On Sunday October 30, 2022 Rev. Tony Ponticello gave a talk for the Community Miracles Center's Sunday Gathering. A lightly edited transcription of the talk is presented here.
The title of my talk today is, "A New Age of Wellness." I listened to interviews with two doctors recently, who were calling for a new movement in wellness, a new movement for the medical profession. They were both talking about how the current way our medical profession is handling things — it's really just not working. This is something that I've talked about a lot, over the years, certainly these past couple years, as we went through the COVID pandemic.
I've also been talking about how the faith in our institutions, including our medical institutions, but also in terms of our government and societal institutions, is really at an all time low. While some people see this as a negative thing, I was actually perceiving it as a positive, because it meant that something new was happening. That's why I was excited by what these two doctors had to say, because they were really calling for something new.
The current type of medicine that we practice here in the United States, and in most Western countries, is called allopathic medicine. What these two doctors were saying was that allopathic medicine has just failed. It has certainly, in the West, failed with its approach to the COVID pandemic, and it's actually been failing for a long time. "Allopathy," means "the treatment of disease by conventional means, currently with drugs, having opposite effects to the symptoms, often contrasted with homeopathy" — anyway, it is the traditional treatment, if you can call drug intervention traditional. We've been doing it extensively for over 100 years. So allopathy is the traditional treatment of disease using medications and drugs that are designed to combat the disease, or maybe alleviate the symptoms of the disease. That's allopathic medicine the way we practice it in the West, and certainly in the USA.
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It's all involved with the study of sickness, and the analysis of illness, but a new paradigm really should be launched, according to these doctors, that studies wellness. We need to study why well people are well, instead of so much of why ill people are ill. Now is a wonderful opportunity to do just that. I love that quotation that was in the reading for today, that was read earlier. "Rehabilitation does not come from anyone else. ..." (OrEd.Tx.8.29) In the new era of wellness, there's going to be much more of a reliance on one's self, and one's guidance, and one's connection to one's own wisdom. We may seek some outside help or some outside information, but ultimately, wellness is going to come down to our own connection to our own guidance, to the Holy Spirit, as A Course in Miracles would say, and to our own infinite, eternal nature.
Let me continue, "Rehabilitation does not come from anyone else. You can have guidance from without, but you must accept it from within. The guidance must [become] what you want, or it will be meaningless to you. That is why rehabilitation is a collaborative venture." (OrEd.Tx.8.29) In the new era of wellness, we will collaborate with others, with other caregivers, with other healers, but it's definitely going to be a collaboration, and we are going to be an integral part in that collaboration.
I love that quotation from the A Course in Miracles. That is the quotation as it appears in the Original Edition. That is an earlier editions of A Course in Miracles. However, in the Foundation for Inner Peace (FIP) edition of the Course, which is still the edition probably the majority of people read and study, they don't use the word "rehabilitation." They substituted it with the word "healing." The FIP edition has "Healing does not come from anyone else. ... That is why healing is a collaborative venture." (FIP:T-8.IV.4:5.8) There is a nuance of meaning difference with the word "rehabilitation." I think this is important and significant. I'm glad that we now have these earlier editions which have restored the original language that was later edited. I think "rehabilitation" is a little more appropriate, in this instance, than the word "healing." Rehabilitation means, "the action of restoring someone to health or normal life through training and therapy, after imprisonment, addiction, or illness." Rehabilitation has a more precise meaning, and it also talks about health as "normal life." Wellness and health should be the normal state.
That idea has almost faded from the modern western mind. It's almost as if sickness is the normal state. Everybody is sick in some way. Everybody has physical problems that they're dealing with. Just watch the commercials on television for all the medications and drugs. Everybody must have multiple illnesses. We all must need multiple medications just to get through normal life. Certainly, as you get older, you're going to be on lots of medications. That's what is considered normal now. That's why "rehabilitation" here is such a great word, because health is the normal state. We have to rehabilitate, when we are ill, and that is because being healthy is what should be normal, even for older people.
