MB: Dear Friends, today we have with us, Dr. Rajan Sankaran, one of the most well-known homeopaths in our homeopathic world. A person, who has inspired many and has also been the center of many philosophical debates pertaining to the practice of homeopathy, he is here with us today to share more about himself, his approach and work.
Dr. Sankaran, welcome to the Hpathy Hot-Seat!
MB: It has been nearly 16 years since you published ‘The Spirit of Homeopathy’. What changes you have perceived in your own understanding of homeopathy in these years?
RS: I’ve been in practice for a little over 25 years so far. Right through, it has been a search to find a method that gives consistent results. I found that fundamental to finding such a method was to clearly perceive what is health, and what is disease. If this understanding is not clear, then we don’t know what we are treating. The basic concepts are not there.
As time passed, the basic concepts became clearer to me. Each step has made the results more consistent. Along the way, I developed three systems: Kingdoms, Miasms and Levels of Experience.
Now practice has become simpler. But to reach this stage of simplicity, one crosses many different levels. I would like to share with you, through illustrative cases, some parts of my journey.
1986: This is one of the earlier cases that I saw, and recorded on video. The man, 58 years old, had had a heart attack. He also had hypertension and diabetic ulcers. Particularly, there was a very large ulcer covering most of the dorsum of one foot, and he had been advised to get the foot amputated. But given his history, the operation was a high-risk one, so surgery was ruled out. He therefore had few options. The bones of his foot (metatarsals) had undergone osteolysis and had dissolved.
He was an Income Tax officer. He was known for being responsible and upright and had shown exemplary honesty and dedication. Apparently, even his bosses were somewhat afraid of him, because of his uprightness and high sense of responsibility.
His first heart attack came about thus. He had conducted a search-and-seizure operation, and found some papers incriminating the party concerned. He stored the papers in his office drawer. The next day, they were missing! He felt that his own reputation was at stake, and was extremely concerned that it should not be stained. As a result, he moved heaven and earth to get those papers back, and finally did! But on the evening of that day, he got the heart attack.
Having gleaned this background information, I gave him Aurum metallicum 200. He showed much improvement in his general health and the ulcer. After about two months on the remedy, an X-Ray of the affected foot was repeated. The bones that had dissolved re-appeared!
This 72 year old male patient came with the diagnosis of Lyme disease. He is a Catholic priest, traveling a great deal, over countries, teaching N.L.P. He had been living in India for about 50 years, giving these seminars, and moving from one place to another.
He explained how he kept moving, staying for about two weeks to a month in one place, then back again to his retreat house for about two weeks, and then going somewhere else. Four months within the U.S.A., then two weeks in Ireland, then back again. Each time he goes to a new group of people, prepares his talk for about two days and then gives the seminar. He enjoys giving the seminar. Then again he moves to the next place. He knows a great deal of people in all these places, so that in many places he meets people that he’s known. About 50 people signed up for his seminar in Mumbai, maybe six of them would be repeats, the rest would be new. He says, in the beginning of the seminar, he’s not always sure, but it always turns out well. He looks forward to meeting new people and moving about.
In the seventies, he started doing group work. But he felt that it was “physiologically tight”, that he wouldn’t be “free”. “My face would become tight, and my movement tight,” he said, “Once I started to work, that would release and become less and less. I felt a sense of tightness. I wouldn’t use gestures and move around as freely as I would want.”
While listening to his story, it became apparent, that the moving and the meeting new people, which were both important to him, were aspects of the same thing. Even when describing his seminars, he talked of the movement; didn’t talk of his capability or the subject itself. He talked of the meeting of new people, which again is an important aspect of his sensitivity. The fact that he spontaneously mentioned it, repeatedly and in different ways, indicated that it was his sensitivity.
When he described how group work made him feel tight, here I realized that tightness is the opposite of movement.
When I asked him what ‘tight’ felt like, he said, “Tight feels like holding back, lack of movement.” When I asked, “What comes to your mind with tightness?” He replied “I don’t have freedom in my face, a stiff face and I don’t move.”
