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Newsletter 18: December, 2020

The Daoist Philosophy of Sickness

The modern way to approach Sickness is based on warfare such as with the War on Cancer, the War on Germs et cetera. Find whatever you think is causing the problem and kill it, whatever the ultimate cost will be. This one-sided approach that only appears to benefit society while the real and underlying benefit only too often goes to those who make a Profit on this approach. It is easy to understand how this works, Simply through the disconnect it causes between the members of society. In contrast, the ancient Chinese philosophy that eventually became the foundation for acupuncture and Chinese herbology is radically different restore the Natural balance to the Body/Mind/Spirit so that we can Return to the Empowering experience of being One with All Things. At this point, Suffering and Sickness will be prevented Naturally. In other words, Sickness from this Perspective is regarded as only a message from Heaven telling us that we need to get back into this Balance so that we can be fully supported by our alignment with All Things.

On the sociological level, Natural Healing is something that appears more difficult the more unnatural the World becomes. Since the industrial revolution, the World has become more and more unnatural as it has become filled with chemical, biological, radiation, and electronic toxins that both penetrate and surround our bodies. Nevertheless, the Natural Healing approach teaches us that we must become more aware of these toxins and avoid them whenever possible. When the population of the World reaches a sufficient awareness of these problems, we can finally discontinue their usage and Return to a Natural Way of living that is One with Do once again. But we can only accomplish this change once we realize who is Responsible for this disconnect and why it is taking place.

The Dodjīng is the philosophical and spiritual Source of Ancient Chinese Medicine that explains how our alignment with this higher Perspective works to both Heal and Prevent all kinds of Sickness and Disease, an alignment that is called the Order of the Universe, or chng do . For example, in Chapter 46,

When Do is in the World, horses retire from their travels to fertilize the fields
Tiān xi yǒu do, qu zǒu mǎ yǐ fn
天下有道,卻走馬以糞.

When Do is no longer in the World, War Horses Manifest on the frontier
Tiān xi w do, rng mǎ shēng yū jiāo
天下無道,戎馬生於郊.

No Misfortune is greater than not Knowing what is enough
Hu ru d yū b zhī z
禍若大於不知足.

No greater
Misfortune can occur than from the Desire of acquisitions
Ji ru d yū y d
咎若大於欲得.

Therefore, he who Knows that the Order of the Universe is enough, has enough
G zhī z zhī z chng z yǐ
故知足之足常足矣. Dodjīng 46

Notice here that many of these words are presented in Small Caps. The reason is that they are part of a larger group of 253 individual terms describing the worldview of the Dodjīng. While seemingly complex, these terms are further organized into five Simple categories that are described below in the section on Volume IV of Understanding the Dodjīng. In Chapters 50 and 55, the Order of the Universe Manifests throughout human life by Naturally keeping Sickness at bay. For example, in Chapter 50,

Now it is heard that he who is Good at living Life
Gi wn shn ni shēng zhě
蓋聞善攝生者,

Meets with no wild buffalo or tigers in his travels
Lng xng b y s hū
陵行不遇兕虍,

And comes out of the Military without
Suffering from Shields and Weapons
R jūn b bi jiǎ bīng
入軍不被甲兵.

For him the buffalo finds no place for his horn, the tiger finds no place to claw
S w suǒ tu q jiǎo, hū w suǒ cu q zhaŏ
兕無所投其角, 虍無所措其爪,

And Weapons find no place to slay
Bīng w suǒ rng q rn
兵無所容其刃. Dodjīng 50

Furthermore, Chapter 55 presents this Balance on the psycho-spiritual level in terms of Attaining Virtue, which in Chinese is the D of the Do d jīng. In Ancient Chinese Medicine, Virtue is the Empowerment of each of our five coupled organ systems that Manifest Naturally in human life when the Emotions and Spirit functions of each of them are transformed from their imbalanced and reactional state. The highest level of Virtue occurs when all of these organ systems are Empowered and work together so that we can reach the highest level of integration with Do, which is the Source of All Things. According to Chapter 55,

One who sincerely embodies Virtue is like the Newborn
Hn d zhī hu, yǐ yū ch zǐ
含德之厚,以於赤子.

