The conceptual model of physical “reality” articulated by modern scientific medicine is powerful and compelling. It appeals to our naïve experience of living in, and learning to manipulate, a mechanistic physical world that submits to our control according to fixed “laws of nature.” The ideas of scientific medicine are deeply satisfying to many, especially relative to their fear of suffering and/or untimely demise. Yet, we KNOW from our experience that the universe is not entirely physical and mechanistic, especially the universe of human experience. [My essay on the Sengai Scroll discusses the limitations of physical models of “reality” relative to the clinical practice of Chinese medicine.]
Each individual is a complex transducer between physical and spiritual “realities.” Physical and spiritual factors influence each other in myriad ways. The study of that relationship lay at the core of the classic text Língshū (靈樞); the title refers to the deepest link between an individuated spirit and its physical embodiment. Língshū (靈樞) and Sùwèn (素問), together comprise the fundamental Chinese medical classic Nèijīng (內經). My practice of Chinese medicine and the story of healing discussed on this site are primarily based on Nèijīng (內經), as I’ve learned the key principles from Jeffrey Yuen and found in my own researches on the text.
I find the story inspired by my practice of classical Chinese medicine compelling, even when it differs dramatically from the more widely held scientific story about the “physical realities” of life. Yet, I’m also clear that it’s just my STORY.
From my classical Chinese perspective, modern (western) medicine focuses on:
- descriptions of the physical nature of disease
- the search for the proximal and precipitating cause
- dramatic rescues through (externally) controlling a “broken” body
In contrast, Classical Chinese medicine focuses on:
- descriptions of the individual’s experience of disease
- the search for multiple contributing causes, both external and internal
- finding ways to stimulate and facilitate the embodied spirit to realize its natural potential to heal
The classical Chinese medicine story, based on the Nèijīng (內經), consists of a few key principles:
- The apparent decline of aging is due to accumulations that block the free expression of an individual’s vitality.
- Those accumulations primarily consist of external and internal pathogenic factors, which have been suspended and stored in the body:
- External pathogenic factors arise from the individual’s failure to adapt and effectively respond to changes presented by the environment. Nèijīng (內經) refers to this as “perverse wind” or “perverse qì (xiéqì (邪氣)).”
- Internal pathogenic factors consist of the individual’s failure to resolve emotional conflicts.
- Unresolved pathogenic factors stagnate, and thereby impede the free flow of vital physiological function (qì (氣)) and blood.
- When the embodied spirit is no longer willing or able to suspend unresolved pathogenic factors, they are overtly expressed in symptoms or signs of disease.
- True healing comes from the inside, and is available to ANYONE (regardless of disease manifestation) who resolves previously suspended pathogenic factors. That resolution generally involves both transformation and release or expulsion of previously accumulated pathogenic factors.
- Suppressing or controlling the embodied spirit’s expression of distress doesn’t facilitate healing; those efforts simply displace distress from one place to another.
Which story is true and which is a fairy tale, intended to keep one’s inner child from being frightened in the middle of the night? Who among us knows for sure? While we’re discerning the truth among these stories, I’ll keep sharing mine on this site — its different and hopeful, by asking individuals to take responsibility (physiologically) for their lives. I believe that a free exchange of ideas will help us find truth.