Discussion: SARS, the Human Body, and the Mind
[PureInsight.org] Individual panelists are designated: A, B, C, D, E, and F. Panelist for Dr. Lili Feng, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas.
A: Your innovative report on medicine was truly inspiring. You mentioned in your report that children are less subject to SARS infection and less likely to spread the SARS virus, indirectly illustrating that the psychological state of the human mind can control the para-sympathetic nervous system, thereby influencing the immune system. Meanwhile, the results from your latest comparison experiment on the reactions to placebos and medicines have suggested that the current research and preventive measures against SARS are futile. Current research and preventive measures focus on the superficial symptoms instead of the root cause of the SARS virus. You mentioned that overlooking man's spiritual element was a very serious loophole in combating the SARS virus, because the human spirit (or state of mind) determines whether s/he will be subject to SARS infection or s/he will recover from SARS infection.
F: That is correct.
A: I have a few questions. First, regarding the virus in general, is it true that mankind has never found any effective treatment for virus infections? Is it true that all available medicines to treat virus infections only have a placebo effect? And is it correct to say that man's natural immune system is the actual effective weapon against virus invasion into one's body?
F: Yes, although many in the audience might disagree with this argument. (Laughter) But if you observe those who have survived virus infections, a majority of them are optimistic, active and spiritually healthy. There is a significantly higher death rate among those are depressed or spiritually unhealthy. If you check historic medical records dealing with virus infections, you will find that the majority of the medical literature has confirm this hypothesis; but it wouldn't be correct to conclude that the placebo effect is a contributing factor for recovery in all cases of viral infections.
B: What do think of the comment that the SARS virus poses an obvious threat to all of mankind?
F: I agree with this comment. It is a very obvious threat for mankind. I am also convinced that the SARS virus is a treat to the human spirit because I think the SARS virus exploits loopholes in the human spirit.
B: The human spirit? I recall that in your report you brought up a very crucial argument about fighting viral infections. You mentioned that there is a positive correlation between mind and body, but that modern medical scientists have neglected the spiritual element in their studies.
F: No, I wouldn't say that they neglected the spiritual element. I think they are incapable of recognizing the spiritual element as one of the variables in the studies.
C: I have paid close attention recently to the daily updated statistics of SARS infections and deaths as reported to the World Health Organization (WHO). The statistics reported by China, Hong Kong and Taiwan struck me as perplexing. For example, as of May 6, 2003, China has reported a total of 4,409 cases and 214 deaths; Hong Kong 1,646 cases and 193 deaths and Taiwan 116 cases and 10 deaths since SARS emerged in China's Guangdong Province last November. Since 90% of the people who died from SARS were Chinese, why is there a vastly higher rate of SARS infections and death in Hong Kong than in Taiwan? After all, Taiwan has a much larger population of 22 million, compared with Hong Kong's 6.7 million. In addition, there are as many Taiwanese people traveling between Taiwan and China than there are people from Hong Kong, if not more. In theory, there shouldn't be much difference between the rate of SARS infections and deaths in these three regions. How do you interpret this strange phenomenon?
F: You'd be less surprised by these statistics if you would analyze the different social conditions existing in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Since Hong Kong was "returned" to China, it was enveloped in intense political pressure from Beijing. One good example is the recent development regarding Article 23 legislation. Furthermore, the busy life styles and all kinds of materialistic pursuits in relatively small Hong Kong aggravate the already overly preoccupied, tense minds of Hong Kong residents.
Likewise, in China, many epidemics that had already declined are becoming prevalent again. The current outbreak of epidemics in China highly correlates with the intense political atmosphere and various social crises, which are, in turn, closely correlated with the violations of human rights and the suppression of spiritual beliefs. It all proves that mind and body are inseparable. As a man become highly intense, his central nervous system functions become chaotic and his internal balance and equilibrium are thus impaired. When this happens, the cells lose their ability to protect themselves. The person will be become ill at any time. This is very frightening state to be in. When a person's immune system becomes weak, not only will this person be unable to resist the invading virus or lose the ability to destroy it, but he will also become a virus carrier, a giant, walking cultivation medium for the virus, spreading the virus everywhere, to everyone he encounters. The horrible part is that he will probably not display any visible symptoms of virus infection.
D: There is another strange phenomenon. Although the SARS epidemic in Singapore appears to be under temporary control, one cannot help but wonder why a tiny country such as Singapore, a smaller region than Hong Kong, would be the third most severely infected region in the world? As of May 6, Singapore has reported 204 infections and 27 deaths. It is the most severely infected region, after China and Hong Kong. What is your take on this strange phenomenon?
F: Here is the way I look at it. Whether or not an epidemic is capable of prevailing in a society depends on whether or not her people are more subject to the epidemic. In other words, if the society is more resistant to an epidemic, it becomes easier to contain the disease. Then the question is: what kinds of people are more resistant to epidemics?
Children's current level of resistance to SARS gives us some exemplary clues; but that is no more than an initial assessment. Of course we cannot draw a premature or absolute conclusion that all children are more resistant to the SARS virus. It requires further research to confirm whether those children who are consistently symptom-free are more resistant to the SARS virus because there is a balance in their internal mechanisms.
