Sep 11, 2017
It’s great to be back, recording a new episode of 1M: a Homeopath’s Podcast.
It was great to have a reprieve from the monthly episodes- summer was full of great stuff both homeopathy oriented and just life here in Maine ,which is just about perfect this time of year.
Some fun serendipity is that we adopted a new puppy into our family and we actually went out to Chicago to pick her up. We went in June, just after I launched the summer bookclub reading Kent’s Lectures, and there we were in Chicago, which is Kent country….
And my summer was filled with Kent! About 25 homeopaths, students, and even a couple of parents who are super dedicated to using homeopathy in their families, read together and discussed Kent’s Lectures within a private Facebook group, and then a handful of us connected online every couple weeks to talk in person and have a more traditional discussion.
For some of us it was reading Kent for the first time, for others of us, it was a first time reading cover to cover, for others, it was a refresher. This made for a great mix of questions and discussion. Being summer, it was a busy time and folks dipped in and out and kept up as their lives allowed.
For me, being the facilitator, I had to keep up! Though the chapters in Kent were not long, it was a brisk pace reading 4-5 chapters per week. I think Kent’s Lectures benefits from a bit more time to digest. Even a couple weeks now after the final chapters of reading, I’m ruminating on all that absorbed in this reading of the book, cover to cover. Lucky for me, our year at the Baylight Center for Homeopathy, where I teach student clinic and philosophy, started up last weekend and so there was ample opportunity to reference Kent in student questions and reviewing our cases from last year.
SO- as a way to launch back into the monthly podcasts and create some continuity from my summer I thought I would pull out some of my Essential Insights from Kent’s Lectures on Philosophy—- as today’s podcast theme.
Maybe it will inspire you to re-read Kent, and it is a little gift to those in the bookclub - kind of a round up of the substantial points of discussion we had both within the Facebook group and in the webinar.
I haven’t forgotten about the yearly theme of ‘learning through failure,’ however and in many ways, Kent was an inspiration for that lens. I may have shared this quote already, but here is a classic Kentian thought that inspires my work:
“A physician advanced in years looks back upon many failures. The faithful homeopath recalls a man, a woman, a child and realizes that these - among his past failures- would now be simple cases. Prescribing the homeopathic remedy is such a process of growth and progress that it may be said that the best of the wine is saved for the last of the feast.’
ah- such a beautiful and true sentiment.
And of course, that process of growth and progress is not a passive one. And it’s not obvious and straight forward either. It’s not uniform and prescriptive for every homeopath. We each have our own process of growth and will progress at different rates and along different paths in our march to fulfill that one true mission of restoring the sick to health.
For me, really understanding homeopathic philosophy underpins all that I do. Without the philosophy, I believe we are simply energetic pharmacists.
And so- I wish you had been there, a part of our Homeopath’s Book Club, though I’m grateful to share with you the fruits of our discussion and hope it inspires you to track down your own copy to re-discover some insights of your own-
The concept of what is prior to a result, or what is primary and leading to ultimates is a theme that emerges again and again throughout the book.
One of the biggest learnings for me in reading Kent cover to cover this time- and I think can be missed if you only occasionally pick it up to read a chapter here and there, or to consult for a particular question- is that you miss the repetition of particular words and ideas and how he embeds them throughout the book in different lectures.
For example, the idea of something that is ‘prior’ comes right in the first lecture.
“… Homeopathy perceives that there is something prior to … results. Every science teaches, and every investigation of a scientific character proves that everything which exists does so because of something prior to it. Only in this way can we trace cause and effect in a series from beginning to end and back again from the end to the beginning. By this means we arrive at a state in which we do not assume, but in which we know.”
He also foreshadows another concept that repeats over and over throughout the book- which is the idea of influx, or continuance, or as he says here ‘in a series from beginning to end.’
But- that is a later point, so I’ll stick with priors and ultimates.
In the first lectures, its’ about what are we treating, and driving home the message that we are treating the man, the individual who lives inside the body, NOT the tissues, NOT the house man lives in. The man comes first, the individual- the will, the understanding, the loves and hates. These things come first.
The distortion on this level is the disease, not the morbid tissue changes.
Ok- pretty basic.
