Author of Spirituality 103, Ivan Figueroa-Otero, M.D. shares with our readers his thoughts on his newest title.
What’s your latest book, Spirituality 103: The Forgiveness Code, about?
Spirituality 103 takes the spiritual curriculum of the School of Life trilogy to a higher level by unraveling the emotional maze that traps us in the self-made prisons built by guilt. The book guides you through an imaginary battle fought in the deepest recesses of our minds, where the enemies, which are the shadows of our ignorance, are defeated by the guilt-busting light of forgiveness.
How is this book connected to your previous books?
This book continues the spiritual learning experience of life as a universal classroom, where students from all grade levels can teach each other in an infinite hierarchy of love. Here, the lessons of love learned from our mistakes are shared compassionately with the less experienced students who follow us.
You say the healing code for our emotional scars is forgiveness. How so?
In the allegorical view of our spiritual journey as a war scenario between wisdom (warrior of the light) and ignorance (the warrior of the shadows), the wounds create scars left by the emotionally sharpened sabers contaminated with the bacteria of guilt. Forgiveness is the only antibiotic that can facilitate the healing of those imaginary wounds. Understanding that the injuries were self-inflicted comes from the hidden wisdom stored in our DNA, liberated by the lessons of love (medals) acquired for our bravery under emotional bombardment.
Living in Puerto Rico and seeing the devastation of the hurricane, as well as the economic duress that existed before it, how do you find your message helps to heal those in need?
This has been a golden opportunity to apply all the lessons of my school of life in my own life and to see how learning from our mistakes of the past helps us to reconstruct our lives and our country in solidarity.
As a pediatric surgeon for many years you often operated under a lot of stress. What advice do you have for people to relax under pressure?
Practice makes perfect when you focus on your given talents. You shouldn’t only do your best, but also feel good about doing it. Feel respect and solidarity for the life’s purpose you share with others and do the best you can without expecting perfection in the results. Stress can be a motivating force to respect the importance and responsibility of your role and can extend your capabilities at doing it. Always feel connected to your common source of wisdom and think like a musketeer, “One for all and all for one.”
You were also schooled in traditional Chinese medicine and became certified in medical acupuncture. How have you seen healing take place by employing a mind-body-spirit connection?
Modern medicine trained me to oversee the healing process of the patient and also get most of the credit for it. It also guided me to eradicate symptoms as rapidly as possible even if I didn’t know the cause. The dark side of this system is that if I failed I would also carry the burden of the result. In contrast, traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture and other holistic fields of medicine focus on looking for the root cause of diseases and empowering the patient to correct the lifestyle errors that promoted them. The healing is primordially done by the patient under guidance by the therapist.
Natural Awakening Magazine named you Holistic Physician of the Year in 2011. Would Americans be better served if a holistic approach was taken towards their health care?
Yes, since its preventive focus would diminish the incidence of disease, medical costs, and increase the quality of life and not just prolong it.
In your book you refer to one’s spiritual DNA. What is that?
Biological DNA, or genome, is just a recorded archive of the evolutionary changes that allow our organism to adapt to the survival of our species continually. This genome is the historic recording of the part of our universe composed of particles of matter. Spiritual DNA is the recorded history of the universe composed of particles of antimatter that originate matter. So, we can infer that spiritual DNA is the source of the biological DNA.
Why do you believe it should be an immediate priority for us to incorporate meditation techniques into preventative and therapeutic medicine?
Open and uncorrupted communication between all the parts of the universal hologram will maintain the coherent interdependence needed for the wellness of the whole. The main interferences occur by the subjective views of individuals within our time-space conundrum in the universe of matter and the inability to communicate between the matter and antimatter components of the universe. Communication skills in the world of matter are proportional to the skills used in communicating with our antimatter universe. Within the realm of matter, talking is emphasized. In the antimatter one, the stress is on listening. Meditation opens the listening skill to hear the wisdom of our inner antimatter universe.
You talk about how individuals need to undergo a self-transformation that will guide our “magic-mirror” through our “multidimensional voyages”. Please explain.
