Last Wednesday, my friend & fellow Ayurveda practitioner and I went out to Huntington's Cinema Arts Centre for a screening of “The Doctor from India," which was followed by a Q&A with director Jeremy Frindel.
After an hour and a half of profound spirituality and science, I was in another world. So, here is my second attempt to thank Jeremy Frindel and team, and explain why this movie was so meaningful to me.
My life has been punctuated by a handful of documentaries that had a deep impact on me and altered the course of my career. Seeing “An Inconvenient Truth” in my senior year of high school transformed me from a listless undecided major to an enthusiastic environmental studies student. “Food Inc” showed compelling stories and visualizations of the faults of our modern-day food system. “Koyaanisqatsi” demonstrated just how distorted our culture’s priorities have become in the modern day. And now, “The Doctor from India” joins that list as the film that reminded me of the most essential tool for healing: a spirit of service.
Beginning the film with Dr. Lad opening the doors of his inconspicuous clinic in India perfectly sets the tone for this man’s work and life without saying a word. The science and technical details of Ayurveda are complex and require an intimate understanding of anatomy, physiology, and Vedic philosophy. However, the spirit of service required to be a healer like Dr. Lad cannot be taught in a classroom; that lesson has to be set by the teacher’s example.
Throughout the film, Dr. Lad describes himself as merely the instrument of healing, not the healer himself (“God is the healer. I provide the therapies.”) He instructs his students to “see God, Christ, Buddha in every one of your patients.” He emphasizes the importance of humility as a practitioner, and comments that he still considers himself a student, constantly learning from patients, colleagues, and students.
Whatever our occupation, we could all aspire to incorporate more service and humility into our life’s work. An attitude of selfless service (seva) reminds us to not just focus on the day-to-day practicalities and to-do lists of our lives, but to also consider how our work and the way that we carry ourselves affects the world around us, even beyond our immediate interactions. And no matter how studious or experienced we are in our field or industry, humility reminds us that nobody has all the answers. True wisdom comes from actively listening and learning from each other.
During the Q&A after the screening, someone asked Jeremy what his takeaways were about Ayurveda after spending three years filming Dr. Lad. As part of his response, he commented: “When he’s talking about Ayurveda, woosh! The information just went right over my head. But when he talks about love, my hair stands up.” What a great way to summarize the feeling of watching this film. Whatever our prakriti or vrikriti or occupation or lifestyle, a life well-lived is one filled with service, humility, and love. Thank you for creating this profile of Dr. Lad and the community he’s built - it’s a beautiful story of a man's dedication to making the world a more peaceful and balanced place, one patient at a time.