Here is Sun Simiao’s great evocation to health, from his pillow-book (7th cent.):
The wheel of heaven turns, it mounts up above and falls below. The track of human affairs is in a similar manner unclear. Whenever we dwell, unknowingly, on the brink of disaster, there is nobody, if they cannot take care of themselves, who is able to conquer its course. No scholar, pursuing his nature, who does not make a plan concerning self-care, will ever be able to partake in any discussion on the cultivation of health. For this reason, I take self-care as primary.
I have greatly enjoyed myself at the ARRC symposium this week-end in London. For anyone logging on to this blog, here is an exert from my next book: The Chinese Master’s Medicine. It explains how illness starts in the mind. Very far-sighted for the Ming Chinese!
“”Immortal Adept Chu said: Those most spiritual and wise doctors of ancient times could heal a man’s heart and innermost being. This they could do because they took the opportunity to act before the disease had begun. But what can we say about these present-day doctors? They know only how to heal someone who is already sick; but they do not know how to heal a person’s innermost being. This is a case of ‘neglecting the root to chase after the branches’. They do not enquire of the trouble at source but boldly throw themselves into the stream of the disease. You may be looking for a speedy cure, but why do this!
Truly you must recognise that any disease originates in our heart, in our innermost being. Calamities arise from our own actions and intents. The fellow Buddha said:
“It all lies in the constructs of the heart.
The best is in never making any false charges“.
It is for this reason that when strong emotions arise in the human body, our true nature can be overturned in a twinkling. Then a great sickness eventually invades the trunk. It is certainly not herbs or mineral medicines which can cure this!
In general herbal medicines are able to heal any disease which involves the ‘birth and conquest’ of the five elements in the fleshy body; but they cannot heal those diseases with emotional content, those which have no form. They can heal when emotions injury the qi and blood – but not when emotional states abruptly come and go, or when there is no rhyme or reason to their happening.
This our Immortal Adept Chu also stated:
Doctors cannot enter the homes of criminals.
Herbals cannot act when there is no love.
In general, then – ‘happiness acts the lord, while catastrophe plays the servant’. Winkle out its mechanism and not one part of it will escape!
The cause of all this misery lies in the penalties of Heaven. It lies in the misery of ‘self-destruct‘. The penalties of Heaven originate from a former life where we accumulated too many transgressions. But it is heaven and earth who dispatch us into this misery, while their calamities find their source in our heart and innermost being.
The misery of ‘self-destruct’ arise through the influences of the wind and cold, excess heat and damp, the wounding done by wine, our passions or sexual desires. Want and emotion are born within, while Yin and Yang assail us outside. This is how disease is born in the heart.
The books of the Immortals famously say:
Train the desire and transform it into energy,
Train the energy and transform it into mind,
Train the mind and return it to the void.
Exactly! And where will this training take place? There is no question that it must be in no other place than in the heart. Therefore when worldly thoughts and worries injury the heart, grief and suffering injury the lungs, resentment and anger injure the liver, food and drink injure the spleen, and licentious desires injure the kidneys, the healing power of herbal medicines are only one half of it. The rest lies wholly beyond the power of herbs. It lies solely in the medicine of the heart.
What is meant by the ‘medicine of the heart’? You might as well listen to this poem found in Mirroring the Forest Temple. It goes:
If your own self is failing, you cannot but know it.
The instant a thought comes make it a thought of healing.
In general the sickness is born and created in the heart.
But if the heart is kept safe, how can this sickness occur?
This gives an outline of the ‘medicine of the heart’. The medicine of the heart heals a sickness caused by emotional states rising within. So it also gives an idea of the task of ‘healing the heart’.
You might as well labour to study the medical books of the ages, enough to fill a cart to the rafters! Instead look at what is clearly in front of you. Its essence lies in taking control when casting out intrusion.
Now the Neijing (Book of Medicine) has one phrase which is written there to instruct us all. It reads: ‘Do not heal a disease which has already begun. Heal a disease which has not yet begun’. Treating disease is not as good as treating where there is no disease – curing the body is not as good as curing the heart. By this I mean that curing other people is just not as good as firstly curing yourself!””
THAT JUST ABOUT SAYS IT ALL!