nothing02

The ego and the heart in Chinese medicine

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I would like to start a discussion on the role the ego and the heart play in Chinese medicine/Daoist cultivation.

 

I recently shelled out $85 for Lonny Jarrett's book "Nourishing Destiny." It's a pretty amazing book, and obviously Lonny is a smart guy. But he has a very specific viewpoint that the heart should be the guiding force of the entire human system. He describes how to use herbs and acupuncture points to cultivate an attitude of openness, dissolving ego boundaries and "merging with the universe" that does seem to be in line with the traditional Daoist view of health. Not everybody agrees with this, though. There's a very well-reasoned view that Westerners shouldn't try to dissolve their ego boundaries, because the society we live in an the way our psyches function do not support this. Someone (I'm not sure who) actually wrote an article ripping Lonny a new one over this: https://christiannix.com/pdf/a letter to lonny jarrett.pdf

 

Personally, as smart as Lonny Jarrett is, I agree with this article, not with him. Ego boundaries have an important role to play in our lives. It's nice to have an image of yourself as being the ultimate "good guy" and lacking ego boundaries, but if you actually dissolved them, I think you'd find yourself very dysfunctional in a society that demands they be maintained. This is not an issue of abstract right and wrong, but an issue of how you actually (mal)function in the world when you don't have an ego. Make "go with the flow" your guiding philosophy, and you realize that the "flow" really consists of the underlying patterns and ways of thinking and acting of the society you live in, as internalized and experienced subjectively by you. If that society is misguided - and does anyone in 2019 think Western society is not misguided? - you will be too, unless you practice some kind of resistance to the flow. So if all this is true, it seems that while the idea that you should always have an open heart might have worked in China 1000 years ago, it is not appropriate in the west today.

 

In terms of herbal practice, if someone had an issue like "phlegm misting the heart," the heart would be opened with aromatic herbs such as shi chang pu. I think you could even call this an herb that helps dissolve the ego. So here's what I want to discuss: if we take the viewpoint that ego boundaries should be maintained and strengthened, not dissolved, how would that be reflected in herbal or acupuncture practice? Which organs would you treat? I wonder if it would be the kidneys (where the will is seated according to TCM) or the gallbladder (whose "determination" is supposed to help give the heart direction), or if maybe TCM is just the wrong tool to accomplish this.

 

Does anyone have experience with systems of cultivation other than Daoism that give the ego and heart a different role, and how do those practices translate into the Chinese system?

Edited by nothing02
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The book sounds like a Christina do-gooder discusses philosophy of TCM.   And as such is useless.

 

The ego is a false structure, but if it is transformed then what is left is your true human self.  You don't suddenly disappear from the Earth.   And even "great masters" still have sex and thoughts and whatnot.   You also don't become the universe, if that was the case wouldn't Buddha have fixed everything?  Therefore he was not the almighty, he was simply a sane non-false human that had returned to reality.

 

As for hearting things.   This normally comes from people who don't have any experience of progress.   So they imagine that spiritual progress has something to do with being on your knees flailing your back, and hunting around the earth for poor brown people you can save.   Which btw was not what Jesus was suggesting.

 

The most useful books are practice manuals by people who know how to practice, because through their own practice they have attained.   And other poetic books are inspirational.   But in the end you have to do some practice.

 

So, an encyclopaedic book like this comes from someone who has not practiced but has compiled copious notes that he has not actually experienced.
Practice manuals can be quite short.

 

I would suggest to you that you do not want, and you would not benefit from, a "thorough grounding" in "theory".

 

What you actually learn from is practice.  5 mins theory then 5 hrs practice.

Otherwise it is just mental masturbation, like looking at pictures of mountains, rather than ... going up on a mountain.

 

Anyway, aside from all that, Spontaneous Five Animal Frolics requires very little theory, you just do it ... and then the body does all the healing.   Then you get well.

Then there breathing at the dantien, surrendering into the flow.   Again 60seconds instruction required.

Then Zhan Zhuang, yes some details need explaining several times.

 

Do you need any more information other than this ?   I don't think so.

And if you wish to read, maybe the poetry and crazy wisdom of ChuangTzu is more nourishing than reading an encylpoedia.

