A Word or Two from Zhang Zongjing


Below I have translated the preface to Zhang Zhongjing’s Classic “The Treatise on Cold Damage” compiled around 220AD. I translated it a while back while in Japan during an intense period of study. It’s from Ikeda Sensei’s Japanese translation of the Sho Kan Ron ( Shang Han Lun ) Handbook which I translated with a little bit of help from my wife. I will later post the original so you can compare. I have left a couple of parentheses to update later with the kanji for the names of the doctors. It’s not a great translation but I have posted to give you a general idea of a small preface which says a lot about the art as it was then and still is now ( sadly ). Pestilence is nothing new in China. They have a rich cultural history of health engendering practices to counter disease and ageing. In many respects, their medical system was way advanced to what was being practised in medieval Europe at around the same time and the Shang Han Lun is still a highly regarded Chinese medical classic. It is a great misnomer that Chinese herbal doctors use mainly animal products in their herbal formulas. Most of the good ones from this volume contain only natural raw herbs. There are some curious ” shamanic” influences in some of the formulas, however, in principle, they are mainly raw dried herbs. Somewhat paradoxically, current formulas which I believe will be very effective in treating the current Covid 19 virus contain herbs that are banned in Europe. Sad, because in Chinese formula, they are used in very small amounts but if taken alone and in larger doses individually without expert advice, they are toxic so, for the “protection” of society they are banned by authorities in Europe and the US. If you are a practitioner reading this, then from what I read about the symptoms I think this virus is initially a cold pathogen and will jump quickly from the Tai Yang to the opposite Shao Yin. This is why it is slow on the onset, it bypasses the usual defensive mechanism of the Tai Yang and develops later into a warm disease as it moves into the Spleen and liver. This is only speculative since I haven’t personally treated patients but as we already know it’s not great news for people who are generally weak at the Tai Yang/ Tai Yin and Shao Yin levels ( Diabetes, lung disease, High BP, etc ) This almost certainly offers a better understanding of the pathology/aetiology than that of western medicine and by no means should we dismiss the use of Acupuncture and Moxa also ( of which I mainly practice ) in treating this unfortunate pandemic. Stay healthy and do your best!

Shin Etsu Jin entered the kingdom of Kaku and saved the prince from certain death and, just by looking at the face of Lord Kan of the Kingdom of Sei, he could see the period that he would die. I am so envious of his marvelous talents. There used to be some great medical arts. Even the so-called excellent physicians of today don’t study or practice these arts on their patients, nor do they apply it to themselves. They only seek higher ranks or money and ride on the heels of those people in power. For the sake of their honor or glory, they struggle and work hard. Even if they accomplish fame they will die of disease and are useless. When they succumb to any sudden, severe and serious illness they are surprised and frightened yet, even though they didn’t believe in god they hope and pray to god and finally, as a last resort, they rely on doctors who don’t understand the medical arts.

People can live to 100 years but sadly they die young before their time and cant achieve anything. So people who live in this world are confused by fame and material benefits. They tread on thin ice hoping for success, yet are surprised when they fail. They can’t understand why.

I used to have as many as 200 family members and since the Kan Gan era, this was reduced by two thirds with 70% of them dying by cold damage. I am deeply saddened that they couldn’t live their lives to the full and was desperate to help my family members. So I chose only the great medical classics and compiled the 16 chapters of the Sho Kan Ron. I think it’s not enough to cure all disease but from this book, you can understand the principles of disease, which will give you the basis for further study. If you study harder you will understand more.

Wind, Heat, Damp, Dry and Cold are the 5 natural energies that surround and nourish the human body and the 5 internal organs. Its very difficult to see this movement and only the gifted, talented, those with a lot of knowledge and good virtue, can detect the undulation of Yin 陰and Yang 陽and see the movement of Ki 気

From the ancient times there were these great doctors (  )  (  )  (  )  (  )  (  )  (  )  (  ) Then from the middle ages, Chu Sei  ( 2,500 years ago ) to the Zenkan period  ( 2,200 years ago ) there were a further two famous doctors  But, sadly, after these periods we have never heard of any good doctors. These days, doctors don’t study from the original classics but only take from their family tradition their prized secrets. When they see patients they use sweet words to charm them and want only to take their money. They fleetingly inspect their patient’s pulse and observe their faces but, alas, they don’t see the patient seriously so they can’t determine life and death. This is akin to looking at the world through a straw.

I am drawn to the words of Confucius who says: Those who know naturally from birth are excellent and rank the highest. Those who study are second to them and those who only understand in their minds and know just knowledge, are last.

I humbly embrace these words and prize this medical art. His words are always with me when I study this art.

Zhang Zhongjing

Read More: The Magic of Warm Water