I was looking at a patient with a class of students recently, and after 10 minutes talking to the patient in front of the class I asked them if anybody had seen, heard, (smelt!) or felt anything which pointed to a particular element. One of them said, “Well it’s obviously Fire.” This gave me a jolt, because it reminded me how I, too, at this student’s stage of learning, had often thought that a patient’s element was obvious, only to find with surprise that I had got it quite wrong. It is the word “obviously” that a five element acupuncturist must avoid at all costs, because no element will ever be obvious to even the most experienced acupuncturist after a mere 10 minutes. We can so easily fall into a trap of relying upon stereotypes of different elements we have formulated for ourselves, and sticking to them through thick and thin, only to find out later on how wrong we have been.
We should always respect the
mystery which lies deep within another human being, and which the elements
express in all their subtlety. Learning
to fathom this mystery can never be a matter of a mere few minutes’ superficial
Nothing about our practice
can ever be described as dealing with the obvious. We deal with the not-obvious, however
challenging this may be. And this is why
I love what I do.