Published in NOVA magazine September 2000
According to Chinese Medicine, disease is a result of imbalance in organ and bodily functions. The organs are inturn related to your emotional life, your psychic relationship with animals, the land, elements and colours around you, and the position of the planets. Andrew Jan writes on Taoism and the connection between all things.
When the Kingdom of Camelot was declining and the Health of King Arthur was failing. The Knights of the round table were sent out to find the holy grail that would cure their beloved King Arthur. Many Knights were killed in this journey. However one of them returned - he was Sir Percival. When he returned he leaned over the frail King Arthur and had neither grail nor stone nor pill too offer him . Instead he offered only wisdom:
'You and the land are one".
From that day on the land and King Arthur blossomed again. From this story it seemed that as soon as King Arthur realised that his Kingdom and himself were one and the same then and only then could there be healing. There was no potion or remedy but simply an understanding and consequently a responsibility in realising the connection between things. These connections are called correspondences in Taoism / Chinese Medicine and form an important base from which the theosophy is formed.
In Western Medicine the causes of illness are often attributed to life style. For example Hypertension and diabetes is associated with Obesity. Smoking as a cause of lung diseases and vascular disease. Alcohol is associated with liver disease. Stress contributes to a long list of diseases ranging from Insomnia to Irritable bowel and low back pain. In Western Medicine there is a simplistic association between life style and diseases . In Taoism or Chinese medicine this is taken to a lot more depth. Disease is a result in imbalance of organ functions. The organs in turn are related to your emotional life, your ability to conserve energy and not lose energy through your senses, your psychic relationship with animals, the land, elements and colours around you and the disposition of the planets. Of course there are other interdependencies such as what you eat, the issues of family and prenatal chi and so on which for the sake of brevity will not be discussed in this article.
Five Element Organ Correspondences
from " Fusion of the V Elements" by Mantak Chia. Reproduced with permission.
The animals inside us!
In Taoism the white tiger is connected to the lungs, the green dragon to the liver, the phoenix to the spleen and the deer to the kidneys and pheasant to the heart. Now, for us Westerners these animals are hard to relate to. In other indigenous or shamanic theosophies ,there is connections between individuals and animals. The Red Indians would call their children names such as running bear or Wild Buffalo. They also ascribed totem animals to different individuals. In Taoism we are ascribed an animal according to the 12 year cycle of Jupiter. It is important to realise our personality and spirit are intimately connected to animals. In the journey towards wholeness , as our personality matures we take on the characteristics of the animal ascribed. This is the year of the dragon and perhaps that means it is time for all of us to understand the dragon in us. The dragon is renowned for its brilliance, its creativity and the ability to dazzle those around us,. They are natural born leaders who must and will be adored. The negative side of the dragon ids that if you don’t become this then depression sets in. It’s as if God or the Universe has given you a spirit and if you do not manifest it turns its energy into destruction. In our own culture the dragon is often seen as a destructive force. For example , we have the legend of St George slaying the dragon in order for him to become a true man and warrior. However this could mean that as a process of wholeness , the adult recognises that fiery, creative , self centred brilliant side of our selves and takes ownership to express it in day to day life. So in fact slaying the dragon may mean marrying the dragon.
On an emotional level if we imitate animals , emotions may be released which we would normally hold in because of societal inhibitions. Playing like animals may be a good way to express blocked emotions which interfere with energy flow in our bodies.
At a more earthly level – think of what the miners use to do for safety in the deep tunnels. They would take down a canary in a cage. When the bird died they knew the air was bad and time to surface. This perhaps has some correlations with the living animals around us. As more and more animals become endangered perhaps its telling us that our land is becoming polluted.
In Chi Kung , Tai Chi and Tao Yin there are exercises which help us identify with the animal spirits within. In Chi Kung we do postures such as the golden Turtle, The Phoenix washes its feathers, The elephant swings its trunk, the Buffalo and so on. By playing like a child and immersing the body in the animal realisations that are beyond our intellectual mind affront us.
Our Emotional Health:
In Chinese medicine each organ has a particular emotion associated with it: Now this may seem foreign to our culture yet this is not so. In the heart of English literature such as Shakespeare (16thcentury ), lies a depth of knowledge which correlates organ to emotional states. This may reflect the orientation of medicine and healing at that time which was orientated towards internal alchemy, astrology and spiritual knowledge. Perhaps it is the modern era of science that has made us forget it. And we have need of the Eastern sciences to help us retrieve such knowledge. For example:
"O direst cruelty. Make thick my blood. Stop up the access and passage to remorse. Come to my woman’s breasts, And take my milk for gall, you murdering ministers."
In this quote from Macbeth, Lady Macbeth acknowledges connections between her organs and her emotions. Gall is necessary for Lady Macbeth to commit such a shameful act. Breast milk is obviously associated with caring and Nurturing and thicker blood is necessary for the cruelty. Feeling livid ( from the latin derivation for liver ) is to be filled with furious anger. Hamlet on the other hand is stuck in indecision " To be or not to be" we all know the passage well. Furthermore he makes his own self diagnosis which he states in scene 2, Act 11 " But I am pigeon livered and lack gall." Have you heard the phrase vent your spleen ? – It means to be open and share honestly. In our own rich language there is a knowledge that connects emotions with organs.
