Ekiken Kaibara on Supplementing Yin

//Ekiken Kaibara on Supplementing Yin

Ekiken Kaibara on Supplementing Yin

I’ve been doing some research for a book on 養生 yang sheng/nourishing life, and one of my favorites for many years has been Yojokun, by Ekiken Kaibara. Kaibara was a neo-confucianist philosopher, samurai and physician in the 17th century. As well as setting out laws of maintaining health, Yojokun also discusses many of the Jin-Yuan medical theories that were popular at this time. Ekiken considered himself a follower of Li Dongyuan, originator of the spleen-stomach current, which makes sense considering his focus on diet and digestive health. But he was very critical of Zhu Danxi’s (Zheng-heng) theory of supplementing yin.

“On what classic is the theory of superfluous yang and insufficient yin based? I myself have never seen such a book. If these are Dan-xi’s words, they are nonsense and difficult to believe. They go against the principle of the dao of change. If you follow Dan-xi’s methods and concentrate on supplementing yin, you will hurt your spleen and stomach and damage your fundamental health. If yang flourishes, yin will of itself live long. If you supplement yang qi, yin blood will be produced of itself. But if you try to supplement insufficient yin by taking xuan shen, huang bai and zhi mu for a long period, you will only damage your true yang, weaken your stomach qi, and inhibit the production of blood.”

2015-03-07T20:24:56+00:00 March 18th, 2012|7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Mikael May 13, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    Many modern teachers also seem to disapprove the Zhu Danxi’s idea of nourishing yin. I can agree with ‘ If you follow Dan-xi’s methods and concentrate on supplementing yin, you will hurt your spleen and stomach and damage your fundamental health’. But one sometimes I feel that the confusion here lies in understanding the nature of ministerial fire and the ways of handling yin deficiency. For example the in Xiānghǔo lùn (Treatise on Ministerial fire) the fire causing the yin deficiency is not what seems usually considered fire but ministerial fire. And this fire is usually brought by the heart or mind. And Zhu Danxi’s idea of the best way for this was with cultivating Heart (at least in Xiānghǔolùn).

    But I agree that many times one needs to kick yang a bit to when one wants to supplemen/nourisht yin.

    Thanks for the post. The book you mention is unknown to me…Is it really that good that one should pay $100 for 256 pages? (price seen in amazon)…

  2. Z'ev Rosenberg May 17, 2012 at 10:42 am

    Mikael,
    My experience here in the U.S. is that most teachers, practitioners and students are afraid to use yang/warming medicinals such as fu zi, gui zhi, gan jiang and xi xin, yet liberally dose their prescriptions with cold bitter medicinals such as ban lan gen or greasy yin supplementing medicinals such as shu di huang. Having said that, I’d love to see the xianghuo lun section. There are different ideas about ministerial fire from the Jin/Yuan physicians from the Shang Han Za Bing Lun current that are worthy of our attention.
    The ‘Yojokun’ I have is only 30 dollars at most. .

  3. Mikael June 24, 2012 at 1:03 am

    It may be because of quite cold weather of Finland some of us are using warming herbs here. It seems that most Chinese medicine schools here are always stating that it is liver qi stagnation, no matter the symptoms and if any herbs are given they are to unbind liver qi. Other common reasoning goes to phlegm. (These might be proper diagnosis quite often here but still)…
    Many people specializing other alternative treatments seem to advocate more colder approach as the raw food movement is quite hit here. I have seen customers who only consume blended raw foods, nothing cooked in years and as you can guess they display lot of cold syndromes.
    I have to admit that I am no specialist in herbs so I have very limited skills with them and also lack of experience. Here we cannot use them because of the laws and for that reason there are also almost zero courses available.

    Thanks for your suggestion for ministerial fire sources. I also hope that one day I find a cheaper Yojokun :)

    Here is the xianghuolun (please not that I just copied this from web without checking for typos):
    相火論

      太極動而生陽,靜而生陰,陽動而變陰,靜而合而生。水火木金土各一,其性惟火有二,曰:君火,人火也。曰:相火,天火也。火內陰而外陽,主乎動者也,故凡動皆屬火,以名而言,形氣相生,配於五行,故謂之君,以位而言,生於虛無,守位稟命,因其動而可見,故謂之相,天主生物,故恒於動,人有此生,亦恒於動,其所以恒於動,皆相火之為也。

      見於天者,出於龍雷則木之氣,出於海則水之氣也,具於人者,寄於肝腎二部,肝屬木而腎屬水也。膽者,肝之腑。膀胱者,腎之腑。心胞絡者,腎之配三焦,以焦言而下焦司肝腎之分,皆陰下者也,天非此火不能生物,人非此火不能有生,天之火雖出於木,而皆本乎地,故雷非伏龍,非蟄海,非附於地,則不能鳴不能飛不能波也,鳴也飛也波也動而為火者也。