Lecture 2 talks about the Organon aphorism on the Highest Ideal of a Cure. And to refresh you that verbiage, it says:
“the highest ideal of a cure is rapid, gentle, and permanent restoration of health….’
Now, to restore means to go back, to something before.
Again, the idea of something *prior*
When treating disease, we must consider what comes before, and our end goal, our cure, is to bring them back to where they were before the state that brought the patient to our office.
In this same lecture he talks about those observations that we ascribe to Hering- symptoms moving in reverse direction (again, to what was before) and the layers of man,
“The FIRST of man is his voluntary, the second of man is his understanding, and the last is his outermost.”
Kent also gets into the effects of bacteria, in calling out the idea that bacteria cause illness and instead says “They will also tell you that a bacillus is the cause of tuberculosis. But they man had not been susceptible to the bacillus he could not have been affected by it. As a matter of fact, the tubercules once FIRST and the bacillus is SECONDARY. It has never been found PRIOR to the tubercle, but it FOLLOWS that, and comes then as a scavenger.”
Such references to the idea of first and last, prior and result are sprinkled throughout the entire book in this way.
What it tells us is that the concept is central to homeopathy as Kent saw it, in all aspects. From taking and perceiving the case, to susceptibility, to miasms- psora comes first and precedes the other miasms, there cannot be acutes without chronics and vice versa, the idea of a simple substance prior to a materia substance…
all of these things go together. it may be that they can be separated out in our minds as different concepts within homeopathic philosophy and application, but Kent strings them together with the simple- but profound idea- that there is what is prior and what comes after.
Which leads me to Insight #2
2) Influx and Continuance
What is primary and what is secondary or what is the result is a cornerstone of the lectures. Yet these points- primary and ultimate- are not floating in space with a cosmic unseen connection.
What is primary or prior, and what is the result or ultimate, is joined by the idea of influx, or continuance.
This phrase or synonymous phrases are also embedded in nearly every lecture of the book.
You heard it first in the initial quote I read- about cause and effect and a series running from beginning to end.
But this isn’t even introducing the idea. Kent is a master at planting seeds of concepts before turning them over in a direct reveal.
In Lecture 1 he says:
“Again take the nervous child. It has wild dreams, twitching, restless sleep, nervous excitement, hysterical manifestations, but if we examine all the organs of the body we will find nothing the matter with them. This sickness, however, which is present, if allowed to go uncured, will in twenty or thirty years result in tissue change… the individual has been sick from the beginning…
“From first to last is the order of sickness as well as the order of cure.”
This is the first introduction of the idea that if you see someone with no morbid sx. and then later see that person decades later, they will likely need the *same remedy* because disease is a progression. ‘Order’ implies not just 2 points: beginning and end, but a chain of events in a specific progression.
It’s a concept that points to what we should pay attention to in a case- what was happening when the ailments first started ,what was happening *before* the ultimates before us?
It also supports his plea to learn pathology and physical disease states- not because we prescribe on it- but because then you will know what you are looking at. IS this patient at the beginning or the end or the middle stage of the pathological stage of their disease? He emphasizes this quite a lot-
In Lecture 7 he says:
… Every curable disease presents itself to the intelligent physician in the signs and symptoms that he can perceive. In viewing a LONG ARRAY of symptoms an image is presented to the mind of an internal disorder. —-
An array is of course a display or an arrangement of multiple things … not just beginning and end, but what the course is between them. We see some patients at the beginning and probably fewer at the end, but most of them are in the middle. By knowing the progression of disease, but understanding that there is a first and last and an inbetween, we can identify where our patient is in that progression and that can and will inform our analysis and prescriptions.
The idea of continuance and order is brought up also as ‘flow’
the direction that disease flows- which is from inner to outer
“Disease can only be perceived by its results and it flows from within out, from center to circumference, from the seat of government to the outermost. Hence, cure must be from within, out.”
The idea of a progression is also applied to the types of disease we have:
“The acute miasma have a distinct COURSE TO RUN. They have a prodromal period, a period of PROGRESS and a period of DECLINE.”…
and contrasting that against the chronic diseases, which have no period of decline.
Now- I bring all this up not to tell you about the difference between acute and chronic, because we all know that. But to lift out the language Kent is using and this concept of flow and order because again, he repeats it within all the important concepts in the book. .
