My experience at the Five Immortals Temple
When I was a child, I often visited a general practitioner of Chinese medicine. I remember he seemed to determine his patient’s condition through just a pulse reading. I often wondered if he was a doctor or a magician, and wished to learn these skills some day. Twenty years later, I have become a doctor of Western and Chinese medicine. Since the beginning of my studies in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), I wanted to achieve an as deep understanding as possible, so I began learning Mandarin. I then travelled to China to study and research TCM. But in China I realized that I could not find the knowledge and the teachings I was looking for so I decided to continue my medical education in Germany.
All medical systems have their strong and weak points. Western medicine focuses on a symptom-based treatment, where the cause of the problem is often not considered. Chinese medicine sees the patient as a whole, and attempts to cure the root of the symptoms rather than the symptoms themselves. Daoist medicine brings this idea further, aiming to see the patient and their environment, including all their related influential factors, as one. In the words of Li Shi Fu: “A tree is infested with insects, western medicine cuts off the leafs which have a problem, a very fast method but maybe the day after the next leaf has insects. Chinese medicine gives a treatment to the roots, so after some time every leaf becomes healthy. Daoist medicine cures the roots as well, but trying also to improve the internal and external environment of the tree. The tree is seen as a whole and so should the human be.”
The deeper I searched into TCM, the more I realized that the roots of Chinese medicine are found in Daoist culture and wisdom. I realized that this was the knowledge I was looking for. I then read about Bai Ma Shan and the Five Immortals Temple, and knew I would be lead there soon.
Once I arrived at the Five Immortals Temple, I felt immediately integrated and adopted into a big family. I was fascinated by the astonishing landscape, with green and wavy mountains, often covered in mist of clouds floating along the mountain tops like dragons. The quiet and remote location of the temple restores the connection to nature, enabling living according her speed and rules.
I stayed at the temple during off course time, and was guided and led by Li Shi Fu, who set an individual study plan for my stay. We set a focus on Daoist medicine, including Chinese Herbs and Acupuncture, as well as special therapeutic techniques, including fire healing and Gua Sha. I was taught Tai Ji and Chun Yang longevity, which were corrected repetitively and patiently with few words but with firm gestures. I also studied music therapy, as the five tone healing and the six breathing sounds, and was introduced and guided into sitting meditation. It was a mix of external and internal studies and the further I got, the clearer it became that they all are just different aspects of the One. They cannot be considered or learned separately, as they are equally important and therefore all belong to the Way of Cultivation.
During my stay, I had plenty of opportunities to discuss various topics with Li Shi Fu, which were answered with the wisdom of a sage and the spirit of a child. I was taught things I haven’t heard at any university or read in any books before. I’m very grateful for all the knowledge conveyed during my stay at the Five Immortals Temple.
I was looking for answers and found questions. I was looking for clearness and became confused. Things I believed to know where not sure any more. But it is through chaos that anything new arises. If we abandon our alley of security and comfort we can find new paths, and a teacher who can guide us.
The three weeks of my stay at the Five Immortals Temple were far too short to go deeper into this immense knowledge, but were long enough to catch a glimpse through a small window, and to realize how much more there is to find, if we take the next step and open our thoughts.
I hope to soon go back again.