How 'Daoism Area Has Influenced The Understanding Of Chinese Medicine

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How 'Daoism Area Has Influenced The Understanding Of Chinese Medicine

How 'Daoism Area Has Influenced the Understanding of Chinese Medicine

Is Chinese medicine rooted in Daoism? Are all of the classical texts essentially Daoist ideas of the body and disease? Many teachers and authors support this idea and base many of their teachings on the idea that Chinese medicine has Daoism at its core. As much as I wish this were the case, I see very little evidence for this in the classics (as hard as I have tried to find it).

We Westerners like Daoism. I like Daoism. The Dao De Jing is the most translated book into English and therefore celebrated as one of the classics of Chinese culture (even though most people in Chinese speaking countries have never read it and have no interest in it). This does not make it central to the ideas contained in classical Chinese medical texts. In fact, even the term Daoism (Taoism) is problematic. For more on this, I highly recommend this article by Nathan Sivin.

If I were to narrow down any one philosophical thought as predominate in the earlier classics, I would have to say Legalism takes the prize. The zang-organs are given categories that correspond to government posts. The character ? is used for the verb “to treat”; this is the same verb used to represent “to govern.” There are countless essays that equate treating disease with managing the affairs of the state.

This is not likely to be a poplar stance, as most of the modern teachers who have a following use Daoism as the basis for what they teach. I think there is nothing wrong with this, and I am attracted to such things myself. The difference, for me personally, is that I see this as a modern interpretation of classical medicine which often superimposes ideas on to texts. We want there to be a Daoist basis of the medicine, so we see it even when it is not there.

When I first embarked on the journey of learning to read classical Chinese medical texts, I also believed that Chinese medicine was rooted in Daoism; in fact, I had always been under the impression that it snubbed Confucianism and Legalism. This idea hampered my progress. I was always looking for something that wasn't in the texts, therefore I didn't understand the texts. It wasn't until I started exploring Chinese philosophy in ...
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