Video Transcript


OK. My name is Kalpana Betancur. Oh, my married name is Betancur, but was born Kalpana Magnetic was born in Pune, India, and I grew up in several different small towns and big cities in India. And I would say my first spiritual teacher, if you will, was my father. And it was not formal going to temples of the Hindus by birth, and my mother had had a traumatic episode of losing my oldest sister when I was three years old, and it was traumatic for the whole family. A three year old doesn’t understand. What happened? And my mother was so sort of angry at God, if you will. So she had said, Well, I’m not going to go to any temples unless so unless I get. Get what I want. That was her attitude.

My father was processing that grief in a very different way. But what happened was about a year later. So when I was a four and a half, my younger brother was born and that was my mother’s like, yes, her prayers were answered. And he was the only male child in the whole family. You know how that is. So they were really my mother was much more settled after that and was just really happy with the fact that she got a baby boy. But it left me confused because my baby brother’s name was sort of like a morphed name of my older sister. Her name was Nirmala and my brother’s name is Newman. So this little four and a half year old very confused. And my father would kind of just, you know, in a quiet way to sit at the breakfast table or whatever. And just kind of in the context of what was going on in his life, you know, mention certain passages from the word GEETHA, which is really our spiritual text and just subculture around me was mostly of other people who went to temples and temples to me was more like a cultural thing. And there was no teacher at the temple. There still isn’t, you know, they have like little schools on the side based on, I think what we see here is like little, you know, Sunday schools and stuff. So they do have some teaching. But back in India, there’s no schools necessarily that are affiliated with the temple. But when I was a teenager, there were this isn’t by then we had moved to what was called Bombay. Then it’s now Mumbai. And through my high school years and through my early pre-med years, there was like a big it was called the Oval Maidan. It was called. It was a big area, big green, like a commons like Boston Commons, kind of where a swami or a spiritual teacher would give lectures. His name was Swami Chinmayi, and I would love to hear him talk about, you know, different aspects of spiritual development. There still is like watching me on a mission right here in Langhorne, Pennsylvania. But in my married life here, I never followed up with him. But I would still say growing up, my father handled so many different stresses in his life, and especially as they got to be older, they decided all the three children were here. So they moved to this country and for like 28 years, they kind of live at in our homes like my sister lived in an hour away and my brother was an hour and 15 minutes away from here. So they would kind of move around and just watching them age and watching them go through life with different ailments and struggles, and especially the end of life. Things my father shared had a profound effect on me, and I started questioning, you know, how I will be when it’s my time to face that. And even now, when I deal with a difficult situation, I say to myself, What would my father do in this situation? Say, I would say he was my first. And even right now for foremost, my. What he will call karma yoga. And by that, it meant like really doing the next right thing, being in the present moment. The yoga of being present to just the action that you’re doing. That’s the essence of his take take home message from the guitar. And in fact, he only translated two chapters from the guitar. And I have his book, Just the Perfect Engineered Translation. 

Kalpana is a former pediatrician
and now retired acupuncturist.

He was a mathematician, an engineer. So it was just the exact, precise words. And he would say, that’s the whole essence of what you need to know in life, just to do unattached, correct next correct action, which is not different from the present moment awareness. But I lost my dad in 1997 when I was 50 years old. And right about that time there was like a lot of struggle in my life. Professionally and personally, things started to change in medicine in the mid-nineties, decided that I will just just explore, you know? And I did feel like prescribing all these. I was a pediatrician in my. And that’s another spiritual quest, too, because since childhood, having lost a sister, I was always drawn to the mysteries of life and death. And, of course, helping children live the best life. And actually, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to be a pediatrician, but I wanted to do something that will improve the lives of people. So from thinking about being a surgeon for a quick fix. When I just did a rotation in pediatrics, I just got it that it’s not just a quick fix. Life is a journey and to partner people with whatever they’re going through. And 90% of pediatrics is dealing with families and the parents deal with all the stresses. So in my practice, to most of my people who, you know, gravitated towards me first, I was in a solo practice and then in a group practice, the ones who stayed with me were people with long term issues with difficult situations aren’t just simple, sore throats and lyrics. And then when this managed care business happened, I was getting increasingly disenchanted. And spiritual life is feeling more bankrupt because I’ve lost my father, my husband was very sick at the time. Through different things. Heart attacks on the state of malaria, one time from a visit to India. All of us will find and all of us took a preventative, but he got a really severe case which we didn’t think he would recover from. And that I was dealing with again, the life and death mystery and not knowing how to get a grip on life myself and. Still, just like looking to just reading books and not really having a teacher as such, but going back to study Chinese medicine, which has. You know, that’s that’s what I did, because I had the fact I had no other skills other than medicine and learning how to do, you know, I didn’t know even what acupuncture was, but learning the ropes of it, which was Taoism. And, you know, not necessarily Buddhism, but really how nature works in a person. So that kind of fulfills some spiritual quest and being able to be with people. In that framework was more fulfilling to me and seeing people transform their lives. I was transforming my life. So my spiritual journey was being kind of, you know, quenched a little bit with introduction to the depths of Chinese medicine. Now, this is just a mystery.

When I used to teach, I would still
my first year students without theory,
practice is dangerous and without practice,
theory is useless.

In 2005 of somebody who I didn’t even know called me up didn’t know so well, we just kind of had been introduced. And he’s another physician who also was interested in alternative medicine, he said, Would you like to teach a physiology course at one institute, which was the only acupuncture school at the time, and they they had the first class that was going to graduate at the time. And as a substitute teacher, I went in there to teach. And as an adjunct faculty, you just teach you just say hello to the people around and you just did a three hour course and you get out. So I met these one Buddhists who were running this course in the hallways and I just bowed and said hello , but really didn’t know what they were all about. And I was not, you know, I was not into even investigating that around that time. My sister, my older sister, had died when I was three and a half and now my other sister who lived, she was about six years older than me. And she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. And so going through her death and her dying more than death again brought me to grips with my original wound of losing, losing someone I loved. And around that time, my husband had another serious illness. So again, my trauma is continued. And in 2012. My husband had maybe his 18th serious illness, which is this time of really bad, what looked like it wasn’t going to make it through, though they said 85% recover the lymphoma, which was, you know, really difficult journey for like a year and a half. At that time, I was in the clinic. I was also taking a another immersion of a deeper understanding of Chinese herbal medicine. And I’m sitting at the clinic desk more as a student rather than faculty at this time and saying, I can’t do this anymore. I was exhausted. My husband had just recovered and it’s it’s spent a whole year doing, you know, care for him. And that’s when I said, I need a break. It is a flier with one of the reverend’s doing a retreat at the one Dharma Center, which is like four hours from here in upstate New York. That is my beginning of real, you know, waking up to ways of really cultivating myself under this long spiel. But now that’s by way of introduction. Yes. Yes.

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