I was living in Calgary, it was the early 70′s, and I’d joined a mail-order book lending service called the Lucis Trust Library. They sent out lists of available esoteric books and you could borrow them for free. Slow process in comparison with today’s world of too much information, but the library is still functioning. In the list, along with all the Alice Bailey and other esoteric books, was a title that looked interesting with an author whose name looked “sufi” to me. In an Eastern Rose Garden by Inayat Khan. I was interested in the sufis, so took a chance.
A very worn and thick red book eventually arrived in the mail from New York. It had a beautiful prologue about the garden and the gardener, then selections of lectures. I was totally astonished at the depth of thought and simplicity of explanation. It was as if I recognized it all from before. I read and reread that book as if my life depended on it! The book had a photo in it, which I also studied each time I opened it. When the month was up and the time came to return it, I recorded some of the book so I could keep it – yes, reel to reel – I read it into the microphone.
For a moment I toyed with the idea of not returning the book. It was already very very old and had been read many times. The worn cover was falling apart, I knew it wouldn’t last. But how could I steal from an esoteric library? Bad idea. I packaged it up and mailed it back.
Then a friend found that there were more of the books, 12 of them! We set about ordering them one at a time, the hard cover Orange Volumes. How was I to know then that this would become a lifelong study, that I was to meet one of the students of Inayat Khan, Shamcher Beorse, and be initiated by him, or that I would come to meet both his sons, Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan and PiroMurshid Hidayat Inayat Khan? And of course, early in the process, learning that his name “Inayat” was not pronounced INayat (like “idiot”) but inAYat. Through this contact I’ve also met and learned from so many many remarkable people. All this contact emerged from the magical weaving of circumstances and events that is the sufi culture – a remarkable reality that infuses this so-called reality with the presence of divine guidance. From that time on, my life was carried along on the current of my soul’s true destiny. My story is not unusual. Anyone looking into these teachings finds life treasures and potentials to be unfolded through time.
It seems I’m coming late to the new year, and we are already half-past January. The wave-shift from publishing the book of letters is still in process, as I’ve had to change from editing and preparing the book itself, and put on a marketing hat. I just hope this marketing hat isn’t too silly-looking.
It goes against everything my mother ever taught me about good manners, but these times are very different. What used to be called “boasting” and was frowned upon, is now “self-promotion”. What used to be called “name-dropping” is now “networking”. The game has always been the same, actually. I’m learning to overcome the barrier inside myself that says “don’t call attention to yourself” “don’t outstay your welcome” and other such adages that were drilled into me at a very early age. Now some people hire others to boast for them – the PR people or the advertisers who do this for a living. Without embarrassment. I’m not able to afford that.
I realize I need to do it for the sake of the book, nothing to do with me at all. I can get my mind around that. I certainly feel no qualms about promoting, recommending, and lavishing praise on the work of others. I genuinely want people to see and know about all the books, movies, sites, objects, etc. that are wonderful to me, and I just naturally want to enthusiastically share them. But when it comes to my own work, I feel the block, and have to use inner force to move past it.
One way I’ve done it is by telling myself that this is for Shamcher and his work (which it is) and I’m just a messenger of that (and not the only messenger either.) This works for me. Another help is to realize, as I have, that I actually didn’t even write this book, it wasn’t written with an audience in mind, but was always an intimate correspondence. Even though Shamcher asked me to publish the letters someday, and he always saw the book somewhere in his mind’s eye, it didn’t make any difference to what we wrote to each other at all. We never wrote for the public. So with that in mind, I can promote the documentation of this relationship – not as a book about MY relationship but about the inner impulse and resonance of the abstract message behind and within the letters.
So maybe the marketing hat isn’t so silly after all. I’m just helping the book reach the people that would like to know about it and to read it….
And for me to think that my little feelings and awkwardness are more important than the message within this book – now THAT attitude is foolish – I’m the one that’s silly! The marketing hat can be graceful and beautiful – and for the next little while it is the required dress code for the day.
I’m excited! So many thoughts and feelings related to bringing this book of letters out into the light of day, and I’ll be catching up on that in the next while. But for now, here is a photo of me, a proud mama of the first box of books!
Wow. It’s been a long time coming….. and now I’m so very happy to finally have the books in hand!
