Integrative holistic understanding of plant kingdom and its classification – why is it necessary?

While I started to teach about this kind of approach in plant kingdom and classification of the plant kingdom, the first question that I was asked was?

  • Why classification and categorization is important when we believe in Individualization?
  • How many of us while reading Materia Medica or repertory we get completely confused and miss the connection between drugs with similarities/or at family level.
  • How many of us (Especially from sensation method) since we have read Classification of plants have read individual drugs from MM/Rep/Source?
  • While selecting remedies how many of us read Schema/charts of Yakir/Scholten then the MM.

As I always do, I have found most of my answers referring to our masters who have left behind gems in their writings and teachings, so I referred to H.A.Roberts

“If we were in possession of a scientific arrangement of the Materia Medica, we might make it the basis of our study of the medicines; but at present, we cannot expect to construct anything satisfactory on such an uncertain and incomplete basis … The memory is incapable of retaining anything but what is presented to it in connection with something else; an idea is easily brought to the recollection only when in connection with others … The time is, we hope, not far distant, when we shall be able to talk about the objects of our science in the same manner as natural historians do of theirs - when, like them, we may be able to give complete descriptions of these objects, without touching upon the unimportant matter.  The time, we hope, is at hand, when we shall know what is and what is not important in our Materia Medica …” 
Dr. H. A. Robert

In 2005, a study was co-conducted by Vladimir Sloutsky, professor and director of the Center for Cognitive Science at Ohio State University, and Anna Fisher, a graduate student at Ohio State.

“As people become smarter, they start to put things into categories, and one of the costs they pay is lower memory accuracy for individual differences.” In other words, we fail to see the very details that not only spark new thoughts and better conclusions but also give color to an otherwise monochrome perspective.

Sloutsky and Fisher’s study included a test in which five, seven, and eleven-year-old children and college-age adults were asked to view a picture of a cat, which they were told had “beta cells inside its body.”

The groups were then shown thirty pictures of other animals (cats, bears, and birds) and asked whether each animal had beta cells in its body.
Afterward, the participants were reminded that only cats had beta cells in their bodies.
Finally, the participants were shown twenty-eight more pictures of animals and asked to identify which ones had been shown previously.
The results showed that the five-year-olds were the most accurate at remembering which animals they had seen before.
The seven-year-olds were second best, and the eleven-year-olds were third best. The adults were the worst at recalling which animals they had seen.

Sloutsky explained that the reason the younger children- especially the five-year-olds-were far better than the adults in the test was that they had not yet learned to categorize the animals in their minds.  As a result, they studied each picture closely to determine whether it was similar to the one of the cats who had beta cells. On the other hand, once the adults learned that only the cat had beta cells, they no longer paid attention to the details of any other pictures.  The cat pictures were the only ones that mattered to them. If it wasn’t a picture of a cat, it was insignificant.

In his conclusion, It seems that when we categorize we lose sight of details. And when we focus in on details, we lose sight of categories. The truth is that we need both abilities as working adults.

Categorization plus Individualization = Holistic truth

  • Individual plus the whole
  • Individual plus the themes
  • MM/Rep/Proving/nature plus the themes
  • East plus west thinking
  • Memorizing plus categorizing
  • Indian approach as well as western approach.

Have you seen chess played by grandmaster, and chess played by a beginner?

The grandmaster looks in every possible move before he plays a single move his mind runs a mental possibility of every possible move, he doesn’t play like a hasty beginner on mere spontaneity, his move is a well thought about game plan…this is where integrative approach comes into the picture. The integrative approach is the move of a chess grandmaster, looking at a remedy, here at a plant remedy, a family or a higher order from materia medica, repertory, proving old as well as new research, looking from chemistry, toxicology, from mythology, use in modern medicine, herbal medicine and history and nature, that way we have a complete understanding of a plant remedy, a family or a higher order, and chances of going wrong decreases.

Let me share with you a story about Stinging Nettle from mythology point of view and how it enhances the understanding about that particular remedy

Jetsun Milarepa, Tibetan Buddha


Was a Tibetan siddha, who famously was a murderer as a young man then turned to Buddhism to become an accomplished Buddha despite his past. When his father died, his family was deprived of their wealth by his aunt and uncle. At his mother's request, Milarepa left home and studied sorcery (black magic) to take revenge, killing many people.

Before Marpa would teach Milarepa, he had him undergo abuse and trials, such as for eight long year he did heavy ordinary painful work and suffered a lot and was not initiated by Marpa for 13 long years. Letting him build and then demolish three towers (60 feet towers) in turn. Milarepa was asked to build one final multi-story tower by Marpa at Lhodrag, which still stands. Eventually, Marpa accepted him, explaining that the trials were a means to purify Milarepa's negative karma.

After many years of practice it resulted in "a deep experiential realization about the true nature of reality." Thereafter he lived as a fully realized yogi, and eventually even forgave his aunt, who caused the misfortune of his family.

AFTER ENLIGHTMENT When Milarepa had finished his training with Marpa, he roamed the land in search of a suitable place for meditation. He meditated in White Rock Cave, where there was a stream with good water and a patch of stinging nettles. Earlier he would watch the stinging nettle , how it would grow, and all its effects, he would get irritated sometimes because of it. From the nettle Milarepa made cloth to cover his body and flour for inner nourishment. The same stinging nettle which was irritating, slowly as he became more and more aware the stinging nettle became his constant companion and the same source befriended him. Eventually his skin took on the color of nettle, and even the hairs on his head became bristly and green.

Awareness turns a foe into a friend

One story of him…Milarepa explains happiness in the story of nettles: “A small rigid cushion (made up of Nettle) beneath me: happiness”

Starving hunters — who had found their way to his cave. Looking at him they said: “Is this a man or a ghost? Judging by its looks and its garb, it is probably a ghost.” Milerapa opened his mouth and said, “I am most definitely a man.” “In that case we request some food for now, which we will not fail to repay later. “I have indeed,”  Milarepa replied. “But I have nothing agreeable for you to eat.” The hunters replied “We will take whatever you eat. That will be enough for us.” Milerapa said, “Very well then, build a fire and cook some nettles.”

When they had built a fire and cooked some nettles they said, “Now we need some meat or fat to season it.” Asked the hunter, Milarepa said, “If I had meat or fat my food would not have lacked nourishment, but I have not had any for years. For seasoning, use nettles.”

“In that case, we need some barley flour,” they said. Milarepa replied, “If I had flour my food would not have lacked substance, but I have not had any for years. For flour, too, use nettles.” The hunters said, “Well then,” they added, “we cannot do without salt.” Milarepa replied, “If I had salt my food would not have lacked flavor, but I have not had any for years. For salt, use nettles.”

They said, “Definitely, with your food and clothing, you will never improve your appearance or regain your strength. This is not becoming of a man. Even a servant has a full belly and warm clothes. There is no one in the world more miserable or pitiful than you.” “You shouldn’t say such things,” Milarepa replied.

I started with many things, many, many thing, many, many suffering with my guru Marpa I achieved that one thing which I need and I am staying with that and that thing is keeping me happy.

That one thing in awareness became his companion and friend for his higher purpose! And that was the stinging nettle!