 

If you read Hua Tuo's encyclpaedia then maybe.

 

Another one of Jarrett's book receiving the outstanding academic title award from some magazine.

These awards are a fun game for a certain kind of people.

 

But anyway if you need the path ... it's a different kind of life.

 

Who is Lonny Jarrett ... seems to have many academic and institutional medicine connections.   Is this Daoism or just Westernism branched out.

 

The heart : your intelligence will consciousness identity love are the cause of your existence.

 

Anyway what do I know, I am probably just an idiot.

 

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Thanks, it doesn't sound idiotic to me. To be fair to Lonny, I think that he's focusing on healing, not on spiritual development, though obviously the two are linked. And yet, the majority of people go through life spiritually unhealed, but not suffering from any apparent problem. Hmm.

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Quote

So here's what I want to discuss: if we take the viewpoint that ego boundaries should be maintained and strengthened, not dissolved, how would that be reflected in herbal or acupuncture practice? Which organs would you treat? I wonder if it would be the kidneys (where the will is seated according to TCM) or the gallbladder (whose "determination" is supposed to help give the heart direction), or if maybe TCM is just the wrong tool to accomplish this.

 

Having an ego vs egolessness - I don't think these are concepts within TCM.

Absence of an ego would probably be some sort of emotional disease, like "mania and withdrawal" (dian kuang), depending on how the person's symptoms presented.  In Western psychiatry, I think it's considered "depersonalization disorder", a mental illness. A shen disturbance.


So, we'd want to look at what's disturbing the shen...many things can do that.

 

I don't think any TCM treatments would cause a person to lose their sense of self, such as getting rid of phlegm with shichangpu. Actually, doing such a thing might help a person's mind work more normally, and they could then develop a normally functioning ego. In that case, it would've been phlegm disturbing the shen, or "misting the mind", causing depersonalization.

I think there might be a difference between Buddhist enlightenment, where a person is emotionally liberated from concepts of themselves... vs depersonalization disorder, which has got to be FAR more common. In terms of living in society unscathed, the liberated person should have no issue whatsoever, whereas the depersonalized person would experience their so-called egolessness as being highly traumatic.

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Second Aetherous on this, good aim there!

 

I think TCM (for my laymans uniformed opinion of it) shouldn’t be confused with cultivation practices as such. Dissolving the ego doesn’t actually suggest obliteratinging it, rather making it not-solid.

Ok i might be looking too hard at semantics but if you dissolve something it usually entails a solvent and results in a mix of the dissolved and the solvent.

Like Ride suggests, a transformation. The ego dissolved in the solvent isn’t as it was before transformation, but its components have shifted and merged with more, or are at least not as rigid and defined as previously.

Worth remembering is that self and ego and mind and all sorts of words are used in spiritual contexts to describe ”the enemy”. Not sure what the chinese texts use but i’m pretty sure the use of ego is due to its connotation of self-image, self-knowledge and most relevantly perhaps: the illusion of these and other things.

 

Imo having no sense of self probably wasn’t a very good idea to go about in life even in a hypotethical China of 1000 yersteryears, i think there was far less support for someone in a bout of self-loss. Today there’s psychiatry and drugs and mental instittions and DSMs and people who can get better from suffering from issues related to the ego. Yet, as you point out OP, suffering and pain still abounds... perhaps as much as it used to do 1 or 10 thousands of years ago? We’ve been Homo Sapiens for a lot longer and it’s quite recent that we record our misery for others to view it, our tribulations are perhaps older than us as a spieces, who knows?

 

Sages and enlightened people are spoken about as adaptive, boundless and knowing but not lacking in boundaries or sense of self. They seem to possess quite a lot of it, turning away people who arent ready, withdrawing from nosepokers, understaing their own and others place among things and what have you.

 

Heart in Chinese, again layman if not bumbling idiot speaking here, seems to refer to a true and honest mind and awareness, capable of discerning purpose and directing intent. Not mind mind exactly but a broader spectrum including our emotional intelligence, intuition, experiential knowledge and general quality of mind and spirit. At least from what i can understand of cultivation practices.

 

2 cents, awesome topic!

Edited by Rocky Lionmouth
I’m buzzing off of mezcal, it oils the word-making a lot.
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TCM has heart and shen relationship.

