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Modeling the Wisdom of Jesus by able to us today as they did during that he viewed healing as support-

Robert Dilts. his own time. Jesus' exceptional abil- ing and encouraging the natural self
ities to heal are mentioned in the healing ability of the system as op-
The words, ideas and actions of Je- gospels more than 35 times - many posed to exerting power over it him-
sus of Nazareth have been a major of the references describing how he self to 'repair' it. Jesus was able to
influence on Western civilization for healed "multitudes" of people "that tap into and encourage the healing
almost two thousand years now. were taken with divers diseases and process in a way that was both ef-
Through the ages, Jesus has been torments, and those which were pos- fective and systematic. One of the
viewed as many different things by sessed with devils, and those which ways he did this was through the
many different people a teacher, a were lunatik, and those that had the person's belief system.
miracle worker, a charismatic heal- palsy," (Matthew 424), including the
er, a magician, a political and reli- "lame, blind, dumb and maimed" Certainly, a clear pattern that
gious leader, the son of God, a (Matthew 1530). Thus, it is some- emerges in the accounts of Jesus'
metaphor, etc. Having been raised what surprising to find that very few healing works is that a great deal of
Catholic (and attended Catholic efforts had been made to examine his words and actions were directed
schools through secondary school) I Jesus' works of healing from the toward influencing people's beliefs
was continually exposed to the gos- point of view of what they might and belief systems. As the following
pels and the stories of Jesus' deeds. contribute to practically promote the statements indicate, Jesus placed a
I have often contemplated the relev- process of healing. As Ian Wilson great deal of emphasis on the power
ance of the stories of Jesus' works points out in his book Jesus The of belief.
for NLP and vice versa. Evidence (1985) Be not afraid, only believe. Mark 536
It is well known that the field of NLP "If there is one feature of his activit-
was established as a result of mod- If thou canst believe, all things are
ies that repeatedly shines out from possible to him that believeth. Mark
eling effective 'healers'. NLP began the gospels, it is [Jesus'] capacity to
when Richard Bandler and John 924
work what men have called 'mir-
Grinder modeled patterns of lan- acles' the sheer magnitude of his For verily I say unto you, That who-
guage and behavior from the works reported successes Jesus was soever shall say unto this mountain,
of Fritz Perls, Virginia Satir and without equal...Yet paradoxically, it Be thou removed, and be thou cast
Milton H. Erickson, M.D. The first has been one of the least explored." into the sea; and shall not doubt in
'techniques' of NLP were derived (pp. 99-100) his heart, but shall believe that
from key verbal and non-verbal pat- those things which he saith shall
terns Grinder and Bandler observed I believe that the tools and distinc- come to pass; he shall have whatso-
in the behavior of these exceptional tions of NLP can help to cast new ever he saith. Therefore I say unto
therapists. Bandler and Grinder's light on this fascinating area. you, What things soever ye desire,
first book was titled The Structure of when ye pray, believe that ye re-
Magic. The implication of this title There's an interesting Far Side car-
toon depicting a professor, who ceive them, and ye shall have them.
