Here is another transcript of the Microbiome Medicine Summit from last week. This transcript was made by the awesome Michelle Beaumont, Research Associate at King’s College London. Thank you, Michelle, for enduring this 45-min long talk and typing in all the text! That’s hours of work, so thank you very much.
Today’s transcript (shortened a bit by me) is from the podcast by Larry Dossey, MD. Read more about him on Wikipedia.
The host, as before, is Raphael Kellman, MD (shown here in Italics). Here is a link to the MP3 audio file (for as long as the Summit leaves it on). The title of the talk was: “How Consciousness and Mindset Affect the Microbiome and Overall Health.” Highlighted parts in red (by me) are good sentences to read if you are short on time.
Larry, tell us more about your background and your personal story that that segwayed into this incredible journey of consciousness and and the one mind and the role of spirituality and healing. Was there a particular event that triggered a change?
Well, there were several events. As you know as is often the case when physicians make these kinds of transitions in their lives, often it has to do with the physical illness, that was the case with me. I was afflicted beginning in the medical school (with) classical migraine headache, tipified not with just nausea, vomiting and headache but severe partial blindness and this got so bad during medical school that I actually tried to drop out. (…) Nothing worked. I tried everything and you may remember back in the late sixties and early seventies biofeedback popped up on the American scene and I was all over the country learning how to do this deep relaxation using these high-tech instruments that measure things you aren’t aware of usually and it was like a miracle. I had one of those overnight cures and there’s no going back after you discovered the power of consciousness in intention and in this sort of thing in your own personal life, so I was hooked Raphael, I mean I couldn’t deny the power of consciousness in my own medical problem area.
But Larry, you took a big step forward from basically biofeedback to a much bigger picture to consciousness on a global, nonlocal level to the level of mind that then goes beyond energy, because you could certainly explain your experiences with biofeedback on a very energetic, even perhaps biochemical/mechanical perspective. You took many steps beyond that, so what catalyzed that further progression in your thinking?
It was a shock to my system. The first year in my medical practice as an intern in Dallas I had a series of what we call precognitive dreams. I dreamt of patients whom I would not see until the next day in complex detail, but the sort of experiences I had with these precognitive dreams just were not supposed to happen. (…)
I came away thinking that there’s some well kept secrets here that we weren’t informed off, and so I developed a passionate interest in this business of non-local manifestations of consciousness whether you want to call it ESP, telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, this whole area was something was entirely unknown to me. I came out of this search in this personal exploration thinking that all of this was one of the best kept secrets in medicine and people were just not willing to go there and I thought that was cowardly and I began to explore this in my own life and write about it. The thing is I couldn’t get any papers published in the traditional medical journals so I began to write books about this.
Wow, that was a big jump. Did it change your personal life as well, as you started exploring this new consciousness, this new domain, this new dimension?
Not only did change my personal life because my world view just really was transformed, my personal experiences and my delving into the literature. It also changed my professional life. After my first book came out in ’82, a book called “Space, Time and Medicine” I began to be invited around the country to talk to hospitals and hospital staffs and lay conferences, and I discovered that I was one of the few people who was willing, to you know open this can of worms and it made a lot of my colleagues, extremely uncomfortable. I was a member of a large internal medicine group in Dallas which I helped found and there were some real problems about my continuing to be integrated into the group with those kinds of interests. I was advised “Why don’t you just practice internal medicine?”. My feeling was that this was a decent, necessary part of internal medicine, so it was sort of a lonely journey early on, but it’s one that if I had to do it over again I wouldn’t change.
*** Deleted a part here where host Raphael Kellman expresses how Larry’s book help him a lot, and how he felt connected to Larry, followed by Larry saying how great he feels to be connected to him and many others. ***
Larry, you say that it was a well-kept secret (…) but I also believe that many people that are so deeply “entrenched in science” to say I think that science could be misinterpreted or taken in the wrong direction. They never knew this, they’re totally foreign to this knowledge that we all have in a point in our hearts or in our soul, but they never learn it, so it wasn’t a well-kept secret. (…) How does this way of thinking, that we are part of one consciousness, one mind, that there’s something deeper within us that will redefine how we understand the superficial perspective of who we are? How will that new way of thinking practically change the practice of medicine?
