Homeopathic Education Needs A New Perestroika-2

Words: Dr Douglas FALKNER

There ought to be a ‘clear perception,’ as Dr Samuel Hahnemann, MD, the founder of homeopathy, writes about, in order to be of highest service. This must be derived from a refined amalgam of mind and heart. In matters of true import, the mind was not meant to function in isolation. The cold, razor-edge of pure intellect needs the warming flames of feeling to temper its observations and bring balance to its renderings of truth.  As human beings we were gifted with both faculties, and when used together, they work best. And, no amount of external methods, or getting more tools into our medical black bag will substitute for the rigorous requirement of learning how to develop both aspects of ourselves as we investigate ‘each individual case of disease.’ Otherwise, a good computer would be able to do the job sufficiently on its own, which, of course, we know it cannot.

Bringing the mind and the heart to bear on our ability to objectively observe means we engage more than thought in the process of working with our patients.  With the addition of feeling, we are open to a more balanced, spontaneous, and human quality of interacting in the consultation room. Knowing intimately the depth and breadth of human nature in health and disease, combined with a deeper, broader knowledge and understanding of our selves, arguably renders the homeopath, not ideas and methods, the most potent tool in this healing work.

Think about how the mind, working alone, is often challenged to discern the truth of things.  The mind is so easily swayed. A good con man is quite capable of mentally convincing his subject about the veracity of his promises, yet inexorably leads his trusting victims to ruin. Modern-day ‘ponzi’ schemes are perfect examples of this. So too, the often complex and intricate stories of our patients can and do easily lead us astray and divert our attention away from truth and what needs to be cured.

We, as human beings, were given the capacity to feel, because feeling provides another dimension to perception that allows for better discrimination of experience.  Without this critical component of feeling, the subtleties and nuances of meaning are easily lost, rendering our perceptions, conclusions, and decisions less consistent and reliable. By incorporating feeling into our work with patients, it balances our keen observing mind. We avoid unwittingly falling prey to persuasive ideas, without realising the flaws, or dangers that lurk behind them.

A Case In Point

I remember a case, I once saw, who was referred to me by a local chocolatier. This woman came to my office dressed in ‘chocolate’ coloured clothing, a tee-shirt with words and logos about chocolate, a history of a deep love and fetish for all things chocolate, and she was soon to be traveling to attend an international chocolate festival.  All of this was easily observed in the first few minutes of meeting her.  Just by the ‘taste’ and feel of her, I knew the remedy immediately: of course, it just had to be the homeopathic Chocolate.

Nevertheless, I still took the trouble to dispel my initial intuitive conclusions and recorded a proper case.  I wanted the mind to verify what the heart seemed to know already. All of the symptoms that came out — ranging from her depression, aversion and prickliness with children, her somewhat intolerant and irritable nature, menstrual symptoms, and craving for chocolate, all confirmed her remedy. And, of course, it worked.

Applying objective observation and using the classical tools to identify the remedy were more than adequate for finding a deep acting remedy for this patient. Even though in cases like this, the source substance seemed to be telegraphed loud and clear, no matter which way one investigated this case, it seems somehow reassuring to know that the solid foundation of homeopathy’s ‘tried and true’ methods are trustworthy.

With our patients’ future health and well-being at stake, I feel we owe them to work with a consistent balance between science and art, so that we don’t go off on a limb, floating in the clouds of imagination, where sometimes, as described earlier, we choose remedies that sound good and clever, but offer little benefit. Our education must incorporate training for the heart, if it is to serve us best.

Mind & Heart Approach A Must 

Because we must address mind and heart in our training in homeopathy, homeopathic teaching, at any level, cannot be entirely linear.  As a multi-dimensional, energetic [dare I say, spiritual] healing modality, it has as much to do with resonance, as ideas per se. The ‘Law of Similars,’ which solidly and incontrovertibly underlies the healing process, is a direct expression of the concept of resonance. In order to heal at all, there needs to be a resonant relationship between the disease and the restorative intervention. This is what is meant by the idea of simillimum: the remedy that is most similar in resonance to the disease to be healed. In addition, the discovery of the most appropriate and deeply acting remedy can only arise out of a resonant relationship that the practitioner establishes with their patient/client.

