5 Element Taoist Acupuncture

The Bird Physician

The Bird Physician

ACUPUNCTURE is an ancient tradition of medicine that works inside of the movement and intelligence of life, correcting the flow of Qi within the body, mind and spirit. Often described as the essential or vital life force, Qi moves within our bodies along pathways called meridians. Qi is what allows for the majesty and magnificence in life. In a healthy person, Qi flows freely and abundantly. Acupuncture points are the places along the rivers of life where a physician is trained to interact with Qi, to become an instrument of the resolution of illness and the awakening of potential. Acupuncturists have been precise and devoted observers of the laws of nature over thousands of years, how these laws operate in human beings, their health and illness, how a human being reaches toward an authentic experience of life and how we fall down. This tradition of medicine works at the level of the blueprint of life.  Physical and mental illness can therefore be addressed at the level of its cause.

Qi is both subtle and coarse, and is seen in every relationship, both within the body and in the individual’s relationship with life. Like the wind, it is everywhere and is only visible in what it moves.  Like wind or water Qi is the major way that nature communicates and connects. 

5 ELEMENT TAOIST acupuncture is the taproot of the tradition of Chinese acupuncture. There are references from Antiquity, earlier even than Huang Di, of a prehistoric shamanness who "patched the sky with five-colored stones at some remote time when the pristine completeness of human life and harmony with nature had been lost... She was instrumental in restoring the balance and sanity of her people when they had gone mad—had lost their original mental coherence—and were on the brink of destruction."* 

The first known written record of acupuncture dates from around 200 BCE—there are several branches of acupuncture that have developed over the centuries.  5Element acupuncture—which is based in Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, and older Chinese traditions—was brought to the West and adapted for modern use in the 1940's and 50's by Professor JR Worsley. The primary mode of treatment is with needles and moxa to address the cause of disease, the conversation of HeavenEarth, jingshen. It is this that is the uniqueness of each person. 5 Element acupuncture treats the cause, the very root of illness. In addition to a deep clinical understanding of the spirits of each of the Officials, rigorous point location and pulse diagnosis,  it is the accurate diagnosis and treatment of the Causative Factor (some say Constitutional Factor) that is essential for the virtue and the depth of this medicine to reach each person. 5 Element Acupuncture is rooted in the Law of Cure.

In a time when almost every aspect of life on earth is struggling, when the relationship between humans and the rest of nature is becoming increasingly strained, this school forms to preserve this ancient medicine. The Virtue of HeavenEarth is a teaching clinic where practitioners are supported, challenged and encouraged to become capable of treating the root cause of illness in their patients. Trained to treat each patient as a whole person: the body, the mind and the spirit, together.  It is medicine that carries the original map and the memory of what is possible for a human being, not just for immediate result, security or satisfaction, but for the stewardship of life, the potential of the life of each person and this planet. 


"Let us return to human, return to ourselves, placed between Heaven, which pours out its gifts, and Earth which gathers them in. (Hu)Man, conforming to the unified and multiformed impulse that (s)he perceives vaguely in and around herself, is like a rider holding himself on his mount. The Daoist image of the rapid movement that carries us away—like a horse jumping over a ravine—acquires its full significance when we put ourselves in the saddle, riding the animal whose four feet firmly grip the Earth as it throws its neck proudly towards Heaven.

Between birth which brings us into the light of day, like a bud on the branch of a peach tree, and the night of our burial which returns us naked to the original void, there is nothing but change and transformation. There, in the median where the virtue of yin yang mingles its criss-cross effects, is created each of the individual lives of which the community of the living and the society of the 10,000 beings are composed. It matters little whether our lives are long. On the contrary, what is important is that the full number of days allotted to the individual is attained.

The Chinese are of the opinion that real authenticity is inexhaustible and reliable, while discourse is uncertain and contradictory. Like a silk worm, each of us, in the course of our life, secretes the silken thread of our existence, which is truly primary matter, stemming from spontaneous movement. This happens between Heaven and Earth, because there exists a Way, about which nothing can be said but that it reveals its virtue, and through which all that takes place occurs.

In the same moment that it creates and animates myself, the life that possesses me makes me aware that I exist. Once again the Way manifests its power, its virtue, and I appear. I am here as ‘me’, you are here as another ‘me’ and there are still others, all ‘me’s. We are made in this way and remain dependent on Heaven and on Earth, whose union and compenentration lead us to speak f ‘Heaven Earth’. Their intimate relationship has necessitated a name: the median void. The goodness which is on high is a goodness that creates all living beings. Descending from on high like water, it takes form in the valley. It is described as an imperceptible trickle, running unceasingly. Life stirs in the air above, moves quickly just above the ground and disappears, flowing in the hidden depths. As for myself, rightly amazed at being alive and filled with wonder at the spectacle, while uneasy about my origin and apprehensive about my certain end, what should I do? Fearing nothing except to stray from that initial impulse which gave me life, so becoming corrupted, I shall place myself on the Way.

The mundane and the world cannot harm you. The heart is protected by the spirits and nourished by pure qi, filtered by authentic essences. When the heart really is the clear mirror in which all beings are reflected, it takes charge of them, but keeps only what is authentic. The kingdom of Heaven begins where the senses end, and is entered only through renouncing desires. We may well tremble since each of us remains to the end of our days a sensual being, but there is nothing to fear. Such is the liberating state of the heart which Daoism teaches.

…Daoism is above all an attitude to life. Recent archeological findings confirm that Laozi’s meditation, the Daode jing, The Book of the Way and the Virtue, compiled in the 4th center BC, has come down to us without any notable changes. Surprising in its simplicity and in the liveliness of its paradoxical expression… It returns the reader to her/himself. It corrects our ways of thinking at their origin and shakes up our forgetful indifference of our own spiritual interests. It is a call to arouse in ourselves the will to live, to rediscover authenticity by precise observation of natural processes. Lao zi cultivates the self as it arises from Heaven Earth. He proposes asceticism without violence and a spiritual struggle of great subtlety." The Introduction to The Way of Heaven by Claude Larre SJMonkey Press 1994 pp.3-5

* Immortal Sisters: Secret Teachings of Taoist Women Introduction pp.x-xi Translated and edited by Thomas Cleary