National Doctors Day 2020 – Sadhguru Answers Doctors’ Questions During COVID-19 Crisis
On National Doctors Day, Sadhguru answers pressing questions from doctors who have become frontline warriors during the COVID crisis.
Question 1: Sadhguru, what is the state of mind with which a doctor should approach their patient?Sadhguru: You must be like a mother to the world. Because when someone has an ailment, they have become as vulnerable as a child. He may be a big man elsewhere, but once he gets sick, he has become almost like an infant. When they become like that, you must become a mother. There is no other way to approach it.
Question 2: How do I sense what my patients are experiencing?
Sadhguru: Your medical knowledge of a particular ailment might have taught you what is happening in this person's heart and all the reports may be telling you the condition of the heart, liver or gallbladder, but each individual will not go through the same problem in the same way. One person may be going through it with very minimal suffering while another person may be going through the same problem with enormous suffering. This is very individual. This cannot be judged by looking at the data from tests, MRIs and whatever else you do. It is important to look at the patient and see what their state is and in some way empathize with them to feel what is happening with them.
A human body and the mechanism of the human system is not absolutely like a machine where you replace one part and everything will be okay. No one has understood this human mechanism absolutely. It is only in parts that we are able to intervene. The medical profession is doing miraculous things, but still those miraculous things are very limited miracles. I am not trying to discredit medical education and the medical profession. They have done a fantastic job, but still they are not creators of life. They are doing the best that they can do, but there is no such thing as knowing exactly what is happening, because even if there are two patients with the same conditions or data, the situation with one person can be very different from another person.
If a doctor develops that possibility within themselves of being connected with what is happening in a patient and treating that body as your own, it will be truly fantastic. This is not about becoming emotional or empathizing with them. If you become emotional about your patients, I do not think you will make a judicious judgment of what needs to be done. Getting emotional may lead to a little bit of solace for the patient, but may not be a solution. It does not help to make them feel good but not solve their problem. But if you have some Yoga with them – Yoga means some union with the people that you touch – then there will be a deeper sense of connect. Then solutions will be possible and solace will also happen for the patient.
This is important because initially, the patient needs comfort. They need to relax with the doctor to be able to be receptive to whatever the doctor has to offer. Today, we may be looking at the treatment mechanism as purely chemical or surgical treatments for everything. But there are dimensions of human connect which are not about pharmaceuticals or surgery. There is a connection between us and everything else in this world – the earth we walk upon, the air we breathe and the water we drink. Similarly, there is a certain connectivity with another body which is in front of you right now. The knowledge that a doctor carries can be better utilized if there is a deeper connect with the patient. And if that connection comes without emotional drama attached to it, it will be enormously fulfilling both for the doctor and for the patient.
Question 3: What is the difference between a doctor and a healer? How do I learn to become a healing presence when I am with my patient?
Sadhguru: Right now there is a joke going around in India. Certain people who claimed to be healers are all frustrated with the lockdown. They are just waiting, "Remove the lockdown! Let this pandemic go, after that we can heal everyone!" If you are a healer, this is the time to do it! So many people are sick, but they are waiting for the pandemic to pass.
It is great that you are a doctor but I am glad that you are not a healer. The word “heal” is not a bad word, but it has been used in the wrong context by certain people. There are too many “miracle healers” doing all kinds of funny things.
I am glad you are a doctor in the hospital. Do not ever call yourself a healer. The most important thing is your competence and the skills that you have, not your compassion. But the connectivity between two lives is always there, nobody can deny that. In that, your skills, competence, and the patient's ability to receive what is offered to them will become enhanced, which will yield better results for everyone.
Question 4: How do we refocus our energies for the next phase after the pandemic, and start the recovery process for everyone?
Sadhguru: It is incredible that instead of just attending to the medical dimension of the problem, doctors are looking at it in a humanistic way. The anxiety that families go through can be unbearable for them, when someone dear to them is locked up and out of contact in a hospital and no one knows whether they are going to live or die.
It is really wonderful that doctors have reached out to that need. But can we make meaning out of this? Can we somehow console ourselves that it is all okay? That is not how life is. In many ways, this virus and the conversation that is happening in the world about it has brought mortality right up in everyone's faces. No one can escape it. This is a time to use this as a realization and think about how we should live our lives. What should we do differently in this world? What should we do differently within ourselves and around ourselves? The value of our humanity must become the prime factor right now.
Every other creature in the world, in its very intrinsic instincts, is structured to build boundaries around itself. It always wants to live within a safety boundary. This is how all other creatures are designed. It is only the human being, where our intelligence has flowered and our consciousness has come to a place where we want to expand and break our barriers. This longing is there only in human beings on this planet.
Enhancing our boundaries means inclusion. Inclusion is not a value that has been taught to us. It is natural for every human being. Every human being, whatever their situation in life, wants a little more of something in their lives. Whether you are pursuing grades, wealth, knowledge, power, love or fame, you are essentially trying to experience a little more of life than you have now. These are very minuscule installments of expansion. But now that our mortality is right in our faces, if we want to really expand and break our boundaries, this is the time. This must be the time for realization, not for consolation. We have lost dear ones, our economies are hurt and our lifestyles have been lost. But those of us who stay alive beyond this pandemic must understand that the most important value is that we are human. That means we are capable of being inclusive, not exclusive.
Question 5: How should doctors handle the moral distress of making tough decisions and having to live with the imperfect consequences of those decisions?
Sadhguru: Unfortunately, during times like these, many of us are forced to make decisions that we would not want to make. But it is important that those who are most humane make these decisions based on fundamental humanity, not on economic or commercial value. What is important is that though we are making hard decisions, we can still do it with absolute softness of heart – only to the extent it is necessary and nothing more, nothing less.
There is no such thing as a right decision. We are exposing someone to infection, we are sending someone to death, one who could have been saved has died, one who could have died has been saved – all these things will happen.
None of us ever make perfect decisions in any given situation. We can make decisions with the best of our intelligence and capabilities, but let our decisions come from the core of our humanity. That is the only way we can go ahead. We do not know if it is the right decision but we must know that we always did our best, never less than that.