He got Rhus toxicodendron.
This case demonstrated how, when you come to the core, everything comes back to the same thing. Ask a question on something, it’s another path back to the core.
Usually, with homoeopathy, we think of symptoms such as “Feels anxiety about performance” and then we think of Argentum, Medorrhinum, Lycopodium, Silicea But if we merely go on these types of symptoms, we could make huge mistakes. We have to go behind such apparent symptoms to the real symptoms, which are the sensations underlying the experience of the symptoms.
This man’s case is not about performance; it is about tightness and movement. When you can see this, and bring the case down to that level, it is simple.
Here are some excerpts from the follow-ups:
He said, “I am feeling better. People tell me I look younger. My back has stabilized. I still exercise in the morning and walk in the afternoon. I feel very comfortable with this. Recently there has been a bit of congestion in the chest. Mind and mood have been very good. I have increased my personal prayer to two to three hours of meditation, vipasana. I feel much more peaceful, and relaxed. I am comfortable in the day.”
“I used to worry about the future; if a seminar was coming up, that I would make mistakes, won’t succeed, and others won’t like me. But now I don’t worry about the future, I feel much more easy and know it will be all right. I have a seminar coming up on Tuesday morning, and have no worries about it. Anxiety always used to be there. Even now I have a little, but not where like it used to be.”
“There was maybe a tightness inside. Now it’s maybe there, but much less. Maybe about 60% reduced.”
“There’s a change in my attitude towards life. I don’t set any goal, like I have to succeed, or be the first.”(Here, he is describing health; the ability to be in the moment without compulsion. Also an awareness; a looking inward. There is a decrease of your own state. It does not have the power on you that it had. That is how you have the ability to be in the moment.)
“I just see whatever happens when it happens.” (This is what we should see in our patients).
“If I fail, it doesn’t bother me. I feel easy with what’s coming up. Lately I say, I’m becoming a hermit. I prefer to be at home. They probably think I’m a bit strange. I don’t move around like ordinary people. I stay at home. I don’t go out to restaurants or movies or to meet people. I used to do it, and didn’t like it. I prefer to be studying or reading at home. As for the work, I still travel, and like going from one place to another. When I get there, I am prepared. I just go in and do the work. Moving is a part of doing the work.”
“I feel like a young person again. I’m smiling.”
Lyme disease was gone. The lab reports were all negative.
A child came with recurrent multiple boils on both lower limbs. He would take antibiotics, but shortly would develop them again. So they brought him for homoeopathy. At the first visit he had fever. He wouldn’t sit down in one place and moved about constantly. He had with him three brightly coloured papers, folded into little airplanes. He was constantly playing with these. He would put one on the table, and the other one would attack it. He kept doing this continuously. So I asked him to tell me about the papers.
He said, “The red one is me. The other two are enemies. The others will die and I won’t.”
The boy narrated a dream of a black witch with a net like a fish net. She trapped him and his friends and started hitting them. He woke from the dream with fear.
When I asked the mother to describe him, she said, “He is very active and restless, and hits people. He beats the maidservant in the house. He always hits her behind my back, the moment I am not around.” The maidservant said that he jumps on her from behind and brings her down, then hits her.
I gave him Tarentula.
He responded within days and remains well, five years later. Two weeks after the first dose he had a dream again, in which he trapped a ghost and locked the door. Previously, someone else had trapped him. The dreams had changed.
* * *
It took more than a decade of practice to see that there are essential differences in patients belonging to the three different Kingdoms.
The first case was a mineral case. It was about performance, ability and the need to maintain a position. The second one was a plant case, which exhibited, at the depth, a sensation and its opposite. Tightness versus movement. And in the third case, an animal case, there is the theme of one versus the other. You are doing it to me, I am doing it to you. Victim and aggressor.
