What does this mean, and so what? We look at how Flower Remedies and Nature's other Vibrational Essences arise out of an approach to health care that is fundamentally different from current mainstream philosophy of health, which is mostly about 'fight the disease'. With knowledge and understanding we can make better informed and appropriate choices for ourselves and families, from among the huge range of health care help increasingly available.
approx 1200 words See also cautionary note
Flower & Vibrational Essences have been referred to, since Dr. Edward Bachs time in the 1930's, as benign. To get a handle on what this might mean, let's look first to a dictionary.
They all come from the Latin 'benignus': [bene: 'well', which also means whole] + [-genus birth, kind ]. When Dr. Edward Bach was developing the Flower Remedies in England, it was clear in his mind that he was seeking something harmless. This was before the time of the British National Health, when only the well off could easily afford doctors and medicines. When poor people (the majority) fell ill and couldn't go to work, there was no money for them or their families, which made illness even more stressful. Dr. Bach wanted to find remedies that anyone could use for themselves and families, so they would need to be safe, inexpensive, and easy to choose and use, unlike e.g. essential oils or homoeopathics, chemical pharmaceuticals, and many herbal preparations
.As a doctor, Bach was also aware of the many medicinal preparations and practices that were not safe, or possible for people to use without a doctor, because they were very complicated, expensive and easily malign ("injurious; deadly quality"). He witnessed that invasive examinations and treatments, and lots of tests often made already weak people more ill.
Early in his work, it became clear that he was looking for remedies that would be used in response to people's outlook on life, their feelings and attitudes. This meant that no one needed to know the pathological name of an ill condition to be able to help themselves, nor wait for early symptoms to develop into recognizable ailment. In all, a very gentle and preventative approach. The core idea he expressed for the Flower Remedies is "Treat the person, not the disease; the cause and not the symptom".
He was also wanting to find pure substances, in contrast to the products of disease or poison from which vaccines and many homeopathic remedies are made. He believed that healing was brought about by flooding the system with light, not by fighting an ill, nor by giving the like of an ill. (His profuond and inspiring philosophy is written in the little book Heal Thyself*.) He saw that nature provides for all our needs, so sought simple and safe effective remedies from nature's "healing herbs", prepared in a way that made them easily and inexpensively accessible for anyone. (*link to Edward Bach web site, then from Research go to books, online.)
These ideas and intentions are all 'benign'. This is in contrast with the approach of todays mainstream system of doctoring with chemical medicines and surgery, and its pathological, 'fight the disease, fix the body' approach, which arises from a fear-based paradigm, with the belief that we must defend ourselves from life. Our society (including me) easily assumes that what is powerful must be what fights and conquers. Until experiencing otherwise, many cannot imagine that what is 'benign' is not just passive, and does have 'real' power. The depth that 'might is right' beliefs govern our outlook, decisions and behaviour is easily underestimated; and not only concerning health, also in every area of life and relationships. The idea that force (as in 'violent coercion') is most powerful, runs very deeply in our collective mind. Yet the more I have experienced 'benign', I have come to know that its not just a minor or abtract idea about something wishy-washy and weak, rather its the doorway to the great and healing power of creation. The more we experience the power of benign, the more quickly the foundations of our health, education, law and other systems of society will undergo major shifts into healthier society.
In the chart below are phrases to highlight these and other contrasts to help us to consider what a difference 'benign' means. (see end note). The bold words in the Essences column highlight the concept of benign. The ** in allopathic column are to remind us that these attributes can also be applicable to some complimentary and vibrational or energetic therapies / disciplines.
The purpose here is to highlight that there is a way of health care other than fighting and conflict, both in treatment and in basic philosophy about medicine. It is very important to remember that these contrasts are not 'bad / good', 'right /wrong'. They are to help us to be informed of distinctions and so to be able to choose appropriately.
These insights about 'benign' apply not only to human health, also to our relationship with all creatures, and with how we treat and can heal Earth. In "Renewing the Flow, Clean for Life", I apply the philosophy of benign to cleaning, which is a major area of health (and illness!) for people and Earth, and involves all of us.
Even if you never use Bach Flower Remedies, I hope you will think about the nature and power of benign. This understanding applies to all spheres of life. Just to become more aware of the way we live so much conflict, in all areas of our lives, can be great steps toward growing and living peace.
Cynthia Alves copyright 2004, edited 2008