This is an abstract article of a Lecture from Master Yoshitomo Shibui, held April 2013.
Brief History of Eastern Medicine
The structure of Eastern Medicine is being said to have put together in 400BC China. Now known as Kampo, more than 120 types of plants and substance from animals were used as herbal medicine for health purposes. Kampo is often classified into 3 categories, the "High Medicine", "Middle Medicine" and "Low Medicine".
- "High Medicine" is used to sustain your body in healthy form or make it stronger, often known as something that could be taken as everyday meal.
- "Middle Medicine" is taken a small amount or for a short time period to be effective, regareded as poison if taken too long.
- "Low Medicine" is something that will give immediate effect but should be handled with care. Regarded as poison.
The Eastern Concept of Yin-Yang
The typical way of thinking and perception of eastern culture is often described as the "balance" theory of Yin-Yang. Western culture will look at beings analytically and systematically and segment situations and substances to understand them, whereas the Yin-Yang will see them as two opposite things blending and balancing each other.
The I_Ching is based on the Ying-Yang concept, different from Wu Xing. However the basic idea of "balance" is flowing in both traditions. Most of you should be familiar with this symbol.
Death will be the Ying, life with be Yang, (Animals are said to not understand death, thus have no fear of dead like us humans). There is no good or bad, both are coexisting. By coming together, separating, sometimes giving out friction, this whole movement itself is the balance of the universe.
It is said in the Ying-Yang that if you go the one side to the extreme, you will end up getting results of the other side. For example, when you are getting too much good results, there is a big change for to your fall flat on your face, just to keep balance of it. Often see people get a rebound weight gain after a severe diet, this is another example of getting the opposite result as an extreme. The "Doctrine of the Mean" is the term used to know and live with the balance of Yin and Yang.
Our body is full of Ying Yang. We have a lot of organs that are in pairs or bilaterally symmetric like eyes, arms and legs, lungs and kidneys, blood vessels: artery and vein etc. Muscles can only be used when there's tension on one side and relaxing on the other. It is easier to relax your muscle to make big movements.
More examples of Ying and Yand are Women and Men, Moon and Sun, Stillness and Activeness, Shadow and Light, Night and Noon, Winter and Summer...
Now, it is said that Japanese men are getting weaker and losing hormones, but if you watch carefully there is a balance --- we find women getting stronger!
The "Doctrine of the Mean" however is not about keeping equilibrium, it is to enjoy the balance in any form, because a mixture of Ying and Yang is special and colorful in any way. For instance, if we do not have winter, we will never be able to enjoy the coming of spring, or the sensation of blooming. However by studying this universal low, you will be able to adjust a situation by fixing the situation into another balance.
Our intuition is always capable of sensing what balance will be best for ourselves in situations. If you are in a too Yang state, you will naturally crave for Yin type food. Most Japanese like having Ramen after drinking alcohol, because alcohol is Yin energy. You crave for Ramen because your body needs salt (Yang energy).
More on Wu Xing in Part II!
(translation done by Mika Kojima forgive me for any broken English you find...)