Tuesday, April 6, 2010

More Park Stunts, Chinese Lesson for Beginners, & My Joint Project with Jun Lin

Greetings Friends,

My friend, Richard (many of you in the qigong community know him :)) is here - he just got here yesterday and last night the 2 of us went on another outing to the park with Dr. Zhao! :) This time I remembered my camera and took some pictures (and several videos) of his park stunts (see pics below)! :) Once again we had a growing crowd to see this short, white-haired man perform physical stunts that most 15-20 year olds can't do! (this, combined with the fact that now 2 foreigners were present made coming over to watch this show simply irresistible to most people nearby :))

I'm so happy to have Richard here! He arrived at the same hotel I'm staying at about 4:30 yesterday and gave me a call. I went to go meet him at the hotel to then walk him back to the clinic and half way back I kept hearing someone saying my English name -- But! being in China, no one knows my English name - so what was happening? I thought it was just in my head until....... - oh yes! Richard! - I realized it was him walking towards me on the other side of the street and calling my name. :) As soon as I saw him, he began to cross the street -- my instincts were to go to the other side and escort him (as he is a 'wai guo ren' - 'foreigner' and therefore not used to the no-rules-anything-goes traffic game here -- or so I thought!! I forgot that he's already been living in China for the past 10 months and is WAY more comfortable and "Chinese-like" in crossing the street than me. He actually just seemed to float across so naturally, easily and quickly -- kind of like watching a leaf in a relaxed manner just float down a stream - there may be other big rocks or logs and twigs, but the leaf just easily, and swiftly moves along in a relaxed, efficient flow -- and that was Richard floating over with a big smile and hug to greet me!

Faces in Chinese Characters?
It's also fun to see the Chinese language through his eyes (he hasn't studied Chinese in school and therefore has a different, fresh perspective on the language and characters). For example, we went into the little grocery store last night next to our hotel to buy some...yogurt, of course! (I love drinking their 'suan nai' here! :) I mentioned this in my very first update and have faithfully continued sipping away at these delicious drinks several times a week :)) -- we also looked at some of their snacks, all of which are packaged in bags and wrapping with Chinese characters. Well, Richard surprised me in saying, "Oh here are some sunflower seeds." How did he know?! It's all in Chinese! Well he said he recognized the face on the package - "What?! What face?" I asked as there were no pictures -- only characters. Well the the character on the package for "xiang" (meaning "flavored"), when looking at it from a 'non-reader' perspective, he said, really does look like a face!! And it does! See the pic below - it's the top bold character for 'xiang gua zi' :)

Nighttime Studies #1 at the Clinic
Friday night I had my first evening lesson with Dr. Zhao. Again I am feeling such a sense of awe for how and why I've been somehow placed here in Zhengzhou, China, sitting on one of Dr. Zhao's little wooden stools next to his modest wooden desk, in his most humble clinic (except, as I've described, for the quietly hanging 50+ 'jinqi' tapestries all given by patients who were once seriously ill and had a most miraculous recovery through their care with Dr. Zhao. Only in such a circumstance will people give one of these tapestries of gratitude and honor). As I've mentioned, I feel I am just starting to get a 'glimpse' of who he really is and the magnitude of what he has to offer. That night he told me that sometimes he feels as though he has this great, great treasure - a treasure which within it holds so much knowledge, skill, wisdom, ability to benefit many, many people -- that is buried and no one knows about. He dutifully does his service day in and day out at his clinic, with patients young and old, rich and poor, near and far all coming to receive the same quality, dedicated, loving and masterful care. And yet, how can he share with the world what he has to offer?

He takes all kinds of patients -- from common colds and back aches to the most rare skin diseases, neuro-muscular disorders, severe coronary heart disease, eye damage due to electric lights, stomach cancer, severe depression, epilepsy, lupus, the list goes on and on....Many patients I've talked with have also gone to the hospital, used Western medicine --sometimes over many, many years. Then after hearing about and coming to see Dr. Zhao, they finally regain health, often in a relatively in a short amount of time. He lives the wisdom of his craft. He is a true self-made Master in his profession. As I've asked before, how is it that the world has yet to know about him?

He shook his head and said this is a weakness in China -- sometimes so much talent is 'wasted', is lived in a short life and then gone before it is noticed, recognized, and shared for the benefit of many. Some doctors put more attention on publicity and advertisements, yet Dr. Zhao prefers to focus on his task, on his purpose and mission to serve and be the very best Doctor he can be.

