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Acupuncture Today
December, 2001, Vol. 02, Issue 12
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The Better Doctor

By Yun Kyoung Yim

There is a saying that the best doctor cures a disease when it's found on the skin. A good doctor will cure the disease when it's found on the muscular level. An average doctor will cure the disease when it's found within the "six bowels" level.

The least competent doctor will cure the disease found at the "five organs" level, in fact, when it is almost too late. You may wonder what this all means. Think of it this way: the better the doctor, the earlier the disease will be detected, thus increasing the chances of successfully treating the ailment or disorder.

In ancient times, there were no officially established schools. However, there were a number of scholars who possessed knowledge and wisdom. Often, people would gather around the particular scholar's home in the hopes of gaining an ounce of their wisdom. Numbers would swell to the point that small towns would magically form around the scholar's home.

A famous scholar who long studied Oriental medicine was such a person. He developed into a famous healer who was somewhat of a legend. He became famous for his ability to cure the sick. People would travel great distances just for the opportunity to learn from him, for many people studied under his teachings. As time passed, one particular student excelled in his studies and showed great intelligence and initiative beyond his years. The pupil easily grasped the complex theories and skills of that of a potentially great doctor.

One day, the pupil had an opportunity to meet his teacher's mother. He had heard about her long-standing stomach ailment and was puzzled as to why his teacher did not treat it. She often complained about the discomfort she experienced. A long time later, when the teacher was not present, the diligent student offered to help the ailing old lady. "Why don't you let me cure your stomach?" said the student. The old lady was so happy to hear this and said, "That's a marvelous idea. Many people tell me that my son is a great doctor, but he has never offered to help me with my condition." So the student began to administer his treatment. "I feel so much better; the discomfort is gone," said the old lady with gratitude.

When the teacher returned, he knew right away that someone had treated his mother. Instead of being happy to see his mother free of discomfort, the teacher grew angry and said, "Who treated my mother?" The student answered reluctantly, "I did." "How could you be so careless?" The teacher scolded. "You just shortened my mother's life by a year."

The student looked perplexed. "You have to realize that some things are there for a reason," said the teacher.

Sometimes you have to cure a little problem as soon as it appears and before it increases in seriousness, but sometimes you have to live with a smaller pain or problem to prevent a larger or more damaging one from occurring. The better doctor should be able to determine whether the little problem is good or bad.

With any treatment, you must anticipate the consequences and look at the larger picture. Although the mother was experiencing some discomfort, it prevented the onslaught of other problems. Now, by curing the mother's pain, the balance was upset. The imbalance spurred more problems to come. Anticipation and foresight must always be considered when dealing with any sort of treatment.

For example, say there was a machine that worked properly for a long time, but ran with dirty oil. You wouldn't remove the dirty oil because it was old and dirty; the oil acts as an essential element of the machine's operation. Removing the oil because it was dirty would lead to bigger and more catastrophic problems.

As doctors, we have to be careful when treating various symptoms and discomforts. The determination has to be made as to whether the cure of specific problems will not disrupt the overall operation of the human body. If you always keep these lessons in mind, I have no doubt that you are well on your way to becoming a better doctor.


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