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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.
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.
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
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 Dào 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 Dàodéjīng 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 cháng dào 常道. For
example, in Chapter 46,
When Dào is in the World, horses retire from their travels to fertilize
Tiān xià yǒu dào, què zǒu mǎ yǐ
When Dào is no longer
in the World, War Horses Manifest on the frontier
Tiān xià wú dào, róng mǎ shēng
yū jiāo 天下無道，戎馬生於郊.
No Misfortune is greater than not Knowing what is enough
Huò ruò dà yū bù zhī zú 禍若大於不知足.
No greater Misfortune can occur than
from the Desire of acquisitions
Jiù ruò dà yū yù dé 咎若大於欲得.
Therefore, he who Knows that the Order of the
Universe is enough, has enough
Gù zhī zú zhī zú cháng zú yǐ
故知足之足常足矣.⸺ Dàodéjīng 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 Dàodéjīng. 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 Dàodéjīng.” 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
Gài wén shàn niè shēng zhě 蓋聞善攝生者,
Meets with no wild
buffalo or tigers in his travels
Líng xíng bù yù sì hū 陵行不遇兕虍,
And comes out of the Military without Suffering from Shields and Weapons
Rù jūn bù bèi 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
Sì wú suǒ tóu qí jiǎo, hū wú
suǒ cuò qí zhaŏ 兕無所投其角, 虍無所措其爪,
And Weapons find no place to slay
Bīng wú suǒ róng qí rèn 兵無所容其刃.⸺ Dàodéjīng 50
Furthermore, Chapter 55 presents this Balance
on the psycho-spiritual level in terms of Attaining Virtue, which in Chinese is the “Dé” of the Dào dé 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 Dào, which is the Source of All Things. According
to Chapter 55,
sincerely embodies Virtue is like the Newborn
Hán dé zhī hòu, yǐ yū chì zǐ 含德之厚，以於赤子.
[that is, hornets and scorpions] and snakes do not sting it
Fēng chài huǐ shé bù shì 蜂蠆虺蛇不螫,
Fierce beasts do not
prey upon it
Měng shòu bù jù 猛獸不據,
And birds of prey do
not spring upon it
Jué diǎo bù bó 攫鳥不搏. . . .
To Know this Harmony is called the Order of the Universe
Zhī hé yuē cháng 知和曰常.
To Know the Order of the Universe is called Enlightenment
Zhī cháng yuē míng 知常曰明. . . .
But to make things
flourish [Excessively through egocentricity] can result in their growing old
Wù zhuàng zé lǎo 物壯則老,
And is understood as
being opposed to Dào
Wèi zhī bù dào 謂之不道.
Whatever opposes Dào will come to a
Bù dào zǎo yǐ 不道早已.⸺ Dàodéjīng 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 bù zhī, shàng 知不知，上,
But not to Know that you are Sick is [itself] a flaw or Sickness
Bù zhī bìng, bìng 不知病，病.
Therefore, to be Sick of being Sick is [Known as] not being Sick
Fū wéi bìng bìng, shì yǐ bù bìng 夫唯病病，是以不病.
The Sage is not Sick
Shèng rén bù bìng 聖人不病,
Because he is Sick of being Sick
Yǐ qí bìng bìng 以其病病,
Which is why he is not Sick
Shì yǐ bù bìng 是以不病.⸺ Dàodéjīng 71
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
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 Dàodéjīng 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
Wàn wù jiàng zì huà 萬物將自化.
Once they have Transformed and Desire to take Action
Huà ér yù zuò 化而欲作,
They should be
checked by the Simplicity that has no Name
Wú jiàng zhèn zhī yǐ wú míng
zhī pǔ 吾將鎮之以無名之樸.
