The Five Minimum Requirements of Life: Healthcare
By Sucharit Katyal
An important part of making space for change is developing clarity about what we are changing to. It is well known among PROUTists that a PROUT-based society ought to provide the minimum requirements of life – food, clothing, housing, healthcare and education – to all human beings. What is not clear, however, is what that would look like. In the face of multiple ecological crises, in order to provide the basic requirements of life for a growing human population, it is clear that we need to reimagine not only how these essential items are produced and distributed, but also what these items/services will be.
Why? To live a meaningful life and to fulfil our truest potential, we all want good health, both physical and mental. Our body and mind work on a delicate balance, and not all are able to live in the best of health. Therefore, in a PROUTist society, healthcare should not be under the influence of profit-based systems of control and instead should be available to all regardless of their socio-economic status. PROUT thus advocates for free medical care to all individuals.
What? From ancient history, human societies have been discovering and using natural remedies for various ailments, while at the same time developing systematic models of how the ailments come into being (e.g., various forms of humorisms). For example, in India the traditional medicinal system of Ayurveda has a long history. According to the founder of PROUT, P. R. Sarkar (also known as Shrii Shrii Anandamurti), Ayurveda was systematized by the historical figure Sadashiva around 7000 years ago.
“Since the advent of living beings on this earth, medicines have been used. Dogs, cats, snakes, mongooses – all animals, in fact all beings – need some kind of medicine in various conditions. When wild animals become sick, they rub their bodies against certain trees and plants to cure their ailments. This shows that all living beings are more or less acquainted with some types of medicine. Before Shiva, áyurveda [the Vedic school of medicine], was known to the people. As I have already said, there were six branches of knowledge related to the Vedas – chanda, kalpa, nirukta, vyákarańa, jyotiśa and áyurveda or dhanurveda. This proves that áyurveda was also in existence in India before Shiva’s time. But it had not developed as a systematic school of medicine. It was simply a collection of substances whose medicinal value was discovered accidentally. These substances, called muśtiyoga in Sanskrit, and totká in Bengali, definitely have great medicinal value, but it was necessary to systematize them. This muśtiyoga, as an áyurvaedik school of medicine, was very popular in the ancient Vedic period, but it did not become a systematic science, a formal branch of medicine, in India until the days of Shiva. Shiva provided it with a definite form, and it became popularly known as vaedyak shástra [Tantra-oriented medicine]. You should note that I am not using the term áyurveda in the sense of vaedyak shástra.” 
Through the ages, healthcare advanced with many different systems of medicine, often with different philosophies. According to P.R. Sarkar, current methods of medical treatment can be roughly divided into three groups: 1) ones that use strong drugs to cure diagnosed
illnesses but with potential side-effects and harm in case of misdiagnosis (allopathy, ayurveda, etc.), 2) ones that treat the symptoms (instead of a diagnosed disease) with subtle medicine and negligible side effects (homeopathy), 3) ones that use natural cures for rectifying imbalance in the body of the natural elements that assist its functioning (naturopathy). In his book, Human Society Part 1, he goes into pros and cons of each of these:
“The most common method is to fight disease with strong pills and injections. Allopathy, ayurveda and hekemii [the latter two are traditional Indian systems of medicine] can be included in this group because they use strong medicines and also poison as a medicine, although their methods of diagnosis and remedies differ. In this method of treatment the selection of medicines involves great risk, because more emphasis is placed on the indications of the disease than on those of the patient, and because of the possibility of causing death. The great danger in diagnosing illnesses and prescribing medicines according to the germs and diseases present in the body is that it is nearly impossible to arrive at a firm conclusion about the precise nature of germs… The symptoms of one disease may be identical to those of another, and the remedy for one may prove to be completely ineffective or even harmful in the case of the other. Moreover, as poisons are used, they may seriously affect the vitality of the patient…
The principles, application and philosophy of homoeopathy are completely different from the above medical treatments. Homoeopathy treats the symptoms of the patient, not the disease or its symptoms. So there is very little possibility of causing harm, even if the diagnosis is not quite correct. A doctor with good powers of observation and a subtle sense of discrimination can easily prescribe remedies according to the patient’s symptoms. Another speciality of homoeopathy is that medicines are administered in subtle doses, not in the form of strong tablets, and such doses quickly become active in the molecules of the patient’s body as well as in his or her mental sphere. The greatest difficulty with homoeopathy is that it is based upon the subtle intellect of the doctor, and to achieve such a degree of subtlety regular, sustained effort is absolutely essential. Yet homoeopathic treatment is generally quite slack, and slackness is particularly evident in the proficiency of homoeopaths. Anybody can become a homoeopath by studying a few books. No one will object. In most countries there are no proper regulations either…
