Notes on “The Way”

“The Way” that is The Tao, is the way things are with us and with the world, the way taoistwe are with ourselves and with the world. The Tao is but the cloud on which Chinese philosophical ideas travel across a blue sky of existence – making weather. Chinese Medicine and all its approaches to healing are part of this weather system as it arises between Heaven and Earth encompassing mankind.

It is, of course,  naive to say that “modern” or “western” medicine is based on science and thus not on philosophy, because it is impossible to conceive of either the nature of mankind – human mind, human relationships and human society -  or the nature of the world and the universe  simply in terms of  lab experimentation. Nor is the outcome of any interaction between all of these factors predictable or controllable. The best science has always been based on well informed, but out-of-the-box  intuition allowing the not-yet-known to reveal itself to the scientifically discerning mind.>>>

Alan Watts, an expert on Eastern philosophy, wrote:

“If there is anything basic to Chinese culture, it is the attitude of respectful trust towards nature and human nature…a basic premise that if you cannot trust nature and other people, you cannot trust yourself. If you cannot trust yourself, you cannot even trust your mistrust of yourself”.

Alan Watts, Tao: The Watercourse Way, New York 1975, p.32.

And he warns: “… the Westerner who is attracted by Zen [or the Tao] and who would understand it deeply must have one indispensable qualification: he must understand his own culture [and the philosophy of his time] so thoroughly that he is no longer swayed by its premises unconsciously … Lacking this his Zen will be either “beat” or “square”, either a revolt from the culture and social order or a new form of stuffiness and respectability”.

Alan Watts, Beat Zen, Square Zen and Zen, San Francisco, 1959. Inserts in [  ] by me.

If not all of us, so at least those of us who engage in healing should heed the warning that life is wayward – and yet trustworthy, as Ray Griggs examplifies in his brilliant book The Tao of Zen in the chapter on spontaneity :

“Spontaneity begins with a sublte and delicate detachment, a gentle and patient distancing from what is learned, from what is considered, and from what is owned as personal … [Spontaneous] doing is insightfully intuitive. It occurs like a reflex, coming from inner sensitivity rather than considered responses to outer appearances. … Living means cultivating an intuitive spontaneity that becomes one with the unfolding of circumstances. This spontaneity, arising from trust, reconnects the divided inner and outer.  The spontaneous arising, tzu-jan, is really authorized by trust. This is mentioned once again because, without trusting that the intrinsic self can exist in accord with the nature of the Way, no basis exists for allowing spontaneity. … So spontaneity must derive from both the inner world that is called self and the outer self that is called the world. Ultimately, the process of attaining spontaneity requires total acceptance and complete trust because the inner and the outer cannot be separated into I and it – each is the other. ”

Healing, being an art rather than a business or scientific experiment, is thus akin with all other art, where trust in skill combined with trust in resonance allows for the spontaneity that can help us see the not-yet-known.

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