Only this Nameless Simplicity can lead to [a state of Being without] Desire
Wú míng zhī pǔ, fū yì jiàng wú
When Desires no longer exist, Quietude remains
Bù yù yǐ jìng 不欲以靜,
And the World will be content with itself (Spontaneously)
Tiān xià jiàng zì dìng 天下將自定.⸺ Dàodéjīng 37
And in Chapter 57,
I have no Desires and the people [are able to] Simplify be themselves
Wǒ wú yù ér mín zì pǔ 我無欲而民自樸.⸺ Dàodéjīng 57
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
Bù guì nuó dé
zhī huò, shǐ mín bù wèi dào 不貴難得之貨，使民不為盜.
By not displaying what may cause Desire
Bù jiàn kě yù不見可欲,
You won’t turn the people’s Heart/Mind toward Confusion and Disorder
Shǐ mín xīn bù luàn，使民心不亂.
What follows is the Sage’s manner of Regulating/Healing
Shì yǐ shèn grén zhī zhì 是以聖人之治:
“Empty your Heart/Mind, fill your belly, Soften your Will, and Strengthen your bones”
Xū qí xīn, shí qí fù, ruò qí zhì,
qiáng qí 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
Cháng shǐ mín wú zhī wú yù 常使民無知無欲,
And teaches them how to be Knowledgeable without becoming presumptuous
Shǐ fū zhī zhě bù gǎn wèi yě 使夫知者不敢為也.
Act with Non-Action and there is nothing that cannot be Regulated/Healed
Wèi wú wèi, zé wú bù zhì 為無為 ，則無不治.⸺ Dàodéjīng 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
Value Great Suffering as though it were upon your own body
Hé wèi, “guì dà huàn ruò shēn” 何謂﹕「貴大患若身」.
Because the place for
the greatest Suffering is within ourselves
Wú suǒ yī yǒu dà huàn zhě 吾所一有大患者.
For Suffering to act upon us, we must have a body
Wèi wú yǒu shēn 為吾有身.
If we didn’t have a
body, how else could we have any Suffering
Jí wú wú shēn, wú yǒu hé huàn 及吾無身，吾有何患?
Therefore, only the one who acts as though he Values his body as the World
Gù guì yǐ shēn wèi tiān xià 故貴以身為天下,
Is able to be
entrusted with the World
Ruò kě jì tiān xià 若可寄天下.
Only the one who Loves his body as the World can be
entrusted with the World
Ài yǐ shēn wèi tiān xià, ruò kě tuō tiān xià 愛以身為天下，若可託天下.⸺ Dàodéjīng 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
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 Dàodéjīng, this higher alignment is called “Returning to Destiny”:
Go to the Polarity of Emptiness and Guard the genuine Quietude
Zhì xū jí shǒu jìng dǔ 致虛極守靜篤.
While All Things strive together, only I perceive the Return
Wàn wù bìng zuò wú yǐ guan
For as much as things
tend to proliferate, they will all Return to their Root
Fū wù yún yún gè fù guī qí
To Return to this Root is to find Quietude, which is called Returning to Destiny
Guī gēn yuē jìng, shì wèi fù
mìng 歸根曰靜, 是謂復命.
Returning to Destiny is called Constancy; to Know this Constancy is called Enlightenment
Fù mìng yuē cháng; zhī cháng yuē míng 復命曰常; 知常曰明.
Not to Know this Constancy, and acting in a disorderly manner, leads to Misfortune
Bù zhī cháng wàng zuò 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 cháng róng, róng nǎi
gōng 知常容, 容乃公.
Fairness and openness
is Kingly, and Kingliness is Heavenly
Gōng nǎi wáng, wáng nǎi tiān 公乃王,王乃天.
While Heaven is like
the Dào, Dào is what really
Tiān nǎi dào, dào nǎi jiǔ 天乃道,道乃久,
So that even when the
body is gone, you will not be endangered
Méi shēn bù dài 沒身不殆.⸺ Dàodéjīng 13
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 Dào is like a River, how can it be turned Right or Left
Dà dào sì xī, qí kě zuǒ yòu 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
Wàn wù shì zhī ér shēng ér
bù cí 萬物恃之而生而不辭.
It Realizes its own work
but takes no credit for it
Gōng chéng bù míng yǒu 功成不名有.
