divergence in thinking is shown by attitudes to crystals for healing. Medical science dismisses them completely – end of story. But there is more to the picture than such a blinkered view allows.
There are millions of people all around the world who have taken comfort, solace and relief from the healing powers of crystals for thousands of years. Eastern belief systems founded on the notion of life energy – chi or qi – have employed gemstones such as Amethyst, Green Aventurine and yellow Topaz in life-enhancing practices that are perhaps as old as formal religion itself.
A scientific perspective, such as the one articulated in 2001 by Dr. Christopher French, a psychologist at Goldsmith’s College, London, has described results produced in this way as some sort of a placebo effect. That is, people’s belief in the power of crystals is itself capable of bringing about certain effects. French maintained that scientifically speaking, the crystals themselves are inert.
Such a cold scientific assessment is, however, itself a failure of understanding. Just as the peace of God might surpass all understanding and still be a matter of faith, so it is with the healing power of crystals. It is in the deeply internal, affective, emotive and subconscious part of ourselves that our true power resides – this is the essence of chi – and it is as a route to accessing this that the value of crystal healing is to be seen.
That so many people are prepared to invest their health and their happiness in such an idea is itself a telling aspect of the story. In the sort of mass-counting scale used by conventional medicine, that in itself would represent a form of evidence.
Describing such a potent force as something as trivial as a placebo represents a failure of understanding on a truly epic historical scale. True understanding requires faith as well as proof.