This book expounds an integral approach to healing. The relationships between health and the psychic being, faith, yoga, and culture are discussed in the light of Sri Aurobindo’s teachings, as well as the impact of the different planes of human consciousness on health. Illustrative case studies and a glossary are included.
With multiple avenues in the field of complementary therapies opening up “The physician today is placed in an unenviable position. His decisions have to be often based on factors beyond his prescribing limits. He has not been taught what to do if his conscience conflicts with the legal sanction of euthanasia. Would the withdrawing of hydration from a comatose subject to facilitate passive euthanasia affect the physician himself?” These and many other problems are tackled through this simply written book.
The basic approach is consciousness. As the author writes,
“The difficulty in integrating the physical, social and mental dimensions of health and then linking them with a spiritual dimension need not debar us from the pursuit. Indeed, an attempt to harmonize these myriad value-systems (which are not totally independent) can only be possible if we take into account a substrate to which all these value-systems can relate in a hierarchised manner. This substrate, most appropriately found in the yogic description of consciousness, can relate to the different dimensions of health. The seer-wisdom of ancient India considered consciousness to be the essence of all existence-a concept to which Sri Aurobindo, in recent times, gives an evolutionary perspective.”
So Health is viewed as a dynamic equilibrium between the energies acting at different planes of consciousness. These planes are universally self-existent and reflect in all living and non-living creatures as-the mental, the vital, the physical, etc. Illness is seen as a disequilibrium or disharmony that can be corrected by moving to a higher level of consciousness.
This higher consciousness is inherent in the Psychic Being which is the real integrative principle of the human personality-the Atman of the Indian tradition in its evolving form. When the Psychic Being replaces the ego the individual has a sense of wholeness, integrity, peace and joy even in adverse situations.
The essence of Health (Integral Health) therefore lies in being aware and shifting one’s consciousness. As the Mother says,
“It is simply when one sees the disequilibrium and is capable of re-establishing the equilibrium that one is cured.”
The concept of Integral Health is based on a wide and progressive view of human life. The Mother explains the metapsychology of this view: There is an ascending evolution in nature which goes from the stone to the plant, from the plant to the animal, from the animal to man. Because man is, for the moment, the last rung at the summit of the ascending evolution, he considers himself as the final stage in this ascension and believes there can be nothing on earth superior to him. In that he is mistaken. In his physical nature he is yet almost wholly an animal, a thinking and speaking animal, but still an animal in his material habits and instincts. Undoubtedly, nature cannot be satisfied with such an imperfect result; she endeavours to bring out a being who will be to man what man is to the animal, a being who will remain a man in its external form, and yet whose consciousness will rise far above the mental and its slavery to ignorance.”
The book also discusses various modes of treatment such as homoeopathy, Reiki, acupuncture, etc. Each has an essential truth-idea based on the working of the energy on either the physical, vital or mental consciousness. Thus, modern allopathic medicines and their pharmacological agents could work on the gross physical level, homoeopathy and acupuncture on the vital level of consciousness, Reiki and Pranic Healing through the vital physical envelope, relaxation and bio-feedback on the physical mind and psychotherapies on the vital mind level. Higher energies can modify, transmute and uplift the lower energies and each therapeutic system can be used as the starting point for moving to subtler levels.
Essentially therefore, the concept and pursuit of Integral Health implies a growth of consciousness. Throughout this book Dr Basu has quoted exhaustively from the works of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, describing the various planes of consciousness and the concept and role of Psychic Being in Integral Health. The attitude of Faith in relation to healing, the role of culture and society with respect to health and the role of the Pranic Shakti as it acts both in the individual microcosm and the macrocosm are elaborately discussed.
The author has also given illustrative case studies of various patients as illustrations and a very effective glossary that explains the various terms and concepts that may be unknown to a reader not familiar with the works of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. Around 159 references are given at the end of the book and in about 140 pages Dr Basu portrays quite admirably a comprehensive approach to health and healing.
– Dr D. E. Mistry
SABDA catalog listing for Integral Health