Printed in the Summer 2016 issue of Quest magazine.
Citation: Smoley, Richard, "Clairvoyance and Healing" Quest 104.3 (Summer 2016): pg. 106-110
An Interview with Robyn Finseth
By Richard Smoley
Part of the Theosophical tradition, which goes back to its beginnings, has to do with clairvoyance. It’s by no means a skill that everyone has. In fact, those who are adept at clairvoyant vision are rare, even in the Theosophical Society. It would seem that there are only a few in each generation who have this ability and who have been able to cultivate it to the degree that they can make use of it.
One such person is Robyn Finseth. Raised in a Theosophical family, she possessed clairvoyant abilities at an early age and was able to develop them under the guidance of Harry van Gelder and his sister, Dora Kunz, who was no doubt the most distinguished Theosophical clairvoyant of her generation. Later Robyn trained as a chiropractor. Today she has a chiropractic practice in Portland, Oregon, where she uses her clairvoyant abilities as part of her overall skill set.
I met Robyn when she was visiting Wheaton a couple of years ago, and was very impressed by her insight. She and her husband came to visit my family and me at our home, and she seemed to have a very clear sense of us and our situation. When I was driving them back to Olcott, she turned to me and asked, “Did you want to be a novelist?” And in fact I had — with three unpublished novels in my desk drawer to prove it. Yet it was not a subject that had come up at all in our conversation, nor was it anything I had been thinking of in recent days or even weeks.
Naturally, when we set out to do an issue on healing, it occurred to me to interview Robyn about her abilities and how clairvoyant experience appears to her subjectively—as well as to find out how she uses them in her medical practice.
This interview was conducted by e-mail in February-March 2016.
Richard Smoley: Could you begin by talking about your background? How did you come to have clairvoyant abilities?
Robyn Finseth: I was, simply, born with this ability. I cannot remember a time when I could not see colors or auras or otherworldly things, whether they were of past human beings or animals or simply apparitions of a variety of entities. I am a second-generation Theosophist who was raised by parents (Beatrice and Ken Lawrence) who became members in their youth. Consequently, I was born into a family who could understand this “strange child” and not place me in a situation that could become either harmful or exploitative.
My grandmother had eighty acres of farm and forest. As a child I would sit in the woods for hours just observing the entities around the trees and the natural habitat. I also understood at a young age that not every child could perceive what I did; therefore I kept silent about my sight. In fact, I was terrified of others knowing what I could do. I made my parents promise that they would keep my secret and only share it with those who could help me understand this world. I am pretty sure that intuitively I understood that there was a certain danger in this for me, whether this understanding was from another lifetime of exploitation, or simply from realizing that my abilities needed to be respected and used wisely.
As a young child I was introduced to a gifted healer named Harry van Gelder (brother of Dora Kunz) who helped my mother with some health issues. I was maybe seven at the time, and I remember visiting him in Vancouver, where he was practicing as a licensed naturopath and osteopath. He was a skilled clairvoyant who used these gifts in his healing, and it was there that I began my journey into health care. I remember the first time I saw him and how he practiced, inspiring me to one day be a doctor too — pretty strong thoughts for someone so young. But I never varied from this path; I just took some time getting there.
There were many prominent adults who were respected in this field of vision who helped me as a child. I was part of the service of the TS called the Knights of the Round Table, led by Perry and Edith Karsten, both prominent in the Portland Lodge, along with Anna Berkey. Many times both Perry and Anna helped me understand what I could and couldn’t do, without placing undue emphasis on either. They helped me balance my life without losing my way in this alternative universe. Believe me, this alternative universe is quite intoxicating even for a child. I remember spending hours in my room or alone, enjoying a world that only I could see. And just hearing myself say these words, I can only imagine what a psychologist would have done to me had I been born to another type of family. I suspect I would have been silent about everything.
So with the help of these friends both here and in my alternative universe, I was able to translate what I could do and see into the world of service.
Smoley: Tell us a little about your subjective clairvoyant experience. What do you see? How do you see it?
Finseth: Learning how to quiet the mind is one of the easiest explanations of sight. Those who practice and use meditation in their daily lives seem to understand this phenomenon more easily than others. It is in this quiet that we allow ourselves to be one with self, world, and universe. It is in this quiet that we clearly understand our directions as human beings.
Colors were more vivid in my childhood, and I suspect it was because I didn’t question the colors or the strength of their impact as much as I do as an adult. I think what people really want to know is how do I do it, and I can only respond by saying that I don’t use my eyes and I do use my eyes. It is in the in-between sight that I actually see. It is the glimpse out of the corner of your eye rather than looking directly at the object. If I am looking at an aura, I never do so directly, but rather after I have seen the person. Then I often look away or avert my eyes to something else — without really seeing that something else; I am actually focusing on the aura itself. Now people’s auras are their personal space. Therefore I also am respectful of this fact and do not “look” unless asked to do so.
