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  • Daoist MedicineUnderstanding Human Nature and Physiology
  • Hervé R. F. Louchouarn (bio)

Our passage through earth should allow us to understand our origin and develop some fundamental philosophical concept that helps us conceive the reason behind the present state and possible perfection of our organism. Using our brain capacity to stimulate our consciousness lessens the distance between our earthly existence and the ethereal presence of our spirit. Having materialized in this bodily structure, we are able to eat, talk, reproduce, make money, and exercise power. But all this is just an insignificant aspect compared to the fullness of our mind's capacity, a waste of the precious life given to us by heaven. Therefore, it is essential to protect and cultivate our human existence to progress to higher levels of consciousness. Many beings observe our way of existence with admiration and longing, awaiting to reach this state, in turn to raise their own awareness.

Life in Daoism

According to Daoist thought, the material envelope of our body contains two aspects given by Dao. The principle of life (mìng 命) and the inner nature of our being (xìng 性) are two prenatal presents conferred by Former Heaven, the state of pre-creation. These precious gifts allow the development of our life, defining our legacy and destiny, so that the practice of self-cultivation (xiūxíng 修行) is to delve into the knowledge of these two notions. From here we can return to the origin (guīyuán 归元), acquiring understanding, and attain Dao (dédào 得道). [End Page 143]

Many practitioners dedicate their lives to this task, maintain an iron discipline and follow an ascetic regimen that leads to moral and spiritual perfection. They understand the individual spirit as a tiny fraction of primordial spirit (yuánsh én元神), which yet contains all the tools necessary to complete its evolutionary goal, however much the active practice of material existence may distort our intention.


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Modern society, based on materialism, does not allow us to visualize our true function in life. We transform ourselves into professionals of various sorts—engineers, doctors, salesmen—undertaking everything society needs to keep functioning while destroying the environment and forgetting our ancestral functions. We thus cease to belong to our native communities, lose our cultural roots and become increasingly individualistic. As we get submerged more and more in consumerism, we have no interest in researching our spiritual nature, instead losing ourselves to desires and get carried away by emotions, creating disharmony in heart and mind. This in turn causes disease, as is well-known in Daoist medicine (dàoyī 道醫), which speaks of seven disturbing emotions (qīqíng 七情), mental processes that affect our quality of life.

On the other hand, it is possible to engage in self-observation, undertaking a scrupulous analysis of all the mind's reactions to the various events of daily life. Through this, we can recognize our psychological path and change, or at least lessen, the degree to which our being responds [End Page 144] to environmental aggression and onslaught. Damage is not usually caused by the major emotional factors in themselves. However, if any stimulus becomes excessive it persists, and if someone responds excessively to emotional impulses, pathologies may develop. Daoist medicine clearly defines these factors as the main catalysts of endogenous diseases, the onset of chronic degenerative ailments. They represent the internal movement of the individual's physiological responses to external stimuli. Diseases resulting from such emotional disorders can disrupt the function of the different major and complementary anatomical structures, i. e., inner organs and viscera, causing disturbances in blood and energy circulation.

Emotions as Pathogens

Internal pathogenic factors or emotions can cause great damage. First, they can create direct injuries to the five major anatomical structures or inner organs. Violent emotions, stimuli that provoke emotions to persist, or experiences that cause a wide range of emotional responses all cause damage to the anatomical structures. As the Huángdì nèijīng sùwèn 黄帝内经素问 (Yellow Emperor's Inner Classic: Basic Questions) says, "Anger injures the liver; Joy injures the heart; altered (obsessive) thinking dam-ages the spleen; sadness injures the lung; fear injures the kidneys" (ch...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1941-5524
Pages
pp. 143-155
Launched on MUSE
2019-02-16
Open Access
No
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