My mother is a Qi Gong practitioner, and I have been trying to understand more about this and about her. Her practice has improved her health and outlook. Years ago we were more awkward with each other. Now, we talk about meditation, health, friends, how to be good people and good to people. She has no formal education to speak of – elementary school only – but mom is a special kind of genius. And she reads a lot of books.
I am only partway through this essay, “Chinese Philosophy and Chinese Medicine,” on Stanford University’s philosophy encyclopedia, but already it has captivated me. It’s not light reading but worth taking a look at.
Many recent medical journal reports take the view that [traditional Chinese] philosophy holds back the progress of medicine, but their authors do not understand the use of philosophy, nor do they understand that philosophy is actually the basis of medicine. (Zhang Xichun 1918–1934, 296).
At first glance, this assertion seems improbable to say the least. This essay addresses some of the connections between Chinese philosophy and Chinese medicine in both intellectual and social aspects.
The first section locates medicine among the Chinese sciences and introduces the intellectual shared common ground of Chinese philosophy and Chinese medicine, including shared theories of qi, yin-yang and “Five Agents” (wuxing) and their use in analogies between the human body and the state and cosmos, including the development of a systematic medical theory of the body.
Section Two introduces the important medical contributions of “nurturing life” (yang sheng) traditions.
Section Three takes up what has been represented as a long shared history of Daoism and medicine in the works of three great Daoist physicians.
Section Four returns to the views of Zhang Xichun and his claims for an explicit link between Chinese Medicine and Chinese Philosophy.
Qi Gong, for my mom, has helped her align her in a way that she feels peace and health together, something philosophy does for me.