Naturopaths do not believe in using medicine. They think that it is possible to cure patients through the gifts of nature only – through earth, water, light, heat and air, together with a proper diet. I do not deny that this is possible, but it is also often
difficult to gradually and completely attune the body to nature. People should recognize that medicine does not cure disease, rather nature cures disease with the help of the body’s own healing power. Medicine only helps to accelerate the activity and speed of the healing process. In cases where disease is caused by unnatural activity, I do not see the harm in using medicines to help nature. Just as earth, water and air are medicines, are not various types of medicines also prepared by selecting ingredients from nature? Of course precautions must be taken when using medicines to help the healing power of the body, to ensure that they do not cause physical side-effects or psychic disturbances. Where a person has not engaged in unnatural activity, he or she may still contract a disease due to pollution in the air, earth or water. In such cases is it possible to attune the body to nature? Furthermore, the diets and lotions prescribed by naturopaths are often very expensive and beyond the means of the poor.” ***
What lacks currently in almost all health systems across the world is an optimal synthesis of the different systems of medical practice where their strengths and weaknesses are assessed from a rational and unbiased perspective. For example, there are already certain countries like the UK, Denmark and other Scandinavian countries that offer public healthcare to all its residents. But even in these countries we have not yet attained a PROUTistic healthcare system. This is because even though they have a public healthcare system, it is embedded in a global system dominated by profit-based and positivist views of healthcare. The deep-pocket pharmaceutical industry has not only the ability to influence healthcare providers [e.g., 3,4] but also the science that underlies determining the optimal healing modality by ensuring not enough funding goes into alternative (read non-profitable) medicine. Moreover, our current research models for scientifically assessing the impact of healing modalities (especially the subtler ones) are nearly not complex enough to encompass factors like an individual’s physical, mental and social constitution, all of which would affect the optimal healing modality for them. And in some cases even healing modalities that have been shown to be scientifically effective in certain conditions (e.g., acupuncture for chronic pain) are not offered as part of the public healthcare system. Such a healthcare system, while an advance from societies that do not offer public healthcare, still needs to more seamlessly integrate complementary medicine for it to be considered a PROUTist ideal. Shrii P. R. Sarkar envisions such a system where the welfare of the patient is given top priority and the patient is treated accordingly.
“The welfare of the patient should be the main aim of the medical profession, regardless of the philosophical or logical ramifications of a particular system of medicine. Doctors may find it somewhat difficult to work with such a principle, because it is unreasonable to expect them to be experts in all the medical systems. In reality, it is highly unlikely. Nevertheless, what is not possible in a doctor’s chambers may be possible in a hospital.
In the hospitals of some countries the welfare of the patient is given top priority and the patient is treated accordingly. Immediately after being admitted, he or she is thoroughly examined by an appropriate board of doctors who determine the most suitable system of medical treatment. In other words, if the patient’s disease can be easily cured by allopathy, he or she will be treated by an allopath; if by homoeopathy, by a homoeopath; if by naturopathy, by a naturopath; and so on. If various types of treatment are available, changing from one type to another will not be difficult in the event of the patient not responding to a particular type of treatment.” 
We thus envision a medical system that the founder of PROUT calls syntho-analytic:
“Take the case of medical science. The oldest form of medical science is Ayurveda and the “country treatment” which was practiced in different parts of the globe. There are certain common points in different therapies also, so regarding these different therapies the approach should be synthetic. We should try to bring all these therapies onto a common platform, a common faculty. Regarding their specialities, they should be of syntho-analytic order… That is, it should be analytic in character without going against the fundamental interest of humanity – without going against the apexed locus standi of human life, of human entities.” 
