Saturday, September 10, 2011

Preface to the Chinese edition of my Handbook of Five Element Practice

I give below Mei Long's translation of Liu Lihong's Preface to the Chinese edition of my Handbook which has now appeared in bookshops throughout China.  I am very honoured that he volunteered to write the preface, and am touched with what he has written.  I think this preface is an important document charting the first steps in the return of five element acupuncture to its birthplace.

"The Handbook of Five Element Acupuncture, written by Nora Franglen, will soon be available to Chinese readers. Whilst for the 4th time reading this book admiringly, I must admit that I regret somehow that I have offered myself too eagerly to write the introduction. Since being still learning five element acupuncture myself, I realize that I could hardly give any comment on her book. However, to keep my promise, I’ll manage to write something here.

I came across 5EA because of Dr. Long Mei, who graduated from Chengdu University of TCM in 1991 and has lived in the Netherlands since 1997. In the beginning of 2010, she wrote me a 10-page-long letter, telling me how she came across 5EA, her understanding and experience of practising this school of acupuncture. Deeply touched by Mei’s letter, I realized how wonderful this style of acupuncture is. How amazing that the lineage, rooted in China, is still passing on abroad! Hardly can I stop feeling guilty unless making any effort to welcome it coming home. So last summer I invited Long Mei to run a one-week seminar on 5EA in Nanning.

Originated in China, 5EA has already undergone a history of more than thousands of years. In the second half of last century, prof. J.R. Worsley, an English master of five element acupuncture, made great efforts to promote this school of acupuncture. And thanks to his contribution, the transmission of 5EA has been carried on in Europe and the United States, benefiting so many people. Whereas in her homeland, 5EA has become unknown to Chinese people, both laymen and professionals. As prof. Worsley mentioned, it was an oral tradition, which is very much like the Zen tradition in China – no written history.

In his preface of ShangHan Zha Bing Lun, Zhang Zhongjing wrote: “Heaven distributes 5 phases to create and move 10,000 kinds of species. Endowed with 5 elements, human beings thus have their 5 zangs (organs), Fus and meridians. The deep secrets and the meanings of the manifestations and the changes of Yin and yang, which are closely interrelated and connected to each other, are revealed in such a subtle and profound way that they are hardly understood except for those who are gifted with profound insight.” As to me, this can be a perfect description of 5 element acupuncture.

… It is in finding our guardian element that has made 5EA so difficult and fascinating. Also, this is where we, as practitioners, need to improve ourselves. And by so doing, we are getting more and more into our senses.

To find the right element, is to understand the profoundness of human nature. So we have to, just as prof. Worsley said, “Get out of our mind and into our senses.” Getting out of our mind, as I understand, is to get into our heart. Therefore, to be able to understand and deepen ourselves in this style of acupuncture, we need to let go many ideas and concepts of stereotypes. Whilst the engagement of our brains is so emphasised as to gain the knowledge in the modern time, the heart, however, was much more involved in the old time. In the book of Neijing, the heart was regarded as the emperor, the brains, however, only as one of the Fu organs. It is here that we see the difference between the old value and the new ones. And it must be worthwhile for us pondering over such difference. Understanding the difference between the brains and the heart is probably the key to deepen our understanding in Chinese Medicine. 5EA certainly offers the shortest access to gain the essence of Chinese medicine.

As for the practitioners, 5EA, based on the principles of the Classics, has a special focus on the Spirit. This has made 5EA so profound a form of healing which guides her practitioners following a path that of a supreme physician’s (Shang gong), who always goes beyond the physical level. Whereas for laymen, understanding the elements would bring more joys to their daily lives and help them to live their lives in a healthier way.

In June this year, whilst attending the international TCM congress in Rothenburg, I had chance to meet Nora and from whom I received my treatment. Metal is my guardian element according to Nora. After following a complete process, Nora selected Yuji (Lu, 10, fish region), the most spiritual point of the whole body, she told me, to end the treatment. The point, Lu 10, made me think. As I always enjoy doing: getting the meaning hidden deep within the Chinese characters. I then realized that there must be a connection between character “鱼” (yu), meaning ‘ fish’, and another character “宇” (yu), meaning ‘the universe’. The secret behind Yuji, “fish region” must be” the universe region”! In the book of Yellow Emperor’s Yin Fu Classic, it writes: “the universe lies in our hand, everything in the universe lies in our body.”

Reading Nora’s Handbook, I’m inspired by her profound insights and wisdom; whilst getting her treatment, I’ve experienced the subtleness and sincerity. Being with her, feeling her faith and love for Chinese medicine, flowing out of the heart, I can imagine how delighted Nora feels that 5EA is coming back to the homeland, a journey which has been waiting so long. And I can’t stop admiring and respecting how she is, advanced in her age, yet childlike in spirit. But meanwhile, I feel awesomely sorry, and wonder: as being Chinese, what have we done and what can we do for passing on Chinese medicine?

Liu Lihong, in the midsummer of 2011, at the foot of Green Mountain, Nanning"

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