Sun Si Miao on Heaven and Earth

“Zhào-Lín had a malignant illness which physicians were unable to cure, so he went and asked Sī-Miǎo, “What principles do the famous physicians employ to cure illness?” Sī-Miǎo answered: “I have heard that if one is skilled at talking about Heaven, one must substantiate it in the human realm; if one is skilled at talking about humans, one must also root it in Heaven. In Heaven, there are four seasons and five phases; winter cold and summer heat alternate with each other. When this cyclical revolution is harmonious, it forms rain; when it is angry, wind; when it congeals, frost and snow; when it stretches out, rainbows. These are the constancies of Heaven and Earth. Humans have four limbs and five internal organs. They alternate between being awake and sleeping. In exhaling and inhaling, spitting out and sucking in, essence and qì leave and come. In their flow, they constitute the constructive and protective [energies of the body], they manifest as facial color, and they erupt as sound. These are the constancies of humanity. Yáng employs the form, yīn employs the essence. This is where Heaven and humanity are identical. When [the constancies] are lost, if [qì and essence] steam upward, they cause heat [in the body]; if they are blocked, they cause cold; if they are bound, tumors and excrescences; if they sink, abscesses; if they scatter wildly, panting and dyspnea; and if they are exhausted, scorching and withering. Their symptoms arise on the face, and their transformations move around in the body.

When one extends this analogy to apply to Heaven and Earth, it is also likewise. Thus the waxing and waning of the Five Planets, the irregular motions of the constellations, the eclipses of the sun and moon, the flight of shooting stars, these are Heaven and Earth’s symptoms of danger. Unseasonable winter cold and summer heat are the ascent or blockage [of qì and essence] in Heaven and Earth. Uprighted boulders and thrust-up earth are the tumors and excrescences of Heaven and Earth. Collapsing mountains and caved-in ground are the abscesses of Heaven and Earth. Scattered winds and violent rain are the panting and dyspnea of Heaven and Earth. Dried-up streams and parched marshes are the scorching and withering of Heaven and Earth. An excellent physician guides [qì and essence] with medicines and [lancing] stones and rescues them with needles and prescriptions. A sage[ly ruler] harmonizes them in order to perfect his power and uses them as support in order to manage the affairs of humanity. Thus, the human body has illnesses that can be cured, and Heaven and Earth have calamities that can be dispersed.””Image

Translation of “Tang [Dynasty] History”《舊唐書》191, pp. 5094-5097, this is part of the section of Sun SiMiao’s official biography, translated by Sabine Wilms, from her wonderful Facebook page- Sun Simiao God of Medicinals and Nourishing Life

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