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Ancient Wisdom Revisited
on June 23, 2000
The senses of the wise man obey his mind, his mind obeys his intellect, his intellect obeys his ego, and his ego obeys the Self. -- Katha Upanishad
Thus, within this brief passage, we have the essence of Dr. Deepak Chopra's book Quantum Healing, which successfully seems to shed light for the uninitiated Western reader on the mind/body connection as it relates to medical healing. Although the ideas and techniques he discusses in his book may sound new to us, they are in actuality, as the Doctor demonstrates through his scrupulous tracing of the Western disciplines of neuroscience and physics back to the source of their beginings in the ancient Vedic traditions, as old as time itself. With the precision of an artist meticulously carving a statue, Dr. Chopra proceeds to chip away at Western medicine's physical approach to healing, asserting the point that "when the memory of health returns [it] brings with it enough power to last a lifetime."
These mind-based methods of healing, he tells us, are based upon Ayurveda, the ancient tradition of Indian medicine. The term "Ayurveda" is derived from its two Sanskrit roots, Ayus, meaning "life," and Veda, which can mean either "science" or "knowledge." Combined, the literal meaning becomes "science of life."
In describing how he came up with the term quantum healing, Dr. Chopra relates the moving story of one of his first patients to undergo Ayurvedic treatment. The patient, a woman who had lung cancer, had responded well to the traditional Western treatments which had been combined with Ayurvedic methods. The Ayurvedic method depended upon a "change of diet, some Ayurvedic herbs, a specific daily routine including simple yoga exercises, and instruction in Transcendental Meditiation." She was also "given two special mental techniques that went directly to the root of her cancer."
After nearly a year of this treatment, the woman had a sudden remission of her cancer. "They can't find any cancer cells at all--nothing," the woman's husband announced joyously over the phone to Dr. Chopra, who himself was surprised by the rapidity of the cure. Yet within a few weeks the woman's "miracle" began to teeter and stumble, not physically, but within the woman herself: "instead of being able to trust in her inexplicable recovery, she became conflicted, morbidly afraid that the cancer would return....It seemed that [her] cancer was easier to defeat than the sinister doubt that was creeping back into her life, defying her to be well....For her to be well again, she needed an explanation."
This, Dr. Chopra concedes, was the real starting point of his book. He continues, "Research on spontaneous cures of cancer...has shown that just before the cure appears, almost every patient experiences a dramatic shift in awareness. He knows that he will be healed, and he feels that the force responsible is inside himself but not limited to him -- it extends beyond his personal boundaries, throughout all of nature....The leap in consciousness seems to be the key....The word that comes to mind when a scientist thinks of such sudden changes is 'quantum.' The word denotes a discrete jump from one level of functioning to a higher level -- the quantum leap."
Throughout the remainder of the book, Dr. Chopra delves into an exacting and thorough discription of how this process is worked out in a physical way, using a style of language and an approach that is easily intelligible by both technician and layman alike. He quite effortlessly moves back and forth between the scientific and the more subjective metaphysical explanations behind how quantum healing takes place, in order to show, he asserts, the true nature of healing. The result is a delightful and convincing work, filled with many anecdotes and personal insights which enhance his arguments.
Quantum Healing hedges into the realm of being a contemplative tour de force, wherein the empirical and the analytical embrace with sublime warmth and intimacy the intuitive and the metaphysical. Indeed, one can almost "feel" a heightening in one's own awareness as he reads deeper into the book with a joy that only a discoverer has as he is breaking into new uncharted territory.
Dr. Chopra speaks with a clarity and confidence which is amply reinforced through his own personal experience. At one juncture he illustrates graphically the point that our minds create our reality. He relates an experience he had taking off from an airport in Bombay. The jetliner had apparently developed a problem shortly after take-off, and the "Fasten Your Seatbelt" sign flashed on overhead. The pilot made an announcement that they were having to return to the airport, and minutes later the jetliner bounced onto the runway. There was no fire or explanation ever given for the incident. Within minutes, the passengers were reboarded onto a different jet, but about half elected to stay on the ground.
"I didn't feel too disturbed during the incident," he writes, "and got on the second plane. The next time I caught a flight, about ten days later, my mind was at ease. However, as soon as they flashed on the sign, "No Smoking/Fasten Your Seatbelt," accompanied by that ding sound, my heart started to pound. At first I couldn't put two and two together; then I realized that I had created a small conditioned reflex in myself....I then noticed that as soon as this explanation dawned on me, my heartbeat went back to normal."
"For a few seconds I was present at the birth of one impulse that shaped my reality. It is plausible that I have unwittingly created myself by piling up millions of impulses just like it."
What Dr. Chopra had "unwittingly" stumbled onto is undoubtedly the key behind our human creation of reality and how to clear unbeneficial reactions from our beingness, in essence allowing our minds to react to the present moment rather than be drawn back into a negative past experience which we have previously "conditioned" into ourselves.