An Overview of the Dance
Let’s start with some basics.
After fate karma, which decides all things in a lifetime, two realities determine the state of our physical health: one beyond our control; the other completely within our control. The first is the chronological age of our bodies. The second is composed of our understanding, tempered by where we place our attention, and the resultant choices we make. Those daily decisions manifest either delightful, beneficial, and progressive change in our health, or a declining spiral in the other direction. Given the droopy curve of an adult body’s trajectory, nothing in between really exists, regardless of shallow appearances. Health, like consciousness, is continually drifting one way or the other. The image of a static state of health is sheer illusion.
Our concepts of physical health really start getting interesting at the interface where these two ruling realities meet. For instance, my body is chronologically nearly seventy-four years old. It’s in decline—in comfort, ability, function—and before I know it, I’ll be translating. Simultaneously, however, the principles of Oriental medicine and its practice are firmly embedded in my consciousness, and I’ve always been graced with keen observation of my experience, partnered with an undeniable desire to improve all experience. Here, of course, we’re talking about the experience of living in a human body.
Just in case you think this is a boomer conversation, if you’re over twenty-five years of age, you, too, are on a trajectory of physical decline. Your body has stopped growing, and it will never again be what it once was. If you haven’t yet noticed, you soon will. By the time you’re thirty-five, it’ll be, “Hey! What’s going on?”
But yes, from the vantage point of the first ruling reality, my body’s health is declining—predictably, unavoidably—its trend is downward. Are we willing to let that inevitable plunge drag down the reality over which we do have control—the only opportunity we have to influence each now between the present one and the inevitable one? That’s a question that only each individual can answer, and we’re all being asked—every moment of the day. Tell me that’s not true. I witness times when I wonder if I’ll last out the year, and there are times when my comfort, my ability, and function are all improving, sometimes dramatically. And it’s usually not difficult for me to contemplate and often identify how and why those changes are occurring. Regardless of which experience I’m in, my objective remains constant, without concern for the outcome.
This is not due to any special power or skill I have. It’s something within the reach of us all—if we care to give such things our attention and make appropriate choices. No, not everyone has immersed themselves in the study and practice of Oriental medicine, but we all have the option of seeking out someone who has. And that would be my first recommendation—the caveat being that, as we all know, all doctors (like gurus) are not created equal. Your search might be a long one. But if that’s where one places their attention, it will manifest. Deferring back to the kingpin of life in this body, karma—cause and effect—rules.
For the sake of illustration, I could be even more specific. In the experience of living in this body, I’m aware that there are ‘cancerous’ processes at play in my body. I’ve known this for a long time—I don’t need a Western pronouncement. Actually, it’s a pretty common process in most bodies. Why, you may wonder, do I not rush out and get a diagnosis and begin ‘treatment’. Because, whether or not I had a Western diagnosis, I would still be doing exactly what I am now doing—nothing more, nothing less. My choices—some of which are specific, but more often general—are my chosen treatment. And my experience continues to verify the perfection of that choice.
Before I go further down this path, I should probably flesh out one of the seemingly bold statements I made in Part I:
“Immunity—in this country, and anyone following in our footsteps—is in an abysmally weakened state, regardless of age, sex, race, education, or even economic status.”
How the hell does Larry Horton know where this country’s state of health resides? Fair enough.
But it’s at the tip of the nose of any D.O.M.’s nose who:
- Has fully embraced the principles of Oriental medicine as a way of life;
- Has spent decades devotedly treating the American public with this medicine;
- Consumes public media coverage of health, diet, lifestyle, conventional healthcare, and the daily American experience;
- Hears the horror stories from clients subjected to a clueless, mechanical, adolescent health care system;
- Occasionally walks through a mall or other densely populated place filled with appalling faces—
- baggy eyed toddlers who have already had ten courses of antibiotics,
- sallow and sullen, emaciated teenagers strung out on drugs,
- overweight gradeschoolers, or their similarly or larger sized parents in the full throes of diabetes,
- athletes carrying too much weight because they’re pushing too hard,
- exhausted and frazzled mothers with too many screaming, sugar-fed children and who have received zilch in the way of healthcare which might, in other parts of the world, be willing and able to appropriately support a woman who has just been through a thoroughly exhausting and depleting nine months, and is just beginning the arduous journey of raising this young soul;
- Is aware that millennials are spending 80 (or more) hours a week behind a computer, ‘supporting’ themselves with coffee, takeout, and God knows what exogenous substances;
- Reads in astonishment the things Americans accept as truth;
- Is fully living life, eyes wide open, on this planet.
It’s not rocket science. It’s in one’s face.
Is that not sufficient? Just looking into the vacuous eyes of the walking dead?
Okay, then. If we can accept this perspective as accurate, let’s take a look at how we got here—although I just told you. I’m unwilling to re-write the seven year endeavor of Breakfast Like an Emperor on these pages, but here’s a quick, short-list review of causes, in case you didn’t extract them from the previous list:
- The Standard American Diet (SAD) tops our list for tipping the teeter-totter so steeply against us, that it could single-handedly do the job. If we can’t clean up that part of our lives, we may as well throw in the towel, because the food industry is hell-bent on reducing this country—no, the world—into stupidity, somnolence, and rage, all in one fell swoop. (Ego check: If you think you’e eating well, may I tell you that in twenty-two years of practice in Oriental medicine, I did not see one person come through my door who was eating a life-serving diet?)
