The Once and Future Medicine

by Alan Donant

Bright green shoots of a new era of medicine are discernible, but these may well have sprung from ancient granaries. When branches of science such as physics can discover a new world vision remarkably similar to arcane tradition (cf. Fritjof Capra, The Tao of Physics; Gary Zukav, The Dancing Wu Li Masters; and H. P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine), isn't it logical that we can expect such re-discoveries to change our entire outlook on healing? If so, then a revolution is in the making which will alter the all-too comfortable reductionist and mechanical view of disease and health. However, this will come only when a new philosophy about life, its origin, and its evolution has made a clear impression upon the scientific minds of the day. No longer may scientists continue in selective ignorance caused by self-imposed boundaries. The future of the healing arts lies in an active curiosity, an open mind, and a love of discovery in which information, ancient and modern, will serve as a stimulus toward seeking ever greater truth.

Today's medicine and some of its attending sciences, biology in particular, have lagged behind in significant discovery. Evidence for the power of mind to affect the outcome of an experiment is of consequence to the medical practitioner. Further, the breakthrough thinking of present-day scientists on consciousness as a fundamental of the universe, and not a biological effect, are most significant as we take a look at a once and future medicine.

How far back must we search to find the origins of the art of healing? Three hundred years, one thousand years? Hippocrates, referred to as "the father of medicine" (460?-370? BC), had been taught in the Mystery schools, and only by accident did a portion of his writings appear in public. Where then is the origin of the Mysteries in which the healing arts were taught? Traditionally they were held to have been brought to humanity by the gods. The earliest physicians (who accepted no pay) were spiritual leaders not only because they knew more than the common man, but because these early scientists were keenly aware of the role of philosophy and religion in understanding the nature of the universe and the principles of life. They are, after all, examining the same universe. Today the separation of these viewpoints has produced reactionary denials that allow no room for the light of truth. Yet, through all this come the penetrating insights of such individuals as William James, Alfred Russel Wallace, Henri Bergson, Arthur Eddington, James Jeans, Teilhard de Chardin, Albert Einstein, and others. Great minds focused upon discovery, tapping into "those floating reminiscences, obscure and vague, which unite the broken links of the chain of time to form with them the mysterious, dream foundation of our collective consciousness." (H. P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, 2:293)

Certain fundamentals pertinent to the curative arts are found worldwide:

1. All that exists, whether seen or unseen, is alive;
2. The universe goes through periods of rest and activity in which body, mind, and spirit evolve eternally;
3. All lives come from and remain linked with the One unmanifest, unnameable because truly infinite, Source.

No matter where found or how practiced the art and science of healing can be enriched by these basic concepts.

After 2,500+ years of testing, refining, and successful practice it is hardly fair to say that Chinese medicine is an anomaly; however, from the perspective of Western thinking this is so. Yet this ancient science has constructed a Unified Theory of Medicine that integrates these basic aspects, Three patients with the same symptoms would, from a Western physician, probably receive the same treatment. From the Chinese practitioner all three may well receive three different treatments, as all three are different individuals with varying flows of energies affecting their different life functions. To him the individual is not a "broken body" in need of "repair," but rather an imbalanced portion of the cosmos in need of restoration. The important point is that there are alternative means of restoring health. If research centered around this idea, rather than each school attempting to prove its superiority, all mankind would benefit.

If vastly differing systems of healing work, systems which have no apparent relationship to one another in their world views, then we may draw a few conclusions:

1. We don't understand the total picture of healing;
2. Perhaps healers are healers when using a system appropriate to their own nature (dharma) and when that method coincides with the patient's nature;
3. We do not understand consciousness, hence neither our world nor ourselves.

