This is a post by intern, Samantha Curley. Reprinted with permission.
How far are you willing to go in order to be healed?
Not just what medical measures are you willing to take, but actually how many miles would you travel for the chance to be made whole? For eight people, the answer is the Amazon jungle. Yes, that’s right, Sacred Science is a documentary about eight terminally ill people who have lost hope in Western medical treatments. Their illnesses and diseases range from neuroendocrine cancer to irritable bowel syndrome to alcoholism to Crohn’s disease.
25% of our medicine’s active ingredients come from the Amazon jungle. Yet only 1% of the region’s plants have been studied for medicinal purposes. And the long tradition and deep knowledge of the Amazon’s medicine men, orshamans - the men who walk for hours everyday to find the plants and food that will heal the ailing body (and soul) – is quickly disappearing. And so the story begins. Eight Americans travel to remote, isolated huts in the unchartered region of the Amazon forest. They are assigned their own shaman who is given one month to try and heal their broken bodies. It’s not pretty, it’s not easy, and it’s not what I was expecting to see or have happen.
In the solitude of living in nature, these men and women discover they cannot hide from themselves. The shamans are not only working to heal the broken biological patterns of how their bodies are working, but also the social and emotional patterns that contribute to illness. “The first thing we do with disease,” says one of the medicine men, “is to push it away. We tell the body (subconsciously) not to send healing agents.”
The Western mind is also taught to demonize and fear death. As we stay away from death, we also stay away from life. The shaman teach us what it means to look at death and life, to share presence with each other, and to learn who and what we are.
Each of the eight people end up with a different healing story – some more hopeful and successful than others. As I watched this documentary, I was struck by the desperation that drives us to so much more than physical health. What is it that makes us want to be well? Not just physically (although we primarily see wellness through a physical lens) but healthy in the head and the heart. The kind of health that can be taught, cultivated, and experienced.
In a world where culture, religion, and medicine get tangled and enmeshed, Sacred Science offers us a new way of thinking about sickness and healing. There are some strange tools and unusual methods, but we discover that the shaman tradition uses the same language of our Western religious traditions: wisdom, presence, self-knowledge, solitude, love, and transformation.
In matters of life and death, as we consider how to live, it is imperative to open our eyes and release our minds to go beyond what’s right in front of us. Sacred Science finds us in our lostness and our illness and sets us on the journey of transformative healing.