Wonders Never Cease!

Many chapters of Yijing, the famous Classic of Changes, invoke individuals to persist. “Perseverance furthers,” the classic reads, and indeed the constantly evolving nature of the universe brings (nearly) all things forward at some point. My key questions seem to be:

  • How to draw attention to ideas that had long been hidden and are now widely ignored?
  • How to stimulate this process of unpopular ideas coming forward?
  • How to stimulate people to pay attention to some ideas that challenge dominant theory and practice of Chinese medicine?
  • How to shift the discussion about Chinese medicine away from information and back to personal cultivation of insight?
  • How to facilitate discussion of philosophy and contemplation as valued methodologies for refining one’s knowledge of Chinese medicine?

Often, it seems some random circumstance, event, or action by another person impacts my path, and I continue following my inclinations. So, here are a new opportunity to share the amazing world of classical Chinese medicine, and a new focus that fills out my work:

I’m pleased to share that Five Branches University has decided to partner with me to provide a weekend introduction to classical acupuncture. The whole story leading up to this weekend offering is surely much to long to share, but I can say there is a big difference between barely being tolerated and being embraced. Thank you, Alexandra Polk, for being inspired to support my efforts to enrich the acupuncture profession with my commitment to deepen our understanding of this healing  practice. I’ve written many essays during the past several years that have helped me develop my unique understanding of CM, and have selected a few that seem the best preparation for participants in those seminars on my Introduction to the Channels and Vessels page. Or, simply peruse the archive of my essays.

Perhaps as strange, at least to me, is the newest focus of my overarching project to articulate the classical wisdom of Chinese medicine for contemporary people. I’m starting to do my own renditions of excerpts of Huangdi Neijing (黃 帝 內 經), the fundamental Yellow Thearch’s Classic of Internal (Medicine), into English. I hope to blog more soon on both the challenges of translating the ancient Chinese medical texts of Suwen (素 問) and Lingshu (靈 樞), and especially some of the interesting things I’m finding. It has indeed been a revelation. My work to understand Neijing has its roots in my many years of working with the oral lineage of Jeffrey Yuen; my interpretations of the text began many years ago with some relatively superficial issues I found in many translations, such as including the work “organ” when the text mentions either the 五藏 (five zang) or 六腑 (six fu). This was only one example of a systematic “static” or “physical” bias I’ve found embedded within most modern interpretations of Chinese medicine. While I could discount such distortions in my own mind, and continue my practical work with acupuncture as inspired by my studies with Jeffrey, I had no idea how rich the original Chinese of these classic texts could be. I’m learning now!

A Luddite Praises Computer Technology

I’m slow, but I’m not (completely) stupid. Twenty years ago I started studying the symbolic nature of Chinese written language. The was a nice text of the etymology of Chinese characters that had been translated early in the 20th century by Weiger that I started using. I learned a lot from that process, but it was slow and cumbersome. I decided to focus more attention on studying and working with the clinical practice of acupuncture and Chinese medicine, rather than devoting the amount of time needed to learn classical Chinese. Hail, the rise of software — in this case the excellent work called “Wenlin,” by scholars at the University of Hawaii. Their software  transforms an exceedingly cumbersome process into an eminently manageable project.

I’m starting with about a hundred pages of key excerpts gathered and translated by Dr. Neal for his 6-weekend series on Neijing Acupuncture. Excerpt by excerpt, they are like little morsels of classical wisdom, wrapped in a puzzle. I’m discovering that my revisions of Dr. Neal’s translations fall into two main groups, progressing from changes in voice (mine are more active) to substantive changes in the content of Neijing theory I understand being discussed in various excerpts. Everywhere I look in these classics, I find language suggestive of my lineage’s key interpretations. So, raise a cheer for computer technology! I hardly believe I’m writing this, yet this software is clearly helping me uncover the wisdom of 2100 year old Chinese medicine classics. Wonders never cease!