A Gift
During our evening session Dr. Zhao also gave me a very special book. We were just about to start our lesson and he took out an old tattered paperback and began writing on the back (the cover had long ago fallen off - along with the first few pages :)). He then handed it to me and had me read: "Zhe shi wo du le 38 nian de shu. Jintian wo ba ta songgei Meiguo pengyou, Kailun nushi. Xiwang ta neng guo xue hao ZhongYi. -- Zhongguo, Zhongyi, Zhao Fuxue, 4/2/2010, Zhengzhou, Wulibao Zhongyi zhensuo." -- "This is a book I have studied for over 38 years. Today I give it to my American friend, Karen. May she study Chinese Medicine well. -- China, Dr. Zhao Fuxue, 4.2.2010, Zhengzhou Wulibao Chinese Medicine Clinic." The front he wrote a poem that he said I'll understand once I've studied well.

This book, he said, is a book all of Chinese herbal remedies. "If you learn, study and really know the contents of this book, you will be a master at Chinese herbalism," said Dr. Zhao. While he has a newer copy of this book, he said this one is more precious, as it contains his "xinxi" - his love, his sincere and dedicated love to his craft. Again I feel so touched and honored. Dr. Zhao leafed through it some and showed me the many notes it contains that he wrote to himself many years back -- these notes give me yet another glimpse into knowing/understanding my dear friend and teacher. He then, as Ayi came in to join us for a bit, also began to recite by memory, some of the formulas. Just as I have told you about the 'gejue' -- the poems/songs for the different acupuncture points along the meridians, there are also such poems for many, many formulas. He has dedicated much of his pure love and energy to reciting and making these words an integral part of his being. Ayi mentioned that he had already memorized most of this book before they were married!

Dr. Zhao's desire to teach and share what he has invested a lifetime in mastering (not to mention the generations of doctors before him for which he is carrying the 'torch') is soooooo GREAT! It's a big responsibility he is carrying. And sometimes I feel his frustration in 1) his desire to share with the world, and 2) feeling held back by obstacles of his own and other countries' governments, not to mention visas/green cards, etc. He said he could easily invest his lifetime here in China, continuing in his quiet service, helping those fortunate to hear of and know about him - yet what will happen when he passes on? Will anyone be able to carry on and keep this wisdom, knowledge, mastery alive?

Also, while he says his heart tells him to teach me and he feels a natural willingness and desire to do so -- sometimes we both laugh and mutually wonder why? As -- while I am very receptive to learn -- and being that this material is mainly new, I am a very clear slate -- I am also one who, sitting at his desk next to him on his little wooded stool, is just starting to comprehend the very basics of the basic of even just the subject topic headings of what he has to share!!! Yet he continues to share with patience and persistence.

Another Pop Quiz
For example, yesterday during clinic hours, I had 2 other 10 minute lesson periods (in between clients) during which he would write out with his calligraphy brush some of the 'gejues' for specific point categories. While writing them out he would also explain the meaning of the poem. (I'm using my nifty ipod touch and can actually record him on my voice memo to listen to later in my room! :)) Well I guess I hadn't listened to the previous day's lesson enough b/c, in the midst of our lesson....I got quizzed! Yikes!! I guess I shouldn't be surprised given that that occasionally happens in the 'herbal department' with Jun Lin and Ayi, BUT I hadn't prepared....and when Dr. Zhao mentioned some "Luo points" he has told me about the other day -- he quickly said - 'What meridian is this on?" Oh dear! I froze....and felt somewhat like Eddie Izzard (he's a hilarious British transvestite comedian for those of you who don't know him) -- saying "Uh duh, I...I have no idea" And then another time, I did - honestly remember the right meridian - Bladder channel -- but I blurted out the Chinese word for "gall bladder" instead....oh dear! And then a big sigh from Dr. Zhao. Sometimes he says a nickname for me under his breath that he and Ayi use at times if I make a small or-- sometimes rather not-so-small mistake (of which there have been quite a few lately!!) It's-- "Sha niu" -- Well to explain -- "niu" means cow -- but often parents call their daughters "niu niu" -- which is used as an endearing term....BUT "sha" is not so endearing as it means "foolish" -- so "sha niu" is kind of like saying, "oh you silly!!" Even so, he says it with a twinkle in his eyes and sometimes follows it with a 'bu sha.' -- basically meaning 'not foolish' -- or those of you who have participated in Conscious Language - it's like saying 'cancel clear' :)

