Other Essays

Zen and the Art of Chinese Medicine

Steven wrote the first draft of this essay early in 2003 to help an aspiring student of Chinese medicine better understand the nature of his work with Chinese medicine. After several years of working with ideas he first articulated in that essay, he rewrote it early in 2009 to be published in the Spring 2009 newsletter of Golden Flower Chinese Herbs.

The scroll of Zen Buddhist monk Sengai (1750-1838) entitled Circle, Triangle, and Square is a concise symbolic expression of classical (Neijing style) Chinese medical thinking. While this brush painting may not be language in the conventional sense, it articulates Sengai’s intention with clarity and power. Practitioners raised and educated in the modern world can benefit from his creative inspiration. We liberate ourselves most effectively from the confines of modern thought, when we grow more conscious of the divergence between our scientific conceptual models and classical oriental thinking.

Sengai_scroll (PDF – 239kb)

Beware the Rampaging Hun

This essay had already been submitted for June, 2009 publication in my regular column for Acupuncture Today when we disagreed about their editing of my previous column. It was never published. Enjoy!

Human beings engage an amazing adventure in life. An individual Shen (Spirit) resides within the jing (essence), which has been consolidated by mixing the jing of both parents. A person is born, who experiences the interactions of life, acts to sustain his or her individuality, and records everything that happens. Individuals have the opportunity to deepen their understanding of themselves and the universe through their presence and cultivation until the final crowning of life, when they return to the Dao.

Everybody cultivates something; a few even do it with conscious intention. Our lives are a qigong practice, because we breathe life into every moment. Many modern people cultivate some form of food stagnation through intemperate eating habits, which follow common compulsions.  Far more than satisfying needs for sustenance, these people use food and drink to address desires, including the desire to be distracted away from unresolved emotional or spiritual struggle. This particular means of coping with emotional distress also provides “excess” humors (blood, fluids) into which the embodied spirit can embed its unfinished business.

Beware the Rampaging Hun (PDF – 64kb)

Exploring the Channels

This essay was originally published in the autumn 2010 newsletter of Golden Flower Chinese Herbs. My profound thanks to John Heuertz, who coordinates the continuing education program for Golden Flower. Two years ago, after he had coordinated my pair of one-day seminars on waike and the digestion specialty, he asked me to devise a series on my strongest topic, which I told him was the channel systems. I wrote a four week-end series, and wrote this essay as a brief introduction to that topic.

Exploring the Channels (PDF –

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