was that what seemed magical and Mark 1123-24
unexplainable often had a deeper looks somewhat like Albert Einstein,
structure that, when illuminated, madly writing a very complex series According to your faith be it unto
could be understood, communicated of mathematical equations on a you. Matthew 929
and put into practice by people oth- blackboard. At a certain point in the
midst of all of this very scientific These quotations certainly imply
er than the few exceptional 'wizards' that belief is one of the key factors
who had initially performed the 'ma- looking scribbling, he stops and
writes, "And then a miracle hap- in helping a miracle to happen. As
gic'. Goethe maintained, "The miracle is
pens." And then madly goes on
A number of years ago it occurred to again with his equations. One of his faith's most cherished child." Even
me that perhaps a similar kind of colleagues is standing nearby point- modern medical science acknow-
modeling could be done with respect ing at the comment about the mir- ledges the healing influence of be-
to the records of Jesus' teachings acle and asking, "Could you be a bit liefs in the form of the 'placebo ef-
and works of healing. My first study, more specific about that part there?" fect'. My own work in the applica-
Cognitive Patterns of Jesus of Naz- In a way, that is a metaphor for my tions of NLP in psychotherapy and
areth, explored the structure of the study of Jesus' healing patterns. A healing have certainly highlighted
cognitive strategies employed by Je- lot has been written and said about for me personally the significance of
sus in his various works and teach- the 'equations' surrounding the mir- people's beliefs upon their mental
ings and how we might apply Jesus' acles. Is it possible to be a little bit and physical health. [See Changing
strategic thinking abilities to our more specific about the part where Belief Systems with NLP (Dilts, 1990)
own lives. A forthcoming work, Epi- the miracle happens? I think that, in and Beliefs Pathways to Health and
stemology of Jesus of Nazareth, will considering Jesus' works of healing, Well Being (Dilts, Hallbom & Smith,
explore the beliefs, values and as- there will always be a point where 1990).] I have seen some fairly 'mi-
sumptions that lie behind the words we must simply say, "And then a raculous' things happen when
and works of Jesus as viewed from miracle happens." The question is, people have changed limiting beliefs
the perspective of NLP and systems "Is it possible, by modeling the de- regarding themselves and their
theory. For the past several years I scriptions of Jesus' healing works, to health; including recovery from can-
have been examining the reports of discover verbal and behavioral pat- cer and other tumors, arthritis, aller-
Jesus' acts of healing through the fil- terns which create a context in gies, lupus, eyesight problems, men-
ters of Neuro-Linguistic Program- which it is more likely that a 'mir- tal illnesses of many types and even
ming, culminating in my seminars acle' will happen?" symptoms of AIDS.
and video tapes on The Healing Pat- The three most common areas of
terns of Jesus. The Power of Belief
In the New Testament two words are limiting beliefs center around issues
Since a great deal of my own work in used in reference to healing 1) of hopelessness, helplessness and
the field of NLP has related to its nu- iaomai - which means to heal in the worthlessness. These three areas of
merous applications in the area of sense of 'curing' or 'repairing', and belief can exert a great deal of influ-
health and healing, I have long been 2) therapeuo which means 'to at- ence with respect to a person's
intrigued by the accounts of Jesus' tend to someone'. When Jesus re- mental and physical health.
works of healing. In many ways Je- ferred to healing, he used the word
sus' healing works seem as remark- 'therapeuo'. The implication being
Hopelessness occurs when someone away. And some fell among thorns, to be poisoned or destroyed, but
does not believe a particular desired and the thorns grew up and choked they do need to be resolved or sor-
goal is even possible. It is character- it and it yielded no fruit. And others ted out. You need to create an ecolo-
ized by a sense that, "No matter fell on good ground and it did yield gical context; otherwise the new be-
what I do it won't make a difference. fruit that sprang up and increased lief gets choked.
What I want is not possible to get. and brought forth, some thirty, some
It's out of my control. I'm a victim." sixty, and some one hundred. And The power of this metaphor is that
he said unto them, Ye that have 'healing' is likened to 'gardening'.
Helplessness occurs when, even ears, let them hear. Mark 42-9 You can't make a tree grow. Rather,
though he or she believes that the you can prepare the soil. The
outcome exists and is possible to I believe that the parable of the gardener doesn't go, "I'm going to
achieve, a person does not believe sower and the seed embodies Jesus' make this tree grow, no matter
that he or she is capable of attaining fundamental paradigm for change Ð what!" But what the gardener can
it. It produces a sense that, "It's pos- regardless of whether that change do is to remove the rocks, make
sible for others to achieve this goal related to healing, teaching or lead- sure the soil is fertile and see that
but not for me. I'm not good enough ership. As Jesus later explained to thorns aren't surrounding the seed-
or capable enough to accomplish it." his disciples, the 'seed' is like a new ling. That is the essence of Jesus'
idea or belief. For the belief to grow view of change. In order for a new
Worthlessness occurs when, even and produce fruit, it must first be belief to strengthen and for new
though a person may believe that placed in the appropriate context. If capabilities and behaviors to devel-
the desired goal is possible and that there aren't some kind of internal op it is necessary to:
he or she even has the capability to reference experiences for the new
accomplish it, that individual be- belief to 'take root' in, it will disap- Deepen the experiences which will
lieves that he or she doesn't deserve pear in the face of any criticism. The serve as the references for the new
to get what he/she wants. It is often 'bird' plucks it right out of the heart. belief or behavior.
