Oct 302012

By Jock McKeen and Bennet Wong

Ian McWhinney and Jock McKeen

When Ian McWhinney passed away September 28, 2012, the world lost one of its dedicated pioneers in medical thought.  There have been outpourings of condolences to his family, and many testimonials acknowledging his deep and lasting influence on the practice of medicine, not just in Canada, but around the world. Indeed, on the website where people could leave comments, many of the messages were not in English!  He was acknowledged as the “Father of Family Medicine” and his textbook is the key source for many practitioners. In his later years, he was given many honorary doctorates and awards, including being made an Officer of the Order of Canada. His induction into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame was very appropriate to show the importance of this humble man (others in this august body include Wilder Penfield, Terry Fox, William Osler, Charles Best, Norman Bethune, Tommy Douglas and Hans Selye). This is what Ian became to the world.  But to us, he was a longtime special friend. An article written by Jock that was submitted at the time of publication of Ian’s memoirs has been updated, and is included on our Articles page on the Haven website.

He never lost his common touch. He was humble, a human being, who would have happily fit in at The Haven. He lived a life of inclusiveness, always interested in connecting with others, and earnest to learn other points of view. His philosophical mind was clear, and astonishingly vast. Those who really listened carefully to him learned a transformative vision they could adapt to their own practices and personal lives.

Ian visited us in our home in 2006, where the accompanying photograph with Jock was taken. He was by this time 80 years old.  His mind was clear, his feelings came readily, and he was enthusiastic to see what Ben and I had accomplished in our collaboration. He “got us” immediately, on many levels.  He celebrated our friendship, and approved of the idea of health and healing occurring in a growth centre such as The Haven, beyond the definitions of traditional medical practice. We had far-reaching discussions about global medicine and intercultural issues. Amidst it all, we experienced his gentle wisdom, and his loving.

Following this visit, Ian wrote a testimonial about our work, focusing on our then recently published A Book About Health and Happiness.  We have excerpted from this testimonial on the Haven website, and on the book jacket.  We reproduce it below this article, in its entirety.

We are dedicating the upcoming new edition of A Manual For Life to his memory.

In memory of Ian McWhinney






Ian McWhinney’s Testimonial about Jock McKeen & Bennet Wong

In 1968, Jock McKeen was a medical student at the University of Western Ontario. In the same year, I was appointed to the new chair of Family Medicine at Western. Jock stood out as a student who was different. He thought for himself and, even in those days, was critical of the way medicine was taught.

I was also seen as different. Never before had there been a professor of Family Medicine in Canada, and I was introducing new approaches to teaching. For me, Jock was like a breath of fresh air, an original thinker, who was open to new ways of teaching and learning. I was at times unsure of myself, and Jock’s validation meant a lot to me.

Once he graduated, our ways parted, but I managed to follow his career through mutual acquaintances. Then, Jock and his partner, Bennet, sent me their book, Health and Happiness. The book is full of wisdom, presenting fresh insights into health, illness, healing, and communication, which ring true to human nature and to science.

Jock and Bennet’s courageous decision to study their relationship with complete honesty has given us a whole new outlook on relationships. I have a feeling that this is the beginning of a new era for humankind and for medicine.


Ian McWhinney, O.C., M.D., Professor Emeritus

Department of Family Medicine

The University of Western Ontario

Aug 312012
There are many great reviews on amazon.com of Jock McKeen and Ben Wong’s The Illuminated Heart: Perspectives on East-West Psychology and Thought. Here is one example, by Michele and Bud Baldwin, who are themselves highly respected experts and authors in the fields of psychology and medicine. The Illuminated Heart is now available for Kindle and Kobo and from the iBook Store … as well as a 448-page soft back book which you can purchase on Amazon or from The Haven.

The Illuminated Heart is a major contribution from two dedicated physician/philosophers who have devoted most of their adult professional lives in a disciplined search for a better understanding of our human and divine natures  – and especially of the forces of creativity and integrity, of individuality and relatedness, in humans and in the universe.