It clothes and Nourishes the Ten Thousand Things without Acting as their Lord/Ruler
Yī yǎng wàn wù ér bù wèi zhǔ 衣養萬物而不為主.
Because it is Constantly without Desire, it can be called “Small” in these occasions
Cháng wú yù, kě míng yū
The Ten Thousand Things [all] Return to it but it does not Act as their Lord/Ruler
Wàn wù guī yān ér bù wèi zhǔ 萬物歸焉而不為主.
Thus, it can be Named “Great”
Kě míng wèi “dà” 可名為「大」.
Because its Greatness
is truly selfless, it is thus able to Realize its [True] Greatness
Yǐ qí zhōng bù zì wèi dà, gù néng chéng
qí dà 以其終不自為大，故能成其大.⸺ Dàodéjīng 34
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 qí duì, bì qí mén, zhōng shēn bù
Open all the passages, increase your Personal Agendas, and when the body Dies you cannot be saved
Kāi qí duì, jì qí shì, zhōng shēn bù
To see what is Small is called Enlightenment, to guard what is Yielding is called Strength
Jiàn xiǎo yuē míng, shǒu róu yuē qiáng 見小曰明，守柔曰強.
Use your brightness, but Return to the Enlightened [state]
Yòng qí guāng fù guī qí míng 用其光復歸其明.
So as not to bring Retribution upon yourself
Wú yí shēn yāng 無遺身殃.
This is how to
cultivate the Order of the Universe
Shì wèi xí cháng 是為習常!⸺ Dàodéjīng 52
In doing so, according to Chapter 25,
Man imitates Earth, Earth imitates
Heaven, and Heaven imitates Dào
Rén fǎ dì, dì fǎ tiān, tiān fǎ dào 人法地，地法天，天法道,
While Dào imitates the Natural Spontaneity of itself
Dào fǎ zì rán 道法自然.⸺ Dàodéjīng 25
In other words,
from Chapter 64,
The Sage supports All Things to be Spontaneous and without
Yǐ fǔ wàn wù zhī zì rán ér bù gǎn wèi 以輔萬物之自然而不敢爲.⸺ Dàodéjīng 64
Interpretation of this Philosophy
these ideas outlined above from the Dàodéjīng 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
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 couldn’t 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 (hé 和) reveals this
process through its Simple
etymological depiction of eating (kǒu 口) whole grains (hé 禾).
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 couldn’t 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. Don’t you wish you could do that for yourself?
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
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.
however, I noticed that the water had evaporated leaving a dusty
grey fungal and
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
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
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 Nèijīng (Inner Classic of Acupuncture), to do this “don’t wait until you are thirsty to dig your well,”
and “don’t wait until the battle starts to sharpen your sword.”
factors that support this Ancient Chinese Natural Healing perspective include
food, herbs, Daoist meditation, Qìgōng, acupressure, shiatsu, acupuncture, and chiropractic adjustments. Different types of food bring different types
of Qì 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
The Dàodéjīng is the fundamental text in understanding this Natural perspective. Originally written around
300 BCE, the Dàodéjīng 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 Dàodéjīng 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 Dàodéjīng and Classical Chinese Medicine, shows in detail how the ideas presented in the worldview of the Dàodéjīng 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 One’s
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 Dàodéjīng, 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
with individual chapter commentaries explaining these connections in detail.
Volume IV, Many Paths, One Center: A Comprehensive Study of the Dàodéjīng, 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 Dào as both the Source of All Things as well as the
Path that leads to its understanding.
Part 2 describes how Dào Manifests into the World while maintaining its important connection to All Things. Part 3 defines Dé/Virtue in terms of the Emotions,
Spirit Functions, and Empowerments of the Organs according to Classical Chinese
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 Dào, 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 Dào 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 Tàijíquán.
Volume V, The Hidden Codes of the Dàodéjīng: Archeological, Numerological, and Thematic Context Interpretations, compares and contrasts the Received Text of Wángbì in the second century CE with the earlier Guōdiàn and Mǎwángduī 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 Yìjīng, 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.