GeJue Lesson - 10 Simple Yet Powerful Points
On the subject of "gejues", I'm excited because I actually completely understand one whole gejue that Dr. Zhao shared with me yesterday and it is soooo cool!! So he sat down with his 'maobi' - his calligraphy brush and started writing out the ge jue while explaining each phrase in language I could understand while I scribbled my jumbled mixture of pinyin, English and Chinese characters in my little notebook and had my ipod mic recording next to his brush (which ended up being a little noisy!). Today, while in the car on our way back from the LongTan Canyon (which Dr. Zhao took Jun Lin, Richard and me too -- so beautiful!! -- I may need to include more pics from today's trip in a different email :)) -- I looked up each character I didn't know with some help from Jun Lin and located all the points mentioned in the ge jue....and then re-listened to Dr. Zhao's lecture, read the ge jue and....I Understand!!! YAY! So I'd like to share it with you b/c it's both 'neat' and useful. This ge jue was written by Ma Dan Yang, who was a famous doctor during the Ming Dynasty. It's a simple and short ge jue highlighting 10 acupuncture points. As the story goes, Ma Dan Yang was able to cure any kind of sickness with just these points!!! So here it goes...my translation:

Zu San Li and Nei Ting (2 points on the stomach meridian) can heal any stomach or belly illness.
Qu Chi and He Gu can be used for any head or face sickness. (these are both on the large intestine meridian)
For great pain in one's waist/hips or back, the points Wei Zhong and Kun Lun (both on the bladder channel) can be used.
For neck/shoulder pain, use Hou Xi on the small intestine meridian and Lie Que on the lung meridian.
For knee and other leg joint pain, use the points Huan Tiao and Yang Ying Quan - both of which are on the gall bladder channel.

Then it says, that of the over 360 points, none can match the usefulness of these 10! :o) (again in Chinese, it rhymes and has a beautiful cadence)
If you look up some acupuncture charts online, you'll be able to find these easily and can start poking yourself or each other if you have an ache or ailment and help yourself naturally feel better quickly :)

Herbal Log - a Joint Project with Jun Lin
I have included a picture of one of the herbs I've photographed for my herbal study log. This is a joint effort between Jun Lin and me :) -- She's so great! Often in her kind way, if sees me going about doing something in a less than graceful or efficient way, she quickly offers another way to go about whatever I'm doing. For example, in my notebook (of which I also included a picture to show a snapshot of my scribbled part Chinese characters --(and scribbled re-writes of some characters!), pinyin and English), I started sketching little not-so-accurate looking pictures of the herbs to help me remember them. Well upon seeing this, Jun Lin astutely suggested -- "Kailun, why don't you just take some photographs of these herbs?" Oh, what a great idea! So I started photographing them, peering my camera into the little drawers of herbs....and again after watching me for a bit Junlin said..."um...Kailun, ni yinggai zheyang..." --"um Karen, you should do it like this..." And she took out a clean square sheet of paper (that we use for wrapping up our herbal prescriptions) and put a neat pile of the bi xie herbs I was photographing on the paper. She looked pleased and said "There. Now take a picture like this." I did and we both examined it and yes, it came out much better -- we both laughed and then I continued in this way -- writing on a separate piece of paper the order of the herbs I was photographing so I could look at it later while looking at my pictures. Well, then Jun Lin, continuing to observe me, had another brilliant idea and again said, "Um...Kailun, ni yinggai zheyang zuo" -- "Karen, you should do it like this"-- and she then wrote out the name of the next herb I was photographing and put it in front of the neat little pile. Oh "hao congming!" - how smart! Yes, of course, now the name of the herb is in my photo! :) So we're now taking this on as a joint project where she cuts the little pieces of paper and writes the Chinese characters out, and I write the pinyin and gather the herbs for my photo :).

As a side note, I really love learning about the Chinese herbs in this way. I love starting to recognize them by name and 'face' and even am able to decipher some of Dr. Zhao's scribbled hand-written prescriptions. There are sooo many herbs and a good 300-400 used regularly in the clinic. I've probably learned about 60 so far and I so enjoy my task of "zhua yao" -- filling prescriptions with Jun Lin and Ayi and each time I remember an herb, I feel I'm getting to know my 'friends' better. Also, today in our hike, Jun Lin pointed out several plants whose seeds we use as medicine in the clinic. This was so exciting to see too - to see natural medicine all around us in the blooming plant life and to be able to recognize and greet it by name! :)

So another long update! I just get writing and seem to keep going!
Tomorrow is QinMing Jie - a holiday for paying respects to one's ancestors. Richard and I will be visiting some temples with Dr. Zhao.

Much great love to you all. Thank you again for your emails!!! I love hearing from you!! Sometimes I take awhile to respond as my computer time is little here -- and know that I thank you for your sharings so much and send much love!!

Happy Easter, for those of you who celebrate it today! And Happy Day to all!

Much LOVE,

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