Research is revealing that the mind affects the body and that consciousness is not a by-product of the physical and biological entity, man. The existence of Eastern and Western medicine suggests that healing, in part, may not be so much a process of administering therapy as a matter of how the therapy is administered and accepted. The body/mind/consciousness of patient and healer must be in synchrony. It may not be the medicine, but the flow of consciousness given and received, that heals. Doctors have long noted the power of the mind to heal, in the effects of the placebo as well as the patient's "will to live."

It is clear that ideas from antiquity are not necessarily antiquated. Hippocrates suggested that intuition must never be disdained. Paracelsus, German alchemist and physician (1493-1541), felt that the physician must go beyond his learning and prestige and seek to work with nature and not become her obstacle. It may safely be stated that the knowledge we have gained today, and are presently discovering, will unlock the doors of future healing by illuminating the concepts enunciated thousands of years ago and long hidden by prejudice and pride.

It must be acknowledged that present-day medicine has achieved wonders in technology. The X-ray (a rather mixed blessing) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) have given the physician "eyes" where he could not see before. In alleviating pain and suffering and in understanding the chemical makeup of man few would question its progress. But diseases have been temporarily eradicated by the use of pharmacological advances at what price? The lack of complete knowledge of the nature of health and disease has led to many erroneous conclusions.

As recently as a decade ago it was widely believed that infectious disease was no longer much of a threat in the developed world. The remaining challenges to public health there, it was thought, stemmed from noninfectious conditions such as cancer, heart disease and degenerative diseases. That confidence was shattered in the early 1980s by the advent of AIDS. -- Robert C. Gallo and Luc Montagnier, co-discoverers of the AIDS virus, Scientific American (259:4) p. 41, October 1988.

We are perhaps quite a way from understanding the inner and invisible currents which play as much a part in disease as they do in health. But one must ask the question: How many must suffer before we learn to explore all avenues of knowledge, regardless of the pain of bruised egos? Surely a system that concentrates on disease loses its bearing. It tends to dehumanize patients, seeing them as broken machinery; and it tortures other living beings -- animals -- by inflicting infirmity and pain by barbaric means. In the long run a price will be paid. What are the answers then? Perhaps first we need to redirect our attention to health, not disease. Can we learn just as much -- more -- by observing laboratory animals at the peak of their vitality and radiant health? Every possibility must be examined. What of the volumes of scientific information available from the distant past of Greece, the Americas, ancient India, and the more recent alchemists of Europe? What are we afraid of? The billions of dollars spent on cancer have yielded relatively small rewards when compared to a field like electronics where the same amount of money has revolutionized a world!

The various avenues being explored by alternative medicine are noteworthy but must be tempered with a healthy regard for the holistic view held in ancient times, otherwise we may venture blindfolded into avenues of unknown and possibly perilous consequences. One of the more significant avenues of exploration is the power of the mind to restore health. This has been demonstrated on rare occasions, even in the most "impossible" cases of cancer. The early work of the Simontons (0. Carl Simonton, M.D., Stephanie Matthews-Simonton, James Creighton, Getting Well Again, 1978) and the popularizing of further work in the field by Bernie Siegel, M.D. (Love, Medicine, and Miracles, 1986) deserve careful study. Without doubt instances of true healing do occur where "wholeness" or health has been restored from within, but suppression of symptoms does not necessarily mean health. If the power of the mind, by denying reality, forces symptoms to disappear by pushing a disease back into the unseen nature from whence it came, then in putting off the disease, we risk having it return later with a vengeance. Better to suffer as we do now than invite greater suffering from misuse, even unconscious, of the potent forces of nature which yield both life and death. It is in working with nature to lead the disease out of the body that the hope of the future lies.

So many today are experimenting with gemstones and crystals that some caution should be sounded. Here again it is the power of the mind at work. If the operator has blindly stumbled onto the healing wonders of gems, his/her patient should be aware that astral forces may be channeled through those gems into the patient's body -- and the astral forces could be those of the healer, or from a less desirable source. The purity of the healer and the spiritual discrimination of the patient are of utmost importance.

