KS: Welcome to Hpathy, dear Doug! I look forward to knowing more about your journey to homeopathy and where the journey took you. How has homeopathy changed your life?
DB: First of all, thank you, Katja, for asking to interview me. I frankly was a bit surprised, because I don’t consider myself a leader or innovator in our profession. I am simply a devoted practitioner who considers himself extremely lucky to have been found by homeopathy, and to be practicing at a time when huge advances are being made. This is indeed an exhilarating time to live, breathe, and practice homeopathy!
The ways in which homeopathy has changed my life are incalculable. Whereas before homeopathy, health and disease appeared to be almost random functions of genetics, environment, and lifestyle, now symptoms and states of being are recognized as signposts on the road to integraton of the Self as it moves along a path of spiritual evolution.
Whereas before homeopathy illness put one in dependence of an impersonal medical-industrial complex, now the health of my loved ones and self can rest in the care of a mindset that perceives and cares about the wholeness of each of us.
Whereas before homeopathy my vision of the world was blinkered by the prevailing worldview that humankind alone posessed a unique subjectivity in a soul-less objectivized universe, homeopathy has opened my eyes not only to the fact of accompaniment by uncountable fields of consciousness; it has also provided us with the means of accessing, learning from, and borrowing these other awarenesses in the service of healing.
KS: I understand that you worked for 11 years as a Family Nurse Practitioner before becoming a homeopath. Can you say more about how homeopathy changed the way you treated patients?
DB: Back in the days of practicing conventional medicine we had a so-called “Problem List“ at the beginning of every patient’s chart, where diagnoses such as Hypertension, Ulcerative colitis, Depression were listed. In each visit certain of these problems, but not necessarily all, were addressed. And these problems were seen as entities in themselves, somehow divorced from the totality of the patient and his or her experience.
There was a huge emphasis on laboratory studies, and of course pharmacology to treat the symptoms and signs of these problems. At the end of each patient’s visit I had the nagging feeling that somehow I was missing the forest for the trees; I was missing the wholeness of the patient and how the symptoms were meaningful expressions of some dis-ease at the level of the soul, a seat of self that exists before the division of Self into Mind, Body, and Spirit.
I now approach patients in a totally opposite manner. I am first and foremost interested in Who they are, not in What diseases they may or may not have. I know that if I deeply understand them in their wholeness, uniqueness, complexity, and depth, that they will be able to heal their disease if I reflect back to them their wholeness with the proper remedy.
And not only will they heal their disease, they will overcome obstacles to living out the fullness and meaning of their lives. They will manifest that Wholeness and experience a higher level of vitality, energy, and joy in life.
KS: One‘s medicine follows one’s paradigm. Please tell us more about homeopathy’s view on the nature of reality.
DB: Hahnemann re-discovered the Law of Similars at the close of the Age of Enlightenment, which elevated the human faculty of reason and liberated much of humankind from superstition, religious dogmatism, and intolerance. But as the spirit of scientific curiosity has in turn become somewhat rigid, and metamorphosed into the religion of scientism, which exludes other forms of knowing from our consciousness, homeopathy provides a way to integrate the rational intellect with other precious pathways to wisdom from the heritage of our ancestors, such as shamanism, intuition, and altered states of consciousness.
Inasmuch as homeopathy is applied magic, I like the observation of philosopher Jean Gebser, who said: “Magic is not a fake ritual for people who have not yet reached our cultural level of scientific understanding, but rather magic consciousness is one which still has access to the general connecteness of all beings.“
The most essential assertion about homeopathy’s view on the nature of reality is that there is something spirit-like, something dynamic, and something intangible at the heart of everything.
At the center of human health is what Hahnemann called the Vital Force. This anachronistic expression fails to adequately convey the essential truth that we are more than the sum of our parts. The process of trituration and proving of substances that are apparently lifeless and devoid of consciousness demonstrates over and over again that we inhabit a universe which is very much a living organism, of which we are but one part.
KS: Treating the whole subject as done with homeopathy is a necessity that might be easy to understand. But how do you explain the nature of a homeopathic remedy and what they are able to accomplish for your patients?
DB: Ah, that is one of my favorite questions: What exactly is a homeopathic remedy? In my view a remedy is a bridge between the patient and the field of consciousness which contains the questions his or her life is asking, and the wisdom with which to respond to those questions.
Let me try to unpack that a bit. When I feel unbalanced, sick, or unwell in any way, my state (the sum total of my symptoms and reactions) could be reproduced in another person who was homeopathically proving a certain substance, who was exploring the consciousness of some other way of being in the universe, be it an element, a stone, a plant, or an animal.
In order to experience homeopathic healing, I would need to be connected to the consciousness of that substance. Of course, my homeopath would have to recognize which of innumerable possible substances that would be. But in that recognition, in that awareness, a bridge is formed between myself and my healing.
Thus it is the consciousness, or the awareness itself, that is indeed the remedy. I love the word “Noetic“ to describe this aspect of remedies, that they consist of consciousness.
