THE TAOIST ROAD TO HEALTH ≪PREFACE≫
I decided in high school to make medicine my career when first experienced the deaths of people close to me and found myself wishing I could do something to cure disease. I went on to medical school and vividly recall the sobering moment when a professor observed that a doctor can cure only a fraction of the people he treats. In many of the most serious cases, the body either cures itself or the patient dies. I went through my internship and residency, then in 1982 started my own practice, In those first years on my own, I would stay up all night with patients suffering from acute infections and take great satisfaction in curing them with Western medical techniques. But the longer I practiced, the more I found how many cases could not be cured, and how the number of chronic sufferers kept increasing. Acute attacks, such as acute bronchitis or bladder infections, may be completely cured with the appropriate antibiotic. But if the doctor does not choose the right one, or if the patient does not respond to treat, ment, the disease can become intractable. In the case of chronic bronchitis, for example, the patient can spend the rest of his or her life alternating between small gains and setbacks. With chronic diseases such as diabetes, rheumatism, atopic dermatitis, and inflammations of the liver or kidneys, it is all the doctor can do to hold the diseases in check. Doctors cannot even cure the common cold. All we can do is prescribe drugs for fever, coughing, or nasal congestion. We simply prescribe for the symptoms―a druggist or a computer could do the same. When someone with rheumatism comes to a clinic, the doctor can do nothing more than prescribe an analgesic for the pain and hope that the disease is not malignant rheumatoid arthritis that can affect other internal organs. The disease will stay with the patient forever, and all the doctor can really do is sympathize.
Over the years, patients kept coming to my clinic, and I kept examining them but was unable to cure them all through Western medical techniques. I gradually became disillusioned with the entire Western approach to disease. We can learn all we want about the biological composition of the cell, but that is not real medicine.
Then my mother developed a hyperthyroid condition and came to my clinic for treatment. But the drugs I prescribed caused an allergic reaction, and we were forced to abandon them. We were also unwilling to risk the side effects of radiation therapy. But then my younger brother told her about the doin method, and she tried it. She found that it alleviated her symptoms and that she was able to hold the disorder in check without drugs of any kind.
My health too began to suffer from the demands of a full-time practice coupled with housework and raising children. My brother encouraged me to try doin as well. I did so and began attending lectures, where I learned from Dr. Hayashima Masao about the five-thousand-year history of doin (tao-yin in the original Chinese) in China and the Taoist philosophy of Lao Tzu. I soon realized that I had finally found the medical approach I had been looking for all those years. I realized that I had never felt truly at home with the Western approach to disease, because it is based solely on the intellect, not on the heart. Doin is the antithesis of this―it is a simple approach that anyone can apply. The great truths of nature are simple and straightforward; they do not require complex theories to understand.
I used to wake up in the morning groggy and exhausted, feeling like Gulliver tied to the ground by countless ropes. I thought I was just overtired and experiencing a touch of low blood pressure, never realizing that the true cause was a stomach problem. I was the picture of ill health.
But as I practiced doin each day, felt my body recover, it became more supple and easier in its movements. Today I feel constantly invigorated. I personally experienced the curative effects of the doin method and learned that health depends on absorbing ki (ch’i in the original Chinese) from the natural world and causing it to circulate throughout the body, while at the same time purging stagnant and harmful ki. I learned that the body is intimately connected to the seasons, to periods of hot and cold, wet and dry, and also to the emotions, joy and anger, pleasure and pain.
It is not enough simply to scientifically treat the human body as a biological organism. Western medicine has yet to recognize the unknown potential in each of us. We allow this state of ignorance to continue at our peril. The Eastern approach of doin is diametrically opposed, it invites us to reexamine our basic assumptions about health care and restructure our priorities in our daily lives. This is true healing. The more people who learn the doin method, the better for the future of us all.