What’s this book about? Find out more at the website for the book: Letters: Shamcher Beorse and Carol Sill, 1974-1977
My friend Jim recorded a conversation we had a few weeks ago about the elements and the divine feminine.
It’s now posted at the Meditation Techniques website, along with some commentary and context.
I really like the site, which has a variety of quick and easy techniques that anyone can do to find their way into meditation. We all know that changing your mind and heart and body happens at deep levels. These can best be accessed through inner concentration and meditative techniques that have been known down through the centuries by the sages and wise of all the religions and traditions. It’s great to see it becoming so accessible!
I thought I’d post the video here, too.
It was an honor to perform the wedding ceremony for Deanne and Geordie this August, adapting the standard Sufi Universal Worship service to include their love of nature. We were on the gorgeous deck overlooking the ocean, with eagles in the evergreen treetops. Along with their wonderful family and friends, the ceremony was witnessed by all the beings of earth sky and sea who happened to be nearby.
I love being able to do this ceremony, and the others that are part of the Universal Worship work, first established by Inayat Khan in the 1920′s. Shamcher ordained me way back in the 70s in Edmonton, and since then I’ve officiated at weddings, baby blessings, house blessings, and memorial services, whenever asked.
The air changed just as we entered September, and my mind is slowly returning from the summertime haze. Its been a lovely summer and here are a few highlights – more to come next post.
We went to Portland for a week, dogsitting while friends of friends went to Northwest Sufi Camp.
Around that time the article I’d written while we were housesitting for my cousin at Nanoose Bay came out in Heartbeat, the Ruhaniat newsletter (published as a pdf online.)
The theme is Sacred Nature.
The In Love with the Mystery book and CD Project is now at press, with delivery in a week or so. It’s great being part of the Eskova team helping to make this project happen! We’ve put out a few newsletters with info, plus created the website for Ann Mortifee, with info on this latest project.
Keeping in Touch #1 – announcing the book project
Keeping in Touch #2 – features the new video
Lately I’ve been fascinated by the concept of open source spirituality – an approach that means each individual who participates is a co-creator of the energy field, and of the aspiration to the one goal of transcendence or realization or enlightenment – and from this there is a renewed connection with humanity and our goals on earth.
I know that there are many many organizations and movements that foster human development along these lines, and over the centuries so many masters and enlightened ones have brought us their messages – seemingly different but actually the same: look within, learn from nature, seek the truth.
Well, then what? And how do we look within? And in these times, what does it mean? I see it as a great experiment where we are now in possession of all the sacred scriptures in translation, and where the methods that were guarded for centuries as sacred treasures are available free on the internet. Some say you need a teacher to really unlock the secret of these treasures, others say this is available to every human being as our birthright. And awakening can occur spontaneously.
When we begin to seek a kind of peace of mind or transcendence we take steps on the path that is in front of us, toward it or to retain and sustain it. Those steps actually draw the path to come up to meet us. It may come in the form of a specific organization or group – or a lineage of yogis or sufis or kabbalists or buddhists – or even scientists.
Here we are in a new field. A step on the path (whatever it is named) takes us and trains us for the inner work on ourselves. And the stepping on the path is in fact the first effort we may make. Here I think that we are creating and developing a new path – new to each seeker, but ancient and old as all humanity, or maybe even older. What is important to me is that this path is open and is now part of these times.
All ideas and concepts begin to fall away, and another intuitive way of knowing begins to take over, as the human being comes closer toward the purpose of life.
As this happens we feel we need to belong to someone or something, and it is here that the groups and movements come in. They train and help, but can also hold back, as there are so many pitfalls and windy twisty passageways ahead. A straight path is only in our ideal, the combination of time, place and causation makes this path and its process difficult. The truth comes shining through, but is often hard won, as we instinctually hold on to what we must release in order to take another step.
We don’t want to belong to any group or teacher or teaching that will hold back the progress of this path which we are simultaneously creating and following.
I describe all of this as a kind of open-source spirituality because those who have gone before can give to those who are just setting out, and here there is no longer any need for “proprietary software” – it is all available, and free. What we need are more individuals on the path to share with all, outside of the dogmas of any one point of view or specific system. We are all developing exponentially these days, and there’s a new feeling in the air, different from the climate that was so catalytic for human potential development and spiritual life back in the 70’s.
So I’m calling this “open source spirituality”, a free field of play and development of intuitive software for awakening, and the sustaining of this awakening.
