“As a physician concerned with the future of the art of healing, Philip Incao envisions a medical science that reckons with the reality of karma and reincarnation. From such a perspective, illness is not only an invasion to be feared and fought, but something to be researched and understood as an expression of the deeper laws of human destiny and of human life. Once understood in this light, the physician becomes a guide and helper on the individual’s path of self-knowledge and self-realization. The doctor’s knowledge of the human organism and of the laws of nature and of human destiny serve to help the sick, the handicapped, and the infirm, to meet the challenge and to transform it into a truly human healing. It was with such thoughts in mind that Dr. Incao wrote:
‘We are in the midst of a gradual but enormous change in human consciousness of a mighty paradigm shift comparable to the scientific evolution brought to birth by Copernicus, Galileo and Newton in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. I believe that Steiner perceived the change from a matter based to a spirit based science of medicine to be crucial to the broader paradigm shift now occurring in human consciousness.
Perhaps the most grievous sin of today’s matter based (materialistic) medicine is its denial of any meaning, purpose or validity to the human experience of illness. This denial is countered by a growing and spreading awareness among individuals today of the reality of karma and of repeated lives on earth. Such awareness is a healthy sign, a sign of progress in human consciousness without which illness, suffering and death cannot be seen truly and understood by human beings.’
In this connection, Dr. Incao quotes Rudolf Steiner:
‘Just as an age was once ready to receive the Copernican theory of the universe, so is our age ready for the ideas of reincarnation and karma to be brought into the general consciousness of humanity. And what is destined to happen in the course of evolution will happen, no matter what powers rise up against it. When reincarnation and karma are truly understood, everything else follows of itself in the light of these truths.’”
Wednesday we traveled north from Arizona to meet Dr. Philip Incao in Crestone, Colorado. We had put forth an interest in considering geographic medicine, and Robin Mitchell suggested Dr. Incao was the man to see. It was a long and beautiful drive into the rural community where Dr. Incao lives with his wife, Jennifer Thomson, an anthroposhical artist.
The couple moved to the area seven years ago. While there is no anthroposophical community there, they have started study groups for interested participants. There is a history of spiritual striving in the community. Some years ago, a woman offered to donate land to any group who was taking up a spiritual pursuit. Today, there are several Buddhist centers in the vicinity along with other open-minded communities.
Dr. Incao was the first anthroposophical doctor in Hawthorne Valley, serving the community there for 23 years before moving to Denver and finally Crestone. Along with Dr. Michaela Glöckler, Dr. Incao formed an International Postgraduate Medical Training. It started with around 70 participants and was open to everyone who wanted to attend. There was strong participation from younger physicians in particular.
Dr. Incao has been inspired by Rudolf Steiner’s Community Building lectures. Of working in groups, he said that we need to be really welcoming of newcomers, no matter how ignorant, naive, or gauche they may seem. Dr. Incao described having learned so much about social skills through his work in the Camphill Community Copake. In working with others, what is so important, he said, is our quality of listening. Can we take in what the other says without being so eager to respond? Can we restrain our own opinion? Rudolf Steiner offered the insight that “Love is higher than opinion. If people love one another, the most varied opinions can be reconciled.” When we develop the quality of listening and patience in the way that Dr. Incao experienced in Camphill, something descends and there is the feeling that an angel comes down amongst us.
When trying to build something with other people, Dr. Incao has found Rudolf Steiner’s Verse for America to be quite significant, as it works at connecting at the heart level:
May our feeling penetrate
Into the center of our hearts
And seek, in love, to unite itself
With the human beings seeking the same goal.
With the spirit beings, who, bearing grace,
Strengthening us from realms of light,
And illuminating our love,
Are gazing down upon
Our earnest, heartfelt striving.
Dr. Incao had worked on Rudolf Steiner and Ita Wegman’s Fundamentals of Therapy with Dr. Glöckler, but he noticed there was nothing in the book about the double. He sought to bring insight forward from Geographic Medicine, in which we learn that the cause of all illness is the human double itself. If we are to work toward healing with this understanding, Dr. Incao said that doctors had better know their own double.
