Those who have had the pleasure of attending seminars of Dinesh Chauhan, and even more so, of sitting in on his clinic in Mumbai, will inevitably be fascinated by the sense of ease with which he helps a case to unfold. It seems so effortless, the patient revealing his or her innermost feelings with surprisingly little resistance and the remedy becoming apparent seemingly of its own accord. How does he do it? Indeed, how does any master do it? It so often looks like magic. And yet, there is a simple logic behind the silences and the innocuous questions – as Chauhan points out in his book, all science is best explained in simple terms, and those who cannot explain it simply have not understood it fully.
As such, there is not a lot that is completely “new” in this book, and he freely acknowledges that he “stands on the shoulders of giants”. Every homeopath who has been working for a number of years will have a whole collection of cases where things have flowed easily and the remedy has revealed itself effortlessly. But how is one to replicate this process time and time again, leaving as little as possible to chance? In this book Dinesh Chauhan explains the thought processes behind his quiet and unassuming approach, showing how every question, or every pause, is thoroughly thought out, with the aim of coming as skilfully and effortlessly as possible to the centre of the case. He breaks the case taking process, or “case witnessing” as he calls it, into three steps. Again, this is not new, and those who are used to allowing a case to unfold rather than forcing it will recognise the three phases even if they might not have worded them. Indeed, for Chauhan, these phases are inherent in all problem-solving and learning processes, from learning to drive a car to learning a language. He starts by giving an example of how the Kalahari bushmen track their prey – the first step being the conscious gathering information through, for instance, inspecting footprints, thus creating a working hypothesis of the whereabouts of the prey. The next step is less conscious and more intuitive, whereby the hunter enters the being of the animal, becoming “one” with the prey. The third step is a zooming-in process, where knowing and intuition merge effortlessly and the hunter follows the prey even when there are no more tracks, knowing exactly what the animal would do and where it would go. This stage takes one beyond one’s conscious mind, though the previous stages are necessary in order to arrive there. This is reminiscent of the three stages that Jan Scholten describes in the proving process: at first, tuning in to the remedy and receiving a lot of undifferentiated information, then going deeply into the issue related to the proved substance, then the “breakthrough”, where the issue is resolved and the person comes out smiling. Chauhan describes this process in the consultation: first fact gathering, allowing the patient to describe their complaints and to tell their story. While apparently being “passive”, quietly listening and simply encouraging the patient to continue, the homeopath is meanwhile looking for recurring themes in the form of words, gestures or occurrences. He is “picking up the scent”. In the next stage, which he calls the “active” stage, he is making sure that the focus is accurate. The questions asked are in line with the patient’s level of experience, and way of approaching the problem. Realising that a person is always, in one form or another, describing his problem, it is important to recognise where the patient stands with regard to his situation. He could, for instance, be in touch with himself, describing the situation with regards to himself – in which case it is appropriate to ask directly “What is your experience?” But if the person is projecting his situation onto someone else, one would ask “How would that perceive perceive it?”If avoidance is the chosen tactic, one could ask “which situations do you avoid?”In cases of denial one could ask “In which situations do you never feel…” and the tendency to rationalise requires yet another approach, for instance “can you describe just the feeling of…” By carefully aligning oneself with one’s patient, he/she is encouraged to go ever deeper into the problem. The third step, called “active-active” is most exciting, where one watches the remedy “emerge” before one’s eyes. Here one zooms in actively, like a bird of prey going for the kill. Only at this stage are confirmatory questions asked, fine-tuning the remedy to its exact source. In this way many questions that we homeopaths usually consider essential to the case-taking, such as food preferences, might be left out in favour of specific questions that differentiate between similar remedies from one group.
Several cases illustrate this procedure, both his own and that of other colleagues using this approach, explaining step by step the choice of questions.
Dinesh’s wife Urvi, also an experienced and accomplished homeopath, is also present in this book in the form of a cartoon character who pokes fun at the author and challenges him to explain himself, voicing questions that might arise in the reader. One is given tiny glimpses into the dynamics of this homeopathic team, and is afforded some chuckles as well.
Throughout the book a gentle wisdom and depth of experience is apparent. He describes the “healing of the healer”: “I have discovered that if I can listen with my whole being to another person’s experience, I can open up to new possibilities in me that I couldn’t have known without this experience.” As we so often notice, a truly healing atmosphere is one where the boundaries between healer and patient are overcome, a oneness is felt, and both are healed by the experience. At the end of the book, he touches on the possibilities of healing without remedies, by healing oneself. He quotes a master: “Just “be” and you will spread your healing energy everywhere.”
For students and experienced practitioners alike there is much to learn from this seemingly simple book, making the art and science of case-witnessing clear and accessible to all who are dedicated enough to follow it through.
Keywords: book review