      肝腎之陰悉具相火,人而同乎天也,或曰:相火天人之所同。何東垣以為元氣之賊,又曰:火與元氣不兩立,一勝則一負,然則如之何而可以使之無勝負也。曰:周子曰:神發知矣。五性感物而萬事出,有知之後,五者之性為物所感,不能不動,謂之動者,即內經五火也。相火易起五性,厥陽之火相扇,則妄動矣。火起於妄,變化莫測,無時不有,煎熬真陰,陰虛則病,陰絕則死,君火之氣,經以暑與濕言之,相火之氣,經以火言之,蓋表其暴悍酷烈有甚於君火者也。故曰:相火,元氣之賊。周子又曰:聖人定之以中正仁義而主靜。朱子曰:必使道心常為一身之主,而人心每聽命焉。此善處乎火者,人心聽命乎道心,而又能主之以靜,彼五火之動皆中節,相火惟有裨補造化,以為生生不息之運用耳,何賊之有,或曰:內經相火注曰:少陰少陽矣。未嘗言及厥陰太陽,而吾子言之何邪。曰:足太陽少陰東垣嘗言之矣。

      治以炒蘗,取其味辛,能瀉水中之火是也。戴人亦言:膽與三焦,尋火治肝和胞絡,都無異此。歷指龍雷之火也,予亦備述天人之火,皆生於動,如上文所云者,實推廣二公之意。或曰:內經言火不一,往往於六氣見之,言臟腑者未之見也。二公豈它有所耶,子龍為我言之乎。經曰:百病皆生於風寒暑濕燥火之動而為變者。岐伯歷舉病機一十九條,而屬火者五,此非相火之為病之出於臟腑者乎。

      攷諸內經,少陽病為瘛瘲,太陽病時昡仆,少陰病瞀暴瘖,鬱冒不知人,非諸熱瞀瘛之屬火乎,少陽病,惡寒鼓慄,膽病振寒。少陰病,洒淅惡寒,振慄。厥陰病,洒淅振寒,非諸禁鼓慄,如喪神守之屬火乎,少陽病,嘔逆,厥氣上行。膀胱病,衝頭痛,太陽病,厥氣上衝胸,小腹控睪,引腰脊上衝心。少陰痛,氣上衝胸,嘔逆。非諸逆衝上之屬火乎,少陽病,妄。太陽病,妄。膀胱病,狂顛,非諸躁狂越之屬火乎。少陽病,胕腫善驚。

      少陰病,瞀熱以酸,胕腫不能久立,非諸病胕腫疼酸驚駭之屬乎。又原病式文曰:諸風掉眩,屬於肝火之動也。諸氣膹鬱,病痿,屬於肝火之升也。諸濕腫滿,屬於脾火之勝也。諸痛痒瘡瘍,屬於心火之用也。是皆火之為病,出於臟腑者然也,注文未之發耳,以陳無擇之通敏,且以暖熾論君火日用之火,言相火而又不曾深及,宜乎後之人不無聾瞽也,悲夫。

  4. Z'ev Rosenberg, L. Ac. June 24, 2012 at 7:29 am

    Mikael,
    Thank you for posting this text. It is very helpful. Your comments are always appreciated. However, your post makes me think that there must be some way to develop herbal medicine in your country, with its long history of using herbs and natural products as medicines. . . a movement must be started to change this situation, as pharmaceuticals will continue to degenerate the population unless a countermovement is provided. . .

  5. Mikael June 24, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    Finnish use of herbs differs a lot from Chinese use. However some of the uses have been similar and we even have some same plants growing here. The problem is to combine native herbs to Chinese medicine and its view of energetic properties. I do not know people who are “transparent enough” to be able to determine herb characteristics.

    The bigger problem is the availability. There is very limited availability of Finnish herbs in health stores. You can pick your own but as many useful herbs are classified as medical drugs and their sales are prohibited. This is truly annoying. For example tussilago that grow every where here cannot be sold legally. Only pharmacies are allowed to sell them but they are mostly against herbs and sell only stuff from big medical companies.

    I am glad that people still use and even sell these “illegal” herbs but it seems that things are getting even stricter. I have even heard people getting fined for purchasing herbs from aboard for their own personal use. I fear that soon receiving herbs as gift will also be a problem. This is happening also in other countries in Europe. This is bit a conspiracy thinking but I somehow think that it has something to do with big pharma. I am aware at least three big medical companies doing extensive research on medical properties of Chinese herbs and they already have plans for selling these products. Otherwise I would not care so much about the provider of the herbs but these companies will be selling only stuff isolated from herbs so they are almost of no use for us.
    I can just hope that the money talks phrase also holds true for big Chinese companies willing to sell Chinese herbs to Europe ;)

    Currently I am planning of putting out a list of herbs that are common in Finland and China and ask people send pictures of these herbs. I’ll translate some Chinese texts about these herbs so we could at least have a database of herbs available that contain some of our native plants. So at least those willing to pick herbs could share this information and herbs with their friends.

  6. Z'ev Rosenberg, L. Ac. June 24, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    I’m not familiar with European laws and politics, but I believe that there was a mega-law passed last year that strictly regulated the sale of herbal medicines in Europe proper. This law must be fought with everything we’ve got. But raw herbs apparently are not covered, you can still get raw Chinese medicinals if I’m not mistaken. ..

  7. Mikael June 24, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    I am not familiar either….But luckily some people are more active in field of politics. Yes the raw herbs seem to pass to Europe. But we have a Finnish law also that prohibits even those.
    Sometimes I truly love civil disobedience….

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