“One should do nothing other than what is directly or indirectly of benefit to living beings.”

Shantideva
8th Century Indian Buddhist Saint

Help SHRI Upward, Over the Mountain by Spero

The Trek:
SHRI’s headquarters and Homeo Clinic are located in Bir, a small village on the edge of the Kangra and Mandi districts of Himachal Pradesh, India. Considered part of the Kangra Valley, Bir is about 2.5 hours southeast of Dharamshala, 30 minutes east of Bajnath, and is home to a substantial Tibetan refugee colony, rolling tea gardens and terraced, Indian, farm villages. At 1,525 meters in elevation, Bir rests in the Dhauladhar Range, the foothills of the Indian Himalayas.
Hanuman-Tibba To raise awareness about the charitable work of Shantideva Homeopathic Research Institute, on July 18th 2011, Spero and Robin will embark upon a 10-12 day trek into the Western Himalayas. They will begin their journey with a 900 meter ascent up a steep ridge that connects the Kangra and Barot Valleys. From there, they will trek another 5 kilometers into the remote village of Rajgunda. As one of the locations of SHRI’s monthly, mobile clinics, Rajgunda will be a wonderful spot to rest, enjoy local cuisine and prepare for the journey ahead.

Map-of-trekThe local, Gaddi shepherds say that it takes three days to walk from Rajgunda to the very remote village of Bara Bhanghal. This trek begins by following the Uhl River up into the Ravi Valley. Spero and Robin will walk a minimum of 17 kilometers a day, spending their days living off of tsampa (roasted barley flour), nuts and dried fruit and their nights in the simple, stone wind breaks constructed by the nomadic shepherds of that region. They will carry various Homeopathic remedies to assist them on their journey; namely Arnica, Arsenicum & Coca to sooth aching muscles and support healthy adaptation to altitude changes as they ascend Thamsar Pass, at 4624 meters in elevation. The local people only like to cross this pas in July, which is the only time of year when the snow is usually melted. If, due to varying weather conditions, the snow has not melted, Spero and Robin will have to turn back. Many shepherds have died from slipping on the ice and literally sliding off the side of the mountain. The walk from Thamsar Pass to Bara Bhanghal is considered one of the most pleasant and scenic treks in the Dhauladhar Region. Bara Bhanghal lies, in a bowl, at the base of three high mountain ranges and many glacial torrents. The three mountain ranges are Kailash Peak at 5656 meters, Shikar Beh at 6200 and Hanuman Tibba at 5932 meters in elevation. Bara Bhanghal’s alpine terrain is in one of the most spectacular and little known regions of the Western Himalayas.

After a few days rest in Bara Bhanghal, Spero and Robin plan to head east into the Kullu Valley. From Bara Bhanghal they will cross one of two passes; either Tainta Pass, at 4996 meters in elevation or Kathi Kukri Pass (couldn’t find the elevation). All the locals say that Thamsar Pass is extremely difficult and that anywhere one goes after that feels easy. So, Spero and Robin are planning to walk another two days east, to the thriving metropolis of Manali, where they will indulge in hot showers, yummy restaurants and plush mattresses!

Sunday Notes by Spero

IMG_4357Next weekend we are planning another trip up the mountain. Its actually up the “hill”, albeit a large one. I’ve found a breathtaking trail that goes up over 1,000 meters vertical. ITs quiet steep, and passes a spectacular 75 ft waterfall. There is one village about 1/4 of the way up where we have made friends with some of the locals. One sparkling 68 yr old man named Keemaram grows organic sweet peas that are so good, you must eat them right from the garden. He walks up an down the mountain every day, as do his grandchildren. I gave him some calc phos for the pains in his knees. Ravi,his son is a good friend and is graduating with an MA in English soon from the local university. He is trying to decide whether to seek his fortunes in the big city of Delhi or stay in the mountains and live the good life. I suspect he will go to the city, even though his mother warns him of the “bad” city girls.

Rajasthani Treatment Camp by Spero

Rajasthani-Treatment-CampYesterday our small team travelled by bus for our monthly visit to a local migrant worker camp. There were no critical emergencies this time. (During the last visit a little girl was brought to me with a severe case of poisoning from local berries.) She was screaming and terrified. I gave a quick dose of Ipecac 1m and with seconds she was vomiting up the berries. After 10 minutes she was calm and resting in her fathers arms. I gave a dose of arsenicum album 200 as a follow up.
Yesterday’s trip however had a profound effect on all of us.