characterized by a sense that, "I am If there's no experiential 'soil' for it
a fake. I don't belong. I don't de- Address the internal resistances and
to grow in, all somebody has to do is interferences to the new belief or
serve to be happy or healthy. There to look at you cross-eyed, and you
is something basically and funda- behavior.
think, "Oh, well, I guess I'm being
mentally wrong with me as a person stupid and foolish, etc." So if the Deal with any incongruence or con-
and I deserve the pain and suffering new belief "falls by the wayside," if flicts within the person or his/her en-
that I am experiencing." it's just shallow and you're running vironment.
At the core of Jesus' works of healing around speaking it but not feeling it, The next step in the modeling pro-
was his ability to elegantly and ef- hearing it, seeing it or tasting it, cess is to explore more specifically
fectively help people to shift these then it's easy for it to be "trodden how Jesus accomplished these goals
types of limiting beliefs to beliefs in- down" or "devoured". When a new in his healing works.
volving hope for the future, a sense belief "falls on stony ground" it is
of capability and responsibility, and blocked, as Jesus explained, by the Healing Through Word and Touch
a sense of self-worth and belonging. "hard places in the heart." These Is it possible to actually model spe-
Jesus' uncanny ability to be able to 'stones' may relate to past experi-
ences, things that you're not ready cific processes through which Jesus
gain access to and transform core was able to transform the obstacles
beliefs and identity issues in his pa- to let go of. In my work with beliefs
to empowering beliefs and precipit-
tients and followers can no doubt at and health, for instance, people of- ate healing miracles? According to
least partially account for the dra- ten need to work through 'imprints'
the Gospels, Jesus' primary ap-
matic changes he was able to effect. Ð experiences in their past that proach to healing involved the sys-
might create a "hard place." The
By all accounts, Jesus had the roots of the new belief can't grow tematic use of language and the
unique ability to easily and consist- because the person can't get past 'laying on of hands'.
ently help people to change limiting this particular feeling or this particu- "...they brought unto him many that
beliefs and establish new empower- lar event in their life. When this oc- were possessed with devils and he
ing beliefs. The core question in curs, even though the belief begins cast out the spirits with his word..."
modeling is, "How did he do it?" One to strengthen, it "withers" in the Matthew 814
clue is provided by the type of face of resistance. When 'the sun is
strategies he promoted in his teach- up' it becomes "scorched" and, since "...all they that had any sick with
ings and parables. it has no root, it "withers away, be- divers diseases brought them unto
cause it lacks moisture." Thus, it is him; and he laid his hands on every
The Sower and the Seed A Funda- one of them, and healed them."
mental Paradigm for Change important to find ways of either re-
moving the rocks or crumbling them Luke 440
Jesus' parable of the sower and the up into more fertile soil. For ex- These descriptions would seem to
seed provides one of the clearest ample, finding the 'positive inten- imply that Jesus tended to use words
and deepest insights into his ap- tion' behind a symptom and finding to address problems related to the
proach to working with people's be- new choices to meet that intention mind, and his hands to treat physic-
liefs and belief systems. is a way of releasing some of those al illness. NLP too has many thera-
hard places. peutic techniques that are centered
And he taught them many things by
parables, and said unto them in his A belief that 'falls among the thorns' on the use of words and touch. It is
doctrine, Hearken; Behold. There is one that is confronted by conflict- intriguing to consider what similarit-
went out a sower to sow, and it ing beliefs, incongruency or 'thought ies and differences there are
came to pass, as he sowed, some viruses'. These resistances may between Jesus' healing work and the
fell by the wayside, and the fowls of come from either external or intern- NLP approach.