In Minerals, it is about structure; what I have and don’t have, what I will lose. It’s about the completeness or incompleteness of oneself. Am I losing my completeness? The problem is with the self. In the Periodic table of elements, minerals are placed in rows and columns according to their atomic configurations, and interestingly, these rows and columns seem to share common characteristics. Each row represents a particular stage of development of the human being. For example, the first row is the stage of conception, the second of fetal life and labor, the third of infancy, the fourth of security and work, the fifth row has issues with creativity and performance and the sixth of responsibility. The Aurum case mentioned earlier is from the sixth row.
With Plants, it is all about sensitivity and reactivity. Each family of plants has its own type of sensation and its opposite. For example Anacardiaceae ( of which Rhus tox is one ) has the sensation of stiffness and the opposite, namely movement. Within the family, the plants may be differentiated by each one’s miasm.
The Animal problem is “between me and someone else”. It’s the issue of the survival of the fittest. It’s about competition, high and low; even “me versus myself”. Attractiveness. Animal are further divided into classes and subclasses like insects, birds, reptiles , mammals etc, each with its specific survival mode.
* * *
At some point, it also became clear to me that there are differences in the depth and pace of each state. They are characteristic of different types of responses. And these responses correspond to the body’s response to a specific type of infection. I called the specific type of response “Miasm“, which corresponds to the way in which the organism responds to a specific type of infection. I could identify ten miasms, namely Acute, Typhoid, Psora, Malaria, Ringworm, Sycosis, Tubercular, Cancer, Leprous and Syphilis. This system helps to pinpoint a remedy more particularly.
Let me clarify my perception of the miasm in each of the above three cases.
The Aurum case had great desperation and a sense of hopelessness. He had to move heaven and earth to get the problem solved. His life was very difficult and there was too much responsibility in it. The miasm here is syphilitic.
In the Rhus tox case, everything came and went. They were crises that blew over. It’s the typhoid miasm.
The Tarentula boy was fast paced, moving all the time. The miasm was tubercular.
* * *
The Third system I worked with is the Levels of Experience. I found that there are seven levels in which we experience reality or perceive the case.
Level 1: Name: pathology
Level 2: Fact: symptoms
Level 3: Feeling: emotions
Level 4: Delusion
Level 5: Sensation
Level 6: Energy
Level 7: Seventh
We can perceive any given situation at any level.
For example, some time ago, I had a problem with a visa. I had to get one to a particular country. The consulate was very inefficient and didn’t give my visa on time. Time was getting shorter and shorter. I called up the vice consul. He assured me that the visa was in his hands, and asked me to send someone to pick it up. I sent someone; they made him wait for six hours, and told him to come the next day. I called again, and they asked me to send someone again. Again he waited six hours and was told to come the next day. I yet called again, and they told me it was ready. The person went to pick it up, but was told that it would take three days to process. Finally, just the day before I left, I got my passport.
What was my experience of this?
The fact was that I didn’t have a visa and I needed it. My mind was thinking of facts. Then emotions came – anger and anxiety. Then physical symptoms of palpitations. I started thinking, “Why is this happening? Why are they doing this?” I then thought that there was a conspiracy, they were trying to harass or persecute me.( I was working on the Snake Family at that time.) That was my delusion.
So on one level, there was the fact. On another, the emotion. On yet another, a delusion. If it was a conspiracy, what should I do? Write about it in the newspaper?
I felt something in the abdomen and throat; a very intense sort of symptom, something like choking. I can only describe it with sounds and gestures, since words are inadequate. It had nothing to do with the delusions, emotions or facts.
It felt very familiar. I might have experienced it earlier when I had an exam or a fight with someone. A consistent experience that is physical as well as mental, deeper than the body or the mind, so that it needs sounds and gestures to express it. It has been constantly in the background since birth. It has nothing to do with the outside, actually. It surfaces from time to time. It is the sensation.
We have to take the case-taking to that level. It is the experience of the human being.
Once you get to that level, how do you use it?
Ask the patient to describe it.
Let us consider that he says, “Something is coming and crushing me” (In Animals, something is doing it to me). Or he says, “Something is contracting and expanding” (This is Plant). Or he says, “My whole structure has been compressed and wants to explode.” (This is Mineral). If you come to this level, the patient could even tell you the name of the remedy!