In Spirituality 103, The Forgiveness Code, I compared our minds to a magical mirror where our universal experience will be reflected based on the purity of our vision. We are created from the reflection of the primordial magical mirror, which in its nature was pure, and as such we should be able to reproduce its clarity without distortions. During the multidimensional voyages traveled with our minds (mirrors) the subjective traveling experiences will be distorted by the emotional interpretations of the voyagers. These distortions are what we must transform by remembering the original pure creative reflection of our primordial magical mirror. “In the Magical Mirror of your mind, the clarity of your vision (self-esteem) will depend on the purity of your vision”.
Dr. Figueroa-Otero, you write that there’s a connection between faith, the placebo effect and healing. How does one activate faith in a therapeutic role?
In science, the placebo effect is one that creates a therapeutic result on clinical symptoms that proven medicinal or physiological effects of the substance or therapy applied (placebo) cannot explain. These are then attributed to the patient’s subjective beliefs. Although science accepts that our organism has a potential of recovery, it has not studied with interest the reasons for this occurrence. One of the biases of modern medicine is maintaining that the benefits of any physical, touch, or manipulative therapies, such as acupuncture, are all placebos or fictitious. I feel that if we learn to promote the belief that each organism has different degrees of self-healing powers within any therapy, we are activating the “faith” principle mentioned in all religious books. The faith principle is not automatically elicited in every case or disease since the intentions of the healer and the patient should be in tandem during the process. This suggests there is previous worthiness that will facilitate the healing of some and not of others. (You will have to wait for my future books to understand this more clearly).
How can we understand the love lessons hidden within every experience of suffering?
I am a firm believer in the law of cause and effect, which is in accord to Newton’s third law of physics, which says, “When one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction on the first body”. I differ with the traditional view of the law that maintains all effects of negative actions result in karma or punishment to the person doing it. The main purpose of the law, which I renamed the law of love, is to teach the individual who perpetrates the inappropriate action to learn from the consequences of his action on others, so that he or she can rectify it on future actions. The purpose of the law has always been a lesson of love that creates awareness and empathy. The good or bad results of any action will depend on the intention behind it. Intentions that consider the results of the effects on the majority of those that share our journey are said to be inclusive and unselfish, and those that only consider the impact on some of the voyagers are exclusive and selfish since they please only a few of the participants.
You also say that we must learn to find our universal purpose without a co-dependent relationship to either religion, money, politics, education or medicine. What do you mean by this?
The path of finding our universal purpose is very individual since it is an inner journey back to our source. Other methods such as religion, education, and money can only assist or facilitate the process but can never be the primary method to achieve it. As I mentioned before, any co-dependent relationship is toxic and doesn’t allow any of the parts to reach its maximum potential. There will be times in the process of awakening our spiritual awareness where we will need some religious support while we learn to understand that we have all the tools to find our inner path to return home. Remember, “All roads lead to heaven but not at the same time”.
Why do you believe the power of forgiveness to eliminate guilt is the most important pathogen therapy to eliminate disease in our bodies?
Forgiveness is the ideal guilt-buster technique since guilt is the result of misunderstanding the suffering experience as the punitive action of a judgmental God. Instead, forgiveness allows us to see suffering as an impersonal opportunity to rectify the experience by bringing awareness and compassion, resulting in lessons of love. Guilt is a silent weapon of subconscious mass destruction, channeled through the autonomic nervous system that involuntarily influences all the functions of our organs and systems. This harmful emotional effects can epigenetically activate negative mutations in our gene pool that could include familial cancer risk.
You have found success as an author past age 70, including having an Amazon best-seller. You have reinvented your life from pediatric surgeon to inspiring author. What advice do you have for others who want to change their careers?
Learn to look into your magic mirror. Listen to the yearning calls of your own heart that urge you to claim some unfinished homework from your school of life curriculum. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do your homework at your age. Don’t be afraid to fail, since there is always a learning experience during that process that will make you feel wiser and more joyful. Don’t forget we play the game of life to have fun and not just to win!
How can humanity come out of the darkness and into the light?