If we can see the relation between all of these things- how first/last, the idea of continuance- is present in all the various aspects of homeopathy, then we begin to understand the totality of homeopathy, I think. It becomes simple to us, it’s all working together. There’s no hard lines between philosophical concepts.
Just as we must grok the totality of our patient, and perceive what is first/last in the patient, what is the progression is, all of that forms the totality of the patient. And thus there will be only one remedy to match, when we apply the same concepts to the study of disease images, i.e. proving and materia medica.
But that’s coming!
I’ll wrap up this point with reading a selection from Lecture 8, which is where he really breaks down influx and continuance and order, and like i said- he had planted the idea right from the beginning- kind of primed you as a reader to take on the full concept.
“What do we mean by influx? AS a broad and substantial illustration let us think of a chain. What is it that holds the last link of a chain to its investment or first attachment? At once we will say the intermediate link. What is it that connects that link? Its previous link, and so on to the first link and its attachment. Do we not thus see that there is one continuous dependence from the last to the first hook? Wherever that chain is separated it is as much separated as possible, and there is no longer influx from one link to the other. In the same way as soon as we commence to think of things disconnectedly, we lose the power of communication between them. All things must be untied or the series is broken and influx ceases.
Again, we see that man exists prior to his body, but as yet we do not see all the finer purposes of his being.”
#3 Distinction of Language
It became clear about 3/4 of the way through the reading when we got to the Lectures 29-31 that creating a glossary was in order.
Those Lectures- entitled Idiosyncrasies, Individualization, and Characteristics began to bump up against previous concepts like indisposition, circumstance, obstacle to cure and more.
Each of these concepts circles around each other like bumper cars, having similarities and connection, yet simultaneously retaining a unique meaning that helps make distinctions within a case.
Likewise, his discussion of vital force, simple substance, vs. soul… these are concepts that can be lumped together and passed off as perhaps the spiritual or dynamic aspect of homeopathy, but in fact retain very specific qualities according to Kent, and he takes the time to discuss them at length. It can be confusing and I found that by drawing out- literally with pen and blank white paper- I could discern the meaning of each one.
I’m not going to go into it al here- it would take the whole podcast. But I bring it up to encourage you, the next time you read Kent, if you find yourself glossing over words and concepts that seem similar but he is clearly using different words for - STOP. Take the time to piece out each one. look at them individually. and see the relationship between them.
Just like Kent repeats certain concepts- like influx/order and priors and results - for a reason, he also is separating out concepts and individualizing ideas that must be understood in their singularity, so that they can be perceived within the whole.
On a more specific note, Kent’s treatment and explanations of miasms also shined for me. Today, we have teachers presenting a vastly expanded concept and application of miasms as compared to Hahnemann’s original writings and Kent’s time.
I personally have held a lot of these teachings at bay, considering them, but not incorporating them fully into my practice, simply because I have had a hard time making the leap from the original 3- psora, syphilis and sycosis (though including cancer and tuberculosis)- to the more than ten now commonly accepted within various circles.
Ironically, within Kent I found what I believe to be the best justification and explanation for *why* it is appropriate to consider a greater number of miasms, and I’m looking forward to expanding my study and consideration of these miasms.
In Lecture 18, he states in the first paragraph:
“Psora is the beginning of all sickness. Had psora never been established, as a miasm upon the human race, the otter two chronic diseases would have been impossible, and susceptibility to acute diseases would have been impossible. All the diseases of man are built upon psora; hence it is the foundation of sickness; all other sicknesses came after.”
So here, he’s basically saying that because of psora, we are susceptible to all other diseases. Now, at that time, 2 other miasms were considered. But it stands to reason that if psora made humans susceptible to sycosis and syphilis, as well as all acutes, then there is potential for other miasms.
Further he says: “The three chronic miasms: psora, syphilis and sycosis, are all contagious. In each instance, there is something prior to the manifestations which we call disease. We speak of the signs and symptoms of a disease, we speak of the outcroppings of the symptoms when we speak of syphilis, but remember there is a state prior to syphilis or syphilis would not exist. It could not come upon man except for a condition suitable to its development. In like manner psora could not exist except for a condition in mankind stable for its development.’
So- again we see the concept of ‘prior’ and what came before.
