Belief is extremely potent. For example, the effectiveness of placebos has been demonstrated time and again in double blind scientific tests. The placebo effect—the phenomenon of patients feeling better after taking inert pills, usually made of nothing more than sugar—is seen throughout the field of medicine. One case I report on in my book Life After Death, Powerful Evidence You Will Never Die determined that after thousands of studies, hundreds of millions of prescriptions and tens of billions of dollars in sales, sugar pills are as effective at treating depression as antidepressants such as Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft. What’s more, placebos cause profound changes in the same areas of the brain affected by these medicines, according to this research. For anyone who may still have been in doubt, this proves beyond a doubt that thoughts and beliefs can and do produce physical changes in our bodies.
In addition, the same research reports that placebos often outperform the medicines they’re up against. For example, in a trial conducted comparing the herbal remedy St. John’s wort to Zoloft, St. John’s wort fully cured 24 percent of the depressed people who received it. Zoloft cured 25 percent. But the placebo fully cured 32 percent.
Taking what one believes to be real medicine sets up the expectation of results, and what a person expects to happen usually does happen. It’s been confirmed, for example, that in cultures where belief exists in voodoo or magic, people will actually die after being cursed by a shaman. Such a curse has no power on an outsider who doesn’t believe. The expectation causes the result. If you’ve read my novel, The Mt. Pelée Redemption, you know I used this phenomenon as a factor in the plot.
Let me relate a real-life example of spontaneous healing that concerned a woman I’ve known for a dozen years.
Nancy is a minister’s wife. She’s a devout Christian—as firm a believer in her religion as a bushman who’d drop dead from a witch doctor’s curse is in his. Five years ago, a lump more than half an inch in diameter was discovered in one of her breasts. Her doctor scheduled a biopsy.
A prayer group gathered at her home the night before this procedure was to take place. They prayed not that the lump would be benign, but rather, that it would disappear entirely.
Nancy is a member of a denomination that takes the Bible literally. In Matthew 18:19-20, Jesus is reported to have said, “Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” As you can imagine, it was more than two or three. It was a living room full. As in my case and vitamin E, quite naturally, Nancy expected the prayers to work.
Jesus also said, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mark 11:24) Notice the tense change in this verse. Jesus is saying to believe that you already have what you ask for and it will be given to you in the future. Jesus apparently knew that thoughts are things and that what we believe already exists does indeed already exist in the nonphysical realm of spirit. It exists as a thought form. Thoughts are things, as we will see, ready to materialize on the physical plane.
Belief is powerful. It is the key to manifesting your desires. A study carried out on the Discovery TV Channel, for example, gives an indication. In this case, two researchers conducted the same ESP experiment in the same laboratory using the same equipment. They went to great pains to keep everything identical except for one thing. One researcher believed ESP was valid and the other did not. Impartial observers, including the Discovery Channel TV crew, supervised both tests.
The experiment that employed the researcher who believed in ESP had a statistically significant number of correct scores, which meant that the experiment was a success. ESP was demonstrated scientifically to be real. But the number of correct hits in the experiment that had employed the doubting Thomas researcher fell within parameters that could be accounted for by chance. So this time the experiment failed to demonstrate the validity of ESP. Apparently, the one and only variable—belief—made the difference. The first researcher believed and the second didn’t. Each got the result he expected.
The same thing is at work in prayer by believers. Prayer works. Prayer is thought released into the subconscious. Prayers give spirit, or the Life Force, extra zest that bolsters its natural tendency to organize matter in a way that is beneficial to life. How prayer works is something I cover in detail in Chapter Eight of my book ANSWERS: Why You’re Here, How It Happened, What to Do About It, as demonstrated in scientifically-constructed, double blind experiments.
Now let’s get back to Nancy. The next morning, upon self-examination, the lump in her breast appeared to have vanished. But nonetheless Nancy kept her appointment at the hospital where her doctor conducted a thorough examination.
The lump indeed was gone. Not a trace could be found, and the bewildered doctor sent her home.
How could a solid lump of tissue disappear? It melted away due to the potent combination of belief, prayer, and expectation. We indeed create our own reality. A man named Thomas Troward explained how this happens in lectures I came across some years ago. He first delivered them at Queens Gate at Edinburgh University in Scotland in 1904. Called The Edinburgh Lectures on Mental Science, they provide a clear-cut and plausible explanation that fits perfectly with the findings of studies on prayer—that distance between those praying and the one being prayed for is not a factor, and that the one being prayed for does not have to know about the prayers on his or her behalf. Troward’s lectures were written in the scientific jargon of his day and are somewhat difficult to understand in their original form. That’s why I translated them into everyday modern English and published them in my book, How to Master Life: What You Must Know to Harness the Awesome Power of Your Mind.