The Immune System penetrates all processes of the organism from our mental and emotional responses to the way that the physiological functions coordinate their functions. From this point of view, we can make some preliminary observations about the basic nature of the Immune System.
Low energy transmutations of matter/energy and their subsequent integrating metabolic events are the biological foundations of all living systems. The transformations that characterize these events affect both the organism’s functional systems as well as its ability to relate to its emotional and physical environment. The lack of integration from whatever cause, in this metabolic process, whether mental, physical, or ecological, results in a lack of dynamic equilibrium. This is the basis of pathology.
Dynamic equilibrium, the event of integration, is the motive of an organism’s function, and is analogous with its Immune System. Equilibrium is itself defined as a process of integration, in which the organism meets the infinitely conditioning forces working upon it, and uses these forces to fulfill the potentials of its evolving identity.
In our allopathic medical concepts, the immune system (RES) is generally and narrowly defined as the physiological mechanisms designed to defend the organism against pathogens and ‘breakdown’ of physiological functions. The term ‘defense mechanism’ unfortunately relates to an unconscious attitude prevalent in our collective psyche in which the individual must ‘defend’ its integrity against an aggressive environment. Life itself can easily become identified as a potential threat, creating an existentialistic angst so well known in psychiatric pathologies.
The main stream of allopathic therapies clearly reveals this attitude—anti-microbe remedies, vaccines, invasive surgeries, radiation, and the use of Chemo-therapy account for the majority of all allopathic treatments.
If we instead define the relative health of a living system as being its ability to integrate the transient, transforming stimuli that make up its internal and external environment, then we can see that the scope of the immune system is far greater then a defense network against pathogens. The processes of integration belonging to the specific modes and mechanisms inherent in both the mental and physical spheres of an individual, is a clear expression of basic immunity. Any stimulus, which cannot be integrated within the evolving identity of an organism, is ‘pathogenic’ to that organism. It would therefore be more appropriate to call the immune system an integrating mechanism rather than a ‘defense mechanism’.
In this broader sense, the immune system contains mechanisms that are intimate to the very motive of individuation—Ahamkara (see below). As such it works within the ever—evolving boundaries of our self-expression, and in the mechanisms of bio-consistency inherent in every organism. The immune system can be seen to be one of the important factors governing the emergence of the organism as Identity.
The Immune System establishes the functional equilibrium of an organism in two ways—one by defining the parameters of its integration processes, which is analogous to its identity (established by Ahamkara); and secondly by acting through mechanisms that enhance dynamic equilibrium within the organism (the Tridoshas).
Pathology and Archetypal Energy Configurations
From this point of view, pathology can be broadly defined as a lack of equilibrium/integration in the dynamic evolution of a living system. In the Classical Medicine teachings of Ayurveda, a quantitative imbalance in two of the ‘primordial qualities’ (Mahagunas) as they effect the substratum of biological function (theTridoshas—Vata, Pitta, and Kapha), are defined as the major inhibitors of dynamic equilibrium —these are: instability relative to kinetic energies—Rajoguna; and instability relative to involuted forces of inertia—Tamoguna.
The Rajoguna and Tamoguna (working from within the Doshas) are affected by the following general factors, giving rise to specific pathological patterns:
- toxic constituents of incomplete metabolic processes
- results of interventions in an organism’s functions from external sources (trauma; incomplete or impure nutrients; invasive therapies)
- past or present unresolved integration processes
- actions, Karma, which are incompatible with environmental factors such as climate and season
- actions, Karma, which are incompatible with one’s constitutional make up or with ones Dharma
- constricted patterns of form-creating consciousness (referred to in classical Ayurvedic teachings and Mahayana Buddhism as the Three Poisons—Desire, Hatred, and Ignorance); including misuse of the senses
- hereditary (miasmatic) patterns which latently disturb primary immunity, and which are activated by one of the above factors.
Since no part of a living system can change or evolve without that change affecting the organism in its entirety, we see that these forces express themselves as “symptoms”, and when related to pathological patterns the cause of these symptoms will reflect the organism as a whole—being more than mere local manifestations. This is why it is important to understand that a symptom is never a ‘cause’ but always a ‘result’, and that treating results of patterns rather than the causes of patterns leads to serious disturbances in the organism’s mechanisms of integration.
Pathological conditions are characteristically identified by symptoms. Symptoms in themselves are not pathological but instead reflect the process that a living system undergoes to alter constricted functional patterns into expanded possibilities for Change and the re-establishment of dynamic equilibrium.
Immune activity (characterized by symptoms) always represents an organism’s optimal integrating response, under the given circumstances, to constricting pathological patterns or events. Whatever form of therapy we use must always change and improve the circumstances to which the Immune System is responding rather than intervening in the optimal process itself. Therapy that primarily addresses symptoms does not change the circumstances and interferes with the Immune systems optimal mode of response.
Chronic symptoms reflect distant causal patterns which, when unresolved, have ‘overflowed’ from areas of their origin into systemically associated locations with a manifest increase in expression. For example, symptomatic (manifest) functional disturbance of the thyroid can be based on non-symptomatic chronic disturbances in the reproductive organs mediated via the Stomach channel, Wei ching mo, and have its primary origin in functional disturbances of the pelvic organs.
The main causal factors in any pathogenesis are more basic, and therefore express themselves differently, representing a more distant initial response than the manifest symptom itself. As the Immune System which is attempting to reestablish dynamic equilibrium degrades due to lack of supporting causal therapies, these causal factors become more constricted, less dynamic, less open to change, allowing the pathological patterns to overflow into deeper associated levels of the organism’s vital functions increasing the lack of equilibrium. This is why for example, that a chronic dysfunction in the metabolic functions of the stomach (high tamistic Kapha) can be the causal factor in the later symptomatic manifestation of one type of asthma.
Therapy addressed to symptoms alone, as often seen in the reductionist medical practices of the allopathic tradition, negatively reinforce the casual factors thus giving rise to deeper pathological patterns, this is because they do not eliminate the initial imbalance itself (due to its being distant from the symptom), and thereby inhibit the Immune System’s own response (expressed in the symptom) which always represents an optimal stabilizing reaction under the prevailing circumstances.
Inhibiting the organism’s symptomatic expression causes blockage in the self-regulating nature of the Immune System and creates a reverse pressure on the causal factors, restricting their possibility for resolution. This is due to the fact that a symptom is always connected to its causal parameters through the pattern of energies from which arises. We might say that a cause and its symptom are like a root and the blossom of flower—different manifestations of a common origin. This is the main cause of chronic pathologies arising from symptom-oriented therapies.
Symptoms are the body’s ways of expressing the state of its ability to integrate its full potentials in a cosmic environment of stimuli and response. Symptoms are a language that precisely indicates what and why things are occurring—if we can listen to this language and understand its message. Symptom language always reveals deeper causal factors that are the real basis for pathologies and it is these causes that must be addressed through the integrative processes of the Immune System if resolution is to be achieved.