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jeudi 17 octobre 2013


Like most western educated Medical Doctors, I was not that interested in the Mind Body Connection in Health while I was a Medical Student, Resident in Internal Medicine and a Fellow in Endocrinology in three different continents.
It was the last month of my Endocrine Fellowship which I extended to one more year so that I can experience and educate myself about the various Endocrine disorders at our excellent teaching hospital, Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami.
I have in this country now for four years and I know nothing about the original inhabitants of this land. Why don't I spend the last month of my Fellowship as an Elective with a group of American Indians?
A call to an agency in Chicago assigned me to a tribe in Iowa. Even my travel agent at that time, a Cuban transplant to Miami, did not know whether any airlines flew into Iowa but managed to book me a flight into Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
The Indians were waiting!
I was very vigilant with this traditional tribe and they were treating me with great respect in return. At the end of the week, a group of elders came and explained a few things to me. Inviting me to speak at the graduation ceremony one week hence at the local Indian school.
Very soon I realized that what I had learned in Medical School would have to complimented by in depth studies in cross cultural ways of thinking and understanding. I was lucky to be enrolled in a postgraduate programme in Medical Anthropology at Brunel University of London and studied under Prof Ronnie Frankenberg and Prof Cecil Hellman.
Indians slowly began teaching me about this universe we all inhabit in. From identifying myself as a professional wearing a white coat, they explained to me who was the person or self living beneath that white coat (I gave up wearing white coat then and to this day do not wear white coats).
Over a long period of time, I began to understand their philosophy a little bit. And was taught humility by teachers who said: What a pity you are not smart enough to learn everything we can teach you!
A lot of good people began traversing the path into my life, my gratitude for such a life grew. Jamaica and Cuba contributed more than its share and since 2002, it was South East Asia, while the fires of Australia, USA and Europe were kept burning. Luck favoured me again in 2008 when a bubbly accountant from Malaysia began talking to me about Yogic Philosophy and introduced me to Kleishas, and I began understanding Jiddu Krishnamurty and also the Buddhist Philosophy
It is a long way for a Jewish boy from Caulfield in Melbourne to have travelled!
Rick Hanson explains in his book Buddha’s Brain, the Buddhist philosophy and how it can affect the plasticity of the brain and it makes sense to read it from both Buddhist philosophical and Neuroscientific points of view.
He says:
Find refuge in whatever is a sanctuary and refuelling station for you. Potential refuges include people, activities, places, and intangible things like reason, a sense of your innermost being or truth.
Friends in North America, except my brothers in Portland used to ask me: why do you travel to South East Asia so much? Since 2008, I have averaged at least five trips per year to SE Asia
Perhaps it is the refuge it offers me, as a place, the humanitarian projects I am involved in or the idea of the simple pleasures of enjoying the air and the food and the scenery.
I realized that most people would not have the luxury of visiting me if I stayed put in one place so I have to find time and means to travel to see them. That meant a change in career plans from becoming a Professor of Medicine in Australia or USA to be with people who would understand my wanderings as well as afford me an opportunity to help them with whatever they need within the scope of my medical and anthropological expertise.
A good friend among the Yakama suggested: why don't you put down what you are thinking about American Indian philosophy, Yogic/Buddhist philosophy and how to use it for the betterment of ones body, mind and spirit.
I will attempt it, as the time goes by. The first person that came to my mind was Black Elk Hehaka Sapa in Lakota language
I highly recommend his Black Elk Speaks for an in-depth reading.

Elder's Meditation of the Day - October 17
"Peace... comes within the souls of men when they realize their relationship, their oneness, with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the Universe dwells Wakan-Tanka, and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us."
-- Black Elk (Hehaka Sapa) OGLALA SIOUX
Explanation of the above by some Indian elders
If we are to know peace we must look within ourselves. In order to do this, we must learn to be still. We must quiet the mind. We must learn to meditate. Meditation helps us locate and find the center that is within ourselves. The center is where the Great One resides. When we start to look for peace, we need to realize where it is within ourselves. When we experience conflict we need to pause for a moment and ask the Power within ourselves, "How do you want me to handle this? What would you suggest I do in this situation?" By asking the Higher Power for help we find peace.

For those familiar with Jiddu Krishnamurty would find resonance of these words. One thing is for sure, the philosophical thinking has been given to us over the generations and it does
not progress like science or technology, superseding the previous known truth. Truth must not be confused with convenience Like in the Jewish Commentaries, Talmud, most of the philosophies are commentaries which embellish our desire to learn about truth and self and the universe, in the context of living in this century and in this society. Some extraordinary people, like Buddha or Krishnamurty have intimate understanding of this universal connection and are able to explain it well or put it down in words for future generations.
Buddha 25 centuries ago, Black Elk from the past century, Black Elk from the 19th century and JKM from the 20th.all expounded on very similar situations in the minds of people and their quest for oneness. Called by different names by different cultures and different religions.
Do the following words resonate within your heart?

It was JKM who said:
We are that which we possess. The man who possesses money is the money. The man who identifies himself with property is the property, or the house or the furniture. Similarly, with ideas or with people, and when there is possessiveness, there is no relationship. But most of us possess because we have nothing else if we do not possess. We are empty shells if we do not possess, if we do not fill our life with furniture, with music, with knowledge, with this or that. And that shell makes a lot of noise, and that noise we call living, and with that we are satisfied. And when there is a disruption, a breaking away of that, then there is sorrow because then you suddenly discover yourself, as you are—an empty shell, without much meaning. - Krishnamurti, The Collected Works vol V, p 297

I am grateful for the people in my life who give me the gift of time, even if I have to go thousands of miles to receive it, I am very grateful.

After many years of being with Indians, if someone asks me for a definition of Spirituality, I would say:
I am not sure I am the person to ask, but it feels something like the connection you have with the universe.