During my time at college, firstly in the UK and then at Beijing University of TCM , I had been fascinated by the fact that Chinese medicine seemed to have a holistic vision of the person and, therefore, of healing. Yet, learning to see people as a 'whole' proved to be a complex and not easy 'training'.
Even before embarking in the study of Chinese medicine, I was aware that I saw people as 'parts' and that others saw me as 'parts' too. Even when I had tried to see people as 'whole', sooner or later, I had always gone back to the cliché I had attached to a person (and I know that others did the same with me) - someone's “I” seemed to be forever “jailed” in the grips of my glance (as I was in theirs): crystallised flickers, fragments, of our shortsightedness.
Whilst studying in Beijing, I met Pang Yiwu, an old Daoist doctor who had been expelled from the official medical system of China for not bending to the demands of the New Chinese Medicine (TCM). When I met him, he was 90 years old, and I was very honoured that he chose me as one of his few students (3 in all).
Pang Yiwu taught me that everything is related by a subtle common universal 'centre' and that nothing can be known in isolation.
He taught me that people have a very limited view of nature because, although they can contemplate its beauty, they cannot understand the universal significance of its rhythms and the connection all human beings have with them.
He told me that the seasons change on earth, because the direction of the tail of the Great Cart changes.
He showed me the link between the world at large and human being.
He then challenged me to discover the inner core of each phenomenon and to realise this is nothing else but Dao. It became clear to me what the "Huangdi Neijing - Sowen 皇帝內經-素問" Ch.1 meant when it explained the various categories of human beings in relation to their degree resonance with Dao; I understood its implications on health.
The more I was willing to learn, the more he taught me and challenged my selective glaze that tended to capture bits and pieces of a complex reality and “jail’ them into discreet images.
He did this by asking me to observe the same phenomenon from different perspectives daily and to find something new in it each time. This is how I learned i to stay focused and observe, observe, observe. Most of all, he taught me to observe myself, to do so from different perspective and to always stay focused on the 'universal centre, the alignment between Dao and the Heart Void', by observing my 'common thoughts, emotions as well as the ways they made me act in the world.
The three years I spend with him were truly formative and set me off on an adventurous (and perilous!) inner journey, that pushed me to change my King Media's touch i.e. my tendency to evaluate everything on the grounds of my subjective “like” and “dislike”, that made me turn an animated reality into a static, unchangeable landscape. Practically, he asked me not to stop observing my reaction to a person or a situation until I found something in them that gave me peace. This brought home the fact that I never saw anyone or anything for what they were, and that I filtered everything through my own perception.
If my father in this life had helped me develop my mind and social skills, Pang Yiwu helped me develop my inner pulse and made me understand that when my "heart Void" is peaceful, my deeds are in line with Dao and my body does not produce dis-eases.