The practice of medicine is indeed a life path. It is a path that requires one to stay focused and sacrifice oneself for the good of others. I recently met a new teacher, Han Gui-qing (韩贵清), he has been in practice for more than 40 years and specializes in knotty (difficult) diseases. After we talked for a while he offered to give me one of his books, signed of course, but then asked me to write something in a notebook for him. He wanted me to write something about how I feel about Chinese medicine and the practice of it. I chose to write in English because I was afraid I would make an error in the Chinese and since I had someone with me (my girlfriend is a university classmate with his daughter, both were there speak English very well) I knew that it would get translated properly. Although the exact words escape me at the moment it went something like this, “May Chinese medicine help to relieve the suffering of people all over the world.” Although there was more to it, I think you get the gist.
This, as it turns out, was a bit of a test. This doctor of more than 40 years, who has authored several texts, taught, and been recognized as a master wanted to know what I would write about such a broad question. It appears that I hit the proverbial nail on the head, because he turned to me and smiled and said I looked forward to working with me and hoped that we could learn from each other. He was, of course, being very modest as I doubt I have much to teach a man who has been practicing medicine for about 3 times as long as I have and has surely seen many fold more patients than I have. BTW, I didn’t ask to study with him. I went there to meet him because he is the father of my partners close friend. There was not actual intention to study with him, although hoped that he would turn out to be someone worth studying with and who was open to having a student, but I figured that would come later.
I tell this story not to talk about my studies so much as to point out that this man of 40+ years of practice wanted to know what was most important to me and, I think, what he was looking for was the essence of what I believe the practice of medicine is about. What it is about is relieving suffering–assisting our fellow human beings through what can sometimes be a truly arduous journey.

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