This idea that we just keep piling medications onto the older people is probably a large part why they're so ill. They're not necessarily ill from the things that they seem to be suffering from. They might truly just be ill from all the side effects and the drug interactions from all the medications that we are giving them. This studying of illness, in order to practice medicine is truly, I believe, a skewed perspective. A Course in Miracles says, "Can you find light by analyzing darkness." (OrEd.Tx.9.25) Can we really find the light, can we really find wellness by analyzing disease? A Course in Miracles says, "... you have the answer and the ego is afraid of you." (OrEd.Tx.6.47) If health is our natural state, and if we ultimately have the answers that we are looking for, that reinforces this idea of collaboration for wellness.
I thought it was quite interesting that there was this call from these prominent, very accomplished doctors, that we need to abandon the way that we are practicing medicine. It really isn't working. The system is so corrupt that it can't truly be fixed anymore. What has to happen is a new system has to rise up, this new system of medicine, this new system that focuses in on wellness.
One of the things that both of these doctors were talking about, what's totally corrupt, is this whole corporate way of practicing medicine. When I heard that I thought about when I was a child. When my mother and I went to the doctor, the doctors were in private practice. We went to the doctor's office which was connected to his home, and there was a little waiting room. You didn't have to have an appointment. You just went in, waited in the waiting room, and it was first come, first served. Everybody kept track of the order that they came in. When the doctor was ready, he opened the door, and he said, "Who's next?" Everybody, on the honor system now, said, "‘Mr. Patane' is." I was from a small town, so we knew everybody. Then you just went in when it was your turn. The doctor was this very nice man. No women doctors in my youth. He was a friendly, warm guy, and that was a big part of the healing. Just seeing the doctor and having him be interested in what you were going through — feeling the confidence that he gave you. He was going to be there with you through this physical problem. He was going to help you. All of that was such an important part of the healing that was going on.
So much of that has been lost with the corporate, industrial way that we do medicine today. I've talked about this many times. I've talked about the "sickness and death lobby," this huge, corporate industry of medicine, pharmaceuticals, and doctoring. This really struck me some years ago, when I had to go in for my yearly physical. My yearly physical with my health maintenance organization (HMO) involves a bloodletting experience. I have to go to the lab and get my blood drawn, and there's all these tests. They have to draw a lot of blood because there's a lot of tests they want to run. That time, what really struck me was, when I went to the lab, it's in this big HMO, I had to take a number. You take a number from a little dispenser, and then you wait for them to call your number.
I thought of it like this. When I was a kid, the only place we ever pulled a number and waited for the number to be called was at the butcher. When I went to the butcher with my mother, I was just a little kid, she would have me go up and pull the number. That was something I could do. I could go and pull the number, and then I could hold the number. I would wait for them to call the number and then alert my mother that it was our turn. I don't remember anywhere else having to take a number and wait, except the butcher. Of course, now, that happens a lot, and it's certainly the way our corporate medicine is being handled. I thought of that and I thought of the loss of the doctor / patient relationship, that real connection. Now everything has gotten corporatized. You might as well almost not have a doctor. You can probably just go to a kiosk somewhere and type in your diagnosis, and they'll print out to you what you need to do and the medicines you need to take. Actually, they're trying to do some of that. That's already happening. That's why I believe these doctors are saying, "This system is broken, and there's no fixing it from within."
Look at how we handled the COVID pandemic. The United States which is supposed to have the greatest medical system in the world, plus we had very high vaccination rates in the United States, but yet we had some of the worst, maybe the worst, COVID numbers, in terms of serious illness and fatalities, of any country in the world. As great as our medical establishment is supposed to be, and as much as we followed their directives and vaccinated, and sheltered in place, and wore masks, and all of those things — all those mitigation strategies that we did dutifully — why were our results so terrible?