When you have a perception of the seven levels, life becomes interesting. It’s your unique experience; you’ve carried it from your birth and will carry it to your tomb, unless you take a homoeopathic remedy that dilutes it. You can only understand it from the level of experience, not the mind. Because the Sensation does not follow the intellectual logic we school ourselves with. It doesn’t “make sense” at all; it is total nonsense. But, yet, it is an undeniable truth.
The truth is your experience, your sensation.
We also look for nonsense, when we look for the level of experience. At the Emotion level, expressions begin on the face. Then usually, his eyebrows will rise when he starts imagining; for example, “This boss of mine is a dictator who specializes in making us feel so little.” When he gives images, for example, from human history, such as of Hitler, or books or movies, universal symbols and archetypes, he’s still at a human level. When it goes beyond that…it doesn’t make sense. We usually don’t want to talk about it or even experience it, because it makes no sense at all.
Imagine, if you would, a 45-year-old man, making paper planes and attacking one with the other, you would certainly commit him. So he pushes it down and suppresses it. “I won’t allow myself to feel it”, so he develops a physical pathology with the same sensation, and it becomes a disease with a scientific label, such as migraine, asthma or allergic bronchitis. The doctor thinks he is a sane person.
He could say, “The headache is killing me”, but if he did the paper-planes-attacking thing…
The more superficial the level of experience of the patient, the harder it is to get to the sensation. The more you live in the sensation level, become aware of your innermost experience and not push it down… just be aware, not act on it of course, especially if it is something like wanting to choke and kill someone…it will spare you a lot of physical pathology.
So the “nonsense” part is a plant, a mineral or an animal. Each of us carries one inside. You need to find what is speaking inside. You will start hearing that language in everyday life and inside of you.
Nowadays, I hear almost nothing else!
In case taking, we could hear facts, emotions and stories. We sometimes get lost in stories. We need to go behind the story. Take the non-human specific word, or the gesture, and if we make the patient focus on that, it helps him go beyond.
For example a patient (a 26 year old female) came with eating disorder since 8 years. When asked about it she said it blocks her life. Before she could go further to describe the disorder, I asked her to describe “it blocks my life”. From here she said it was like a glass wall between her and the world. I asked her to describe the glass wall. And then we could go straight to her core sensation of being closed and oppressed as opposed to open and free. She got Cannabis indica as the remedy.
The inner song expresses itself through gestures and non-human specific words in everyday conversations. It opens a secret door, and we explore a completely different world. In that world, we hear the source, the remedy speaking directly to us, as it were. Then we can be sure of what it is.
Homeopathy has become system based instead of only symptom based.
And the results are gratifying.
MB: Dr. Sankaran, there are many questions that arise from this explanation. I will put them forward one by one.
You have said –
In the Periodic table of elements, minerals are placed in rows and columns according to their atomic configurations, and interestingly, these rows and columns seem to share common characteristics. Each row represents a particular stage of development of the human being. For example, the first row is the stage of conception, the second of fetal life and labor, the third of infancy, the fourth of security and work, the fifth row has issues with creativity and performance and the sixth of responsibility.
Do you know that the arrangement of elements in the ‘rows and columns’ is not absolute. There are many problem areas with the Mendelev’s periodic table and scientists have proposed many new layouts like long, spherical, cyclical and helix arrangements. Check this site for complete details –
My question is when the rows and columns are themselves arbitrary, how can you fix stages of human development, emotions and problems to them?
RS: The simple reason is that these rows and columns and the pattern can be consistently seen in the past successful cases in practice, in the provings of the remedies and in the application of these concepts in new cases.
MB: You said:
“you’ve carried it from your birth and will carry it to your tomb, unless you take a homoeopathic remedy that dilutes it“
Can you please elaborate this? Does the ‘sensation’ (which is not healthy) never go – even after the simillimum is administered? Is it only weakened (diluted)? How can we call it a ‘cure’ then?