We can invoke or bring into play a remedy by respectfully requesting it to enter into the field of awareness encompassing the patient and homeopath. The remedy is the bridge which brings that healing into existence. It is somewhat analogous to the role of the observer in quantum physical experiments demonstrating the principle of quantum entanglement.
And, of course, it is also similar to shamanistic practices. This doesn’t make it unscientific; rather it shows us that homeopathy has the potential to expand our understanding of reality in a way that has eluded science up til now: the hard question of how mind and matter connect.
KS: Disease being the reflection of a disharmonic state, what might the current infectious pandemic (Covid 19) be reflecting in your opinion?
DB: Just as individual illness is not a random accident of genetics and environment, our collective disease is not a chance event to be blamed on an individual microorganism. It is a reflection of an imbalance between humankind and the rest of life here on our planet.
As human activity causes mass extinctions, climate chaos, and the loss of habitat for other species, our planet is seeking ways to come back into balance. The corona virus has something to teach us, some message, that we need to take into our collective awareness, rather than something to wage war against.
It is a mistake to minimize the suffering that Covid-19 is causing. The pandemic is real, and thousands more people are dying from this infection than the typical influenza. But the best way to help us overcome the pandemic is by treating everybody in a way which energetically teaches the immune system to integrate whatever the corona virus has to teach us. Since the immune system is one part of our neuropsychoimmunological network, we as a species will evolve to co-exist with it rather than suffer and die.
KS: You started your education with a four-year program at the Hahnemann College of Homeopathy, North America, and afterwards studied with a variety of other excellent teachers. How did your practice change over the years, incorporating all that you’ve learned?
DB: Yes, I was fortunate to begin my studies with Roger Morrison, Jonathan Shore, Nancy Herrick and others at Hahnemann College. They opened my eyes to the power, depth, and scope of homeopathy.
They also introduced me to the teachings of Rajan Sankaran and his colleagues, which influenced me tremendously. I loved Divya Chhabra’s insights into “confluence points“, where the pathology is linked to the depth of the case.
I love my friend Dinesh Chauhan’s philosophy and method of “Case Witnessing“, which remind us to always see ourselves as accompaniers of our patient, to begin the process from a place of receptivity before availing ourselves of our own ideas about what is important.
Jan Scholten has of course launched a revolution within our profession in so many ways. The Periodic Table has been opened up as a meaningful template of the evolution of complexity in the human mind. His work on plant theory is brilliant, and complements Michal Yakir’s equally brilliant insights into our rooted, sunlight-eating companions.
Each of these teachers, and others, have gifted me with insights that help me undertand and help my patients. Each has increased my confidence that the right remedy can be discovered. Each of these remarkable individuals has cleared new paths in our ever-evolving undertanding of the way in which our outer reality is connected to our inner psyche. It is of course up to me to discern which tool or method is most appropriate to the patient sitting in front of me.
KS: You’ve authored two triturations, Sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus) and Tuna (Thunnus thunnus). Please tell us something about your experience and the spirit of these remedies.
DB: I became interested in the consciousness of fish ever since a huge sturgeon surprised me by leaping out of the water close by while I was sailing my little boat on the Columbia river! It clearly was asking for some attention! Since then I’ve triturated tuna (Thunnus thunnus) and Poecilia reticulata (the guppy), as well as Acipenser transmontanus.
I wrote an article for Hpathy in which I described Acipenser (See: The Spirt of Sturgeon, Dec. 16, 2020). The trituration of tuna was accompanied by intense emotion, lack of confidence, anxiety, and a desire to escape.
One participant, in tears over her anxiety with regards to whether she would be able to perform adequately as a triturator/prover, had difficulty deciding whether or not to even stay for the experience. For her, it was a matter of “my own feelings vs. somebody else’s feelings.“ Another notable quality of the trituration was great differences in stature and authority.
Poecilia (Guppy) brought about a heightening of the senses to the point of unreality. We experienced introversion in response to the bizarre nature of the outer world. The sensual acuity resembles not so much like that produced by hallucinogenic drugs; rather it was a deep absorption into the sensory realm and a corresponding diminution of the capacity for reason, reflection, and abstraction.
I believe that fish remedies in general can help a lot when patients are immersed in a sea of emotion, with strong histories of abuse and victimization, and with states of altered perception associated with cognitive issues and/or memory loss. There is still much we can learn from these fascinating creatures, and I thank Lou Klein, Paul Theriault, Viktoria Bodrogi for their efforts in bringing fish consciousness to light!
KS: Have you had the opportunity to prescribe them in your practice?
DB: Yes. The clearest successes have been with Acipenser transmontanus. I have one autistic boy who progressed well with Poecilia, but have since changed his remedy to Piper cubeba. I have not yet had a cured case with Thunnus thunnus.
KS: Given that we already have thousands of remedies, and that the old masters accomplished their miracles with not much more than 100 remedies, why continue to triturate more and more substances?
DB: That’s a great question! There is certainly a risk to our profession of being overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information being generated by ongoing provings and trituration! The short answer is that we need these new remedies, and that these new remedies need us! Let me explain.
