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Ni hao from China:
After many years of study and practicing Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Medical qigong and aspects of Chinese culture, history and language I am finally in this vast nation. While I don't write a travel blog per se, I do like to mention observations I have when I arrive, work and live in a new place for those of you who may be interested. This post will include some of my first impressions as well as look at a larger question of identity, inheritance and how we are interconnected. This topic interweaves with my previous three posts, looking at questions from a Traditional Chinese Medicine and a Western medicine view of what we inherit genetically and how we are connected to all human beings from a physiological and spiritual perspective. It also refers to ancient texts from classical Chinese medical texts to show how both systems of thinking, diagnosing and treating human beings has more in common than previously imagined.
Briefly, since I only arrived a week ago, landing in Shanghai in their very efficient international airport and transferring to their domestic airlines where the services were understandably oriented to their own population and languages, was an immediate gestalt shift from Texas and Los Angeles. When I landed in Zhengzhou it was after midnight so everything was closed. I was the only non-oriental person in the arrivals area but there was a generally relaxed feeling, no martial appearances in terms of soldiers or police anywhere and even the taxi drivers offering rides were not bothersome.
Looking around at a group of people who are technically a different "race" than myself although part of the same human race, started me pondering the question of genetics again. This combined with receiving the results of genetic testing for confirmation of ideas of my own ancestry passed down in stories from family members, caused me to seek research which looked at what one civilization and medical system calls "genes" and the other calls "essence" or "natal essence". Are they really so different? Do these building blocks of our life passed through our families have so much influence as to determine our health, talents, disposition and life path? How much are we truly able to change by practicing different habits, lifestyle, education and location? Should research labs, doctors or prospective parents be able to make decisions to change genes? I discuss some of these salient points this week....from the east of our planet.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine the kidney is known to store the "congenital essence" of the individual human being. Lining up with this concept, DNA is inborn and maintains the consistent sequences carrying the genetic information from one generation to the next. The following information from research explains this link and is translated from Mandarin.
"Apparently, the congenital essence and DNA are connected. The congenital essence must be inherited from the parents. DNA thereby is a form of the congenital essence. A sperm from the father and an oocyte from the mother join together and give rise to a fertilized egg, initiating the journey of a new life. With fertilization, fertilized eggs possess a set of chromosomes from the father and another set of chromosomes from mother. In this way, the genetic material DNA is delivered and re-organized in offspring, which concurs with TCM theory that the congenital essence is gathered from the parents and kept in the kidneys. The Yellow Emperor's Inner Canon Spiritual Pivot qi classification
emphasizes the kidney essence in the following passage: “Two spirituals tangle up, come into shape, so essence ensues, and then the life rises."
(PDF) Does DNA Represent Kidney Essence in Traditional Chinese Medicine? https://www.researchgate.net/publication/321770353_Does_DNA_Represent_Kidney_Essence_in_Traditional_Chinese_Medicine
Whether or not you believe there is a spiritual, divine or other than human hand in the way our bodies are created and in how we come into our mother, is significant. This means that the decision not to continue growing a life that is created by two human beings, or to interfere and change the "two spirits tangling into shape" and the essence or the new DNA, is an ethical as well as simply a scientific question. There have been a number of ways to create "designer gene babies" in the USA for over two decades. There is/was a PBS documentary entitled: Frozen Angels which shows the process and selection of certain traits, how people are chosen to "donate" their eggs (with payment) and which traits are considered most "marketable and desirable". This documentary was released in 2005, but showed couples who had children with this process who were already ten years old.
While there is media attention and press about the latest developments in China with Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR), many other countries have been pursuing advanced research and experimentation with human beings for almost 20 years, yet the implications and consequences of these procedures are not debated enough in the public forum. The social repercussions of creating a more stratified society i.e. those who can afford to have genetic manipulation/enhancements and those who cannot; are serious and far reaching.
