RETURN OF THE RISHI
A Doctor's Story Of Spiritual Transformation And Ayurvedic Healing
Part memoir, part promo for Ayurvedic healing (India's ancient medical system), this is a highly readable account of an Indian's initiation into first Western-style, then Ayurvedic, medicine. Educated in India in British-style medicine, Chopra trained further in the US and ultimately became chief of staff at New England Memorial Hospital. He gradually became disenchanted with Western medicine, with its penchant for regarding patients as "walking symptoms" and its invasive drug and surgical procedures--which frequently created worse health problems than those they were designed to cure. Recently teamed up with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of the Transcendental Meditation movement, Chopra now promotes and practices Ayurvedic techniques of self-healing and self-awareness. These seem to promote maintenance of a powerful immune system via healthy living plus the "inner bliss" produced, Chopra says, through meditation. When faced with illness, Ayurvedic practitioners may use herbs and other folk medicines to reduce pain; but chiefly they encourage the patient to use his or her own powers to achieve self-healing. The real goal, however, is to maintain health: ancient Indian doctors were not paid unless there was no illness among the villagers they served. Far beyond mere bodily healing, Chopra envisions transcendental meditation as a means to world peace. He contends that violence is reduced when a mere percent of a community practices meditation. Some readers may find Chopra's repeated references to the wisdom of the rishis (ancient Indian savants) more than a bit runic; but he writes so engagingly about his East/West experiences and the rich lore of India that all but the most committed skeptics will find it hard not to turn his pages.