August 2004, a waterfront Greek tavern on Alonissos; here the idea of Looking Back Moving Forward (www.lookingbackmovingforward.com) was born. Nigel Summerley and I were in the aftermath of a few hours spent in the company of the great George Vithoulkas interviewing him at his Academy (www.vithoulkas.com). Chatting through our perceptions of the experience, I became inspired to return to England and interview as many UK-based great homeopaths and teachers of homeopathy that I could in a year. Little did I know in this temporary, sun-induced state of immense enthusiasm and passion for homeopathy, my life would suddenly move into full throttle and would stay that way for the next two and a half years!
The result, a book of thirty two interviews with thirty four of our UK leaders in our field. I would have loved to have continued on my interviewing journey but the chapters took a further year to edit and compile and resulted in a tome of five hundred pages.
Manish Bhatia of Hpathy.com suggested I share with you, over the coming months, excerpts from some of the interviews and my thoughts and feelings about having been part of the process and what I have learned from the experience. I would also like to invite you to explore and share your thoughts and feelings having read the excerpts (see the end of this article).
Looking Back Moving Forward was a huge project to be involved in; I can hardly believe it is complete. I feel extremely privileged to have been given an audience with these inspiring souls and equally fortunate to be able to share their wisdom and stories with so many homeopaths all around the world. Copies of the book in its first few months since publication have found their way across the UK to Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, America, Canada, Belgium, Holland and Italy – and those are just the ones that I know about.
So to start with, let me introduce you to the interviewees. In alphabetical order I had the great honour of chatting with:
Subrata Kumar Banerjea * Mike Bridger * Peter Chappell * Kate Chatfield * Sheilah Creasy * Robert Davidson * Annette Gamblin * Lesley Gregerson * Linda Gwillim * Barbara Harwood * Brian Kaplan * Ellen Kramer * Martin Miles * Lionel Milgrom * Misha Norland * Nicky Pool * Rebecca Preston * Linda Razzell * Ernest Roberts * Bill Rumble * Gordon Sambidge * Roger Savage * Yubraj Sharma * Jeremy Sherr * Myriam Shivadikar * Sue Sternberg * Dion Tabrett * Simon Taffler * Francis Treuherz * Charles Wansbrough * Anne Waters * Jerome Whitney * Kaaren Whitney * Carol Wise *
Robert Davidson is extremely well known in the UK. He is responsible for establishing the first school of homeopathy in London, COH, in 1978 with the late Martin Miles, he then went on to set up the three Practical Colleges in London, the Midlands and Iceland. He is known for being somewhat controversial and prides himself in being a disruptor. Interviewing him was a three year education in itself and really got me thinking!
I include three excerpts here. The first is about how Robert got into homeopathy in the early 70s and illustrates how far we have moved on as a profession in the last forty years.
ROWENA: I wanted to start with how you got into all this. I know you studied with Thomas Maughan, but what inspired you to even go to him in the first place? Tell me your story.
ROBERT:In 1971 I was living in a macrobiotic communal house in Ladbroke Grove, London. I was just sitting there in the lounge reading a paper one Sunday afternoon. One of the people who had left a few months earlier came back for a visit. She was talking to someone else about a particular gentleman and inadvertently I heard the conversation. He was in his seventies and his wife was pregnant and a few other things like that. I thought I should talk to him but I had no idea why. So I phoned him up and said, “I would like to talk to you”. He asked me, “What about?” I said that I didn’t have a clue and he replied, “Right then, tomorrow at three in the afternoon.” And that was that. I had no clue about homeopathy; I didn’t even know anything like that existed. This was in the early seventies and it actually hardly existed at all.
ROWENA:And what were you doing workwise at that point?
ROBERT:I was very bored repairing extremely primitive telephone answering machines.
ROWENA:And how old were you?
ROBERT:In 1971 I was twenty five. I am only twenty seven now; it is amazing how slowly it has gone. After a couple of months or so I turned up at his homeopathy classes and this whole universe opened up. I was this complete nutcase who wrote down absolutely everything he said. I was watching everyone else at the table. They knew that they would never forget what he said and they didn’t write anything. Ha Ha.
ROWENA:Oh, I would have done what you did.
ROBERT:You can get wrist muscles the size of an elephant, you know.
ROWENA:Did you know what remedy he was? You observed him so much.
