Fifty years of medical practice has led Dr. Len Saputo to the conclusion that there is an intricate organization and incredible perfection in the universe that is mind-boggling, especially when it comes to illness. The more he contemplated the workings of the universe in health and disease, the more he became impressed with how every aspect of a person’s “dance with illness” unfolds in a way that reveals meaning and value. “I have observed so many instances where my patient’s illness has had an impact beyond its associated physical disabilities and psychological challenges that I’ve come to expect therefore is always a deeper meaning that is an integral part of illness. Now I look for this hidden significance whenever I’m working with my patients, or for that matter, in everything that happens in my world.”
A fascinating sojourn into the mind and research of a man who has learned and practices a complementary approach to medicine in order to address the causes of illness, rather than simply masking the symptoms.
You will enjoy Len’s cogent perspective offered in this SoulTalk booklet, including:
- The Role of Spirituality in Healing
- Organization and Perfection Beyond our Soul
- Science and the Secrets of the Universe
- Should We Trust Science?
- Greed and Pride Trump Ethics
- Life is for Living
- What About Spirituality?
- Medicine as an Art
- Making Sense of Illness
- Lessons Learned From Illness
- The Boundaries of Human Potential
- Where Do We Go From Here?
Len Saputo, MD is a graduate of Duke University Medical School and board certified in Internal Medicine. He was in private practice in affiliation with John Muir Medical Center in the San Francisco Bay Area for more than 30 years. His approach to healing has evolved from mainstream medicine into “Health Medicine”—an integrative, holistic, person-centered, and preventive style of practice.
Over the past 15 years, Len has led the Health Medicine movement as the founder of the Health Medicine Forum, a non-profit educational foundation. Since 1994, “The Forum” has sponsored more than 350 public and professional events including lectures, workshops, and conferences. In 2001 Len founded the Health Medicine Center, an integrative medicine center that is located in Walnut Creek, California, that is bringing the model of Health Medicine into clinical practice.
Active in public and professional education, over the past decade Len has made more than 70 presentations to hospitals, medical schools, universities, and community organizations. He has edited six books, has contributed dozens of articles and chapters on topics in complementary and alternative medicine, and produced and hosted the Prescriptions for Health Show on KEST Radio (WWW.KEST Radio) every weekday morning with his wife Vicki. He authored the 2010 Nautilus Gold Award Book of the Year in health and healing, A Return to Healing: Radical Health Care Reform and the Future of Medicine.
Len has been a strong advocate of fitness all of his life. In 1995 and 2001 he won the World Senior Men’s Singles Tennis Championships and was formerly ranked number one in the world by the International Tennis Federation in men’s singles.
Nowhere is universal organization and perfection more obvious to me than it is in the practice of medicine. Yet, ironically, nowhere has it been more invisible than it is to today’s doctors! Our doctors must bear some of the responsibility for this because they are the ones delivering healthcare, but the intrinsic defect is not in our doctors. The defect originates in the healthcare model itself. The lion’s share of the defect is in the way our well intentioned and highly committed young doctors are being trained to practice medicine. Medical practice is no longer controlled by experience and conscience; today commercial interests control how medicine is practiced.
Strange as it may seem, most doctors today do have a personal belief in spirituality, and many have a strong religious practice. A large part of the reason why mainstream medicine excludes the role of spirit in healing is because medicine has become so commercialized. Practicing spirituality in medicine is a service that is not particularly profitable. Doctors who focus on patient’s spiritual needs have a far lower priority for the use of drugs, technologies, or surgeries, which is where the big money in medicine is generated. As I have repeatedly pointed out throughout this book, medicine has become a business where the bottom line is return on investment, not service.
The vast majority of doctors, who incorporate spirituality into their practice as I do, usually make this transition long after they have completed their formal training. Most of the time it takes years of postgraduate experience before a few doctors come to realize that there’s far more to helping their patients heal from an illness than merely curing their symptoms. These special doctors do not fit into today’s mainstream medical model because it requires more time than is allotted to “be with” their patients by “listening and caring”. Consequently, doctors who include spirituality in their bag of tools tend to have much smaller solo practices that cannot generate nearly as much income. However, the joy that comes with helping the sick that are in need far outweighs any financial returns. There is far more pleasure from gaining the appreciation and friendship of our fellow human beings than from receiving their money!
Could it be that we actually need evil in the world in order to have choices that teach us to appreciate what is good? Don’t we learn best from our mistakes? Isn’t it through temptation that we sometimes make selfish choices that ultimately have the potential to teach us the strengths of sharing, giving, and loving? It is very possible to make the case that the Creator deliberately included evil in the world so it would be possible to experience the difference between good and evil, and in doing so develop the wisdom to appreciate this difference. This is a significant way that we can achieve spiritual growth!
Sadly, however, not everyone learns that selfishness and greediness are not nearly as likely to bring joy and happiness in life as sharing, giving, and loving. We become more aware of what is important in life when our own death or that of a loved one is imminent. It is at sobering times like this that we awaken to the fact that it isn’t our stock portfolio, bank account or other worldly possessions that are most important. We almost instinctively realize that it is our relationships with our self, others, all life forms and with spirit that are the most meaningful and precious priorities in life.
It may be the last few years, seasons, months, weeks, days or on occasion even minutes of our life that a light bulb goes off and we awaken to these realities. As long as we’re still breathing and coherent, we still have the opportunity to make a spiritual transformation. The important issue in our life is how much we will grow spiritually. Sometimes it is during the dying process that we learn our most important spiritual lessons.