There are some neuroscientists who have done research on the capabilities of our brain and which regions of the brain control certain skill/learning acquisition previously thought to be "inherited" or genetic such as musical ability, athletic facility, mathematical aptitude, tendencies toward addiction, etc. One of these neuroscientists who specializes in this field is Dr. Susan Greenfield. Dr. Greenfield has done extensive research on environmental effects on the development of the human brain and behavior. Her work has been attacked by large companies and those who are interested in promoting more technology and pharmacology, but I urge you to go to her website and decide for yourself after watching her lectures/videos and/or reading some of her work. (see link below) You may change your mind about what you are, and are not capable of, in your lifetime as well as what you can do to improve the overall health and functions of your brain. The idea circulating in pop sci culture is that diseases such as Parkinsons, Crohn's and Altzheimers are "inherited", however research by doctors in Australia, Israel, Spain and Italy, prove otherwise. While the tendency of an individual family may be to have a higher number of members who are diabetic or who have Altzheimers, Multiple Sclerosis or Crohn's disease, the findings are: "All these diseases, Prof. David Naor, explains, are associated with pathological amyloid proteins that could be neutralized by the 5-mer peptide. Dr. Naor has spent the last 10 years researching and developing these with the support of the university’s Yissum technology-transfer company, the Israeli government and Spherium Biomed of Spain." canadafreepress.com/article/one-drug-could-treat-alzheimers-ms-crohns-and-more
While we may come into this world with what is termed "deficient jing" in TCM which is directly correlated to the health of the mother while she is pregnant and the "conditions" in which conception happened, we are able to mitigate and conserve what "jing" we do have by decisions we make in terms of life habits. "In Chinese Medicine ... basic constitution is largely determined at conception, and it can also be affected during the mother's pregnancy. At conception, the Prenatal Jing is passed to the fetus from the parents. Prenatal Jing (together with an energy derived from the Kidneys of the mother) nourishes the fetus during pregnancy. Prenatal Jing determines basic constitution, strength, and vitality. It is fixed in quantity, determined at birth: it cannot be added to, only conserved and used up more slowly. It is stored in the Kidneys.
The way to conserve Prenatal Jing is by striving for balance in all life activities. Balance meaning moderation in diet, work/rest, sexual activity. Irregularity or excess in these areas wastes Prenatal Jing. Certain exercises help conserve Prenatal Jing, such as breathing exercises, Taiji (Tai Chi), and Qi Gong." www.sacredlotus.com/go/foundations-chinese-medicine/get/jing-essence-vital-substance
You are able improve your basic constitution even if your mother smoked and drank alcohol while she was pregnant with you, and/or had emotional issues which affected her pregnancy. The genetic code you have can be worked on without CRISPR or other procedures, but it does take human will power and the decision to abstain from foods, drinks, drugs and activities that are popular in most western countries but cause imbalances. It is a question of "education" in the best training for your own body. This requires finding a skilled diagnostician, health practitioner and master teacher for you to learn from which is not easy but is possible. The search for this combination requires diligence and often supernal guidance.
People ask me why I am in China at this stage of my life, subjecting myself to rigorous training and the practice of tai chi and chi gong full time. The answer is simple-to restore qi, restore my health and preserve what is left of my "jing" with a tradition that is thousands of years old and proven. I realized I was "out of balance" after so many years in conflict zones, high stress work, years of profound grief, trauma and sensory overload. Since I was in my twenties I heard about Shaolin, Taoist and Tibetan monks and read books I highly recommend. "Magic and Mystery in Tibet" by Alexandra David-Neal who in the 1920s walked through Tibet and started her journey when she was over 50 years old. The other book is: "Opening the Dragon Gate" by Chen Kaiguo and Zhun Shunchao, translated by Thomas Cleary-about Wang Liping-born in 1949 in China.
Shaolin master Wang Liping had to emigrate to the west coast of the USA. My son, Denali studied briefly in Oakland with Shaolin masters in 2010. I watched a few of these sessions and hoped some day I would have the opportunity to do so as well. This is a tradition that is over fifteen hundred years old and has survived upheavals, attacks, persecution, war and commercialization-so far. It is not "the way" for everyone but like other traditions, you may be "called" to seek it out, to work toward the highest level possible and contribute even in a small way, to a unique and harmonious legacy which promotes health, discipline and vigilance against the evils in our world.
Lights out and good night to you- Wai an