Table Speech


Joy, Creation and Life after Death

September 12, 2018

Ph.D. Ryoichi Obitsu
President Emeritus, Obitsu Sankei Hospital


 I started my medical career as a surgeon specializing in the operation of esophagus cancer. Having realized that cancer is not simply a physical ailment but closely related to the patient’s mental condition and life itself, I shifted to Holistic Medicine 36 years ago.

 Holistic Medicine started in the West Coast of the USA from reflections on the Western medicine which had fallen into reductionism. It aims to heal a person taking into account his/her body, mind, spirit and emotions — in the quest for optimal health and wellness.

 As we haven’t established a definite methodology yet, we are trying to apply Western medicine to the body, psychotherapy to the mind as well as provide various alternative therapies such as Chinese or Indian medicine, homeopathy and osteopathy to ensure a fulfilling life. Rather than simply focusing on specific stage of illness, we integrate therapy and recuperation to address the needs of all stages of life, even life after death. So far recuperation took a defensive approach, trying to take good care of oneself and live out one’s natural life span. I am now advocating for a more offensive recuperation that is to gain energy from our daily life, to accelerate the amount of energy towards our last moment and to thrust ourselves into the world after death with an impetus propelled by that energy.

 A renowned French philosopher, Henri Bergson advocated for “Elan Vital (vital impetus)” which promotes this offensive recuperation. He opposed Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution and developed an anti-Darwinian theory, saying that evolution could not be explained by the law of survival of the fittest or natural selection alone. An intrinsic vital impetus spurs creative evolution and we are enveloped in Creative Joy. After working in cancer therapy over 50 years, I realized that this feeling of Joy is important for enhancing immunity or self-healing.

 As a medical practitioner, I am obliged to undergo health checkups myself. The result is terrible, “wounded all over”: I admit I suffer from hepatic failure caused by alcohol and the level of γ-GTP is as high as 270~280 (normal level is 40), being the worst among 150 staff of my hospital for the past 20 years. The girth of my abdomen is over 1 meter, cholesterol and neutral fat are both quite high. Nevertheless, I drink sake every evening which makes my life worth living, and my daily routine is based upon it.

 About 10 years ago I had an interview with Mr. Hiroyuki Itsuki, a well-known writer, who said to me, “Everyone is making a fuss about metabolic syndrome. What is it really?” My response was “Don’t be bothered with such rubbish!” But I also try to make small efforts to keep healthy. I recall how a renowned immunologist, Professor Tomio Tada collapsed while he was giving a lecture due to cerebral infarction and became physically incapacitated. He could not drink his favorite sake any more except licking a very small amount in the form of sherbet. At that time, I decided to be more careful and started to take a supplement made from nattokinase, enzyme protein, so that I could keep drinking and feel Joy every day.

 The ultimate goal of Holistic Medicine is the unification of life and death. We, medical practitioners, support patients. There are various therapies, so I formulate the best strategy that addresses the needs of each patient after consulting with him/her. Then I encourage every patient to feel joy and exhilarated from the bottom of his/her heart.

 Cancer patients are all seized with a fear of death. If we are able to relieve their fear, their immune strength and natural healing power will increase. I believe half of our duty is to mitigate their fear. My drinking buddy and poet, Mr. Shinmon Aoki told me once that one who could heal patients shuddering with fear of death had to be a step closer to death than them. I then realized that working in a hospital where cancer patients frequently pass away, I could be closer to death myself if I live everyday thinking it will be my last day.

 Every evening at the staff canteen I drink my last sake for my Last Supper. The female Director of Nutrition Department prepares my favorite snacks, and I start my Last Supper at half past six all by myself. I finish my work by then, because I get up at half past two every morning and arrive at the hospital at half past three and start working immediately. While I am drinking, 2 or 3 nurses who finished their work gather around me and we drink together. This is my way of recuperation, as I believe it is a good habit to prevent cancer and dementia. Incidentally, I can prevent both cancer and dementia by the same practice. Communication is important, and what is more important is to communicate with the opposite sex. If we feel passionate by talking to them, shaking hands with them, and if you are allowed to hug them, what else can you ask for!