RS: The ideal of cure is rapid, gentle and permanent removal of the disturbance of the vital force. However as in any ideal, we can only go towards it more and more. Whether we can reach it is a moot point.
MB: Your concept of Miasms is very different from what Hahnemann had proposed. Why do you still prefer to call your concept “Miasm’? Why not some other name? Don’t you think it creates more confusion about an already confusing concept?
RS: I believe that they are the same idea looked at from two points of view. You can look at a miasm as an etiology like Hahnemann did, or look at it from the phenomenological point as I do. In practice it amounts to the same thing.
MB: Dr. Sankaran, Hahnemann gave three miasms; J. H. Allen added the fourth one, after which others have added/proposed Cancer, Typhoid, Ringworm, Chickenpox, Malaria and Leprosy etc. according to their own understanding. Miasms have been called a predisposition, genetic susceptibility, suppressed and maltreated infections, a sin, reaction to a situation and what not! Where do you see the meeting point? What is a miasm? Do you think the homeopathic community will ever reach a consensus as to what are miasms?
RS: Chicken pox is not one of the miasms on my list. The rest are. I think confusion arises as long as you are on one path in the mountain, when you reach the top you see no differences. Similarly, all these various concepts of miasma are basically saying the same thing i.e. they are a classification of states of being or disease. Such a classification is handy in locating the remedy, it does not matter what the theory behind the classification is. Whatever the school you follow, a syphilitic miasm is one that is destructive in mind and body. The psoric is more functional and the sycotic more of overgrowth and fixed. So there is already a meeting point notwithstanding the differences in theories. The rest will also follow soon.
MB: The opponents of the classification methods say that nature did not create classes; it is the humans that have done the classification to improve their own understanding of the life forms on earth. So identifying remedy actions in relation to their kingdom and genus is ‘synthetic’. Your take on that?
RS: Nature is varied, and surely there are plants minerals and animals, whether humans have named them so or not. Each type has its distinct features and if we accept that our remedies come from these sources, we must be able to see the differences in the remedies from the three different sources.
MB: The last set of answers came back very quickly. If ‘speed’ is an animal character, then your remedy should fall into the Animal Kingdom! Have you ever tried to analyze to which kingdom and genus, your own remedy belongs?
RS: Speed in not specifically animal, it is only a quality. To know the kingdom and the genus, it is not enough to know one quality; one has to perceive the whole pattern. This is not superficial, there is an in depth experimental inquiry that is called for that needs to go into the Sensation level. One does not analyze a kingdom of someone, least of all his own. One goes into the experience and uncovers what comes up. It is not mathematical or logical, it is a bit like archeology, we need to uncover what lies beneath and then it will reveal itself to us.
It is not easy to take one’s own case. I did take help of colleagues in finding a remedy which helped me.
MB: What is the ‘Seventh’ level?
RS: The Seventh level is the continuum. It is that part of you that is there from birth to death. On this continuum energy patterns, various delusions, and various pathologies play. It is constant, continuous and equal at all times. The other levels rise and fall.
The sickness is the energy pattern that is imprinted on you. Beyond that there is no sickness. The Seventh level is the part that is not sick. It is the bare slate on which the pattern of sickness is written. It is the state of hypnosis, meditation or coma or very deep sleep, which is beyond the six levels of experience. Where the person is blank, silent and is able to observe and narrate the other levels.
In case taking the person has to go back to the level which is not sick, in order to observe the sickness. He has to go to a level which is continuous and which has not changed in order to observe what is changing. He has to go to a level that has been there throughout, from birth to the present moment, so that he can describe the whole experience. Therefore the Seventh level is the most important level for healing. If this level didn’t exist there would be no way a person could describe his turmoil and find the healing agent.
During the case taking process, the homoeopath can be likened to a blind man who is accompanying the patient on a trek. Neither of them knows where the path is leading. The homoeopath encourages the patient to keep on the path and describe to him in great detail what he can see on the way. When the path ends, the homoeopath lets the patient describe exactly where they have arrived.