2007 June

Homeopathy, Dogmatism and Healing

by Tim Shannon ND
Below is an essay I wrote in 1994 or 1995. I came from an observation I made about the homeopathic community. I became interested in homeopathy many years ago after having experienced some beautiful and encouraging results. What troubled me was that there is often an undertone amongst many homeopathic teachers, old and new, of dogmatism and exclusivity. As a beginner in the field, I was struck by it and disheartened. I thought that such an attitude could only serve to alienate people from the great benefits of homeopathy. The article also mentions a little of what I think healing is about. The article was written primarily about homeopathy, but can obviously pertain to any healing modality. The essay follows.

Homeopathy was born from a man, Samuel Hahnemann, who was outspoken and passionate about his opposition to the medicine of his day - blood letting, leeches, etc. He was one sane voice speaking out against a very crude and barbaric type of medicine. Much of his classic text, the Organon, is riddled with his argument against the insane medicine of his day. My feeling about his writing and several of the other old time homeopaths is that they felt the need to alienate themselves from the ineffective barbaric medicine of that time. Unfortunately they did this primarily by bitter criticism and attacks against other practitioners.

A great deal of the language of homeopathy in those days reflected the idea that homeopathy was the only "true" medicine; the only medicine which could effect a bona fide cure. The language used seems akin to people who feel that they know the only true way to God.
If you read Kent, Hahnemann, and many other old timers you can't help but detect this particular tone in there writings. I'm not even saying that this is necessarily negative - I believe that it mostly comes from a beautiful passion about helping people deeply - of having witnessed miraculous cures. However, I believe that this was a bane for homeopathy in the past and will only continue to be one for the future - unless we as a community change - evolve. "If you don't change the road your on, your liable to end up where your headed" as the saying goes.

The reason I bring this up is because there still exists in the homeopathic community this rigid "holier than thou" tone. Homeopathy has a long history of infighting, disagreement, and general divisiveness which seem similar to people arguing amongst themselves about who has the "true" religion. It is not very hard to read articles of contemporary homeopaths who are continuing this tradition. This poses some very difficult challenges for those of us now holding the torch. We need to embrace and deeply imbibe the wisdom from the past, however, homeopathy never will be - and never should be, the only form of medicine. Translation: we need to learn some humility as a community. We need to perceive that true healing is possible through other modalities as well. This is an active undertaking, not a mental exercise in politeness towards other practitioners. I don't mean to say that we should necessarily study other modalities if it is not one's calling, just that we need to extend ourselves a little.

Perhaps we can strain our eyes a bit and see that cure, transformation, and healing happen all around us all the time. Homeopathy is not a simple form of medicine to practice. There are many lessons to learn about using pure observation to truly "see" the essential nature of a patient's pathology. Then we must find a remedy which can cause a very similar dynamic pathology. There are many sources and writings with guidelines telling us how to perform these tasks. Given the difficulty of the task, it is easy to cling on to one teacher's style and think it is the only way. Unfortunately, it is a convenient way to protect oneself from LIVING the truth - a much more difficult proposition.

My assertion is that homeopathy is simply not about the principles or theories at all. Rather, it is about the gradual integration of a way of perceiving people, nature, illness, etc.. Of course, often the way to get to this perception is through the study of the principles. However, once one comes to this perception and lives from it - then he or she is a healer - or more accurately, someone who helps to catalyze the healing process. Then being a healer is a living breathing thing - one doesn't become static and limited. The need to cling to rigid maxims becomes unnecessary. We can then trust our own experience and facilitate healing.

Healing is prior to homeopathy - this is difficult to remember. By this I mean that Healing is the goal while homeopathy is one tool used to help reach the goal. There are soooo many parameters, mores, history, and passion about the mechanics and principles of homeopathy. If we don't come up above it from time to time, we forget that homeopathy is but one boat that floats on the ocean of healing. Yes, it is a great big boat - maybe a ship is a more accurate term for this analogy - but the point is we need to stretch our eyes out upon the sea to listen, learn, and respect the other ships, boats, and rafts which share our waterway.

