I am not a physician. I am what might
be called a medical philosopher and counselor. My interest
in holistic medicine began less as a rejection of allopathic
medicine than a deep yearning for harmlessness, wholesomeness,
and harmony. As time went on, I did become concerned that
material medicine tends to ignore the issues faced
by the person who is sick and sufferingand I did, in
fact, reach the point in my own personal life that I was
no longer interested in the technical prowess that operates
at the expense of the larger picture. I have often asked
myself what I would do if I were the patient rather than
the person patients consult when they are ill. My first answer
has usually been, "I would sit under a tree."Over
the years, there have been those who understood me perfectly
and those who did not. Many patients said, "You'd do
nothing!" My response is that sitting under a tree is
not doing nothing. It is an admission that when we are lost,
there is no point in going forward.
When faced with a critical illness,
there is a red flag on the game of life. We know that if
we continue as if all were fine, the patterns that
led to our crisis will go unchecked. The outcome, in such
instances, would probably be death. So, I would sit under
a tree until I came to know what my life is all about. A
few patients have immediately understood that this is the
study undertaken while sitting.
Trees are wonderful companions. They
tend to encourage us to look up into the Sky and down into
the Earth, to appreciate the wind and the rain and to forge
a feeling of being connected, of being one with life. While
we have much to learn from trees,
life is actually about living our Creator's Plan, and
since this is something we probably did not learn in school,
we often have to set aside time for the lesson later in
lifewhen the stakes are high.
I have some academic credentials,
but to me they are not very meaningful. I majored in Asian
Studies at the East-West Center of the University of Hawaii.
At that time, I was, as now, interested in philosophy and
in cultures different from my own; but the most important
experience of my entire undergraduate days was a brief acquaintance
with the famous Suzuki-sensei who taught me to recognize
my own mind, where it was focused, and how that affected
my concentration and awareness.
I went on to graduate school
at Yale University, left with a master's degree before my
right brain was permanently damaged by studies that to me
seemed deeply separated from reality. The obsession with
this schism became,
over the decades since Yale, a major source of disquiet for
me as I could see how the heart and soul are often as not
left out of the major activities of our lives. How we make
our livings, how we prioritize our spare time, and even how
we relate to the important others in our lives are often
viewed as separate from what feels good and even relevant.
Knowledge versus Knowing
In my book,
I refer to this as the tyranny of "mind over matter," and
I suspect it operates against genuine healing. We are led to
believe that we ought to appreciate treatments that are painful,
that cause us to vomit, and that make our hair fall out because
they are destroying a life threatening growth. Numbed into
submission by fear and argumentsand coerced into treatments
that torture the body more than the illness itselfwe ignore
our deeper and truer selves. The loss of personal integrity
that attends such denial of one half of our being is important
and, in my opinion, often more life threatening than cancer.
I have sometimes remarked to
patients that we do not really know anything about life and
death. The soul creates life, and the soul takes it away. I
therefore try, in my consultations, to awaken a sense of who
this soul is. My idea is that if I can facilitate an awareness
similar to that reported by people who have had near death
experiences, the patient will heal naturally without dependency
on modalities that hurt and maim. If I were wrong about this,
there would be no cases of spontaneous remission to challenge
skeptics. The question is simply: Can such experiences be safely
generated on a large scale or are they always highly individualistic?
They are, of course, as unique as the persons who have them,
but they touch the hearts and lives of people in all nations
and of all walks of life. They are therefore as universal as
the sun and stars.
I went on to create an entire
system of healing, based in part on astrology but
also on the more esoteric components of our psyche. In 1987,
I was awarded a doctorate of medicine in Copenhagen (from Medicina
Alternativa). Grateful for the acknowledgment, I accepted the
degree but am quick to point out that I did not attend medical
school. The award was based on my contributions to the broader
field of healing, not mastery of a conventional curriculum.
In 1995, I was awarded a second doctorate for my work on escharotic
treatments of cancer. This award was given by the Open International
University in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Again, I felt honored by
the recognition, a doctorate of science, despite the fact that
I consider myself to be more a mystic than a scientist.
For me, the book has
been more of an ethnobotanical study than a medical study.
I was intrigued by the history of medicine, by the suppression
of botanical medicine, first by the Inquisition and later by
people whose minds are closed because of their "science." I
was heartened by the fact that an isolated individual, such
as Constantine Rafinesque,
spent years with medicine men of the Bayou when fashion would
have dictated that he spend his time otherwise.
I was even more deeply touched
that a people so persecuted and mistreated by invaders from
the other side of the Atlantic gave to those same colonists
the keys to survival. I have never seen such an injustice repaid
with such generosity, and it is for such reasons that I have
been unable to be silent about a treatment that offers so much
for so many.