Modern Medicine and the “Dharmic” Doctor
Fuente: New Paradigm Journal
The Sanskrit term “dharma” is the essence of what something or someone is supposed to do or exist according to their true innate nature. Thus the dharma of the sun is to give light and warmth without effectively expecting anything in return. Likewise, the tree offers fruit and shade without any expectations, and animals act out their dharmic lives according to their nature. Only man has become adharmic or lacking in dharma, due to his deluded state where the mind and ego have been permitted an unwarranted authority that has subjugated our dharmic or spiritual nature. This aspect has also pervaded western or allopathic medicine where there is plenty of scope for ego to enjoy power, prestige and of course, profit.
Health is not just an absence of disease. It is the presence of spiritual, mental and physical well-being and the skill of the dharmic doctor would not only involve all of these levels of healing but would also include an awareness of their specific relevance to healing. Notwithstanding the triumphs of modern allopathic science, it is a sad but obvious fact that treating disease has become a sickness industry with many doctors essentially trained to practice what an American pathologist called N2D2 medicine i.e.
Name of Disease = Name of Drug. The patient is relegated to being a client and a source of income. As a result, my profession is facing the embarrassment and indeed shame of now being the leading cause of death in America and well ahead of heart and cancer diseases.
What can a doctor do in the face of all this commercialisation of human disease? A human being is not just a collection of body parts to be fixed or replaced but our concentration on the body has imposed restrictions that could prevent us from really helping our patients. Biological tissues receive and transmit vibrations and these barely understood resonances causing physical distortions can originate at very subtle mental and even etherial levels. Where has the art of medicine gone when western doctors, wishing to use safe, cheaper and effective but unapproved or “unscientific” therapies, risk professional attack and loss of license from medical board members with vested interests in other technologies? Furthermore, our western allopathic scientific medicine has had an embarrassing habit of changing every 10-20 years, as surgical and medical fashions change even from country to country. In contrast to these trends, traditional but unpatentable forms of healing have continued for centuries or even millennia.
Doctors have a perfect opportunity to do loving service. At a 1993 Cardiology Conference in Puttaparthi, India, the Avatar Sri Sai Baba addressing the assembled doctors, said “You should be courteous and well-mannered.” However, how often has medicine just become a business where every “client” is seen across a desk, briefly questioned for five minutes, given a drug prescription and then shown the door? How many patients do we actually touch? How many do we really listen to in the haste to get finished?
How many times has a patient given us a hug? How many times, if ever, has a small child been lifted up onto our laps to be examined? Notably, the latter would not have been regarded as unusual just 50 years ago. Would we even be able to continue to practice medicine if the all-too-convenient supply of petrochemical drugs were to suddenly stop? Homoeopaths, herbalists, acupuncturists and hands-on naturopaths would still be able to help and many patients are already choosing their skills and non-toxic remedies. We do not need double-blind placebo-controlled studies to find out what works. Sri Sai Baba also said: “Take time to sit by the patient as you would sit by your brother. Hold the patient by the hand and look into his eyes with compassion.” What beautiful simple instructions. Is a little compassion so difficult or so time-consuming? How rarely is even the essence of these simple but very profound instructions applied to current western medical practice with the emphasis on a 5-10 minute consultation, intelligent guesses called differential diagnoses, and tests to see if there’s anything wrong with their part of the “car-case.” Even the British Medical Journal (Jan 2006) has published a study that confirmed that patients responded most to doctors who actually smiled!
The actual dying process can also be a time of intense loneliness and fear especially in the all-too-often impersonal hospital environment. Sogyal Rinpoche writes in the Tibetan Book on Living and Dying about a young doctor who had just graduated in London. There were five deaths on her first day in the ward and nothing had prepared her for this. She saw an old man lying in bed staring at the wall with no family or friend to visit him. When she went over to him he asked her with tears in his eyes, “Do you think God will ever forgive me for my sins?” She had no idea what to say as her medical training had left her completely unprepared for this and there was no chaplain available to help. She just stood there paralysed as I and probably most of my colleagues would also have been at that stage in our careers.