(…) I think this is one of the most exciting and fantastic moments to be a physician I’ve ever …I could concede. I think that the revolution is happening in terms of consciousness, spirituality, really because of two reasons. One is that doctors have their own internal experiences as well as experiences with patients which they cannot deny, although they may not choose to go public with him, but then in addition to doctors experiences we have to talk about experiments, we have to talk about that pesky little four letter word which is called data, and so I just must say that it is abundant. It is replicated around the world and the only way doctors are going to be able to hide from this is that they engaged in willful blindness. There is simply too much information out there to do this denial act which has appealed to a lot of doctors during a practice lifetime but it’s not going to work anymore. I think that you don’t get this picture if you listen to the diehard skeptics who basically will never change, but if you actually are willing to go to the literature and do some work, it becomes very clear that we are facing a complete revolution in what we mean by therapy doctor-patient relationships and the manifestations of consciousness.
(…) How do we get more people to, not just health professionals, doctors and scientists and the AMA etcetera, but the average person to be more in tune and more aware of a different reality, a different world that we live in? (…) Tell me what what do you suggest that we do, that people do, what would be a good idea, statement, some suggestion that may push humanity a bit forward?
(…) I’ve made every mistake in the business about how to do these things and how to bring people over to this new way of looking at things (…) I recall back in my practice days that I would get excited about a new study and I would make a copy for all of my colleagues and then on Monday morning I would have had this on their desk so they can share in my enthusiasm for the new study. That was a disaster! One of my colleagues came to me one day and he said “Larry, nobody reads this and you’re just running up the copy costs.” So I decided to just sort of give up, and when I sort of backed off that’s when my colleagues came forward and expressed an interest in some of this stuff. But even so we’re never going on the basis of data and experiments to bring skeptics along with us. Some of them will never come over in spite of the powerful data on their side. This is not a new problem. Max Planck, the physicist, ran into it the early part of the 19th centuries and he’s paraphrased as saying that “science changes funeral by funeral” so I sort of made peace with a lot of my colleagues but I have to tell you that in the past two years it has completely changed around. Just a couple years ago I gave a Harvard talk to a group of Harvard physicians who were gathered for a continuing medical education course and they wanted me to talk about what they call “that weird consciousness stuff”. So I did and I revealed to them some of my experiences which were you know, pretty amazing, precognitive dreams and so on. When the Q&A time came I thought you know, they’re not gonna buy this, I was ready for the tomatoes and that kinda thing, but I was really fooled because they began to share with me their experiences. One female intern stood up in the middle of this big group of doctors and she said “Well I get numbers in my dreams,” she said. “I dream specific lab values of my patients laboratory tests before I even ordered the tests!”. It was a really interesting to me because it revealed to me that in a safe environment a lot of doctors will come forward and reveal things which they have never shared with anybody else they will also usually begin the revelation of these experiences by saying something like “You know I’ve never told anybody this in my life, but…” then they would reveal this, so I’m much more sanguine and hopeful these days about the response of our colleagues than I used to be twenty years ago.
Absolutely, I agree with you. Give me a good example of two health disorders, two diseases, two health challenges that this way of thinking, this one mind, the role of consciousness, the role of soul, whatever you want to call it, will influence and perhaps even change the the modalities of treatment, or how it could be an adjunctive component to the treatments that they’re receiving.
I can give you some sensational examples. One was a woman who had retinitis pigmentosa and she was desperate. She was going to see an eye specialist for this problem. He sort of told her that he had done everything he could and there was nothing anybody else could do. She went to a Native American shaman – where I live, there’s a shaman behind every tree, it’s pretty easy to find one – and the shaman did whatever shamans do. He did a ritual healing for her and she went back to the eye specialist about six months later, and the problem had disappeared with no additional treatment of any kind. The ophthalmologist went into a rage. He said “This is an incurable situation,” he said “Never come back to my practice. This is impossible. I never want to see you again.”. So I went to see this woman and this is kind of a typical story you know, twenty years ago this would not be as likely to happen today I think, but at least that’s one way with intentionality, healing energy, or whatever you want to call it can be applied to the worst diseases for which medicine has not dealt very well with. You know, I have a file drawer full of these kinds of cases. The unfortunate thing is that we don’t know how to produce them on command and we can’t engineer these kinds of spontaneous remissions, but at least they are part of the medical lore and they they always have been.
