Dr. Jeremy Geffen is a widely respected oncologist and the author of the celebrated book The Journey through Cancer. He makes the important distinction between the relative and the ultimate purposes of medicine:
“When we encounter a health problem, whether it is a minor one like a cold or flu, or something very serious like malignant cancer, there is a natural desire to move from feelings of fear and discomfort back to comfort and certainty. The relative purpose of medicine is to address the physical problem with as much skill and integrity as we can. This is a worthy objective, but it is only part of the picture. It does not recognize that medicine has another purpose as well, an ultimate purpose, which is to address the deeper needs and concerns of human beings with as much skill and integrity as we bring to the care of the body.”
Geffen points out that until the last few decades little attention has been paid to the mental or emotional realms of being, let alone the spiritual ones, and we have suffered as a result. He acknowledges, however, that medicine has begun to shift in recent years to encompass more than just the physical dimensions of health and disease. He sees that more attention is finally being brought to a patient’s mental and emotional experience. He offered me the example of a woman in her mid-forties who discovers a lump in her breast. She has two children, a career she has only recently revived as the kids got older, a beautiful home, and a husband she loves. Understandably, she wants to remove the problem as quickly and efficiently as possible:
“There is so much more we can do to help this woman heal as well as become cured. Along with removing her tumor and administering chemotherapy, we can also try to help with emotional issues, including fear, anger, depression, sadness, and any others that might arise. We can help her to explore what it means to her to have a lumpectomy or mastectomy, and how this might affect her self-image or her sexuality. We’ve only recently begun to enter a new era of medicine where it’s acceptable to acknowledge these issues, explore them openly, and begin to find effective and empowering ways of dealing with them.”
Dr. Geffen applauds this new willingness to address emotional issues of healing. But like other translucent healers at the cutting edge of medicine, he goes further, believing that even many alternative modalities never get to the deepest truth:
“Most doctors and healers still aren’t plunging into the ultimate purpose of medicine, which has to do with a deep awakening to the truth of who we all really are. As long as there is a separation between who we are holding ourselves to be and who we really are, there remains an opening, into which more reaction and misidentification can occur, which creates the opening and context for more illness and suffering. Without consciously taking the final step, we are always abiding in the realm in which sickness and health, pleasure and pain, hope and fear, and life and death come and go in an endless cycle. These phenomena all occur in the domain of doing as opposed to the domain of being. They don’t touch the timeless, transcendent dimension of existence, the silent and most radiant aspect of ourselves.”
Now these may sound to you like the flowery words of a new age miracle healer in Berkeley or Los Angeles, the kind who gets their medical diagnosis by channeling Lady Diana, or who would have you live only on green algae gathered at new moon from a specific lake in Mongolia or perhaps raw, organic quail eggs. But they are not. Dr. Geffen is a physician with impeccable medical training and credentials. He is a board-certified medical oncologist, a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, and a gifted writer. He is also the founder of a renowned cancer center and research institute, which he ran for ten years, and has testified before Congress as an expert witness on integrative medicine and oncology.
Dr. Geffen has probably spoken at more medical conferences than most of us have gone to the movies. I asked him how his colleagues respond to his views. “For most physicians,” he told me, “this perspective is simply not part of their reality. They have been conditioned, particularly in their professional lives, not to venture too deeply into the realm of thoughts and feelings, let alone spirituality.” Others, he says, have had awakenings and have begun to cultivate a translucent life. Their number is growing. But it is when he speaks at conferences where the public is also present that the response is usually overwhelmingly positive:
Many people love to hear that there is a physician who is standing up and saying that we are more than our bodies and ultimately, even more than our thoughts and our feelings and emotions, as important and compelling as they are. As much as we want to feel good all the time, and as worthy as it is to strive to learn how to do that, there’s a vital dimension of life, of who we really are, that’s beyond all striving. As human beings, we deserve and are well advised to spend some of our time and energy focusing on that dimension as well.
To read more about translucent medicine and translucent living in general, pick up your very own copy of Translucent Revolution today.