What is ‘TAO’ in My Acupuncture? The Ultimate Journey of My Life.

Sometimes, looking at the needles I just placed on my patient body, I thought how beautiful they are!

Butcher Ding depicted in a Han dynasty tomb.

It should be ‘Art!  It isn’t the repetitive skills or technique but it should come from intuition, creativity and compassion deep inside of that physician and which is connecting the physician, his patient and the Universe then there should be the real healing and awakening.

There is a great story about what is ‘TAO’ from my favorite story of Chuang Tzu, “The Dexterous Butcher.†Whenever I thought of my way of practicing ‘tao’ in my practice, this story always resonate inside me.

Below is the story of Butcher Ding.

Prince Wen Hui’s cook was cutting up an ox.

Out went a hand, Down went a shoulder,

He planted a foot, He pressed with a knee,

The ox fell apart With a whisper,

The bright cleaver murmured Like a gentle wind.

Rhythm! Timing!

Like a sacred dance,

Like “The Mulberry Grove,â€

Like ancient harmonies!

“Good work!†the Prince exclaimed, “Your method is faultless!â€

“Method?†said the cook

Laying aside his cleaver, “What I follow is Tao Beyond all methods!

“When I first began To cut up oxen I would see before me The whole ox all in one mass.

“After three years I no longer saw this mass.

I saw the distinctions.

“But now, I see nothing With the eye. My whole being Apprehends.

My senses are idle. The spirit Free to work without plan

Follows its own instinct Guided by natural line,

By the secrets opening, the hidden space,

My cleaver finds its own way.

I cut through no joint, chop no bone.

“A good cook needs a new chopper

Once a year — he cuts.

A poor cook needs a new one

Every month — he hacks!

“I have used this same cleaver Nineteen years.

It has cut up A thousand oxen.

Its edge is as keen As if newly sharpened.

“There are spaces in the joints; The blade is thin and keen:

When this thinness Finds that space

There is all the room you need!

It goes like a breeze! Hence I have this cleaver nineteen years

As if newly sharpened!

“True, there are sometimes Tough joints. I feel them coming,

I slow down, I watch closely, Hold back, barely moving the blade,

And whump! the part falls away Landing like a clod of earth.

“Then I withdraw the blade, I stand still

And let the joy of the work Sink in. I clean the blade And put it away.â€

Prince Wan Hui said,

“This is it! My cook has shown me How I ought to live My own life!â€

Translated by Thomas Merton (The Way of Chuang Tzu, 1965)