Yesterday I was recalling this rather extraordinary event in Red Deer, Alberta, when the Red Deer College opened its doors to a festival of consciousness for a weekend. These spiritual smorgasbord weekend events were popular back then, and this one featured Swami Radha from her Yashodhara Ashram in the Kootenays, and Geshe Lama Kaldan, the Tibetan teacher who lived in Edmonton (link here to his meditation society or watch for him as a first minister in Scorcese’s film, Kundun.) Now, sadly, both have passed away, but at the time they seemed they would be around forever (and as both are involved in reincarnational belief-structures, perhaps they are!) Stars from afar were also invited, and were the real “feature attractions” – I recall anthropologist Joan Halifax (now roshi, Buddhist centre Upaya) and physicist David Bohm (who passed away in 1994) were there, but memory fails and I can’t remember who else was a “headliner”. I went down there from Edmonton with a small posse of Sufis to lead Sufi dancing (Dances of Universal Peace) one afternoon. It was an intimate gathering, and somehow scattered as these events tended to be.
Sitting in the front of a classroom while David Bohm’s explanation of his theory of implicate and explicate order opened my mind’s eye.
Joan Halifax showing how shamans used the rattles on one side of the head and then on the other, in a beautiful format around the head, shifting auditory environment and therefore consciousness. (Until her talk, I was naively unaware that there were urban shamans taking peyote journeys in New York apartments. )
It’s been fun to create this blogpost, googling “where are they now?” and realizing that everything that was brought forward at that rather awkward and somewhat forced gathering in central Alberta is still being nurtured and evolved – not in the same way as it had been done then, but with deeper roots, greater understanding perhaps, and more balance. I remember these people, and those times of sincere exploration with gratitude.
And I recall that year or so before, in Edmonton, there was a festival of consciousness (or was it of awareness?) that featured a Zen teacher from Shasta Abbey and the new age teacher Patricia Sun, who intoned amazing sounds that seemed to transform everyone’s molecules into light. The event closed with a Universal Worship ceremony with representatives from various world religions all sharing the same altar. Hindu, Buddhist, Zoroastrian, Jewish, Christian, Islam, and an acknowledgement of all those who hold the light of truth but weren’t mentioned.
(Surprise: Link here to see a random post from my blog.)
This is a most precious document by Dr. Gruner in which he outlines some of his approach to Avicenna. I include the whole thing in this blogposting, but it is also available for download as a pdf here: The Interpretation of Avicenna by O.C.Gruner M.D.
THE INTERPRETATION OF AVICENNA
by O. C. Gruner, M.D.
[from The Annals of Medical History, p.354-358]
It is some nine hundred years since the Canon of Medicine of Avicenna first saw the light. For four hundred years it has been so little esteemed that no further editions have been issued. At the present day we have translations of Hippocrates into English, of Galen into French, but we have none of Avicenna excepting the Latin editions up to 1595, of which very few copies are to be found. Other works by Avicenna have been recently translated direct from the Arabic into French, and a masterly monograph on the man and his time was issued at Paris in 1900. [Since this writing, which was in the early 1920s, Gruner himself completed Volume One of Avicenna’s Canon, currently published by Oxford University Press, and Volume Two is in manuscript form in the McGill University Library.]
More important than translations is the matter of interpretation. Taken on their face value, many of the statements of ancient medicine appear useless, and the revival of Avicenna’s writings would not reveal very much difference from that with which historians have become familiarised through Galen. It is not till Avicenna’s works other than on medicine are gone into, that a new light begins to shine upon the ancient system. There is a small treatise, called “De viribus cordis,” included in certain editions of the Canon (such as the edition preserved in the McGill University Library), which provides the key by which to interpret the greater book. And as Avicenna may be regarded as the fountainhead of Arabian medicine, it provides the key for the proper understanding of the whole of that period of history.
Some have been disposed to regard the Libellus as an interpolation. Even were it so, it was a wise act to introduce it into the volume. To print a cipher, and also to favour the reader with the key, in the same volume, is more than fortunate. Were it really the case that the author of the Libellus lived some four hundred years later than the author of the Canon, he was doing for us what Farabi, the Sufi interpreter of Aristotle, did for Avicenna at a time when the latter was so anxious to discover the true meaning of the “Metaphysics.” In his youth, while searching through the contents of second-hand bookstalls, Avicenna found the copy of Farabi’s book, and welcomed it with delight, as proving ultimately of greater value to him than all the other books he had read, put together.
