Modern medicine teaches you that the majority of health problems are due to unknown causes, to microbes or genetics. Their most prevalent explanation is that disease is its own cause. Your conventional doctor might say to you, “Your joints are swollen and painful because you have arthritis; and we know you have arthritis because your joints are swollen and painful.” None of these explanations empower you to make real difference in your own behavior. In contrast, naturopathic philosophy explains the causes of sickness in ways so empowering that many people cannot accept they actually have such degree of power.
Naturopathic philosophy teaches us that there are three fundamental causes of disease: ignorance, indifference, and lack of self-control. It is fairly simple to trace almost any health problem back to these three roots. A man ignorant of the harm done by too many carbohydrates is unlikely to limit his consumption of them. Therefore, his actions strongly contribute to his developing diabetes.
Next, if he understands the need to limit the amount of carbs that he eats, but is not motivated to do it, he will continue to eat poorly and his diabetes will continue. Lastly, he may know what foods to eat and avoid, sincerely desire to eat this way, and yet lack the self-control to be able to do it. He must overcome all three of these in order to improve his eating and thereby his diabetes.
Just as ignorance, indifference and lack of self control give rise to “sick” actions in the ways one eats, these root causes of illness also cause self destructive patterns of movement, thinking and relating to others. And ignorant, uncaring behaviors ALWAYS produce sickness and suffering.
Medicines cannot heal ignorance, indifference and lack of self-control.
Medicines can treat the symptoms that manifest in the bodymind, but unless we uproot their invisible, spiritual roots, they will grow back and reproduce sickness in another form. Only wisdom dispels ignorance. Passion (love) dispels indifference. And wise, loving behavior is self-control. Wisdom, love and self control are the universal weapons of healing. They are the essential qualities of our nature, of who we are. We ARE wisdom and love yearning to be born in action.
Naturopathic philosophy brings our health problems into our immediate sphere of influence. It guides us to understand our illnesses by understanding our own selves and to heal our illnesses by becoming the people we long to be. It gives deep meaning and purpose to our suffering which has heretofore been confusing, mysterious, and largely unintelligible to us. Sickness is no longer viewed as the result of malevolent forces, which can only be defeated by employing self-destructive practices. Naturopathic philosophy explains illness as being caused by deficiencies of wisdom and compassion our most noble and human qualities. Sickness is a call to understand ourselves and become kinder to ourselves and others in the most practical of ways.
Nutrition, A Powerful Healing Behavior
In the last 25 years nutrition has become widely recognized as one of the most powerful influences on health and disease. Yet nutrition is no more powerful than any other of our behaviors. Movement, thought, and communication are equally powerful, essential and irreplaceable. Bringing control to one behavior strengthens control of our other behaviors just the same as healing one sick organ improves the health of all other organs. It is like doing yoga. If you become overly tense in any one body part the tension spreads throughout your body and the whole pose loses its grace. Conversely by focusing on bringing poise and balance to any one area these qualities spread effortlessly into other areas.
If you are struggling with your eating, back off a little and invest some of your good effort into exercise or improving your relationship. More immediately, if you are struggling with your finances, health or relationship you can strengthen these areas in this very moment by focusing on improving your posture and breath as you read this. Do not dismiss the power of this. In every moment there is an opportunity to do whatever you are doing with care and intelligence. As you actually do this you will find that the power to strengthen, nourish, and beautify (to heal) is always available to you, precisely because it IS you.
Conventional medical thinking does not recognize the enormity of the healing power inherent in our immediate actions. Most of my clients actually believe that their healing depends on being able to alter physiological functions beyond their control. It is empowering to remember that all things are connected. Our every action effects our physiological and biochemical processes. Healing our behavior simultaneously heals every microscopic process within our physiology and psyche.
Self-Control: Our Greatest Challenge
Our greatest challenge is being able to control the behaviors that are directly under our control; our eating, movements, thoughts and the ways we treat others. In short, we master illness by mastering ourselves. We tame our impetuous behaviors only through kindness and intelligence. Seize every opportunity to act wisely and kindly. Right this minute, we are free to relax our body, breathe, smile inwardly and feel thankful for the privilege of learning the eternal laws of healing.
The whole universe acts to correct every action that isn’t kind and intelligent.
Self harming action creates illness and suffering which in turn stimulate intense desire to understand and correct its causes. Our medical culture has suppressed these natural responses to illness. We have been trained to discount the unparalleled power of our own intelligence and our willingness—hypnotized to see ourselves as powerless and dependent upon others. We readily pay others to study and do our healing work for us. These false and disempowering beliefs about ourselves and the nature of healing make sickness both unavoidable and seemingly incurable.
Take control of your conscious actions, and restore control to your unconscious bodily functions. We strengthen all methods of medicine by simultaneously working to perform our most ordinary actions according to the dictates of our intelligence and self-love.
The great naturopathic physician, Buddha Shakyamuni taught that to master the tyrannically selfish aspects of our nature is supremely difficult. Buddha said, NOTHING is harder than taking back the power we have given to our habit-demons; no adversary is more frightening than we ourselves when we are ruled by our own short sighted desires. Buddha, like all enlightened beings, emphasized self-control as our supreme human challenge.
Who but we, ourselves can possibly free us from the suffering caused by our own self-destructive actions? We have no hope of health or happiness, until we accept the responsibility of caring for ourselves.