Friday, September 23, 2016

Bandaids and festering wounds.

The hidden root.
We live with an unfortunate protocol as the standard for treating pain and suffering, which is easily delineated by an analogy of a bandaid covering a festering wound. Determining causes, by necessity, takes us beneath the surface to find the root. Unexpectedly, the world of medical science is now playing catch up and coming to some surprising spiritual sources that don’t fit within scientific orthodoxy, but work nevertheless.

In the Breakthrough Sermon, Bodhidharma said, “The mind is the root from which all things grow. If you can understand the mind, everything else is included. It’s like a tree. All of its fruit and flowers, its branches and leaves, depend on its root. If you nourish its root, a tree multiplies. If you cut its root, it dies. Those who understand the mind reach enlightenment with minimal effort. Those who don’t understand the mind practice in vain. Everything good and bad comes from your own mind. To find something beyond the mind is impossible.”

The Buddha spent his life ferreting out the root cause of suffering and began his diagnosis with the first of Four Nobel Truths: Life is suffering. That observation took place more than 2,500 years ago but until recently his diagnosis ran under the radar of medical orthodoxy. Pathfinders have always made inroads by bucking the tide of conventional wisdom and this is certainly true for Dr. John E. Sarno, previously Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine at prestigious Institute of Rusk Rehabilitation Medicine, New York University Medical Center.

Sarno’s most notable achievement was the development of his diagnosis, and treatment of tension myoneural syndrome (TMS), which is currently not accepted by mainstream medicine. Nevertheless according to Sarno, TMS is a psychosomatic illness causing chronic back, neck, and limb pain which is not relieved by standard medical treatments.

Dr. Sarno noted in his practice that back surgery wasn’t working; it was failing to bring effective relief to his patients. He also noted unsatisfactory results from physical therapy, as well as from steroidal injections, and all the other therapeutic techniques being commonly administered. He instinctively felt that there had to be something else going on with back pain. So he began to look more deeply into his patients’ charts where he noticed that his back pain patients also had many other things going on with their health. In addition to back pain, many had bouts of shoulder and hip pain, knee pain, foot and hand pain, skin problems, anxiety, depression, migraines, ulcers, irritable bowel, heartburn, frequent urination, and allergies, etc., and Dr. Sarno shrewdly noted that where there’s smoke there’s often fire.

Then 13 years ago Steve Ozanich, on the verge of scheduling some very serious spinal surgery for himselfto contend with back pain that refused to resolve given all attemptsdiscovered Dr. Sarno and was spared the surgery. What Steve found was that his pain was his body’s bandaid to keep him from facing the emotional root that was manifesting in his back. As surprising as this may seem to the modern reader, it is exactly what The Buddha had said and as Bodhidharma articulated above.

I was fortunate to have recently come across Steve and immediately identified with his story since mine was nearly a carbon copy. I too discovered that what I believed was a powerful force. After having lived forty years with the belief that I was unworthy, I stood at the abyss of such despair that I seriously considered suicide. It was at that critical point that I left the world behind and fled to a Zen monastery and discovered, as Steve did, that the cause of my suffering was rooted in my mind. What I had previously believed was a lie and the product of cultural myths, judgements and misinformation.

I highly recommend you read Steve’s story and how his salvation has become an obsession to spread the good news. I share that obsession as well. Steve has now written three books, all of which you can find at his web site.
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