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I am also increasingly worried when I notice how few five element acupuncturists there are here in the West (and by implication also therefore in the future in China) who are prepared to go out and teach what they have learnt, something I find myself repeatedly pointing out. And here I am talking only about those acupuncturists whose five element practice is not altered by the introduction of TCM concepts, as occurs unhappily nowadays all too often. I am also concerned about how much of what I have learnt I will in turn pass on as my own personal transmission of this legacy. Am I doing enough myself?
I always remember what a very wise old Austrian astrologer and musician, Dr Oskar Adler, wrote. He said that we each have a duty to leave behind for others whatever we have ourselves learnt, however small and insignificant in our own eyes this might appear. So I am always alert to the need to encourage any who are now practising five element acupuncture to have the courage to hand on whatever they have learnt to those coming after them. There are, unfortunately, so few who want to do this, probably because they think they have to emulate JR Worsley who would diagnose people’s elements within a few minutes of meeting them. Most of us know that it will take much, much longer to diagnose the elements. This has never worried me. As JR always reminded us, “I have been doing this for more than 40 years. You will be able to do the same when you have practised as long as I have.”
In the meantime, I try to encourage experienced five element acupuncturists to take their courage in their hands and think about teaching others. In my case, I only dared to start doing this because I was asked to run an evening class on acupuncture. At first I was reluctant to accept this challenge, since I had only just qualified, but as JR told me later when I discussed my doubts with him, “Remember, you know more than they do!”. And another tutor of mine reinforced this by telling me, “When you teach, never pretend you know more than you do. If you are honest and say that you don’t know the answer to a student’s question, tell them so and they will respect you for that.” I myself never believe those who always seem to find an answer to everything, whilst I do believe those who tell me they don’t know what the answer is. These I trust for their honesty.
So to any five element acupuncturist out there keen to pass on their knowledge to those with less experience than they have, I say, “Please do so, whatever your doubts. After all, we badly need you.”