Poisonous insects [that is, hornets and scorpions] and snakes do not sting it
Fēng chi huǐ sh b sh
蜂蠆虺蛇不螫,

Fierce beasts do not prey upon it
Měng shu b j
猛獸不據,

And birds of prey do not spring upon it
Ju diǎo b b
攫鳥不搏. . . .

To Know this Harmony is called the Order of the Universe
Zhī h yuē chng
知和曰常.

To Know the Order of the Universe is called Enlightenment
Zhī chng yuē mng
知常曰明. . . .

But to make things flourish [Excessively through egocentricity] can result in their growing old
W zhung z lǎo
物壯則老,

And is understood as being opposed to Do
Wi zhī b do
謂之不道.

Whatever opposes Do will come to a premature End
B do zǎo yǐ
不道早已. Dodjīng 55

This entire process of Healing is somewhat humorously summarized in Chapter 71 as being Sick of being Sick. For example,

To Know that you do not Know is best
Zhī b zhī, shng
知不知,上,

But not to Know that you are Sick is [itself] a flaw or Sickness
B zhī bng, bng
不知病,病.

Therefore, to be Sick of being Sick is [Known as] not being Sick
Fū wi bng bng, sh yǐ b bng
夫唯病病,是以不病.

The Sage is not Sick
Shng rn b bng
聖人不病,

Because he is Sick of being Sick
Yǐ q bng bng
以其病病,

Which is why he is not Sick
Sh yǐ b bng
是以不病. Dodjīng 71

The main questions brought up by these examples are oriented around how we, as human beings, can accomplish this goal. Should we pay someone else to do it for us like the doctors and politicians or the old-time slaves depending on our position in society, or is this accomplishment fully dependent upon taking the Responsibility to do it for ourselves? While at first glance, such an overriding Responsibility may seem overly difficult, but the Dodjīng Constantly reminds us how it is in reality based upon utter Simplicity. For example, in Chapter 37,

The Ten Thousand Things will Transform by themselves
Wn w jing z hu
萬物將自化.

Once they have Transformed and Desire to take Action
Hu r y zu
化而欲作,

They should be checked by the Simplicity that has no Name
W jing zhn zhī yǐ w mng zhī pǔ
吾將鎮之以無名之樸.

Only this Nameless Simplicity can lead to [a state of Being without] Desire
W mng zhī pǔ, fū y jing w y
無名之樸,夫亦將無欲.

When Desires no longer exist, Quietude remains
B y yǐ jng
不欲以靜,

And the World will be content with itself (Spontaneously)
Tiān xi jing z dng
天下將自定. Dodjīng 37

And in Chapter 57,

I have no Desires and the people [are able to] Simplify be themselves
Wǒ w y r mn z pǔ
我無欲而民自樸. Dodjīng 57

These ideas infer that Healing does not have to depend on rocket science. Rather, it is based on maintaining a Simple, yet powerful, alignment with All Things that is not obscured by the Desire or Knowledge that can easily lead one astray by exaggerating and promoting the individual self. For example, in Chapter 3,

By not Valuing goods obtained through Contention, you will not give people the message to become thieves
B gu nu d zhī hu, shǐ mn b wi do 不貴難得之貨,使民不為盜.

By not displaying what may cause Desire
B jin kě y
不見可欲,

You wont turn the peoples Heart/Mind toward Confusion and Disorder
Shǐ mn xīn b lun
,使民心不亂.

What follows is the Sages manner of Regulating/Healing
Sh yǐ shn grn zhī zh
是以聖人之治:

Empty your Heart/Mind, fill your belly, Soften your Will, and Strengthen your bones
Xū q xīn, sh q f, ru q zh, qing q gǔ
虛其心, 實其腹, 弱其志, 強其骨.

