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 in translation
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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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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Postpartum Recovery from Birthing a Book

Perhaps because I am teaching a gynecology class right now while dealing with the very final last-minute revisions and the release drama of my new book, the "Divine Farmer's Classic of Materia Medica," it has struck me lately how similar the production of a book is to the conception, pregnancy, labor, and birth of a real child, and then the postpartum recovery.

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Rotem Rakovsky: A Short Glimpse Into the Concept of Anxiety in Ancient Chinese Writings

Guest blog by Rotem Rakovsky.

"Anxiety is a fascinating term in Chinese medicine, although it is hardly ever studied and it appears in only few writings. This term describes a condition in which there is an involvement of the Upper Burner/ Shang Jiao and the Lower Burner/Xia Jiao in the body simultaneously, as the throbbing of the heart is accompanied by fear and a sense of quivering at the sides of the navel....

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On Judgment and Plain Old Mama -- and Papa -- Love

What is the meaning of “dis-ease” when we truly see humans as a unified and interconnected whole of body, mind, and spirit, when ancestral miasms, karma, or toxins from emotional responses to the environment are pathogenic factors equal, if not more powerful, than physical causes like germs or environmental pollution? How can we best be of service to others in healing their “dis-ease” without avoiding judgment?

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Guest Blog: A translation by Sumei Yi (edited by Eugene Anderson) of Gao Lian's Writings on Food and Drink

Gao Lian was a 16th-century playwright, litterateur and practitioner of the arts of healing and longevity. He wrote or compiled several treatises on these matters, collected in his “eight treatises” published in 1591 (Wikipedia).  The present translation is of the material on food and drink from this collection, including a good deal of alchemy and medicine. 

Gao’s approach is totally eclectic.  He reproduces a great mass of odd advice and recipes, many of the latter so hard to follow that one doubts strongly if Gao ever tried them or even knew anyone who had. Reproducing any old advice that might help someone live long was a Ming Dynasty practice.  In this book, thoroughly practical village advice is mixed with arcane alchemy.

The book is of interest largely to show what a refined gentleman of the 16th century would think worthy of attention, but some of the recipes are good or historically important.  

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Love Letter to the Universe

Yesterday afternoon, I had the honor of attending the lineage ceremony for the 2015 graduating class from the School of Classical Chinese Medicine at the National College of Natural Medicine. The students expressed some beautiful sentiments towards us teachers, most notably this sentence: “As students, we may just be your love letters to the universe.” This sentence will stick with me forever because there is such truth, hope, and life-affirming beauty in it. 

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