An Ailment Worth Having

Lung Shu said to the physician Wen Chi: “Your art is subtle; I have an ailment. Can you cure it?” The physician said: “I will do as you say, but first, tell me about your symptoms.” (Kiszka King/Flickr)
Lung Shu said to the physician Wen Chi: “Your art is subtle; I have an ailment. Can you cure it?” The physician said: “I will do as you say, but first, tell me about your symptoms.” (Kiszka King/Flickr)

Let’s take a listen to this dialogue between a physician and his patient in ancient China.

Lung Shu said to the physician Wen Chi: “Your art is subtle; I have an ailment. Can you cure it?”

The physician said: “I will do as you say, but first, tell me about your symptoms.”

Lung Shu replied: “I am not honored when the whole village praises me, nor am I ashamed when the whole country criticizes me; gain does not make me happy, nor does loss grieve me.

I look upon life the same as death, and see wealth the same as poverty. I view people like any mammal, and see myself like others. At home, I am as though at an inn, and I look upon my native village as a foreign country. (Panumas Nikhomkhai/123rf.com)

I look upon life the same as death, and see wealth the same as poverty. I view people like any mammal, and see myself like others. At home, I am as though at an inn, and I look upon my native village as a foreign country. (Panumas Nikhomkhai/123rf.com)

I look upon life the same as death, and see wealth the same as poverty. I view people like any mammal, and see myself like others. At home, I am as though at an inn, and I look upon my native village as a foreign country.

With these afflictions, rewards don’t encourage me, nor do punishments threaten me. I cannot be changed by flourishing, or by decline, gain, or loss. I am not be moved by sorrow or happiness.

Thus, I cannot serve the government, associate with friends, run my household or control my servants. What sickness is this? Is there any way to cure it?”

The physician had Lung Shu stand with his back to the light while he looked into his chest.

After a while, Wen Chi said: “Aha! I see your heart—it is empty! You are nearly a sage! Six of the apertures in your heart are open; one of them is closed.

“This may be why you think the wisdom of a sage is an ailment. I cannot stop this with my shallow art.”

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