CLASSICAL PRE-REQUISITES FOR THE STUDY OF MEDICINE
If one is willing to put in the work, the practice of the Art of Medicine is very simple. Legend has it that Chapter Eight of the Su Wen (The Secret Treatise of the Spiritual Orchid) was hidden away in the ‘Spiritual Orchid’ which was the library of the Yellow Emperor and passed on only to the initiated. Not because it was difficult, but because it was too simple to be grasped by most people, whose minds insisted on making it more complicated. The simplicity can be summed up by Su Wen Chapter 39. The Yellow Emperor (Huang Di) is talking to the Heavenly Teacher (Qi Bo):
“Those who are good at speaking of Heaven must have experienced it in man.
Those who are good at speaking of antiquity must have made the junction with the present.
Those who are good at speaking of men must be satisfied with themselves.”
Heaven represents the unseen power of Nature: the movement of the four seasons which are present in all forms of life including human beings. The sages of antiquity knew in the depth of their beings how life on Earth was ordered: our task is to bridge the river between the past and the present to see with their eyes, through our own. ‘Man’ stands for the multiplicity of the 10,000 beings and their interrelationships. I must first have a good relationship with myself, centred in the heart which takes charge of all beings, before I am able to create good relationships with others. If we as humans understand that we must live in harmony with HeavenEarth and come to know and accept ourselves, then we become master practitioners of our own lives and are thus able to hold another’s hand as he/she walks his/her destiny.
“You first must have a deep understanding of your own life
before pretending to know life in another,
especially the disturbances of life in another.”
Claude Larre/Elisabeth Rochat de la Vallee
This willingness to engage with the process of deep reflection, the arrogance to step up to the mirror and the humility to observe what is truly there is what we ask of all students who come to Ongiara College. In return, all faculty and staff of the college agree to hold your hands through the long hours of forgetting the difficult and realizing the simple.
“In the pursuit of learning, every day something is acquired.
In the pursuit of Tao, every day something is dropped.”
… FOR THE STUDY OF MEDICINE
“Whoever wants to be a doctor . . . must understand yin and yang and be able to discern life’s fortunes (read people’s faces and see their fates). They must also understand the cracks in the tortoiseshells of Zhou Yi (Yi Jing) . . . without such knowledge they will be like a blind person in the dark; they will fall down easily. You must also engage in other reading. Why? If you do not read the Five Classics, you will not understand justice, humanity and virtue. If you do not read the Three Histories, you will not know the past and the present. If you do not read the exponents of the various schools of thought, you will not understand what is happening in front of your very eyes! If you do not read the Nei Jing you will not know the virtue of mercy, sorrow, happiness, giving. If you do not read Zhuang Zi and Lao Zi, you will not know how to conduct your daily life. As for the theory of the Five Phases, geography, astronomy . . . you also need to study these. If you can study and understand such knowledge, there is no hindrance on the road of medicine. You can become perfect.”
Sun Si-miao, Prescriptions Worth a Thousand Pieces of Gold quoted by Zhang Yu Huan & Ken Rose,
Who Can Ride the Dragon