The precepts and teachings of Classical Medicine, regardless of their various cultural associations, have their origins in the Consciousness of the human Mind. C.G. Jung discovered that it was possible to identify universal and archetypal images in the Unconscious levels of the Mind that often emerge in the normal content of the psyche. The operation of archetypal conceptualization is the foundation of all basic models pertaining to Classical Medicine.
It becomes remarkably clear to the student of comparative Classical Science that when dealing with these perspectives we are involved in a unified body of knowledge, clothed though it is in the distinctly different cultural images. Beneath the enriching beauty of these images lies an archetypal consciousness of the nature of reality which is not only pristinely clear but also reveals the underlying unity of all events as being universal and pervasive.
The language of Classical medicine is based on metaphor. Metaphor engages the consciousness with the same creative and luminous activities that form the mind and body in their constantly changing and transforming development. These activities express the principles inherent in Creation itself.
The advantage of using metaphors as a basis for scientific thought is that metaphors transcend fixed perceptual limitations and inspire the creative and inquiring abilities of the mind. One of the important characteristics of Classical Science is found its two-fold methodology. On the one hand, it insists on a full and competent knowledge of its own tradition, and on the other, it requires its masters to submit to their own unique creative resources in extending this tradition and its existing body of knowledge. The creative faculty of the Mind is not simply an intellectual amplification of existing knowledge, but is a creative process, utilizing the deepest dimensions of the individual’s consciousness which arises from spiritual as well as mental activities.
In this sense, most treatises on Classical Medicine are part of a culture’s sacred literature, not merely a body of knowledge shared by a particular profession, but a cultural treasure. In order to truly understand Classical Medicine, we need to submit to the boundless luminescence of the Consciousness and its clear wisdom.
Science is merely a journey—a wandering through the magnificence of life seen through the particular histories that lovingly pursues her secrets. It is a fleeting glimpse, a silence, which requires more waiting and listening then intellectual activity. We often feel most secure when following the much beaten path paved with axioms, dogma and doctrine, avoiding the uncontrolled and passionate realm of insight and vision.
The terms used in the Classical Medical sciences infuse knowledge with consciousness and are truly metaphors—they are both res et tantum , the ‘reality’ and the ‘sign’, at one and the same time. Virtually any of the words and concepts used in Classical Medicine can be said to have the same quality as a fractal, and like fractals, the deeper you go into what appears to be isolated, separate, and distinct, the more of the whole that is revealed. We must learn a greater humility and a deeper awe to be truly competent in a profession that touches the sacredness of Life.
If you can’t sing the songs of life, paint its pictures, or hear its words; can’t smell its scent nor hear its cry—then begin—and begin again—this is the true path of accomplishment.
Classical Medicine as Consciousness
Classical Medicine describes Life as a dynamic process of Change—the incessant arising and transformation of phenomena—Change—a metamorphosis so intimate, so vast, so complete, that it cannot be fully grasped by the mind. Here the Mind has no exclusive position from which to view this Living—no place it can claim as its own—no separate space to be-in. It must instead understand and experience itself as the very flesh and bones of the Cosmos, bearing Life’s fullness into Time and Space—both parent and child, the inseminator and the birth, the seed and its promise—inseparably One. Still, this Oneness can never be understood as an indiscriminant formless whole—it is not the whole as distinct from its parts—not a loss or dissolution, an invisibility nor a vacuum—but Life, the fullness of Being in being.
It is difficult for the Western mind, brought up perceiving reality from a restricted linear viewpoint, not to lose itself in the apparent illusiveness of Classical thought. The language used in Classical Medicine is not so much a definitive abstract concept, as it is a luminous experience—revealing the indefinable and the sacred nature of relationship. In this sense the Mind, in its mode of simple and pure consciousness, can reveal reality because it embraces reality itself—making visible the invisible, recognizing the spontaneous omnipresent event of creation, and seeing itself as a true participant in its processes.
Consciousness is ultimately a matter of non-interference, Wu wei (Chinese), or “Non-action” as it is usually translated. This does not mean ‘no-action’, but is instead precisely that action which is in accord with the irresistible unfolding of event, filled with a boundless clarity reflecting the infinite change which every action ultimately affects on a close yet cosmic level. We must remember that we are all accomplishing this every day, in thousands of small ways—unnoticed. Our deepest potentials lie in what we allow ourselves to notice in enlightened spaces between our anxieties, doubts, and failings.
As such, we must be aware that when identifying the semantic correspondences between culturally different experiences, one will never arrive at a completely analogous relationship between the one term and the other. Shades of meaning, the consciousness from which they arise both cultural and individual, point to different potentials of Reality itself. The advantage lies in the fact that as we acquire an insight into different modes of experiencing life through the language by which is communicated, our own facility of perception becomes clearer, and many things hidden behind the veil of one expression will reveal itself in another.