on November 2, 2011
Don't miss this book, Infinite Vision. It's about one person, "Dr. V.," who revolutionized healthcare for those who cannot see. But it's equally about us, about everyone. It's about our creativity when we don't set limits. And about how it can spread, even globally. It is about our higher potential. <Also see [...] Saybrook University, where we teach about everyday creativity.>
If you ever had cataract surgery, take note. You know what it is like; seeing or not seeing can change everything. In India, some have used a derogatory term for a blind elder, "a mouth without hands." Can you imagine?
Infinite Vision tells how Dr. V helped reverse this tragedy. The book is personal and inspiring, and it also gives operational details and a recipe for success. Dr. V, Dr. Govindappa Venkataswamy, a surgeon in South India, began, as a post-retirement project, what became the largest eye surgery operation in the world. And where a great many needy people now get eye surgery for free. His is a required case study for Harvard Business School, has been honored by Bill Gates (Award for Global Health) and many others. His Aravind organization has attracted visitors, promoters and collaborators from Seva Foundation to the International Lions Club, from Dr. Brilliant to Ram Dass to Wavy Gravy. Why? Here's a goodhearted doc moving from a clinic for 11 people to a massive medical movement which has brought hope to the 12 million blind people in India. A movement now spreading around the world. And a man who said, whose stated goal in life was, "to give sight for all." Now Aravind, is doing just that! Here is the story.
The recipe: Good person, hard times, a crippling arthritis that changed his career goals, a fundamental desire to help others. Deep spiritual roots, Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, in Pondicherry, India, astonishing spiritual leaders. And let it be said, with all respect, that this could also have been another of the World's Great Wisdom Traditions. Here, to be sure, is our True Vision. Our True Creativity.
And an ability to reach out. To involve others. To collaborate, to share and learn--and this includes sharing with groups that might be called "competitors" in other settings. Instead we learn to thrive together. To have a new bottom line of compassion and love, not profit or loss. Yet to find a greater monetary profit in this approach than in that of the so-called competition.
Dr. V never married nor had a family. Yet a fascinating side note is that a full 21, yes twenty-one, of his relatives have now become opthalmologists! And all are helping. Talk about family spirit (and the human spirit).
Best of all--and this is sometimes hard for us Westerners to believe--here is the Gift Economy. This is what can happen when we move from grasping and getting to caring and giving. Those folks weren't fooling in the Bible (or elsewhere) when they said that we who give will receive in turn. (Actually, we may also live longer as well--which is another interesting story! Here is a new world view we need badly today.
As Dr. V. said, "When we grow in spiritual consciousness, we identify with all that is in the world...It is ourselves we are helping....ourselves we are healing."
Is InfiniteVision a religious tract? Not at all; it is a business plan--one set in an engaging personal story. But a business plan with a different bottom line, a different way of operating. A different way of living. No wonder Harvard Business School took note. And so should we.
Do buy this book, by all means! And also give it to your own doctor. I have done so myself. Let me dedicate this review to my ophthalmologist and cataract surgeon, Gary Aguilar, M.D., in San Francisco, who has volunteered his services each summer, in places including Guatemala, Peru, and China, to help people who could never see otherwise. Whose lives have been changed. He too is part of this story. What a gift. What a role model. May each of us, in turn, help this influence to spread.