A brief note on the nature of ‘ming’ and ‘xing’ and the importance of “nourishing our destiny”.
In ancient Chinese theory, we have curative medicine to fix what is wrong, preventive medicine to stop what is wrong from occurring, and a third form, which is not well understand in modern medicine – optimisation medicine, which is not so focused on what is or could go wrong but on what is most right. This is normally translated as ‘Nourishing Destiny’ or ‘ Nourishing Fate’. It includes the previous two (curative and preventive) but the previous two do not necessarily include it, so it ought not be forgotten.
This optimisation approach stems from the idea that we all have a life plan or blueprint. In classical Chinese this is called your ‘ming’ or ‘contract with Heaven’ or ‘mandate from Heaven’.
Take the acorn as an example. The acorn has within it the blueprint to become an oak tree. As long as it falls on fertile ground, it will become an oak tree. It won’t become a window or a banana. This is its destiny or fate, its life plan, its contract with Heaven (what precedes life).It doesn’t need to struggle and worry and plan and suffer on its path to becoming an oak tree. It doesn’t need to work things out, these things just come naturally. The programs to become the oak are in-built. They are pre-destined. So relax, don’t worry, take it easy on yourself. Be at peace with where you are right now and trust what is coming.
If the acorn falls on barren ground it will will not take root, but if it falls on fertile ground it will. Not all oak trees are the same however, because not all environments are the same and here we encounter the concept of ‘xing’.
If the acorn is well placed with highly nutritious soil, plenty of water, drainage, natural sunlight, wind – not too much of these but plenty to go around – then the acorn will thrive and grow big and strong, able to provide protection and shelter for many other plant and animal beings. If the acorn takes root close to a wall it will not get full sunlight and may grow at an angle. If there is too much competition for space the nutrients will be in short supply and the roots will not grow so strong. If there is too little or too much water its health will suffer. The state of our lives, our nature, how we are, what shapes us presently, this is what can be found in the concept of ‘xing’.
‘Ming’ and ‘xing’ can be thought of as nature and nurture respectively.
Now here’s the most important bit:
The blueprint within the acorn is activated and/or impaired by the environmental conditions within which we live. The blueprint will shine bright and strong when the best conditions to grow and thrive are met. The best conditions are met when we organise our lifestyles and our inner world to support our health.
This means getting into balance and staying in balance in all areas of life. Imbalance happens, this is the nature of change, but homeostasis – the self balancing, self regulating mechanism that sustains all our lives – is the ability to maintain equilibrium through change. Medical techniques like acupuncture and natural medicine are some of the best approaches to regulating homeostasis long term. Acupuncture rewires your nervous system and your brain to restore health throughout the human organism by restoring the flow of blood that is rich in oxygen, nutrients and immunity. In this way we can correct imbalances that have led to limitation of who we are and seek to become. When the body is relieved of impairments and the blood flows freely, the hormones and nervous system are balanced and we feel healthy, happy and ready for anything.
But let’s dig a little further still, as we bring balance to all areas of life. After all, it is no use getting acupuncture for headaches if the main trigger is coffee and you don’t stop drinking coffee. The headaches will lessen and things will improve, but if the coffee remains, the headaches will return.
The Way of Balance and Harmony is my contribution to the long held Chinese ‘Yang Sheng’ tradition of ‘Nourishing Life’. In this approach, there are 3 fundamental primary and 6 secondary lifestyle medicines that are important in optimising health.
The 3 Primary Medicines:
The 6 Secondary Medicines:
This course gives you the tools to manage your own health day by day.
As part of the Way of Balance and Harmony, there is a plan for how to realise this more fully – which means not just in body and mind but also in society. The 3 cornerstones for creating a balanced and matured civilised society are:
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