On suffering

Most people think suffering is a bad thing, I do too, but sometimes there is good in suffering, especially if it is done with your eyes wide open and you learn from it.

I’ve been reading a lot lately, more so than I’ve done in a long time.  All of these changes in me in just a short month.  Thank you homeopathy.  This weekend I picked up The Couch and the Tree: Dialogues in Psychoanalysis and Buddhism edited by Anthony Molino. In a chapter written by Polly Young-Eisendrath, entitled “What Suffering Teaches” several things caught my attention.

“The elite ranks of medicine, psychiatry, biology, and sometimes even psychology show an almost uniform lack of interest in the value of suffering. The focus instead is on avoiding or eliminating it.”

I had this sentence highlighted from when I used the book in a class I took many, many years ago. I know I highlighted it because of its significance in conventional medicine (removal of all suffering [symptoms]) compared to homeopathy wherein you do not necessarily want to remove the suffering, at least not symptom by symptom as conventional medicine does, but to look at things in their totality.  Conventional medicine rarely truly removes symptoms, they just cover them up or manage them.

What I’ve experienced this past month thanks to homeopathy has, in part, been suffering; but a lot of it has been good suffering. It’s opened my eyes up to what I am and what I can be.

Polly Young-Eisendrath writes further:

“As a practicing Buddhist and psychoanalyst, I see it differently. Hardships are the major catalysts for change and development in our lives; they wake us to how we create suffering through our own attitudes and intentions, our actions and relationships.”

This section wasn’t highlighted from before, but it is now. If a person pays attention to hardships (and suffering) it can wake you up to change. It has for me.

“Zen Master Dogen has pointed out that anxiety, when accepted, is the driving force to enlightenment in that it lays bare the human dilemma at the same time that it ignites our desire to break out of it.”

— Philip Kapleau, 1969

It is not that conventional medicine doesn’t pay attention to suffering, it does, but remove them at all costs, without any regard for why the suffering is there and what is going to happen to the organism when it takes those drugs that are going to cover up the symptoms.  There was a time when manufacturers were not allowed to run commercials on conventional drugs.  You take this drug and you will feel like your self again, or this one and you’ll sleep like a baby, or this one and you can eat crap without suffering from heartburn, or this one and eat all you want and not get fat.  Unfortunately, all of these drugs have side effects, some of them very severe.  I listen to the side effects and think to myself: how desperate can someone be to get rid of this or get that in order to risk the side effects?

Quite frankly, conventional doctors and the medicine that they prescribe scares the crap out of me.

Mark Morford wrote quite eloquently on this topic, I need say no more here.

When I injured my finger, I went to an urgent care facility and they wouldn’t treat me, said I had to go to an orthopedic specialist.  I didn’t go the specialist and instead called my homeopath.  My finger is perfectly fine now, I’m on the road to being perfectly fine all over thanks to that injury.   Know what it cost me?  $150 to my homeopath, which has included all follow-ups plus maybe $50 in remedies I didn’t have on hand which includes shipping.  A vial of a homeopathic remedy costs a whooping $10.  Do these remedies miraculously remove all my symptoms and suffering?  Sometimes they have, but other times, it takes time and new symptoms develop.  That’s just another layer my particular “dis-ease” exposing itself.  Eventually we’ll get to what is my “constitutional” remedy and it will be that remedy that I’ll use for just about any symptom that may arise.  I wish more people would look at the power of alternative medicine and stop taking all those little purple pills with all their side effects.

If I had gone to the orthopedic specialist, I expect the finger would be better now too, but it would have cost my insurance company likely thousands of dollars and me likely more than $150 in deductibles.  The finger would be better, but the rest of my body would be exactly the same.  My homeopath told me there are no true acutes (acute diseases) and now I believe her.  That finger injury opened up a whole new world for me.

Gel’s healing process has taken a similar route.  He was being treated by my homeopath when I, without consulting her, gave him the remedy Rhus Tox (poison ivy) because he was lame in the front end.  That’s when she told me there were no true acutes.  As it turned out, Gel has done very, very well on Rhus Tox.  I redosed him maybe a month ago and he’s been great.  He even looks different, more substantial somehow, more “there” than he ever has.  We gave Fern one dose of Lycopodium because of several car trips she had become sick. One dose and she hasn’t been sick since.

 Coincidence?  Maybe, but I don’t think so.