There has been tremendous hoopla even before the caucuses about whose plan or what approach is best to “solve” the “health care crisis” facing our country. Unfortunately, none of them really address the issue because all of them are too limited in perspective.
We are approaching a four-dimensional problem with a one-dimensional solution. It is like playing a four-dimensional chess game on only the first level when your opponent understands the bigger game. You might appear to be making progress in your strategy to win the game while, in reality, you are having as much effect as straightening the chairs on the Titanic while the ship is sinking.
The Blame Game
Everyone has been running around looking for a scapegoat to “blame” for the crisis so they can come to the rescue:
- “It’s the greedy drug companies that are the bad guys.”
- “No wait; it’s the funding system with all the overhead and inefficiency, so let’s attack the insurance industry.”
- “No! No! It’s the ridiculous prices the hospitals charge so they can have the latest greatest widget just like the other three hospitals have.”
- “Well, what about those wealthy doctors driving around in their Mercedes, living in million dollar houses and playing golf at their private clubs on Wednesday afternoon. They charge an outrageous fee for spending ten minutes with you, ordering unnecessary tests and surgeries, and then saying you’re just getting older and will have to live with it. Take these pills.”
- “The real blame of course is the ambulance-chasing lawyers getting multi-million dollar malpractice settlements for infected hangnails, so they can fund their trip to Aruba and play golf with their doctor friends.”
- “How convenient: You left out the fast food industry, tobacco industry, liquor industry, entertainment industry, and makers of processed foods and GMOs. It’s their marketing campaigns that have destroyed our lifestyle habits, created an obesity epidemic and corrupted our youth.”
- “Now, now, don’t forget the government, the politician and all those bureaucrats. Their excess regulation, inefficiency, pet projects, bloated budgets are the real problem. If they would A) Only get out of the way (except for my special needs), or B) Fix all of our problems – choose your favorite color, red or blue – it would all be fixed.”
All of the above have an aspect of the truth, but unfortunately they are only on the first level of the chess game. We can move the pieces of the shell game around, but we will never solve the problem. As human beings, we are at least four dimensional and our reality exists on all of them both independently and interdependently. Failure to understand that we are composed of mental, emotional, physical and spiritual levels, and the accurate interrelationship of these components leaves us grasping for the next culprit to blame as we strive for the solution.
Unfortunately, we have addressed health care as primarily an issue of the physical level and have invested great resources to manipulate and control our physical experience. We have given some credence to the mental/emotional levels but have condensed these levels into one, which limits our effectiveness in addressing them. And even then we try to control these levels from the physical by creating a new drug to alter and limit the experience. The spiritual is seldom even discussed in the debate.
Every great healing professional, be they a doctor or a shaman, understands the complexity of these relationships in the healing process and in the maintenance of wellness, but it is not even part of the dialogue at this point. The fundamental flaw in addressing the health crisis in this country is that it is being conducted based on false premises and the players that have created the crisis by their limited perspective are the same ones that are being called to solve it.
We must recognize that the current medical model of health care delivery is limited and extraordinarily expensive. It will implode on itself if we do not broaden the discussion and look creatively for paradigm shifts.
PPOs, HMOs, single payers, litigation reform, malpractice reform, negotiating for drug prices, product labeling, caps on spending, wellness and prevention programs, vaccinations and universal health care will not resolve this crisis. It is time for our culture to begin integrating the experience of our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual being.
The United States is in an interesting position. On one hand we have the most scientifically advanced health care in the world and new breakthroughs such as gene therapy are just around the corner. The population is living longer, growing bigger and stronger, and able to recover from diseases that only years ago were considered fatal. On the other hand we are in a health care crisis and chronic diseases are leading the way. The cost of the health care system is outpacing the ability of individuals, families, businesses and the governments to sustain. It continually gobbles up a greater share of the GNP and the average cost of family health insurance is onerous to all and escalating. This is a crushing economic burden and the rates are continuing to increase much faster than inflation. With the aging of the baby boomers the future can be very bleak if it is not addressed.
The challenge becomes how should we begin to solve the problem? There are a multitude of elements that are included, ranging from the environmental factors, to diet, exercise and lifestyle choices.
Lifestyle is credited or blamed for 70 percent of the health issues facing us. Chronic diseases are an albatross around the neck of the health care system. Seventy five cents of every health care dollar goes to treat chronic disease, and this is the area where traditional allopathic medicine seems to be least effective in supporting actual healing. Some of the statistics are very telling. By some measures two-thirds of all adults are overweight or obese. Eighty million Americans suffer from cardiovascular disease. One in three children will develop diabetes in their lifetime if something is not changed. Autism and ADHD are rampant and increasing. Antibiotics that once were the miracle cure are losing their ability to impact new strains of disease.
The list goes on and on. There have been volumes written on these topics and many more will be as we struggle to get a grasp on this crisis. I am going to offer a different perspective.
Part of the problem is that as a society we do not have an accurate appreciation of the disease process. We are missing a fundamental understanding of how disease develops and how healing works. We are fragmented in our approach as we continue to become more specialized and this is actually leading to extravagant waste and sporadic success at best.
