“Medicus curat Natura sanat” – the doctor helps Nature heal. The healing force of Nature has been called by many names, for example, Hippocrates called it the Vis Medicatrix Naturae and Paracelsus called it the Archaeus. The doctor’s role is to assist this force as best he can to help the cure of the patient. Problems arise when the doctor regards himself as being the healing force rather than just being an agent and a helper for the healing force.
Nowadays we see disease as coming from without, being caused by an external invader, or as suddenly striking us down. It is very hard for us to regard disease as the result of what we might call an imbalance inside us, rather than as an invasion by an external agent. Because if we did, we would have to assume responsibility for our own illnesses. We would have to say we caused it, and that we must fix it, with the doctor assisting. This does not set well with our time, which is a time of paranoia, a time of blaming other people, of never looking at ourselves and assuming full responsibility for the destiny of our lives. It is no wonder that we are not likely to assume responsibility for our own illnesses.
This has been fostered by many delusions and quasi-delusions in medicine; for example, that bacteria cause disease. How easy. The person is suddenly “struck down” by a germ and becomes ill. But what if we suppose that the bacterial infection is secondary to the devitalization and poor nutrition of the tissues, thus enabling the bacteria to grow. We would then have to admit that the devitalization was something we caused and we could no longer blame the bacteria. The maggots do not cause the meat to decay. The meat decays and then the maggots grow.
We now also suffer from the delusion of biochemistry and of the examination of the minutiae. We are possessed with looking down the microscope, rather than looking up. We continually believe that we can give the patients artificially created, dead substances and expect these to increase somehow the vital life force of the patient. Life can never be enhanced by a dead material, by a deadly substance. Life will be enhanced only by giving life, be it the life from the doctor or the life from the substance he gives to help the patient. The Archaeus can only be encouraged by living material. This is not a question of biochemistry. This is a question of live food versus dead chemical. Out of life will come life.
This is an age of extreme materialism and hedonism, and our medicine reflects this. This is not to indict either medicine or the age in which we live. This is a statement of where we are and what we must try to do to improve this. When I ask patients “What are your goals in life?” they look at me with blank faces. There is no aspiration, no desire toward even a state of serenity, or peace, let alone really true love or service to fellow man. There is no concept that perhaps the purpose on earth is personal evolvement.
The larger part of us, which does not incarnate with us, has been called by Emerson the Oversoul. This Oversoul is in intimate relationship with the Cosmos. Perhaps our main purpose on earth is to enhance and enlarge that contact with the Oversoul, so that we can thus aspire to the universal cosmic state of life and knowledge. This concept of evolvement can be put and felt in many different ways. This is just one way. But to have this sort of goal makes for a very different person. A person who has some idea of dedication, who can see that the purpose of treatment is not to relieve the particular symptom but to raise the overall level of consciousness, or if you like, vibration, of the total person, to put them in touch with the Oversoul.
I tell my patients that if I help to cure all their symptoms but their consciousness remains the same, then I have failed in my work. But most patients do not really want to get truly Well. They just want to be relieved of symptoms so that they can go back to their previous lifestyles – and to then become sick again.
It is not even a question of preventive medicine. It is a question of seeing the pain, or the illness, as a working-through process, as a way of evolving, of becoming in touch with the higher self, of being a more spiritual person. This reaches so much farther than prevention.
This is not to say that we must be pessimistic about treating patients with chronic illness, not at all, not at all. But what we are to see is that what we have to deal with is not just trying to relieve their immediate symptoms, but to raise the whole level of consciousness, to help them evolve in the way that they were meant to.
When my patients come to me and they say they have had a car accident or something, of course I am concerned and sympathetic, but one of my first replies is, “Isn’t it wonderful that this has been given to you by God for you to learn from and evolve through? This crisis has been given by God and is to be used for your evolvement if you can.” And part of my small role in this is to perhaps guide, to some extent, this path of evolution. Every tragedy, every crisis, is there for us to use for our own betterment, for our own uplifting, to become more in contact with our Oversoul.