If you study those traditional cultivation practices such as qigong and especially Falun Gong, you will discover that they all emphasize integration of body and mind in their cultivation practices. Falun Gong teachings point out that mind and matter is one thing. This makes a lot of sense and is very reasonable from a scientific perspective. It is a very sound scientific theory. Research statistics published by renowned research laboratories, including mine, have confirmed the immense impact of mind over body. Recognizing and acknowledging that, let us go back to the question you raised about Singapore. If a government or a nation fails to put equal emphasis on improving spiritual as well as physical aspects of life, her people might become oblivious to the importance of whichever aspect such a government fails to promote.
Singapore has enforced all kinds of tough measures to maintain societal order, such as punishing people with fines to maintain a clean environment or to protect society. However, these tough laws cannot force the Singaporean people to raise their spiritual levels to the same height as their material ones in order to integrate the spiritual and material aspects of life and thereby achieve an ideal, harmonious state. That is so because the Singapore government rules her society with tough laws and punishments. When a country fails to positively nurture her people's spirit, or when a country seeks economic prosperity by employing centralized power to control the minds of the people, then that country should not be surprised to witness her citizens' extreme vulnerability to the SARS virus. Similarly, the current way to contain SARS through quarantine, in conjunction with high-handed control measures, will be less likely to achieve this goal.
D: An article on the Internet addressed this same issue. The vastly differing severity of the SARS epidemic in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore does call for deep reflection among leaders worldwide. On the other hand, the differing severity in these countries may carry an alarming message: a society that follows what is right and, by contrast, a society that helps the wicked to perpetrate wicked deeds will have differing levels of resistance to this plague.
F: Indeed. A kind person who follows what is right is most likely to maintain a peaceful and harmonious mind, a mental condition that will most certainly help maintain his internal equilibrium and lower metabolism, thus increasing his resistance to epidemics. Even if he does get infected with germs or viruses from certain epidemics, his peaceful mindset will condition his body in a favorable way to combat the epidemics. His own mental equilibrium and immune system will eliminate the virus or germ invasion and prevent the epidemic in his body from developing further. I think if a person truly pays attention to both his spiritual and physical health, he has already built a very solid foundation for his own life. One can only attain a state of perfect internal equilibrium through cultivation. A person whose mind is occupied with nothing but pursuit for wealth is less likely to reach such an ideal, healthy state.
A government or a society must first emphasize the importance of virtue or moral values. In response to the threat of a plaque, a government or a society must first tell the truth about the epidemic and let her people know the facts about the epidemic in order to prevent the epidemic from further spread due to insufficient or incorrect knowledge about the epidemic.
Let me offer a real example about SARS. A newspaper reported that a nurse in China transmitted the SARS virus to her husband who later died of SARS, because the government at that time did not inform the nurse of the presence of SARS.
My second point is that we should know that a person is in fact born with a natural ability to resist diseases and the effectiveness of this ability depends on whether the person has a correct understanding of himself. Does one identify his body as no more than a collection of physical organs, such as heart, liver, spleen and stomach, or does a person identify his body as a having both spiritual and physical organisms? Mind and matter are one thing and they interact with each other. In the past, scientists have failed to study them both at the same time. Nowadays, more and more scientists have confirmed that a man's spiritual state has an immense impact on his body. A man's mind can make him survive or die. If we can truly value the fact that mind and matter is one thing, we will be very close to solving the threat of SARS.
E: After all, the current death rate of SARS is less than 20%.
F: It has been discovered that the SARS virus can survive in human excrement for about four days. That might present a problem.
E: This is indeed a worrisome issue because hygienic facilities in China are still underdeveloped. For example, if a large building in China is quarantined, can its sewers be quarantined as well?
F: That is an extremely horrifying fact. Here I would also like to talk about another crime that the Chinese government has committed and the consequent outcome of its negative impact towards Chinese society in terms of preventing and controlling the SARS epidemic. We all know that the Chinese government has persecuted Falun Gong practitioners for four years. I did not have the benefit of researching all Falun Gong practitioners, but many Falun Gong practitioners were the subjects of one study. A research experiment in our lab has discovered that many Falun Gong practitioners' immune systems demonstrate a type of two-directional, regulating ability. What does this mean? In their cases it means that when the immunoreactions become too high, they are automatically restrained, and when the immunoreactions are too low, they are automatically increased. It is this kind of a regulating function that acts as a safety valve for one's body to guard against viruses. Yet, the Chinese government has cracked down on the Falun Gong group. If the total of over 100 million initial Falun Gong practitioners in China had been allowed to keep up the practice of Falun Gong, they would have formed a gigantic, protective layer for Chinese society. They can protect more than just themselves. Why? If over 100 million Falun Gong practitioners had been allowed to practice Falun Gong, they would have been able to resist the SARS virus, stop the SARS virus from being transmitted through them, and form a large immunity shield, which could protect more vulnerable people in China. This is the saddest thing for me and brings me to something I must emphasize. What I want to say is this: persecuting Falun Gong is the most evil and foolish act. While this plague prevails over China, what we need most are those people with resistance to the SARS virus.
Translated from: http://www.zhengjian.org/zj/articles/2003/5/8/21535.html