When I began my practice, I of course prescribed the remedies I had been taught. And the amount of failures I had was really depressing! It was only when I began to explore in-depth what was then called “Small Remedies“ that my success rate began to inspire some self-confidence.
Nowadays I practically dance a jig when I get to prescribe Sulphur, Pulsatilla, or Calcarea carbonicum. These patients just don’t walk through my door. I ask myself, why is that?
We can hypothesize that life in 21st century Portland, Oregon, is just more complex than what those remedies can deal with. Perhaps. But I also feel that the universe itself is challenging us, the homeopathic community, to explore fields of consciousness (Noetic fields) that have hitherto remained hidden from view.
I really meant it when I said the sturgeon wanted to be seen! And so it is with everything in creation. The spirits of everything wish to make themselves known to human consciousness, to help us in our own evolution. And clearly human evolution is sorely needed at this time of global ecological crisis. If our planet is to survive as a place we can call home, we need the assistance of sources of wisdom that up until now remain untapped.
As for the issue of sheer overwhelming information: At least in the kind of practice I have, we cannot rely on symptoms and repertorization alone. We have to get a sense of how simple or complex our patient is. Of where in the story of psychological growth and differentiation he or she became stuck or ill. We need to go deeply into the patients‘ aspirations, sensations, his level of sensitivity, his relationship to animals, plants, her work, her family, and community.
We need to explore dreams. This exploration, as well as a careful observation of how the patient speaks, acts, relates his or her story, will tell us a lot about what category of substance we need to choose a remedy from. This will narrow the scope of our search tremendously, will increase the power and selectivity of our repertorization. Then the existence of a multitude of remedies from the required category will allow our choice to be that much more exact and similar to what our patient needs.
KS: You are a Board member of A Promise of Health, a small U.S. based non-profit organization to bring homeopathic health care to the poor in rural Mexico. Please tell us about your work and aspirations.
DB: It’s an honor to be a part of this effort. APOH is the brainchild and manifestation of the tireless energy, bottomless goodwill, and inspiring courage of Barbara and Bill Grannell. It supports the work of an amazing homeopathic doctor in Oaxaca, who works long hours under very difficult conditions to bring homeopathic healing to a population with few resources and little access to health care.
One highlight of my association with the project was the chance to work alongside her for a few days. I was struck by how much good can be accomplished with just a handful of remedies, and how different our styles of practice were. It was a mind-opening demonstration of how versatile our homeopathic art and science is, how flexible it is, in responding to situations, circumstances, and life experiences that are vastly different.
KS: What other homeopathic endeavors are most engaging to you at this time?
DB: I’m very interested in the question of how homeopathy works. I don’t think we have an adequate model or hypothesis. For example, the emphasis on nano-particles still seems to me reductionistic, and doesn’t give adequate space to the role of consciousness, which I believe is central.
The absence of a truly satisfying explanatory model is one factor limiting homeopathy’s acceptance. But it also provides us with a huge opportunity. I believe that the mystery of homeopathy is an aspect of the greater mystery of everything….of what reality itself consists of. If we truly engaged with this question we might provide new avenues for understanding better our role in creation and in the universe, along with physicists, cosmologists, philosophers and mystics.
I am very happy to be part of a group of homeopaths, led by Vladimir Petroci of Slovakia, in organizing forums for discussion around these topics. Last month we organized a symposium on the topic of “Inexplicable Phenomena in Homeopathy“, and we are currently planning more, so as to stimulate more conversations about these issues.
KS: Albert Einstein once said that he knew that the most joy in his life has come to him from his violin. How did you fall under the violin’s spell?
DB: It’s easy to become so absorbed in the wonders of homeopathy that we forget to nourish ourselves in other ways. But music for me has always refreshed me, given me an opportunity to express myself in ways that leave words far behind.
Playing violin and viola also allows me to play chamber music with other musicians, and string quartets in particular are a passion of mine. This musical form gives each participant a voice that counts, but also combines the voices in something transcendent, higher, that has a unity all its own. I find it exhilarating.
KS: There is a path for everyone. Do you have a glimpse where your path leads you?
DB: Although I am already in my 60s, I still hope to become a better homeopath. I have a glimpse of having access to greater insight, a greater sense of how homeopathy relates to humanity’s path to an enlarged sense of its inter-relatedness with the multitude of other conscious forms of being that make up our planet. The work of Michal Yakir, Jan Scholten, Mahesh Gandhi, the Joshis, Paul Theriault and others tells me that homeopathy provides a map for understanding the psychospiritual evolution necessary for our survival. Ultimately, I want to see a world that is flourishing as I leave it, a place where not only my grandchild but all forms of life can continue to celebrate and live life to the fullest.
KS: Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom and insight!!
DB: Thanks so much for this opportunity to share!
Katja and Doug Brown, this interview was brilliant on many levels. Simply brilliant! Thank you both so much! I wrote down the following quote from the interview that I love…”symptoms and states of being are recognized as signposts on the road to integration of the self as it moves along a path of spiritual evolution”…Doug Brown.
Keep up the good work! It is an honor to know you both!
Excellent interview. Simple, yet very deep.