For quantum physicist Amit Goswami, medicine is a timely area of application for the new science based on the primacy of consciousness. This new science has a spectacular ability to integrate conventional science, spirituality, and healing. If any field needs integration, says Goswami, it is medicine and healing.
Goswami boldly reinterprets the leading methods of alternative medicine -- homeopathy, Chinese medicine, acupuncture, Ayurveda, and conventional medicine in this new edition of his popular book. He shows how these seemingly different models can be combined into a new system of integrative medicine and offers profound insights into the relationship between physics and consciousness.
This approach offers physicians and patients a whole new way of applying healthcare with a greater potential for healing and could be the basis for a major paradigm shift in medicine.
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About the Author
Amit Goswami is professor emeritus of physics at the University of Oregon where he has taught for 30 years. He was featured in the hit movie What the Bleep? and in Who's Driving the Dream Bus?. He is the author of seven books, including The Self-Aware Universe.
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The Quantum Doctor
A Quantum Physicist Explains the Healing Power of Integrative Medicine
By Amit Goswami
Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc.Copyright © 2011 Amit Goswami, PhD
All rights reserved.
Never Fear, the Quantum Doctor Is Here
What is a quantum doctor? A quantum doctor is a practitioner of medicine who knows the fallacies of the Newtonian classical physics-based deterministic worldview that was discarded in physics many decades ago. A quantum doctor is grounded in the world-view of the new physics, also called quantum physics. And there is more. Quantum doctors bring the message of quantum physics alive in their practice of medicine.
You may wonder: What difference does a worldview make in the practice of medicine? In contrast to the classical physics world-view in which the world is seen as a mechanical, determined machine, we cannot even make sense of quantum physics unless we ground it in the primacy of consciousness: Consciousness comes first; it is the ground of all being. Everything else, including matter, is a possibility of consciousness. And consciousness chooses out of these possibilities all the events we experience.
Now do you see? Physicians of the old ilk of classical physics aficionados practice machine medicine, designed for machines (that is the picture of the patient in the classical worldview) and by machines (the physicians who are self-avowed machines). And make no mistake about it, the medicine that the patient gets, allopathic medicine, is also of a mechanical nature, with chemical drugs, mechanical surgery or organ transplant, and energy radiation. A quantum doctor, on the other hand, practices conscious medicine designed for people, not machines. What conscious medicine prescribes includes the mechanical but extends also to the domains of vitality and meaning, even love. And most important, as practitioners of conscious medicine the quantum doctors bring consciousness to their practice.
Admittedly, the quantum doctor is right now only an idea developed in this book, an idea you are probably reading about for the first time. But if the idea is here, and as I will show, it is an idea with much integrative power, can the manifestation of the idea be far behind? In fact, a partial manifestation of the idea is age-old and continues to the present era.
I am talking about practitioners of what today is called alternative or complementary medicine, including the age-old systems of acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurveda (developed in India), spiritual healing, the more recent homeopathy, and the very recent mind-body medicine. Alternative medicine practitioners go partway toward being quantum doctors. Their medical systems are designed for conscious beings, and they do have more dimensions than the mechanical. Unfortunately, alternative medicine practitioners suffer from considerable amounts of worldview confusion (discussed later).
Although our culture promotes the "great" advancements of machine medicine all the time, still many people are disillusioned with it. Partly, it is because we all miss the conscious human touch that we expect from a healer. Partly, it is because, its "miracles" notwithstanding, allopathic medicine doesn't work well for the bulk of our day-to-day medical problems—the chronic ailments, for example. And it is because machine medicine and mechanical procedures are very expensive.
So although the machinists in medicine are openly scornful of alternative practices, alternative medicine is gaining in popularity. Unfortunately, this only aggravates the reaction of the conventional allopathic practitioners. Before, allopaths could afford benign neglect. But now, as their bread and butter is threatened, for many of them it is all-out war against alternative medicine. Alternative medicine is voodoo medicine, they declare.
If the world is machine, mind is machine, and even the soul is machine, as some observers contend, then how can anything but machine medicine have any validity?
