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Integral Health

The metaphysical basis for Integral Health – issues in interconnectedness

Dr. Soumitra Basu

Sri Aurobindo uses the term ‘Reality Omnipresent ’as the title of the fourth chapter of his magnum opus, The Life Divine. The term ‘Omnipresent’ signifies the presence of something at all places at the same time. If there is one ideal term to describe such an all-pervading universal commonality, ‘Reality’ is the most appropriate. 

The problem is that Reality is conceived in different ways by different disciplines. The scientist can consider Matter to be the only Reality while the mystic can claim that the Spirit is the only Reality. Sri Aurobindo(1) avoids the impracticality of ignoring one stand point for the other:

“For wherever there is an extreme statement that makes such a powerful appeal to the human mind, we may be sure that we are standing in the presence of no mere error, superstition or hallucination, but of some sovereign fact disguised which demands our fealty and will avenge itself if denied or excluded”(p.25).

Sri Aurobindo considers that Reality is perceived in different ways because Consciousness which is the nature of Reality gets to be manifested through different poises. Such a differentiation is necessary as creation per se is variegated, diverse and manifold so that what is in essence ‘one’ can become ‘many’ and what is considered to reflect ‘unity’ can simultaneously be expressed through ‘multiplicity’. Yet there is a linkage throughout creation, a linkage in consciousness, a linkage in essence despite creation being a phenomenon whose modalities are scattered in time and space. 

Strangely, scientific research on non-locality suggests that linkages do exist in the universe that defy mental reasoning though in consonance with the logic of the Infinite. Don Salmon and Jan Maslow, in an overview, show how cues from quantum physics have been used in better understanding of psi phenomena. In the 1960s, John Stewart Bell had worked out mathematical equations to show that if particles in contact were separated, a change in one could be followed instantaneously with a change in another even if placed at two ends of the universe as if, despite separation, the particles were united as a single entity. Such quantum coherence was later proved in biological organisms. In fact it is now acknowledged that non-local connectedness manifests between sub-atomic particles, mechanical systems, humans and machines, humans and animals and between humans themselves (2). Mystics can extend this logic to find interconnectedness between humans and subtle, non-human entities ranging from asuras and demons to gods, fairies or angels.

Yogic insight can also experientially describe the interconnectedness between the manifest and unmanifest poises of Reality.

This interconnectedness that runs through-out the universe is relevant at a practical level when we acknowledge that any discipline cannot exist in isolation. Physics cannot be relevant at a certain point in time without reference to metaphysical insights and economic development cannot usher prosperity unless the non-economic developmental issues are taken into cognisance. Likewise health cannot be viewed only in physical terms; the social, psychological and spiritual dimensions of well-being have also to be considered. Integral health posits that it is not enough to simultaneously consider the different dimensions of health which should rather be integrated around a fulcrum of consciousness. 

Scientific research has shown the interconnectedness between particles of matter, between biological organisms and between humans and machines. Mysticism adds that that there is interconnectedness between humans and subtle entities. In terms of health, this signifies that there is an occult dimension of health too which needs to be incorporated in the matrix of well-being. Usually this dimension is rather crudely touched upon by faith healers but actually necessitates a sophisticated working that ploughs through deeper levels of consciousness. 

Yogic insight also reveals interconnectedness between the manifest and the unmanifest aspects of Reality. This implicates that our knowledge of health is incomplete and we have to be open-minded and catholic in quest of newer and newer truths. If the unmanifest contains the potential of new diseases that can erupt in the march of time, it also is impregnated with new remedies that can be manifest at optimal moments. But what is more important is that the unmanifest holds the potential of higher models of the human being, expected to progressively manifest in the evolution of consciousness. This would automatically necessitate progressively newer dimensions of health. This would be in fact the greatest challenge to the consciousness perspective of health and well-being that is the basis of Integral Health.  

1. Sri Aurobindo. Sri Aurobindo Birth Centenary Library, Vol.18 The Life Divine. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust; 1970. p. 25.

2. Salmon D, Maslow J. Yoga Psychology and the Transformation of Consciousness — Seeing Through the Eyes of Infinity, 1st ed.. USA: Paragon House; 2007, pp. 71-74.

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