Joseph Campbell once said, if one does not come know thy own deeper self, thy deeper self will come forth. My darkness arose many years ago, it lived, and often lived against my will. However, the real battle is in the “wills.” And the greatest enemy against my own will was my own habits.

It is amazing how a single act becomes habit. For the most part, when I was Christian, I often thought many of us had not the courage to follow God as we should have. Neither did we have the courage to leave bad habits behind. Instead, I like many others, turned our faces for a moment and told ourselves we’ll be sure to get back to the path. When we look again, some twenty years have passed and we wonder what in God’s name happened to us.

If there is hope, I will say that this dark night of the soul (my own dark night) which I walked is for my benefit. God would certainly not help me if He depreciated the power of my own thinking. If He saved me, then I would not understand the power of my own destructive nature. Also, but more importantly, I would never realize the power of my ability to heal. In order to avoid creating misery, I had understand the full power of my own creative thinking (whether good or bad) and how to apply the good and acknowledge, but dismiss the bad. By choosing love, I hope to reject fear.

From the Buddhist perspective, the mind is the creator of sickness and health. In fact, the mind is believed to be the creator of all of our problems. That is, the cause of disease is internal, not external. You are probably familiar with the concept of karma, which literally means action. All of our actions lay down imprints on our mind which have the potential to ripen at some time in the future. These actions can be positive, negative or neutral. These karmic seeds are never lost. The negative ones can ripen at any time in the form of problems or sickness; the positive ones in the form of happiness, health or success.

The basic root of my own problems is selfishness – what I call the inner enemy. Selfishness caused me to engage in negative actions, which placed negative imprints within me. These negative actions were of body, speech or mind, such as thoughts of jealousy, anger and greed.

Selfish thoughts also increased my pride. These feelings in turn result in an unhappy mind, a mind that is without peace. On the other hand, thoughts and actions directed to the well-being of others bring happiness and peace to the mind.

Tibetan Buddhism is to meditate on the teachings known as thought transformation. These methods allow one to see the problem or sickness as something positive rather than negative. A problem is only a problem if we label it a problem. If we look at a problem differently, we can see it as an opportunity to grow or to practice, and regard it as something positive. We can think that having this problem now ripens our previous karma, which does not then have to be experienced in the future.

The most powerful healing methods of all are those based on compassion, the wish to free other beings from their suffering. The compassionate mind – calm, peaceful, joyful and stress-free – is the ideal mental environment for healing. A mind of compassion stops our being totally wrapped up in our own suffering situations. By reaching out to others we become aware of not just my pain but the pain (that is, the pain of all beings).