In the context of PROUTist philosophy, the apexed locus standi of human life is considered the non-dual spiritual attainment. In this sense, a syntho-analytic order implies that disease needs to be examined from an analytical perspective while keeping in mind the complex yet synthetic nature of human life; this includes a proper consideration of the continuity of body-mind-spirit, its placement within a larger social setting and the hierarchy of physico- psycho-spiritual needs of a human being . Such a holistic approach to health is currently not part of mainstream medical education, which operates in a largely “analytico-analytic” framework.
Though a few countries offer some form of public healthcare to all individuals, most countries do not. For example, in the United States it is estimated that over a half a million people go bankrupt every year because of medical bills.
“Just imagine, if the doctor is incompetent or is completely motivated by a business mentality, what will the plight of the public be?” 
Of course, the above statement was delivered in the context of widespread medical malpractice in India at the time. In many countries now (including India), this idea of healthcare governed by “business mentality” is now probably even more applicable to the private healthcare, insurance industries and pharmaceutical industries than the healthcare workers themselves. In this regard, the founder of PROUT suggests that industries with
profit-motives should not control the trade manufacture of medicines. Medicines can instead be manufactured and distributed by either not-for-profit non-governmental or governmental organisations .
How? As mentioned before, there are already several countries (e.g., the UK, the Scandinavian countries) that have largely publicly funded healthcare-for-all systems in place. These are by no means perfect but nonetheless provide good starting points, which other countries can start adopting. A large amount of research already suggests that universal healthcare models save spending on part of the government . It is therefore by no means unreasonable for people to expect universal healthcare.
With respect to a syntho-analytic approach to health there are very promising trends in the philosophical and scientific understanding of the human body, mind and life and their complex interdependent nature . This understanding is slowly being adapted into biomedical research and we foresee that in the near future it will be transferred to clinical research and then to the clinic itself. One prominent example of the syntho-analytic approach being put into practice is research on meditation and meditation-based health therapy applications in the clinic, school and workplaces.
The advancement of a syntho-analytic approach also entails interdisciplinary research on alternative healing techniques (indigenous, holistic, nature-based, etc.) using state-of-the- art scientific methods. Research on such complementary medical systems is present but still forms only a small proportion of the budget compared to standard Western approaches to medicine. One reason is that the effects of the latter tend to be more drastic (and therefore more statistically noticeable) though usually heavily loaded with side-effects. However, recent development of sensitive statistical methods with advances in computational techniques should substantially enhance our observation of more subtler outcomes of complementary medical techniques.
In summary, what is needed is 1) the recognition and the subsequent implementation of universal and freely accessible healthcare systems, 2) a better integration of different healing modalities offered in an optimal manner, 3) with a syntho-analytic approach that is holistically considerate of all human needs. It is important to note that as per the progressive principles of PROUT, the changes we envision will not be introduced at once but will be phased in gradually. This gradual shift to a PROUTist healthcare system would be made while ensuring that individuals do not lose access to the quality healthcare that they already have in different parts of the world. Before changes are introduced, efforts are also needed to raise awareness amongst people and policy-makers about the shortcomings of the present healthcare systems.
***This quote is from 1959 and significant advances have been made in modern medicine since then, especially in areas such as biochemistry, biomedical engineering, the relationship between the brain, mind and body, and numerous subfields of biomedicine. Shrii Sarkar has himself, on numerous occasions, discussed the importance of glands and hormonal secretion in physical and mental health [e.g., 9]. His work on Yogic treatments and natural remedies  as well as Yoga asanas and bandhas  offers a unique description of how physical compression of different glands along with nature-based cures can be helpful in treatment of different diseases. There is currently only little scientific research in such a cross-disciplinary approach to biomedicine. However, we note that the establishment of mind-body and complementary medical wings in major medical centres around the world is a promising step in the direction of a cross-disciplinary approach to healing.
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