Tao Wisdom and Chinese Medicine

Chinese medicine is one of the oldest medical systems in the world. It is based on Tao wisdom; the wisdom Chinese medicine is more than 2,000 years of sophisticated techniques of observation, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases and disorders. This wisdom was founded on the concept of balance and harmony with focus on diets, herbs, acupuncture, body massage, internal energies, and even "feng shui" to restore holistic health and wellness to an individual.

The fundamental concept underlying Chinese medicine is Tao wisdom or "the Way," based on the profound wisdom of Lao Tzu, the author of "Tao Te Ching" written some 2,600 years ago. The essence of Tao wisdom in Chinese medicine is that "all things develop naturally" or "one power underlying all." That is to say, all things are what they are meant to be: they come into being and then decay for what they are.

In Tao wisdom, we internalize certain truths perceived in our lives and experiences, and understand how they are related to the natural laws. It is this acute awareness that may lead to enlightenment, which is profound human wisdom. In Chinese medicine, there are also certain natural laws that govern health and healing that all individuals must abide by, or else decay and disease may occur, leading to their demise. These laws in Chinese medicine mandate that every act and every emotion have their respective consequences. The act and the consequence are as inseparable as the light and shadow. It is impossible to do an act without setting in motion a series of consequences or reactions. These are the natural laws of life and living. They were true thousands of years ago, they are true now, and they will continue to be true in generations to come. True human wisdom is an understanding of these natural laws, which exist in the form of Tao wisdom. Essentially, it is the form of no-form, and has the shape of no-shape; yet it exists. Tao wisdom is beyond human body, senses, and intellect to fully comprehend its nature, which is the essence of being.

In Chinese medicine, health and healing begin with the balance of the "yin" and the "yang," which is governed by the Five Elements. Also, known as "Wu Xing" or the Five Processes, the Five Elements (wood, fire, earth, metal, and water) represent the five processes not only fundamental to the cycles of nature, but also corresponding to the different organs of the human body. Fire burns wood, creating ashes, which form earth; the metal in the earth, when heated by fire, produces water through condensation. These processes are inter-dependent on one another, and they are what they are only by relativity to one another. For example, without water, there will be no wood; without wood, there will be no fire; without fire, there will be no earth, and without earth, there will be no metal. In Chinese medicine, the Fire Element relates to the heart and the small intestines; the Earth Element, to the stomach and the spleen; the Metal Element, to the lungs and the large intestines; the Water Element, to the urinary bladder and the kidneys; and the Wood Element, to the liver and the gallbladder

In Chinese medicine, the human body organs are a network of functions and interrelations. To maintain their health and optimum functioning, these body organs must control and restrain one another; as a matter of fact, the term "xing" means the process in which one thing acts upon another, thereby balancing and complementing one another-just as the harmony between the "yin" and the "yang." Such harmony is expressed in the "qi"-the internal life force that flows throughout the body. The excess or deficiency of "qi" is the root cause of all diseases and disorders. Therefore, Chinese medicine is all about balance and harmony within the human body.

Tao wisdom reveals that everything in life-not just the organs in the human body-is also inter-connected, as well as controlled by the natural laws. To live well, we must obey the natural laws of the universe.

"The Creator creates one.
One creates two.
Two creates three.
Three creates a myriad of things.
All have their original unity
in the duality of "yin" and "yang,"
the opposite life forces that harmonize.
We experience this harmonious process
in the rising and falling of our breaths.
(Chapter 42, "Tao Te Ching.")

Following these natural laws, we defer our expectations to the outcomes of the natural laws. Accordingly, we neither "over-do" nor "pick and choose."

"Allowing things to come and go,
following their natural laws,
we gain everything.
Straining and striving,
we lose everything.
(Chapter 48, "Tao Te Ching")

As a result, we always prefer the golden mean.

"With the golden mean, there is moderation.
With moderation, our limits are unknown.
With unknown limits, our potentials are infinite.
With infinite potentials, our power is everlasting.
With the golden mean, we accommodate ourselves to
the ever-changing world around us."
(Chapter 59, "Tao Te Ching")

With the golden mean, we live in the present moment, not attaching to the past, nor worrying about the future.

"In natural harmony with the Creator,
we let all things come and go,
exerting no effort, showing no desire,
and expecting no result.
Natural harmony is experienced
only in the present moment,
when we see the natural laws of the Creator."
(Chapter 55, "Tao Te Ching")

The ancient wisdom of Lao Tzu not only is essential to the art of living well in this contemporary world, but also plays a pivotal role in the evolution of Chinese medicine over the centuries. Tao wisdom is eternal and universal. This is also one of the many reasons why "Tao Te Ching" is one of the most translated books in world literature. The profound wisdom of its author is intriguing and thought-provoking. It requires "reverse" thinking instead of the contemporary "conditioned" mindset to fully understand Tao wisdom.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

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