One individual at a time, with patience, compassion, and understanding that all the darkness we have created in our lives was the lack of awareness of the intention of our actions upon others that share our voyage. In the process of learning by trial and error based on the framework of free will, the only way we become wiser is by learning from our mistakes, which eventually we come to understand as lessons of love. We must realize that the learning experience guided by the law of love adjusts to the individual capabilities of the voyagers. “Don’t bring your shadows to the warriors of the shadows. Return with your light so they can find their own”.
How do we maintain a crucial balance between the experience of life and its periodic examination, as we seek to enjoy better health of mind?
Look at yourself in the magical mirror of your mind and observe the purity of your reflection and the joyfulness of living your daily experience. Do you have a lot of loose ends left to tie, or are you living someone else’s dreams or goals? Do you have toxic co-dependent relations with family, work, and friends? Are you carrying emotional anchors from the experiences of your failures and mistakes that impede your sailing to treasured destinations? Do you have a toxic lifestyle that hinders the actions of the body to respond to the needs of the mind and spirit? If you said yes to any of these, you must very patiently but persistently make your moves to correct them.
Are the only barriers between people within one’s self-limiting beliefs and false perceptions of others?
They are not the only ones but are the ones we can control and correct. Learning to focus in our limitations and prejudices (shadows) and not those of others, allows us to use the forgiveness code to heal the distorted images of my mirror and learn to recognize the beautiful hidden images initially endowed to me. If we start to realize the light within our shadows, we will not respond to the shadows others reflect upon our mirrors, and will always forgive this action like the biblical phrase says, “Forgive them, for they do not know what they do”.
As a medical professional and a Buddhist, you believe our best way to approach life is with love, compassion, and forgiveness. But what happens when people feel unloved or are so angry they can’t forgive?
The unloved ones, which I define in my first book, as those that were never given love to recognize the experience and be able to love others. They base their existence on selfishness, and they build their lives based on excluding most beings from their relations and including only some that respond to their selfish needs. These are the ones that live in exclusive, isolated worlds of loneliness instead of learning to live in the inclusive worlds of happiness where all beings want to be. These people can heal with love and patience from others who were able to escape from their exclusive infernal prisons.
How do we get people to question – and dismiss – their limited beliefs?
It’s not our responsibility to attempt this since we could be wrong in our interpretation. We can only offer a testimonial of hope like a beacon of light that will help them steer away from the rocky shores of suffering. For many, the repeated experiences of pain can initiate a process of self-reckoning and personal search for the light.
“What he has done is create a series of ideas to help people get in touch with themselves, decide what is of value and move towards that. It is a complete and modern spiritual path for those who are not attracted to a more traditional approach.”
–Jhampa Shaneman, Author of Buddhist Astrology
“Dr. Ivan Figueroa-Otero writes of a journey of love, compassion, and forgiveness we must all take as we truly embrace our inner Warrior of Light. It is easy to identify the ‘enemies’ out there, but real change will not show up […] until we transform the ‘enemy’ we have created within, and often over the course of a lifetime. This is the power of forgiveness and reprogramming that Dr. Ivan Figueroa-Otero so eloquently introduces us to in Spirituality 103. […] As we approach our inner battle with love, compassion, and forgiveness, we begin to approach others [that way], knowing they are facing their inner battles and lessons that we may or may not have already learned ourselves.”
–Missy Crutchfield and Melissa Turner Founding Editors, Gandhi’s Be Magazine
“The author courageously shares his spiritual awakening and like any good doctor gives us a prescription to win our internal battles.”
–Anita Paniagua, Entrepreneurship developer
“This book and the two previous ones show that he [Dr. Ivan Figueroa-Otero] is one of those rare intellectuals who, just by studying humanity, almost covers all types of knowledge, from the corpus Universalis to an understanding of the human spirit. Spirituality 103 reflects a hybrid vision of occidental scientific knowledge and oriental arts and wisdom.”
–Dr. Eduardo Santiago-Delpin Transplant Surgeon and Immunologist, Distinguished Professor, University of Puerto Rico
“The author transports us to the infinite world within ourselves and takes us on a trip through the need of self-forgiveness to understand the need to forgive others, and the implications of that action on our mental, physical, and spiritual health.”
