It’s been called ‘alternative’ medicine, and generally approached as a possible addition to Western health care, in the best case. I believe, on the contrary, the Western classical health system that is currently dominating the world should be seen within the framework of holistic medicine. If both health systems would unite their knowledge and expertise, it would mean a huge step forward for humanity. For this to happen we need to understand more deeply the roots of both health systems.
The modern-day scientific Western health system is based on a view of isolation between body and mind. One of the people that highly influenced the Western medical system in the 17th century was the French philosopher and mathematician René Descartes (famous for his statement ‘I think therefore I am’). He was one of the people that brought in the idea of the human being as a machine in which the body is separated from the mind (or soul). If the machine isn’t functioning the way it should, thus if disease occurs, an in depth research to the physical cause of the organ’s failure should be done. Disease is considered an outside enemy that attacks an inside body part where an ‘antidote’ should be found for. Out of this vision on health care arose many different kinds of specialised health branches that all deal with curing a separated aspect of the physical body. In the Western health system a disease is approached with a diagnose that deals with a separate aspect of the body. After the diagnose the symptom of disease that occurs in this particular body part should be treated by the specialist of this aspect. A treatment is done with drugs, radiation or surgery, and thus dealing exclusively with the physical body. A connection with other body parts, not even to speak about emotions, mind, or soul is irrelevant and considered absent.
This view of separation of body and mind is ruling the world at this moment, and I believe we lost sight. Specialities that deal with treating symptoms in specific body parts only have their place within a system that approaches the human being, and life in itself, as a holistic being. Holistic medicine looks at the human being as a part of nature instead of a machine, and people are treated accordingly. Within the field of holistic medicine a variety of treatments and techniques are used. To name just a few of them; diet, massage therapy, naturopathy, acupuncture, homeopathy, relationship therapy, psychotherapy, sound therapy, spiritual counseling, meditation etc. With those approaches the therapist or holistic doctor aims to find and transform the root cause of the symptom, instead of treating just the symptom, and aims to support the patient in taking responsibility of their own natural health and happiness. The holistic view includes drugs and surgery (thus treating the symptom), but only in severe cases, and only in addition to treating the root of the disease or imbalance.
Within the word ‘holistic’ we can trace the word ‘whole’. Here I’ll explain 3 basic principles on the holistic nature of the human being and life itself.
1. A human being is the whole of the physical body, energetic body, emotions, mind and soul.
Because René Descartes believed there is nothing beyond the rational mind, he created a system based on separation. After all, the ability to separate is the quality of the rational mind, that can be at our service. It enables us to distinguish what is good or bad for us, or which scientific experiment is working and which isn’t. This is an important human ability, but there is more. The vision of the East shows us there is much more. By sitting still and withdrawing the attention inward, meditation can be found. This is not a philosophical idea that can be created or argued about. Meditation is an experience of the state of being that lies beyond the mind. It’s rare to find a Western philosopher who actually went there, and therefore they are until this day trying to convince the other of their right philosophical view on life. Once meditation is reached, separation crumbles down, and a collective all-pervading universal truth is experienced. A direct experience of the law of the universe takes place within oneself. Those who come out of meditation and share experience, find common ground.
From this place one can observe the interconnectedness of all aspects of a human being. The physical body is interrelated with energy channels (called nadi’s in the Indian health system, or meridians in Chinese medicine), that are inseparable from emotions, mind and soul. When a change occurs in one of those spheres, it will influence all of the other spheres. Let’s say you are thinking ‘I love my body’, you will instantly respond with a specific emotion, and instantly your body will react to it as well in a certain way. Or let’s start from the other end with another example: you’re eating a hamburger. After your body received this dish your emotions will react to it and you’ll have thoughts that correspond with the emotional state. Those emotions and thoughts are likely to be of a different kind after having consumed a fresh organic salad. Thus everything we experience in life – from food to relationships, to work or meditation – has influence on all of the layers of our human system, and should be considered in holistic health care.
We are not just a mechanical physical body, having a rational mind that is subject to it and is being generated by mechanical functions of the brain. On the contrary, our physical body is subject to our mind and soul. It is the outer and most dense layer of our holistic being. The physical body is the very end result of what we feel, think and believe. Beyond our belief systems there is the layer of the soul, that can be experienced as ‘pure being’. It is from this layer that a holistic view on the human system can be perceived. Therefore cultivation of silence (meditation) is essential for sustainable holistic health and happiness.
2. A human being is interconnected with the whole of existence.
Not only are we human beings individual holistic systems in which all internal spheres are interrelated, the whole of existence is a holistic system. As human individuals we are a tiny little part of this holistic macrocosm, which could be seen as a gigantic web. There is no single living creature that is outside of this web. Therefore every single being on planet earth and within the universe is connected to you. Every single human being, animal, plant, stone, insect, virus or energetic being is related to you through the subtle energetic web that underlies all of existence. If one being on the other side of the planet is harmed it has an influence on you, although it might be way too subtle for you to be aware of all that (thank God, we would become mad). If that same being is being deeply loved soon after that, it has an influence on you too.
There is a natural universal force that is trying to find harmony in every living system. If harmony within your holistic human system is being disturbed, the universal force is working for you and giving situations that could restore that harmony, and therefore create an even better, more beautiful state and situation than it was before. Let’s say you are living in a very unhealthy condition by running from here to there, which gives you a tremendous amount of stress. This is an ideal situation for the universal force to give you a chance to rebalance your system. This could be done by letting a virus enter your body, which forces you to stop running for a while, sit still and turn your attention towards selfcare. In this way all forces and creatures within the universe are collaborating to create and sustain or return to harmony. All creatures, including viruses, are our relatives in this web of life.
By nature the human being has no enemies, but one; his own mind. The rational mind covers up the vastness of the soul, as clouds cover the open sky. The belief that there are enemies and things are separated from each other is the creation of the mind only. It is the core belief in separation, that we human beings all carry with us, that is responsible for any kind of pain, discomfort and disease.
3. A human being is already whole by nature.
At the root of all disease lies a fundamental split of the mind. It is a contradictory belief in which there is ‘me’ and ‘the other’. Out of this split arise negative emotions, a disturbed energetic system and eventually physical pain or disease.
Without this self-created phantom there is just a holistic human being that is healthy by nature. One of the fundamental qualities of the (human) soul is health. The soul of every single (human) being is the source of true health. One who is in contact with the soul, and thus is able to penetrate his own mind, has found the fountain of true, sustainable health. Out of this connection clarity in how one should think, speak, eat or act is gained.
I believe the integration of these 3 principles within our current vision on health would mean a revolution in health care and the way we approach disease in general. Western medicine could melt together with those principles and find a place within this broader view on life. ‘Alternative’ medicine really is a misplaced label, once its in depth vision in health and life in general is properly understood. I believe it is time for a global transcendence of our vision on health. There is no enemy to be fought, there are connections to be made. There is no machine to be fixed, but a natural harmony to be rediscovered. Let’s grow together in sustainable health and happiness.