Friends of Tibet Foundation for the Wellbeing

The Wellbeing Programme is a philanthropic initiative by Friends of Tibet to support the cause of Tibet and to create awareness about the issue of Tibet amongst people all over the world. This initiative researched, designed and implemented by Friends of Tibet aims at the restoration, propagation and promotion of the endangered traditions and practices of Tibet.

Healing Influence of Tibetan Holistic Medicine
(Alappuzha, Kerala | Sept 2018 | Report: Suresh Babu | Editing: Bina Nayak)

Suresh Babu in a conversation with German writer and performer Sylvie Bantle during the Wellbeing Camp.

Suresh Babu (Right) in a conversation with German writer and performer Sylvie Bantle during the Wellbeing Camp.

In a conversation with Suresh Babu, German writer and performer Sylvie Bantle talks about the healing influence Tibetan Holistic medicine has had on her life during the 64th Wellbeing Tibetan Medical Camp held from September 5-7, 2018 — organised by Friends of Tibet Foundation for the Wellbeing and Men-Tsee-Khang.

Suresh Babu: When did you learn that you had developed cancer?
Sylvie Bantle: During the 2 years that I was working on the dance drama 'Menach' (2003-2005) I learnt that I had breast cancer. Just 3 weeks before, Alexander's sister died suddenly — it was a huge tragedy for him and his family. Shortly after the funeral we had to go back to Germany. Three days later, Alexander developed high fever, which no doctor could properly analyse. He couldn't eat or drink and felt miserable. After spending 10 days in hospital, he slowly recovered. A friend who was also a doctor, confided to me that most doctors don't understand that emotional distress can cause high fever. There is a direct link between our emotions and our immune system, as we later understood.

Suresh Babu: What type of treatments did you undergo before you tried Holistic Tibetan Medicine?
Sylvie Bantle: I was unable to face allopathic medicine for the tumor in my breast. I went to a spiritual healer and to an old scientist who was researching healing plants near the Alps. He had a small private practice, where he used a pendulum over the graphic of a horoscope to find out the right homeopathic medicines. He told me that a tumor which is growing deep inside can suddenly surface under the skin when we are faced with extreme emotional distress. To gain strength I attended a dance and drumming class by my African dance teacher in Senegal, West Africa, which helped me to connect with mother earth and to have the emotional strength to face allopathic doctors.

Suresh Babu: What are your reflections about your emotional troubles being the main cause of your cancer?
Sylvie Bantle: The doctor who operated on me said that the tumor was a slow growing one and must have started around six years before. I replied, six years before was when I had my traumatic miscarriage! An event which made me suffer silently for many years. But he disagreed, saying that it cannot be a reason to get cancer, I just was unlucky... Deep inside I felt he was wrong. He was a 100% academic doctor, an Allopath advising me to undergo 6 weeks of radiation therapy and five years intake of tablets with bad side effects. I did not follow his suggestions. My inner voice warned me strongly not to follow his advice. I knew why I got cancer: It was the sad expression of my unsolved pain over the loss of our unborn child.

I have reflected a lot about my breast cancer. The roots of my cancer go back to my childhood, where my inner child was still chained in misery. I wrote thousands of pages, searched my old photographs for a sign. To have an open talk with my parents was not possible; they had cut contact with me. They had two other daughters who were good obedient kids who did not criticise them.

The title Hitlers Tränen (Hitlers Tears) of my e-book on which I worked almost 20 years is a healing metaphor, but is misunderstood by many Germans, who don't accept that Hitler was born a vulnerable human being, that he experienced cruelty as a child, due to his violent father. My question is: What is this society we have, that we created such a monster? War is a disease, crime is a disease. Violence of parents is a disease which needs to be healed mainly by examining and understanding the traumatic reasons behind it. Actually it is the same method to heal cancer or other physical diseases.

When I woke up with tears after the breast cancer operation I felt deep inside that I had saved my inner child, stuck in the past, fearing death because of a violent father.

