Donna Carey, LAc
Bridging East & West, April, 2006
As Eastern and Western medical paradigms move into deeper communion with one another we, as healers, are given the opportunity to participate in a new and innovative creation story, one that can unite us all, just as creation stories and cosmologies have always united human consciousness and human communities as far back as we know or can ever imagine. There is a greater pattern leading us now, the pattern of the Tao, the pattern of nature itself, a dynamic, creative change process that will propel us toward more ordered, more complex, more interrelated states of interaction.
Medicine is on the threshold of taking giant leaps in the evolution of health care. Rules governing what works and what doesn’t work are shifting dramatically. We are a part of the change, we are creating a new story in medicine, creating what’s never existed before. East and West are making deep and powerful interdependent connections with one another, not excluding based on differences or separation of function, but by radically rethinking the most basic and most fundamental ways we view the world, and moving in trust toward a vision of holism. This new story represents the highest state of grace in the Oriental perspective—balance, integration, the reconciliation of dynamic and opposition forces that depend on, inspire, and augment one other. This reconciliation is not simply a mating of medical methodologies, it is a transformation of consciousness.
The story, the new medicine, will celebrate the integrity and the fullest potential of the human being, of human membership, and bring together fields of energy, fields of medicine, fields of people and of communities, and will contribute to the ongoing work of the universe. The act of bridging Eastern and Western medicines, or reconciliation, is in itself an act of healing, and another testament to the lush and infinite generosity of spirit.
REC’ ON CILE, [Fr. Reconcilier; L. reconciliare]
1. to make compatible; to bring into harmony
2. to compose
Rethinking health care requires that we as healers and as individuals of a culture, step out of human body and consider how the Eastern medical model treats health and disease, and how it perceives both the human body and the entire universe philosophically. The goal of Chinese Medicine is to restore the harmony that exists in all beings in the universe, and throughout the universe. This harmony can be disrupted by external factors (accidents, bacteria, viruses), and by internal factors (emotions, “psychological infections” and being disconnected). Both of these factors are equally important. Traditional Eastern medical schools of acupuncture and Oriental medicine emphasize the living, the deep, rich, interactive, interdependent, overarching relationships that exist within the universe of the body—feelings, correspondences of one system to another, the hinging of all things inextricably linked.
Oriental medicine reads the signs of imbalance within the body before structural, histological, or psychological damage occurs—it interprets and prevents disease before it develops. Western medicine is superlative at locating the cause of disease, and the etiological agents outside of the individual, and combating them-removing damaged organs, or interceding with drugs that target a specific bacteria. The philosophical constructs and theories in the Eastern and Western medical paradigm’s are distinct. Health from a western perspective is freedom or absence from disease. The individual, like the organ or the origin of disease is distinct from everything else. Health from the Oriental worldview is the ability of an organism to respond appropriately to the pantheons of challenges in a way that will ensure equilibrium and integrity to the organisms as a whole. The individual is connected with a larger system, like the systems within each individual are connected with one another. The individual is not separate from the universe. In fact, the individual is a microcosm of the universe itself.
The blessing of Western medicine is that it “cures” people of serious, traumatic, infectious conditions. But it does so by division, relegating treatment to particular organs, bones, and tissue, and looking for the cause of disease outside the limits of the human organism. The blessing of Oriental medicine is its effectiveness balances mind, body, and spirit on an energetic level and promotes healing from within, and a sense of integration and wholeness.
This is not to say that East is right and West is wrong; it is simply to open up to a new view of healing imbued with a richness in texture and saturation of wisdom from the Eastern philosophical system. It is the philosophy of nature, the philosophy of systems and interconnectedness, of the unquestionable honoring of the individual and of the whole. The world, our world, changes only when we shift to living consciously with a new set of values, beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions that is more generous and more inclusive. This generosity must come from all healers, Eastern and Western, and from all people. The capability and the magic we have is the ability to change our thinking patterns, to embrace something much larger and more complete. It is not only an unfortunate error in our thinking but a tragic diagnosis of impartial awareness that keeps us believing that the system we know is the best, the only. We can use both appropriately, embracing the universal laws of complementarity and mutual interdependence.
REC’ ON CILE, [Fr. Reconcilier; L. reconciliare]
3. To join evenly with one another
The call to each of us as healers is to open our awareness, our perceptions in order to create the new vision, the new story of medicine, a medicine of wholeness, of holiness and hope. We can use our work together as a symbol of what we cherish and to inspire the capacity and potential for effective work and change within the community. It is a sacred interaction with the ongoing sacrament and mystery of the universe. It is both our challenge and our greatest honor to come together to reconcile the separation we have created and perpetuated by splitting what is and has always been whole. We must use the bridge of reconciliation to create the most profound and healthy models for transformation within the medical systems and within the greater systems in which our medicines reside.
The thinking methods, attitudes, values, and beliefs that we as healers and community choose to integrate will determine the changes and transformation ahead and fuel the creation of a new medical narrative.
We Can Move:
From: Learning by objectivity
To: Learning by participation/creativity
From: Humans Conquering Nature
To: Ecological view
From: Specific roles/unequal status
To: Empowerment for all
From: Hierarchiucal structure
To: Shared responsibility
From: Protecting the past
To: Creating the future
From: Independent relationships
To: Interdependent relationships
From: Universe as a machine
To: Universe as a sacrament
From: Medicated society
To: Healthy society
From: Lone practitioners
To: Multidisciplinary care teams
From: Authority over patients
To: Empowerment of patient
From: Health care as a privilege
To: Health care as human right
From: Efficiency ruling
To: Beauty as a part of the equation
From: Medicine as strictly science
To: Medicine as the art of living fully
From: Rationality reigning
To: Mythology abounding
"I have experienced both immediate physical and continued, profound deep changes with Acutonics. Immediate, obvious physical changes include ongoing relief from arthritis in my hands that had literally bent a few of my fingers to the side, release of continual, deeply held stress in my body, lightening of my worries, relief from long-standing sciatica pain, lowering of my blood pressure, and TMJ release. The more subtle … change is a deep, sustained, slow building inner calm."
- Barbara Galbraith, Nashville, TN