Is there one thing that you would recommend as part of consciousness healing, mind healing, to a particular patient who has a specific disease? If there’s one thing that you could recommend that would be different than they would get if they just go to their physician?
I would advise in almost every disease entity I’m familiar with, that they need to make a place in there lives for some sort of contemplative practice whether they want to call that meditation, or contemplation or prayer or just timeout or sitting down for some a long time and so on. I think this is really crucial. It helps minimize stress responses of course. I mean we all know that now, but it also does a lot of other things. One I’m particularly interested in is it helps an individual get out of the sense of isolation and aloneness and feel some sort of connection with a larger entity that I call the One Mind, you know I wrote a major rant about this, my book “One Mind”, but I think that this is so easy to do that people underestimate the importance of this you know. Angie Ariand, the cultural anthropologist had four rules of life and she recommends them to everybody whether they’re sick or not. The first one was show up, the next one was tell the truth, the next one was be quiet, and the last one was probably the hardest thing, it was don’t be attached to the results, and I just think that says so much. This would be a generic approach I would recommend anybody, I don’t care what they’re dealing with.
That’s a nice way of helping people to kind of be catapulted to this One Mind, to collective energy, collected being. That’s beautiful. I think to be silent, to hear the the inner voice is wonderful as a vehicle to help people perhaps tap into that one mind that you speak about.
Well, I agree with you totally and I think that it’s getting even more difficult for people these days to follow these simple program and contemplation meditation. I’ve revised Angie’s rules to a less delicate form. The first one, for me is “Turn off your damn smartphone.”
I like that that’s real good practical advice. That’s gonna save lives, that little bit of advice but absolutely. (RK expresses again thanks to LD’s book that helped some many people in their loneliness. We’re 22 min in by now).
Talking about overcoming loneliness, I want to turn to the microbiome which is a very hot topic. I wrote a book on this, The Microbiome Diet. Actually, Larry, you know eight years ago, ten years ago I had a dream, I had a vision. I told it to my agent, to my wife and to my mother. I think everyone thought I was losing it. I said you know, the microbiome, I just felt intuitively that this is going to really help us transform medicine and we have to write about it. And my agent said he doesn’t know what I’m talking about and eight years later I wrote another proposal similar idea and she thought this was wonderful and this is this is going to be… I said “Janice is what I told you about eight years ago”, she said “Yes, yes you did but eight years ago no one was ready for it.” so there’s something that’s emerging today that we’re learning about. I think that the One Mind is teaching us new information about nature itself about the microbiome, the trillions of gut bacteria that play an incredible role in keeping us healthy, and my personal opinion is that the implications of the microbiome is going to really help us better understand what you’re writing about in the One Mind. Could you elaborate on that idea and would you agree with that idea and and if so why?
Absolutely, I agree with it, totally. I must say that you were ahead of your time when you sent that first book proposal and you know I must say that I remember seeing the microbiome on the horizon about twenty years ago. I don’t know if you remember Lynn Margulis, who is a biologist at Amherst, and she began to talk about you know, essentially the forerunner to this by microbial concept, how bacteria were included into the cell wall and they started invaded so that they became sort of tenants in our cellular makeup and that was sort of a state setting observation for the microbiome I think. Here’s what we know. I think that the microbiome is certainly factored into the One Mind idea. The reason I say that is because there are dozens of experiments, now I’m talking about hardcore controlled laboratory studies, which show that people, by using their intention, can interact with bacteria growing in test tubes, they can interact with fungi growing on Petri dishes, and they can use their intentions to increase the growth rate of bacteria or suppress it, and they can do this even though they’re not particularly skillful. We’re not talking about healers or shamans, we’re talking about skeptical college sophomores, who can do this. This is a widespread ability in the human race and it shows clearly that there is some nexus that in which is enveloped the consciousness of human beings in the behavior of microorganisms. I think we can predict with confidence that we’re going to see people intentionally learning how to regulate their microbiome through psychological techniques including intention, willing, wishing or praying, or whatever you want to call this stuff.