I think this is what's coming up now, and this is why people have lost so much faith in our institutions and our medical establishments. We were told originally, people are denying this now, but we were told that if you got vaccinated, you wouldn't get COVID. I remember President Biden saying that, and I remember Dr. Fauci said, "You get vaccinated, you won't get COVID, and you won't spread it." Rachel Maddow on MSNBC said it very clearly. Now, we see that none of that was actually true. Now it's coming out that even the drug companies knew this about the vaccines, if you look closely at their clinical trial data you see it. The drug companies now say they never claimed that the vaccine would stop infection or stop transmission. And it obviously hasn't. Even the Center for Disease Control (CDC) director herself, Rochelle Walensky, about a month ago said that the CDC had been preparing for 70 years for a pandemic like this, and that they failed. Rochelle Walensky herself admitted that they failed.
She then said they needed a top-to-bottom overhaul of the CDC. While the sentiment that the CDC needs an overhaul is good, according to what these doctors I listened to this week are saying you can't have the people who created the problem fix the problem, because nothing is going to get fixed that way. That's why they're calling for a complete new system. This is a little disconcerting, upsetting to some people, and I've talked about this the last couple of weeks. However the Bible says, and this passage is actually in A Course in Miracles. "The Bible says that the branch that bears no fruit will be cut off and will wither away. Be glad! The light will shine from the true Foundation of Life, and your own thought system will stand corrected." (OrEd.Tx.3.80)
So, these institutions, the way that they have been functioning, are not bearing the fruit. We should have had the best results for the COVID pandemic, not the worst. If these institutions aren't bearing fruit, they are the branch that bears no fruit — they're going to wither away, and something new will come up. That new which comes up will be a collaborative venture with those we seek out healing from: with the doctors, with the nurses, with the healthcare practitioners, with the healers, with the homeopaths. There are all kinds of people and things that could factor in here. We can break up the monopoly that the medical establishment has established. A new age of wellness could be multi-faceted and eclectic.
What was so new and exciting for me is I felt that A Course in Miracles could truly have a wonderful part to play in this new age of wellness, this new movement for wellness. If you look at any of the models for wellness, and there's a wheel that shows a model for wellness on the Sunday program (see the cover of this issue of *Miracles Monthly*), spirituality is always one of the segments of the wheel. Religion, spirituality, teachings like A Course in Miracles, institutions like the Community Miracles Center could truly be, and should truly be an important part of wellness.
I'd like to talk a little bit about something called the placebo effect. Now, we all have heard of this. We all know what this is. This is when a harmless substance, without any therapeutic benefit — like a sugar pill or maybe a saline solution — is given to a person who has an issue, a person who is not being the normal, well individual at that moment. For some reason, this inert thing that really shouldn't have an effect, does has a positive effect. This has been well documented. Also, in clinical trials for new medications, if you have a double-blind, placebo trial, half of the people are given a medication that is being tested, and the other half of the people are given a placebo. However, remember the placebo doesn't have no effect, because the act of getting something and being involved, being recognized, and heard has a healing effect, in and of itself.
There is speculation about how much of the positive, therapeutic effect of any medications is due to the medicine itself, or is it due to the placebo effect? The fact that one goes to a healthcare provider, a doctor or a nurse, an alternative practitioner, or a healer of some kind, and that provider engages with you, that person treats you and gives you something. How much of your feeling better and your getting better is simply because you're engaged in this process of joining? A Course in Miracles says, "Special agents seem to be ministering to him, yet they but give form to his own choice. He chooses them to bring tangible form to his desires. And it is this they do, and nothing else. They are not actually needed at all." (OrEd.Mn.5.5) So, how much of the positive effect of any intervention is due to merely the placebo effect? I think A Course in Miracles would tell you, 100%. Yes 100%.
In the new age of wellness, connection and relationship with a healthcare practitioner will be one of the truly important things, and just that connection is going to be healing. In terms of what medications are given, what drugs are given, hopefully not something that's particularly toxic. Let's face it. During the last pandemic, here in the United States, the standard of care was a couple of incredibly toxic things: remdesivir — incredibly toxic, lung ventilation, mechanical lung ventilation — incredibly toxic. How many people didn't really die from COVID, but died from remdesivir or died from lung ventilation?
