Osho on Medicine
WESTERN SOCIETIES HAVE DEVELOPED THE COSTLIEST HEALTH SYSTEM THAT EVER EXISTED. PEOPLE SPEND BILLIONS OF DOLLARS A YEAR FOR IT AND IT IS REALLY SUCCESSFUL IN SOME FIELDS OF SURGERY OR IN TRANSPLANTATION AND PREVENTING INFECTIONS. BUT IT SEEMS THAT PEOPLE ARE MORE SICK THAN THEY EVER WERE BEFORE. WHAT IS HEALTH?
Western medical science has viewed man as a separate unit — apart from nature. That is one of the biggest faults that has been committed. Man is part of nature; his health is nothing but being at ease with nature. Western medicine takes a mechanical view of man, so wherever mechanics can be successful, it is successful. But man is not a machine; man is an organic unity, and man needs not only the treatment of the part that is sick. The sick part is only a symptom that the whole organism is going through difficulties.
The sick part is only showing it because it is the weakest. You treat the sick part, you are successful… but then somewhere else the disease appears. You have prevented the disease from expressing itself through the sick part; you have made it stronger. But you do not understand that man is a whole: either he is sick or he is healthy, there is no station between the two. He should be taken as a whole organism. I will give you a few examples which can make it clear to you.
Acupuncture was developed in China near about seven thousand years ago by accident. A hunter was trying to kill a deer, but as his arrow was moving towards the deer, a man not knowing what was happening came in between and the arrow hit the man’s leg. The man had been suffering from migraine his whole life; the moment the arrow hit his leg, the migraine disappeared. This was very strange. Nobody had thought about it in that way. Out of that accident the whole of acupuncture developed, and developed to a full science. So if you go to an acupuncturist and you say, “Something is wrong with my eyes, or something is wrong with my head, or something is wrong with my liver,” he may not bother about your liver, your head or your eyes. He will think of the whole organism; he will try to heal you — not just the part that is sick. Acupuncture has developed seven hundred points which were discovered in man’s body. Man’s body is a bio-electric phenomenon, alive. It has a certain electricity — hence we call it bio-electricity. This bio-electricity has seven hundred points in the body, and each point relates to some part of the body which may be far away from it. That’s what happened in that accident: the arrow hit a bio-electric point which related to the head, and the migraine disappeared.
Acupuncture is more holistic. The difference has to be understood. When you take man as a machine you take a partial view of him. If his hand is sick, you just treat the hand; you don’t bother about his whole body of which the hand is only a part. The mechanical outlook is partial. It succeeds, but its success is not real success because the same disease which has been repressed in the hand by medicine, surgery and other things, starts expressing somewhere else in a worse form. So medicine has developed tremendously; surgery has become a great science — but man is suffering from more diseases, sicknesses, than ever. This dilemma can be understood.
Man should be taken as a whole, treated as an organic unity. But the problem with modern medicine, Western medicine is that it does not think you have any soul, that you have anything more than a body-mind structure. You also are a machine:
your eyes can be replaced, your hands can be replaced, your legs can be replaced — and sooner or later brains will be replaced…
In India, medical science developed almost five thousand years ago. And you will be surprised to know that whatever surgery we have today is exactly described by Sushrut, one of the greatest surgeons in the East, in ancient scriptures five to seven thousand years old. But it was abandoned — and that is the point I want you to notice. Why was a developed science abandoned? Because it was found that surgery takes man as a mechanism — and man is not a mechanism; so rather than destroying man they abandoned surgery. All the finest instruments that surgery uses are described by Sushrut in his scripture. All the operations — even the brain operations — are described in full detail as if it is a modern textbook on surgery. But it is seven thousand… or at least five thousand years old. They developed it to the same point where we are, and they must have faced the same problem that we are facing. They must have found that something is basically wrong.