Do you have a particular idea or a type of thought or meditation or tapping into a particular type of idea that may particularly influence in a favorable way the microbiome?
I just incorporate into the energy and visualization that I use for practically any problem at all. Actually I’ve gotten so comfortable with bacteria, microbes in general that I don’t see them as a foreign substance anymore in my body. I played around with this idea so long that I see them as natural occupants and entities that are sharing what I call my corporeal body.
Larry, that’s what the science is showing, that this is the greatest turnaround in medicine in a hundred and fifty years, that bacteria are not the bad guy, there are no enemies out there, that in fact the bacteria are the good guys. That’s the greatest turnaround in a hundred and fifty years in medicine in my opinion.
I really agree with you. I bump into people however and I bet you do too, who really don’t want much to do with this idea that they’re invaded by these microbes. I had one friend who just really got upset when I tried to tell him about how lucky he was to have these trillions of bacteria working in his behalf and he said “Don’t try to do that new age stuff for me, I don’t want anything to do with the bacteria my body.” Some people want to run in the other direction.
You know what I tell my patients? I say you “You think you’re looking at me as a doctor person, as a person you know, but what you’re really looking at are trillions of bacteria dressed up in a suit, you know. We are mostly bacteria but you know to help people get comfortable with that idea, that the “me” that we think we are is really more like a beautiful “we”. We’re part of a bigger whole and by the way Larry, people love that idea. There’s a certain sense of comfort that people feel when they hear that.
Well I think this expanded concept that these are our friends and most of them really are there for a benefit, it really forces us to reinvestigate and rethink what we mean by antibiotics. I mean I know you deal with this all the time, most of the antibiotics we take are sort of like a nuclear bomb. It just destroys everything within its reach. And that’s crazy. If we hold on to the idea that these things are there to help us then you don’t want to destroy the good guys and so I know that people are working now on specific antibiotics that could be targeted to specific microorganisms, and that’s the smart way to go and I think that’s where we’re going to see antibiotic use headed in the future.
Just to close a little bit on the microbiome. I believe that the microbiome and its incredible interconnectedness to the outside bacteria and to every cell in every gene in our body, is a beautiful, physical example of that one-ness that you speak about. And that’s why you know, when I wanted to have people to talk about the microbiome I turned to you even though they say well “Larry Dossey talks about the One Mind.” but I said but no there’s a tremendous connection between the one mind and how it’s expressed here in the physical world.
I happen to believe that the discovery of the microbiome is one of the most convincing pieces of evidence that we have uncovered so far pointing to the one-ness of ourselves in nature. If I had to pinpoint the most valuable lesson that may come out of the microbiome I think it’s the lesson that we cannot secede from nature. We’ve tried to do that and it has left us in a precarious position on this planet. The fact that we’re living with this incredible array of organisms in our own body says that we better get comfortable with nature and we are a part of the whole.
Right and a whole that’s not withholding, the whole that as a giving whole. Look what the microbiome is doing for us, sustaining us, keeping us alive. You know this is a little bit of theological medicine but you know that’s what the literature is pointing to, that we don’t live in a world that’s rooted in selfishness, you know I think that science is painting up a very very different picture. You know the one mind is teaching us, I believe, very important lessons and I really look forward to more of your work that will teach us more about this one mind. And to continue our dialogue. I want to go into prayer, Larry, because I know that’s a very important topic for you. Has your perspective changed over time, about the power and the value of prayer and the fact that it could be turned on at will and has your perspective changed on that?