What stands out to me, though is that considering this state- created by psora, that allows for the development of syphilis or sycosis, then it stands to reason that state that allows for the development of tuberculosis- which we accept is a miasm- and cancer…which we also accept as a miasm. ER-GO… it begins to feel illogical NOT consider leprosy, ringworm, malaria, etc.
Continuing in this vein, he says:
“All diseases upon the earth, acute and chronic, are representations of man’s internals. Otherwise, he could not be susceptible or could not develop that which is within him. The image of his own interior self comes out in disease…
This state has CONTINUED TO PROGRESS and it has accumulated and become complex. The original simple psora has added to it syphilis and sycosis, and THESE PROGRESS and have now effected a state, they have CONTINUED to effect a state in mankind, whereby the race is so susceptible to acute affectations that many of our citizens have every little thing that comes along, and every little epidemic of influenza brings them down with an acute attack… This was not done in one generation but has been accumulating on the face of the earth so long as we have a history of man.”
OK! So - while the emphasis in reading is mine, you can hear that Kent is again emphasizing the idea of progression and continuance, but in the realm of miasms.
Clearly he did not see them as a static state, but as a state that is growing generation to generation. It’s hard to conceive that Kent would say that miasms stopped after syphilis and sycosis were he to be confronted with the concepts that have developed around miasms in the last couple of decades.
It was only 100 years ago that Kent was alive; I think the miasms we consider today- that Kent did not- were there… I don’t think that the malaria or ringworm miasms have emerged only within the last 100 years. *However* I think the explosion of the world-wide population over the last 100 years, compounded with ever increasing suppressive allopathic drugs, of which he says=
“the miasms that are at the present day upon the human race are complicated a thousandfold by allopathic treatment”
Have contributed to the proliferation of the expanded miasms, which follows his theory that miasms complicate and progress.
Another piece that might explain why the recognition of other miasms and the development of that line of thinking was not happening in Kent’s time, could be coming from this passage:
“It does seems as if Homeopathy had become a necessity, but the kind of homeopathy that is preached in the majority of our schools will not check the progress of psora. The majority of the college teachers sneer at the doctrine of psora; they sneer at the miasms and continue in their efforts to establish homeopathy upon an allopathic basis…. no study is made of psora, but allopathic books are their textbooks.”
Kent was teaching in the final years of homeopathy here in America, while it was being diluted and extinguished by the American Medical Association. It seems it was a time of holding on for dear life, not a time of renaissance and expansion, which we know happened over 70 years later.
A very specific point that was made also in Lecture 20, the first on syphilis, in regards to the point of contagion.
It’s a concept I had never heard before, and so it struck me, and also seemed very relevant for analysis of cases from a miasmatic point of view and making sense of symptom pictures.
“The books speak of the primary contagion as the only contagion in connection with the syphilitic miasma, but let me tell you something. Suppose we assume that the syphilitic miasm is a disease that would run for a definite time, and suppose that an individual has gone through with the primary manifestation and is told by his physician that he can safely marry; if he marry, his wife becomes and invalid; but she does not go through the primary manifestations, the initial lesion and the roseola, but she has the syphiloderma and the symptoms which belong to theater state of the disease. This disease is transferred from husband to wife, anti is taken up in the stage in which it then exists and from thence goes on in a progressive way. The woman catches it from the man in the stage in which he has it at the time of their marriage; she takes that which he has; if he has it in the advances stage she takes it in that stage; she takes from him the stage he has to offer.
This is equally true of psora and sycosis…. the three chronic miasms have contagion in the form in which they exist at the time. The state is transferred, so that one in the advanced states of psora will transfer to his good wife the psora which he has, and she takes it up and progress with it and adds it to her own, and it progresses in accordance with her peculiarities.”
I think what happened here for me in considering Kent’s words, was the clarification of concepts that I work with in homeopathy, but did not really have a source for.
I had not been exposed to this concept of contagion at the state of manifestation. It makes perfect sense, but I would have not been able to articulate or put this into words myself. The whole idea of an inherited miasm was all jumbled together like a ball- here, here’s your miasm.
