Chinese Medicine: 10,000 Expressions of Healing

Ahhh. School break. The Chinese Medicine college where I teach finished up spring term a couple weeks back, and we have a short breather before summer courses begin. 

During this pause, we held a graduation ceremony for students completing the 5-year doctor program and 4-year practitioner program. It was lovely.

Speaking at the ceremony – and looking out at my students there – touched my heart. They will be amazing doctors and practitioners…and will help so many. 

Here’s what I said to them, as they begin this part of their journey.


  Photo by   Danielle Macinnes, Unsplash

Photo by Danielle Macinnes, Unsplash

First, I want to say, from my heart, what a true blessing it is to be here today. Truly. When I look out at you grads, my heart fills. 

I feel grateful to have been your teacher…and to have each of you as my teachers. 

The Tao Te Jing, for those here who don’t know, is an ancient text in our tradition that guides us to live a life that’s honest, humble, patient, kind, simple.

One in which we are soft…yet steadfast. 

In its verses, the Tao often speaks of the "10,000 things,” which is shorthand for “all the things.” 

And in this medicine of ours, there 10,000 expressions…meaning, you get to take all that you’ve learned during your time here – the classical foundations of health and healing – and find your truest expression of the medicine. An expression rooted in and emerging from your heart, mind, spirit. 

From this place, you will help so many.

Today, in honour of your expressions of the medicine, your journey so far and all that awaits, I offer two things.

  Photo by Joshua Reddekopp, Unsplash

Photo by Joshua Reddekopp, Unsplash

First, a reading from Chapter 13 of the Tao Te Jing, from a copy given to me long ago – a copy I visit daily. It goes this way:

Accept disgrace willingly.
Accept misfortune as the human condition.

What do you mean by “Accept disgrace willingly”?
Accept being unimportant.

Do not be concerned with loss or gain. 
This is called “accepting disgrace willingly."

What do you mean by "Accept misfortune as the human condition”? 
Misfortune comes from having a body. 

Without a body, how could there be misfortune?

Surrender yourself humbly; then you can be trusted to care for all things.
Love the world as your own self; then you can truly care for all things.

  Photo by   Hannes Wolf, Unsplash

Photo by Hannes Wolf, Unsplash

Second, I want to offer a poem. It’s by Rumi and goes this way:

For years, copying other people, I tried to know myself.
From within, I couldn’t decide what to do.

Unable to see, I heard my name being called.
Then I walked outside.

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.

You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep. 

People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.

The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep. 

  Photo by Eamonn Maguire, Unsplash

Photo by Eamonn Maguire, Unsplash

So as you all continue your journey with the medicine – and find the expression that can only be yours. Only you can offer it. I encourage you to: 

Practice from a true, authentic place. 

A place deeper than any posturing we do or roles we play. 

A place beneath any masks we wear. 

A place sourced from your heart.

And surrender yourself humbly, meeting your patients from a place of shared humanness. From our shared humanness. And from a place of care. 

You’ll do beautifully. And I’ll say again in closing: I feel deeply grateful to have been your teacher…and to have each of you as my teachers. Thank you, from my heart.

  Photo by Hugo Kerr, Unsplash

Photo by Hugo Kerr, Unsplash

And you?

What do you hope for – what do you look for – in a doctor, coach, mentor, guide? I'd love to hear in the comments!


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