The Devil, in lab and boardroom


For those of you less nerdy types, that’s a reference to Frank Herbert’s Dune, specifically the part after the Harkonnen sneak attack and the death of Duke Leto Atreides 08.dune_where the Harkonnens have captured Thufir Hawat and introduced a self-reconstituting poison which requires a daily antidote. In the 1984 movie they take us to the Harkonnen home planet Geidi Prime and show Feyd Rautha walking down stairs carrying a cage and the Baron floats alongside. Then when they get to Hawat’s cell the Baron informs him that a poison has been introduced to his body. There is a cat in the cage hoisted up so she cannot move. And to add some sort of twisted dramatic effect they’ve strapped a rat next to her. The antidote requires Thufir to milk the cat daily.

Chronic conditions are addictions which require periodic infusions of certain compounds to control them. We’re junkies needing a fix! The pharmacy provides us with the antidote, without which many eventually die. It’s when we start looking at alternative methods of treatment and care that we become a problem for some. Improving your condition to a point where medications are no longer needed is discouraged to some extent by doctors, nurses, friends, the media, even clergy. I am a member of the Antiochian Orthodox church, and I learned recently that certain bishops consider the practice of yoga to be “sinful.” Such attitudes are not limited to Orthodox Christianity, however. Something similar was said to me years ago at a Foursquare church I was attending. I bought into that and stopped actively meditating for a long time. You could say I no longer believe what I used to believe.

One could make a hair-splitting argument for taking advantage of the physical benefits of yoga while distancing oneself from the philosophy. I haven’t yet studied yogic philosophy, but I never adopt all of anything. I disagree with the bishops’ position, and that of evangelical clergy on these topics because I believe that the creator put everything here and what’s sinful is not taking advantage of it. Instead of stretching, breathing, and quieting your mind before you go to sleep, we’re told to “have faith.” Faith in God, in allopathic medicine, and in prescription sleep potions, some of which have strange effects, and could have you sleepwalking nude at 3am. And that’s just one of many things that happen to people depending on both them and the drug they’re using.

For some people when you step outside Western paradigms everything is OTD (of the Devil). By that thinking, we’re wrong to seek to improve our condition through anything that doesn’t come in some sort of pill bottle from a “generally accepted” manufacturer. The eastern perspective which sees energy all around us and includes energy centers in the body, and views improvements to those centers as making improvements to the conditions of the body as evil. They propose to claim faith in the creator while holding the laboratory in higher esteem than creation, then they lash out in knee-jerk fashion against any way of looking at life which takes one away from the pharmacy counter. So I ask you, exactly who is it that is worshiping idols? You see “the devil” sits at the head of a very long table made of cherrywood smoking Cuban cigars that were smuggled past Customs. He decides the fate of the world. Then he goes down stairs, takes off his suit coat and puts on a lab coat and works out the science of the problem and its “solution.” He screws up the environment so that you get sick in the first place simply by living and eating, then has you spending the rest of your life with an acquired, manipulated addiction to a manufactured, usually very costly substance that you can only get from one place. When you get tired of that and want to find a way to restore health without “treatment” he whispers in the ears of people around you so you become guilted into coming back to his control.

To Hell with that.

I’ll take my prescriptions but I will also do things to try to make them less necessary. I’m going to meditate and I’ll try Tai Chi, yoga and other practices along with essential oils, supplements, organic food and whatever I deem to be the best of what the world has to offer. I won’t allow doctrines and opinions to deter me from that task. I’ll just have to take my chances with eternity. I don’t know what happens after we die. No one does, really. So to paraphrase Thomas Paine in Age of Reason, “…I hope for happiness beyond this life.”