One of the problems we have today is being forced to diagnose patients with little labels. When the patient asks me, “What is my diagnosis?” I ask him his name, and then I say, “That is your diagnosis. Your diagnosis is you. You are now at this point in time the sum total of your incarnation, of your spirit, of your soul, of your physical, mental, and spiritual being.” That is the diagnosis – the accurate understanding of all these at all levels. That is the diagnosis of the person, and the treatment must be directed towards improving all these areas; all these areas have to be worked on really to benefit the patient at the deepest level of his existence. All illnesses really start as thought forms before they are manifested in the physical body. (“As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”) And these thought forms may exist for many years.
The Cartesian split between the mind and the body seems to have really set back medical thinking. Before the time of Descartes, all illness was seen as initially an illness of the soul, of the thought forms which then became manifest in the physical. Descartes’ philosophy introduced what has been called the “Cartesian split” between mind and body, which led to a complete inability to understand psychosomatic illness to the point where this became quite ludicrous. During the Napoleonic wars it was found that many soldiers were dropping dead on the battlefield without any physical injury. As it was not possible, according to the philosophy of the day, to attribute this to fright or fear, the only explanation that was advanced, and this received wide circulation and discussion in the medical literature, was that the soldiers had been killed by the wind of the cannonball. The Cartesian split has to quite some extent been reconciled by psychosomatic medicine on the one hand and the philosophy of, among others, Gilbert Ryle on the other. These have been attempts to re-unite the mind and body but little attention has been given to the spiritual life of the patient in this context.
The thymus gland is the first organ in the body to be affected by self-destructive thought forms. The word thymus is derived from the Greek thymos “which denoted not only vital force, soul, but also feeling or sensibility.” The thymus, as we know, is intimately involved with all immune reactions, autoimmune diseases and probably cancer, as well as all stress reactions.
From the thymus gland, the next organs which seem to be involved are the other organs of stress, namely the endocrine glands and then from the endocrine glands to the other organs and structures of the body. It is only at this point that the patient is said to be physically sick. But the illness as abnormal thought forms depleting the body’s energy and setting up the destructive patterns, the templates for the illness, have been laid down years and years before.
Manly P. Hall says, “Enlightened love is the universal medicine. It is the only permanent remedy for those evils that have their origin in hate, selfishness, and pride.” I contend that this applies to most illnesses. The ultimate treatment must be as Hall says to replace these thought forms with enlightened love, with thought forms of positivity, with an aspiration to become in touch with the Oversoul, to be in touch with the Cosmos, to leave our egos behind and make contact with the Universal Life Force.
Artur Rubinstein was asked, at the age of 90, to what did he attribute his long life and success. He said that at the age of 20, when he was on the point of suicide, he made a resolve that for the rest of his life he would try to bring as much happiness as he could to the rest of mankind. That seems to have worked very well for 70 years.
Let us now turn to consider the role of the doctor. I am frequently asked by other doctors, “How can I best prevent myself becoming drained or depleted by my patients? Why am I so tired at the end of a practice day?” Our best safeguard is our intent. The doctor must keep his ego out of the treatment. He must not say, “This patient must get better to prove how good a doctor I am.” When he sees his role as assisting the healing power, the Archaeus or the Vis Medicatrix Naturae of the patient, when he sees himself as being an agent of God to help the patient evolve, physically, mentally and spiritually from his state of purgatory, then he will always be energized because he is acting not on his own but as an agent of the Cosmos.
This enables us in a humble way, if you like, to be proud of what we do in our work. And it is hard to be proud of the usual medical treatment today. We do so little really deep down to help the patient. And most doctors are aware of this. And depressed about it. But to see ourselves as part of the healing force of the universe, as assisting the healing power of Nature, not through a drug company, but through God, does make us humble – and proud. It also makes us feel very privileged that we have this role, this intermediary role between God and the patient.