We go on working so much… and the sickness and the disease go on increasing. Even if we make a person without sickness, that does not mean that he is healthy. Absence of sickness is not health; that is a very negative definition. Health should have something more positive, because health is the positive thing and sickness is the negative thing. Now the negative is defining the positive. Health is the feeling of well-being; your whole body functioning at its peak without any disturbance, you feel a certain well-being, a certain at-onement with existence.
That was not happening through surgery. India abandoned the whole science and developed a totally different approach, ayurveda, which means science of life. It is significant. In the West we call it medicine, and medicine simply indicates towards sickness.
Health has nothing to do with medicine. Medicine means that the whole science is devoted to curing you from sicknesses. Ayurveda has a different approach. It is the science of life; it helps you, not to cure sicknesses but to prevent sicknesses from happening — to keep you so healthy that the sickness becomes impossible. The ways of the East and the West are different on this point, whether man is a machine or a spiritual entity with a wholeness…
Secondly, what Western medicine has done is make people less immune. If you go to India you will see that in the same river buffaloes are enjoying their bath, donkeys are drinking, people are taking a bath, clothes are being washed — and the same water is being drunk. Nobody feels sick, nobody falls victim to infections. But the Westerner going to India immediately feels in trouble. He cannot drink any available water because all water is polluted; all water has amoebas, all water is not right for drinking. He can only take soda water. His immunity has been destroyed by too much protection.
Real medicine should give you immunity rather than take it away. It should make you stronger, able to fight any infection rather than make you weak so that you are vulnerable to all kinds of infections.
It is a known fact that rich people fall sick more than poor people. Poor people cannot afford it; rich people can. In the East poverty is great, and those poor people do not have even enough food — if they can manage one meal a day that is very fortunate — but they are not sick. The rich people, even in the East, are more sick.
In the Eastern science of medicine — that is ayurveda — a few diseases are defined as royal diseases. They happen only to very rich people or to royalty — first you have to be able to afford them. For example, tuberculosis is known as a royal disease. A poor man cannot have tuberculosis. From another direction, one very famous psychologist, Delgado, has been working on animals. He was surprised to know that if rats are given one meal a day, they live twice as long; the lifespan of the rats who are given two meals a day is cut in half. He himself was surprised: less food and longer life; more food and less life. Now he has come up with the theory that one meal is perfectly enough; otherwise you are loading the system of digestion, and that causes the cut in your lifespan. But what about people who are taking five meals a day…? Medicine will not allow them to die but will not allow them to live either. They will simply vegetate.
Man has to reconsider all traditions, all different sources; whatever facts have become available have to be reconsidered.
A totally new medical approach has to be evolved which takes note of acupuncture, which takes note of ayurveda, which takes note of Greek medicine, which takes note of Delgado and his researches — which takes note of the fact that man is not a machine. Man is a multidimensional spiritual being, and you should behave with him in the same way. Health should not be defined negatively: you don’t have any sickness so you are healthy. Health should find some positive definition. I understand why they have not been able to find a positive definition — because sickness is objective, and the feeling of well-being is subjective. Western medicine does not accept that there is any subject in you. It only accepts your body; it does not accept you. Man has to be accepted in his totality. All other methods that have been used around the world should be brought into a synthesis; they are not against each other. Right now they are functioning as if they are against each other. They should be brought to a synthesis and that will give you a better view of man and a better life for human beings…
We are in a position now to look at man from different angles: how different societies, in different cultures, in different times have treated man. And sometimes if strange things seem to be working, they should be accepted rather than rejected. For example, seventy percent of diseases are only in your mind: you don’t have them, you just think you have them. Now, to give you allopathic medicines for these diseases is dangerous, because all allopathic medicine is somehow or other connected with many poisons. If you have a disease, medicine is good; but if you don’t have the disease but only the idea, then homeopathy is the best because it harms nobody. It has nothing in it, but it is a great help to humanity. Thousands of people are getting cured by homeopathy. The question is not whether homeopathy is real medicine or not. The question is: if people are having unreal diseases, you need some unreal medical system for them. Homeopathy has nothing in it, but there are people who don’t have any sickness but are getting tortured with the idea that they have. Homeopathy will help them immediately. It cures people but it never harms anybody. It is bogus medicine — but what to do with a bogus humanity?