Since 2008, Dr. Incao has led a retreat for doctors in which he has worked to create a healthy collaborative atmosphere. There is no sniping and no showing off. The format does not include lectures. While Dr. Incao is responsible for selecting study materials, the participants work together as peers. So far, everyone has come back every year. Most important, he says once again, is connecting at the heart level.
Over the years, Dr. Incao has witnessed a gradual diminishing of status seeking and jealousy in the movement. Ahriman tries to muddy the waters as much as he can, but he cannot stop people being born who are connected to the spirit, people who are heart-centered. Our salvation lies in this heart force.
Reflecting on our work as a movement in this time, Dr. Incao shared that the Consciousness Soul is going to make us more antisocial. That is in the nature of things. As the individual becomes stronger, there is a need to consciously reach out to others. In America in particular, the double is stronger. This must be met with the strength of our heart forces. This ‘heart force’ is the resounding theme in our conversation with this most beautiful gentleman and his lovely wife.
A model of such strength of heart is Henry Barnes, with whom Dr. Incao worked. Barnes had highly developed social skills, with a tremendous capacity for listening. The America Verse included above, is a true reflection of his being. This connection was fabulous to hear, as we have felt particularly connected to Henry Barnes in our work recently.
When we discussed the split that occurred in the Society in 1935, Dr. Incao shared that Ita Wegman had a large enough soul to overcome the events of the time, but that most of her followers did not. The tragic divisions that came between the members offer us a cautionary tale. If people had really worked together at that time, the future course of events could have been very different. It is so important that we can transcend divisions. Every anthroposophist should have the will to heal. We need to see people more deeply. As we get to know them, we must overcome our own antipathies. When we wake up to the encounter with another, we come to know the other’s spirit.
The Anthroposophical Society can be harmed, Dr. Incao offered, but the anthroposophical movement cannot. Even if anthroposophy were destroyed, it would rise up again. One’s own path of development is essential in our efforts to bear forth the fruits of anthroposophy. Dr. Incao reminded us of the adage: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Some of the deepest things can’t be expressed verbally. The theoretical should be lifted to the level of the moral. He supports less talking and more doing. All the while, one must watch himself like a hawk. Most people are very forgiving, but we must exercise personal responsibility. A consideration is that one adopt the gesture of being Luciferic toward the world and Ahrimanic towards oneself. The active balance between is the Christ activity.
During our visit, it was clear that both Dr Incao and his wife, Jennifer Thomson, have a great love for their work. She is inspired by Goethe and Steiner’s insights on color. She came into anthroposophy at age 26 and lived in Dornach for four years. A guiding text for her was Knowledge of Higher Worlds. About art, she appreciates that you can’t grab hold of it. You have it and lose it, have it and lose it. She connects to the community through hosting an Artists of Crestone gathering, including people working in all forms. She has also joined a storytelling group. This mood of openness and acceptance permeated the atmosphere in the couple’s Crestone home. Sitting in the art studio, the mood was broken only by the sound of a gunshot in the distance. “A bear,” Jennifer said. A bear had passed through the garden just a couple of days before.
These days, Dr. Incao has more time to take up study than in the past. He loves to discuss anthroposophy, which was clear in his willingness to meet with us late into the evening. Any question or idea we brought forward, he would consider carefully and respond with depth and honesty. Leaning into the encounter, he kept us challenged. From our Crestone conversations, we feel encouraged onwards in our striving to penetrate into the depths of anthroposophy, and we feel honored to have spent an evening with such a marvelous couple.
As a fruit of our conversation, we’d like to offer Rudolf Steiner’s Faithfulness Verse:
“Create for yourself a new, indomitable perception of faithfulness. What is usually called faithfulness passes so quickly. Let this be your faithfulness: You will experience moments, fleeting moments, with the other person. The human being will appear to you then as if filled, irradiated with the archetype of his spirit. And then there may be, indeed will be, other moments, long periods of time, when human beings are darkened. But you will learn to say to yourself at such times: ‘The Spirit makes me strong. I remember the archetype. I saw it once. No illusion, no deception shall rob me of it.’ Always struggle for the image that you saw. This struggle is called faithfulness. Striving for faithfulness, we shall be close to one another, as if endowed with the protective powers of angels.”