the air came and devoured them up. al sources Ð from within the person Like many, I grew up with only a
And some fell on stony ground, or from the person's environment. vague picture of what Jesus did spe-
where it had not much earth, and Conflicting or limiting beliefs are cifically as a healer. I had an image
immediately it sprang up because it kind of like the thorns that overshad- of him walking up to the blind, the
had no depth of earth, but when the ow or 'choke' the new belief, even if crippled or the mentally ill and 'zap-
sun was up, it was scorched, and be- there is rich soil in which it could ping' them with supernatural power,
cause it had no root, it withered grow. It is not that the 'thorns' have barking commands and haranguing
them about sin or Satan like some knew about (at least intuitively) and flects a deep aspect of healing. This
prototypic 'televangelist'. As I read used accessing cues. type of verbal and non-verbal com-
the various accounts of his healing bination has been the inspiration for
work, however, I found something The fact that he led the man out of a number of the techniques in the
quite different. He treated different the town and told him not to go into 'Healing Patterns' seminar.
individuals in different ways. He is the town nor tell anyone in the town
described as interacting personally about the experience, would indic- These are only two of the many fas-
with each individual he was healing, ate that Jesus was not doing this cinating examples of Jesus' healing
often in a gentle, supportive and work as any particular 'sign' to the works. Unfortunately, to go into
even loving manner; addressing his people there. Rather Jesus' focus is depth with any others is beyond the
patients as "son" or "daughter" Ð on the health of that individual. scope of this article.
never as "sinner". Clearly, Jesus makes no mention of
sins or unclean spirits as he does in The Mission to Heal
He also treated different kinds of ill- some of his works. The fact is, Jesus More than anything else, what
nesses with different approaches. In was described as doing some very shines through the reports of Jesus'
all of the descriptions of his work specific things with his subject that works of healing was that there was
with lepers, for instance, Jesus tells were different from the way he a 'mission to heal' behind his ac-
them directly that they are healed treated others, and took two itera- tions. I think that in many ways hav-
and sends them to complete a task tions to complete it. ing the mission to heal is even more
at the temple (see Matthew 82-4 important than having the tools to
and Luke 713-19). The blind, Another of Jesus' healing works that heal. I think 'healing', as opposed to
however, are sent on no such task. particularly fascinated me was the 'curing' or 'fixing' or 'mending'
Instead, Jesus emphasizes the im- account of his treatment of Simon's something that's broken, comes out
portance of their own beliefs in their mother-in-law's fever. Luke (439) re- of that sense of mission.
healing, asking "Do you believe I can ports that, "he stood over her, and
rebuked the fever; and it left her" One of the things that shows up
do this?" and proclaiming, "Accord- quite clearly in the gospels is that
ing to your faith be it unto you" Matthew (815), however, mentions
that "he touched her hand" and Jesus didn't try keep the mission or
(Matthew 927-31). It is only with the ability to "heal" to himself. Matthew
lame that Jesus even mentions "sin," Mark (131) says that Jesus "took her
by the hand, and lifted her up." (101) reports, "And when he had
telling one man that his "sins are called unto him his twelve disciples,
forgiven" (Matthew 92) and encour- These description are interesting in
that, taken together, they indicate he gave them power against un-
aging another to "sin no more, lest a clean spirits, to cast them out, and
worse thing come unto thee" (John that even though Jesus was "rebuk-
ing" the fever verbally, he was sup- to heal all manner of sickness and
514). all manner of disease." In fact, one
porting the woman kinesthetically. In
These types of variations indicate a other words, his auditory communic- of the first tasks he assigned to his
high degree of sophistication and ation and his kinesthetic communic- disciples was to go out and "Heal
flexibility based on the type of issue ation were directed towards two dif- the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise
one is working with. Consider, for ferent levels, and performing two the dead, cast out devils freely ye
example, the following description of different functions. His words were have received, freely give." (Mat-
Jesus' healing of a blind man. directed toward the symptom and thew 108) 'Freely have you received,
his touch was directed toward the freely give'. This is not a message
"And he cometh to Bethsaida; and person. that healing is something to be held
they bring a blind man unto him, on to and practiced only by an elite
and besought him to touch him. And From the NLP perspective, we can few. Rather it implies that healing is
he took the blind man by the hand, think about the interaction in terms a mission to be shared.
