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

Sun Simiao 孫思邈

I consider my research and translations on Sun Simiao to be the focus of my professional work in this lifetime.

凡大醫治病,必當安神定志,無欲無求,先發大慈惻隱之心。誓願普救含靈之苦。
Whenever eminent physicians treat an illness, they must quiet the spirit and settle the will, they must be free of wants and desires, and they must first develop a heart full of great compassion and empathy. They must pledge to devote themselves completely to relieving the suffering of all sentient beings.
— Sun Simiao, Bei Ji Qian Jin Yao Fang I.2
 
Sun Simiao, King of Medicinals 藥王 (thanks to Paul U. Unschuld for graciously allowing me to use his photographs of Sun Simiao)

Sun Simiao, King of Medicinals 藥王 (thanks to Paul U. Unschuld for graciously allowing me to use his photographs of Sun Simiao)

 

At this point, the present page merely offers a brief introduction and collection of translations, articles, and other resources that I have prepared for my own research and teaching. Hopefully, at some point I will be able to turn all this into a book in its own right.

  • For my literal translation of the entire biography of Sun Simiao, as found in the Jiu Tang Shu 舊唐書 ("Old Tang History"), see here.
  • For my literal translation of Sun Simiao's passage on medical ethics, found in Volume 1 of the Bei Ji Qian Jin Yao Fang, see here.
  • For a free link to my article on "Nurturing Life in Classical Chinese Medicine: Sun Simiao on Healing without Drugs, Transforming Bodies, and Cultivating Life," see here. Please consider supporting the Journal of Chinese Medicine with a subscription. Peter Deadman and his collaborators graciously share much of the journal's content for free through their website and have been providing an important source of information on Chinese medicine since 1979.
  • For an interview with Heiner Fruehauf and Laurie Regan on "Exploring Ancient Wisdom with Classical Chinese Medicine Scholar Sabine Wilms" on True Nature Radio, see here.
  • For my literal translation of the introduction to gynecology, vols. 2-4 of the Bei Ji Qian Jin Yao Fang, see here.
  • For more information on Sun Simiao's treatment of women, see my page "Nurturing the Feminine."
  • For more information on Sun Simiao's writings on pediatrics, see my page "Nurturing the Small" and my book Venerating the Root, available through the Store.
  • For more on Sun Simiao's writings on dietetics, see my article "Eating for Long Life: Sun Simiao on Dietetics" in the Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine Journal (Autumn 2013, vol. 10, no. 2). The editors have graciously allowed me to provide a link to the pdf file here for you to download. Please consider supporting this organization.
  • For a collection of images of Sun Simiao, see Paul U. Unschuld, Medicine in China: Historical Artifacts and Images (Prestel, 1999). This beautiful book contains an entire chapter on "Medicine, Healing, and Popular Religion," which includes a section on "The Tang Period Physician Sun Simiao: From Healer to Medicine God" on pp. 88-94.
  • Reflecting his life-long engagement with Sun Simiao, Dr. Unschuld has also published his research elsewhere, such as in an article on "Sun Szu-miao and the Origins of the Debate on Medical Ethics" in his book Medical Ethics in Imperial China (University of California Press, 1979). Other information by Unschuld on Sun Simiao is found throughout his writings, such as in Medicine in China: A History of Ideas (University of California Press, 1985 and rev. in 2010) and in his Medicine in China: A History of Pharmaceutics (University of California Press, 1986).
  • Nathan Sivin's account of Sun Simiao's life in his Chinese Alchemy: Preliminary Studies (Harvard University Press, 1968), which includes a translation of the Dan Jing Yao Jue 丹經要訣 ("Essentials of the Scriptures on Elixirs"), presents a slightly different account of Sun Simiao's life. His critical academic approach is perhaps summarized best by this statement of his: "In the case of Sun, our warrantable knowledge, based on the incontrovertible testimony of a well-placed witness, at least allows us to set him in his time: Sun was in the Emperor’s retinue in 673, and stated at the time that he was born in 581; despite the great age which these dates imply, he was in excellent condition, body and mind. Nothing else survives the process of elimination."
 
 
Another depiction of Sun Simiao from Paul U. Unschuld's collection of images published in "Medicine in China: Historical Artifacts and Images."

Another depiction of Sun Simiao from Paul U. Unschuld's collection of images published in "Medicine in China: Historical Artifacts and Images."