–Dr. Norman González Chacóon Natural Medicine Doctor, Father of the Natural Medicine movement in Puerto Rico
“This book by Dr. Ivan Figueroa-Otero doesn’t only reflect his own life’s transition but contains an efficient formula to reach the most pristine and full integration of humans with complete and long-lasting happiness. It highlights an elaborate and elegant synthesis between different fields of knowledge such as psychology, psychiatry, genetics, spirituality, and philosophy. The book offers us methods and logical strategies to maximize our capacity for introspection, teaching us to maintain a crucial balance between the experience of life and its periodic examination, which in turn leads us to enjoy better health of mind. It frees us from ancient paradigms and conceptual limitations that cause anguish, and that so often push us to the emptiness of our alienation.”
–Victor Lladó, MD Doctor in Psychiatry
“Dr. Ivan’s book does a fantastic job of helping mankind to expand consciousness and come out of the darkness into the light, where one sees that the only barriers between man and his fellow soul-travelers and inner-peace are within one’s self-limiting beliefs and false perceptions of others! He conveys this premise using universal spiritual laws and their application to human’s most pressing questions of “being.” The book is beautifully written and vividly expressed! And his profound answers serve not only the individual but also the collective.”
–Amelia Kemp, Ph.D. LMHC Psychotherapist
“Books are about people. They can embody many different aspects of human activity – intellectual, literary, spiritual, ideological, artistic, historical, political and economic. They are portals into past lives, facilitating that vital organic communion between past, present and future. Whenever one such witness survives the ravages of time and the vagaries of fortune it presents a valuable testament.”
–Michelle P. Brown, Curator of Illuminated Manuscripts, British Library Author, The Lindisfarne Gospels
Chelsey McQuitty AMAZON REVIEW
“I have always had a hard time with forgiveness, which has made me a little bitter. I’m not afraid to admit it, but it is something I have always wanted to change. That is why I picked up this book. As someone who holds onto things, this book was very appealing to me from the beginning. It made me realize how much damage I am doing to myself by not forgiving others. It also showed me that forgiveness is more of an action to do for yourself and not for those who have harmed you. As I read the book, I began to find my own little ways to let go of things and I have never felt lighter. I feel as if this book has so much value. Topics like this should be taught in schools because it leads to such a better existence for all. The writing in this book is also very easy to follow, so you won’t find yourself having to stop often to figure out what the author is trying to say.”
Aisha-Kimberly Hashmion AMAZON REVIEW
“My mother had a breakdown after my sister and niece were kidnapped in 1992. 21 and a half years later, their bodies substantially were found, in 2013, and to avoid succumbing to the same fate, I have reason to avoid harboring feelings of hatred towards the murderers My mother is a deeply religious Christian, and I purchased this book to strengthen our connection while we still continue to battle our grief of our loved ones and hatred over the horrific manner in which they were killed. Healing comes when you truly dig deep down into yourself, forgive the trespasses done to us, and just hand it all to God. No matter your religion, as I am a devout Muslim, you can still put this book to use. You will gain important insight and helpful ways to manage your anger, hurt, grief, frustrations, etc. Homework assignments at the end of each chapter are a wonderful addition to the book, I found this enhanced the experience. I admire this Doctor and his work, it really is so spot on and I recommend this to anyone who is in need of forgiving themselves, or a victim of a crime, like myself and my family members. We all need to forgive, and we can always start with ourselves.”
Lucy Diamondon AMAZON REVIEW
“Let me be honest, after 10 years of interviewing authors and reviewing books I have never read every word of them. This one I read twice. If you remember from Bible class a story about the Arc Angel Michael fighting with Satan over the soul of Moses and wonder “What is the meaning of life and death” then this book is for you. If you have a perfect life of joy and abundance or are struggling to get out of bed is no matter. This book is the kite string that will allow the soul to soar. Get this book for yourself and share it with as many suffering souls as you can. All I can say with confidence is “Thank you, Dr Ivan.” You will have to read it for yourself to see why.”
For more information, please consult www.ifigueroa.allauthor.com.