“In Chinese medicine, the human being is seen as a small working model of the universe. The same natural laws that govern the movements of the stars and planets, the weather and the seasons, govern the human body and the human journey through life. All things are connected: in every small part or event are reflected the workings of a vast cosmos; the microcosm contains the macrocosm.”
So begins the book “Recipes for Self-Healing” by Daverick Leggett – the book that marked the beginning of my love affair with the ancient Chinese wisdom of healing and harmony. No matter how much more I read and learn, I keep coming back to this wonderful, gentle, nurturing book, and I keep recommending it to everyone who seeks help in their quest for optimum health and wellbeing.
“The language of health in traditional Chinese medicine is the language of weather and landscape: we talk of Wind, Heat, Cold or Dampness invading the body, of drought or over-saturation, of problems with the Fire or Water elements.
This simple poetic language grows out of centuries of observation of the natural laws of life. Our inner worlds connect with the outer world in both subtle and obvious ways. The sun warms us, the earth feeds us, the breeze feels good on our cheeks and the flowers awaken our delight. We are connected too by more subtle principles of resonance: our organs resonate with particular planets, our acupoints and meridians vibrate in harmony with stars, and our bodies respond to the subtle essences and vibrations of food in ways that are beyond ordinary perception.”
In this last part, I disagree very slightly: my own experience leads me to the conclusion that it is integral to our human nature to be able to perceive subtle phenomena, such as the ways our bodies are energetically affected by the world around us and the food we eat. It is an ability that has been forgotten and has atrophied in many people, certainly, but it can be remembered and relearned, so I would not comfortably call it “beyond ordinary perception” – not without a definition of terms, anyway!
“In Chinese medicine, parts are not just fragments without which the whole is incomplete – parts are also complete in themselves, holographic replicas of the whole. Every event in the life of the body is described, not in isolation, but in terms of its relatedness to the whole.
A hot rash on the face, for example, may be more than a simple event in the local tissues; it is one part of an immensely more complex event in the inner and outer landscapes. All the conditions of the particular time must be considered. Each instance of dysfunction and wellness is felt throughout the whole life web.”
I take a large part of my personal understanding of the web of life (and my place in it) from the teachings of ecology, which describes the interconnectedness and total interdependence of all the elements that make up this planet that is our home. (Check out Gaia Theory and Systems Ecology for more on this.)
Both Leggett and I agree on the best piece of poetry to illustrate this understanding, from William Blake’s Auguries of Innocence:
“To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.”