Suresh Babu: What made you embrace Holistic Tibetan Medicine as a treatment for your cancer?
Sylvie Bantle: First I went to a Homeopathic doctor who understood my feelings, knowing that emotional trouble can cause cancer. A year later we got to know from Sethu Das about Tibetan Medicine and he told us about a very good doctor in the Men Tsee Khang clinic in Bangalore. So we went there and met Dr Dorjee Rapten in August 2005. He understood from my pulse, that all my organs were sleeping. After 3 months of taking Tibetan medicine I began feeling much stronger.

Suresh Babu: So you believe Holistic Tibetan Medicine did wonders for you and cured and energised you to be what you are today?
Sylvie Bantle: My friends who hadn't seen me for a long time, could recognise the change in my face — I could feel this change clearly. Till today I am taking Tibetan Medicine and I am grateful.

My two younger sisters also got breast cancer and after trying Allopathic treatments — operation, radiation, chemo, tablets — they undertook a test, where it was found that they have the breast cancer gene. One sister even followed the advice of the doctor to undertake a further operation, because the test said that with this gene there is a chance to get ovarian cancer. I did not do this check up because I feel very confident with the Tibetan medicine, also I discussed with Dr Dorjee, who supports me a lot.

Since February 2015 we are hosts of the Wellbeing Tibetan Medical Camp. I feel a sense of great fulfillment. For a long time I have felt deep inside that my destiny lies is healing — first myself, and then other suffering people. My life experiences and lessons learnt can help others heal.

Sylvie Bantle was born in a catholic family in Germany in 1955. Her father fought as soldier in World War II and was a POW in a Russian camp. He missed his high school education due to war. When Sylvie was born, her father was still studying at 28 years of age and her mother worked as a secretary to support the family. As a result, she grew up with her grandparents near Bodensee. Her grandparents were farmers and Sylvie's early childhood was idyllic.

When Sylvie was 5 years, her mother had another girl child and her father got employment as an engineer, having completed his studies. Her mother could quit her job and be a housewife. Suddenly they were a family of four, which was a big challenge for her poor parents.

Sylvie and her sister were young at a time when parenting was very strict, in the post Hitler era of Germany. Fathers who had been soldiers in the 2 world wars were very traumatised. Germany was facing shortages, there was poverty and scarcity. It was the norm to treat children with violence by breaking their will, in order to make them obedient. Sylvie had to suffer a raging, violent father and a helpless mother, who could not protect her. Many years later Sylvie wrote about the complex subject of violence (Hitlers Tränen). She believes that every violent act is the first step to war — even when a mother or father beat or hurt their own child.

Sylvie's desire to escape from home and Germany inspired her to start traveling at a young age of 16 years-with her own money made from designing and stitching clothes! At 19 years, she took full responsibility for herself and left home to follow the call of her heart. At 21 years, she crossed the Atlantic to travel through Canada, USA and Mexico. A year later, in 1977, she came to India, travelling to Leh/Ladakh, to Nepal, Varanasi, Calcutta, down the east coast, to Sri Lanka, to the Maldives, back to India, Trivandrum, all the way up to Delhi. This journey took six months.

Since then she travelled to India many times. She studied Kathakali under Guru Gopinath, near Trivandrum. From age 21 to 30, she travelled for long periods around the globe, including India and Sri Lanka, also going further to Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Borneo. In the year 1982/1983, she traveled for a year through Africa. During her travels she worked with film crews, designing costumes for several movies. Her skills as a seamstress came in handy wherever she travelled. Her life of adventure and freedom functioned like a perfectly choreographed dance drama for a while...

While studying Kathakali in Kerala, she met Alexander in 1992. They exchanged addresses and got along well. But only in 1998, when Sylvie decided to make a documentary with Alexander, did they fall in love. Their first documentary film Mortuary Joseph, got a Bronze Award in Tokyo and was shown on several international film festivals, including Munich. She got pregnant, but unfortunately they lost their baby on Christmas in a Hospital. That night was a nightmare. It was her first pregnancy at the age of 43. They have been married since 1999.

In 2005 they started to construct Sylviander House according to Sylvie's design. Her main concern was not to disturb nature and the way of the winds. Their wish was to create an organic house made of secondhand materials and with building techniques used in olden times. It took seven years to complete Sylviander House and on 21st August 2012 they opened Sylviander House — Art Museum and Eco Homestay — to general public.

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