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Tuesday, January 05, 2010

soul hospital, soul doctor

the concept of what a soul hospital really means has been in my mind for a while now, not allowing itself to slip out into words but forming and re-forming itself over time.

it's obvious, no, that a 'soul hospital' is the ward for wounded or suffering or injured souls? and that the relief in a soul hospital would be provided by 'soul doctors' or nurses, ie, those characters who are expert in analysing what ails a soul, and applying the proper medicine. or, if needed, surgery.

for a long time -- in fact, as I look back on it, for most of my life -- I was yearning to be a soul doctor but I didn't have a term for it, or a concretized concept. I wanted to help people, had an innate and intuitive feel for psychology and the depth in the hearts of others... but I really didn't understand, or even think about, the soul per se. it wasn't in my lexicon.

I wasn't even sure I believed there IS such a thing as a soul, exactly. (where is it? what does it look like? how come no one's ever seen it? how come I've never seen it?)

but still, the impetus was there to help others out of suffering.

since living in India, and so many years being in the presence of real soul doctors (spiritual masters who can diagnose the problem within seconds, see the entire soul graph of a human being's past and present and future lives, and fix what's needed to fix in order for that soul to regain its conscious spark, and to walk again with joy in the world) -- the concept of 'soul doctor' was fairly well evolved in my thinking.

I thought I had a clear handle on the concept.

but then Master Li, one of the black Ninja lion cats here at the temple I live in, had an unfortunate meeting with a car on the road, and was injured. (it turned out that despite all the shock and blood, he had merely suffered a broken jaw and a bad concussion.)

hanging around the vet clinic, which I did during visiting hours for several days, really opened my eyes to a whole new dimension of what a soul hospital might look like, or how it might -- pardon the pun -- operate.

the vet clinic where Li was treated is an emergency hospital, where injured and sick animals are brought in at all hours, every day and night, as well as a regular veterinary hospital by day.

while I was there, I observed numbers of dogs and cats brought in, in varying states of illness or injury or distress, and the staff scrambling to help them. I realized, in a half-dazed way, that there was something sublime about the place -- that no matter whether or not an animal was likable, or fierce, snarling or whimpering, the kind of dog or cat one prefers.... EVERY animal that came in there got a fair shake, the best treatment imaginable, by a team of folks who were completely committed to helping that creature regain its health and balance.

and I recognized the greatness of the Hippocratic Oath in that moment (do veterinarians take an animal version of it? a Puppycratic, or a Kittycratic, Oath?) -- either in human hospital settings or in the veterinary hospital I was becoming so accustomed to hanging out in...

that anyone who walks in the door is eligible for fantastic, professional, loving treatment simply because they walked in the door, in need, and they are still alive, and for no other reason.

there is no better or worse, no likable or unlikeable, there is no personal preference in an emergency room. there is simply no time and it goes against the professional ethic. there is simply treatment, the best it can be, for anyone who's come there for help.

and the folks working in the hospital, be it on an animal case or a human one, don't get to choose who they work on. they just do it.

"you exist, therefore I will help you."

this simple principle -- when I recognized its ramifications, spiritually, staggered me.

I realized how many preferences, ideas, judgments, thoughts and biases I have about the people who walk in my door for help. maybe I don't like this one's way of expressing himself, or I find the color scheme a woman wears a little laughable, or someone's laughter pattern is grating, or another's pettiness makes me disinclined to smile at them.....

and I realized that, as a soul doctor, working in a soul hospital (this temple of divine healing we call home here in the Santa Cruz mountains), I don't get to choose. I don't really get to have the luxury of my own preferences, likes and dislikes, penchants or momentary grudges about other people.

whoever walks in the door, I need to help them. it is that simple.

to be a soul doctor, one's heart has to be 'professional'... filled with unconditional love, enormous patience, a willingness to help no matter what, the capacity to ignore the strain or negativity coming out of someone who is hurt, desperate, lonely, or furious at life... and the right knowledge of the different medicines for each specific condition that a soul is suffering.

that kind of accepting, loving openness to all creatures, all beings, and all individuals, no matter what their state or situation may be -- I saw it in the veterinary clinic, so I know it's possible! -- this is really what I, as a budding doctor of souls, aspire to.

at least I can see, now, the road clearly mapped out in front of me, and what that destination looks like.

before I visited the veterinary clinic daily to see Li, I really didn't grasp this angle, this overwhelmingly beautiful and challenging angle, of the spiritual profession.

now I think about it all the time, daily, and strive to live up to the simple, innocent beauty of helping, really helping, whoever comes in front of me.

"you exist, therefore I will help you."