 

The term ego being alien to tcm might be something like acquired self, post heaven mind will, the fake person, trouble maker or illusory self. ego is not worth investing time in. Ego is perishable, does not last, is born and dies.

 

 

Guanzi, prior to 200 B.C.:

The heart is the emperor of the human body. Its subordinate officers are in charge of the nine orifices and their related functions. As long as the heart remains on its rightful path, the nine orifices will follow along and function properly. If the heart's desires become abundant, however, the eyes will lose their sense of color, and the ears will lose their sense of sound. Thus it is said: 'Keep your heart empty-this is the art of the heart through which the orifices can be mastered.'

 

 If we stay clear of desires, the shen will enter its home. If we sweep away all impurities, the shen will stay with us. Human beings all crave intelligence and wisdom, but rarely do we try to understand what the source of their existence is. Alas, intelligence, intelligence-even if you jump over the ocean, it will not just sit there waiting for you!

 

The seeker will be limping behind the one who is without desires. The sage does not seek anything, and thus naturally achieves the state of vacuous understanding [ultimate knowledge apart from fixed concepts].

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On 6/21/2019 at 2:01 PM, Aetherous said:

I don't think any TCM treatments would cause a person to lose their sense of self, such as getting rid of phlegm with shichangpu. Actually, doing such a thing might help a person's mind work more normally, and they could then develop a normally functioning ego. In that case, it would've been phlegm disturbing the shen, or "misting the mind", causing depersonalization.
 

 

This is insightful. So what would developing a normally functioning ego equate to in terms of Daoist cultivation or Chinese medicine? If someone could put this into words, it would provide a very useful missing piece. I haven't heard this stated exactly anywhere.

 

I agree that Daoism does not actually have the term "egolessness," but it seems that wuwei is for all intents and purposes something very similar.

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11 hours ago, nothing02 said:

 

This is insightful. So what would developing a normally functioning ego equate to in terms of Daoist cultivation or Chinese medicine? If someone could put this into words, it would provide a very useful missing piece. I haven't heard this stated exactly anywhere.

 

You would naturally become a 仙 without any effort whatsoever. It is the endless efforting of the malfunctioning ego that prevents this process from unfolding.

 

 

11 hours ago, nothing02 said:

 

I agree that Daoism does not actually have the term "egolessness," but it seems that wuwei is for all intents and purposes something very similar.

 

Daoism has many equivalent terms even if no direct translations.

 

An important one is expressed in the term  "人心死則道心生" (when the human mind/heart dies then the Dao mind/heart is born), which harkens to the 《尚書》 but is widely embraced by Daoists and used quite frequently in alchemy treatises and in conversation.

 

The closest term is probably 無我 (no I/me), which arguably comes from Buddhism, but in any case has been a major part of Daoist since long before your grandma's grandma's grandma's grandma was born. From Li Daochun's Book of Balance and Harmony:

 

識破無人無我,

何須求佛求仙。

隨時隨處總安禪,

一切幻塵不染。

[If you] thoroughly understand there is no them, no I (or "no other, no self")/

[Then] what need [have you] to seek immortality or seek buddhahood?/

At any time, in any place, [you're] always resting in [dhyana/meditative equipoise]/

All the [types of] illusory [gunas/dust], none of them can stick [to you]. 

 

Praises to 李道純 for taking the time to pen his wisdom for later generations!

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The question is:

 

What are we really?

 

Pheeeew!!

 

To answer that it will be akin to fi

finding the value of ∞.

 

Shi Chang Pu is mere drop in the ocean. Don't worry too much with that herb. 

 

Some personal advice:

 

1. Go with the flow of life and your own existence

2. Adapt to seasonal changes (Yin-Yang)

3. Eat good food cooked with love and enjoy what you eat!

4. Be calm and gentle 

5. Practice your daily meditations without getting carried away. Like a routine thing

6, Next lifetime you'll be a different being and like that forever. No beginning no end. We are the Tao. :)

 

Enjoy the ride!

