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 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.

Look through the Archive by Topic or Search the Blog:


Posts tagged politics
"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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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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Orientalism, Cultural Appropriation, and Critical Thinking (Part One)

Orientalism is a term and topic that has crept into my thoughts repeatedly over the last few months. I have tried to push this unwanted visitor back out the door, with excuses ranging from “Everything there is to say on the topic has already been said by much smarter, more erudite people than myself,” to “This is just another example of me sticking my foot in my mouth and stirring up a hornets’ nest with no need,” to “Who am I to say anything about this topic, because wasn’t it this very same fascination with the ‘Orient’ that got me started in the field of sinology in the first place?” But alas, the term has gotten a foot in the door and a draft of this blog post has been sitting on my desktop for months now, waiting for me to accept the challenge. Please forgive me if I offend you, dear reader. I’d rather step on your toes than continue tiptoeing around the subject, remaining silent, and smoldering internally as I witness this attitude rearing its ugly head again and again in innocent statements by the most well-meaning people who simply have never critically thought about its historical baggage in the context of learning, practicing, or teaching what is far too often still tellingly called “Oriental Medicine.”

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The Noble Person and the Small Person

This past Monday morning, I was going to give a rousing lecture on classical philosophy from the “Warring States” period to my dear students in my Chinese History and Culture class. I was going to fill them with hope and certainty and a spirit of community and activism, and somehow transmit to them, magically, how their future role as healers in the proud tradition of Chinese medicine would enable them to “harmonize Heaven and Earth” and heal this horrid mess that we find ourselves in right now. When I opened my mouth, though, I realized that I had no wise words but only tears to share for these beautiful people in front of me. I find myself torn in an unpredictable and often disturbing pendulum between a strong need to spill my insides out and utter speechlessness. Being a teacher in this state is quite challenging, especially if you have to teach something as personal and relevant (at least for me) as philosophy and history.

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Thoughts on Civility and Humaneness

After a few days of reflection, I have decided to accept the risk of offending some readers with my perspective as a brand-new American citizen, who has nevertheless lived here for most of my adult life, mastered the art of making apple pie, learned to shoot a gun, and raised a thoroughly American daughter all the way through prom and beyond. I feel the need to share my personal story because it may spark a conversation or offer a different perspective. I believe that these times call on all of us to speak truth from our hearts, and to listen to our fellow humans’ truth with an open heart in exchange. For only with honesty and openness to other viewpoints can we start the hard work of overcoming our current divisions and make room for love and reconciliation instead.

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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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Forecast for the Year of the Wood Goat-Sheep (guest blog by Lillian Pearl Bridges

February 19, 2015 is the start of the Chinese Year of the Yin Wood Sheep or Green Sheep. The Sheep is fundamentally an Earth creature, so this year the elements of Wood and Earth are considered in conflict as Wood uses up Earth. However, the Wood Element also gets fed by Earth and therefore is a sign of steady growth for economies around the world. And, because it is Yin Wood, it will usher in more peace and calm. This will be a great relief after a turbulent and fast-paced Horse year. To many people, it may seem a bit boring. Remember that the Chinese consider boredom to be good luck because you have choices!

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