In our culture the primary emphasis is on physical disease. This is for two reasons. First, it is easiest to see, grasp and feel. Since it exists on the physical plane, it is identifiable by the five senses of seeing, hearing, smelling, touching and tasting. This leads to the second reason: physical disease is the easiest to quantify and study scientifically. Unfortunately this has led us to make a serious error in judgment, which I believe is the root of our ineffectiveness. We have made the jump from physical disease being easiest to identify and analyze to the conclusion that it is the cause. The reality is that physical disease is the result of anomalies occurring on the emotional, mental and spiritual levels.
The scientific approach of studying the physical has yielded great understanding of the mechanisms involved in creating physical experience and disease. In fact, we are on the verge of being able to replicate ourselves on the physical plane, but this still does not give us answers on the causal level. However, until we appreciate the interconnectedness of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual levels, we will be little more than TV repair people. We can fully describe how this part makes the speakers vibrate to create sound and that part projects a colored dot on the screen, but we will never find the newscaster inside the set so we can’t control the content or results.
The dominant hypothesis we have adopted in our medical system is that we are fundamentally physical beings and somehow or sometimes connected to a spiritual level (if such a level even exists). Or another way of saying it is that we are physical beings occasionally having a spiritual experience. This perspective is only accurate on a limited level of awareness and therefore only creates limited results.
A more expansive understanding is that we are spiritual beings having a physical experience. (For the purposes of this letter please do not equate spiritual with religious. While related, they are significantly different, somewhat like physics and mathematics.)
We must be bold enough to go where the great thinkers before us have gone. We must be willing to follow the examples of Copernicus and Galileo when they exposed that the earth was not the center of the universe. When we switched to the heliocentric model, then things began to make sense. Likewise, when we switch to an understanding that disease emanates from misalignments or traumas on the spiritual, mental and emotional levels before it manifests in the physical, we will be much more effective and efficient in our healing system.
Interestingly, in the time of Copernicus and Galileo, the church – fearing loss of control and protecting its rigid belief system and self-interest – stood in the way of scientific exploration. Today we have some of the same behavior coming from the opposite direction. Fear and perceived self-interest must not be allowed to keep us locked on our current course of destruction.
A physical model that might be easier to grasp is to think of the spiritual plane as the energy source level. Its presence is the difference between being alive and being dead. The next level is the mental plane, which acts like a filter. If it is clear and aligned properly then spiritual energy filtered through thoughts becomes the architect for our physical experience. The third filter in this analogy is the emotional plane, which is a subset of the mental plane. Again, if it is clear and properly aligned, then our physical health and life experience work. The final filter is the physical plane. It is dense enough to measure with the five senses and is the ultimate result of spiritual energy being filtered through all levels.
To carry this model a little further, let’s assume that physical health exists when all the filters are properly aligned and clear at all levels. If there is interference on one of the upper planes it can disrupt it to the extent that it will create static or interference on all subsequent planes. It will ultimately manifest in the physical experience as something less than ideal and may result in ill health. While we can install some modulators on the physical level to make it appear that everything is operating smoothly, we have ultimately only adjusted the symptom.
Interestingly this model not only exists to explain physical health but actually carries through to all areas of life, including job, finances, relationships etc. When we do hit an experience of synchronization on all levels, we experience divine love and perfection. We see the dots between our spiritual connection, our thoughts, our emotions and the physical world.
The good news is that virtually all approaches to healing are at least one dimensional and therefore can be part of the solution. The biggest challenge is to expand the paradigm and reorder the system so that resources are used more effectively and the current imbalances of the medical model in the system are adjusted appropriately.
With the current paradigm, we have been playing with an “I’m right and therefore you are wrong mentality,” with winner take all (much like the political system of the last several decades.) We operate from a scarcity mentality that limits creativity and discourages cooperation and dialogue. An “Us against Them” mentality is extraordinarily expensive and wasteful. I believe that with some relatively subtle, but critical, shifts in our consciousness we can transform the situation and actually create a healthier society for significantly less cost.
Path to Resolution
So how does this transformation occur? First, recognize that the foundation is already in place. When I talked about the spiritual perspectives as I understood them fifteen or twenty years ago, there were many people who looked at me like I had two heads. Today, many of those same concepts are part of everyday TV dialogue from Oprah to soap operas. There is a spiritual awakening happening in our society and it shows up across the board from fundamentalist mega churches to small groups of pagans. If the leadership can identify and articulate a coherent model of health based upon this broader perspective and support it with policies and guidelines that are consistent with this model, then I believe that the broader society will create the specific solutions.
Recognizing that each person is unique and divine, and is ultimately capable and responsible for his or her own being is the basis of this transformation. There are wise grandmothers and grandfathers, as well as brilliant youth and adults, throughout this country who already possess the answers. It is government’s opportunity to create a crucible where these answers can be refined and melded into workable solutions.
I would suggest that the government convene a blue ribbon panel of people that includes visionaries like Deepak Chopra, Louise Hay, John Haglin, Gary Zukav, Diane M. Miller, Wayne Dyer and Marianne Williamson, in addition to the visionary players in the medical, psychological, insurance, legal and religious fields.
The answers already exist; they just need to be formulated from a zero-balance approach rather than starting with the existing structure.