I'm also thinking back — and this is coming out now as well — during the AIDS epidemic, especially the latter stages of the AIDS epidemic. First of all, they expanded the definition of the AIDS disease to include almost anything. Then they gave people an incredibly toxic medication, AZT, even if they were asymptomatic. And many people died. It was said they died of AIDS, but how many of them really died from AZT poisoning? This is a big discussion going on right now. This is part of why people are losing faith in the medical establishment because these interventions, these medications, are incredibly toxic. If 100% of the healing is due to the placebo effect anyway, why are we giving people incredibly toxic medications?
Why do we give our elderly — who are assumably getting more frail as they get older (author's note: bad assumption but that's another talk) — why are we giving them more and more incredibly toxic medications? Is it any wonder that they get so ill? These are questions that many people are asking now. I think these are questions that we all should be asking. If this new foundation of wellness starts developing, a slowing down of all the medication prescribing is certainly going to be part of it. For sure, there will be an emphasis on wellness, the things that keep people well: connected community, spirituality, good nutrition, exercise, sunlight, all of those things. How about some supplements? How about Vitamin C, and Vitamin D? How about taking your shirt off and standing in the sun so that your skin can convert sunlight to Vitamin D. Get natural Vitamin D instead of supplementing from oral Vitamin D. All kinds of things like this in the new age of wellness.
There have been a lot of studies that show just joining in supportive community as incredibly, healing. So what did we do during the pandemic? We segregated everybody into their homes. We eliminated many of the things that are the most healthy things to do, because allopathic medicine focuses on the sickness instead of the wellness. A Course in Miracles focuses on relationship and a connection to our internal guidance. We all intuitively know what the best thing is for ourselves to do, to stay well. Yeah, we bring in some special agents and some healers to help us, to give us ideas, but we collaborate with them not blindly obey them because we're in charge of our rehabilitating. We're getting back to our own normal state. We realize that, to move towards the light and to move towards health, we have to analyze health, not sickness. What keeps healthy people healthy? What keeps ourself healthy.
One of the things that does that is community, spirituality, and joining like we do here, every Sunday. This keeps people healthy. You can't find light by analyzing the darkness. We can find light by analyzing the light. What we're doing here, at Community Miracles Center, every Sunday and through all of our classes is very important. It's part of wellness. Do that, and many of you do. I think it's really great. Join with us. Join the Healing Team. Maybe you don't like all the things I write every morning, but a lot of the healing effect of being on the Healing Team is probably just the placebo effect. It's just the fact that you're having a joining with other like-minded people and focusing in on healing. That, in and of itself, regardless of what is said there, is healing. Actually, I think many of the things I say every day are wonderful and inspired. They certainly aren't toxic medications. They're good, positive thoughts to think.
Start focusing in on wellness and be open to a new era of wellness starting now. There will still be doctors, but these doctors will not have to do what the corporation tells them to do. Those doctors will truly see and understand that they're in a collaboration with their clients, with their patients. From that collaborative venture, true rehabilitation and returning to normal wellness will happen. I intend to be there, with Community Miracles Center and A Course in Miracles, to make A Course in Miracles and the Community Miracles Center part of this new rehabilitation wellness movement.
That's my talk for today. Thank you for listening. ♥
Rev. Tony Ponticello is CMC's 20 minister. He currently (02.13.23) serves on the CMC's Executive Minister and is President of CMC's Board of Directors. He was ordained by the CMC on Oct. 17, 1997.
Rev. Tony Ponticello c/o Community Miracles Center
San Francisco, CA 94147
This article appeared in the November 2022 (Vol. 36 No. 8) issue of Miracles Monthly. Miracles Monthly is published by Community Miracles Center in San Francisco, CA. CMC is supported solely by people just like you who: become CMC Supporting Members, Give Donations and Purchase Books and Products through us.