I got interested in health and healing four years ago when I had a chronic back problem. The more I learned, the more I realized I knew practically nothing. All the theories, whether allopathic or Bach flower remedies, seemed to be patchwork, even though they all work on some level or another.
Top medical scientists today often share my confusion. “It is only recently that we have come to realize that we do not know the cause of diabetes mellitus, . . . or arteriosclerosis, coronary thrombosis and cancer . . . in concluding this brief discussion of the causes of disease, we confess that our ignorance of the subject exceeds our understanding.” (W. Boyd, A Textbook of Pathology.)
Why turn over control of our important bodily functions from an infinite inner wisdom that perfectly controls 25 quadrillion cells in every function every second of the day, to our educated intelligence that has a hard time remembering a telephone number?
I finally realized that intellectual understanding is inadequate when it comes to health. Why such pessimism? Because inside our bodies there is just as much of an infinite universe as is suggested by the heavens outside. Asserting that some simplistic structure accounts for that inner universe makes no more sense than the intellectual structures with which man has sought to explain the universe outside himself (Copernicus, Galileo, Einstein). As our knowledge has increased, we have had to continually change our theories, often diametrically opposite to the preceding accepted theory. This continual change has surely been the case as long as man has tried to understand nature. Today, however, we have developed effective instruments and facilities to change our bodily structures and functions. But our changes are based on this incomplete and often inadequate knowledge of how our body works. Now, this can be tricky business, because we never really know for sure what is going on inside ourselves and every time we alter some structure and function, the body has to readapt every other part and function.
Ouspensky’s work exemplifies this problem: “Change under ordinary conditions is impossible because in wanting to change something a man wants to change this one thing only. But everything in this machine is interconnected in every function or by a whole series of other functions, although we are not aware of this interconnection of the various functions within ourselves.
“The machine is balanced in all its details at every moment of its activities. If a man observes in himself something he dislikes and begins making efforts to alter, he may succeed in obtaining a certain result. But together with this result, he will inevitably obtain another result, which he did not in the least suspect or desire. By trying to destroy and annihilate everything that he dislikes, he upsets the balance of the machine. The machine strives to re-establish the balance and re-establishes it by creating a new function which the man could not have foreseen. For example, a man may observe he is absent-minded, and if he is sufficiently methodical and determined, after a time he may overcome his absent-mindedness. This he will notice, but there is something else that he does not notice, he has grown irritable, pedantic, fault-finding, and disagreeable.” (P. Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous.)
One may ask if this concept is true in a physical as well as a mental sense. The distinction between the two exists only in our mind. “There is no neurotic problem that does not manifest itself in every aspect of an individual’s functioning.” (Lowen, “The Diagnosis of Personality from the Body,” Mental Health and Chiropractic.)
Psychic disturbances have their root in the somatic realm. (W. Reich, Character Analysis.) Consider that someone may have an unknown, low-grade infection of the kidneys which the body is combating by increasing the blood flow to that area. Thus, the overall blood pressure is raised along with mobilization of the body’s natural immunity system. The person feels uncomfortable, thus goes to a doctor and gets medication to reduce the blood pressure. The blood pressure is chemically forced down, which halts the body’s attempt to fight the infection. Someone ends up with a full-fledged kidney infection.
As often, the result is a worse problem than when we started. “Old diseases are passing away as the result of the assault of modern therapy, but new ones are continually taking their place . . . If we continually interfere with nature we must pay the penalty.” (W. Boyd, A Textbook of Pathology.)
Hippocrates once said, “If we can do no good, we should do no harm.” What alternatives do we have? First, we need to re-examine our concept of health. Orlando’s medical dictionary provides a good one: “Health is man’s ability to adapt mentally, physically, and spiritually to his environment, not necessarily the absence or presence of diseases.” (W.A. Orlando, Illustrated Medical Dictionary.) This necessitates relearning that pain is a valuable signal of stress in that adaptation process and thus if one removes the pain, he is only removing the signal of that stress. The body is built with complex, interconnected systems that depend on feedback in order to maintain a balance. Pain is one of those signals that helps the body regain balance with its environment. Thus, destroying pain offsets the whole system; for example, taking pain killers for a bad back, which blocks those signals, allowing a person to do damage to themselves without knowing it.
A pathogenic organism comes into our internal environment and our bodies immediately start the fight (temperature up, heartbeat up, malaise, diarrhea, vomiting). This beautiful process of self-protection depends on being used or it will not develop fully. It’s important for our bodies to fight off bacteria, in order for our immunity systems to build the resources to fight future organisms. If we continually use antibiotics to destroy or halt infections, our bodies lose the strength to fight infections on their own. Basically, we may be trading our natural immunity system for the drug cartel’s industrialized chemical answer to germs. Why turn over control of our important bodily functions from an infinite inner wisdom that perfectly controls 25 quadrillion cells in every function every second of the day, to our educated intelligence that has a hard time remembering a telephone number?
Alternative health care, from herbs to acupressure, signal our current need to rediscover ourselves in a more basic, holistic way. We appear to be moving with some kind of spiritual progression away from a more specialized, fragmented concept of health to a more personally responsible, holistic concept. At some point in the movement from external to internal modes of care, a certain realization happens which has a strong, liberating effect. The simple realization that our bodies are complete in themselves and that what is needed for their optimum care is to learn to recognize, respond and trust the very wisdom that has been running them all along. This means with as few obstructions to our natural flow of energy as possible.
But can a person really depend on this when sick? Of course, there are times when chemotherapy and surgery are needed. The point is to get oneself in optimum balance so this situation does not occur. Is this realistic? Answer that by asking yourself this question: Do you have more faith in a knife or spoonful of medicine than the power and wisdom that animates the living world?
Sometimes it is impossible for this simple truth to penetrate our complex minds. We have been brought up with so many fears, feelings of inadequateness and incompleteness. However, the very truth of this idea lives on in the healthiest people in the world (Hunzas, Georgia Russians, past American Indians). Our obsession with jumbo jets and skyscrapers takes away from our ability to appreciate the subtle miracle of life, taking place within us every second.