We must at all times be centered when we are dealing with our patients. We must begin each day with meditation and try to carry this meditative state through the practice throughout the day. Keeping our eyes on the goal that each minute of the working day we are working for the evolvement, the unfoldment of the patient when sometimes it is our lot to help and many times is not. We must overcome that state of pride that says we should be able to treat everybody. As Paracelsus puts it, we can only treat those that have been sent to us by God. If a patient does not get better, and we have tried as best we can, it is not our fault nor the patient’s fault. The time was not right and we were not the right person. The patient was not sent by God. We cannot treat everybody – certainly we can give drugs to everybody but, in the deep sense, we can’t treat everyone. That is a much too egotistical point of view. When we recognize this we do not have to feel a failure. The patient just was not sent by God.
How far are we to go in trying to help a patient unfold? We meet a resistance, what we might call the patient’s lot, or karma, how far do we go? My general plan is that we keep moving the patient on, moving with his life energy, as strongly as we can, until we meet a resistance, until the patient or the relatives start to become uneasy. Because if we are revitalizing the patient and releasing his energy, things will change and resistances will arise. (And so you have never really helped the patient as much as can be if resistances do not arise.) My response is to back off a little, then come forward again in a slightly different way, increasing the energy, working, helping the patient to unfold. If you come to the same resistance again, then you stop and say to yourself, “The patient was not sent by God.” Or as Ramakrishna used to say, “Not this time, my child.”
There are perhaps two prayers which I feel are most applicable for the doctor doing his work. The first one is from St. Francis, “Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace.” The second one is from Jacob Boehme, “Grant me a cheerful mind to perform Thy wonders.”
The more we work in total with the patient, and that includes touching the patient, as for example in massage, and the more we use natural life-giving, live substances to help the patient, the more respect we will have for the body and its vitality. And the more we have this respect and this wonder, the more we can impart of it to the patient. This greatly helps the patient’s dedication. The dedication that “I want to do for my mind, body and soul all that helps me to evolve and unfold, and not to do those things which do not help me to evolve.” They then see a therapeutic program as a means of unfoldment, or advancement, rather than the imposition of deprivation or hardship or discipline.
It is not a question of what modalities we use in treatment. It is a question of Intent, of Doing The Work. To use our hearts, hands and natural substances, as an agent of God, to raise the vital life forces within the patient.
The doctor must be centered and of good intent. And most importantly, operating from his heart center, from his thymus. If his thymus is open, he is able to give out to the patient.
Now the patient, almost by definition, presents with an underactive thymus. At this stage, the doctor and the patient are on different wavelengths and many difficulties which arise early on in the treatment situation occur because this mis-match is not understood. For example, the doctor may suggest to the patient certain lines of treatment and the patient will argue with the doctor and accuse the doctor of being on a power trip. Now this may sometimes be true, but if the doctor is acting from his heart, with love to the patient, it is often that the patient misinterprets this. The patient himself is operating from a lower energy center, from a power center rather than from a giving, heart center, and interprets this as being a domination attempt on the part of the doctor with consequent dis-harmony between the two of them. If these discrepancies between the two levels are recognized early, then the doctor can proceed to what to me is the first level of treatment – to make the patient into a student.
The difference between a student and a patient is that a patient’s heart center is closed. The patient is not really able to receive helpful, life-giving, Archaeus-stimulating assistance from the doctor and respond appropriately. Quite the contrary with a student. A student comes open and wanting to learn. He comes prepared to receive and to give. He does not come with negative thought forms that have depleted his vital energy. He comes instead with positive thought forms, with positive goals and aspirations, wanting to learn, wanting to evolve. Our role as doctor, as teacher, is to help convert the closed-in patient into the outward-looking, openly giving and receiving student. There are many ways to do this. The most important is to have this as our intent. That whenever we approach a patient, we ask the universal forces of the Cosmos that we be the healing agent to help the revitalization of the patients’ life forces, to dispel the negative thought forms and to open up the patients’ hearts to give and to receive.
Then we can start to be doctors, not to practice medicine, but to be doctors.