It is not unusual for an ordinary person who lives an ordinary life to be sick. Because of suffering, people try their best to avoid illnesses. That is why we have so many pharmacies, clinics, and hospitals. There are three main ways to prevent or treat illness: Western medicine, Chinese medicine, and Qigong (cultivation).
Western medicine is currently the primary, or the most popular method of the three, to treat illnesses. Western medicine consists of a set of clinical theories and a suite of treatment strategies ranging from injections, pills, surgery, radiation therapy, etc. By treating the symptoms, Western medicine offers direct and sometimes mechanical treatments to treat a patient. For example, fever meets with antipyretics, inflammation with antibiotics, and a tumor often with surgery.
Chinese medicine, on the other hand, after flourishing in ancient times and declining in modern times, is now on the path of resurgence. Instead of taking the direct cause-response approach like that of Western medicine, Chinese medicine diagnosis views the human body as an integrated system, using such traditional knowledge as the Meridian system, Yin and Yang theory, and the theory of the Five Elements theory. With a systemic and integral understanding of human health, doctors of Chinese medicine highlight variables that include living in harmony with the environment, and the relationship between mind and body.
For example, physicians of Chinese medicine see that strong emotions, such as anger can cause liver damage, while panic damages the kidneys. Therefore, effective prevention and treatment of illnesses involves not only medicine but also self-adjustment, ranging from controlling mood swings and a bad temper, to choosing a balanced and harmonious life-style, and with these changes, Chinese medicine diagnostics may have a more profound efficacy than Western medicine.
I have a good friend, a college professor, whose menstruation suddenly stopped. She felt uncomfortable and went to see Western medicine doctors many times. The doctors considered it a gynaecological problem and prescribed a number of different medicines. But the treatments did not work. Later, someone recommended to her an experienced elderly doctor of Chinese medicine. After examination, this doctor attributed her malaise to inadequate stomach blood supply. He prescribed Chinese medicine and it worked immediately. This may appear unusual—that the cause of a gynaecological symptom could be found in a stomach issue. But from this, we can see how a doctor of Chinese medicine with a deeper level of understanding health and illness of the human body can provide an alternative remedy with a successful outcome.
Qigong, a seemingly modern term, actually refers to cultivation practice that has a history of thousands of years. When neither Western medicine nor Chinese medicine works, people tend to seek out Qigong. For beginners, Qigong may seem to involve movements or a type of exercise that regulates Qi. A deeper understanding, however, indicates that illness has its roots in karmic retribution created in the past. Therefore, to fundamentally cure an illness, one needs to eliminate, or more accurately, pay off these karmic debts, or past misdemeanours. In addition, one is required to be benevolent and truthful, as well as tolerant. These three virtues provide the most fundamental way to cure illnesses.
I saw one medical case in Taiwan where a middle-aged woman had breast cancer with ulcerations. After she began practicing the meditation system, Falun Gong, one day during sitting meditation, she saw a silver fish with deep hatred for her. It turned out that in the past she had killed this particular fish and the fish hated her so much that it had showed up as an illness in this dimension.
But, since she had begun cultivation of the three virtues, the Buddha Fa resolved the problem the fish had with her, and as a consequence, in this dimension the pus stopped, the ulcer improved, and her illness disappeared.
Another story I know is about a medical doctor who lives in the U.S. He studied Chinese medicine in China, Western medicine in the U.S., and later began to practice Falun Gong. After leaving the hospital, he opened a private clinic. His charge for each patient is as follows: Western medicine, $200; Chinese medicine, $100; and teaching Falun Gong exercises, $0. When asked why these three prices, he replied, “If you come for a treatment using Western medicine, I have to be fully responsible for your health, so I charge full price. If you come for a treatment with Chinese medicine, I take only half of the responsibility, since the other half comes from your own actions—whether you can follow a good life style that I recommend for you. If you begin to learn Falun Gong, however, you will be able to take care of your health yourself, so I will help you for free.”
From this example, we can see three levels of treatment. If you truly want long-term health, which would you choose?