Young Mongolian Healing Master Ananda
I don’t know when it started, but now whenever people think or speak of quack doctors, they will use “Mongolian doctors” to describe them. But the Mongolian doctor I am now describing is NOT a quack, but a healing master. Unknowingly, when my heart yearned to learn Chinese medicine, I began to meet various miracle healers.
The first time I heard the name Ananda was when I was chatting with a few bosses from Inner Mongolia on the topic of Chinese medicine. I spoke of how I had guided a great healer around to treat patients in the U.S. One of the bosses then mentioned that she knew one such healer. Her father, uncle and many other relatives and friends had been cured of cancer, liver, kidney, and other rare and critical diseases by him.
On hearing this, I asked, “Will he visit Beijing? Would you please arrange for us to meet when he comes?”
She replied, “He does come to Beijing occasionally. I will inform you of his next visit.”
About two months later, Ananda came. We talked over the phone, but did not meet up. He had a very tight schedule — he would stay in Beijing for only one day and would then fly to Singapore to attend a conference on Chinese medicine. I had to wait for another chance. Well, good things are a long time in coming.
The second time he came, we decided to meet at an overpass near Yonghegong Lama Temple in downtown Beijing. At the appointed time, I saw a shaven-headed young man coming over. He had an innocent face, and was wearing an armed police uniform, just like a newly recruited soldier at first glance. I asked about his age, and found he was still a teenager. While many youngsters of his age are studying in school, he is now widely known, and is invited to treat patients and go abroad to give lectures. Isn’t it a miracle?
Two disciples, a man and a woman, were following him. He was going to Yonghegong Lama Temple to visit his master, so we decided to meet afterwards at a nearby vegetarian restaurant close to Confucius Temple. From his name and his master, I could guess he is a believer of Buddhism, or more specifically Tibetan Buddhism. He said after lunch he would deliver drugs to a few patients, so the only time for us was noon. See how busy he was?
Finally, we sat down at the restaurant. As we chatted, I got to know that Ananda’s male follower was a graduate student learning art at a Beijing university. The girl disciple was quite beautiful, and used to work at a television station. Ananda spoke fairly good Mandarin, but needed his disciples to translate some of his words.
Talking with the three of them, I was able to get a fuller picture of Ananda. His name came from Anan, a close disciple of Shakyamuni Buddha. The reason for his becoming such a talented healer was he basically had no formal schooling, and learned medicine early on from his grandfather, a revered Mongolian doctor in his hometown. He had the vision and foresight to know that his grandson would not be able to learn much at school. So he decided to teach the child himself. Ananda followed his grandfather to speak, read and observe how he treated patients. His textbooks were medical classics, i.e., he absorbed knowledge and clinical experience simultaneously.
Mongolians believe in Tibetan Buddhism. As a result, Mongolian medicine is greatly impacted by Tibetan medicine. The Four Medical Classics, the most essential book in Tibetan medicine, was a must-read for him. As a child, Ananda learned to read Tibetan. Later, in his early teens, he had more interactions with children of his age, and learned to speak Mandarin. He gradually got to the core of Chinese, Mongolian and Tibetan medicines.
The ancient Oriental tradition of a master training a disciple is key to developing his medical talent. His wise grandfather has set a good example for parents to return to tradition — Learning a classical language is more important than learning a foreign language; And for someone in the East, knowledge of the East is more essential than knowledge of the West.
His followers told me many legends about him, many about curing patients. As a kid, he went along with his grandfather to visit patients, and in his teens, he was able to write good prescriptions. Later, he learned from lamas expert in Tibetan medicine. With more and more people being cured, he naturally earned greater recognition and fame.
A lad without any training in modern medicine, not even with formal schooling, now became much sought after by patients and hospitals. Many hospitals, including an armed police hospital, wanted to employ him at the risk of “illegal medical practice”. But he did not want to be restrained, so he worked for them part-time or as a consultant. That was why he wore that uniform.
One day, he had to travel a long distance to visit a patient. According to the weather forecast, a heavy snow was to fall that day. But Ananda was not in the least bothered. His disciples had to go with him. To their surprise, wherever Ananda went, the snow stopped right away. And yet it continued to fall in places around them.