But the miasm is of course expressed through the *individual* and his or her peculiarities, as Kent says. It is *this* expression of the miasm that is passed on, as well as the stage it’s at, and not some amorphous miasma. Which is of course why we must individualize, and why homeopathy is what it is, and not allopathy, which gives ONE treatment for syphilis- operating under the rule the syphilis is syphilis. But we know, syphilis is not just syphilis. It is THIS person’s syphilis and must be treated uniquely as such.
The other concept it clicked into place for me is not the passing on of miasms, but the passing on of unresolved traumas, memories, etc. There was an article that was circulating for some time about the acceptance in conventional circles that the effects of trauma and memories can be passed on genetically.
I accepted this as a good, energy based practitioner should though it feels far more clear to me and understandable by considering that these memories and traumas could transfer in the same way that miasms do- and not just in a general way, but in the particular way that trauma and experience is stuck within the parent at the time of conception.
The lecture on susceptibility is almost a red herring.
I think that the concept of susceptibility is embedded in that which is prior or primary.
I began the chapter on susceptibility thinking that it would be more about that prior state, but instead the lecture emphasizes more contagion, potency, and dose.
What I came to realize in the course of reading the entire book and now in zeroing in on this lecture, is that susceptibility, contagion, and cure are like the 3 legs of a stool-
They each have a part to play- equal to each other, but distinctly important- in the seat of health.
Contagion comes in, we are susceptible to it. The Contagion has the cause- so consider this paragraph:
“In contagion- and consequently in cure- there is practically but one dose administered, are at least that which is sufficient to cause a suspension of influx. When cause ceases to flow in a particular direction, it is because resistance is offered for cases flow only in the direction of least resistance… now in the beginning of disease, i.e. in the stage of contagion, there is this limit to influx, for if man continued to receive the cause of disease- if there were no limits to the influx- he would receive enough to kill him…but when susceptibility is satisfied, there is a cessation of cause…”
So contagion and susceptibility could be viewed like a teeter totter- the other side can only dip down to the level that the other side allows.
Perhaps you remember playing on a teeter totter as a child. If you pushed very hard, the return to you depended on the strength of the individual on the other end, and the degree to which she pushed back and could resist. If she resisted little, then perhaps it would not even totter back to your side, she could again bounce down- little resistance but strength enough to push back some. She could offer no resistance, and slam down on the ground. She could offer strong resistance, and push the teeter right down.
Regardless, you can see the direct relationship between the two.
Cure comes in with the same idea- our susceptibility to the cure, to the remedy, the artificial disease that provokes our vital force to offer resistance.
“But cure and contagion are very similar, and the principles to apply to the other. There is this difference; in cure we have the advantage of change of potency and this enables us to suit the varying susceptibilities of sick man. … The degree of sickness cause fits his susceptibility at the moment he is made sick. But it is not so with medicines. Man has all the degrees of potentiation, and by these he can make changes and thereby fit the medicine to the varying susceptibility of man in varying qualities or degrees.”
Of course, this is one of the biggest blindspots in allopathic medicine- the gross administration of often one-size-fits-all potencies and doses, such as vaccines, antibiotics, etc.
I could probably go on and on with insights from Kent’s Lectures. Like a well tended multi-generational garden, each time you walk through you catch blooms you never saw before, sweet blossoms tucked in under large leaves that obscured your vision the previous time.
Now I say its’ YOUR turn! Pull out your Kent, read a Lecture or two, and share your insights with me! It’s almost 80F outside, and the trees are still green… we can stretch out the Homeopath’s Summer Bookclub if we really want to…
Thanks again for listening, for sharing with your friends and colleagues.
Folks, and I am so excited to share the next interview that I’m doing this Wednesday- a master of his craft… stay tuned, that episode will be coming up in October, just before I take off for the Homeopathy-One conference in Bruges, Belgium. If you are a new listener and havent’ heard the interview I did with both Rajan Sankaran *and* Frederick Schroyens back in May- well, please go back and have a listen, or listen again.
If you are coming to the conference, look for me! I”ll be documenting my experience and interviewing homeopaths who are willing to talk to me about theirs, and all that will come together in a multipart series for November, for those of you who can’t make it, i endeavor to help you feel like you were!
I’ve got a Repertory with Roger interview from back in June that I still haven’t edited yet, I also hope to get that out as a second episode this month, so keep your eyes peeled for that as well.
It’s great to be back- and until next time, be well and stay observant!