The Indian physician and the practical nurse don’t have any instruments, sophisticated mechanisms, X-rays or other things; they don’t have even the stethoscope. They just check your heartbeat — and this has been functioning perfectly well for thousands of years. They check it because the heartbeat is your very center of life; if something is not perfect it gives them indications of what has to be done. Rather than treating the disease, they will try to make your heartbeat more harmonious. Their medicine will help your heartbeat be more harmonious, and immediately the disease disappears. You think the disease has been treated — but the disease was only a symptom. That’s why in ayurveda they could discard surgery completely: it was reducing man into a machine. When things can be done very easily with minerals, herbs, natural things, without poisoning the system of man, then why unnecessarily go on giving man poisons? — which are going to have their side effects!
Perhaps that is one of the reasons, why medicine has grown and evolved… and side by side disease goes on growing. You treat one disease, but you treat it with poison; the disease will be gone but the poison will be left in the system. And that poison is going to create its own effects. So all herbal medicines, all minerals and things like homeopathy should be combined. There should be only one science with different branches, and the medical person has to decide to which branch this man has to be sent. It is no use telling somebody, “You don’t have the disease”; it is no use at all. He will simply change the doctor, that is the only effect. He will love the doctor who says, “You have the disease.”…
It has been found in many experiments that allopathy succeeds in seventy percent of cases; homeopathy also succeeds in seventy percent of cases; ayurveda also succeeds in seventy percent of cases, and acupuncture also succeeds in the same way. It is strange: it seems a few people — seventy percent — are willing to be cured, and any kind of medicine helps.
A few people have lost the will to live; then no medicine can help because the basic will to live is no longer there. They have already died; they are only waiting for the funeral time. These people do not need medicine, they need a different kind of therapy which gives them the will to live again. That is their basic thing — only then will any other medicine help. All these things have to be combined together into a synthesis, a whole, and man can be completely free from diseases.
Man will be able to live at least three hundred years; that is a scientific estimate. His body has the possibility to go on renewing itself for three hundred years. So whatever we have been doing is basically wrong because man dies at seventy.
And there are proofs…In a part of Kashmir which is now part of Pakistan — Pakistan has occupied it — people live very easily to one hundred and fifty years. In Russia there are many people who are one hundred and fifty years old, and there are people who have even reached one hundred and eighty. Now, these people’s foods, their habits should be studied, and those foods and those habits should be made known. A person one hundred and eighty years old in Soviet Russia, in a particular part of the Caucasus, still works in the field just like any young man; he is not even old. His food, his way of living has to be looked into very deeply. And there are many people in that area — only in that area, Caucasia… That area has produced really strong people. Joseph Stalin himself was from that area; George Gurdjieff was from that area — tremendously strong people.
Medicine needs a totally new orientation. It is possible now because everything is known that has happened around the world; we just should not be prejudiced from the very beginning.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
Discourse Series: Socrates Poisoned Again After 25 Centuries
Chapter title: Health: overflowing energy of life
1 March 1986 am in
Osho has spoken on ‘Health, nature, ayurveda, well-being, wholeness’ in many of His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/discourses:
- From Darkness to Light
- Tao: The Pathless Path, Vol 1, 2
- Vigyan Bhairav Tantra, Vol 1,2
- Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega, Vol 2
- The Way of Tao, Volume 1
- The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, Vol 6
- The Hidden Harmony
- The Last Testament, Vol 1, 2, 3, 4
- The Perfect Master, Vol 1
- The Psychology of the Esoteric
- The Rebellious Spirit
- Philosophia Ultima
- I Am That