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The Awakening of Conscience

by Lonny Jarrett
 
There is much talk of holistic and integral medicine these days. It seems to me that, at the very least, the focus of any medicine that is truly holistic or integral would have to be on assisting patients to evolve from a relatively divided state to ever increasing states of wholeness and integration. The starting point of this journey means helping patients live up to the highest that they know is true in their own experience already. I find that much of the initial work in my clinical practice, from a spiritual perspective, is to empower, encourage and persuade patients to take responsibility for their actual numerical age and the level of authentic insight they’ve had thus far in their lives. This is merely the foundation upon which real development can take place because we can really only progress when we are living up to what we have already realized.

This means that practitioners need to be able to discern what a patient actually knows and then have the subtlety of skill and the courage to support a patient to live it. I say courage because what we discover if we are paying attention in life and clinical practice is that most of us don't want to admit to ourselves, let alone to others, what we actually know. Because, if we did, then there would be an expectation of having to live up to it both from others and, more significantly, from the voice of our own conscience. The force of resistance to closing the gap between what we know is right and how we are actually living is huge. And this force is often directed defensively against anyone that attempts to help us close this gap through insight or suggestion, often regardless of the degree of compassion exercised in the communication. Conscience is the voice of the soul that emerges in the discrepancy between what we know and how we choose to live. It is the longing of our relative selves to merge with the greatest absolute possibility of life that has been revealed to us. It is our job as practitioners to awaken the voice of conscience in patients through the shear force of integrity and passion with which we live our own lives.
 
Most practitioners of Chinese medicine implicitly understand holistic systems theory and many of us have a world centric perspective. Sure we recycle and consider ourselves to be “citizens of the world.” But how many of us actually live up to the higher implications of what we know? The basis of holistic and integral medicine implies a consciously willed progression from a state of relative division toward unity. How many of us are interested in perceiving the black and white nature of our own division and taking full responsibility for our own choices? How many of us primarily identify with that part of ourselves that is fine right now and doesn’t need any more time to heal? From my perspective the minimum licensure requirement for anyone holding him or herself out to be a “healer” should be the renunciation of needing any more time to heal. This renunciation can only be based on the discovery of and conviction in, that part of ourselves that is intrinsically whole and never victimized because nothing ever happened there!

We practitioners often talk about the virtue of "teaching" our patients. Yet many of us practitioners don't want to live up to what we already know. This includes the realization that the life force itself is fundamentally positive and integrating, and that we are an infinitely small, though vitally important, part of a greater whole to which we are obligated in the deepest and most profound sense. If we practitioners aren’t living up to the basic values of our own holistic and integral medicine, it’s a bit much to ask patients to do so. If medicine is to realize such lofty goals as helping humans move toward being unified and whole, then the life of the practitioner has to reflect wholeness. It must be grounded in a context of constantly striving to live up to the very edge of what has been revealed to be true and wholesome in our own experience. And this means making ethical judgments regarding our own integrity. How many of us are willing to do that for the sake of our patients?

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