Teaching the Soul of Classical Chinese Medicine

Give a man a fish to feed him for a day; teach him to fish to feed him for a lifetime!

I’m committed to sharing the wealth of classical Chinese medicine, which I’ve been able to learn through the generous teachings of Jeffrey Yuen. Yet, Jeffrey doesn’t make it easy – The sage is not humane (Dao De Jing, verse 5). Or, in contemporary vernacular – it’s cruel to be kind! Jeffrey is inspired in his teaching, though he’s also assiduously “low key” about the value of his teachings. His teaching style expresses to me that the key to realizing the wealth of Chinese medicine lay in learning to “sort out” the subtle and dynamic factors that guide each patient’s life, and thus discern accurate and inspired treatment strategies.

Patients present their practitioners with lessons and complexities, which certainly don’t come emblazoned on their foreheads. Practitioners are challenged to identify the specific nature and location of pathogenic factors, and differentiate them from the embodied spirit’s intrinsic responses to sustain life. Modern TCM teaches us to classify the manifestations of a patient’s distress, but provides little guidance for unwinding that individual’s entanglement in habituated dysfunction. We’ve been taught to simply treat whatever imbalances the patient manifests. However…

Symptoms and signs express the embodied spirit’s struggle to maintain life in the face of “pathogenic factors” that challenge it.

They exhibit the combined influences of pathogenic factors and the embodied spirit’s reaction it them! I’ve found that the best therapies focus on resolving pathogenic factors, without compromising the individual’s vitality. Indeed, they often stimulate and facilitate the embodied spirit’s intrinsic responsiveness to allow it to function more freely. Can one teach others the inspiration to sort out the entangled nature of a patient’s symptoms and signs, and the willingness to trust the embodied spirit in its sometimes violent efforts to expel factors that have been blocking its healing? Probably not, but Jeffrey and I reach out to participants in our seminars and try…

Try what? In the end, we each have to come from our strengths. Jeffrey has nearly boundless experience, learning through direct contact since he was a toddler from masters who embodied strong currents of classical Chinese medicine. I’ll never match the depth and variety of that experience, but I do have one experience that may be valuable to practitioners and students who want to learn from his enigmatic teachings. I’ve had the experience of having to figure out the mysteries of classical Chinese medicine as an adult. While Jeffrey shares the dynamic and responsive world he sees and challenges his students to awaken to that reality, my seminars provide a little more step-by-step guidance, as I:

  • share my thinking process, and how it’s inspired by specific images and theories of CCM
  • engage participants to entertain the CCM (especially the NeijingInner Classic) thinking process
  • describe how I work through the evaluation of a patient to devise a treatment strategy

I provide lecture notes, because I want participants to engage the ideas and thinking process of classical Chinese medicine while I’m presenting them rather than trying to scribble down a lot of unfamiliar theory and information. I invite questions, because I know the challenge of working through the systematic limitations of modern TCM. I’ve written essays to give perspective participants (and others) the chance to read and “chew on” the perspective of classical Chinese medicine that I’ve learned and cultivated — before they come to a seminar. After attending a seminar, participants will be invited to participate in an online discussion to help them implement those teachings.

Check out the new link in the upper right corner of every page — Scheduled Classes. I’m currently talking with three seminar sponsors, including Golden Flower Chinese Herbs — gracious sponsors of my seminars for the past two years, and hope to have more links there soon!



  1. Steven, the title, and content, of this post is what others need to see. I think this is what you should be marketing to others whom want to attend your seminars. It speaks volumes.


    • Thanks for your feedback, Lisa. We’re working on it, and my approach to Chinese medicine is rather different from what is taught in the professional schools. It’s taking a while to “break in,” though as you can see on the site, I’ve got a fairly steady flow of seminars this year.

  2. paul rossignol says:

    Very excited to see more of the "Channels and Vessles of Acupuncture" series will be in Albuquerque next year. Ive really enjoyed your seminars and really appreciate the help in finding more direction for studying more classical information about Chinese medicine.

    • Thanks, Paul. I’m glad you’ve benefited from previous classes. I’m very busy right now writing the “first drafts” of the series on the five systems of channel and vessels. I’ll be starting the series in San Diego in a few weeks. We’re planning to present that series in ABQ during the first half of next year.

  3. paul rossignol says:

    Looking forward to it. Best wishes on your current work.

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