The “De viribus cordis” occupies some twenty pages of foolscap size, closely printed in double column. Space would not permit a reproduction of the translation of the whole, but the few brief extracts here given will serve to show the kind of matter of which it is composed.
The first chapter of this Libellus deals with “The Source of the Breath,” saying:
God caused the breath to be a vehicle for conveying the powers of the mind into the several members of the physical part of the human being. Accordingly, He brought it about that the breath should be the rallying-point of the forces of the mind, and at the same time become an emanation into the various tissues and organs of the body. Now He produced the breath from the finer parts of the body-fluids, and separated out the body itself from their coarser components (their earthiness). . . In essence, the breath is really a divine emanation. It can neither be added to nor taken from. Once it has been fully built up, its nature may be said to depend upon the particular proportions of the various constituents and the disposition of these components in relation to one another; thus it depends also upon the member or organ in which it occurs. It is correct to say that the psychic, the vital and the natural breaths derive their substance from the fine parts of the body-fluids. Nevertheless, their substance has a particular character, which depends on the relative proportions of the component fluids and on the particular form which they assume after being mingled. Although the body consists of several members, there is only one member underlying them. The opinions as to what this member exactly is are very diverse. Yet it is true that the first must come to light before the other members can arise out of it.
Exactly in the same way, though there are several breaths in us, there is only one single breath underlying them all – namely, that which arises in the heart. This breath passes from the heart to the other centres, lingering in them until they impart to it their particular character. From this moment the breath possesses the power of linking the Person to the powers which lie at his disposal. Lingering in the brain, the brain imparts its character, from which moment the breath acquires the power of sensation and motion. In the liver, this organ imparts its character to the breath and enables it for the first time to enter the cycle of metabolism and growth. In the testes, these organs impart their character to the breath, and, the two being in joint relation, the breath enters the generative cycle.
In the next chapter, it is written, “the breath is a luminous substance. It is a ray of light.”
From these passages it is clear that this treatise on disorders of the heart approaches the matter from an entirely different standpoint to that to which we are acustomed. In no part of the treatise is there any mention of valvular disease, or pericarditis, hypertrophy or dilation, and so forth; but there is a careful analysis of the relations between the emotions and the heart’s action, a fact of interest to those who like to find analogies between modern researches and the knowledge of the ancients.
The whole doctrine centers on the doctrine of “the breath.” The Latin equivalent is “spiritus,” the Greek equivalent is “pneuma,’ and the medieval English is “spirit.” With the steady and insidious change of meaning assigned to this word, it conveys an entirely different idea today. This accounts for the fact that medieval medical literature seems impossible and even absurd to us today. The word “spirit” usually conveys the idea of personality with it; but the “breath” is impersonal. We shall find it used impersonally in books of Eastern Wisdom, now available in English translations.
The words “heart,” “liver,” “brain,” at once suggest that the writer means certain viscera. But the further one goes into the book under consideration, the clearer it is that to Avicenna they are not limited in this way. When he speaks of the heart, he means a certain physiological tout ensemble – the whole arterial system, whose focus is the literal heart. For him, the brain is something more than the mass of nervous substance in the skull. The word “liver” merely forms a convenient focus into which gather the whole of the nutritional-complex of the body. Even had Avicenna known all we know about the microscopic physiology and pathology of the human body, it would not have altered his conception of the function as enacted in a mind-body first, and in the physical body secondarily. And the breath belongs to still another plane, to which both mind-body and physical-body are subservient.
A very simple diagram enables the reader of Avicenna to perceive clearly where he stands. Three horizontal lines, A,B,and C may be drawn, placing A farther from B than B is from C. C represents everything in the phenomenal world, B represents everything in the noumenal world, and A represents a world beyond each. C = materies; B = substantia; A = spiritus. Everything on C belongs to the concrete human body of the anatomist. And the breath (of plane A) is conceived of as continually circulating, at one time on the components of plane B, at another on those of plane C. As we read Avicenna, we must follow his thought as he passes from plane to plane, and back again; and we must follow him with the same dexterity (which almost seems to be inconsequence) with which he himself passes from one to another during his expositons of abstruse processes.
