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January 11, 2018 nathanbrine

Taoist Perspective on Health

For the Taoist there are two types of illness:

1. sickness of body (shenbing 身病)

2. sickness of mind (xinbing 心病)

Although these terms seem familiar, for the Taoist they take on special meaning. Let’s take a look.

Sickness of body is illness that arises in the physical body. Sickness of mind is illness that arises in the mind. Both sickness of body and sickness of mind influence each other. If we have illness in the body that goes untreated it eventually leads to sickness of mind, and vice versa. So far so good.

Sickness of body harms the body, and can be treated through:

1. Medicine (yao 藥)

2. Medical technique (yi 醫, note: yi is different in Taoist medicine than Chinese medicine)

Sickness of mind harms others, and can be treated through:

1. Medicine

2. Curing (zhi 治)

Both kinds of sickness originate from:

  1. reincarnation stuff, and stuff passed down from our ancestors (genetic)
  2. environment
  3. social conditions
  4. Sickness of body also arises from not being natural

Now for the kicker, we are all sick. It is just a matter of degree. From the Taoist perspective each of us has sickness of body and mind. And it is up to us to heal ourselves, this is what Taoist training is all about.

For the Taoist, the scope of sickness is very broad. Sickness of mind comes from having a “Sense of Self” (zijue 自覺). Sense of Self basically means that we think we are right and others are wrong. We have a subjective perspective, unfortunately this perspective is almost always wrong. That’s right, even this blog post is wrong! It is not true (zhen 真). The more sick our mind gets the more we harm others. I suppose we could think of this in Western terms as our ego-self.

The True Person, Zhenren 真人, is one who has transcended the self and therefore no longer has sickness of mind. They have healed themselves. However to do that we also need to heal our bodies, because mind and body are related (if not two aspects of the same thing).

Taoist alchemy is a powerful tool to help us heal. Both forms of sickness are connected with stuff inside the body, old stuff that is hidden away, such as past trauma etc. During a neidan session, once we seal up the body, sometimes this stuff can come out. If the stuff comes out as emotion then it is a manifestation of sickness of mind. When this happens bring it down to the lower dantian and burn it using the neidan methods.

On a side note, the modern Chinese word for illness, jibing 疾病, is made up of two classical Chinese words ji and bing. These two words both refer to illness, however ji is a sickness that comes from nonphysical causes, like mental illness or influence of bad qi, whereas bing relates to physical illness. ji is sickness of mind, and bing is sickness of body.

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