Steve Clavey, editor of The Lantern, is clearly familiar with the original Chinese version of this book. His review of the recently published English version, the translation of which I contributed to, draws upon this familiarity to emphasize an important point:
"...anyone who is drawn to take a deeper look at Chinese medicine theory should own and read this book. But it should not be read as a bible, or to “find out what is true” or to memorize."
The author of this book, Liu Lihong, is a brilliant contemporary Chinese philosopher, writer, and commentator in the tradition of Lin Yutang and Chiang Yee (The Silent Traveller), to name two that might be familiar to an English-language audience.
Although this book ostensibly focuses on the relatively specialized field of Chinese medicine, his observations and inquiries are broadly relevant to the larger fields of Chinese philosophy, religion, language, and society.
"Opening Classical Chinese Medicine at random, I come across this phrase: 'Looking briefly at the simplified form of the character mai (脉), the original meaning of the character yong (永) was ‘long’. When this concept of ‘long’ is placed within the frame of reference of history, it might be taken to mean ‘eternal’. When placed in the context of the natural world, this idea naturally resonates with the image of a river, long and constantly flowing …' and so the passage continues, linking pulse to the flow of water and to the moon, and the link between the moon and water, with its tides and cycles, rise and fall. This is the type of thinking that can plumb deep and draw to the surface meaning unavailable to shallow dippers."
I'm pleased that Liu Lihong's distinctive approach to mulling over challenging questions has come across in this English translation. One of the joys of translating this text was in appreciating this approach -- taking apart the questions, tracing characters and phrases back to their sources in classical texts, and then bringing it all together to expose new meanings and interpretations.
I'll leave Steve with the last word:
"This is a book to weigh and consider, and rather than take it as dogma we should be considering and attempting to verify its conclusions in our lives and practices. Of course, that takes thought, and everything around us these days encourages us to leave the thinking to someone else."
Please read Steve Clavey's full review in The Lantern here:
The book can be purchased by the US distributers here: