Nurturing life through the body, heart, and spirit with the wisdom of Chinese medicine
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Blog

A collection of notes on the topics of classical Chinese, medicine, and traditional culture.
 

This blog is a collection of ruminations, translations, and personal opinions by Sabine and some guest authors. Reflecting my own personality, some posts are academic, some clinical, and some personal, some are excerpts from existing books and some may become part of future books. Please leave a comment with feedback, questions, constructive criticism, and differences of opinion as long as you argue your reasons for disagreement logically. Any personal attacks, uncivil remarks, or self-promoting comments will be deleted.

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Baffling Needling

This post is an excerpt from my forthcoming book, Humming with Elephants," a translation with commentaries and discussion of the "Great Treatise on the Resonant Manifestations of Yin and Yang (Su Wen 5). My translation of the passage is followed by a brief discussion and translations of relevant commentaries and quotations. Warning: This is a pretty technical passage.

Source text from the end of Suwen 5:

As such, practitioners who are skilled at using needles [observe the following guidelines:] from the Yīn guide the Yáng, from the Yáng guide the Yīn; by the right treat the left, by the left treat the right; from their own [experience] know the other; and from the exterior know the interior. By [thus] contemplating the underlying pattern of excesses and insufficiencies [in the patient’s body], they see the subtle [signs] and obtain [control over] what is in excess. Their use [of needles] does not carry any risk!

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Sabine WilmsComment
Allies: A poetic guest blog by Peter Firebrace

Allies
It seems we all need allies. The Lone Ranger had Silver, his faithful horse.
Davy Crockett had his coon-skin cap as well as his trusty rifle, Old Betsy.
Basho, Japan’s most famous poet, had the moon and a small boy I once saw
on the Moscow metro had a tiny hedgehog, which he kept in his pocket, but
brought out to stroke, much to the astonishment of his fellow passengers.
Maybe he reminded them of the value of friendship in an often hostile world.
Allies bring comfort, company and connection, a little personal touch of life
touching life that staves off that feeling of loneliness that seems such a
common undercurrent in people’s lives.

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Sabine WilmsComment
Imperial Tutor

"Imperial Tutor: Translating Ancient Chinese Wisdom into Medicine for Today" is the title and subtitle of my newest project, rooted in my desire to share what I have learned from the ancient Chinese classics (medical, philosophical, cosmological, and otherwise) with you all, my students, friends, readers, and colleagues near and far, in a more direct and personal way than is possible in writing. To be sure, I treasure every moment of my new reclusive life on a magical island in the Salish Sea and feel so fortunate to be able to concentrate fully on my writing and translating. And I am very clear that without this peace and quiet I could never do the deep work that I am currently engaged in on my Sù Wèn 5 project, forthcoming as "Humming with Elephants: The Great Treatise on the Manifest Resonances of Yin and Yang" by the end of this year, I sure hope! But as I explain on the home page of my brand new website, which I quote below, I have always loved sharing what I know in small personal circles. And so I have created a vehicle for that in the formats that work best for me.

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"Do Not Blame!" 不怨人!

The past few days, weeks, and months have been difficult ones for many of us, at least in the United States where I currently live, as we witness horrific events in our local communities, the country, and around the world. So much violence, rage, pain in this crazy year of the Fire Rooster! Like many of my clairvoyant, wise, or just empathetic friends and colleagues in the field of Chinese medicine, where the virtue of brightness or vision (míng 明) is the distinguishing mark of the sage, I have been finding the nearly constant onslaught of tragedies hard to digest and have had to consciously force myself to take breaks from the news and allow the soothing calmness of the Puget Sound to heal my heart and spirit. For me personally, a daily swim in the sea has been a life saver, in spite of the dropping temperatures, and I am extremely grateful to be in a position where I get to do that. Let us be consciously kind to each other, come together, and support each other as best we can with unconditional love while we grieve and squint our tearful burning eyes! I need to write a blog about kindness but am too raw emotionally to go there right now. Instead, I want to share an insight by Liu Yousheng from his book "Let the Radiant Yang Shine Forth," inspired by Wang Fengyi's teachings on the toxicity of blame.