Smoley: Please talk about your use of clairvoyance in healing. What role does it play? How do you apply it?
Finseth: I am a practicing healer, licensed as a chiropractic physician in the state of Oregon, where I reside. When people ask to become my patients, they have automatically given me permission to use whatever means I have at my disposal to help them. In my world, that means I use all my senses, touch, sight (both ordinary and nonordinary), and the help of those who sometimes come in with the patient. Not all of my patients understand the depth of my ability, as it isn’t necessary; they simply understand that I will help them in any way I am allowed to do so. Even though I have these other gifts, I can only see what I can see and do what I can do. There are many other factors present when a person has either a condition or an illness; consequently even with these abilities sometimes I simply cannot help.
So when you think of the term clairvoyant healing, it really is not an accurate description. Rather I use clairvoyance to understand the problem, which is presented from all aspects. This is true whether or not it is a physical manifestation of an emotional or psychological problem or simply an injury sustained in life. I help patients understand their conditions from a perspective of learning, as — if it is simply an injury — learning how and why the body ended up in this situation. I know from personal experience if we truly understand the why of the question, we more often than not either fix it or simply avoid that situation in the future.
Many people do not understand the impact that strong negative emotions can have on the physical body. There are times when the person in front of me simply does not want to hear that they have any part in their condition, who believe that their body “just needs to be fixed”; those I cannot help.
Smoley: What does a balanced person look like, and how do we achieve balance?
Finseth: In my chiropractic world, balance is the achievement of full spinal movement without restrictions or pain. It is a body given the right nutrition and exercise to operate at its best each and every day. Traditionally, healing is the balance of the physical, emotional, and mental fields. Healing is the ability to be honestly objective of self without being critical. As Theosophists, we use meditation to aid us in this honest, objective look. Through kindness and love we can achieve what we are ultimately hoping to achieve: balance of self in this life.
Energy is a very important part of balance. In my observation, we have two kinds of energy: core and renewable. The core is what we are born with, and the renewable is the energy we can tap after sleep, rest, or through meditation. We must be cautious when using the core, as it is nonrenewable; it is the energy that is tapped when the renewable has been used up. You have all experienced times when you said to yourself, “I am burning the candle at both ends.” You are literally burning into your life’s core. When the core is gone, so is your physical life.
Now I can’t talk about balance without introducing karma and previous lives. As Theosophists, we accept that this is but one of many lifetimes. Both personally and with others I have worked with, I have found, that often we understand, at a very basic level, that which is in front of us for this particular lifetime. I always think of my dear, sweet friend Linda Jo Pym, who said to me, “ I just want to learn what is needed this time so that next lifetime I can come back and not repeat this one all over again.” I love this thought, and when I personally am facing one of my many challenges, I think, “OK, let’s get it done so we don’t have to come back and do it all over again.” We have all experienced challenges that keep showing up. Well, listen to the challenge, and maybe the next time try a new approach.
Smoley: Where do you think healing needs to go today? How should it fit in with conventional medical approaches?
Finseth: The beauty of modern medical practices today is that our boundaries have shifted away from the traditional medical model. We have so many avenues to explore with the acceptance of alternative health care as part of the whole of medicine. We have the ability to no longer simply take one suggestion but to look into finding many suggestions before we decide for ourselves on the best course of action. The first thing I tell my patients is that they are truly the best source of knowledge about their own health care. The only thing we as doctors or nurses or healers can offer are suggestions about what direction may be the best route. You, as the keeper of your own body, will know better than anyone what direction is best for you. Finally, Americans are no longer limited by only one kind of health care but can seek it from many different types of approaches. The Internet has opened many avenues of exploration for everyone, so that we can be much more informed about alternatives to any disease or condition.
Indralaya, the Theosophical camp on Orcas Island off the coast of Washington state, has long supported Therapeutic Touch (TT), a program begun by Dora Kunz and Dolores Krieger. This program has bridged gaps all over the world, as it teaches students (often nurses and doctors) how to channel energy to help direct the body to its optimal state. I have met several nurses who have used these teachings successfully in a hospital setting. I cannot think of a more traditional medical model than a hospital. If we can have TT in this setting, I would say we have come a great distance in alternative acceptance.
When I first began working in my own state as a doctor in 1981, we were at the beginning of being allowed into insurance coverage for patients. Since this date, there aren’t any insurance programs I am aware of which do not allow a patient to explore alternative health care. I know Oregon is more progressive than many other states, as we also have a prominent naturopathic college in our midst. So in my opinion our health care is moving into the right direction, which is the marriage of all forms of health care.
Smoley: Could you share some of your memories of Dora Kunz?