- Oddly enough, Big Pharma’s proficiency at precisely the same objective as Big Food should come as no surprise. Surely you’ve noticed the incestuous relationships between Big Pharma, Big Chemical, Big Ag, and the rest of the food industry. In lock step. Unfortunately, this consortium of the same money, the same objectives, and often the same people, are doing their job so well that Americans are amazingly falling into lock step right behind. Oops, I caught myself just before making the final plunge over the edge into politics. Whew! But look for the quiet moment when your pharmaceuticals are suddenly available on Amazon. They’ve already got your ‘food’. Don’t laugh. If you’re under the impression that Whole Foods is a purveyor of healthy foods, I don’t know if even Breakfast Like an Emperor can help.
- Doug Robinson, current poet laureate of the High Sierra and card-carrying seeker, stopped by late last year and gifted me with his book, The Alchemy of Action—bringing us to the life-giving benefits of adequate movement. This quote doesn’t do his opus justice, but it’s so appropriate here…
“Barely a century ago it took half our population to grow our food. Now it’s down around one percent. Meanwhile, those of us who juggle information for a living has grown to 40 percent. Might you be another of the legions whose lives have come to a complete standstill in front of a keyboard?”
- I was about to end this list when I suddenly remembered that perhaps most regrettable American addiction—television. Its effects are so subtle, yet overtly detrimental to healthy mental, emotional, and physical well-being that it deserves a book. But it’s already had one: Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television. Never heard of it? Published in 1978, written by Jerry Mander (I know, I’d sue my parents…), a prescient, top level ad man in San Francisco, who foresaw where this inherently sinister technology was taking us. You’ve never heard of it because he was so firm in his conviction that he refused to go on television to promote it. Throw it away! Not the book. Your television!
That list is long enough. If you can outcreate these four, you’ll be well armed to deal with the rest of the mental, emotional, physical, and psychic toxic soup awaiting you out there. Coronavirus is a powderpuff. And if you’ll notice it’s mostly killing those who have already succumbed to these four.
I’m aware that some readers are still patiently awaiting not only the disclosure of names of magic potions guaranteeing deliverance from coronavirus, but from Larry’s diatribes and unrealistic expectations as well. And I’m still trying to deliver the truth of a reality much different than what Americans typically experience. If you can bear with me, we’ll get to the name of a potion.
Here, compiled and translated by John Chen and Lori Hsu, is an outline of treatment guidelines (complete with magic potions) and early outcomes from Chinese hospitals. This is extracurricular homework, but it’s highly informative in acquiring a sense of the sophistication and complexity of approaching something like coronavirus from the vantage point of traditional Chinese medicine. If you read this document, you’ll begin to appreciate the depth of understanding and response this paradigm brings to the table. You’ll notice, for instance that coronavirus infection is not a sufficient diagnosis to begin treatment. What constitutes a genuine diagnosis is full understanding of each patient’s individual pattern of experience, and how it fits into the paradigm. The Chinese call it differential diagnosis. Viewing from and responding from this diagnosis is initially what gives the medicine its edge.
You’ll also notice that treatment doesn’t merely consist of administering Chinese herbal medicine. Acupuncture, moxibustion, and Qi Gong exercises are all part of a regimen experienced by and participated in by the patient, as they’re capable. And even the sample herbal formulas listed are altered for an individual’s unique pattern. A team of doctors proficient in these treatments, and making these guiding diagnoses (which continually change as the patient’s condition improves, shifts, or regresses) adjusts formulas and other details to meet the requirements of each stage of the patient’s experience.
Their food, too, is therapeutic—not just institutional American fare to allay hunger with dead calories. And when a patient is released, the pathogenic factors having presumably been expelled from the body, he/she is given herbs to take home, explicit instruction on diet, and Qi Gong exercises to perform for full recuperation from their adventure. They’re still in a relatively fragile state, and care must be taken to prevent a recurrence.
This is a medicine that treats individuals, not diseases. Gently, carefully, thoroughly with time-proven skill.
By this time, you won’t be surprised to hear me recommend forgetting about stockpiling a stash of the not-as-yet-existent vaccine for the coronavirus, which would amount to abdicating our already limited power to a flawed health care system which simply can’t deliver. Please know that all pharmaceuticals—unless I’ve missed one—damage either the kidneys or the liver, and often both. As well as Prenatal Qi, a concept I’ll have to cover in detail sometime in the future. Let’s just say that if you knew what that was, you’d likely not make the choice of indulging in empty, damaging, quick fixes. Pharmaceuticals do their arrogant work by suppressing—sometimes irreversibly—normal and necessary bodily functions in exchange for cheap sideshow applause.
I understand that we’re all enamored with the ‘quick-fix’ for everything in our lives, but as in the attainment of consciousness itself, it ain’t gonna happen. The quick fix does not—and will never—exist. And every time we try to reach out and grab such illusions, getting burned is all that can result. We’re all living in a world already pretty thoroughly singed.
The above discussion is all about prevention—prevention facilitated by becoming healthy, through intelligent choices. Oriental medicine enters the picture by providing the wisdom which can facilitate that ‘becoming’. But that wisdom is not yet ours. Our task is to acquire the information we need to inform our knowledge, and only through exercising that knowledge in the laboratory of our very own experience, is wisdom made ours. Finding a competent practitioner of Chinese medicine will be challenge enough for most readers. Finding the will to actually implement what’s being suggested is more formidable yet. All this adds up to building a resilient fortress of prevention—the strength of which is based on the wisdom of our own choices.
As the Master likes to remind us, “Anything truly good, is as difficult as it is rare.”
Modern life and our complicity with it have wrought our experience—modern food, modern medicine, modern conveniences, modern lifestyle—the whole modern sales job. Our only asset is our choice. How perfect to be given a heads up to show us what we’ve chosen!
In Part III, we’ll look at specific Chinese recommendations beneficial to nearly everyone, but if you’re sincere, you will have recognized that you already have your hands full assimilating and ‘realizing’ what’s already been said.
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