ROBERT:Thomas was undoubtedly Arsenicum album. He probably started off in his youth as Nux vomica, and there is a rare constitutional progression from the Nux vomica who lives life so intensely that they become different. Most people’s lives are too dull, boring and protected for them to change constitutions. How long will it take a Calcarea carbonica to get enough life experience to need to evolve? So the Nux vomica just goes in there, head down; usually goes through Ignatia amara and gets into Arsenicum album in old age. So many homeopaths actually turn into Arsenicum albums. It is more the nature of the work that they do. They often get ….
ROBERT:Anally retentive. Thomas held the homeopathy classes on Saturday evenings. It was very simple. On the first evening the theory took an hour and a half, just the once. I liked that. After that we did materia medica before tea, and cases after tea. And that was it. It was about a three and a half year cycle. We just went through all the remedies and everything was fleshed out with our own real cases. And as you went along, you gradually got cases and you just ended up doing it. It was an evolution.
ROWENA:How many of you were there?
ROBERT:Not that many. There was a flow through; people would come and go. The classes were once a fortnight. It totally ruined my social life, but there was nowhere better to go so it was fine. When he died in 1976 I na?vely started teaching his Saturday night classes and at the end of 1977 I got the idea for the College of Homeopathy (COH), and set that up to start in September 1978. I had a lot of encouragement like, “Who is going to go? You will never get people. Oh, that is far too much money, nobody will pay that.” It was an exciting time, but it was the same thing in 1985 when I started the first full-time course, “Oh, nobody can come full time; you are charging too much money.” Yes, right. I like the beginnings of things, when they are usually impossible. When it gets administrative and ‘corporate’ I am out of there.
ROWENA:At the time that you studied was there the classical/practical issue being discussed?
ROBERT:Oh, no. I started that one and here is the story behind it. Thomas had a particular way of practising; he used the totality remedy. However as there was almost always a difference between the organ and the organism, because of modern drugs, lifestyle, foods, sugar, alcohol and all the rest of it, often the organs would be specifically damaged out of proportion to the organism. For instance, if you prescribe for the organism – the totality – and it starts to repair the totality at a rate of twenty miles an hour, say, and the organ can only do ten, then you will either have prolonged aggravations or problems with pain and all sorts of other stuff. His skill was to be able to help the limited organ do twenty miles an hour and keep up with the organism. So with his way of prescribing you didn’t get the aggravations or the prolonged discharges. It was a very high level of skill and I don’t know anybody who has replicated that yet. And, na?vely again, that is what we taught at COH from 1978 through to about 1981-82.
It was about 1982 and ‘Greeks bearing gifts’ started to arrive. When George Vithoulkas first came over what he found, in his own words, were the best homeopaths that he had so far come across. Then he decided that, of course, like everybody else except him, we were doing it the wrong way. By that time, the interpretation of what George Vithoulkas was saying was about essence; that there was the central core, this absolute essence. Find that; prescribe the ‘right remedy’ and everything cascades better. This is not actually true in these benighted times, except in rare circumstances.
In this second excerpt Robert talks about methodologies:
ROBERT:So, one of the reasons I got Robin Murphy over from the USA was because what we needed to introduce were methodologies. The concept didn’t exist before then.
ROWENA:What was it like then if there weren’t methodologies?
ROBERT:It was just ‘what we did’. A lot of people still practise that way, saying there are no methodologies, there is just homeopathy. Which is true, as homeopathy is similarity. But homeopathy isn’t what you do; homeopathy is the reason you do it.
ROWENA:Okay, explain that a little bit to me.
ROBERT:Well, homeopathy is the reason you prescribe. It is not what you prescribe and it is not how you do it. Homeopathy is a principle. A principle is a vague idea, a kind of overarching vague idea. Anything specific in it is an individual’s interpretation of principle, which can only be judged by effectiveness in the world. (Read that one again..!) So the purpose of creating methodologies and distinct ways of doing things is that you create a set of rules within its own patient specific universe. Like Eizayaga’s layers methodology, which has rules that are completely the opposite of Kent’s? The methodologies contradict, but only if you use them to treat the same patient. That is one of the reasons I think there should be no philosophy in homeopathy; I am with Samuel on that.
ROWENA:He said that too?
ROBERT:Yes. He said ‘have no theories’. Of course he then went on and had a theory but, hey, he’s human too, maybe. Essentially homeopathy is a technology; it is an application of principle. The philosophy is not philosophy at all; it is actually just rule systems. And the rule systems apply individually within each distinct method. So the methods are defined by the rules you use, and what you need to do is retain integrity in your method and not jump from one method to another to another. That is why we ended up eventually creating distinct methodologies – aetiologies, Kentian, physical generals, layers and sequentials. Each methodology has its own rules and expectations. Each, if you like, has its own philosophy. What you do is individualise the methodology to the patient. That is the bit most homeopaths are missing. Almost no-one, worldwide, is teaching how to find the most appropriate method for each individual patient.
