The Awakening of Conscience
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.
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?