Through Constancy [otherwise known as the Order of the Universe] he shows the people how to be without [self-promoting] Knowledge and without Desire
Chng shǐ mn w zhī w y
常使民無知無欲,

And teaches them how to be Knowledgeable without becoming presumptuous
S fū zhī zhě b gǎn wi yě
使夫知者不敢為也.

Act with Non-Action and there is nothing that cannot be Regulated/Healed
Wi w wi, z w b zh
為無為 ,則無不治. Dodjīng 3

The requirement that this approach is based upon, the Constant alignment that one makes with All Things, produces the Gratitude for Suffering. Only by finally acknowledging our Suffering, we can liberate ourselves from it. According to Chapter 13,

Value Great Suffering as though it were upon your own body
H wi, gu d hun ru shēn
何謂﹕「貴大患若身」.

Because the place for the greatest
Suffering is within ourselves
W suǒ yī yǒu d hun zhě
吾所一有大患者.

For
Suffering to act upon us, we must have a body
Wi w yǒu shēn
為吾有身.

If we didnt have a body, how else could we have any
Suffering
J w w shēn, w yǒu h hun
及吾無身,吾有何患?

Therefore, only the one who acts as though he Values his body as the World
G gu yǐ shēn wi tiān xi
故貴以身為天下,

Is able to be entrusted with the World
Ru j tiān xi
若可寄天下.

Only the one who Loves his body as the World can be entrusted with the World
i yǐ shēn wi tiān xi, ru kě tuō tiān xi
愛以身為天下,若可託天下. Dodjīng 13

To Know this Great Suffering is to place limits on the expansion of the Body, Mind, and Spirit so that we can remain in Balance and Harmony with All Things. With the Body we fill our bellies with natural organic food in a Balanced manner that has been grown in the same latitude and climate as where we live. With the Mind, we place limitations on Misfortune, Calamities, Retribution, Sickness, and Suffering by limiting Desire and Greed, Selfishness, becoming overly Clever, and, therefore, Arrogant, a state that separates us from All Things where we erroneously presume that something or someone other than ourselves can save us, or that we can only save ourselves by promoting our Personal Good at the expense of the Good of All, an Arrogance that is dependent upon Physical, Military, Political, or Ideological Force, which is the total opposite of allowing it to happen Spontaneously. Instead, by making our alignment with All Things, we allow Heaven to Spontaneously Act within us for our highest Fulfillment to accomplish our Personal Good in relation to the Good of All. In Chapter 16 of the Dodjīng, this higher alignment is called Returning to Destiny:

Go to the Polarity of Emptiness and Guard the genuine Quietude
Zh xū j shǒu jng dǔ
致虛極守靜篤.

While All Things strive together, only I perceive the Return
Wn w bng zu w yǐ guan f
萬物並作吾以觀復.

For as much as things tend to proliferate, they will all Return to their Root
Fū w yn yn g f guī q gēn
夫物芸芸各復歸其根.

To Return to this Root is to find Quietude, which is called Returning to Destiny
Guī gēn yuē jng, sh wi f mng
歸根曰靜, 是謂復命.

Returning to Destiny is called Constancy; to Know this Constancy is called Enlightenment
F mng yuē chng; zhī chng yuē mng
復命曰常; 知常曰明.

Not to Know this Constancy, and acting in a disorderly manner, leads to Misfortune
B zhī chng wng zu xiōng
不知常妄作凶.

Yet by Knowing this Constancy one can endure things; by enduring things one can be fair and open to all
Zhī chng rng, rng nǎi gōng
知常容, 容乃公.

Fairness and openness is Kingly, and Kingliness is Heavenly
Gōng nǎi wng, wng nǎi tiān
公乃王,王乃天.

While Heaven is like the Do, Do is what really endures
Tiān nǎi do, do nǎi jiǔ
天乃道,道乃久,

So that even when the body is gone, you will not be endangered
Mi shēn b di
沒身不殆. Dodjīng 13

This special type of alignment with All Things is also what is required of the Lord/Ruler, whether over the entire society on the sociological level or of the Spirit function of the Heart, which in Ancient Chinese Medicine is called the Sovereignty of Conscious Awareness that rules over the Body/Mind aspect of each individual person. This idea is articulated further in Chapter 34:

The Great Do is like a River, how can it be turned Right or Left
D do s xī, q kě zuǒ yu
大道汜兮,其可左右?

