A Vietnamese woman has a lemon-sized malignant tumor, ruled inoperable because of its location in the corpus collosum that connects the two hemispheres of the brain. Neurosurgeon Dr John L. ("Jack") Turner watches as seven Buddhist monks in brightly colored robes gather in her hospital room, apparently to pray over her. A mutual friend, a Zen priest, explains that the monks have come to do more than pray. They have come to escort her on a journey, a "guided meditation". She is required to travel through seven hell worlds and to see her possible future as a "hungry ghost", which will be her karmic destiny unless she can release a deep hatred she has harbored inside her for many years. This hate is focussed on another woman. She has neither expressed it not moved beyond it. Held in her body, it has helped to generate her illness. Held in her soul, it will guarantee a hellish afterlife. The Vietnamese woman is so deeply shocked by what she learns that she at last finds it possible to admit and release the hateful thoughts she has carried with her for so long. Five weeks later, her doctors are stunned to find there is no trace of her tumor.
This is one of the memorable stories of mind-body healing in Dr Turner's book Medicine, Miracles & Manifestations (New Page/Career Press, 2009). Jack is a neurosurgeon who is at home in the world of the nonlocal mind as well as the brain, and has been engaged in a quest to know and explain the multiverse and draw on multi-dimensional sources of healing over many years. I interviewed him on my radio show today and was delighted by his gifts as a raconteur as well as a dedicated healer and explorer of consciousness. Jack was speaking on the phone from Hilo, where he has practiced since he arrived from the Midwest as the first neurosurgeon on the Big Island in 1981.
One of the first cases that was presented to him involved a Hawaiian teenager, Jordan Kalapana, who suffered terrible head trauma when he was thrown from his dirt bike into a guy wire. After surgery, he was unable to breathe unassisted and appeared to be brain dead. The family could not agree on whether to cut off life support. Dr Turner dreamed that he visited Jordan's bed in the ICU and noticed a tear flowing from the corner of his eye. Then, in the dream, the boy triggered the respirator and demonstrated that he could breathe by himself.
When he went to the hospital in the morning, Jack learned that the boy had taken a single breath and noticed a tear at the corner of his eye. He wondered whether a miraculous recovery was possible. It wasn't. Two days later the family agreed to end life support.
Then Dr Turner received a visit from the boy's father who had just arrived from the mainland. "I understand that Jordan paid you a visit." Jack did not grasp this until the father made it clear that by "visit" he was referring to the dream. When Jack expressed his sorrow over the boy's death, the father interrupted to say that in the Hawaiian way of understanding, his son had appeared to the surgeon in his dream to make it plain he did not want his life to be artificially prolonged by a machine; he wanted to live and breathe free.
In his book, Dr Turner recalls “Jordan Kalapana’s passing jump-started my search for the meaning of illness, life and death.” As I thought about Jordan's tears - in the dream and in the ICU - I reflected that in the Hawaiian conception, the soul travels outside the body through the tear duct, which is known as the "soul pit".
Another memorable dream story in Turner's book involves a friend, Rosemary Clark, who had made a deep study of ancient Egypt. She had loaned Jack a copy of The Temple in Man by R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz, which unfolds the theory that the layout of a temple at Luxor corresponds, quite precisely, to the anatomy of the body and brain. After developing ptosis (a drooping of the eyelid) and pain and pressure above the eye, Rosemary underwent a series of medical tests. In the course of these, she asked Jack to return her copy of The Temple in Man. Later, she explained why.
The night before a scheduled angiogram, she dreamed she heard Dr Turner say to her, "Rosemary, it's in the transept of the temple." When she consulted Schwaller de Lubicz's book, she confirmed that in the sacred geography he attributes to the Luxor temple, the transept corresponds to the area of the brain known as the cavernous sinus, which contains the internal carotid artery and a venous plexus. When she met the team that was preparing for the angiogram, Rosemary announced that she knew the location of the aneurysm that was presumed to be responsible for her problems: in the cavernous sinus. The reaction was basically, "Yeah, right" - until the angiogram revealed a giant aneurysim right inside her carvernous sinus. This is a most interesting example of how dreams can provide exact diagnosis of physical conditions - and will present the information in a vocabulary adapted to our understanding. While the phrase "transept of the temple" might be incomprehensible to many dreamers, it spoke to Rosemary in a symbolic language in which she was deeply versed.
I finished Jack Turner's book expecting another chapter, and another - not because the book feels incomplete, but because it is clearly the work of a man who regards life as an ongoing adventure in learning and discovery. He writes with candor of experiments that failed (with Eckankar and Hemi-Synch) and some that many will find controversial (channeling light energy for healing from the deceased Japanese guru Mokichi Okada). What comes shining through is the author's humanity and humility - truly a great quality in a brain surgeon! - his hunger for meaning in life, death and illness, and the generosity of spirit with which he encourages all of us to be open to a universal power of healing, and the healer within.