It is easier to understand the process of “breath” passing from B to C, when this indefinable agent is understood as a form of vibration which changes in degree of coarseness. As the vibration becomes coarser, so the more nearly is it related to substances on plane C; as it becomes finer the more does it approach those on plane B., There is a continous cycle, passing from fine vibrations to coarse and back again. To those who would be inclined to doubt whether such conclusions can be drawn from the material available, an enquiry into Eastern philosophy may furnish the critical evidence required. For, in many of the scholarly translations produced during recent years, we find conditions which indicate that the ancient teachings survive and are still extant among certain schools in the East. Carra de Vaux, in his study of Avicenna (Paris, 1900) shows the importance of entering into the Eastern atmosphere before the significance of Avicenna’s philosophy can be correctly dealt with, and he also provides evidence which shows that Avicenna was a “Sufi,” from which it becomes clear to the earnest enquirer that many of his terms are technical terms only to be rightly interpreted in terms of Sufi philosophy. Translations of many Sufi classics are now available, and from them we see why Avicenna should have been a recognised master not only of medicine, but of commerce, law, philosophy and mathematics.
Next to the doctrine of “the breath,” that of the “elements” is a conspicuous feature not only of Arabian medicine but of all ancient medicine. The historian regards this doctrine as fanciful, childish, and a cloak of ignorance. No doubt it has often been so, in practice. But it is possible to arrive at the rationale underlying it. The elements – earth, water, fire, air, ether – are forms of a vibration which is constantly changing in amplitude in an orderly cyclical fashion just as the breath changes. The elements interact with the breath, the visible organs change according to the change in the elements, and, through the latter, become the points d’appui of the “breath.” Both sides are necessary. To give an instance: a change in the rhythm of the breath may be the beginning of a loss of immunity to bacterial agents. Further, though the cycle of the breath is always in action, it is not always one and the same wave. Sometimes it is quick, sometimes slow; sometimes hourly, sometimes twice a day, sometimes once a day, once a week, once a month, seasonal. Every family, every race, has its type of breath. Hence by this philosophy we have the key to many anomalies of human life, as well as to pandemic diseases.
As long as it was supposed that the ancient elements were on a par with the modern chemical elements, there could only be confusion. The elements of ancient medicine were on plane B. The chemical elements are on plane C. “Water “ is not H2O. A substance may be “moist” although it contains only an infinitesmal amount of H2O in it. If the word “water” were represented by a circle drawn on a piece of paper, the modern reader, from his education, believes he should write H2O, or H, OH inside the circle to picture the meaning of the word; but in Sufic terms, H, OH should be written in a little circle inscribed excentrically within the first circle. “Air” ordinarily means “atmosphere;” but CO2 is also “air;” even if CO2 be solid, it is still “air.” “Fire” is not merely flame, or heat. The chemical group CH2 is also “fire,” and so on.
Glucose, for instance, which is so important a content of the human being, contains two molecules of H2O, two of CO2, and four of CH2. In ancient nomenclature it could be described as made of two parts of “water,” two of “air,” and four of “fire” bound together by a cohesive force; this force may be neutralized by another of opposite magnetic sign. In this way the “air” may be liberated, and the other two remain coherent, as occurs when alcohol is formed from it, the once-named “fire-water.” Although the internal molecular arrangements are more intricate, so that this comparison contains important inaccuracies, it is also true that the ancient “elements” are not ponderable. One cannot reduce them to chemical equations. But the illustration is applicable in a certain sense.
The subject of “constitution” also forms a conspicuous feature of the ancient medicine. This word is also liable to misinterpretation through believing all physiological questions belong to plane C of the diagram given. There is a constitution on plane C, and there is a constitution on plane B. The latter is the outcome of the arrangement of the “elements.” There is also a constitution on plane A, since the breath has a constitution. As Avicenna says: “Although it is true that the same person can be sad and glad, yet one person has a cheerful disposition, another is a pessimist. It is altogether a different thing to pass one’s life in a body whose breath has a glad tendency, to passing one’s life in a body with a depressed or morbid disposition.” A “moody” person is one whose breath changes more rapidly, and also causes a greater change in the constituents belonging to plane B. Saintliness of disposition is therefore the attribute of a certain formula of breath. For instance, representing the component elements by the initial letters, and representing the relative proportions in terms of grades 1-5, 1 being minimal, five maximal, one person’ constitution may be E1W4F1A3Æ5, and another’s E2W2F3A2Æ2. If these formulae describe their constitution on plane B, the former would be saintly, the latter would be pugnacious. The “fire” element may be gentle in the former, explosive in the latter. Therefore this element reaches its climax in a moment in the latter, and may take weeks to do so in the former; by that time all need for action may have dissipated, and the equable temperament of the saintly person prove a source of admiration to one who is irascible.