Finseth: I was a very lucky little girl who had access to Dora Kunz at a very young age. During one of my many times at camp on Orcas Island, Dora was there, and my mother arranged to have her read my aura. During these years Dora always made herself available to any of us who wanted more information. I remember being terrified of this reading, afraid that my sight was all my imagination and not really sight at all. The only memory I have of what she said was to simply continue along the course I was on and that all was well with my direction. This was also around the time I was connected with her brother, Harry, who helped me with these abilities many times in my young adult life.
When I was a young girl, my mother got Dora’s book The Real World of Fairies: A First-Person Account. I loved this book, as it helped me understand what I was seeing and helped me sift through information no one else could help me grasp. I also read a book by a doctor who used Dora to diagnose illness in patients, a very powerful book for me during these formative years.
Dora was a very skilled clairvoyant, far more skilled than I. Her book The Personal Aura, written later with depictions of auras, has always help me understand much of what I see. The easiest aura to read is the emotional one. It’s constantly changing with thoughts and feelings.
In my early thirties I went back to school to get my final degree, this one as a chiropractor. During this time I took some time off from my studies and worked with Harry at his clinic in Ojai, California. I stayed with him for several months and during this time he helped me set the course of my healing direction. Some years later, I was visiting Wheaton when Dora was national president of the TS, and I asked her for another session. During this time, I remember we were sitting on the porch, enjoying the early spring, when I asked her if I should attend the TT sessions that were just beginning at camp. She looked at me and said, “Why would you? Aren’t you working with my brother?” I giggle at this memory. I only attended one session of TT many years later, when I took my husband up for treatments.
Dora was never one to mince words. During a particularly difficult time in my life I sought her out for advice, hoping for some insight. Her answer to me was simply “Get over it.” Harsh, but honestly just what I needed to hear.
Smoley: There’s a lot about clairvoyance in books of many kinds. Often it seems that there’s some gap between the way the books describe something and the way it really is. Do you find that this is true with clairvoyant abilities? If so, how?
Finseth: If you put five people in the same room with an object and asked these same five people to describe this same object, you would of course get five different responses — a thread of sameness, but all different. Well, the same would be true of five clairvoyants, as there are so many layers of sight. The aura itself has so many layers, and sometimes when I read something another has said, I can see some of what they report, but not necessarily all of it. Does that make my vision more perfect or less? I think the answer is neither. I simply have my own vision, and I am very comfortable with it in analysis. The others may be in the same position of comfort with their abilities. I will admit that it seems a bit fanciful when some people have claimed sight, but who am I to say that it isn’t really there? In my youth and my early training, I was taught to look for the truth of what I sensed or saw, and sometimes it would take some distance away from the experience to see the truth of it. We all indulge in wishful thinking, but that is what we want to avoid. Our work is to discern the truth of words from the truth of actions.
Smoley: Many traditions, including Theosophy, warn about the dangers of psychism. How do you feel about these warnings? Are they right? Are they overstated?
Finseth: Any form of intuition can be dangerous if used improperly. We can delude ourselves into thinking we are or aren’t something that may or may not be true. I would be very wary of enrolling in a course of study that promoted “channeling spirits” or used questionable methods as a source of answers. I think there are dangers of opening up to the universe in such a way that you become vulnerable to forces that are not positive. There certainly is a negative element present in this world. It doesn’t take much to understand that there is negativity possible in any avenue or way of life. I trust myself, and when I meet someone who is dealing in less desirable measures, I simply avoid them, putting a protective cloud around myself and that person, if for no other reason than to help direct negative into positive. I am very wary of those who profess such powers as to truly “heal” another human being. I am not saying it isn’t possible, but at what cost to either recipient or sender?
So, yes, there are dangers along this path. I was very fortunate in my life that my teachers were far more skilled than I and could help me develop what I use today in my everyday life.
Smoley: How would you advise someone who was interested in developing capacities like this?
Finseth: I have been asked this question a number of times in my life, and I find it a very difficult one to answer. I do not know how I developed this ability, but strongly suspect that I simply developed it over many lifetimes. Somewhere in my development this ability was not turned off, and for this I am extremely grateful, as it has helped me throughout my life to be better at my job. I guess the best advice I could give anyone is not to be “ambitious” in development, but rather, allow the self to develop. If it is meant to be for that person, then it is to be. It is also to be used with caution: this is an ability that is easy to misinterpret. I always love the saying from Dora Kunz: “Clairvoyance is overrated; after all, cats are clairvoyant.” My interpretation of this is to learn humility.
Although I have the ability to see beyond the physical world, I am cautious in doing so. I am always reminded that when looking at others, it is really their personal information. Unless they ask me for advice, it really isn’t my business. I will admit that I have sometimes been curious about what is happening to someone, and the image is unavoidable. But I am not a circus act either. If you stopped me on the sidewalk and said, “Read my aura,” I would refuse. This has happened to me, and when under pressure I simply shut down and all of my senses are no longer available. Besides, I feel a bit insulted.
So, yes again, there are dangers. As comfortable as I am, I would be very cautious in helping others along this path.