Since the beginning of time, man has always admired the flower. Evidence of this can be found in poetry from all ages. We all know that flowers are beautiful and that everyone likes to look at them, but have you ever thought that there may be more subtle reasons for this than merely to please our senses of sight and smell? After all, there are some very realistic looking plastic flowers available but very few people like them. If we want to brighten or add life to a room, we usually do so by adding flowers. Most 'birthday' cards and 'get well' cards have pictures of flowers. Fabrics, wall paper and gift wrapping paper have floral patterns.
A flower represents life and love. When we visit a sick friend we usually take flowers. Not so long ago a lover always brought flowers to his beloved.
When one goes to a guru, it is customary to bring him something. There are five traditionally accepted gifts: flowers, special leaves, water, fruit or gold (now money). But the flower is most commonly offered.
In tantra yoga, much use is made of flowers. In kundalini yoga we often come across flowers. Each chakra of the body is represented by the lotus flower. For meditation many people choose the flower as their personal symbol of visualisation. In Shiva, Krishna and Rama temples, flowers are always used in worship. In pictures, these gods are depicted either wearing a garland of flowers, seated or standing on a flower, or with a flower in hand. In religious ceremonies, weddings and funerals, flowers are always used.
From an investigation of Bach flower remedies, we can gain insight into the powers which are contained in flowers. Then maybe we will come to see the flower as a living mandala.
Through intuition, faith and one-pointedness, Dr. Edward Bach discovered and revealed to the world the natural healing system of flower remedies. He gave freely of his knowledge at all times. Fame and reputation did not appeal to him, for his only desire was to restore health to the sick. From childhood Edward Bach's ideal of a simple way to heal disease persisted, and as he grew older it became the motivating force behind his whole life's work. Throughout the years he practiced as pathologist, bacteriologist and homeopath, his one aim was to find pure remedies and a simple form of treatment to replace the complicated, scientific methods which gave no certainty of cure. His intensity of purpose and interest in all things combined to make a character of great genius who was destined to stand alone. Few could follow or understand the determination of one who knew his life's work from the start, and would allow nothing to interfere with that aim.
As a medical student, Edward Bach spent little time with his books. To him the true study of disease lay in observing every patient. He watched how each one was affected by his ailment, and saw how their different reactions influenced the course, severity and duration of the disease.
As a medical practitioner, Bach grew more and more dissatisfied with the results of orthodox treatment. For though many of his patients improved and many were apparently cured, their health was not always maintained. There were many chronic and long standing cases which received no benefit at all from any form of treatment. It seemed to him that modern medicine failed in many ways and that surgery could rarely do more than relieve suffering and bring a little temporary comfort.
Through his dissatisfaction with orthodox medicine Bach became a bacteriologist. After months of investigation and research, he was convinced that vaccine made from intestinal bacteria, injected into the patient's blood stream would cleanse the system of the poisons causing the chronic disease. The results he obtained by doing this were beyond all expectations, but Bach still disliked having to cause pain to a patient by using the syringe needle. His work in connection with intestinal toxaemia became well known. The results of his findings were published in medical journals and his method was adopted by the medical profession.
Through his observations he learned that the same treatment did not always cure the same disease in all patients. This caused him to question the giving of set remedies for specific diseases. Patients with a similar personality or temperament would often respond to the same remedy, whereas those of a different type, with the same complaint, would need another treatment. Early in his search he realised that the personality is more important than the body in the treatment of disease. The patient's outlook on life, his emotions and feelings were the most important factors in deciding the treatment. He saw how the process of healing was often painful, sometimes more painful than the disease itself, and this served to strengthen his conviction that true healing should be gentle, painless and benign.
Throughout his life he had little use for accepted theories until he had proved them. For Bach, practical experience and observation were the only true way of learning. His knowledge and understanding came from intuition and his own experience; the results of his work were all practical. At the completion of his life, he left a record of all his work which was contained in one small book of thirty pages, The Twelve Healers and Other Remedies, written clearly and simply for all to understand.