The Ten Thousand Things all depend upon it for their Manifestation and so it turns none of them down
Wn w sh zhī r shēng r b c
萬物恃之而生而不辭.

It Realizes its own work but takes no credit for it
Gōng chng b mng yǒu
功成不名有.

It clothes and Nourishes the Ten Thousand Things without Acting as their Lord/Ruler
Yī yǎng wn w r b wi zhǔ
衣養萬物而不為主.

Because it is Constantly without Desire, it can be called Small in these occasions
Chng w y, kě mng yū xiǎo
常無欲,可名於「小」.

The Ten Thousand Things [all] Return to it but it does not Act as their Lord/Ruler
Wn w guī yān r b wi zhǔ
萬物歸焉而不為主.

Thus, it can be Named Great
Kě mng wi d
可名為「大」.

Because its Greatness is truly selfless, it is thus able to Realize its [True] Greatness
Yǐ q zhōng b z wi d, g nng chng q d
以其終不自為大,故能成其大. Dodjīng 34

This process takes place by cultivating the Order of the Universe as in Chapter 52:

Block all the openings, close the all gates, and you will not notice when the body Dies
Sāi q du, b q mn, zhōng shēn b qn
塞其兌,閉其門,終身不勤;

Open all the passages, increase your Personal Agendas, and
when the body Dies you cannot be saved
Kāi q du, j q sh, zhōng shēn b ji
開其兌,濟其事,終身不救.

To see what is Small is called Enlightenment, to guard what is Yielding is called Strength
Jin xiǎo yuē mng, shǒu ru yuē qing
見小曰明,守柔曰強.

Use your brightness, but Return to the Enlightened [state]
Yng q guāng f guī q mng
用其光復歸其明.

So as not to bring Retribution upon yourself
W y shēn yāng
遺身殃.

This is how to cultivate the Order of the Universe
Sh wi x chng
是為習常! Dodjīng 52

In doing so, according to Chapter 25,

Man imitates Earth, Earth imitates Heaven, and Heaven imitates Do
Rn fǎ d, d fǎ tiān, tiān fǎ do
人法地,地法天,天法道,

While Do imitates the Natural Spontaneity of itself
Do fǎ z rn
道法自然. Dodjīng 25

In other words, from Chapter 64,

The Sage supports All Things to be Spontaneous and without presumption
Yǐ fǔ wn w zhī z rn r b gǎn wi 以輔萬物之自然而不敢爲.
Dodjīng 64

Practical Interpretation of this Philosophy

Philosophically, these ideas outlined above from the Dodjīng provide a worldview that Naturally Manifests as Physical, Psycho-Emotional, and Spiritual health as well as the ultimate Fulfillment for the individual and One Peaceful World for the planet and the entire population. Practically, they need to be applied in different and unique ways for each individual. Furthermore, it is the obligation of each person to discover what these are for them through open-minded skepticism and how they should be applied. This process is what makes life truly exciting as well as Fulfilling.

Personally, I have had a number of experiences that have helped to guide me along this Path. Three of them are especially pertinent to this discussion. The first happened when I was living in Berkeley in 1972 and contemplating going to acupuncture school in Hong Kong with Henry C. Lu. One night after reaching a particularly high level of consciousness in meditation, I asked the powers that be why I couldnt maintain this state in daily life. The answer that came to me was that I could maintain it but only if I ate a natural foods diet that would support it on the physical and biological levels. After asking what that should be, I saw Heaven coming down from above and combining with the Earth rising up from below to form a horizontal line in the middle between them in perfect proportion. Upon further examination, I noticed that this line was comprised of a field of grain, after which a voice came out of nowhere saying that thy staple food shall be whole grain. The next morning, I went to the health food store and purchased a grain grinder for flour and cracked grain that I have been using regularly to this day. This experience helped me Realize that the Balance and Harmony inherent to whole grains is what has made them the principle food for most societies prior to the negative aspects of food refining that came in the nineteenth century from the industrial revolution. In fact, the Chinese word for peace (h ) reveals this process through its Simple etymological depiction of eating (kǒu ) whole grains (h ).

