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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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Posts tagged Yellow Emperor
Humming with Elephants???

An explanation for the strange title of my new book “Humming with Elephants”:

As a whole, the Great Treatise on the Resonant Manifestations of Yīn and Yáng discusses the correlations and correspondences, or in my favorite translation “resonances” (yìng 應), between the actions and movements of Yīn and Yáng in the macrocosm of nature at large and in the human body and an infinity of other larger and smaller microcosms, from the cells to plants and animals to society and the stars in the sky. Without going into too much detail here, I would like to suggest that what English-speaking scholars of philosophy, science, and medicine have been referring to as “correlative thinking” or as the “theory of systematic correspondences” deserves a stronger and more concise term to describe this relationship of “stimulus and response/resonance” gǎn yìng 感應.

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Z'ev Rosenberg on "The Seminal Suwen Chapters: A Blueprint for Human and Ecological Health"

Guest blog by Z'ev Rosenberg from his brandnew Returning to the Source: Han Dynasty Medical Classics in Modern Clinical Practice: "The essential first three chapters of the Huang di nei jing Su wen set the stage for the core principles of Chinese medicine. These opening chapters contain the compass of life and medicine; the text reveals the equations that allow us to see how far we've deviated from the principles of life. As Wang Bing explains in his commentary of Chapter 3 in the Su wen:...

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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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Ruminating on Suwen 5... Again...

In an escape from current politics and to regain my balance and faith in humanity, I have been burying myself once again in Suwen 5, which may or may not evolve into the next book-length publication by Happy Goat Productions. What follows is probably the nerdiest blog post I have ever written, but it has brought me great satisfaction. Feel free to share constructive criticism, questions, or any other feedback in the Comments section below. I am perfectly aware that I am trying to put something in written words that is ultimately better approached intuitively. The passage below is found about two thirds through the chapter, following directly after the famous passage where Qi Bo explains the associations of the five directions with the dynamic agents, organs, climatic factors, sounds, flavors, etc etc. I am aware that the references of traditional gender roles in my discussion below may strike some readers as offensive, but I ask you to reserve judgment that comes from a modern Western perspective. Yes, I have opened another can of worms there and I promise to address that can in a different blog post in the future.

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Random Thoughts on "Water is Yīn, Fire is Yáng"

水為陰,火為陽;陽為氣,陰為味。

WATER IS YĪN; FIRE IS YÁNG. YÁNG IS QÌ; YĪN IS FLAVOR.

A commentary on this line from the Lèi Jīng:

類經曰:『故天以日月為水火,易以坎離為水火,醫以心腎為水火,丹以精氣為水火。夫腎者水也,水中生氣,即真火也;心者火也,火中生液,即真水也。水火互藏,乃至道之所在,醫家首宜省察。』
“Thus in Heaven, the sun and moon are water and fire; in the Yì Jīng, [the trigrams] kǎn and lí are water and fire; in medicine, the heart and the kidney are water and fire; and in alchemy, essence and qì are water and fire. Now the kidney is water, and the generation of qì inside water is precisely true fire; the heart is fire, and the generation of fluids inside fire is precisely true water. The mutual storage of water and fire within each other, this is where the utmost Dào is located, and this is what any physician should first examine attentively.”
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The Synchronicities of an early fall morning inspired by Suwen 5

On the wonderful synchronicities of life, here is an early-morning commentary on Sùwèn chapter five (陰陽應象大論篇第五, “The Great Treatise on Yin-Yang Resonating in the Manifest World”), inspired by my walk with the dogs this morning in the first foggy rainy soupy Oregon fall day. Every year, I get to revisit this chapter, which I currently consider perhaps the single most important treatise in Chinese medicine in general, in the course of teaching three Neijing Seminars in the Classical Texts curriculum at the university. We start off with Suwen 5, and invariably some eager students will voice a bit of disappointment, after a quick look at the syllabus, that we are only going to cover a single chapter. Don’t we want to read the entire Néijīng (黃帝內經 “Yellow Emperor’s Inner Classic”)? And equally predictably, we run out of time long by the end of the term, long before the end of this chapter. So here are some ruminations on just the first couple of lines.

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Suwen 14, Treatise on Fermented Medicinal Brews

1) The Emperor said: “The sages in ancient antiquity made fermented medicinal brews and yet they did not use them. Why is that?”

2) Qí Bó said: “The reason why from ancient times the sages made fermented medicinal brews was as a precaution, and nothing else. Thus in ancient antiquity [the sages] did make these liquors and yet they did not ingest them. In the age of mid-antiquity, [people’s] inherent power () as a manifestation of their Dào had gradually declined and evil qì reached them from time to time. When they did ingest [the medicinal brews in cases of harm from evil qì], they were a hundred percent effective.”

3) The Emperor said: “Why is it that this is no longer invariably the case in our current age?”

4) Qí Bó said: “The reason for this that in our current age, we must line up toxic medicinals, to attack the patient’s center, and apply lancing stones, needles, and moxa, to treat their outside.”

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Harmonizing yin and yang in an alpha versus beta world

In the traditional Chinese way of thinking, everything in the universe, from the tiniest cell to the tadpole in the puddle, the stalactite in the cave, and the thunderstorm on the mountaintop, is nothing but qi in continuously changing states of alteration and transformation (biàn huà 變化). As such, every aspect of the universe vibrates harmoniously with everything around it in a cosmic symphony of yin and yang. And in this symphony, nothing could be more detrimental to the ideal state of harmony between these two forces than the notion of power and domination of one over the other, which I see expressed so simplistically in the theory of alpha and beta males competing over sexual access to females. 

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