In a continual search for relevant information to share one inevitably runs into obstacles and the search itself can become as enlightening as the material itself. Being a not-so-savy internet surfer/social media person I require a bit effort in posting as I am not looking to be the person responsible for useless posts or articles someone can read standing in line at the grocery store. I stumbled upon (not the website although I have nothing against them) this article entitled, “An Expert on Chinese Medicine but no New Age Healer”. I was intrigued and so I found myself clicking the link and encountered more than I had anticipated.
The article details the work of one Dr. Paul U. Unschuld. A relative unknown to most but a very prominent and unheralded figure in the field of Chinese Medicine. As a student in a field of study where the source materials require translation we have only a number of texts that are widely accepted as thestandard for which we are to learn from while in school. The names on the texts themselves represent what most names on textbooks mean to most students. Specifically a name on a textbook. A mysterious figure who has shown themselves to be an expert in that field with the propensity for writing technical prose. So I was particularly surprised when the NY Times did a personal profile article detailing one of the definitive voices in the translation of Chinese to English texts. The article details his recent completion of a project that has taken him over 28 years! Although his commitment to his craft or expertise did not surprise me. What came later in the article that did.
Dr. Unschuld is NOT an Acupuncturist, NOT an Herbalist and NOT a practitioner of any medical modality that one would associate with his field of expertise. Perhaps ignorantly I assumed this was the case. If I am the only one then shame on me. Dr. Unschuld has also NEVER had any form of Chinese medicine performed on him at the time of this interview (2016). For someone to spend their professional career and legacy on a subject matter they have not directly participated in was fascinating to me. The part that left me with a real sense of awe however was in the closing paragraphs of the article.
“My fate lies with me, not with heaven” -Chinese proverb. The journalist in conjunction with Dr. Unschuld chose this proverb to conclude the article with followed by several paragraphs expounding on this ideology on modern Chinese society and development. This statement, perhaps akin Dr. Unschuld’s wisdom, his experience with the source material or immersion with the ancient ideas of classical Chinese works has embodied one of themost essential driving forces in a patient’s success… “My fate lies with me, not with heaven”. As ancient as the statement is it seems oddly contemporary and Dr. Unschuld attributes this responsibility as one of China’s motivating forces for their rapid growth. This responsibility also extends to the maintenance of one’s wellness. In times of illness, recovery and when there are no signs of our physical bodies having any disharmony. It is you, it is I, it is us who ultimately will put the effort into our health. From choosing the right foods, exercise, stress maintenance to admitting our limitations and owning when we need help we can be in charge of the only vehicle that we are ever given, us.
So in an article written about a linguistic scholar focusing on Classical Chinese Medical texts I encountered a seemingly conscious current. A current that shapes not only a field of medicine, the author of numerous translations and texts but a society as a whole. Each of which indicating to us the importance of our role in our own health and our own lives.