The second experience happened when I was living in Roslindale, a suburb of Boston, where I was growing kale in my garden, something I had been doing since high school in Toledo, Ohio. This time, however, the kale had become infested with aphids, which ate small holes in the leaves of the kale and covered the leaves with their compacted soft bodies rendering the kale inedible. Upon doing some research as to what I could do Naturally to reverse this condition, I found recommendations for spraying the leaves with soapy water to kill the aphids. Upon application, however, I found this war-like approach to be very limited. While it did get rid of the aphids, the leaves remained tainted and inedible from the slimy soap, which couldnt be washed away without revealing damage to the leaves of the kale from the soap as well as from the aphids for the rest of the season. A much better approach consisted of Simply applying organic fertilizer to the base of the kale plants after which, much to my surprise, the aphids were all gone by the next day and all of the leaves remained edible. This approach was definitely a more Natural, Simple, and effective approach! Just give the plants what they really needed and they would Spontaneously take care of themselves. Dont you wish you could do that for yourself?

The third experience was with making sauerkraut here in Marshfield where I have been living now for almost 20 years. I first started making sauerkraut back when I lived in Berkeley and I have been making it every year since. One of my original goals was to make it with the least amount of salt possible. Eventually, I discovered that how I mixed all of the ingredients together was the secret to this success. Ironically, kneading them thoroughly but gently was the best approach for the regular hard head cabbage, while kneading them more strongly was the best approach for the softer Napa cabbage, which is used in Kimchee. Once I put this mixture into the fermenting crock, pressed it down, and placed a cover with a rock on it, the water from the vegetables rose out over the top of the vegetables and protected them from the air during the fermentation period, which could last sometimes for over two months. A great many beneficial bacteria as well as enzymes are produced from this fermentation, which makes it a very healthy food to eat, especially during the winter season.

One time, however, I noticed that the water had evaporated leaving a dusty grey fungal and bacterial material growing over the top of the sauerkraut, which it had started to replace. At first, I thought that the sauerkraut had entirely spoiled and that I should throw it all away. However, because I was also aware of the controlling influence of the beneficial over the pathogenic bacteria growing in the gut, I wondered that if I supported the growth of the beneficial bacteria in the sauerkraut, the pathogenic bacteria would Spontaneously go away there as well. So, I superficially scraped off the scum from the top of the sauerkraut and added a little more slightly salty water to cover it, and let it go. Upon examining it week by week, I found that the color and smell of the sauerkraut improved over the next month, after which I ate it wholeheartedly and shared it with my friends and family. From that time on, I placed much more attention on kneading the fresh cabbage Appropriately so that it could be more effectively covered by the water that was pulled out of it by the small amount of salt and the fermentation process could proceed without interruption.

The question that all of this philosophy brings up for me is how can we apply these principles to other kinds of Disease control? I invite you to figure this out for yourself. As stated in the Nijīng (Inner Classic of Acupuncture), to do this dont wait until you are thirsty to dig your well, and dont wait until the battle starts to sharpen your sword.

Supplementary Factors

Supplementary factors that support this Ancient Chinese Natural Healing perspective include food, herbs, Daoist meditation, Qgōng, acupressure, shiatsu, acupuncture, and chiropractic adjustments. Different types of food bring different types of Q into the physical organism depending on the part of growth they represent. The roots of vegetables, for example, tend to strengthen the lower parts of the body, while the leaves, sprouts, and flowers tend to strengthen and liberate the upper parts. Herbs follow in this trend by adding more power in a more specific way. The other supplementing factors mentioned above have a greater capacity to connect the Body, Mind, and Spirit to create an even greater overall alignment with the universe. Achieving Balance and Harmony through a combination of these approaches is the fundamental core of Natural Healing and Prevents Suffering and Disease from occurring. In contrast, artificial and man-made approaches, while they may relieve Disease symptoms temporarily, typically throw this alignment out of Balance through the long-term risk of their accompanying side-effects. They should, therefore, be avoided whenever possible.