The application of the doctrine of temperament, of constitution, to the science of pharmacology appears in the ninth chapter of the “De viribus,” where the properties of medicines are discussed. The plants are regarded as sharing in the general law of temperament, and the relations between their active principles and the successive planes of the human organism are viewed on the same lines. The interaction between drugs and emotions can hardly be gainsaid, and is certainly entirely out of the range of physiological recording-apparatus, except perhaps the electrocardiogram. Avicenna sees everything on plane B, and thus comes to be reasonable instead of, as hitherto, an expositor of things obviously at variance with “facts” known to us. The “facts” are the tangible things belonging to plane C.
It would lead too far to take up many of the conceptions which we find in the pages of the Canon, and show how they can be translated into modern language. Nothing short of a voluminous exposition would suffice to demonstrate the fundamental accuracy of this ancient Master of Medicine. Although there is one master-key, that of “the breath,” which is necessary to unlock the treasuries of the past, there are several other keys which are necessary to open the doors beyond the central hall of the treasure-house, as it were. All these keys can be found once it is believed possible that the great minds of the past were perfectly sound, but they are elusive to those who believe that every mind of the past was unintelligent, and not as evolved as the minds of today. While modern science brings to light more and more details about entities in their concrete phase, Avicenna was quite familiar with them in their abstract phase. Even granting that the number of those who really understood his Canon may have been small, so that, in a sense, Arabian Medicine was not continously as enlightened as its founder, it becomes clear that it was part of a great treasury of knowledge which opens out more and more to the enquirer who is willing to adopt the Sufi mode of viewing the world of Nature.
After this, we can look down the vista of medical history, and perceive that for certain periods of time, minds were directed first at one aspect of the human being, then at another. As one generation passed away the next lost touch with the dominant conception held by its parents. The doctrine of the “pneuma” held the minds of those who sought to explain all processes in terms of the “breath,” and neglected the other aspects of the complete entity, man. The period of the “humoral theory” was one where attention was concentrated on the humours, trying to find out more and more about them, trying to make them more and more concrete. In doing this they abandoned the truth of the Pneuma and in fact believed it to be a false doctrine. Then the period of “cellular pathology,” of today, concentrates all attention on the workings of tissue-units; some admitting the part played by the sera, and therefore allowing the “humours” to a certain extent, others placing this aspect as much in the background as possible; all ignore the “breath.” The vitalist of an earlier age falls into discredit, in consequence.
However, all periods of the history of medicine hang together. Rather may one see them all as successive chapters of one single book, in which no one chapter is better or wiser than another, than regard them as discrete periods, or as struggles of a groping humanity towards light. The spirit of the human race has always known the truth, but at each epoch it has developed first one aspect, then another. When all parts of the one truth have been duly surveyed, then we, who stand at that point of vantage, can piece it all together, and approach the masters of the past in order to gather together all the seemingly isolated fragments into one true and complete picture of the nature of health and disease.
In doing so, the searcher after truth perceives the wisdom of the words of the Sufi Persian poet, when he speaks of the “hair dividing the false from the true.” It is not that one thing is false in itself, and another true in itself. As soon as one stands between the two, one is enabled to observe that there are things on one plane, or on another, and that it is only a matter of viewpoint, or even of definition, that enables one to regard one as definitely false, and the other as equally definitely true. People who are confined by habit of thought to one plane will believe the others false, and conversely. There is a proper place for each, and the best place is to be between the two. The study of Avicenna as a great Sufi work brings a glimpse of this position.
Hence, however false the great system of ancient Eastern Medicine may seem to us, the science of the West can receive nothing but gain from ripening an acquaintance with her, and even if the two finally celebrated their nuptials, no doubt it would only bring to light that one harmonious whole, the complete story of the nature of the human body, which all desire to realise.
