My approach to helping people is the same, regardless of their trouble. Listen, talk, cook, laugh — in infinite arrangements.
Despite an ardent love of mathematics, I find little use for formulas in the kitchen, and even less when it comes to health. People are just so darn individual — each one a conundrum.
The great Shyam Singha authored a book I consider the highest authority on body science as well as comedic timing called The Secrets of Natural Health.
Let me provide an example.
One of my patients was a priest with a 12-year history of stomach problems. Medication, diet, meditation, fasting, pills and potions did not seem to work. Then one day while he was lying on the treatment couch, I asked him, ‘What can’t you stomach?’ His reply was slow, meek, but genuine: ‘Being a priest’, he said. ‘What would you like to be?’ was my next question. ‘An antiques restorer.’ ‘Then why the blazes don’t you?’ I shouted. ‘I can’t, I can’t,’ he cried. Both his father and his grandfather before him were priests. They wanted him to continue the tradition, so he became a priest, but his desire to be an antiques restorer never left him.
I told him to leave the country and go somewhere where nobody knew him and start a small business as an antiques restorer. He complained about his obligations to his parishioners, his wife and his two sons, to name but a few. I asked him what would happen if he died of a bad stomach ulcer or Crohn’s disease or some other malady. Eventually I persuaded him, and he went. Three years later his wife and children joined him.
One day he telephoned me to announce how happy he now was. He wanted me to visit him so that I could see for myself what he had accomplished as a result of my good advice. Instead I told him that he was unfinished and that there was something else that was required of him. I told him to stand in a specific place in the town and tell bible stories to the people who gathered around him. He was astonished.
I explained that now that he was open, content, satisfied and truthful, his stories would contain meaning that was previously lacking; up to the time that he left his parish, his stories had been scripturally appropriate but lacking in emotional truth.
A year later I received another telephone call. He wanted me to visit him in order to see how many people gathered to listen to his stories. Although this was a unique response to a unique situation, the principle can be applied to the situation many people find themselves in.
Of course, if we can never generalize, there would be no education, culture, science, history, mathematics, art, religion, codes of etiquette, laws, rules, or even the literature, to teach us how to deal with unique situations. There would be total chaos, whereas now at least we live in controlled chaos. This is demonstrated in the Western approach to medicine. Yet despite the differences in application, the same principles apply to modern medicine as apply to ayurveda or any other ancient system.