I have been thinking a little more about the lack of five element teachers, which I mentioned in my last blog (no.80). There is always a problem venturing in the footsteps of a proven master. Jung had difficulty in emerging from under the great shadow which his master, Freud, had cast over him. All JR Worsley's successors have to deal with the same problem. Those who learnt directly from JR Worsley himself, and the following generations who were taught by this first cohort, have a natural reluctance to claim to "do a JR" when diagnosing patients, particularly in front of a class of students. This term was a shorthand for being able to do what he told us was his ability to diagnose colour and smell as he came into the practice room, and follow this up in a very few minutes with sound and emotion as soon as the patient had responded to his questions.
Because we have been asked to diagnose hundreds of Chinese practitioners and patients on our seminars over in China, I realise that I am getting much better at making quick decisions about the elements I am seeing. I have had to be, in view of the time constraints we are working under - perhaps only a morning to make over 150 diagnoses. But then I have always emphasized that this is completely the wrong way to make a good diagnosis. I should be sitting down alone with each of these 150 people in a practice room, and giving them all the attention and time that carrying out a good TD (Traditional Diagnosis) demands. But as the saying goes, "needs must when the devil (here simply the time available) drives"! If we (and that includes my five element companions, Guy Caplan and Mei Long) were not to do this, none of these enthusiastic five element practitioners and students would ever have the slightest inkling of their own element, something I consider essential for any five element acupuncturist. And we know that we are always very bad at diagnosing our own element, for all sorts of reasons, often choosing an element which we long to be!
I have therefore had to learn to do the best that I can, calling these initial diagnoses simply our first hypothesis about the element, to be amended as we get to see things more clearly in the light of how treatment on that element has or has not brought about any changes. Luckily during these seminars in China we see everybody for a full week, and so have many opportunities of observing closely those whose diagnoses we are unsure about, and then changing these where necessary accordingly. As I said before, Chinese acupuncturists, probably because of our emphasis on the provisional nature of our initial diagnosis, are quite happy to have their elements changed, happier, I think, than their European counterparts, certainly their British.
Also, if we see examples of possession in the group (surprisingly often, perhaps for cultural reasons), we make sure all these patients are treated before we leave, as this is not a simple treatment for apprentice five element practitioners either to diagnose or to recognize when it has been cleared.
I know that my own 40 or so years of five element studies have helped me pinpoint the elements more quickly, and, I hope, more accurately, but I do wish that more of all those competent five element acupuncturists out there would take a leaf from my book and venture out into teaching. I always remember one of my wise teachers, Dr Oskar Adler, master musician, teacher of the violin to the composer Schoenberg, and astrologer, author of some fascinating books on astrology, writing how important it was for everybody to pass on whatever they have learnt. In a lovely quote, he said, "What would have happened if Mozart had not written down his music?". And Mozart, after all, was almost hounded to his death through poverty and many of his manuscripts only survived by accident. Think! We might not now have his Magic Flute or Marriage of Figaro, or hear his sublime piano concertos!
So any of you experienced five element acupuncturists out there, please take courage in your hands and offer up to the next generation whatever you have learnt from your own practice. Only in this way will any discipline survive, and particularly such a rare discipline as five element acupuncture.