3-Rajasthani-MenThe inhabitants of the plastic tent camp are all from Rajasthan. They live far away their native place in order to make a menial wage that they can not earn at home. Mostly the men and women perform the hard physical labor of carrying bricks and cement on their heads, or digging ditches, As first glance the women and children seem fine. They are dressed in colorful outfits with lots of imitation jewelry. A closer look however reveals a different story. The men suffer from alcoholism and as a result they, as well as the women and children, are malnourished. The 200 rupee a day salary ( about 4.50) doesn’t go far after a bottle of expensive rot gut whiskey and some cigarettes.

Rajasthani-ChildrenWhen the first little boy came to me with a bloated belly and loss of appetite, I was not surprised to learn that he eats sand and the chalk he gets from school. I thought, aha! a good rubric. ( inedible things,lime, desires.) But then when the local school teacher came to me for her own anemia, she told me that all the children steal the chalk and eat it. Many of these people are “surviving” on only a few chapatis a day. Yesterday we saw 45 patient during the 6 hours of work. Thats better than the 50 we saw in 3 hours last time. but still a challenge. This time I was able to do simple computer repertorization with most cases. What happened was interesting. Sulphur and sulphur salts kept coming up in most of the cases. It seems everyone had itchy skin. In the moment I thought that I can’t give sulphur to so many people. I was working very quickly and looked for other more accurate remedies, but sulphur kept coming for all kinds of ailments. , not just itching. I felt at a loss, and overwhelmed by so much hunger, poverty, and weakness.

At the end of the day I had some time to let the impressions of the days events soak in. I began to think about sulphur and poverty and itching and Psora. It was like I was getting a lesson directly from Hahnemann himself. I had never encountered the psoric miasm so clearly and directly before. Of course I have read the Chronic Diseases a number of times, and know all about the theory. However, in the west we just don’t see it like this. Whether the scabies itch is the source of all human suffering or not is open to debate, but the fact that there is a correspondence between this disorder, and poverty is unmistakable. To focus on the causal aspect here is, I think to miss the point. Of course we can say that because poor people are malnourished they are susceptible to parasitic skin diseases. However, the energetic quality of these very poor people, FEELS like itching and scratching. There is something deep here, that goes beyond the purely simplistic, logical causal relationship. Yesterdays lesson was a good one for me. I still wonder whether as homeopaths we can treat “poverty” I think maybe its possible. Certainly Hahnemann thought so. Unfortunately Psora is alive and well in poor rural India. I think on next month’s visit I will stock up on sulphur salts, psorinum, calc carb, lycopodium and other very psoric remedies. I think there is some “hope to keep trying”. Very Psoric! As a final note I would once again urge any homeopaths or advanced homeopathic students to come and work with us for a weekend or longer. We really need volunteer help as well as donations. You will learn a lot, help people in need, and not regret a moment of time spent doing this work!

Inbal David

On a tropical beach in Kerala, India, is where I met Spero and Robin for the first time, at a small restaurant while watching a magical, local dance performance. The connection between us was so natural that when they told me about what they were doing, I was curious and happy to accept their invitation to be part of that blessed work. A few months later, at the beginning of April, I arrived to the small village in North India where this couple live. I visited the Homeopathic Clinic where they treat the local people for free. I was excited to see this amazing couple give all of their hearts and most of their time for these people’s needs. One Saturday, a small group of volunteers, with a small amount of equipment and full with good intentions, took the local bus to a place where the couple felt people need help. If there is ‘cosmic optimistic’ in India, it is inside this beautiful couple’s hearts. There were so many people who came for help. I saw children, adults and the very old receiving natural medicine, warm smiles, patience and loving attention. The results warmed my heart and sometimes surprised me with their immediacy. The experience of that day opened my heart and entered in love and inspiration. My visa expires soon, so for now I have to say goodbye, but there is no doubt that I will come back to this place where glory, pearl light shines on blindness, dark.

