Thursday, November 11, 2010

A lineage is a line

Below I give the text of a comment I have just left on the five element site 5e_acup.

"Having at long last joined this group, I am only just getting to grips with how to read what is in it, but I have managed to read the last messages, and the many comments they express. You have listed many important questions, Michael, and there are many other queries, all of which deserve exploring. Here, though, are my thoughts on some of what I have so far read.

A lineage is a line. It is never complete. It means a line of transmission, and that line starts before a master of that lineage enters the line and continues after that master has died.

I have translated Jacques Lavier’s History, doctrine and practice of Chinese acupuncture from French into English. As you know from Peter Eckman’s book, Lavier was one of the teachers of JR, Dick van Buren, Mary Austin and others. Much of what is in JR’s black book comes directly from the appendix of Jacques Lavier’s book, and presumably Lavier in his turn took his information from some of the masters with whom he studied in the Far East. JR is therefore one in an awesomely long lineage going right back to the pre-Christian era, and hoorah for that.

There is no doubt that JR developed his thoughts during a lifetime’s practice. I witnessed some of these developments. He undoubtedly dropped much of the more symptomatic acupuncture which fills the black book and to an extent also what is listed at the back of his Meridian and Points book. For example, when discussing possession, I never heard him suggest we select different ID points for patients “with depression” or “without depression”. With my first clinical patient as a student at JR’s college, I found weak pulses on both Metal and what I call Outer Fire (Three Heater and Heart Protector). The patient was a Fire CF. I was told to tonify both Metal and Fire. I was also taught sedation as well as tonification techniques as a matter of course. In the years of my observation of many hundreds of patients with JR, he never (not once!) suggested that we sedate a patient. The clearing of AE and removal of all the other blocks, such as Possession, Husband/Wife and Entry/Exit, all reduce the build-up of excess energy between different elements. These must have been improvements to practice which JR developed over time.

A lineage dies out if it is not fertilized by new thoughts in this way. It is the duty of those taught by a master to develop his teachings otherwise they become as sterile as some of the discussions and questions flying around now. JR very rarely answered the many sort of questions that are asked. As I heard him say once, in one of those profound and cryptic utterances with which masters like to puzzle their pupils, but which force us to go away and think, “If you have to ask that question, you won’t understand the answer.”

I don’t like all these boxes people forever seem to be trying to enclose five element acupuncture in, and boxes with abbreviations to capital letters I like even less, as though a particular branch of acupuncture is being given a trade-mark which, God forbid, somebody else will be forbidden to use. Will somebody take me to court because I always put needles into the Heart AEPs from the start (but with extreme care), because I have found AE on Heart and not on Heart Protector? Shock, horror, to those of us, who were taught as I was, only to put needles in the Heart AEPs if there is AE on Heart Protector. I have also found that by putting the needles in the Heart AEPs, AE then emerges afterwards on the Heart Protector needles! That is something new that I have learnt and which I now teach others to do. Have I thereby deviated from the lineage to which JR belonged? I don’t think so. I see it as developing that lineage and keeping it alive.

And one way in which I hope I am helping to keep the lineage alive is through my practice and through my writing, in particular of my blog, which I find is fertilizing my thoughts at an unexpectedly deep level. I like to think that I am encouraging others coming after me to go on exploring and through their own practice developing new ways of practising. As JR said, “if you had all had 40 years of practice as I have, you would be able to do what I am doing”. That may, or may not be true, for mastery is given to only a rare few, but the thought behind his words is that of a true teacher to a pupil. It is to go out there and do better than me."

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