Survival (and health) is the ability to adapt to changes. Extinction and disease are the inability to adapt to changes. The righteous have no capacity to change. If homeopathy doesn’t get that it has to be methodologically adaptable to the individual then it becomes extinct. It dies because its practitioners have never given up the allopathy in their soul.
Classical homeopathy is much closer to allopathy than it is to anything else. They don’t individualise a patient; they just look for the symptoms which support the classical methodology. They don’t even look and see if a patient is weak, strong, damaged or poisoned. It is like the person comes in and you do your thing with them. And your thing is to find the symptoms appropriate to finding a ‘classical’ remedy and the theory being that the ‘right’ remedy will then fix everything. This is pure fantasy ninety five percent of the time.
As I said, homeopathy is a technology; it is not a science. It will probably be another couple of centuries before we have anything close to a science that explains it. Somebody fell over it, picked it up and wondered what the hell this is and found it worked. It is a bit like somebody from medieval times stumbling over an electric torch; you pick it up; accidentally push the button and wow. Okay, it works but how does it work. Duh? It is a bit like Shakespeare watching television and wondering how the little people got in the box. The intervening evolutions and their changed perceptions aren’t there. The glorious and amazing homeopathy simply becomes more sophisticated, over time, in what it does.
The uniqueness of homeopathy is that nothing ever developed becomes redundant. It never goes out of date. The monumental significance of this escapes most people. It is the one observation that makes science look like the kiddies playing in the puddles. With homeopathy you don’t have to change fundamentals and you never have to throw away anything developed from experience. I can take a materia medica published in 1830, put it on my desk and use it. What has changed? Nothing. Homeopathy doesn’t change because it is based on what is real. All the rest of it, science and all the other illusions of our time are based on what is not real. If science was true it would not be changing all time. It would be refining and exploring what is true, not scrabbling around looking for this week’s truths and hoping to get next year’s grants out of them.
And finally, Robert’s thoughts on the future of our profession:
ROWENA:What do you think will happen to homeopathy in this country? Do you find it worrying?
ROBERT:No, I find it cyclical.
ROWENA:So do you think it will go dormant again?
ROBERT:It will go minimal, for sure. The same people that corruptly produced the EU (hence UK) legislation to wipe out all the supplements and vitamins; the same money will essentially try to wipe out everything else. It depends on how far homeopathy abandons common law. It should never do that; it should have embraced and rejoiced in common law because that is where the freedom lies. In my opinion, it is organising itself out of its own freedom to exist. But then again if you look around the planet, who isn’t? That seems to be the tone of the century – people giving up their freedom voluntarily. Selling the freedom of the individual for the rights of a slave is not ‘Fairtrade’.
The elimination of anything that might obstruct the truly obscene profits of ‘Big Pharma‘ will be eliminated and the level of sickness will be controlled downwards, to ensure sickness, so that everyone has to take drugs with no other choices available. By the way that is a ‘done deal’. It is already set up and must be implemented by all countries signed up to the World Trade Organisation. What they are planning is so evil, so totally evil and unthinkable for most folks that it will be riveted into place before anyone notices, as it has always been done when totalitarian control of populations occurs.
A lot of what Robert said in his interview I managed to follow but there got to a point where really I just couldn’t get my ‘classical’ head around it and I told him so. He looked at me with his piercing blue eyes and said, ‘how arrogant are you that you think you have to and can get your head around everything.” His intention was not to knock my confidence, and he didn’t. His comment was quite empowering and how right he was!
I wrote in the preface of my book that my wish is for discussions to arise from the conversations in Looking Back Moving Forward and for us all to pull together as a profession to secure a continued and expanding future for homeopathy; a wish that I am sure we all share. To facilitate this I have established a blog on the book’s website (www.lookingbackmovingforward.com/blog).Please participate in the discussions and instigate some of your own. We are such a wonderful community doing good work all around the globe. Let’s share our ideas and experiences and move forward through this current wave of negativity and scepticism.
Enjoyed your interview with Robert (an old friend and teacher of mine from the college over 30 years ago! That same summing up in such simpplicity of staement large and profound overviews. Thanks for publishing.