Pointing to the Moon

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"Always remember, truth cannot be said, it can be shown. It is a finger pointing to the moon. All words are just fingers pointing to the moon, but don’t accept the fingers as the moon. The moment you start clinging to the fingers – that’s where doctrines, cults, creeds, dogmas, are born – then you have missed the whole point. The fingers were not the point; the point was the moon".  ~ Osho 


In this piece I am pointing to the moon.

I am pointing to a way of embracing health as our path of awakening, as our ground of being. I recognize the rarity to be doing so as a physician, and that reality only deepens my inquiry and exploration into what it will take to shift our individual and collective orientation to health -- from moonthe finger to the moon itself.

I’ve been studying this territory intimately for a number of years now while quietly observing myself navigating chronic illness, engaging in the studies, teaching, and application of Naturopathic medicine, witnessing the growth, healing and transformation of people I work with as a physician, and participating in conscious and spiritual communities.  What I have come to see is that individually and collectively we’re living with a disconnect in relation to health that we are largely blind to, wrought with much shadow and unconscious patterning that has us focused so fully on the pointing fingers, that we’re not even aware that there is a moon.

I am going to boldly propose that it’s this disconnect that’s ultimately at the root of all of our struggles.  And it’s this disconnect that I feel I’m here to help heal.

Healthy Evolution?

So many of us today are waking up in our lives, expanding our awareness and capacities so that we can more fully show up in service in a world that is ripe with great challenge and complexity.  It feels like our individual and collective evolution is accelerating.  And yet even as we have worked to actualize ourselves so beautifully in these ways, we struggle a great deal with sustaining the ability to truly care for ourselves.  Avoidance, self-sabotage, long mental lists of what we should or shouldn’t be doing, and an orientation of needing to manage or overcome ourselves, all make up how we relate to health.  We’re living with a constant subtle conflict; it’s as if true health is something that is always out of reach.

This dynamic can be wrought with so much shame and confusion. How is it that we can feel ourselves to be so consciously focused on our growth and evolution and still feel so stuck around our own self-care?  How is it that we can see spiritual teachers who look like they are running themselves into the ground? How is it that it’s so very easy to nurture and care for others, yet so very hard to support ourselves in the same way?

What’s the disconnect here?

It’s that most of us have not consciously integrated our relationship with health into our spiritual and evolutionary journey.  There’s a fundamental split within as our orientation to health has remained rooted in a conventional paradigm as we have been expanding our presence and capacities in other aspects of our lives. finger moon

Our development is complex, with the various parts of ourselves evolving at different paces.  It can be easy to forget that, and to be blind to where there are mismatches within.  For example, sometimes the language we use is not aligned with our own embodiment and way of moving through life.  We can think and speak about things that we do not really understand, that we have not truly grown into.  And the tricky thing with this is that we do not know what we do not know. What I am speaking to here is much like the experience of revisiting a book that we read at a younger age.  Nothing felt like it was missing in our understanding the first round through, yet as we read the book again we encounter a whole new level of meaning.  We can only come to see the mismatch within ourselves when we have had a true lived embodied experience of the moon that reveals to us how we had not been inhabiting what the fingers were pointing to.

Our orientation to health is like that; in our individual and collective evolution it has been left behind.  We may speak holistically or integrally, and yet on a fundamental level we are still living and relating with health as if it is one aspect of who we are. But in reality, in a truly holistic paradigm, health is not separate -- our health is our entire, lived embodied experience.  It is life itself, expressing through us, as us.  And the path for us to truly come to know that, for us to truly integrate and live from that wholeness, is a tremendous journey of awakening for all of us.

When “All of you” truly means ALL of you

A lot of us may have convinced ourselves that we’re living from that place already.  We may have embraced practices or begun to work with teachers that help us address our mind and emotions, to strengthen and heal our body, to work on our spiritual development, to shine light on our shadows, and to cultivate greater intimacy.  There’s a sense of wholeness there, that we’re actually focused on healing these different aspects of ourselves.

Yet what I’m suggesting here is deeper and more foundational.  There’s an incompleteness and a lack of integration in this approach which keeps us still in a place of needing to manage ourselves. The way in which we’re oriented towards the practices remains reductionistic, as if it’s a part that can be separated from the whole.  We’re seeking health and thinking we’ll find it through attending to our check list of what it takes to be a whole person.  Whether we’re succeeding in sustaining our practices or not, we’re still living with the dualistic tension of wanting and trying to be healthy; without consciously realizing it, we’re still deeply rooted in the conventional orientation to health care.  We’re still looking for dis-ease, for what needs to be fixed or made more complete, because our relationship with health is not wholly integrated within us.

What I’m pointing towards is an opportunity to relax into a ground that can hold all of it, our entire life journey, as our health journey.  I’m not just introducing a new paradigm.  I’m pointing at the moon, a truth that the majority of us have at most only glimpsed.  It’s an entire reorientation of Moon pointing at sun-faced-buddha-moon-faced-buddha blogspot comhow we relate with ourselves and our lives. It’s what happens when we wake up to the incredible miracle of being alive, of being present to this creative life energy that we are expressing through our entire beings.