Alternative medicine practitioners also strike back. Let's note just two of their criticisms. Allopathic drugs have harmful side effects, they point out. Why should we unnecessarily poison the body? Allopathic procedures such as vaccinations administered when we are children weaken the immune system so much that we become more vulnerable to disease later in life. Why should we accept such procedures without questioning them?
We all are interested in health and healing, in our physical well-being. We all search for it when we don't have it. But with the sharp division of medicine into two camps—conventional and alternative—it is increasingly difficult to choose the proper healing method when we need it. What criteria should we use for such a choice? Is a combination of healing techniques better than any one technique? What should we do to maintain our health, to prevent disease in the first place? Can we heal ourselves without any physical or chemical instruments of healing?
The answers to such questions depend on whom you ask. Are at least some of the stories of spontaneous healing true? Some experts answer yes. But is spontaneous healing accessible to all of us? Experts from some medical traditions nod yes, while others stubbornly shake their heads no. When we are middle-aged or old, are we to feel fortunate if we suffer from only a few chronic diseases, without any major life-threatening illness? Should we accept stress and lack of vitality as the price we must pay for modern living? Maybe so, some experts say. Why is economics such an important consideration for health and healing? We are sorry, say the experts. Is medicine only about pathology? Can we not strive for positive health where vitality and well-being reign supreme? We don't know, say the experts.
Truth is, we cannot begin to answer such questions with much credibility without developing an integral paradigm that embraces all medical systems that have adequate clinical data to support their efficacy. We must end the current confusion of paradigms that pervades medicine.
Never fear, the quantum doctor is here. The quantum doctor, like his or her worldview, is integrative. In this book, I show that when medicine is formulated within the integral metaphysics of the primacy of consciousness, conventional (allopathic) medicine and alternative medicine (including those already listed) can be reconciled. Not only that, their different domains of applicability, even their interrelationships, are clearly understood.
Some effort toward integration has already begun (Ballentine 1999; Grossinger 2000), but without the benefit of an integral philosophy, the results are not convincing. Medicine within the quantum worldview of primacy of consciousness, which gives satisfying answers to all the questions posed in the previous paragraphs, can end the paradigm wars in medicine because it defines a new and consistent paradigm for all of medicine within an integral philosophy.
Is this good news too good to be true? Don't worry. Medicine within quantum consciousness is an offshoot of a general upheaval, a genuine paradigm shift, far greater in scope than even the Copernican revolution, that is taking place today in all of the sciences, including physics, chemistry, biology, and psychology.
Some more detailed definitions are in order, although it is likely that the reader is already familiar with them.
Conventional medicine or allopathy is based on the premise that disease is due either to external toxic agents such as germs (bacteria and viruses) or to the mechanical malfunctioning of an internal organ of the physical body. In allopathy, cure is effected mainly by treating the symptoms of the disease until they disappear, via drugs, surgery, and (in the case of cancer) energy radiation. Exotic new techniques such as gene therapy or nanotechnology, the premise of which is to correct the mechanical disorder at the molecular level, remain only science fiction.
In contrast, in mind-body medicine, the premise is that disease is due to a mental problem, for example, mental stress. The cure is to correct the problem with the mind so that it then will correct the physiology.
In the view of acupuncture, disease arises because of imbalances in the patterns of energy (chi) flow in the body. Cure consists of correcting these imbalances using skin puncture with tiny needles at appropriate points of the body. The energy referred to in acupuncture is "subtle energy," not to be confused with the usual manifestations of energy, which are "gross."
Acupuncture is the most well-known example of traditional Chinese medicine, a system that, in addition to acupuncture, uses special herbs to correct the imbalances in the movements of this subtle energy.
In homeopathy, the basic idea is "like cures like" in contrast to cure by "other" (the drug found by trial and error) in allopathy. The same substance that produces gross clinical symptoms in a healthy person when applied in a much-diluted and potentized concentration produces an alleviation of the same symptoms in an unwell person, which is why homeopathy says, "like cures like." But the cure is made mysterious by often (successfully) applying the medicinal agent in such dilutions as one part in 1030 or even more diluted.