 

 

 

Edited by Gerard
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I don't  think it is really possible to do away with the ego. It is at the center of our consciousness  and attempting to extinguish the ego would present an existential threat and likely have all kinds of repercussions.  That said, I think the ego can become ... unhealthy ... and as such can benefit from some understanding, modulation or transformation. It is when the ego becomes overly consumed with the sense of self and sees itself as apart and superior to the rest of the world that it becomes an unhealthy motivation directing one's actions. A lot of times this is accompanied by excessive emotional disturbance, a condition often attributed to issues of the heart.

 

I am glad someone mentioned the Guanzi in this discussion. The Neiye, a part of Guanzi, that was cited is describing a practice that can be very helpful in bringing the heart and ego into a better balance.

 

So, it's not about seeing the ego as bad and worthy of extinction but more about recognizing ego and helping it find its appropriate place in our lives.

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I've been thinking a lot about this, with the assistance of these very insightful comments, and would like to throw this out there. The idea of solidity in your own being, i.e. having a healthy ego, probably equates to sufficiency of blood. I also think that, as useful as the Chinese system is overall for purposes of health and self-improvement, probably its least helpful aspect is its pursuit of immortality. Self-improvement is good and part of life, but if you cannot ultimately say "this is good enough" (which you never will if you pursue immortality or perfection), you will be unable to find solidity in your own being.

 

Incidentally, I was watching a video by Lonny Jarrett and noticed he has a blood-deficient appearance - pale, with a head of gray hair. Not to pick on Lonny, I've got my imbalances and we all do, but his perspective on Chinese medicine may be an expression of his blood deficiency. In other words, he is the sort of person who naturally downplays the grounded, blood-replete aspect of being (where a person accepts their flaws and doesn't give a f*ck - i.e. has a strong ego) in favor of a more spiritual, heart-guided approach.

 

Or I'm nuts. Maybe some of both.

Edited by nothing02
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There is no ego! Ultimately is a mind constructed mechanism to give you a sense of placement on this level of consciousness. If you manage to realise what you really are the EGO will dissolve, booom, just like that. It actually happens like that and you'll know it but like anything else it's a gradual process. What is me? Who am I? 

 

That's why I said:

 

-Go with the flow of your own existence as you never really know when smaller or bigger awakenings will take place.

 

-Nothing is certain so go with the flow of life. 

 

 

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On 24/06/2019 at 3:38 AM, Walker said:

[If you] thoroughly understand there is no them, no I (or "no other, no self")/

[Then] what need [have you] to seek immortality or seek buddhahood?/

At any time, in any place, [you're] always resting in [dhyana/meditative equipoise]/

All the [types of] illusory [gunas/dust], none of them can stick [to you]. 

 

If "I" spends his time shopping, lost in illusions, chasing future dreams, and trying to please everyone, then that "I" is the ego, it is unconscious conditioned and lost.

If "I" feels himself, feels truth, and naturally does healthy life, then that "I" is Real.   

It is the "I" that is part of the one.

This is quite simple and we all know, because we all have some moments of ego and some moments of Real.

 

It seems that the way spirituality has developed in mankind has been quite brutal, requiring a sort of self-destruction self-oblation self-immolation ... hence the traditional view that there "is no I".   

Really, then why are you speaking ?   Why don't you just kill yourself?

Any spirituality that grows on the Earth has to fit in with hierarchical society ... as spirituality frees people, how can it be disguised ?  One way is to base the spirituality on the idea of no self, or of whipping your back.   Then the rulers will allow this kind of spirituality.

Such are the rules of the Earth.

 

Of course there is an "individual" ... intelligence.

How else can the One grow ?

It grows through forming facets on its ocean.

As a facet on the ocean we can experience ourselves as the ocean, or as the facet, and we can interact with other facets.

You can meditate feeling the One, or you can meditate feeling the facet.
Most people will settle for feeling anything outside of the ego, because that is a relief.

 

The facet is created in a turbulent school that we call "the world", in the beginning the facet is a prototype completely lost in this "world" but later through its remembrance of the ocean, it gains perspective and recognizes itself as the facet.

 

Who is spirituality directed at ?
It is directed at the facet that is newborn and confused, it is direcled to remember the ocean, and then itself as a new facet.

