May/June 2006  





“There is one substance out there in the world that matches you and can deeply heal you, and it is the homeopath’s task, as sleuth, to find it.”

One of the elite echelon of homeopathic physicians worldwide, Dr. Paul Branch combines a conventional MD with study with the famous Bombay Group of Homeopaths. After working with Italian homeopath Dr. Massimo Mangiolavori his main study was with the famous Bombay Group in India, particularly with Dr. Divya Chhabra and Dr. Rajan Sankaran.

Based in Madison, Wisconsin, his clients come from all over North America and his reputation is spreading overseas.

s we enter a new era of healing, with so many different debilitating chronic diseases and many different therapeutic modalities available, it is becoming important that there be a more widespread understanding of what each individual healer is trying to do with their particular healing modality. If we examine healers from the point of view of what does the healer intend to do, then the confusion of different modalities and styles of practice becomes much clearer and less problematic. Patients assume that a healer’s intention in treatment is well-defined. This is not always the case. Particularly in the realm of alternative modalities, a specific intention is not always easy to define. Yet, how can a healer help you if she herself is unclear about what exactly it means to help you? Accidents happen, but we might expect a healer to accomplish what he/she intends and little more.

The conventional medical system makes a point of having simple, well-defined intentions. You have an abnormal lab value or blood pressure reading: the intention is to bring those numbers into normal range. But given that people go to healers to feel better, it might be worth asking, “How will normalizing the numbers of my lab test help me feel better?” This is not to deny that bringing the lab values into normal range is important: It may be, but it is not the full story. Will focusing solely on correcting that number mean you heal in a deep way?

As a classical homeopath, when a patient arrives in my office, their understanding of what I plan to accomplish during the initial appointment is usually minimal. Classical homeopathy involves a long interview. The specific intention of homeopaths can vary widely, but always the goal is to know the patient well-enough to match a specific, homeopathically-prepared substance to the patient. At its highest level, we might phrase it as, “There is one substance out there in the world that matches you and can deeply heal you, and it is the homeopath’s task, as sleuth, to find it.”

branch-1This is no small task, and to fulfill this goal I have a specific task to accomplish during the interview. During the interview I take the patient through three levels down to a fourth level. At some point, perhaps two hours into the initial interview, most patients begin to get a sense of what I am after. They feel it more than understand it. In parallel, I find that patients move towards dropping their belief that mental and physical symptoms are separate from each other. A point in the interview is reached where the shift from physical symptoms to emotional symptoms can be so subtle that the difference between the two is almost non-existent. It appears that gaining a sense of the intention of the practitioner is a major reason that patients who know nothing about classical homeopathy and whose cases are difficult to solve can stick with it over time, thereby allowing healing to happen.

The First Level of Intention:
Intention at the Level of Diagnosis

In terms of treatment, it is important to distinguish between levels of intention. All treatments have the goal of improving the well-being felt by a patient, but this is distinct from the focus of the treatment. The goal is not to make a rigid system, but to discuss what levels exist and their possible significance. Levels of intention are fluid and can change. The first and most superficial level I call intention at the level of diagnosis. Most conventional medicine lies at this level. For example, if a patient is tired and has dry skin, a doctor could do a blood test and diagnose “hypothyroidism.” The intention of the doctor at this point becomes correcting the abnormal lab value. The doctor makes a prescription of thyroid medication and then re-checks the thyroid in 6 weeks. If the lab tests return to normal, then the first level intention is accomplished. The patient may complain of still feeling tired and this may concern the doctor, but at this level the primary intention is not to correct the tiredness, but to correct the lab value. The legal system helps promote this level of intention. If a doctor fails to take steps to fix the lab value, the doctor can be sued. A failure to correct the fatigue leads to no such liability.

Second Level of Intention:
Intention at the Level of Symptoms

The second level I call intention at the level of symptoms. The primary intention here is to alleviate the symptomatic complaints of the patient. For example, in the hypothyroid patient who complains of being tired, at the level of second intention the goal is to alleviate the fatigue, whether or not the lab values improve or not. The assumption may or may not be made that if the tiredness gets better, the lab values of the thyroid will reflect this change. This level of intention has promoted the use of many symptom-suppressing drugs in conventional (allopathic) medicine. The ramifications of this are wide and often difficult to understand. The range of treatments includes, at one extreme, therapies that actually can improve – in an unintended way – the overall health of individuals, to those that simultaneously relieve symptoms and destroy the overall health at the same time. A good example of this is the use of steroids to suppress the immune system. This reduces the inflammation, bringing about a relief in symptoms, but is destructive with potentially severe or life threatening effects at the same time.

