The fact that acupuncture has become widely available in the West as a way of addressing health problems or as a means of complementary health care over the last 40 to 50 years is, in large part, due to the vision, determination and courage of a few key individuals.
I have been fortunate to have been taught by certain of them who helped create the possibility for us to follow, and develop strongly, in this previously foreign tradition of health care so, for those interested, I would like to make mention here of their qualities that inspired and influenced so many of us, either directly or through their books.
Professor J.R.Worsley (1923 – 2003),founder of The College of Traditional Acupuncture, was one of those key people. He was the person who introduced Five Element Acupuncture to the West. Many students came from the United States and Europe to train in England at the College and he subsequently set up an affiliate College in the USA.
He emphasized to us as students the absolute importance of experiencing the Five Elements as living energies, that shape our lives and our life vitality, by connecting with them and feeling them, both within ourselves and in Nature. This would then enable us as practitioners to see clearly the Elements in our patients, in imbalance or in health.
As he himself said, it is not just a skill or a science that can be learnt solely from books – it is a way of Nature, and traditionally lessons were taken from Nature, not from books. This emphasis, unusual in our times, proved most valuable. Coming as he did from a classical, largely oral, tradition of master-apprentice, he wanted to ensure that we did not become trapped in intellectual pursuit too early before establishing a firm foundation through the development of our senses and attunement to Nature. He knew book study had to be an inevitable part of our training in the West, given the lack of the traditional master pupil apprenticeship.
He inspired us by showing that all the facets of life in a human being, and in Nature, are connected, originating in the unity of the Tao: a way of being in accord with all of Nature in her fullest expression of harmony, beauty and wholeness. This traditional form of healing is ever-mindful and trusting that Nature, allowed to flow unimpeded, leads to health in body, mind and spirit.
Many years later, as we face our environmental crisis, such an understanding gives weight to the idea of the need for an holistic approach to life in general. (cont.)