What is the ego then ?
The ego is what happens to a new born facet who is still not conscious and is totally lost in the school, who neither knows really what he is or who the ocean is and is jumping up and down to the tune of the school, being knocked left and right.   And the school is sometimes in an extremely poor state which makes things worse.

Isn't the ego an illusion ?

The unconscious thoughts of the ego are just blather picked up at school, but it talks because it is trying to ... find itself.   As the ego talks it is actually trying to get a grip on what it is.   Once it senses from within its identity (awakening) then it will not talk so much as its job is done.   The ego is like a clump of matter in a stellar nursery, it is smashed around pushed and pulled, but gradually forms itself into a single structure, and then like a star it explodes into life and is born again.

 

Interestingly in this analogy with stars, the stellar nursery is ignited by a supernova that overflows the nursery with huge energy enough to trip the babystars into ignition.   

Similar to the role of a guru, but not identical.

A star is a physical blunt device, but a human consciousness is very sensitive and needs careful nurturing over a long time to form and ignite.

 

Who is to be freed?
Who is struggling to meditate?
Where are you going to?
After enough learning has happened, you can settle down as your self, the facet that you were always.

But you did need the struggle and confrontation otherwise you would never awaken.

 

So the human is actually a divine being ?
No.   A human is a mixed creature in development, it is not fully formed.

Partly conscious mostly unconscious, fragmented and not integrated.

The ego is one of the ways this creature manifests itself incoherently.

Traditionally, an awakened person might only experience "the ocean" and forsake the human side.

Completion on the "human side" is an immortal divine-facet, clothed in a relative mortal personality.

These things are quite rare.

 

Saying "there is no I"; can be practical for many people, whether or not it is ultimately accurate.

 

Edited by rideforever

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8 hours ago, Gerard said:

There is no ego! Ultimately is a mind constructed mechanism to give you a sense of placement on this level of consciousness. If you manage to realise what you really are the EGO will dissolve, booom, just like that. It actually happens like that and you'll know it but like anything else it's a gradual process. What is me? Who am I? 

 

That's why I said:

 

-Go with the flow of your own existence as you never really know when smaller or bigger awakenings will take place.

 

-Nothing is certain so go with the flow of life. 

 

 

Well said... your words resonate my localized experience of it.

 

The analysis and story developed around the series of compulsions toward what i crave and away from what i despise is what i find most folks identify as 'the ego'.  It's never a thing.  Not even a conceptual thing.  That's the analysis of the movement, or compulsion.  The story.

 

Ego is a verb, not a thing, or an imaginary thing, or a non-thing. 

 

We are I experience 'egoing' when we i attach to a notion we i desire, or when we i attempt to shun away what we i despise.  A fluid process, not a thing, or non-thing.

 

There is no ego as a thing for me... but there seems to be a process that arises, a tendency of 'egoing' towards some manifestations and away from others.

Edited by silent thunder
spelling correction and changed the we's to i's
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On 6/21/2019 at 11:20 PM, nothing02 said:

It's nice to have an image of yourself as being the ultimate "good guy" and lacking ego boundaries, but if you actually dissolved them, I think you'd find yourself very dysfunctional in a society that demands they be maintained. This is not an issue of abstract right and wrong, but an issue of how you actually (mal)function in the world when you don't have an ego.

 

Hi nothing02,

 

If no (wo)man is an island by him/herself... and (s)he exists in an environment... then what is his/her ego?

 

Asked thus ~ can I introduce Theory U...?

 

Leading From the Future As It Emerges...

Building upon two decades of action research at MIT, the process shows how individuals, teams, organizations and large systems can build the essential leadership capacities needed to address the root causes of today’s social, environmental, and spiritual challenges. In essence, we show how to update the operating code in our societal systems through a shift in consciousness from ego-system to eco-system awareness.

- The Presencing Institute (MIT Sloan School of Management)

 

Theory_U.png

 

 

In Theory U, we move from EGO to ECO...

 

egoeco.jpg

 

                                        ego-vs-eco-22-e1452149628511.jpg

 

 

- Anand

Edited by Limahong
Enhance ...

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On 6/21/2019 at 11:20 PM, nothing02 said:

... the heart play in Chinese medicine/Daoist cultivation.

 

 

 

5elements.jpg

 

 

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