Lessons from the River

My brief hiatus from blogging has come during a Colorado river trip through the Grand Canyon from Lees Ferry to Phantom Ranch. It was a GREAT trip, but alas I wasn’t well prepared with a backlog of posts to publish while I was out of contact! While I was hiking out of the wondrous canyon, it occurred to me that perhaps

the ancient Daoists may have been whitewater boatmen.

They were, after all, the first to counsel “going with the flow.” Indeed, the river teaches very clearly that trying to fight the flow brings only struggle and ultimately failure. Running the river also teaches us that if we pay very careful attention to choose when and where to exert our efforts, we can avoid getting hung up on the rocks. The boatmen all did a great job, allowing me to cogitate that insight within the safety of the boat. It is equally true concerning life (and the Dao), as it is relative to the river.

I’ve returned home for a few days of office hours, then I’m off to San Diego tomorrow for the Pacific Symposium — an annual meeting of practitioners of acupuncture and Chinese medicine. Look for me there, and ask about the one-day “Introduction to the Channels and Vessels” seminar we’re planning for San Diego on Nov. 22.



  1. Chris Carollo says:

    Quite an apt analogy, especially being downhill from the High Sierras.

    • Yes. Many ancient Daoists also lived in the mountains. In fact, part of my original motivation for moving to the foothills was to connect with nature and thereby an approach to Chinese medicine that I didn’t find in acupuncture school. In the end, I didn’t make much progress on that by myself, but I was lucky enough to find Jeffrey Yuen and his wonderful teachings to keep my busy.

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