So balance your life. Understand your emotions. Cultivate balance by improving the virtues such as kindness, gentleness, openness , fairness courage and love. This does not negate the presence or benefits of the negative emotions. Because the emotions are called negative does not imply that they should be removed. There is a place for all emotions in the grand play of our emotional life . There are time for being frightened or angry, sad and anxious. Anger is important when someone deliberately stands on your toes. Fear is important to prepare yourself for the possibility of catastrophe. Perhaps take note and try the task when you are more prepared. Anxiety provides the stimulus to research and prepare. All emotions are valid – just as all animals are. We describe a mouse as a fearful creature , does it not have a place in the eco system. What about the angry- vicious tiger – does he not have the right to be vicious. Each of the negative emotions can be soothed by accepting its positive role and discharging in a healing way, that which has become stagnant.
The exercise for finding emotional balance include the healing sounds. These emotions the excess negative emotions are breathed out of the organs concerned and replaced with the positive counterpart.
In the above table one sees the senses or openings mentioned. Contemplating the remarkable natural world Lao Tzu ( One of the original founders of Taoism. ) felt that it was man and his activities which constituted a blight on the otherwise perfect order of things and his health. Thus he counselled people to turn away from the folly of human pursuits with indulgence of the senses and to return to one's natural well spring.
The five colours blind the eye.
The five tones deafen the ear.
The five flavours dull the taste.
Racing and hunting madden the mind.
Precious things lead one astray.
It seems that to be healthier, not only must we balance the world around us in terms of Feng Shui principles - a further level of refinement is to spend more time inwardly and give our external senses a rest and to focus on our internal awareness and environment. The Taoists say, ‘Where the mind goes the Chi follows ", W e send all our senses out to the world and there is no energy left to restore the energy of our organs. We watch too much television, we indulge in tasting flavour some foods, we listen to the radio and music rather than the sounds of silence.
The Fusion series: Cover the ears and listen for imaginary sounds – like a ringing or OOOOM sound. Aware of your wagging tongue- search for a similar wagging sensation inside. Cover your eyes and look for light and colour inside the body. Smell your hands , then have that sense of smelling and breathing through the nostrils inside the body. Finally turn the taste sensation inwardly. What does your saliva really taste like. Swallow down – eventually your saliva may taste like nectar. Fuse all of these sensations behind the navel into what the Taoists call the lower Tan Tien
The Planets and the stars:
In 'Julius Caesar' he is noted to claim, "I am as constant as the Northern Star".
This quotation exemplifies Caesars constancy and ongoing responsibility as emperor of Rome. The Northern star represents those aspects of life which bear longevity.
In 'Romeo and Juliet':
Juliet: Does thou love me?…
Thou may prove false. They say Jove laughs (Jupiter)
Romeo: Lady by the blessed moon I vow,
Juliet: O swear not by the moon, the inconstant moon. That monthly changes in her circled orb. Lest that thy love prove likewise variable. (Act 2 scene 1)
In this scene we discover the relationship between the planets and behaviour. Here the planet Jupiter functions to awaken the presence of love as the essence which promotes fusion. Whereas the moon highlights the inconstant variable aspects of health and life.
And in 'Much ado about Nothing' - "A star danced and under that I was born". Here we are informed about the relationship between the birth of an individual and the stars.
The quotes here provide a glimpse into the profound esoteric knowledge of health, life and behaviour within the field of Astrology. In Taoism the organs are connected to the 5 major visible planets. The Sun is connected to the Solar plexus or the right eye and the moon to the left eye. It is important to directly visualise the planets directly , to meditate and feel the connections through the crown and then to he organs concerned. From here a body knowledge and adjustment will occur that is beyond someone else’s written text. According to Taoist knowledge the patterns of our health are determined by the juxtaposition of the planets at birth. Thereafter our health will fluctuate according to the dance of the planets within the firmament.
In closing , realisations come in layers. Each time a connection or correspondence is realised and we take the responsibility for such knowledge we let in a little more light - or can I say a small enlightenment. We gain curious insight and a sense of harmonious connection that may put ourselves " at ease" with our internal and external worlds. Each responsibility is the volunteering of the individual to take upon himself the responsibility of life around us. To turn him/her self into a healthier being while making the world a better place.. We move to a state of "ease" rather than "disease". We make one small step towards the Buddha or Christ principle. What once started out on a journey of selfishness paradoxically becomes altruistic.
One sip at a time we drink from the holy grail.
Dr Andrew Jan MBBS FACEM BA FAMAS is a specialist in Emergency Medicine and Medical Acupuncturist. He is a senior instructor for Master Mantak Chia of the Universal Tao. He and his wife Fiona teach Taoist meditation, Chi Kung and Tai Chi in Fremantle. He can be contacted on 08 9310 7981 and