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A Lactation Consultant's Perspective on Placenta Encapsulation

Guest blog by Sarah Hollister, RN, PHN, IBCLC: As a nurse and an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), I have the opportunity to work with nearly every pregnant woman and new mom and baby at a group of four primary care health centers in Northern California. I would like to share my experience, concerns and request for collaboration to closely examine the new practice of placenta encapsulation, as it has grown to become a component of the postpartum experience for the new moms who I work with and throughout the United States. I have encountered assumptions that placenta consumption increases milk production, is a prevention for postpartum depression, and has existed in history as an ancient human practice. I will provide a summary here of the work I do and what I have found with my clients involving this practice.

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Ode to my Pericardiums

Rose does not ask for a pet, she powerfully demands recognition whenever she needs it or the mood strikes her. Luckily for me, that is actually quite often. At the same time, she is fiercely independent and happily and ceaselessly performs her task of guarding the farm. Our connection is not one of devotion or need but of choice, given as a mutual gift to enrich both of our lives from a place of power and freedom. Having this force of nature in my life serves as a constant reminder to myself of my own animal nature. It also inspires me to exist in the moment in a non-rational presence that perhaps can temporarily transcend the subjective or objective experience of reality, as it is filtered through the divisive activity of the rational mind. This is as close as I come on a daily basis to the ideal Chinese state of “fasting the heart.”

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On Walls, Part Two: The Great Wall of China

This blog is a continuation of my previous post, “Why I Dislike Walls,  Part One,” which you can read here. That post was an attempt to give voice to some of my personal experiences with walls in Germany and on the US-Mexican border, to explain my personal gut reaction. In the present writing, I am putting on my supposedly objective historian’s hat for Part Two, to look more closely at arguably the most famous historical example of wall-building, namely the Great Wall of China. So let us travel far away in time and space, to fifteenth-century China and the construction of the Great Wall in the Ming dynasty.  And here I’d like to add the disclaimer that I am not a specialist in late imperial Chinese history, but merely get to revisit this topic once a year while teaching a survey course on Chinese History and Culture to students of Chinese medicine at the National University of Natural Medicine. My original inspiration for this topic came from a brief lecture that Professor Donald Harper gave more than two decades ago at the University of Arizona in an undergraduate Chinese Civilizations class, for which I served as a Teaching Assistant. All mistakes are of course my own.

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Why I Dislike Walls, Part One

The prospect of yet another wall going up and mercilessly dividing a contiguous region by cutting through towns, communities, families, and friends who I deeply love and care about on both sides, and the reality already of innocent people being torn from their communities, rounded up, marked as different due to some human-made distinction expressed by a piece of paper, and shipped off to a place of no return, breaks my heart and forces me to speak up. The current hateful political discourse on building a wall and deporting “illegals” to “make America great again” touches me more deeply than any other political issue ever has in my entire adult life, and I have been around the block.

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Liu Yousheng on Illness in the Lower Back

The following is a short excerpt from one of the books that I translated and self-published a few years back, actually the first book produced by Happy Goat Productions. It seems to me that the wisdom of Virtue Healing embodied in Wang Fengyi's teachings is particularly relevant in our current political turmoil in the US. I am holding the very first copy of our new edition, hot off the press, in my hands and, while reviewing it one last time, just came across this passage, which I think is worth sharing. I love the conclusion in particular: 

...do not use reason to work things out. If you reason with each other to work things out, you will only explode in anger. These days, people all reason with each other, until they reason each other into the ground. If they don’t end up separating, they end up getting a divorce. Between husband and wife, you must use your feelings to work things out. If you use your feelings to work things out, you will end up dearly loving each other again.

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