Ayurveda is traditional Indian medicine. Thanks to the work of such luminaries as the physician Deepak Chopra (2000), Ayurvedic concepts such as doshas have become the subject of parlor games. Who are you, a vata person, a pitta person, or a kapha person? Vata, pitta, and kapha are the Sanskrit names of the three doshas, imbalances of bodily structure and movement that we all have in varying degrees. A unique dominance of one dosha or another or sometimes a combination of doshas characterizes each one of us. In fact, we all have a base level amount of each of the doshas. We remain healthy when our doshas remain near our individual base-level amounts. Disease happens when deviations occur, taking the body away from the base levels. Returning the body to the base level of the doshas, using herbs, massages, and cleansing techniques, effects cure.
Spiritual healing is the idea of invoking the "higher" power of the Spirit through prayer and other such rituals to heal (Holmes 1938). Shamanic healing, prayer healing, Christian Science, faith healing, and intuitive healing fall in this category.
You can see the difficulty many practitioners of conventional medicine have with the various alternative medicine practices as defined here. Mind-body medicine seems to predicate that a mental thought, presumably a brain phenomenon involving a minute amount of energy, can cause disease or healing, which according to conventional medicine requires the emission of neurochemicals and other physiological processes that involve large amounts of energy. "Absurd!" may be the allopathic practitioner's reaction. Chinese medicine talks about subtle energy, but what is this subtle energy? Why can't we find it in the body or the passageways (called meridians) through which it moves? Because they don't exist, the conventional medicine person declares in exasperation.
Similarly, if you are scientifically minded and want to understand the relationship of conventional medicine and dosha medicine, you will be disappointed in your readings of the current Ayurvedic literature. Given the lack of understanding in conventional medical (physiological) terms of where doshas originate, the allopath remains skeptical.
About homeopathy, the conventionalist is scornful. In some of the medicinal dilutions that homeopaths prescribe, not even one molecule of the plant or other substance from which the medicine was derived is present. According to conventional thinking, the homeopathic medicine must then be regarded as pure "placebo"—an intake of sugar pills disguised as medicine—and the cure must be considered entirely fortuitous.
In the same vein, spiritual healing, the idea of relying on Spirit for healing, encounters resistance. The Spirit, for an allopath, is a dubious concept, and, therefore, relying on it is tantamount to relying on the natural processes of the body, which are often inadequate for healing. To do so when all the powerful drugs of allopathy are available seems preposterous to allopathic practitioners.
Many practitioners of alternative medicine are equally scornful of allopathic practice. Allopathic drugs are mostly poisons to the body with harmful side effects, they say, so why should we poison the body when alternatives are available? For chronic and degenerative diseases, allopathy is ineffective anyway. Finally, allopathic medicine is not cost-effective. As the reader surely knows, it is the economics of allopathic medicine that are making people look for alternatives in medicine.
How do we go from these deep divisions among the practitioners of the two camps to an Integral Medicine that both camps can accept? The answer is this: We have to go to the philosophical roots of all medical practices and discover the unifying bridge-building philosophy.
The Disparate Philosophies behind Conventional and Alternative Medicine Practices
Our normal tendency is to see things as separate, and the scientist's job is to discover the thread that unifies, that weaves the separate flowers into one unified garland.
The various alternative medicine practices sound more mysterious than they really are. This is because their practitioners have tacitly been sold on the universal validity of the materialist metaphysics. According to this metaphysics, all is made of matter and its correlates, energy and force fields. All phenomena (this includes what we call mental and subtle energy, even what we call Spirit) are due to elementary particles and their interactions at a submicroscopic level.
In this model, causation is always upward causation, always rising up from the base level of elementary particle processes (see figure 1). Elementary particles make atoms, atoms make molecules, molecules make cells (some of which are neurons), and neurons make the brain. The cells make all the energies of the body that must include the subtle energies of alternative practices if these energies exist. The brain makes the processes that we call mental or spiritual.