In the area of homeopathy, as in the use of pharmaceuticals, a misdiagnosis or an inappropriate choice, or poor timing, either has no effect or could lead to further complications. Based on the ideal that all things are life-sustaining and life-altering, a homeopathic remedy, producing the same symptoms as the disease, is given in barely traceable dosages. I don't know that anyone fully understands why this works, but it has been amply demonstrated. Paracelsus earlier suggested that strong remedies could be made by reducing the material aspect of the curative to negligible proportions while maintaining its inner structure; it was the inner or astral structure which caused the healing. Perhaps this is a clue to the effectiveness of homeopathy. Dr. Hahnemann, German physician and founder of homeopathy (1755-1843), has given a most significant tool to modern healing. Though not yet recognized as such, homeopathy can be used in conjunction with present technological medicine to great advantage -- the two are not antipathetic.

The explorations of the body's electrical forces, suggesting that all our tissues are part of a vast electrical system, may open the way further to old medical science in a new world. This discovery by Björn Nordenström, M.D., is still relatively unknown, due in part to the complexity of the theory and in part to his choice to work alone until late 1988. Dr. Nordenström is recognized internationally as a brilliant pioneer in diagnostic radiology. In the 1960s he became Chief of Diagnostic Radiology at the world-renowned Karolinska Hospital in Sweden, and in 1985 he served as chairman of the Nobel Prize committee for medicine. Today he pioneers research into biologically closed electrical circuits. He contends, and in a small number of "impossible" cases has shown, that the manipulation of the currents can kill cancer tumors. His explorations, recently begun on large numbers of patients, may help us understand the pranas or life-breaths of the body, and Chinese medicine as well. (Cf. "Electrifying Possibilities," transcript CBS News 20/20, October 21, 1988.)

Paracelsus was renowned for his remarkable cures and, according to Franz Hartmann, M.D., he traced diseases to both visible and invisible causes which may be summarized as follows:

1. Diseases that are caused by astral influences acting upon the astral body of man, and re-acting upon his body. 2. Diseases that are caused by impurities, poisonous substances, and internal obstructions. 3. Diseases caused by the abnormal state of physiological functions, caused by the misuse of organs or by injurious influences. 4. Diseases originating from psychological causes, such as desires and passions and vices, and from a morbid imagination. 5. Diseases that have their origin in spiritual causes (tendencies) created (in former lives) by a disobedience to the law of God (Karma). But the origin of some particular disease may be not in only one of these causes, but in two or more of them, . . . -- The Life of Paracelsus, p. 144

It becomes evident that each individual is responsible for the health of himself and indirectly of others. Clearly, through the power of mind we cause the diseases that come our way and, since all lives are linked together, habits of mind play themselves out on the physical body while habits of a culture play themselves out upon the globe.

In short, there are several guidelines for the medicine of the future. First, everything is alive and evolving, and hence our emphasis should be on life and health rather than disease. Second, the interplay of attraction and repulsion within the human organism is a key to restoring the balance of life currents running through the patient and the means by which a disease may be expelled from the body. The powers of magnetism may be used to divert the flow of energies presently inimical to man away from or out of the body, rather than repressing them and inviting problems later in this life or another.

In future medicine people will know how to use will, imagination, and intuition wisely so as to harmonize their pranic energies. To accomplish this, society as a whole will have to change: we must hold it a disease to focus upon material improvements at the sacrifice of health of body, soul, and spirit; we must view disease without prejudice, fear -- not as the whim of an all-vengeful God punishing his/her creation, but rather as another manifestation in nature of the ever-fluent force of life.

Though it may sound over-used it remains true: through love, vision, and faith in the inherent power in man there is nothing we cannot achieve. Whatever the future will bring to the healing arts we must never close our minds nor our hearts, for our minds are the link with all knowledge and our hearts the source of the power to heal.

(From Sunrise magazine, April/May 1989; copyright © by Theosophical University Press)

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