Knowing the intention can sometimes be easy, but knowing how this relates to overall well-being is more complicated. In the case of nutritional therapy, it may be discovered that the patient has an iron deficiency. It seems obvious that supplementing iron would be a good thing. In certain instances this may be true, but there are cases where, because of deeper imbalances, supplementing the deficient mineral may actually not help the imbalance, or possibly even worsen it. Note that this is nutritional therapy with intention at the level of diagnosis, i.e. the intention is to supplement to normalize an abnormal lab test, in this case low iron. A similar issue exists with second level intention nutritional therapy that seeks to ‘improve the patient’s symptoms of tiredness’. It is likely good to have the deeper intention, but hard to know exactly what the effects are on the individual as a whole.

Another complicated issue in healing is what judgments we should give towards different levels of intention in any given case. If for example, through a diagnostic test a practitioner diagnoses heavy metal toxicity, then the intention at the level of diagnosis – i.e. detoxifying the body and normalizing the test – is likely a worthwhile intention. Much could be discussed around this issue, yet I make firm distinction between normalizing lab tests, which is usually a worthy goal, and intention placed primarily at that level.

Just as an example of how complex this issue is, I have found patients with heavy metal toxicities for whom good detoxifying takes place only after addressing deeper levels of imbalance, because body systems can determinedly hold onto toxicity until a deeper level of healing occurs. The major issue here is that, in particular at more superficial levels of intention, one’s therapy can have unintended effects on deeper levels – for good or for bad.

Third Level of Intention:
Intention at the Level of Vital Systems

The significance of alternative health modalities is the development of a treatment intention deeper than either diagnosis or symptoms. Body therapies such as cranial sacral or reiki have a general intention of improving the energy flow within the mind-body system. Practitioners of body work may conceive of this as removing energy blockages. For the sake of this article, I will simply call these third level intentions or vital system intentions, which treat with the intention of improving the underlying energetic dynamics of the body and mind. Therapies that focus on this level of treatment have been with us throughout history. Acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine as well as Ayurveda from India are therapies that strongly express third level intentions. Few argue their potential worth. The issue for modern medicine is understanding how systems of the body interrelate and how to study the relationships.

In acupuncture, like homeopathy, the level of intention of the practitioners varies widely. This can be confusing, because acupuncture and the field of Chinese medicine in general is geared towards third level intentions. Nevertheless, some acupuncturists frequently work at the second level of intention of alleviating symptoms. For the most part, this is ‘cookbook acupuncture’. Anyone can look up a formula for needling a complaint of shoulder pain, for example. When an acupuncturist works at the third level of removing deep energy blockages in the body, they primarily work with Five Element Theory. At its deepest level of intention, the acupuncturist might sum up his intention as, “…to place that one needle at the point of the cause, exactly that deep point where the superficial outer expressions intersect.” In phrasing this, I speak as a classical homeopath, using a general expression of a deep intention that is starting to come into line with my own.

Life Transformation at the Fourth Level of Intention

There is one deeper level of intention, fourth level intentions, or intention at the level of consciousness. A fourth level intention seeks to transform the system, shifting the body and emotions to a new and freer place. If fourth level intentions exist as a treatment reality in patients – and there is every indication from my own practice and the practices of my close colleagues that they do – the implications for health are dramatic. Success at the fourth level of intention involves those encounters with healers that can be life-transforming. The main discipline that works at the fourth level is classical homeopathy. Good fourth level work with this discipline usually heals all preceding levels. Although classical homeopathy is a true fourth level system, healers using homeopathy can have intentions that lie at the first, second third or fourth levels.

It is not easy to develop a specific fourth level intention and fulfill it. Many homeopaths in fact simply use homeopathy to alleviate symptoms – a second level intention. It is critical for people who go to homeopaths to know the difference. Thus, understanding the differences between levels is important, because without understanding more about what a fourth level intention is, it will be difficult for you to know where any given classical homeopath is working.

Most spiritual masters work with fourth level intentions with those they influence. Those that are actually able to be specific and powerful enough to heal deep physical disease are relatively rare, but they do exist. Fourth level intentions is a complicated area which I will discuss more in future articles and my book. It is important that people are aware that it exists, because some people are ill with disturbances that are not helped with first, second or third level intentions. To be helped, they need a healer that can go one step deeper. If you are not aware that such healers exist, then the road back to health can be a difficult task.

Know Thyself

The deeper the intention, the deeper the potential for healing will be. If your doctor gives you a drug to bring your lab value back to normal, then this is healing at the first level. The imbalances that are causing the abnormal lab still exist. We know this because we take away the drug, and the lab test becomes abnormal again. If we heal the deeper imbalances of the system through a third intention therapy, this means there is a potential for effects at the second and first levels as well. A powerful third level intention will normalize the lab test. Nevertheless, not all third level healers will have the considerable ability necessary to fulfill this.

Understanding the four levels of intention is an important first step in understanding what is happening in the field of alternative medicine, as well as how alternative medicine relates to conventional medicine. By working to understand these levels, you gain knowledge that enables you to take a huge step forward in being healthy.




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