Nurturing life through the body, heart, and spirit with the wisdom of Chinese medicine
IMG_0584.JPG

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 reflection
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.

Read More
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.”

Read More
No Hippopotamus for Christmas

Dear Friends, family, colleagues, neighbors, acquaintances, or anybody else who may be expecting a present from me! Dear marketers, intentional manipulators of my emotional Christmas hang-ups, and purveyors of junk mail! Dear anybody who is trying to get me to buy or sell anything this Christmas!

It is the intention of this letter to inform all of you that I have not and will not be buying presents to celebrate Christmas this year. I regret to inform you all that nobody will be receiving a hippopotamus from me for Christmas, regardless of how nicely you can sing that tune. Allow me to explain, in the hope that you will understand and not take it personal if you do not receive a present from me or get me to buy your product. 

Read More
Frog in the Well

May I introduce you, dear reader to my two new friends?  A cedar and a pine tree living in a secluded corner of the thick rain forest, in a magical grove behind my home. On a recent morning walk, I found them in an intimate embrace with such good strong healing qì that they drew me in and convinced me to pause for a moment and listen to their wisdom. It was much-needed balm for my troubled heart and spirit so I decided to share it. I also got the strange sense that they wanted me to pass this on. Here’s what they had to share with me. 

Read More
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.

Read More
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.

Read More
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.

Read More
The Gift of Imperfection

It's been a long week for me, ever since I received an email from a attentive reader about an inexplicable error in my newly published translation of the "Divine Farmer's Classic of Materia Medica" 《神農本草經》... It is the year of the Fire Monkey, and I knew it was going to be a wild ride. Which is why I had been so determined to publish the book before the New Year. But I guess it was too late, the Fire Monkey did his monkeying anyway, and what a gift that has been for me! Like the gold filling the cracks in the Japanese art of Kintsugi, healing the break, so to speak, and thereby making the final product more beautiful and stronger as the result, I have spent the past week contemplating what happened and how to resolve it. All is well, imperfection is the nature of the world, I just need to chill and read my Laozi. Which I truly have been doing. Words are always just imperfect pointers at the greater truth of reality. The Dao that can be taught, expressed, walked, or transmitted as a path for others to follow, is never the unchanging, constant Dao. We all know this. Empty your heart and fill your belly..

Read More