Rajasthani Treatment Camp by Robin

Today we walked 3 hours round trip through terraced farm fields to provide free, homeopathic medical care to a small encampment of migrant workers from Rajasthan. Currently, Rajasthan is on of the poorest states in India, so these workers and their families, come north in search of jobs. The only jobs available to them are in road construction. They are paid very little for their labor and live in tents made of various kinds of salvaged plastic bags and sticks from the jungle. The women haul water in buckets from a spigot across the road. When they have enough money for food, they cook it over an open fire. Some people put plastic down to create a floor in their tent but most people live and sleep in the dirt. They are constantly being evicted from the plots of land that they settle upon and so they are constantly on the move. Therefore, their children can not attend school and what few social services are available are not extended to them. In India, the stronger family members are expected to care for the struggling ones but these people are far from their families in Rajasthan, who surely don’t have, much to offer anyway.

We set up our clinic in an unoccupied tent. The men were all off to work so we treated the women and children. The patients that we saw were all malnourished. The lean children complained of pain shooting up and down their legs. We could see how their bones, especially the joints, were malformed. The mothers, with puffy children, complained that their children were constantly eating charcoal from the fires and dirt from the ground. These children are, without realizing it, simply trying to supplement their diet. They are in search of the minerals that their bodies crave. Spero gave low potencies of either Calcium Silicata, Calcarea Phosphoricum, Calcarea Carbonicum, Phosphorus or Silica, depending upon what each individual required. One woman asked if we had any medicine to help her husband stop drinking. He does not eat. The only liquids that he ingests are alcoholic. He is no longer able to function. Spero gave Nux Vomica in hopes of stimulating his appetite and reviving his life force.

We had hoped to return once a month to provide follow ups and continued care but, when talking with them today, we discovered that these people must leave this spot in 10 days and so have decided to go to Manali.

Miriam Heffer

In 2008, after the closing of the seminar in Mumbai that Spero and I had been attending yearly, I asked him “What are your plans”? He answered, in so many words, “Well, I am hoping to open a free clinic in Dharamshala, nothing concrete yet… just some thoughts…” “I am coming”, I blurted out spontaneously. Spontaneously because of an innate desire to take part in something of this nature and also because of an inexplicable draw towards the North of India and Dharamshala, a place I had always wanted to visit.
Through the many months I kept in touch with Spero, as much for myself so that I could realise the wish that I had, and to encourage him in the long and difficult path to materializing his project.

In September 2010 I came to Bir, inspired by Spero’s dream and something within me that knew that this is what I needed to do. I was immediately greeted with open arms by Spero and then introduced to Robin, his partner, with her beautiful, warm and welcoming smile and eyes. It was mystical. The distant Himalaya Mountains just in vision through the clouds, the mist swirling in the hills of upper Bir and the energy of being in a place that was about to unfold for me. Spero said about Bir “people usually arrive and leave, but those who stay do so for a purpose, a reason that only Bir can bring clarity to”. I had packed in my bag many, many questions around being a homeopath, and indeed what is homeopathy, the therapeutic relationship and its meaning, and so, so much more.

Through the weeks I spent with Spero and Robin enjoying deep discussion about homeopathy, healing… and experiencing the joy and difficulties that they were both going through with their project and daily living in Bir. The clinic was just newly opened and I spent days there helping Spero with the trickle of inquisitive patients, curious to know what we were doing. But patients gradually started to come, Tibetans and the Indians, who presented with complaints that I had never seen in my clinic in Jerusalem! Spero treated them all with utmost care, commitment and responsibility. In my minds eye, I can still see the slight old Tibetan lady who insisted on turning the prayer wheel, much too heavy for her size, complaining of pain in her arm; the very young and princely looking Indian who was barely clad, with high fever and yet so cold that we immediately went to buy him a blanket and jacket to keep him warm; and then there were the stories we were told by the Tibetans about their dangerous journey of escape from Tibet over the mountains to India.

I was in Bir, the heart of Buddhism, with its colorful prayer flags, waking to the sounds of drums, symbols and prayers in the early morning, the cheerful Tibetan people who would acknowledge me with a nod or smile as I walked along the main market street. And then there were the monasteries where I would sometimes, sit and just sit, quietly embraced by the smell of incense, the prayer books, the silence and the deep knowing that at this moment all is good. I was so deeply impacted and blessed with insights and understandings that today have became an integrated part of me.