Understanding the Dodjīng

The Dodjīng is the fundamental text in understanding this Natural perspective. Originally written around 300 BCE, the Dodjīng represents a unique worldview of Natural Healing on several sophisticated philosophical and spiritual levels. I spent many decades in pursuit of this understanding and eventually published them together in a five-volume series, which can be found on my website. Volume I, The Dodjīng Companion, presents a line-by-line translation of each chapter along with the Chinese characters and their Pīnyīn pronunciation. These translations are placed on the left-hand side of the book corresponding to the even pages, while a full color photograph relating to the theme of that chapter that I personally took in China is placed on the right-hand side corresponding to the odd pages. That way, the reader can more easily experience a deeper and more personal understanding of the text.

Volume II, The Flower of Authenticity and the Three Levels of Healing in the Dodjīng and Classical Chinese Medicine, shows in detail how the ideas presented in the worldview of the Dodjīng form the backbone of these teachings on the ancient Healing process. The Symptomatic Level is the first and lowest level of this approach, the Preventive Level is the middle level, and Fulfilling Ones Inner Potential, otherwise known as Returning to Destiny, by embodying the Order of the Universe is the highest level. The purpose of this Healing perspective is to integrate these three levels into one overall approach, something that can only be achieved by a master, a goal that makes this high level of attainment so worthwhile to achieve.

Volume III, The Dodjīng, Daoism, and the Restoration of Humanity in the Asian Healing Arts, also includes the translation and the Chinese text for each chapter, while adding explanations on the fundamental aspects of ancient Chinese culture that is necessary to completely understand the text in the Introduction along with individual chapter commentaries explaining these connections in detail.

Volume IV, Many Paths, One Center: A Comprehensive Study of the Dodjīng, explains the worldview that emanates from the text. Simply put, this worldview can be divided into five easily understandable parts. Part 1 is a Definition of Do as both the Source of All Things as well as the Path that leads to its understanding. Part 2 describes how Do Manifests into the World while maintaining its important connection to All Things. Part 3 defines D/Virtue in terms of the Emotions, Spirit Functions, and Empowerments of the Organs according to Classical Chinese Medicine and, therefore, how Returning our Human Nature to our Original Nature plays a crucial role in this maintaining this connection. Part 4 defines the Fragmentation of Do, or how we tend to Lose it, through the Confusion and Disorder that disrupts the otherwise positive influence of Balance and Harmony in our lives. These include, Desire, Greed, Selfishness, and the four types of Force listed above. Finally, Part 5 shows how we can Return to Dao and reestablish the Balance and Harmony between us and All Things by Embracing Do through Simplicity, acknowledgment of the Feminine Principle, maintaining a Balanced perspective on Knowledge (as excessive or impertinent Knowledge can inadvertently be used with Arrogance), achieving Yin-Yang Regularity, and practicing Meditation and Tijqun.

Volume V, The Hidden Codes of the Dodjīng: Archeological, Numerological, and Thematic Context Interpretations, compares and contrasts the Received Text of Wngb in the second century CE with the earlier Guōdin and Mǎwngduī archeological versions of 300 BCE. This approach shows how the text was originally written for the Ruler and evolved over time to include the Sovereignty of Conscious Awareness within the Heart of every person, as well as the Sage who reaches this level of attainment. Commentaries for each chapter are also presented and include interpretations based these comparisons as well as on the Thematic Context and the numerology of each chapter as was also established in these Ancient Times for the Yjīng, or Book of Changes. All in all, the perspective provided by these five volumes enables the reader to better understand the text and apply this understanding to everyday life so that both freedom from Sickness and a higher level of Healing can be achieved.

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