Monday, January 18, 2016

Traditional Chinese Medicine

"The logic underlying Chinese medical theory - a logic that assumes that a part can be understood only in its relation to the whole -- can also be called synthetic or dialectical.

The character for Yin originally meant the shady side of a slope.  It is associated with such qualities as cold, rest, responsiveness, passivity, darkness, interior, downward, inward, decrease, satiation, tranquility, and quiescence.  It is the end, completion, and realized fruition.

The original meaning of Yang was the sunny side of a slope.  The term implies brightness, heat, stimulation, movement, activity, excitement, vigor, exterior, upward, outward, and increase.  It is arousal, beginning, and dynamic potential.  

All things have Yin and Yang aspects....and any Yin or Yang aspect can be further divided into Yin and Yang.  

Yin and Yang mutually create, control, and transform one another.  Although Yin and Yang can be distinguished, they cannot be separated.   Yin and Yang are always subtly supporting, repairing, and transforming into one another.  This constant transformation is the source of all change.  Organic transformation can occur harmoniously in the normal course of events or sudden ruptures can occur. If Yin and Yang are unbalanced for prolonged periods of time or in an extreme manner, the resulting transformation can be drastic.  

Lao Tzu says:  
In order to expand, it is necessary to first contract.  In order to stregthen, it is necessary to first weaken.  In order to create, it is necessary to first destroy.  In order to give, it is necessary to first take.

In Chinese thought, events and phenomena unfold through a kind of spontaneous cooperation, an inner dynamic in the nature of things.  The key word is Pattern - people and things behave in particular ways not necessarily because of prior actions or impulses, but because their position in the cyclical universe and their endowment with intrinsic natures. 

The Chinese assume that the universe is continuously changing.  The cosmos itself is an integral whole, a web of interrelated things and events.  The desire for knowledge is the desire to understand the interrelationships or patterns within that web, and to become attuned to the unfolding dynamic.

A traditional Chinese landscape painting captures the essence of nature in balance and in flux.  The paiting is like the Taoist symbol, containing Yin and Yang in their proper proportions but constantly interacting and transforming into each other.  

The scene depicts a vast range of elements, from the towering mountain to the little trickling stream.  Nature is shown as a balance of the yielding Yin (foliage, water) and the unyielding Yang (rock, trees).  There are the dynamic (water, people) and the quiescent (mountains, houses); the slow (trees) and the fast (mist); the dark and the light; the solid and the liquid.  All things contain both Yin and Yang.  The water, for instance, is both yielding (Yin) and dynamic (Yang).

The picture is a totality, and each detail takes on meaning only as it participates in the whole.  The mountain is immense by virtue of its smaller foothills; the people are small by virtue of the vastness of nature.  All things are imbued with interactive qualities and dynamics in their relationships to the things around them.

The painting depicts a time and place that through their correspondence with the cosmos become timeless and placeless.  It rediscovers the elemental and continuous course of the cosmic pulsation through the figurative representation of a landscape...The tension created by the correlation between the lines and the washes, the visible and the invisible, fullness and emptiness, endows the landscape with a power to suggest more than the merely visible and open it to the life of the spirit. " 

(from p. 7-17 The Web That Has No Weaver by Ted Kaptchuk)

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