I recall a wonderful little anecdote from an old obscure book in the homeopathic library @ NCNM. The book detailed the conversion of several physicians to homeopathy. It had Kent's story and several others. There was one story of a notable homeopath (forgot his name) who related how when he was a young MD he met an older gentleman. It goes something like this (from memory - sorry, don't remember the title at all): The young MD met the older gentleman and they became friends. Sometime later her learned that the old gentleman was a homeopath. He relates how he really enjoyed the older gentleman's company and could "excuse" him for being a homeopath in his mind.
One day, several years later, the young man had a chronic case which he could not make progress on. He happened to mention it to the older gentleman. After a few questions about the idiosyncrasies of the patient, which the young physician thought were irrelevant - if not ridiculous, the older gentleman said "Your patient needs a dose of Lycopodium", "I'll have some one send a dose over to your office." The young man humored him and administered the dose. The patient had a miraculous recovery. Nevertheless, the young doctor justified it as whim or a stroke of chance - never attributing any veracity to the homeopathy.
The story goes on to mention how over several more years, the above happened two or three more times. Each time the older gentleman was completely casual and made nothing of it. Each time the patients were cured. The young man, I believe it was some ten years after the first "fluke" cure - and now upon the third or fourth "fluke," stopped lying to himself and decided to look in to this "homeopathy." He goes on to say how he regrets how long it took him to "wake up" to the "true" medicine etc..
The point I want to make from this anecdote is really about the old physician's approach. I don't really detail it much in my recounting, but the crux is that he let the young man be. He didn't try to change him, belittle him, or really even approach the situation directly at all. Instead, he showed the young man by example. Obviously, this is an ideal, touching anecdote (if you read the real story - sorry I don't have a clue where I read it and haven't been able to find it in the library) which is not necessarily always practical. The point is that when the young man caught on, he was changed internally - forever. This young physician was CURED - the older gentleman helped to catalyze a process in the young man which transformed him; same as any good medicine.
The moral to this story is that homeopathy is not only in the pills. The older physician is going for the big picture. Yes, its great that he helped to cure 3 or 4 more people in the process. But, even better, he has also passed on the spirit of the healer to someone else. He did this by demonstrating and living the medicine which he practiced. The other key element is that he trusted that if he left the young man alone, he would eventually see the truth for himself. He didn't badger him or cajole, he elegantly demonstrated and then left the young man to choose for himself. If you think about it this way, cure happens all the time. It is usually too subtle though, so we miss it. I think Healing is really about seeing/hearing/perceiving the subtleties that life presents, the subtext, and helping it unfold.

So, what's the point of all this prose? I just wanted to underline some thoughts I've had over the years about the "climate" in which the homeopathic community is steeped and sometimes what we unfortunately miss. Healing is a universal reality. There are many modalities and they all offer different levels of healing. There are many practitioners who also can facilitate healing - sometimes even beyond what the modality typically offers. Perhaps most important of all, is the patients level of readiness/willingness to heal.

I have written this article for myself as well as for others. Often I have fallen into the zealot role. So, some of this is directed towards waking myself up. I don't ever want to be a dogmatic zealot who pushes people away in my enthusiasm. Ultimately my dream/vision is that we can find a way to perceive the common ground amongst the different modalities. We all have something to learn from each other and if we go forward united, we can have a much greater impact. Natural medicine has a great deal to offer. We must meet every patient where they are at and we must also meet every practitioner where they are at in sharing our medicine. The biggest most difficult task in getting true healing out into the world is walking our talk - healing ourselves. We must be a living example of the medicine we practice. No one can deny for long that a medicine works when they see/experience it themselves.

A practitioner who is healed by the medicine he or she uses and who has consistently helped others with difficult health issues is much easier to trust. Especially when that practitioner doesn't attempt to push someone into seeing what they see. I have seen this myself in my life. Having experienced a rather dramatic effect from a dose of the right remedy has changed people around me. For example, an MD who was quite closed minded about homeopathy is now actively seeking treatment after having watched my own transformation. I have seen others be similarly effected.

The challenge is in becoming excellent practitioners so that we can support deep healing in many people. As these people transform they will inspire others. This has a chain reaction effect - like the ripple in the pond analogy. This is the way we can reach others with our medicine, by becoming effective and yet humble. Once we are effective in what we do then we can let the results advertise and inspire more healing. When someone who has suffered for a long time is lifted to an entire new level of health it is a healing to others in and of itself. This is what I hope for us to create in our practices and our lives.

Tim Shannon ND

Categories: General
Keywords: dogmatism, healing


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Posts: 3
Reply #3 on : Sun October 03, 2010, 12:37:34
I find it so interesting that your article has come into my space today of all days! I really enjoyed it. A group of us here in Ireland started to share our knowledge as healers using homeopathy, acupuncture and awareness therapy with a group of over 30 people just yesterday. I will use your anecdote with the group as it is so relevant to the way we are sharing our knowledge. Thank you
Monica Rigney ISHom

Posts: 3
Reply #2 on : Sat October 02, 2010, 12:42:07
An article so important to recollect everytime, these little things are not to be forgotten!

Posts: 3
Reply #1 on : Thu May 31, 2007, 22:49:09
A sobering article that gives a subtle inspiration to the reader. As a homoeopath, I can definitely identify with, and have been guilty of, some of the views Tim speaks about. Reading this article was important for me as it was grounding while at the same time bringing the bigger picture of healing into perspective. Thanks Tim.
Tjok G. Kerthyasa, BHScHom. ADHom