Well my views have evolved, I’m happy to say but I have not lost my enthusiasm for prayer which I define basically so generically that you know, it disappoints a lot of people. I just think prayer is communication with something beyond the individual self, however that’s defined whether it’s god or goddess or all or universe or something else. The studies are very convincing that people who are willing to appeal to a greater power and follow a spiritual path through their years live longer on average and they have a lower incidence of all the major diseases you want to talk about. I mean this is big stuff you know, for years we just farmed out spirituality to rabbis and ministers and preachers and so on and we’re not going to be able to winnie out of the benefits of spiritual practice including prayer in my judgment. It’s time doctors took it on and we would go in that direction lot quicker. Doctors would develop the courage to actually look at the data, the prayer studies are very convincing in my judgment. If people don’t want to call it prayer that makes them sort of nervous and if they think that’s too squishy and they just would rather do intentionality… Who cares but the fact is that there’s something going on here that is highly relevant to health and longevity and we need to embrace it.
So basically your ideas have not really changed all that much and basically you’re saying that prayer, intentionality, focus and also letting go of a particular outcome, that state that a person taps into, can effect change in our world, in our lives?
Do you think that there is even something perhaps deeper that underlies the value of prayer? For example is it selflessness, just being in a certain inner state that also perhaps is even more important than the prayer or even the intentionality that you speak about?
Indeed I do. I think that there are some underlying commonalities that go beyond this word prayer. One I think is surrender. I think when Angie Arian lists her fourth rule of life which is “don’t be attached to results” I think there’s something really deeply important about that you know. We’ve been through all of this stuff in the past 20 years about the right mindset to adopt if you want to have one of these healings and so on and i think we went overboard with telling people to fight your illness, to be really aggressive in this sort of thing. I think for a lot of people it is just the opposite and I could quote you data to support that. An accepting abiding sense that no matter what happens it’s okay. Even if the wheels come off your illness and you die, my message is that you’re just gonna have to settle for immortality.
And I used to counsel my patients with cancer, a patient who was approaching death and we would have what I used called The Conversation. The conversation was you know “Joe if things continue to go bad and you know, the wheels come off and you’re just gonna have to settle for immortality.” and he would laugh, you know, a nervous laugh, and then the next day would really get into things and if I may say so I think that this image that there’s some aspect of who we are, that’s non-local in time, which to say is infinite, is indirect evidence that some part of us couldn’t die if it tried, its not local with respect to time which means that it’s immortal and eternal. This is one of the major lessons that comes out of the consciousness and healing and prayer studies because it reveals a non-local aspect, a temporally non-local aspect of who we are. We might as well call it the soul but if that makes people nervous you know, we can end in other words to do the same thing.
We could call it the most inner point of who we are, our inner core, you know it doesn’t really matter what word we use. Let’s talk a little bit about spontaneous remission and that obviously is something that we can’t pursue. We can’t force the experience of a spontaneous remission but you know there are some studies to point to the fact that spontaneous remissions exists. It’s something that actually happens in the physical world. What’s your take on it? What are the most convincing studies and how would that change the mindset of conventional doctors and conventional medicine and signs?
Well the first thing I want to say is the conventional notion of doctors really needs to be radically renovated on this subject. I bet you had the same experience, so I was in medical school, I was told by professors: “these things are rare, you’ll probably go through your life is an internist and never see one and this is just baloney.” Hirschberg and Reagan published a book in 1993 collecting thousands of these cases from all over the world is so we find these spontaneous remissions in practically any disease you want to look at. Acknowledging this would be a reason for hopefulness if nothing else in by just coming clean with the evidence, telling people you know, it may not be likely but there’s always the possibility that something nice would happen here. That would not be dishonest. There are several books. Andrew Weil has a book called “Spontaneous Healing”, Hirschberg and Barasch have a book called a “Remarkable Recovery” which I wrote the foreword to, so you know I recommend that book, so there’s a good literature out there about this. I want to say though that I take issue with some of the books that have been published in recent years that sort of give formulas about how to engineer these things. I mean I don’t think there is a formula. These things happen to religious people and atheists alike. If you ask people who had these spontaneous remissions what they did to have one, they are all over the ballpark. Some people talk about the virtues of exercise, music, dance, taking up a hobby, some people say they fought their disease, others say they accepted it. There’s no pattern that i’ve seen and really I think that one of the frustrating things that people encounter.
You know it’s definitely not about whether you’re an atheist or believer. (talks about God). It doesn’t matter whether you say you’re a believer or you’re not a believer, we’re all in the same space and language is meaningless to me at that point.
