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


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 comments 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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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: 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.

I think this advice applies not only to domestic relationships but these days is also really important, at least in the US, as we learn once again to get along with our neighbors, relatives, and friends, who may have voted differently from us. The only thing that will save American democracy, peace, and civility, in my personal view, instead of spiraling further and further into the dark emotions of blame, fear, and hatred of different groups of "Others," will be our ability to consistently and consciously recall our shared humanity and kindness, our heart-to-heart connections, regardless of who we voted for in the last election. The following is a literal excerpt from Lecture Two, "Lecturing About Illness." As you can see, my animals like the book as well.

Where does illness in the lower back come from? It comes from anger between husband and wife. In the past, the man was considered Heaven and the woman was considered earth, so when women got angry with men, the illness manifested in the head. In our modern age, though, times have changed and women and men are now equal. Anything that a man can do, a woman can do likewise. So just like a man can mange the affairs of society or government, a woman can do likewise. For this reason, when a man now gets angry with a woman, the illness manifests in the lower back. And when a woman gets angry with a man, the illness likewise manifests in the lower back. Now where do diseases in the kidney or in the intervertebral disks of the lumbar spine, and gynecological diseases come from? In the vast majority of cases, they come from disharmony between yin and yang, disharmony between husband and wife. You look at the way I handle something and consider it wrong. I look at the way you are handling something and consider it wrong. You annoy me, and I annoy you. Under these circumstances, it is easy to contract such conditions. In 2005, when my teacher Wang Yuanwu and I were on our way to Putuoshan to give a lecture, we were met at the airport in Shanghai by a man, unknown to both of us, who held up a sign to meet us. When I asked him why he had come to meet us when he didn’t know either one of us, he answered: “Dr. Liu Lihong told me to go and meet you here.” When I asked him why Dr. Liu Lihong had sent him to meet us, he told us: “I have been suffering from an illness for three years already and have taken all sorts of medications and tried every method out there, all with no result. Then I happened to come across Doctor Liu’s book “An Investigation of Chinese Medicine” (Sikao Zhongyi), read it, and found this doctor of Chinese medicine to be quite insightful. Therefore I pulled a lot of strings until I finally got to meet him in person, hoping that he would give me some medicine. Nevertheless, who would have thought that not only did he not prescribe any medication for me but instead told me to find you two in Shanghai! He told me that you would be able to help me with my illness.” So I asked him what illness he was suffering from. He answered: “Lower back pain. Every single morning around four or five am, the pain is so severe that I can no longer stay in bed but have to get up and walk around, with my hands pressing against my lumbar area. I said: “Such a minor disease? You simply haven’t found the root of your illness yet! As soon as you discover its root, you will be fine.” He responded: “But I don’t know where the root of my illness is.” I told him: “Fine. Let me tell you where this illness has come from. It has come from your neighbor, from the person who lives closest to you.” “But I don’t have a neighbor,” he responded. “I live in a building all by myself.” At this point, Teacher Wang interjected: “Young man! Don’t you have a wife? Isn’t that the person who lives closest to you?” Surprised, he objected that they were divorced. So I told him: “This is indeed where the root of your illness lies. If you had not gotten annoyed with her, you would not have contracted this illness, and you also would not have gotten a divorce. Because you disdain her as being ugly and useless, you don’t like her but like somebody else. And because of this, you have contracted this illness.” He responded by asking what he could do about the situation at this point. When I asked him whether he or his ex-wife had remarried, he informed us that neither of them had found another partner but that they were still living in the same house, he in one room and she in another room. I said, “There is a thread between you two that is connecting you.” “What kind of a thread?” he asked. I responded: “You still have a child together, who is running back and forth between this room and that room, torn between you two. As you two are fighting with each other, this thread is being pulled tighter and tighter, right up to the point of snapping apart. Now you two want to divorce, but what about this child who is caught in the middle? If he follows his father, he will not have a mother; if he follows his mother, he will not have a father. Think for a moment, don’t you think your son is suffering greatly from this situation? You two have brought this child into this world. You were able to give birth to him but now you are unable to raise him. As a result you will leave a troublemaker behind for society to deal with. And as loafers and vagrants get out into society, without a solid education and proper guidance, they waste their life away, committing all sorts of senseless acts. What good does that do for society? Because you were not satisfied with a minor aspect of your life, you went selfishly looking for pleasure. And you might have found temporary happiness, but you have created limitless suffering later on.” He agreed with me, “Yes, yes, yes! But what can I do about it now?” I told him, “Make the circle that has been broken whole again by reconciling with your wife. You two will be happy, and your child will also be happy. Go back to living in the same room!” Like this, we had talked to him for about twenty minutes. Then we embarked on a boat and left for Putuoshan, where we stayed for three days. On our return, he came once again to meet us. Noticing how happy he looked even from a great distance away, I commented to Master Wang that he had most certainly recovered. When Master Wang asked me how I knew that, I answered: “Just look at how happy he looks and you know it. That day when he came to meet us for the first time, do you remember what his facial expression looked like? It was so full of pain and suffering.” So when he walked up to us, we asked him how he was. And he told us that he had been completely pain-free for the past three nights and had been able to sleep until well into the morning. I commented: “This proves that you have restored harmony with your wife. Just look at yourself! Doctor Liu’s medicine is surely working well!” Hearing this, he laughed out loud. Between husband and wife, 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.