Influential teachers 3

Elisabeth Rochat de la Vallee

Elisabeth Rochat de la Vallee,  protegee of Claude Larre, with whom she co-authored books and articles, taught with him as a team, presenting these Classics to acupuncturists both in France and here in England, then later throughout Europe and the United States. They combined methodical scholarship with a sensitive ability to weave the diverse threads of this deep and subtle subject into a coherent whole, so revealing its inherent simplicity. Their work provides a strong and reliable basis in the theory and practice of Chinese medicine.

Elisabeth herself rapidly grew to become a distinguished scholar in her own right, whose dynamic lecture style is supported by this scholarship, understanding and humour, making her seminars a great pleasure of learning. The teaching is now led by her alone with the same dedicated zeal as when they worked together.

A small long-term group of acupuncturists and sinologists have been meeting here (in England) since the mid 1980’s, to work under Claude Larre and now Elisabeth’s guidance translating key parts of these Classics. This has given us the opportunity to appreciate for ourselves the Chinese mind behind the ideograms and phrases that trigger a multitude of associations. Many of the phrases express meaning by their sound and rhythm in much the same way as concrete poetry, where structure and meaning are one.1 It reveals to us a great deal about the subtlety of the understanding of life expressed in these ideograms and their rhythmic resonance. Naturally it involves some correction of our translations!

From these seminars have come a series of books published by Monkey Press (see for these books and more detailed biographies of Claude and Elisabeth) giving acupuncturists access to Chinese Medicine from the Classics.

Their teaching reinforces the relevance of living in harmony with Nature and natural laws to maintain health, as well as how to treat disease, and also clarifying what emerged in post-revolutionary China as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) acupuncture, which had naturally been subjected to a new kind of thinking.

1 Introduction to Jing Shen (the vital spirits, or essences and spirits in a medical context) – a translation from the Chinese : Huainanzi Chapter 7 (Monkey Press ISBN 978 1 872468 10) by three students, Michelle Bromley, Alan Hext and Sandra Hill, from this study group.