This is a remarkable book; a true magnum opus for this dedicated pair of physician/philosopher/seekers, who have distilled the  readings, teachings, and discussions of their 40-year professional and personal relationship into a wide-ranging, scholarly, engaging, informative, interesting, very readable discussion and summary of Western and Eastern philosophy, psychology, psychiatry, and medicine. Their grasp of both bodies of thought and practice is vibrant and scholarly and represents a colossal achievement and contribution to the literature.

Many writers have attempted to explore and describe the breadth and depth of Western and Eastern philosophy, psychology, and medicine. Few have had the broad vision, the intellectual capacity, the rigorous discipline, the dedicated commitment, as well as the lifelong experience and fundamental engagement in both worlds, to fully understand and integrate the essences of these great traditions.

Throughout their detailed, yet jargon-free and crystal clear distillations of the contributions of Western thinkers over the past century, they maintain a rich undercurrent of thoughtful discussion that renders these immediately and easily understandable, many for the first time. The same is true of the rich heritage of Eastern medicine and metaphysics, into which they have delved so deeply as to be considered respected sinologists and teachers throughout the Far East. Their special genius emerges in a unique and imaginative series of dialogues involving themselves in a contemporary discussion of each of the book’s some 16 salient issues with two historical alter-ego figures – Carl Jung, representing the West and Confucius, the East – in which the four engage, converse, and interact animatedly and cogently about each issue. Here the distillation of their own thinking and methods is vibrantly alive. It is a stroke of genius, bringing the reader as silent participant into the richness of their teaching.  

In some ways, the book is a reflection and outgrowth of their unique personal and professional lives together as fellow seekers, teachers, long-term friends, drawing on the creative wellsprings of their own relationship to develop a liberating model of human relationship, which in turn serves to understand and liberate the yearnings and learnings of countless friends, patients, colleagues, and fellow searchers across the world
May 012012

A Reading of T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets  by Jock McKeen

Nanaimo Harbourfront Library | May 4, 2012, 6.15 pm for a start at 6:30 sharp  | Free admission

Part of Crimson Coast Dance Society’s Four Quartets performance and workshops

We hope you’ll attend!

T.S. Eliot’s poetry is often quoted, but usually in short renditions. Only rarely are his longer works presented in a public forum. More than 70 years after their first appearance, the Four Quartets is still immediate and relevant. A full reading of these poems requires nearly an hour, the length of a musical symphony. Dealing with issues of time and eternity, worldly dissatisfaction and spiritual yearnings, it can be seen as a lyric prayer for modern people.

Jock McKeen, MD, LicAc(UK), DLitt, who trained as a physician, has always had a passion for poetry, dance and music, along with a burning curiosity and concern for the human condition. While studying classical Chinese medicine and philosophy, he became fascinated with the art of living, which he has combined with his studies of the science of life. He combines his deep knowledge of people with a love for language and artistic expression. He is a dynamic and engaging reader of poetry; people are enchanted by his passionate renditions of his own work, as well as creations of other authors.

T.S. Eliot is one of his favourite poets. Jock says of Eliot:

“His language covers the entire range, from the commonplace to the celestial. His scope is comparable to a singer with an extraordinary range … the lows are deeply stirring, and the highs take one into the sky.”

Jock says, “This is a special treat for me, to really be able to dig into a full-blooded reading of this masterful work.”

Jock has worked with his partner Bennet Wong, a psychiatrist, for over 40 years. Together, they developed The Haven Institute, an educational centre for personal and professional growth on Gabriola Island. Besides their work at The Haven, these two men have presented their ideas and seminars throughout  Asia and Europe, as well as in Russia, Africa, the Middle East, and South America. They co-authored six books which describe much of the germinal philosophy underlying their work with people. One of these books is a collection of Jock’s poems entitled As It Is In Heaven. Their most recent book,  The Illuminated Heart: Perspectives on East-West Psychology and Thought, is a comprehensive distillation of their views; it has just been released by The Haven Institute Press.

In a recent article, Jock wrote, “We are involved in a much bigger enterprise than we usually realize. The forces of the universe flow through us. We are, in our deepest imaginings, linked with each other, and the larger picture.”