Bach's own health was not good, but he worked unceasingly. He was destined not to give in to his own disabilities while there was so much to be done and so many needing help. Then he became critically ill and he was told that he had only three months more to live. With determination to complete his work in the few remaining weeks, he returned to the hospital laboratories just as soon as he was able to walk about. Totally immersed in his work, the months slipped by. Forgetting his own disabilities, Bach found himself growing stronger. The three months had elapsed when he realised his health was better than it had been for some years. To all those who had seen him during the worst of his illness, his recovery was an astounding miracle. Bach considered the reason for his marvellous recovery and came to the conclusion that an absorbing interest, a great love, a definite purpose in life were the deciding factors of man's happiness on earth. These were the incentives which had carried him through his difficulties and helped him to regain health.
As a pathologist and bacteriologist at the London Homeopathic Hospital, Bach proceeded to prepare vaccines from intestinal organisms by the homeopathic method and administered them to patients by mouth. These oral vaccines, called the Seven Bach Nosodes, received an enthusiastic welcome by the medical profession and were widely used in England, America, Germany and many other countries by allopaths and homeopaths. Bach's growing fame brought him more work than he could cope with, but he still retained a small room where he treated the poor, charging them no fees.
In spite of the success of the nosodes, Bach was dissatisfied with the type of remedies used. He wished to find pure remedies from plants and herbs. In this new work his intuition guided him to truths undiscoverable through the intellect and science. He was led by the same inner knowledge which inspires the musician to play melodies and the poet to write verses.
One night at a big dinner party Bach was idly watching the people around him. Suddenly he realised that the whole of humanity consisted of a number of definite groups or types, every individual belonging to one of them. He watched those around him, observing how they ate, smiled and moved. He studied their facial expressions and listened to the tone of their voices. He sorted out a number of groups and compared these with the seven bacterial groups. Every patient who came to him from then onwards was closely observed; every characteristic, every mood, every reaction to disease, and every little habit was noted. On the basis of these indications he prescribed for them from the remedies he already had.
Every moment he could spare from his practice and laboratory work, he spent searching the countryside for plants and herbs which he hoped to use in place of the seven bacterial nosodes. Obeying a sudden impulse to go to Wales he was rewarded by finding two beautiful plants - the pale mauve Impatiens and the golden Mimulus. He took them back to London and prepared them in the same homeopathic way. He prescribed them in accordance with the personality of the patient, and to his great joy they had immediate and remarkable results. He next found the wild Clematis, and with these three remedies alone he gave up all other methods of treatment.
So great was Bach's urge to begin the search for more flower remedies that he could neither rest, nor continue with his work on the nosodes. Finally Bach gave up all he had in London and left his work on the nosodes in the hands of the doctors who were assisting him. He closed down his laboratory, burnt all the pamphlets and papers he had written on his former work and smashed all his syringes and vaccine bottles. At the age of forty-three, he set out on his great adventure without one regret for the wealth and fame he was leaving. He was sure that the remedies he was seeking were already prepared by nature herself and were just waiting to be discovered. He also knew that he possessed the divine gift of healing with his hand.
Edward Bach had always looked upon healing not as a profession, but as a divine art. From the time he left London to the end of his life, he charged no fees for his advice or help. In the years of research which followed, he suffered great physical hardships and privations through lack of money, but these mattered little to him and they did not interfere with his work. He always had what he needed and out of that he would find enough to share with those who were in greater need than himself. This confirmed for him that he was on the right track and that all he had to do was go ahead with complete trust in the divine source.
Bach became aware that all his senses were being sharpened and more fully developed. He found he was able to feel, hear and see things which he had not previously been conscious of. Through his finely developed sense of touch, he was able to feel the vibrations and power emitted by any plant he wished to test. If he held part of a plant on his hand or placed it on his tongue, he could feel in his body the effects of its properties. Some would have a strengthening, vitalising effect on the mind and body. Others would give him pains, vomiting, fevers, rashes, etc.
The last years of Bach's life were spent in walking hundreds of miles, examining and noting all the characteristics of a great variety of plants. He came to the conclusion that the plants he was seeking could be found blooming when the days were longest and the sun was strongest. For the full medicinal properties he would need to use the flower-heads alone, as the life of the plant and its potential seed are concentrated in its flower.
Note: More on Bach's flower remedies will be coming in the next issue.