What this means is that the practitioner must learn to engage their mind and heart in such a manner as to achieve resonance with the case at hand. When this occurs, the clarity of perception is at its subtlest and also precise. What needs to be cured, the identification of remedy, and the initiation of healing all combine into one complete experience.  Arriving, entering, and recognising the core of a case is a hard to describe experience, yet it is as palpable as it is unmistakable. It results exclusively from this integration between mind and heart, as the homeopath attentively, interestedly, and compassionately connects with their patient. Instead of external, intellectual reference points in which to pigeon-hole our cases, we learn to rely upon the internal experience of clear understanding of the case at hand, without reference to any other case, or external idea.

To witness, to see and be seen, is a human faculty of spirit and cannot be reproduced by any formula, or mechanical device, even the most sophisticated computer. Because homeopathy is vitalistic medicine, its ultimate meanings are uncovered through the experience of things, not so much from the thinking about them.

Some have argued that training students in the skills of observing objectively is one of the most challenging parts of homeopathic training. How exactly does one teach another to develop and hone such skills? Isn’t there a certain amount of personal inner work, life experience, and maturation required before one can attain the requisite skill sets?

I agree that this kind of knowledge is not so easily communicated and readily transferable. Nor is it something that occurs all at once. Homeopathic education is necessarily holistic and is not amenable to book learning alone. To become truly proficient requires spending time with teachers who have mastered these skills and also embody the qualities we are seeking.

At this point, the reader may wonder just how a homeopathic training programme can teach its students the more qualitative skills of engaging the heart and combining the artistic side of practice as an important complement to all the very quantitative, scientific aspects of homeopathic practice. For, in essence, objective observation is not something removed from the core of who we are, like a movie camera viewing the world from somewhere outside of us, but it actually encompasses the fullness of our being, a complete blending of mind, body, heart, and spirit.

Craft & A Ken For Detail 

In all traditional healing systems, which, like homeopathy, are based on the vitalistic model, there is a component of training that involves close intimate work with the teacher, which always goes beyond the didactic.  Known as the ‘oral tradition,’ the student learns and develops the deeper qualities of their craft through an apprenticeship type of relationship. This is a time-tested method for effectively transferring to the student the kinds of knowledge and wisdom that underlay the art of practice. It serves to awaken the student to their hidden capacities and strives to help advance one’s emotional and moral character, so that objective observation, or ‘clear perception,’ is more readily accessible.

Through direct contact with a master teacher, students learn by example, not just what to do, but how.  The master teacher serves as a kind of energetic compass, pointing the student to their own inner true north. In a real apprenticeship relationship, when a group works closely with a teacher, there is a kind of collective group energy that starts to activate. Students begin to directly experience what a resonant connection with cases feels like, and begin to recognise the feeling state of what they are looking for. Learning in this direct and experiential way allows us to resonate differently with our patients and the life around us, generally leading to a new level of experience that is both energising and invigorating.

Unlike purely didactic curricula, even those that show live cases and discuss them, working with the apprenticeship model directly engages our full selves, allowing exposure of our weaknesses and shortcomings, thus helping us to know ourselves better. This is accomplished primarily by direct feedback and gentle guidance by the teacher as issues of perception, or understanding, arise.

A willingness to be vulnerable in the learning process and see what needs to be improved in ourselves is a very powerful way of increasing self-awareness and enhancing the clarity and quality of our perceptions.  Talking about it is not enough.  Studying more ideas is not enough.  There has to be some kind of moulding and shaping phenomena which is intrinsic to the apprenticeship experience.  Sometimes, we simply need someone who sees more than we do to point out our blind spots and where we are stuck.

For many, the risk of being vulnerable — a necessary part of real personal growth and change — can be a stumbling block. It is reasonable to make ourselves vulnerable, as long as one knows that one is safe and respected. The payoff of being vulnerable comes in the form of personal advancement and proficiency as a homeopath. This payoff can be measured in so far as students more consistently replicate the process and successfully understand the cases, finding remedies that work. Ultimately, the consistency and proficiency of their finding deeply curative remedies must be the final arbiter of how well students are progressing in their training.

Sound, Objective Observers

By teaching students through apprenticeship how to be sound, objective observers, they gradually learn to catch the nuances and subtleties that present during case observation, and to identify much more readily that which is most characteristic to each case in question. Knowing that just such characteristics must be matched, or covered, by the remedy selected — because in being the most similar it must share them — clarifies the act of seeking the simillimum through the repertorisation process. One learns to carefully choose symptoms in the homeopathic repertory only after establishing a clear and definitive understanding of the case.

