Human Science

There is a wonderful moment in the 1935 film The Story of Louis Pasteur that I doubt hardly a critic would notice. It is an expression of the miraculous-like phenomenon of “life response” -- i.e. the spontaneous arrival of sudden good fortune. In particular, it is an example of how taking to calm and equality in the face of great difficulty can elicit powerful positive response from the world around us.

In the incident in the film, the famous scientist Louis Pasteur has been trying to discover a cure for hydrophobia -- i.e. rabies -- that ordinarily comes through a bite or contact from a rapid infected animal. It is Pasteur’s belief that if he gives a mild dose of the disease to an animal, it will build up a resistance to it when it actually does have the illness. This is the approach Pasteur develops to cure rabies and other infectious diseases. I.e. give the sick patient a mild form of the disease, and the body will spontaneously generate a resistance to it, which will push out the illness when it enters the system.

In this particular episode in the story, Pasteur believes he has a cure for hydrophobia/rabies, but many are skeptical. In fact, one key member of the scientific establishment, Dr. Charbonnet of the French Academy, is so sure that his cure is wrong that when in Pasteur’s lab he grabs a syringe filled with a dense concentration of the virus and injects it into his arm! Pasteur is mortified, as he believes that Charbonnet has sealed his own fate. Not only was it not intended in such concentrated doses, but it was meant only for sickly individuals.

As it turns out, Charbonnet not only survives the inoculation, but the next day seems perfectly fine! In fact, after 30 days he shows no signs of the disease. While Pasteur is baffled by this outcome, Charbonnet flaunts the fact by parading around the Parisian scientific community, as well as high society circles, proudly pointing out how healthy he is. At one point, he boasts that that the more he takes of the allegedly lethal serum, the healthier he feels! As a result of his public posturing, Pasteur’s image is greatly tarnished in both scientific circles and amongst the general public.

One day an associate friend of his rushes into Pasteur’s home to notify the great chemist that he has been made a mockery of throughout the country. Pasteur however does not react at all to this news. A moment later, however, his wife Marie has the thought that perhaps the dosage the doctor took was of an old batch, and therefore had no potency to affect him. Pasteur then rushes into his office to test out the hypothesis, which he then verifies to be true. A second later, it occurs to him that that he could give infected animals with the disease a low dosage of the serum and then gradually increases the dosage, thereby creating immunity without killing them. The idea has sprung into his mind like a revelation.

What does this story then teach us? From the point of view of life response – i.e. the onset of sudden good fortune due to changes in our consciousness -- it is rather straightforward. Because Pasteur did not respond emotionally to word of his public humiliation, his wife Marie came forward and made her statement about the old serum, which set in motion events that led one of medicine’s greatest discoveries. It is an illustration of how inner calm and equality in the face of negative circumstance attracts powerful positive conditions from the world around us.

If we think about it, we will see that being calm and equal is more than an inner psychological technique, but a spiritual one as well, reflecting the universal spiritual principles of Peace and Silence. Other principles, like Love, Oneness, Truth, and Goodness have their psychological equivalents as well, such as self-givingness, willingness to embrace the other person’s point of view, generosity, gratitude, and others. Each time we take to any of these, we release powerful positive energies that tend to attract life response results.

Practically then we can do the following: when difficulties descend on us, we can try to move to a state of stillness and calm. By doing so, the difficulties will tend to subside on their own, and additional positive circumstance are likely to take their place. Such unexpected life response developments can be very powerful, as they were for Mr. Pasteur, who by not reacting emotionally to disheartening news attracted positive circumstances that changed his life and the world.

--Roy Posner 19:39, 20 August 2008 (UTC)

See also other Case Studies on Life Response

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