I’ve always been fascinated in the work of Dr. Gruner, who had been an early pupil of Inayat Khan in the 1920s. He transcribed many of the lectures, including those that were assembled to form the content of In An Eastern Rose Garden, a particularly wonderful compilation. His accuracy was no doubt very valuable in the days of dreamy sincere but impressionable mureeds with stenographic training, or without. At any rate, it could be that the talks Gruner transcribed were the more true to the intention. However, if “editors” got at them to “fix” phrases etc. then much of the rhythm would be lost.
This work with Inayat Khan indicates his interest in mysticism and its relationship to medicine, and in the power of breath and the elements. He then went on to a master work – the translation of Avicenna’s Treatise on Medicine.
A little about Avicenna, and this translation, that I picked up on the web:
At first the West came to know about Al-Qanun through its Latin translation by Gerard of Cremona as early as the twelfth century A.D. But according to Prof. E.G. Browne “The Latin Qanun Swarms with barbarous words” and thus is “almost unintelligible”. Some other translations, whether whole or in part, also exist in different Western and eastern languages, However, in English only two translations of its first volume have been available. One of them was prepared by Dr. O.C. Gruner of London (1930) and the other is by Col. M.H. Shah of Karachi (1964). Dr. Gruner’s translation is based on the distorted Latin version (1595 and 1608) while Col. Shah has based his translation on the Urdu version of Ghulam Husain Kanturi. Thus there was no complete English translation of Al-Qanun directly done from its Arabic text.
Al-Qanun fi al-Tibb by the Ibn Sina (980-1037 A.D.) is a million word encyclopedic work on Arab medicine that used to be taught in many Western Universities till the 18th century., has now been published by Jamia Hamdard, New Delhi, India. The volumes of Arabic text have also been carefully and critically edited with the help of its oldest published and unpublished copies specially the rarest extant manuscript of Aya Sofia (Istanbul) transcribed in 618 A.H. The complete set of these volumes can be had from Jamia Hamdard.
I believe that with the help of his sufi training, Gruner was able to get to the heart of the meaning of the text even working with a muddled Latin translation from the Arabic. His mystical inspiration or vision would complement the confusion that would naturally arise. And as a trained physician, his understanding of the human body would also fill in any mistranslations.
After this publication in 1930, Gruner went on to McGill in Montreal and his main contribution to medical science. Although his translation of this fundamental text (part one at any rate) was published, part 2 remains in the library at McGill in manuscript form only. Gruner began to apply his inspiration to cancer research and pioneering a radical approach based on blood tests to reveal the presence of cancer. O.C. Gruner, is mainly known now as a former pathologist to the Royal Victoria Hospital and research fellow at McGill University in Montreal.
Here he became connected with the well-known Royal Rife, whose science was called para-science by some, suppressed by others, and simply ignored by the majority of the scientific community. However, Gruner may have been one of the few legitimate researchers to apply scientific methods to Rife’s theories.
Some of his work is described here:
The Rife Universal Microscope was the answer to a prayer for bacteriologist Arthur Kendall. His own research had convinced him that Antoine Bechamp had been correct. Bechamp believed that the chemical environment in which a microorganism lives determines the form it takes. Kendall and other biologists had cultured up to 16 distinct organisms from a single source by using different culture media. Rife’s microscope allowed Kendall to see the living organisms change. In turn, the K culture medium developed by Kendall, led to the discovery of the Bx cancer virus that Rife had hypothesized existed years before. At that time, “virus” referred to any filterable organism too small to be seen with a regular microscope. Rife and Kendall followed Koch’s postulates. They isolated the virus from a diseased patient, cultured the organism, caused cancer in lab animals using the culture, and recovered the same organism from the sick animal. Later, Dr. O.C. Gruner of Canada’s McGill University identified a fungus in people with cancer. He and Rife discovered that when the Bx virus was cultured on Gruner’s asparagus agar, it became his fungus. When they cultured the fungus on Kendall’s medium, it became the Bx virus. (Source link)
More on his cancer research can be found here. More on the blood tests can be found here.
It seems clear to me that Dr. Gruner had been inspired to apply the principles of the medicine that Avicenna had brought to light to the allopathic medicine of his era. His inspiration from Inayat Khan to awaken that message of understanding is clear in his introduction to the Canon, in which he compares the different forms of healing modalities, placing them in a Universal Worship context, each of value, use and meaning within its own culture and all harmoniously working together toward healing of human beings.