Another miracle: Much of the content in The Four Medical Classics Ananda read was missing, causing him much confusion. Later, he continually had clear revelations in his dreams, and was able to add the missing words, chapters and pictures to complete the classic. “Is it how lost civilizations are continued?” I wondered.
We often lament at the destruction of precious heritages, yet Ananda’s experience seems to confirm a saying in Tao Te Ching that “God’s mill grinds slow but sure”. Because of karma, some will die out and some will be (re-)born. It would be no surprise if Chinese medicine were to be destroyed by its own people. In human history, Buddhism and Christianity were destroyed in their respective place of origin, but prospered in other parts of the world. This is karma. The Self is non-existent. All rises and falls following the law of “Dependent Origination and Emptiness of Nature”. An ancient Chinese adage describes it so correctly, as is echoed in this French aphorism “au bout de l’aulne, fault de drap”. I had wanted to use this profound adage for the closing ceremony of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. Pity the proposal was denied.
After lunch, I went with them to deliver drugs to a patient, so that we could continue our chat on the way. The car stopped at a courtyard, Ananda took the drugs inside to see his patient, and his disciples and I went on with our conversation.
Our topic went from Chinese medicine to Oriental medicine. Historically, Chinese medicine influenced Tibetan medicine. And for religious and historical reasons, Tibetan medicine has had a great impact on Mongolian medicine. The same is true with that of other ethic minorities in China, for instance, the Miao and Zhuang people. Despite their distinct characteristics, all these medical sciences lay emphasis on “harmony between man and nature”. This is the fundamental difference between the East and the West. The medicines practiced in South Korea and Japan are direct reproductions of Chinese medicine. Although each is unique in its own way, the essence of these medicines is the same typically Oriental spirit — oneness of man and nature, balance of Yin and Yang(positive and negative) energies, holistic view and treatment of body, mind and soul.
In fact, all medical sciences in the East and their specific therapies are quite consistent— all are natural therapies. Whether oral medication or an external treatment, the aim is to cleanse meridians (energy channels) and to balance Yin and Yang, not the antagonistic, eradicative and specialized treatment of Western medicine. Western medicine, whether Internal Medicine, Surgery, Pediatrics or Gynecology, mainly uses such means as antibiotics, surgery and organ removal to treat a patient. This is perfectly consistent with its spirit in political, military, cultural and religious matters. In short, Chinese medicine and Western medicine are natural fruits of their respective cultures.
Ananda was trained by his grandfather in typically Oriental master-disciple style of learning. He was lucky to have a great, brave and wise grandpa, to be freed from the many worldly shackles of the modern day, and to be nourished by traditions in the most natural way. When children of his age were busy sitting exams and concerned with test rankings, the carefree Ananda played and visited places with his grandpa, and observed how he treated patients. Driven by a natural curiosity, interest and clinical experience, he went on to study ancient Mongolian and Tibetan medical classics. He also mastered Tibetan and Mandarin, two languages generally considered hard to learn, while playing childhood games and going through magical clinical practice.
“What would be on the mind of a Ph.D. doctor incapable of curing patients, when faced with this folk doctor who could save people’s lives?” I wondered.
Unfortunately, despite Ananda’s superb healing talent, he could not pass a modern qualification exam. I know many such “illegal” healers. And there are numerous quacks practicing medicine legally. Because of this, many patients don’t experience an effective cure, no wonder people want to get rid of Chinese medicine.
When waving goodbye to Ananda, I saw he was still an innocent boy. This reminded me of Wally, and my friends who had gone to Britain and America to practice Chinese medicine. Why have masters of Chinese medicine gone to distant lands? With Chinese medicine in its treasure house, why do the Chinese have to turn to Western medicine for a cure?
In fact, health-care systems across the world, whether in America, Europe or Japan, have been going in the wrong direction. They are all wrong. When the direction is wrong, the more advanced the medical science is, the further it goes astray. China has kept pace in modern science, but has deviated from the Tao. That is why nowadays real doctors are rare, whereas quacks can be found everywhere. And people have to bear the consequences of increasingly scarce and costly medical resources.
Since students at colleges of Chinese medicine are trained following standards, content and procedures of Western medicine, these graduates are but “terminators” of Chinese medicine. In the home country of Chinese medicine, are there only legendary “Mongolian doctors” left?