Monday, December 1, 2014

Back from my 6th visit to China

Each time I come back from China, I become increasingly aware of the importance tradition plays in its life and how much less this seems to be true of England.  This was particularly so on this visit when I gave a talk to some 300 students of traditional Chinese medicine at the Guangxi University of Chinese Medicine.  As I stood outside the lecture hall waiting to be introduced, I could hear the students in unison chanting a text appearing on the large screen behind the platform.  I was told that this represented a passage from the writings of Sun Si Miao about the purity and sincerity of the great physician, which they recite each day before they start their classes.  This is much as if medical students over here were daily to recite the Hippocratic Oath.

As they finished and I was led on to the platform, I felt  that I was being ushered into the presence of a long line of Chinese practitioners stretching back many hundreds of years, much as I always feel that JR Worsley stands at my shoulder as I talk about five element acupuncture.  This feeling was made even stronger by being asked to be photographed at the feet of a giant statue of Zhang Zhong Jing (150 – 215 AD), writer of the "Treatise on Exogenous Febrile Disease” which towers over the campus. The sense of a long tradition of traditional medicine is undoubtedly and quite understandably much stronger in China, the country of its birth, than anything experienced in other countries.  And it is now accompanied by a realization of the tragic discontinuity of these old traditions caused by the upheavals of its recent past.

This is why our visits are regarded by our hosts as a heartening reconnection to what has been lost.  Five element acupuncture is seen as a pure form of traditional acupuncture whose roots lie buried deep in the Nei Jing and whose great trunk is now growing ever stronger new branches back in China.

I am so very delighted by increasing evidence of the rebirth of five element acupuncture amongst the many new students attracted to the seminars we have been giving over the past three years.  It pleases me that the group of our first students are now themselves giving preparatory seminars to new students before we arrive so that we no longer need to teach the most basic principles of five element acupuncture, but can each time move on to a more advanced level.

There were 70 students in this latest group, half of them new and half practitioners who had come to previous seminars. Unfortunately Mei Long could not be with us this time, so Guy Caplan and I had to work a little harder.  I was asked how many more new students we could accommodate next time we go, which will be in April 2015, and I said as many as can fit into the new premises of the Tong You San He Centre where we teach.  I understand this to be about 90 – 100.  Since we include in each seminar somewhat hastily arranged diagnoses of each new student’s guardian element, this represents a significant challenge to us.  But it is a challenge which I have learnt we must accept, since to leave a new student of five element acupuncture with no idea at all of their own element undermines their confidence in what they are learning. 

As groups of them line up for us to try and see what diagnostic pointers we can observe to help in our diagnoses, I always tell them that this is a very inadequate form of diagnosis, and not at all what they should be doing with their own patients, but that the time constraints we are working under make it the only possible one, given the numbers in our seminars.  The students are therefore quite happy if later during the seminar, after watching them carefully, we decide to change our diagnosis.  And each of them is given a treatment consisting of an Aggressive Energy drain and source points of the diagnosed element as a further way both of teaching them the basic simple tenets of our practice, and of allowing us to observe the effects of this treatment to help us assess whether we think our diagnosis is correct or not.

We came back, as usual, laden with presents, so that even though I took over a large batch of my books to give to any English-speaking practitioners in the group, and thought I would return with a half-empty suitcase, I was still overweight at the check-in desk!








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