Bernie Siegel Struggles With the Story of Abraham and Isaac


Dr. Bernie Siegel

I wrote in an earlier post how thrilled (and later terrified!) I was that Dr. Bernie Siegel included a lyric I wrote in his book, Peace, Love & Healing. Nearly twenty years later I asked Bernie to share a life-changing story with me for my book, Sixty Seconds: One Moment Changes Everything. Here is Bernie’s intriguing story, beginning with his bio.

Siegel, a former surgeon whose book, Love, Medicine & Miracles, catapulted him to the forefront of the mind-body-spirit revolution, founded the Exceptional Cancer Patients support group ( near his home in New Haven, Connecticut. His latest books are Love, Magic & Mudpies, 365 Prescriptions for the Soul, and the children’s book Smudge Bunny. Click here to visit Bernie’s website.

The Biblical story of Abraham and Isaac has always been difficult for me to accept because the idea of sacrificing one of my children is so unthinkable. Well, ten years ago, I had some experiences that gave me a deep appreciation of that story. While talking to a friend on the phone about my travel schedule, she asked, “Why are you living such a busy life?” I suddenly and literally went into a trance-like state and saw myself with a sword in my hand, killing people. The same thing happened again a month or two later as I was sitting in an airplane looking out the window. It felt like I was watching a movie with me as the main character. I was a knight, and my lord told me that I was to kill the neighbor’s daughter because the neighbor had been imposing on his land. I agreed to do it out of fear that I would be punished if I refused. I learned where the daughter slept but when I walked into her room with my sword drawn, she awakened and turned toward me. I saw my wife’s face, yet I went ahead and killed her. I can’t tell you how emotional that was for me. I brought her head back to my lord and said, “Are you happy now? Look what you’ve done!” And he said, “I didn’t do it, you did. If you had had faith in me, there would have been another result.”

I was very concerned about these visions, so I sought the help of James Hillman, a Jungian therapist whose name kept popping up in articles I was reading. Since he lived in Connecticut, I drove up to see him. I started telling him what happened and he said, “Wait a minute, are you listening to what you’re saying? You keep talking about the lord.” I said, “Well, it’s the lord of the castle,” and he said, ‘”No, it’s more than that, it’s the Lord.” We then discussed the story of Abraham, and when I re-read the Bible story after the session, I saw with great clarity that Abraham, who offered no resistance to God, and Isaac, who offered no resistance to his father, both had tremendous faith and knew that God would not allow Abraham to commit such a terrible act. The key question is, are you listening to and following the true Lord or an artificial one? I realized that when you truly follow the Lord, then everything you do will be life-enhancing and that, just like Abraham, you’ll feel an angel’s hand on your shoulder to keep you from doing any harm. When you have faith in your Lord, you simply say, “Yes, I will go.”

Soon after that, I had another episode where again my lord told me to kill the neighbor’s daughter, and I said, “Fine, I’m going.” But this time I felt a hand on my shoulder, and my lord said, “Stop. Now that I know you have faith, bring them here so we can resolve this.” Ultimately, my lord said that the way to resolve the dispute was to have his son (which he now called me because of my faith in him) marry the daughter because then we would be one family and there would be nothing to fight over. And that’s what struck me, that the way to resolve the problem, and indeed any problem in the larger world, was to bring love to the situation and become one family. And that’s what I had to learn. I also intuitively knew that my career as a surgeon was in response to my need to heal with a sword rather than injure with one.

Click here to view all my posts related to my book, Sixty Seconds: One Moment Changes Everything.


If you feel more stressed than blessed . . . if you have more confusion than clarity about how to live your beliefs . . . if you long to live a richer, happier, more meaningful life . . . you will find a wealth of insight and guidance in Through God’s Eyes: Finding Peace and Purpose in a Troubled World.

Through God’s Eyes is a road map for living a more peaceful, beautiful life. It’s the only book that explains how dozens of spiritual principles interact, how to weave them together into a cohesive worldview, and how to practically apply this spiritual wisdom to daily life.

Readers everywhere are discovering that when you challenge yourself to look through God’s eyes, the world around you changes, and so do you.

Who will benefit from reading Through God’s Eyes?
Anyone who is on a spiritual path, or wants to be.
Anyone who loves life, or wants to learn how to.
Anyone who is happy, or wants to be happier.

Click here to order your copy of Through God’s Eyes from
For an inscribed copy, click here to e-mail Phil for information.

Click here to visit the Through God’s Eyes website.

Click on the link below to download a FREE 28-page chapter!

Click here to read endorsements from authors and thought leaders.

Click here to read unsolicited testimonials from readers.

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Here is a two-minute video introduction to Through God’s Eyes.

Like to learn more about Through God’s Eyes? Here is a free 44-page PDF sampler from the book that includes:

• an overview of the book
• the complete table of contents
• the Foreword by Caroline Myss
• my Introduction
• chapter excerpts
• a sample end-of-chapter story
• endorsements from authors and thought leaders

Just click on the link below to download your free PDF sampler!

Schedule a Mastery Mentoring phone session with Phil to learn how to apply principles of spiritual living more effortlessly and effectively. Priced affordably! Click here to e-mail Phil for details.


Phil’s eBook, The Logic of Living a Spiritual Life: Supporting a Life of Faith Through Logic and Reason, is now available for 99 cents.

Order it at

In this eBook, you’ll find answers to questions like:
• What is the cornerstone of a spiritual life, and why?
• What is the secret to liberating yourself from other people’s judgments and expectations?
• How do you reconcile the “free will vs. Divine Will” conundrum?
• Why is there an exception to “Everything happens for a reason”?

Those who worship logic instead of God are only half right. Not only is it logical to believe in God and to live a faith-based life, the existence of a loving, benevolent God that governs all creation is perhaps the only systematic worldview that explains every aspect of life.

sixty-seconds-coverPhil is also the author of Sixty Seconds: One Moment Changes Everything, a collection of 45 inspiring, life-changing stories from prominent authors and thought leaders he interviewed. The roster of storytellers includes Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, Neale Donald Walsch, Caroline Myss, Larry Dossey, Rachel Naomi Remen, Bernie Siegel, Dean Ornish, and Christiane Northrup. Sixty Seconds has been translated into four languages: Italian, German, Spanish, and Portuguese. Reading this book is like spending a few minutes face to face with each of the contributors and listening to their personal stories.

Click here to order Sixty Seconds.

Learn more by visiting the official Sixty Seconds website.

Click here to read unsolicited testimonials from readers.

Here is a three-minute video introduction to Sixty Seconds.

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