Invoking the Sacred

 

We can all agree that Medicine is not what is used to be.  Public opinion has replaced scientific evidence, and in the current medical system, even science is not given the regard that is expected.  If it was, the traditional health care system would pay attention to the scientific evidence accumulated over decades, about the effects of food and lifestyle on many disease we suffer from today, including cancer, heart, and autoimmune diseases. The causal connection between gut flora and autoimmune diseases, dementia and mood disorders is still ignored and not clinically applied.  If the current medical system had any desire to grow and evolve with scientific evidence to benefit its patients, it would have transformed into a system committed to healing, not simply managing disease.  This would require expanding its context of how to view health and illness. It would need to pay attention to patients and their stories and explore their biographies.  This kind of more evolved system would value the relationship between physician and patient and change its fear based personality and vocabulary into an empowering one.  This is truly what the vocation of Medicine was meant to be.  In fact, expanding the context of approaching health and healing, illness and disease to further the healing of patients is required for the current system to survive.  It has moved so far away from its true vocation that burnout amongst physicians [1], [2], [3] and mistrust amongst patients has made the system sick. The lack of attention to the sacred is at the heart of this illness.  This is a kind of ‘heart disease’ of the system that has become chronic. The practice of medicine in corporate health care has separated from its true purpose.  A system that stagnates in this way and does not grow is termed a ‘closed system’.  In a closed system, there is resistance to growth, exploration, creativity, and wisdom.  The ‘status quo’ is maintained at all costs by recycling information through the same filter.  In the case of traditional medicine, that filter is disease management and quarterly profits.

A closed system does not have room for the sacred.  It squeezes it out of its modus and marches on with justifications for its course.  Actually, in health care today, the bottom line has replaced the sacred.  It has marginalized and amputated it out of the practice of medicine.  

The East offers a perspective that views wholeness as a complete circle.  The circle consists of two halves, Yin and Yang, dark and light, the Feminine and Masculine principles [4].  These are not related to gender but to qualities and characteristics with which we all function.  Both are present in each one of us. The Feminine Principle encompasses the realm of process, feeling, healing, being, listening, receiving, nurturing, nourishing, incubation, collaboration, non-rational, dreaming, imagination, mysterious, the sacred, and the cycles of nature.  The Masculine Principle is the realm of product, mental, fixing, doing, penetrating, competing, rational, and evident.  Emphasizing one more than the other creates imbalance.  Living from both restores wholeness.  Society glorifies the Masculine Principle over the Feminine.  We are rewarded for behaving from those characteristics.  The Feminine qualities are marginalized and not valued.  This is especially true in our medical system.  Our medical system is not whole.

Some of the symptoms of devaluing the Feminine Principle in society are burnout, stress, anxiety, ADD, depression, and a lack of meaning.  When we ignore the sacred, we feel a void, a scarcity, and compensate with materialism.  Our society has normalized this.  Our school curriculums cut funding for art and music (the Feminine Principle).  Our ‘health care’ system cuts into the doctor patient relationship (Feminine Principle). It is clear we value productivity or the bottom line (Masculine Principle), more than creativity, imagination, health, and relationship (Feminine Principle).  Nature also belongs in the realm of the Feminine Principle.  We are spending less time in nature than ever before.  We ignore and discount its wisdom.  When we separate from nature, we separate from our true nature.  We separate from the sacred.  We stop honoring the cycles of life, transformation, the life/death/life cycle, and live linearly.  In fact, we fear these cycles and try to suppress them.  Our medical system participates in this with many of the medications prescribed to suppress cycles, feelings, and signals from our true nature that we are not whole. The sacred is not even considered as important in our current fast paced and high tech world. This too has been normalized.  

I feel that most of the symptoms we suffer from today are a result of this separation from the sacred Feminine.  We no longer live in a sacred relationship with ourselves or each other.  This is the leading cause of mood disorders and unhealthy lifestyle choices.  These choices are driven unconsciously to compensate for this void.  Many of our chronic health issues are a direct result these compensations.  We eat more sugar, processed and fast foods and are disconnected from our feelings of fullness.  We are mostly in a trance and disconnected from our bodies.  Our minds dictate our behaviors and justify them. We begin to value what the collective does. Extrinsic values like money and progress are glorified at the cost of health.  All of these ways of living are symptoms of separation from the sacred, from intrinsic worth, and wholeness.  This separation creates unconsciousness, a kind of desecration of self.  Advertising relies on this.  Pretty soon we stop thinking for ourselves and follow the path of least resistance. We become gullible to normalized thinking.  We lose our individuality.  Over time, this way of life becomes difficult to change.  It usually takes a health or life crisis to get our attention, to return back to our conscious self, and to individuate, but sometimes even that does not jolt us into transforming.  

In my medical practice, I am acutely aware of the presence of the sacred.  Very early in my medical training, I realized this is really what I am here to serve.  The power of intention and the ability to create time for relationship creates sacred space. This is where the Masculine and Feminine Principles can be balanced to generate the best outcomes.   The balance of expertise and intuition, penetrating and uncovering, exploring and incubating, all are needed for healing.  When the sacred is invoked the true nature of healing is facilitated.  Scientific evidence is the tuning fork that keeps patients safe.  Used correctly, this balances the Feminine Principle with safety.  It is the best use of both the Masculine and Feminine Principles.  This truly serves the vocation of Medicine.  This is rarely present in medicine today. Holistic medicine marginalizes science and traditional medicine devalues wholism.  Balancing the Masculine with the Feminine Principles can heal both.

We can all bring the sacred into our lives at any moment.  When we invoke the sacred, we deepen our perspective and invoke meaning and mystery.  We open to growth and heal the status quo.  Invoking the sacred can heal the separation we have created with ourselves, as well as the separation that many of our systems have with their true purpose.  The sacred restores meaning, expands context, stretches imagination, and invokes the magic in life.  It facilitates creativity.  As the Oracle in Delphi stated, “Bidden or unbidden, God is present”.  For me, the felt sense of God is the experience of the sacred.  When we seek it, our life heals.  We must invoke the sacred in our lives every day.  It is the only way we can restore what is real, and live with meaning and purpose.  What each one of us invokes affects the whole.  Our consciousness affects the collective.

I invite you to invoke the sacred in your life.

©June 2017 Kalpana (Rose) M. Kumar M.D., CEO and Medical Director, The Ommani Center for Integrative Medicine, Pewaukee, WI.  Website: www.ommanicenter.com Author of Becoming Real: Reclaiming Your Health in Midlife. 2011, 2014 Medial Press

Links:

[1] http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/838437_1

[2] https://www.thehappymd.com/blog/bid/295048/physician-burnout-why-its-not-a-fair-fight

[3] http://healthaffairs.org/blog/2017/03/28/physician-burnout-is-a-public-health-crisis-a-message-to-our-fellow-health-care-ceos/

[4] https://ommanicenter.com/becoming-real/