This doctor later asked Sogyal what he would have done and he told her that he would have just sat by the bed, held the old man’s hand whilst letting him talk and giving total compassionate attention. Sogyal continues by writing that he would say to the man, “Forgiveness already exists in the nature of God, it is already there. God has already forgiven you, for God is forgiveness itself. But can you forgive yourself? That is the question.” “Your feeling of being unforgiven and unforgivable is what makes you suffer but it only exists in your heart or mind. Haven’t you read how in some near-death experiences a great golden presence of light arrives that is all-forgiving? And it is often said that it is finally we who judge ourselves.”
Sogyal recommended asking for purification to clear any guilt, to forgive everyone else in your life and to ask for forgiveness from anyone you have harmed. Two very good friends met Sogyal in London some time ago and during his discourse he humorously said, “People worry about dying. Know that you will all be very successful.”
Possibly because a fix it or replace it mentality has pervaded medical training, patients increasingly seek help from naturopaths who, at the very least, can take the time to hold the patient’s hand and look into their eyes with compassion. This role is also taught to chaplains where the achievement of holistic care, not only involves every patient being treated as a physical, social, emotional and spiritual being, but also moves beyond psychotherapy and attentive listening to the language of forgiveness, love and hope.
However, before attempting to communicate on a spiritual level, both chaplains and doctors inevitably have to confront their own spirituality and mortality with questions of, “Who am I? Where am I going?” or indeed, “Why am I?” Similar questions are also likely to be raised by the patient questioning why they have been given cancer, and an ability to discuss them is obviously a prerequisite to being able to assist them.
As the Rev. Noel Due pointed out, “… as soon as there is any question, in the course of treatment, of the patient’s attitude to himself or others, towards life and towards God, we have left the technical sphere for that of morality and metaphysics. The doctor at that point is no longer engaged in psychotherapy (or palliative care), but in soul-healing.”
Peter, a retired police inspector, survived an all-important 7 months after nearly dying during the first week after I met him. The local hospice had asked if I would help him through the last stages of his cancer. We gently embarked on a spiritual journey during numerous evenings together when I would visit him after work. His final few days were peaceful and he had a “good” death. However, a month before that time, he told me something quite remarkable. He started by telling me that a friend of his had recently dropped down dead on the golf course and friends had commented on how lucky he had been. Peter then went on to say that he didn’t agree as given the chance, he would not have changed places as his illness had enabled him to discover so much about life and death. He no longer feared death and was even looking forward to seeing what was going to happen! The doctor thus has an opportunity to be both a guide and teacher, and indeed, “docere”, to teach, is the Latin derivation of our profession.
Many people and pastors and of course doctors who think that MD means Minor Deity do not really know who they are. There is the person we think we are, there’s the one other people think we are and then there’s the one we really are, namely pure ongoing spirit temporarily encased in a vehicle or physical body.
Notably, Cheryl Canfield writes in “Profound Healing,” “When we see ourselves from the perspective of ongoing spirit, we have less attachment to the survival of our bodies; paradoxically, as we get our lives into harmony with universal love, we have more energy available to heal our bodies. When we embark on this spiritual journey, however, whether we heal our bodies or make the transition and let our bodies go, is not what matters. What matters is how we use the life we are given this very moment.”
There is now more than enough robust evidence from the many tens of thousands of people who have had Near Death Experiences (NDE) let alone the evidence of past lives from Professors Stevenson, Weiss, Haraldsson, Banerjee and others following in their footsteps, to confirm an ongoing consciousness after death and a subsequent return into an appropriate and chosen body. Indeed, Marty, one of Professor Ring’s NDErs, summed up what he was meant to bring back and share with the world with: “Loving and caring for others are the most important things that we can do as human beings on this earth. An ultimate and loving God does exist and we must search for truth and deal with each other honestly.” Another time during one of Professor Ring’s classes, a student asked Virginia, a middle-aged mother who had shared her NDE with them, how he himself could have such a wonderful experience and Virginia replied, “Love others” (even though we might not actually approve of their behaviour!).
Having been given this unique chance to serve, we therefore need to appreciate those patients who, by still believing in us, give us the opportunity to help both of the indwellers on their journey and whilst we may be overworked and tired out, a little loving compassion goes a long way.