The human body is a microcosm of the Universe
We are all accustomed to viewing the human body from the perspective of modern medicine. We have learned what organs are situated where in the body, how the digestive, respiratory and reproductive systems function and how we develop a certain disease or disorder. However, our body is not just about flesh, bones and blood. The scientific knowledge of the human body is largely based on the studies of cadavers. If we think about it, what can a dead body tell us about a living and breathing body that is imbued with life energy? How can a dead body explain the connection between the mind and the body?
Most of us tend to look at the human body as something purely physical, disregarding Qi energy, energy channels (meridians) and intricate interconnectedness between the mind, body and soul. Modern doctors tend to separate the functions of various organs in the body. They tend to treat each body part separately, as if each organ exists on its own. In a way, their treatment of the human body resembles that of a car mechanic examining a vehicle. When a person is contracted with a disease, a doctor views the disease as something to be eradicated. The doctor attempts to fix the problem in a manner that is not so different from that of a mechanic trying to repair a broken engine. Thus, they sever a certain part of the body, without realizing how it can affect an energy channel. They inject medicine that could be detrimental to certain organs. They give their patient drugs that could offset the general balance of the system.
It absolutely is not my intention to discredit modern medicine in any way. I am trying to bring your attention to the fact that we may need to change the way we look at the human body. For example, when we have a bodily problem, we tend to focus on that specific part, oblivious to the possibility that the problem could have originated from somewhere else. Many of us also have a tendency to perceive our bodies as objects. Many of us regard a disease or a disorder as something to be fixed. Many people consume junk food, neglect to take a proper rest, and work themselves to exhaustion, thinking that their doctors will “fix” their bodies when something goes wrong.
According to traditional Eastern medicine, the human body is a microcosm of the Universe itself. The Universe is governed by the dynamics of Yin and Yang and the Five Elements in a balanced banner. As the human body is like a small Universe, it is important to achieve balance between Yin and Yang and among the Five Elements for our health and well-being. In fact, major organs in the human body are associated with the Five Elements. Therefore, we cannot really understand the functions of individual organs without understanding the whole.
The human body does not function alone. It is closely intertwined with the mind and soul. A disorder in the mind or soul could manifests as a physical problem. Conversely, a disorder in the body can have negative effects on the mind and soul. Non-physical elements such as emotions and thoughts can be produced by internal organs. When a person is stricken with a mental disorder, the cause could lie an imbalance at the physical level, according to traditional Eastern medicine.
We tend to regard a disease as an intruder from outside. We consider it as something to fight against and to destroy. However, a disease can be seen as a physical manifestation of an internal imbalance. An internal imbalance is often caused by negative seeds we planted in our minds. The human body is directly influenced by the mental and emotional state. As long as we do not take care of the root cause, an internal imbalance could continue to manifest in the form of discomfort, a disease, or a physical disorder. If we are inflicted with a disease, we should not treat it merely as a problem to fix. Instead, we can look at it as an indication of something that may need to change from within.
The Five elements and traditional Eastern medicine
The principle of the Five Elements, which was established thousands of years ago eminently impacted traditional Chinese, Korean, and Japanese medicine. Ancient Easterners discovered that the health of the Five Elements is a significant factor that determines our physical, mental and emotional well-being. They discovered how to cure illness and restore health to the body using the principle of the Five Elements. They also found a way to ease the mind, soothe turbulent emotions and heal mental problems by balancing the Five Elements, given that these Elements affect our mental and emotional dispositions.
In modern days, the majority of medical scientists look at traditional Eastern medicine with skepticism, and the concept of the Five Elements is often looked on as something of a superstitious nature. Personally, however, I like the way how traditional Eastern medicine views the human body. Traditional Eastern medicine looks at the human body as a microcosm of the Universe itself.
Therefore, it acknowledges that all our body parts are interconnected with one other and naturally, it pays close attention to the mind-body connection. As traditional Eastern medicine does not separate the mind and body, many of the mental disorders are treated as physical disorders. Traditional Asian medicine also pays attention to the state of Qi energy, Yin/Yang and the Five Elements in the human body. It even assigns each of our internal organs, body parts and bodily functions to one of the Five Elements and elucidates how one area affects another area.
According to traditional Eastern medicine, the human body is governed by the dynamics of the Five Elements. The state of these Five Elements greatly affects our physical, mental and emotional dispositions, according to traditional medicine. In fact, balance in and among the Five Elements is vital for our physical, mental and emotional well-being.
Many Taoist teachers have advised us not to identify with our personalities and emotions. The reason becomes clear when we understand the Five Elements theory: Our personality traits and emotions are immensely affected by a particular interconnected relationship among the Five Elements. When we improve the health and balance of the Five Elements in our system, our personalities and characteristics could change accordingly.
The proper understanding of the Five Elements could enlighten us because the philosophy of the Five Elements teaches us not to identify ourselves with our thoughts and emotions. According to the five elements theory, certain emotions and personal traits are associated with the Five Elements and thus, are affected by the general balance of that particular Element.