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  • Writer's pictureBernard Beitman, MD

Andrew Weil: Coincidences in an Amazing Life

Coincidences and consciousness in the leader of integrative medicine.

Andrew Weil (Source: Andrew Weil)

Lives overlap. Lives connect.

This is a coincidence story involving me (BB) and an old friend.

In the summer of 1968, I stumbled into the cafeteria at Mt. Zion Hospital in San Francisco to begin my medical internship. I sat down, a little bewildered and looked around. Someone tapped me on the shoulder, saying, "Hi My name is Andy Weil, and you are sitting in my seat." He was a balding round faced guy with a big smile. Excusing myself, I heaped some scrambled eggs onto a plate and sat down somewhere else. First Coincidence: assigned to same rotation.

I was assigned to a neurology rotation. My partner on that rotation was the same Andy Weil. We had a lot of fun following these two private practitioners around, one of whose name was Roy Kokenge (pronounced Cocaine). Andy and I became fast friends.

A year later I was doing a psychiatric residency at Stanford and planning for post residency. I interviewed at the National Institute of Mental Health in Washington, DC for a 2 year stint that would be in place of military service. Second Coincidence: Andy was in DC when I needed to be there.

The night before, I stayed with Andy who was working in the National Institute of Health. He was writing his first book, the Natural Mind and was tuning into the local bees and having some communication with them.

In various ways, that night altered my consciousness so that when I went for the interviews the next day, I performed badly. As a result I was thankfully denied a position in Washington, DC. Instead I found a position at the Public Health Service Hospital in San Francisco that fulfilled the military obligation. I had to stay in San Francisco for two years rather than Washington DC. A life altering and liberating experience greatly influenced by my evening with Dr. Weil. Third Coincidence: Andy's book comes out six months before a very similar one.

Andy and I saw each other over the years in various places and times. He went to South America and Africa searching for alternative approaches to healing. He ended up in Tucson, living in a geodesic dome, seeing some patients and completing his first blockbuster book, Spontaneous Healing. The advance allowed him to buy a ranch in the desert. The book came out six months before another one just like his. Timing is everything! Most Impactful Coincidence: Andy's best friend from medical school is appointed chair of internal medicine.

He also discovered that his best friend from medical school had become chairman of internal medicine at the University of Arizona. They had dinner together. His friend asked, "Now that you have friends in high places, what do you want to do?" Andrew replied, " I want to change the practice of medicine." And he has! The groundwork for major innovation in medicine had been laid by at least two coincidences; the timing of the book coming out and his good friend at the University of Arizona.

To hear more about coincidences in Andy's remarkable life, please click here.


Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

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