Our clinical philosophy has been greatly shaped by the masters of Chinese Medicine. One of the greatest physicians within Chinese Medicine’s long history was Sun Simiao, 581 AD – 682 AD. He was a physician, philosopher, and educator. He wrote extensively on the ‘role of the great physician’. It is his words that have guided our clinical philosophy and approach to preserving this amazing medicine.

Whenever a physician treats an illness, he must quiet his spirit and settle his will, he must be free of wants and desires, and he must first develop a heart full of great compassion and empathy. He must pledge to devote himself completely to relieving the suffering of all sentient beings. If patients suffering from disease come to him seeking help, he may not inquire whether they are nobility or low class or poor or wealthy, [or consider their] old age or youth, beauty or ugliness, or whether he detests or likes them or whether they are his friend, whether they are Chinese or barbarian, a fool or a sage. He must treat all of them exactly the same as if they were his closest relative. Neither must he “look to the front while turning around to cover his back”, worry about his personal fortune or misfortune, and guard and cherish his own life. When seeing the suffering and grief of others, he must act as if it were his own and open his heart deeply to their misery. He must not avoid dangerous mountains with rugged cliffs, any time of day or night, the cold of winter or heat of summer, hunger or thirst, fatigue and exhaustion. He must singlemindedly attend to their rescue without thinking of efforts or appearances. Acting like this, he can serve as great physician for the masses; acting against this, he is a gigantic thief to all sentient beings.”

Sun Si Miao

Traditionally, Oriental healers were expected to know eight levels of healing. These included spiritual healing, exercise, diet, geomancy (the art of placement), astrology, massage, herbology, and acupuncture. The healer’s education would include techniques of self-development and self-defense, as well as the tools of the trade. Qi gong (energy generation and circulation), tai ji, and meditation were practiced to maintain one’s own health and increase sensitivity. “Physician, heal thyself” was their conviction. 

The “superior man,” a phrase from the I-Ching (Book of Change), would be a master of the Five Excellences. In China, the Five Excellences were martial arts, medicine, painting, poetry, and calligraphy. There are few words to describe the depth of commitment these masters exhibited. The beauty and achievements they have left behind are a testament to man’s highest aspirations. 

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