When we live from the place of that sacred gift, we awaken to see the inherent responsibility in it: that we each are here to tend to, nurture, and love this particular life expression that we are - this is the heart of our evolution and self-actualization. When we nourish and care for ourselves we allow our life energy to blossom and move in the world aligned with the unique aliveness that is our essence.  This is the service we are here to offer to all.  From this ground of health we truly are able to show up and nurture and support not only ourselves, but the healing of our collective planetary future.

And so I wonder if you who are reading this now are able to feel the possibility that I’m pointing to?  Of what it would mean to heal the split, to truly integrate and embrace health as being at the heart of our life journey, of our spiritual and evolutionary path? Health then shifts from something we are seeking, grasping, and trying to achieve, to something we allow, something that nourishes the creative life energy that we are, simply by opening up to it.  True healing and true health are realized in resolving this disconnect.  This is the integration and wholeness we are all seeking.

And so here I am, pointing to the moon.  I am opening the door and inviting us all, individually and collectively, to connect with health as our ground of being, to awaken and move through life with that guidance at our core.  This is my medicine, and this is my own vital journey.

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  • Comment Link Seth Scholfield Wednesday, 14 November 2012 22:25 posted by Seth Scholfield

    Love it Deb! As you know I've dealt with chronic gut issues for the last 10 years. In that time I've grown bored and disillusioned by the numerous theories, perspectives, diets, procedures, medicines, rituals, books, workshops, healers, etc that my friends, family, and health care providers so lovingly suggest to me. Yet all of it or at least the way I related to it was grounded in an experience of health as seperate (all the while claiming to be integral and wholistic). Your words are a breath of fresh air. Thank you for pointing to the moon and thanks for doing so without a big shinny ring on that finger that might otherwise capture my attention, distracting me from that which is pointed toward. It seems most are more concerned with selling rings then pointing toward the truth. Thank you!

  • Comment Link Deb Zucker Thursday, 15 November 2012 22:17 posted by Deb Zucker

    Deeply appreciating your reflections, Seth. Thank you for sharing your own wisdom born from the transformative healing journey you've been invited into. I hear in your comments a recognition of the choice you have come to see in how you relate to the experience of health. This choice brings into view a whole new terrain of health. Even as we still have access to all of the same modalities and tools that we were aware of before, our relationship with it all shifts. Our motivation and ground from which we are moving from is sourced from a deeper knowing, a deeper acknowledgment of our wholeness.

  • Comment Link Kathryn Ehnebuske Thursday, 15 November 2012 22:32 posted by Kathryn Ehnebuske


    Perfect and you are so right. My body has been leading me through some incredible lessons but as I have come to really listen I find that my physical being is a profound and beautiful instrument that is capable of accessing everything I need just as I need it. The trick is that this deep wisdom answers to the needs of the divine, not my idea of what health is. When I actually listen and desist demanding what I want, my body graces me with profound wisdom. That sometimes doesn't look or feel nice, in fact in human terms it looks like pain and suffering. But the stakes are higher, love, freedom from fear and gratefulness for the amazing privilege of expressing life in a human body.

  • Comment Link Deb Zucker Friday, 16 November 2012 04:55 posted by Deb Zucker

    Kathryn - your comment deeply inspires me. I love how you speak to the stakes being higher and the depth of gratitude, love, and freedom that you have accessed beneath what may be experienced as suffering. Thank you for sharing your wisdom here!

  • Comment Link Jim Baxter Sunday, 18 November 2012 23:05 posted by Jim Baxter

    I agree with you whole-heartedly. We lack the spiritual in all aspects of our lives. Our ideal as you say would be to live in the eternal spirit and deal with the stuff that life throws at us from that perspective. Nevertheless, the spirit is not a switch-on switch-off phenomenon, nor is infusing daily life with the spirit something that we can attempt to do. If we allow ourselves simply to grow into the spirit, the rest (including health)will take care of itself. And growing into the spirit is a life-long journey.

    I think we must also recognize that even the most spiritual mystics get cancer and that in some instances anti-depressants are the only way to deal with depression. The role of the spirit in such circumstances I believe is simply to say antibiotics or surgery are often quite appropriate. In fact, they are the Spirit's gift to us. Yes, "our health is our entire, lived embodied experience. It is life itself ..." and so is our intellect. I always come back to the old Arabic saying: "Trust in Allah but tie your camel."

  • Comment Link Deb Zucker Wednesday, 21 November 2012 23:27 posted by Deb Zucker

    Beautiful response, Jim. Thank you! Yes, in shifting the ground of our relationship with health (and life), we still have all the tools and capacities that are available to us. Yet how we relate to them and the place/orientation from which our choices are rooted is new.

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