Yin and Yang, of course, are ancient concepts from Chinese philosophy referring to the universal, complementary forces of nature. Sometimes a subtle, Yin solution is needed, and sometimes the forceful, heavy-handed Yang solution is called for.
Similarly, we need both ways of dealing with imbalances in health. However, Western medicine typically leans heavily towards the forceful approach – forcing the body to change by directly suppressing symptoms. Homeopathy, on the other hand, guides the body to find its own way back to a state of health.
One of my favorite teachers, Dr. Robin Murphy, has said that in the homeopathic approach, “disease” is not an enemy one fights, but simply an expression of the individual attempting to heal. He says (paraphrasing from a lecture):
It’s the American mentality to “go get ’em”, to confront, to “fight the disease”. Why do we have to fight the disease? The disease process, according to homeopathic philosophy, is the person, attempting to heal themselves. We have to help it. And helping it is the opposite of fighting it. We can either shock the vital force back to health, or instead we can stimulate it to recover on its own.
This is the basis for one of the pillars of the homeopathic approach – treatment by similars. Simply put, you start by observing the totality of a person’s symptoms, and then you seek a remedy that – in a healthy person – would bring about many of those same symptoms. When this remedy is given, in diluted doses, to the sick individual, it offers a gentle guide to the body’s inner intelligence to return back to a state of balance.
Think of a house that is overheated in the middle of winter because the thermostat is set too high. The “Yang” or forceful approach to cooling down the house would be to open up the windows and let in a whole lot of cold air inside. While this will work quickly at first, what will be the long-term outcome? If the windows are later closed, the house will simply heat up again to too high a temperature, and the “cure” will have been temporary. If instead, the windows are left open to keep blowing cold air in, the house may remain cooler but the thermostat will also continue to activate the heater, which will work overtime and wastefully burn up a great deal of fuel.
Then comes a homeopath who applies the “law of similars” (treating heat with heat). How does she do this? She gets a cup of hot tea, and holds it under the thermostat. The thermostat is fooled into thinking the house has gotten up to the right temperature, sends a signal to the heater, which shuts off. By guiding the feedback loop of the heating system, one cup of hot tea can cool off the entire house.