Surgery is limited. It is operating on someone who has no place to go. – John Kirkin, M.D.
I have clung to ideals of natural diet and healing since my teens. I have steadfastly believed that the body, with a little help from its “friends,” was entirely capable of healing itself.
I go in for surgery tomorrow morning. I have no place else to go. I have had to turn to this because, despite my best efforts: diet, exercise, supplements, herbs, homeopathy, etc., etc., etc., throughout nearly ten years, my joints have continued to deteriorate, and now my knees, at least, are so damaged that I honestly believe this is the best decision, and that it is one I probably should have made sooner. I have problems in other joints, but these are the ones that cause me the most psychic and physical pain: For many years, I have had dreams of walking down a road, slower and slower, finally being unable to go further, and this has acted itself out in my life here on this planet. I have, in recent years, had what Freud called “wish fulfillment” dreams: dreams of running, standing, dashing here and there, and these dreams cause me to think that this is a clue my true being wants me to notice. “You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone,” and I want to tell my children, my friends, my beloveds, “don’t let this happen to you!”
The question, of course, is whether we really do have the control over this kind of thing that we think we do. It has occurred to me that all this preoccupation with herbs and the like might be, for me, more a function of my need to control than anything else. If I just do A, B and C, perhaps the inevitable won’t happen, I think…and, sometimes, it works, and other times…it doesn’t. It didn’t in this case, and I ask myself, out of the same need, what I did to cause it. After all, to think that I am the dupe of a heartless universe that accords me no control whatsoever over what happens to me is unbearable: I’d rather think that I caused it, and I can “cure” it. Some of this, of course, is the impression this Judeo-Christian culture with it’s inherent blaming attitudes leaves on most of us in this part of the world: “Shame on you! If you’d just eaten more vegetables, lost weight, done more exercise, etc., none of this would have happened!”
I am more and more influenced by Buddhist thinking, which I am coming to believe is the consummate psychotherapy for our Western culture, and I am learning to consider these matters without coloring them with my “stories,” most of which arise out of the world-view I was raised with. If I consider my current predicament without adding the blame and the many explanations I might accord it, I find that I have more energy for healing and inspiration.
I am also finding that when the chips are down, one is empowered in this kind of thinking, which allows for more openness to larger explanations and even a larger support in adversity. “Cling to Allah in prosperity and surrender to Him in adversity,” as the Hadith of Mohammad (peace be upon Him) says, and that understanding can take many forms. In that surrender can so often be one’s greatest experience of greatness, both within and without. I am very aware, these days, of the vast support network that is here for me, and to the extent that I am able to release what binds me to limitedness and open to vastness, I can make use of that network. Thus,
I take refuge in The Buddha The Dharma and The Sangha
I take refuge in The Guru The Yidam and the Dakini
I take refuge in The Bodhisattvas The Protectors and The Tantras
Homage to all of you
As long as there is suffering
As long as there are sentient beings in the 6 realms
May I never attain Enlightenment
And never cross over into Nirvana
The problem that I have, and that most people have, is continually understanding that I am one of those “sentient beings.” Being loving and compassionate with me is not something this culture–and my own personal background–has made easy for me. But I am grateful for the opportunity of this moment to learn a further lesson in loving the cosmos as myself–and vice versa.
When we look at the surgical world, no doubt wonderful operations are being done, and humanity has experienced great help through surgical operations; yet it is still experimental, and it will take perhaps a century longer for surgery to mature. It is in its infancy just now. The first impulse of a surgeon is to look at a case only from one point of view, and to think that this case can be cured by surgery. He has no other thought in his mind, he has no time to think that there is another possibility. If he is a wise surgeon, he gives a word of confidence; yet he knows that it is an experiment. It is a person he is dealing with, and not a piece of wood or a stone that can be carved and engraved upon. It is a person with feeling, it is a soul which is experiencing life through every atom that it has, a soul which is not made for a knife. Now this person has to go through this experience, fearing death, preferring life to death. Very often what happens is that what was considered wrong before the operation, is found to have been right afterwards. No doubt something wrong has to be produced because the operation has been performed. And an operation is not something that is finished; it is something which has its action upon the nerves and then upon the spirit of a man, and then its reaction upon life again. Do we not see that after an operation a person’s whole life has become impressed with it? A certain strain on the nerves, a certain upset in the spirit has been caused. The care of the surgeon continues only until the patient is apparently well, outwardly well; but what about the after-effect of it on the spirit of the person, on his mind, its reaction on his life? The surgeon does not always realize this, he is not concerned with it.
Cure means absolute cure, within and without. By this it is not meant that surgery has no place in the scheme of life. It is a most important part of the medical world, but at the same time it must be avoided when it can be avoided; one must not lightly jump into it. –Inayat Khan, Healing and the Mind World, c. 1920s
It is this kind of thinking I was “raised” on, in the sense that my spiritual mothers and fathers gave me the real parenting I needed, and it is this thinking that I have to assimilate within the clear impulse of this moment. “If you meet the Buddha in the road, kill him,” as the saying goes, and I must “shatter my ideals upon the rock of truth,” as Inayat Khan also says.