I could not agree more. Earlier this month my wife and I participated in a conference in Tucson called the Final Transition conference and there were people there who do work with the dying and this was one of the richest conferences I’ve ever been to because nobody held back, people were completely open in their presentations and what came out of this is that our fear of death and annihilation simply goes away and the journey through death can be an extremely fascinating and fearless experience for most people. And I think if we can really make this message real from the nonlocal consciousness perspective, that the most essential part of you couldn’t die if it tried.
(…) The future of medicine, how do you see it?
(…) it’s going to get a lot more technical in terms of new medications, new surgical procedures, bionics is gonna be big, I mean things are going to be really high tech in ways that we can’t even imagine currently and I’m not particularly against that. What will be the big breakthrough in my judgment, will tend to be the insights into the nature of consciousness. I cannot imagine a more morbid approach to consciousness than has been engaged in by the medical profession for the past two hundred and fifty years which says that with death there is total annihilation of everything. I can’t think of worse things to tell a sick person. This is where the major humanitarian breakthroughs, the ethical and moral advances are going to come, from a reinvention of the nature of consciousness and a willingness to actually engage with the data that is already there. We’ve done a terrible job there and my prediction is in the future we’re going to turn that around.
And that’s why we need collaboration and we need to support each other. That’s a lot of people that are working in this direction. By the way, that’s why one of the reasons why I’m so interested in the microbiome because I’m interested in the implications of the microbiome and how that could be a vehicle and a medium to make the transformation go a little bit faster. By the way I think that what you said is so, so important and I’m going to remember some of these quotes to pass along to others, is that offering hope and offering a different worldview to patients and why that’s so important. If you believe that we live in a world of survival of the fittest, that we’re just a bunch of chemicals that just dissipate into nothingness when we die, how could you, and we live in a cold brute and hostile world, if that’s your inner feeling as a healer, as a doctor, as health professional, how can you really offer any hope and comfort to any patient you interact with. Deep down you can’t, because they sense what you’re feeling.
If doctors really believe that in their heart they ought to go to choose another profession. I would suggest they go into computers or or sell real estate but they are not fit to prevail their skills on other human beings if that is their worldview they should never go into medicine in the first place.
But this is the point that I think we need to make so sharp, which you know i i assist you with, is that we have two choices you can either believe that we live in a dog eat dog world, survival of the fittest, or you could begin to see differently because the science is pointing in a different direction if you just open your eyes, that we don’t live in such a world, we live in a world of survival of the wholest, we live in a world, in my opinion and I don’t believe any scientist could refute this, that we live in a world that’s rooted in kindness and if you have that perspective that’s how you offer hope to a patient and I believe, and then tell me if I’m getting it, that that’s the message of the One Mind at the deepest level.
You got it
Ok, ok well what I want people to hear that because there’s two paths, we can choose: Either the old way where scientists are rooted in and culture is rooted in, our society is rooted in, which is one way. Or a very different way which are the fundamental implications of the books that you’re writing, that I’m speaking about and I’m writing about and many others, but let’s make it clear that that’s a different world view and that world view is that ultimately it’s one mind and that it’s not survival of the fittest and that something continues and goes on and that ultimately it’s all a world of of kindness and hope and possibility and growth and forever transformation.
I agree yeah.
Larry, that’s the other possibility.
You know if we were to really get what you just said, as physicians, if we were to get there in our heart we would really feel that their medicine could resume being a spiritual path as it used to be you know, now it’s the path of the technician and the mechanic but it used to be a spiritual path and we can reclaim that.
Beautiful. And we will, as much as the physical and the technological will advance, so will the spiritual component advance you know, I really thank you on behalf of all listings for the work that you’re doing and that we continue this dialogue and you continue to write these wonderful books. Is there a new one coming?
Yeah. It’ll be out in the spring of 2016 and is called “What is consciousness?”
Oh boy, I like that.
I have a little poem before we go. This is a little poem from the 14th century from Hafiz the great Persian poet:
“Let’s go deeper, go deeper
For if we do, our spirits will embrace and interweave.
Our union will be so glorious
That even God will not be able to tell us apart.”