The most important thing for me is the enthusiasm and receptiveness I can sense in the room, and the real keenness in all of us, me included, to learn more from the two patients participants had brought for diagnosis and treatment.
These seminars also provide a kind of a moving benchmark for me, as I realize that my years of practice have taught me more than I sometimes recognise. I can see that some of the signs of the elements I observe in patients are not as obvious to some of the class as they are to me. And this always reminds me of the many, many times I took patients to see JR, and he would say “Fire” or “Wood” or “Water”, and at first I simply could not see this. It was only gradually that I came to realise that what at the time I thought in an over-simplistic way were the signatures of Fire or Wood or Water had to expand and change to accommodate what JR was teaching me.
Looking back I recognize, too, that this was really the only way to learn – through what I got wrong, not through what I got right, something he always told us, as our faces fell at yet another new and often initially puzzling insight into the mysteries of an element.
The words imprinted on our five element hearts should be, “Humility, humility and yet more humility”. We should never be arrogant enough to think that we know all the deep secrets the elements hide within another human being. We should just be delighted, as I always am, that our learning is never finished, and that tomorrow’s patient may open yet another new gate on to the landscape of the elements.