In this view, to ascribe causal efficacy to an upper level of the hierarchy in which matter exists is paradoxical. How can the mind, an aspect of the brain, have causal efficacy of its own to influence the brain to produce a cure? It seems like brain acting on brain without a cause—a paradox.
In the same vein, to the materialist, the subtle energies of traditional Chinese medicine must be products of the underlying chemistry of the body cells. But then, how can a by-product of the cells or their conglomerates, the organs, produce a cure for what causes that by-product? Paradox again.
How can mere faith (because a "doctor" said so!) make sugar pills curative, as in homeopathy? Paradox, once more.
But if you are a reader of the history of the alternative healing literature, it won't take you long to observe that there are several paradigms operating there. The vast majority of the healing literature in the West is of course materialist—based on materialism, which is the conceptual foundation of conventional medicine.
In the alternative medicine paradigm, you can see three primary currents: One is based on the idea of "mind over body," that mind causes disease and mind heals, hence mind-body healing. Mind over body is possible because the causally efficacious mind is nonphysical. Mind is not brain. The Freudian idea of disease as suppressed emotional thought and healing as the awareness of the suppression (Sarno 1998) falls in the same category—psyche over soma, mind over body.
The second current is based on the idea that a nonphysical "life force," variously called subtle energy, prana, or ITLχITL, is the causal agent behind healing. Subtle energy is not a by-product of material chemistry; instead, it is the movement of a vital world. Hence a more appropriate English word for subtle energy is "vital" energy. Eastern models of healing, both Chinese and Indian, fall into this category.
A third current is the idea of a nonphysical Spirit (or God) who is the healer in all cases of spiritual healing. Spiritual healing is "God's Grace." Here one makes the distinction between "self healing" (healing when only you are involved and nobody else) and "other-healing" (healing with the help of somebody else, a healer). But in either case, the ultimate causal efficacy is given to a nonphysical entity called God (or Spirit).
To the materialist, to the practitioners of conventional medicine, a causally efficacious nonphysical mind, nonphysical subtle energy, or nonphysical God is dualism. And dualism is scientifically untenable. This has been argued since the time of Descartes, who tried to introduce mind-matter dualism. If mind (or subtle energy or God) and matter are dual substances, having nothing in common, how can the two interact without a mediator? You may have read the book Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, by John Gray. It is about the difficulty men and women have in communicating because they don't have much in common. Fortunately for them, the sociologist or a counselor can act as the mediator. But where is the mediator to mediate the interaction of mind and matter, subtle energy and the body, God and the world?
Excerpted from The Quantum Doctor by Amit Goswami. Copyright © 2011 Amit Goswami, PhD. Excerpted by permission of Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc..
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Table of Contents
Part 1 introducing the Quantum Doctor
1 Never Fear, the Quantum Doctor Is Here 3
2 My Story: How a Quantum Physicist Came to Meddle in Health and Healing 13
3 The Integration of the Philosophies 24
4 Levels of Disease and Levels of Healing 36
5 New Paradigm Thinking of a Few Contemporary Medical Practitioners 54
6 More on Quantum Physics and Its Gifts to Medicine 60
7 The Place of Allopathy in Integral Medicine 79
Part 2 Vital Body Medicine
8 The Vital Body 95
9 Ayurveda and the Healing of Vital Energy Imbalances 105
10 Vital Energy Imbalances and Their Healing in Traditional Chinese Medicine 126
11 Chakra Medicine 141
12 Is Homeopathy for Real? 153
Part 3 Mind-Body Medicine
13 Quantum Mind, Meaning, and Medicine 169
14 Mind as Slayer 178
15 The Quantum Explanation of the Techniques of Mind-Body Medicine 203
Part 4 The Healing Path to Supramental intelligence
16 Quantum Healing 219
17 Disease and Healing as Opportunities for Waking to Supramental Intelligence 235
18 A Quantum Physicist's Guide to Health and Healing 255
Epilog: Ageless Body-Myth or Science? 273
About the Author 299
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