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CHASING DOWN THE MUSE:Laguna Shanti needs your help

Primum non nocere.

The soft cooing of spring’s doves mingles with words in my head, becoming as one. OoAAH cooo coo coo … first, do no harm … first, do no harm. The phrase, long wrongly believed to be a part of the Hippocratic Oath, has seemed to appear in my mind out of nowhere, yet it won’t let me go.

Hope, intention, humility and recognition that there are times when our acts of good intention may have unwanted consequences — these seem to be what lies behind the words. These are powerful ideals to uphold. The ethics of helping, whether medically or in our everyday lives, are often confusing and difficult. When the result does not follow the intention, it’s tough.

When we seek “good” to do, when we set out to help, well, consequences may have to be considered. We can look at past, present and make possible predictions for future, but we cannot know. Still, as Hippocrates did say in Epidemics, we can make a habit of two things — to help, or at least to do no harm.


Laguna Shanti is one of those organizations that seek to help, to do no harm. In Sanskrit, shanti means “inner peace,” and the mission of this organization — the volunteers and staff alike — is to make a positive difference and bring that inner peace to those who live with HIV and AIDS.

Laguna Shanti was established in 1987 as a nonprofit agency of support and service. The group seeks to provide a wide variety of services to their clients and, in order to provide these services free of charge, they too need help.

Last summer, a group of Shanti’s volunteers enlisted the assistance of local artists for an event planned as a celebration of Shanti’s 20th anniversary. Would the artists “paint” canvas tote bags as a fundraiser for the event to be held May 18th of this year? Some 30 artists responded “yes” and created some truly beautiful one-of-a-kind bags to be auctioned off the night of the celebration.

Now it is your turn to help. You can attend the event, which will be held at Tivoli Too, here in Laguna Beach. You can bid in the silent auction for the wonderful tote bags. There will be appetizers, dinner, champagne, wine, beer and dessert.


The keynote speaker will be Charles A. Garfield, Ph.D., the founder of the Shanti model. Entertainment and the honoring of “Caring Heart” recipients round out the evening. This seems like a win-win to me. No harm, only help.

And if this isn’t your cup of tea or you already have plans, there are many other ways possible to follow Hippocrates and “help, or at least do no harm.”

Whatever you can do — small or large — I am sure will be appreciated for the good that it does.

OoAAH cooo coo coo … first, do no harm … first, do no harm. Why did my muse take me down this path today? Or was it the mourning doves in the yard? I cannot say for sure, but I follow the path provided and for some reason feel a bit of that inner peace myself. Shanti, shanti...

You can visit the Shanti website or call (949) 452-0888 for more information.

  • CHERRIL DOTY is a creative living coach, writer and artist in Laguna Beach. She can be reached at or by phone at (949) 251-3883.

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