Extraordinary Chinese Medicine
By Thomas Richardson, LAc
Editor’s Note: This article is taken from the conclusion of the recently released book, “Extraordinary Chinese Medicine: The Extraordinary Vessels, Extraordinary Organs, and the Art of Being Human,” published by Singing Dragon.
“Wherever the art of Medicine is loved, there is also a love of Humanity.” – Hippocrates
Life is Extraordinary
The very fact that we exist as complex, multidimensional beings at this manifest level, and get to experience—through our senses—others, the world around us, as well as our own selves, is a miracle. Ironically, it is only by existing as individuated beings that we can experience life in this way, and yet it is precisely this individuation that also gives rise to all experience of suffering and feelings of disconnection. All too often it is easy to forget how extraordinary we are, how extraordinary each of our patients are, and how we are all inherently connected to an underlying and transcendent unity even as we exist as individuated beings at the level of duality.
Once we are incarnated in a body, there is a constant, daily connection to, and movement to return to, the oneness of Heaven, to the dao. The theoretical model proposed in “Extraordinary Chinese Medicine” demonstrates a continual unity underlying our experience at the level of humanity; through this model, it becomes clear that, on a diurnal basis, the order in which the ying qi flows through the primary channels accesses the extraordinary vessels and extraordinary organs in such a way as to continually reconnect us to the underlying unity. This is reflected in the movement from Earth to Humanity to Heaven, from lower, to middle, to upper dantian, and from legs, to arms, to head. This not only allows each of us to continually maintain our connection to Heaven; additionally, when one is connected in this way, the body has a nearly unlimited capacity to heal itself. When the qi flows freely through the body, excesses will naturally be carried off and deficiencies filled, and the body’s innate drive towards harmony and connection is maintained.
The Extraordinary Vessels
What is it that is so ‘extraordinary’ about the extraordinary vessels? They relate to the deep, constitutional aspects of self, to the ability for adaptation, growth, development, and transformation. They are reservoirs that can be drawn upon in times of difficulty and crisis, and through this have a direct relationship to the evolution of consciousness. Although it is a natural part of being human to want to avoid suffering, sometimes suffering is unavoidable; often it is precisely during the challenging and extraordinary times of suffering and crisis that we are offered some of the greatest opportunities for growth and development.
During these times, the extraordinary vessels can help ground us in the Source, to remind us of who we are and what we are here for, and to help transition from one developmental stage or way of being to another. In so doing, they can allow us to move through challenge, difficulty, and suffering not only with a greater degree of grace and ease, but they can also help us to gain as much compassion, wisdom, and humanity from such experiences as possible.
They accomplish all of this through maintaining our connection to the underlying Source—the oneness that transcends the manifest duality where all suffering occurs. Thus, the extraordinary vessels may be seen as a connection between the microcosm of the human body and the macrocosm of the universe, keeping each individual immersed in the larger system so that irregularities and disequilibrium may be balanced out, and growth can continually occur.
Connecting to the Source
The extraordinary vessels not only help in times of transformation and crisis because they are able to connect us to the Source and the essence, but through this connection they are able to give us perspective and help us to feel safe and contained when going through these ‘extraordinary times’ of transformation and crisis.
This is often one of the most important aspects of healing—remembering who we are, what we are here for, and what we are doing. Fundamentally, the primary purpose of being human is to connect Heaven and Earth and the inside and the outside; through residing at the pivot of these polarities, the individual can have an experience of unity and oneness, of connection to the dao, while existing as a limited, individuated being at the level of duality, and thus experientially exist in the natural state. The extraordinary vessels and organs are one means to have this experience, whether they are accessed through acupuncture, qigong, or meditation utilizing these vessels.
The diurnal cycle of the ying qi through the primary channels is the key to unlocking the connection between the extraordinary vessels, the extraordinary fu, and Daoist conceptions of the evolution of consciousness. The ying qi is the middle, or pivot, between the wei qi and jing qi, and therefore it corresponds to the level of humanity and is at the pivot of various yin-yang aspects of being. If the ying qi flows freely through the channels, the theoretical model presented here indicates that not only will yin and yang be in harmony, but that the flow of ying qi through the primary channel system will naturally activate the extraordinary vessels and fu—allowing them to unfold in the order which reflects the evolution of consciousness—thereby connecting the individual back to the Source and transcending the mundane duality.
Thomas Richardson is a Licensed Acupuncturist as well as a scholar and teacher of acupuncture and Oriental medicine. From 2012-2014, Thomas lived in Boston, where he completed a master’s degree at Harvard University. His research focused on connections between Buddhism, Daoism, and Chinese medicine, as well as trauma, storytelling, and healing. He currently lives in Boulder, Colo., and is on the faculty at Southwest Acupuncture College. For more information, visit his www.ExtraordinaryChineseMedicine.com.