Healing & Energetics (XVIIIa)

On the human energy body and the causes of cancer: excerpts from Alice Bailey's "Esoteric Healing"

Alice Bailey’s classic book Esoteric Healing may be considered obligatory reading for anyone interested in life force energies and the underlying energetics of health and disease incl. their emotional and spiritual causative connections. In the following extracts relating to the genesis and healing of cancer, the term “center” refers to the human chakras. Please note that Bailey occasionally uses and discusses esoteric concepts which require more background reading to properly apprehend.

From Esoteric Healing, Chapter II
Causes Emanating from Group Life
1. Diseases of Humanity, Inherited from the Past
C. Cancer

We come now to a consideration of the rapidly increasing and typical Atlantean disease which we call cancer. We have spoken of one basic widespread disease related to the physical body; we have dealt superficially with another which is a product of the desire nature. Cancer, in our [238] present cycle, the Aryan, is definitely a result of the activity of the lower concrete mind and of the stimulation of the etheric body which the mind can bring about. It is a major disease incident to stimulation, as far as the Aryan masses are concerned, just as heart disease is also a disease of stimulation, affecting very largely the advanced types of humanity who - through interest in business and leadership - often sacrifice their lives and pay the penalty of misused and over-concentrated energy by developing various forms of acute heart trouble.
Cancer is a disease most definitely related to the centers, and it will be found that the center in the area wherein the cancer exists is over-active, with a consequent increase of energy pouring through the related bodily substance. This energy and the over-stimulation of a center can be due not only to the activity of the center and its consequent radiation, but also the suppression imposed by the mind upon any activity of a particular center. This brings about a damming up of energy, and again we have the creation of too much concentrated energy in any particular area. One of the main sources of cancer as related to the sacral center, and therefore to the sex organs, has been the well-intentioned suppression of the sex life, and of all thought connected with the sex life, by misguided aspirants; they are those who find the teaching - monastic and celibate - of the Middle Ages the line of least resistance. In that period of time, good people taught that sex was evil and wicked, something not to be mentioned, and a potent source of trouble. Normal reactions, instead of being controlled and transmuted into creative activity, were violently suppressed and all thoughts anent the sex life were refused expression. Nevertheless, energy follows the direction of thought, with the result that that particularly magnetic type of energy attracted an increasing number of cells and atoms to itself; therein is found the source of the tumors, growths and cancers so prevalent today. The same thing can be said about the violent inhibition imposed by an aspirant upon all emotional reactions and feelings. In their effort to control the astral body, these people resort to a process of direct inhibition and suppression. That suppression makes of the solar plexus center a great reservoir of drastically retained energy. Transmutation of the emotions into aspiration and love and directed [240] control is not present, and the existence of this vibrant reservoir of power brings about cancer of the stomach, of the liver, and sometimes of the entire area of the abdomen. I simply mention these causes (over-activity of a center and the retention of energy, unexpressed and inhibited) as fruitful sources of cancer.

We come back in every case, as you can see, to the fact of the existence of the centers and their physiological effects. ... diseases will then be brought under control by a system of laya-yoga (the science of the centers) which will be the sublimated form of the laya-yoga of Atlantean days. Then the advanced student will control the centers by the power of thought. In the yoga of the future, through meditation and alignment and right practices, the centers will be brought under the direct control of the soul - a very different thing to the control of the centers by the mind and one for which the masses of men are not yet ready. To this the [242] Science of the Breath will be added - not breathing exercises as now taught, with often such dangerous results, but a breathing rhythm imposed by the mind through which the soul can work, and which will not require anything more than the simple rhythmic physical breath but which will reorganize the subtler bodies and bring the centers into ordered activity, according to ray and point in evolution.

... The activity - excessive or inadequate - of the centers is the subjective cause, but remains yet unrecognized except by esotericist. The causes (the apparent causes which are themselves the result of a true subjective cause) are initiated by the physical man himself, either in this life or an earlier one - a point which we will discuss later.

It is only the necessity of indicating the major sources of diseases and not overlooking them, even if the subject is too esoteric for the average intelligence to grasp, that has led me to include our second point… [Here follows an essay on Diseases Arising from Obscure Planetary Conditions.]

From Chapter I
The Psychological Causes of Disease:
1. Causes Arising in the Emotional-Desire Nature
B. Desire, Inhibited or Rampant

… Cancer is a gift to modern man from the Atlantean humanity, and the scourge of this disease was the major factor which devastated the inhabitants of old Atlantis. The roots of this dire evil are deep seated in the emotional or desire nature, and are grounded in the astral body. Cancer is partially the result of a reaction to the diseases connected with the sex life which became so rampant in later Lemurian times and early Atlantean days. The people of those times, seeing the fearful evils and the extent of the disease which grew up out of the fertile Lemurian life, resulting from the promiscuous sex life on every hand, for the sake of self-preservation dammed back the natural flow of desire (the [59] flow of life as it expresses itself through the centers of reproduction and procreation), and this in due time produced other evils. Cancer is primarily a disease of inhibition, just as the syphilitic diseases are those of over-expression and overuse of one aspect of the mechanism of man.

Today, owing to the vast reaches of time involved and to the untold generations of those who have died upon the earth, the "germs" (so-called by the unlearned thinker) of the dread complaint of cancer are to be found in the very soil on which we live, infecting the vegetable kingdom and also the human family. A correspondence to the syphilitic complaints of man is to be found in the mineral kingdom.

Curiously enough, the cause of this great white scourge is to be found in the fact of the shift of the life emphasis away from the emotional nature into that of the mind nature, producing a temporary starvation of the emotional nature. It is largely a disease of depletion. Cancer, in its turn, was based similarly on a previous shift of the life force from the physical body into that of the emotional nature, producing an over-development of the cellular life, through over-stimulation. I realize the difficulty of grasping these statements. I can only give you these unsubstantiated hints. Later discoveries alone can prove the truth of my suggestions.


In referring above to the centers I am referring to the center for the distribution of the life force, wherein the emphasis for the mass will be found. From the above it will be apparent where the emphasis of the possible cure will have to lie. Already, and because it is the latest, and therefore the least deep seated of the three major diseases inherited by modern man, we have learnt how to cure tuberculosis. It has been discovered (when the mind was intelligently applied to the problem) that sunshine and good food could cure, or at any rate arrest, the disease. It is an interesting item in the field of esoteric correspondence that just as the light of the soul, pouring into the mind, can be depended upon to solve any problem , so that light of the sun and its prophylactic rays can dispel the dread symptoms of tuberculosis.

Similarly, as the race develops right emotional control we shall see the gradual disappearance of the phenomena of cancer. I said right emotional control; inhibition and the suppression of the desire impulses by the force of the will is not right control. It is interesting also to note that though both men and women suffer from the disease of cancer, the general cause is not identical, though the basic cause (reaction from an over-expression of the sex life through the cultivation of the desire nature) remains the same. Women, owing to the risks they run in childbearing, through the turning of the life emphasis to the sex aspect of life, have revolted on a large scale (as did the Atlanteans) against this form of life expression, and it is along this line - the sex [61] line - that their major inhibitions are found. They do not suffer so much from the general inhibition of the emotional-desire-feeling expression. Men do suffer from this latter inhibition and have a tradition or a marked tendency to greater emotional control in the handling of life than have women. Men do not require or acquire so marked a sex control. The general field of their inhibited life tendency is therefore of greater extent, and consequently (if statistics can be trusted) more men suffer from cancer than do women, though it is a dread disease, feared by all.

In the secret of right transmutation lies the cure of cancer, and this will eventually be realized. I am using this phrase not only symbolically but also technically and scientifically.

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