The trap that so often befalls the unwary student is to reference characteristics from external systems that they have already learned because they appear to match what one ‘thinks,’ or ‘believes,’ is taking place in the case being observed.  This looking to the outside for answers, before a resonant connection is made with the case at hand, leads one away from acquiring the vital knowledge requisite for a true understanding of the case.

In such a fashion, cases are blatantly, or sometimes very subtly forced into known schemas, effectively matching the case to a remedy, category, or concept, rather than the other way around — matching a remedy to the case. Needless to say, this tendency frequently leads predictably to unreliable results.  We find comfort in grasping for what is already known, even if it doesn’t serve us in the end.

With practice and perseverance, under direct tutelage and supervision by a practitioner who has mastered this way of working, most cases will readily open up and reveal themselves to the ‘objective observer.’ Through a deep understanding of the case, arising from a finely tuned awareness of mind and heart, the remedy that matches will almost always ‘light up,’ after careful repertorisation. The reason is that the remedy chosen in this way will invariably resonate with the understanding and clarity that arose from objective observation in the case-taking process. Indeed, there is an inherent simplicity in this process, once clear perception is achieved.

By getting a real taste and feel for proficient work in homeopathy, most students can make further advances on their own, through diligent practice and, of course, perseverance. To the extent that each one develops and hones oneself in this way, the capacity and competence to understand cases will grow accordingly. And, so will one’s confidence and satisfaction. Students report that they start to notice things that they didn’t used to notice. Though they will not fully ripen in the period of their training, a potent seed is planted and has already sprouted, ensuring future growth along these lines, provided the student values and continues to nurture it.

Conclusion 

My experience in my own training programme, Homeopathy Through Simplicity: The Objective Observer Course, has shown that the approach I describe is reliable, reproducible, and accessible to students, new and old. In the evaluation of live cases in class, there is a high level of unanimity in characteristic symptom recognition, rubric selection, and remedy choice. The highly positive results, in the vast majority of cases, seen in class after the remedy is taken is a testimony to the efficacy and utility of this method of learning. It also demonstrates that it is possible to train students in what they truly need to know, not just in the mind, but also in the heart, in order to attain proficiency as practicing homeopaths.

These reproducible and satisfying results can be achieved without emphasising the impossible task of mastering vast segments of our ever-expanding Materia Medica, or all the new systems of philosophy and method being taught worldwide. There is, in fact, minimal emphasis on extensive memorisation and rote learning. What it takes is only a willingness to establish a solid foundation in the basics of Dr Hahnemann’s teachings and to gradually refine and perfect one’s own self as an instrument for the high art and science of objective observation. This is not theoretical work, but one achieved on the ground, in the practical clinical setting of working with live cases.

Learning to be objective observers, which requires both mind and heart, is the most vital, powerful, and effective tool a student of homeopathy can develop and acquire. It also carries the potential to bring the deepest satisfaction and sense of connection with our patients and our work. Many methods and systems of thought teach us means to heal symptoms at various levels of illness. However, if we wish to attain Dr Hahnemann’s highest ideal of cure, as described in Aphorism #9, so that: “The reasoning spirit who inhabits the organism can thus freely use this healthy living instrument to reach the lofty goal of human existence,” then we must endeavour and work conscientiously and tirelessly towards a refinement of self. Through the gradual perfection of the perceptive functions of mind and heart, the true faculty of objective observation emerges and becomes fully operational.

While there is no shortcut to mastery in any field or discipline, this path of learning to be an objective observer is certainly one that will help the motivated homeopathic student arrive at eventual mastery, directly, inexorably, and with assurance.  In my experience, you, the homeopath, are the most important tool in the toolbox, trumping all others by leaps and bounds [NB: This is the concluding part of the article. The first part was published, ThinkWellness360, October 9, 2023].

Dr DOUGLAS FALKNER, MD, is a graduate from Dartmouth College, US. He completed his medical studies at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, followed by a three-year Emergency Medicine Residency Training in Cleveland, Ohio, and served as an attending physician, training medical residents at a Level I Trauma Center in Cleveland. He is a certified homeopath, a renowned teacher and healer. He lives in Blue Hill, Maine, US. This article is ©Dr Douglas Falkner.

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