Recently, the documentary “Grizzly Man” made it to the top of my movie rental queue (which usually is over 80 flicks long) and into my DVD player. Having read a few reviews beforehand, I was expecting a very different type of film – and I wasn’t expecting it to be such a vivid example of what might be called ‘homeopathic living material medica’. For those of you who haven’t had the opportunity to watch it, “Grizzly Man” chronicles the exploits of Timothy Treadwell who spent parts of 13 years in the Alaskan wilderness communing with grizzly bears. Much of the footage was shot by Treadwell himself featuring numerous encounters he had with a variety of bears (all of whom he had named and with whom he had seemingly developed individualized relationships), along with several solo scenes where he sermonizes on various aspects of his life with the bears and the need to protect them.
Werner Herzog, the German director renowned for his death defying filmmaking adventures, has found a perfect subject for himself: someone whose taste for living on the edge matched his own. He intersperses Treadwell’s videos with his own footage, mostly interviews with Treadwell, people who knew him or various experts who comment on his grizzly exploits.
What is most remarkable is that the man Timothy Treadwell is not at all what one might expect. With the looks of a California surfer and a slightly effeminate and loquacious manner, he is definitely not a classic adventurer or mountain man, not a grizzled reticent recluse living a simple existence close to the land. Nor is he a stereotypical tree-hugging environmentalist dedicated to the cause, an academic immersed in field research or even a backwoods spiritualist seeking to be one with nature. This man appears less a hero and more a fool, a tragic fool.
Or, is he? Treadwell simply is obsessed with grizzly bears. His obsession is founded on an identification with them. Although he certainly admires them and wishes to protect them from the dangers of encroaching civilization, those endeavors are secondary to what really drives him: to be one with the bears, or, even more precisely, to be a bear. Homeopathically speaking, it is clear that he IS one – that is his inner nature. Somewhere residing in his deepest being is this quality of ‘bearness’ presiding over his life.
Now, this might sound like so much new age hokum, but in reality it is a clinically verifiable fact. Time after time I have witnessed in consultation with patients this inner nature – what homeopaths call ‘the source’ – manifest itself. More importantly, this is not an idle philosophical pursuit. I have witnessed homeopathic preparations of made from a person’s source material acting curatively for any number of symptoms and conditions, be they physical, mental or emotional.
All of us have a source. It may be something sexy like an exotic animal or mundane like an obscure mineral, but very very few of us are consciously aware of it. The source is something we live, not think.
What was remarkable about Treadwell was the extent to which he lived his source. In most cases, people have either a powerful attraction or aversion to their source material. That is, the little boy in need of a spider venom spontaneously draws big black tarantulas when I give him crayons and paper during a consultation; a woman in need of snake venom has horrifying dreams of them crawling in her bed; a person who benefited immensely from a homeopathic preparation of diamond has a tremendous fascination with crystals; a young woman who was helped by a remedy made from a type of fungus has a strong craving for mushrooms. This phenomenon is commonly witnessed in homeopathic practice.
It is important to note that strong interest or distaste in something does not necessarily mean this is the source for a particular person. Someone who is fascinated by or dreams of, say, eagles will not necessarily benefit from a remedy made from a drop of eagle’s blood. In fact, being misled by these correspondences is a very common mistake that homeopaths themselves make. To identify a person’s remedy, that is their source, it is essential to understand that the person not only wants or hates or dreams about a particular thing, but that on some level he or she experiences the world as that thing.
Once one perceives the source in individuals, their motivations and fears, the way they live their lives and the way they relate to others around them, and even the types of illness they have begins to all make sense. This is the inner logic of their existence.
Treadwell was exceptional because in the end he was not content to just be proximal to grizzly bears, to witness or document them. He constantly pushed the boundaries separating man and bear. A bear trapped in human form, yearning to be recognized for what he truly was had a compulsion to establish an intimacy with and gain an acceptance by them that transcended the divide between two very different species of mammals.
The tragedy was that this was not possible except by one course of action. While his discourses could spiral off into nearly incoherent rants, danger was the one consistent theme that he came back to over and over again. He appeared to revel in the peril that he was placing himself in by getting ever closer to these animals. On some level, he must have known what was to come.
There was a scene in which Treadwell finds a huge mound of bear feces. He experiences a thrill that goes beyond discovery and curiosity. Appearing nearly ecstatic, he exclaims, “Just think, this came from inside the bear!” It is as close as he can come to them – at least until he pushes the limits one step too far and becomes bear feces himself. And with that final sacrifice, he at last becomes one with the bears.