His work has been hinted at as perhaps helpful in HIV research, as well of course in the very early diagnosis of cancer via blood tests. However, no one has as yet fully developed his research or theories. At freepatents online, I found this notation while searching for info on Gruner:
Cell-based detection and differentiation of lung cancer
Document Type and Number: United States Patent 6939670
Also found was this lengthy quote from Gruner’s 1946 self-published monograph, An Interpretation of Cancer, with commentary following.
Stage 3. The Stage of Malignancy
29.–The growth which has formed along the lines indicated is not
necessarily ”malignant”, whatever its microscopic structure. We know that ”lumps” may occur for a long time in the breast, for
instance, and then start growing. We know that a ”villous growth” in the bladder may remain innocent for a long time, and then start ”infiltrating”; that a warty growth in the larynx may show no sign of ”malignancy” for a long period of time. This means that malignancy is superadded. How? By the development of a virus in it. This virus can be formed de novo in the cancer cells (in which case it would be called a ferment, or ”enzyme”) or it may be introduced from without–presumably from another person (directly or indirectly, like malaria). In both cases, secondary deposits begin to appear and we must ascribe this to the presence of the virus, rather than to cancer cells. (See section 68).
On this view, the cancerous growth is the place where the virus is incubated. Local lymph-stasis gives the necessary time for the agent to establish itself. Then, liberated from the cells into the intercellular fluids, the ”germ” enters the lymphatic roots and finally spread through the body (Handley). Undue surgical manipulation both before and during an operation facilitates this liberation of the virus; and furthermore, as Percy pointed out, as long as surgical technique does not include adequate post-operative drainage through an open wound, metastasis formation is inevitable.
The various organisms (”germs”) which can be found in cancer
tissues and in the blood and excreta–for the most part dismissed as unimportant ”contaminants” or ”concomitants”–are associated with necrotic changes and putrefactive break-down in the tumour. To those who recognize pleomorphism, such organisms are later developments, and there is nothing incongruous in the fact of their being unable to start cancerous development either in the same patient or in other persons, or in experimental animals. Rappin’s ”microbe de sortie” is apparently non-pathogenic simply because the effective phase is ultra-microscopic or intracellular, especially in the spleen; it is the virus form which is significant for the spread of cancer (see 23, iii, and v; 68 and 73).
To repeat, various very definite and clean-cut factors (nutritional errors, intoxications, past infections), give rise to flocculations in the intercellular spaces, and the vis medicatrix naturae accounts for the local tumour growth. If the conditions are not rectified, virus development supervenes. The tumour now manifests the well-known characteristics of malignancy. (Sections 57, 62, 68, 72 justify this view, so divergent from academic teaching.)
30.–The practical importance of this interpretation of the cancerous process is easily perceived. First, the public should be warned of the contributory factors (section 23) so that they can at least take some precautions. When stage 2 is reached, the physician in his turn should at once act similarly, for, despite all the propaganda of the Societies for the Control of Cancer, surgical and even radiological measures are never instituted immediately (i.e. the same day) and every hour means more and more progress of the disease. Secondly, a patient in the third stage is not only approaching the end of life, but is a source of dissemination –despite official insistence to the contrary. The time between ”infection” and appearance of a growth is so long (the best analogy being provided by leprosy) that few will associate the two.
Yet, on the basis of this thesis, the whole disease would stop if the specific ”pathogen” could be ”resolved” (that is, first made soluble, then completely cleared out through the normal emunctories). The virus could not survive.
It is further evident from Dr. Gruner’s remarks that any means that can prevent the emergence of pathogenic viral forms within the organism would be an effective defense against cancers, while a cure would be provided if the virus could be destroyed during the process of infection. In the former, live blood analysis under
dark field microscopy could be a significant factor, while the
frequency instrument developed by Rife has already been proven an effective means of destroying cancer-causing viruses, and could
likely also be effective against HIV.
There is lots of info on Rife on the internet, and much of it includes Gruner’s name. However, Gruner himself was a very traditonal medical scientist. It is just that his tradition was deeper than anyone ever suspected, rooted in an understanding of the body and its elements as ultimately guided by the breath and its variants. His vision was a perfect fusion of ancient teachings and modern understandings, and should be carried forward and reexamined for the 21st century.