According to The World Health Report 2000 – Health systems: Improving Performance published by the World Health Organization, the U.S. health system spends a higher portion of its gross domestic product than any other country but ranks 37th in performance out of 191 countries. In 2006, the United States was number 1 in terms of health care spending per capita but ranked 39th for infant mortality, 43rd for adult female mortality, 42nd for adult male mortality, and 36th for life expectancy [WHO Statistical Information System, Geneva: World Health Organization, Sept 2009].

The U.S. health care system is deeply troubled. While the discourse for so many years has been dominated by economic considerations, this is only the surface of a deeper problem.

The practice of medicine is meant to alleviate the suffering of people, not to take advantage of them in their time of vulnerability, or to promote any other limited agenda. Certainly, the very practice of medicine leads to discoveries, expansion of knowledge, refinement of techniques, and monetary gain. Nevertheless, these secondary concerns should never supersede the well-being of patients.

The knowledge of healing and medicine is a sacred trust. This knowledge should be entrusted to those whose motivations are selfless. Furthermore, the principles that shape the study and practice of medicine should account for the holistic reality of the human being, who is a BodyMindSoul and not merely an assemblage of parts. You might already appreciate the transformative impact that sincere adherence to these two principles would have. Motivations shape outcomes. If medical research and practice is driven by the craving for personal gain, then patients are handled as a means to this end. Furthermore, limited motivations narrow one’s vision. A health practitioner’s ability to see into the depths of another human being is directly related to the practitioner’s spiritual development. It is no accident that the practice of medicine has become mechanistic, leaving patients feeling as if they have been “handled” rather than healed. It is time to re-awaken the healer within all of us, including physicians. However, the system which silences the soul in the first place itself needs rehabilitation.