and led him out of the town; and of a verbal 'message' and a non-
when he had spit on his eyes, and verbal 'metamessage'. The message According to Mark (314-15) "And he
put his hands upon him, he asked involves the "rebuking of the fever". ordained twelve, that they should be
him if he saw ought. And he looked It is directed at the behavioral ex- with him, and that he might send
up, and said, I see men as trees, pression of the symptom. The touch them forth to preach, And to have
walking. After that he put his hands of the hand is a nonverbal metames- power to heal sicknesses, and to
again upon his eyes, and made him sage that communicates, "I'm sup- cast out devils." Luke (101) adds
look up and he was restored, and porting you." Jesus took her hand that, later on in his ministry, Jesus
saw every man clearly. And he sent and lifted her up while rebuking the "appointed another seventy also,
him away to his house, saying, fever. Thus, there's no confusion and sent them two and two before
Neither go into the town, nor tell it that he is "rebuking" the patient for his face to every city and place",
to any in the town." Mark 822-26 having a fever. I think there's telling them to, "heal the sick that
something very profound and are therein..."
There are a number interesting ele- powerful about that simple combina-
ments to this report. The first is that tion of word and touch. We are also told that Jesus did not
Jesus did not immediately heal the discourage the practice of healing in
man but made two attempts in order It is also interesting that the word his name being done by people that
to successfully complete the pro- "rebuke," in English was translated were not even his followers (Mark
cess, using the feedback he got from the Greek word, epitimao 938-40, Luke 949-50). When Jesus is
from his first attempt. He did not which doesn't simply mean to be told that somebody who was not one
perceive the initial lack of success verbally abusive. It means 'to set a of his disciples was out healing in his
as a failure on his part, the part of weight upon'. The implication is that name, and asked if he was going to
his subject or on the part of God. It Jesus was not necessarily speaking chastise this person Jesus replies,
is also interesting that that Jesus angrily, but rather 'putting pressure' "he that is not against us is with us."
made the man "look up". This is con- on the symptom. So we are given (Luke 950). It is as if he was saying
sidered an 'accessing cue' for the this beautiful sense of putting pres- that anybody who shares the mis-
visual representational system in sure on the fever verbally and lifting sion to heal shares something that is
NLP. Considering that the man had up the person physically. He is re- really important and deep.
problems with his vision and that, at moving the 'stones' and 'thorns' My interpretation of Jesus' com-
the point Jesus had him look up, he while at the same time he is sup- ments and actions is that the ability
had partial access to his vision, this porting the 'soil' by lifting and sup- to heal was not just something that
may be an indication that Jesus porting the person. I think that re- Jesus intended to keep for himself,
but rather was something that he in-
tended others to learn and to do.
Not only did Jesus want and encour-
age others to heal, he seems to
have been fairly successful at trans-
ferring the ability. Mark (613) men-
tions that Jesus' disciples, "cast out
many devils, and anointed with oil
many that were sick, and healed
It is in the spirit of the mission to
heal that I have approached the
study of the structure of Jesus' heal-
ing works and invite others to ap-
proach it. Regardless of one's reli-
gious background or beliefs, I be-
lieve it is possible to find a connec-
tion between these patterns and the
mission to heal. Whether a person is
'Mother Teresa' or a shaman, people
who have a mission to heal, or to be
healed, share a similar path and
have something to gain from such a