Sun Si Miao On Healing

“The fools of the world study formulas for three years and yet it is said [of them] that there is not a single disease under heaven that they are able to treat. After treating disease for three years, they finally become aware that no formula under heaven exists that they are able to use. For this reason, students must absolutely acquaint themselves to the greatest extent with the origins of medicine, studying tirelessly with absolute diligence. They may not recklessly repeat rumors and then claim that this is all there is to the Way of Medicine! Deep indeed is their self-delusion!” ~ Sun Si Miao

‘Zhaolin had a malignant illness that physicians were unable to cure, so he went and asked Simiao, “What principles do the famous physicians employ to cure illness?”

Simiao answered, “I have heard that if one is skilled at talking about Heaven, one must substantiate it in the  human realm; if one is skilled at talking about humans, one must also root it in Heaven. In Heaven, there are four seasons and five phases; winter cold and summer heat alternate with each other. When this cyclical revolution is harmonious, it forms rain; when it is angry, wind; when it congeals, frost and snow; when it stretches out, rainbows. These are the constancies of Heaven and Earth.

Humans have four limbs and five internal organs. They alternate between being awake and sleeping. In exhaling and inhaling and spitting out and sucking in, essence and qi leave and come. In their flow, they constitute the constructive and protective [influences of the body], they manifest as facial color, and they erupt as sound. These are the constancies of humanity. Yang employs the form, yin employs the essence. This is where Heaven and humanity are identical.

When [the constancies] are lost, if [qi and essence] steam upward, they cause heat [in the body]; if they are blocked, they cause cold; if they are bound, tumors and excrescences; if they sink, abscesses; if they scatter wildly, panting and shortness of breath; and if they are exhausted, scorching and withering. Their symptoms arise on the face, and their transformations move around in the body.

When one extends this analogy to apply to Heaven and Earth, it is also likewise. Thus the waxing and waning of the Five Planets, the irregular motions of the constellations, the eclipses of the sun and moon, the flight of shooting stars, these are Heaven and Earth’s symptoms of danger. Unseasonable winter cold and summer heat are the ascent or blockage [of qi and essence] in Heaven and Earth. Uprighted boulders and thrust-up earth are the tumors and excrescences of Heaven and Earth. Collapsing mountains and caved-in ground are the abscesses of Heaven and Earth. Scattered winds and violent rain are the panting and shortness of breath of Heaven and Earth. Dried-up streams and parched marshes are the scorching and withering of Heaven and Earth.

An excellent physician guides [qi and essence] with medicinals and [lancing] stones and rescues with needles and prescriptions. A sage[ly ruler] harmonizes [qi and essence] in order to perfect his power and uses them for support in order to manage the affairs of humanity. Thus, the human body has illnesses that can be cured, and Heaven and Earth have calamities that can be dispersed.”

Source: translation by Dr. Sabine Wilms