Learning Acupressure by the Youshui River

It was very quiet in the mountainous area in west Hunan. My days of learning medicine were accompanied by the crowing of cocks and the barking of dogs. As I stayed on the top floor, I was in a good position to appreciate the river scenery: Just outside the window were green waters, and across the river were undulating green hills and an ancient town built on the hillside. Several ferries and fishing boats were rowing leisurely on the river. It would get misty on the water when there was drizzling rain.

On the eve of the Spring Festival, I sat alone in the room and silently wished my family and friends a Happy New Year. Then I heard deafening sounds of firecrackers across the night sky, I opened the door and stepped unto the roof. There I saw a marvelous night view: colourful fireworks were being shot to the sky from rolling hills, villages and towns along the riverbanks, and they were also flying to the sky reflected in the water. The dark river downstairs turned into a large mirror reflecting the splendor of fireworks and firecrackers. I felt like I was wandering in a fairyland. And I immediately joined the festive celebration and lighted fireworks as well.

A month later, I finished learning how to press acupoints on the head and shoulders. Then Master Li asked me to learn from his sons the techniques for pressing acupoints on other parts of the body. His two sons and a daughter had been following him for quite some time, and were now his good assistants. Each day, we pressed each other’s acupoints while joking and laughing. Although there are more acupoints than those on the head, I soon mastered the techniques. Now what I lacked was real clinical practice.

Some of the acupoints Master Li taught me were not indicated in the standard Meridians Chart. They were little known special acupoints. “Stimulating special acupoints heals rare diseases,” so claims an adage about Chinese medicine. I increasingly marveled at the beauty of Chinese medicine. And to grasp the essence of it, one not only needs to learn the skills, but also needs to feel it with the heart.

The landscape and climate there gave me an opportunity to relive my childhood feelings for the nature: damp everywhere, abundant energy from the earth, and a lively touch in the green. It gave me a long-absent feeling of intimacy with nature and I was simply moved by it all. It rained a lot in March. I would often sit alone in my little room on the rooftop, listening to the sounds of drizzling rain and roaring thunders in spring.

And my mind was not occupied with fluctuations in the stock market, but with the flow of Qi and blood in the human body. Interestingly, both stocks and blood pressure have highs and lows. Yet the former is related to money, and the latter to life. Fluctuations in both of them are manifestations of those in the mind, and they both have an impact on people, but in totally different ways. The landscape in my eyes was constantly changing, so was the landscape in my heart, which was seeking the Tao of Healing amid uncertainties.

On the third day of the Chinese Spring Festival, my friend Cheng Maiyue arrived here in an old cab. He was very curious about how I, who had been busying with financial investment just like him, could be spending the Festival learning Chinese medicine in a remote village. Prompted by curiosity and enthusiasm, he had taken a train from Shenzhen to west Hunan just to see me and find it out for himself.

Cheng had graduated from Princeton University and was a director of A.T. Kearney. I, just like him, had been crossing over business worlds in the U.S., Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland. Although he did not rove and learn medicine like me, he had been following my roving and clinical practice. He was a witness and also a guinea pig of my medical study.

My friend Cheng Maiyue who visited me in west Hunan during the Spring Festival

In the ancient city of phoenix

Together, we went boating on the cold waters, visited patients, and traveled to two ancient towns: Yongshun and Fenghuang (Phoenix). Over a decade before, I had travelled in Fenghuang with a backpack. Back then, I was the only tourist on the street. When I reached the former residence of Shen Congwen, my favourite Chinese author, I came across his wife Zhang Zhaohe. What an extraordinary “hidden link” that had brought us to meet there! Pity it was a bygone past. Now there are more tourists than locals on the streets.

After the Spring Festival, I received several groups of friends from Beijing, Wuhan and Changsha. They came here partly out of curiosity, partly because of doubt. And once they were here, they were all amazed. Later on, my mother yielded to my request and also arrived here. As I had mentioned, my Mom was a doctor of Western medicine, and she had hypertension for over 20 years. On the day she arrived, she stopped taking antihypertensive drugs which had strong side effects. I treated her with only acupressure, and she thus became my first hypertensive patient.

And for over one year after that, she didn’t take a single HBP tablet. Occasionally she would have some Chinese medicine. And her blood pressure stayed normal. Later on, she learned PaidaLajin with me, and had no need for Chinese medicine, not even a single pill.

During the Tomb-Sweeping Festival — it was also the Easter holiday in Hong Kong — my old friend Hu Yebi (who had co-authored Stocks and Sex with me) brought here a group of over 30 people — investment bankers, fund managers, lawyers and entrepreneurs from Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen. Attracted here by the vitality of Chinese medicine, they, for the moment, jumped out of their respective roller coaster rides to roam around and have fun in the beautiful land of green mountains and river. They watched how a master heal diseases, tried my acupressure skills, and watched blood pressure drop without medication. They exclaimed, recited poems and happily went back.

Hu Yebi and I doing pushups competition on boat

A group of over 30 people visited me in west Hunan during the Tomb-Sweeping Festival

My First Patient

The greatest coincidence was the arrival of my younger brother and Taoist Zeng from Mt. Wudang on the day of my first-ever clinical practice. My brother was half believing half doubting it. And he thought it was sheer game play for me to have stopped money-making and gone there to learn medicine, and that after I played enough of it, I should get back to real business. Whereas Zeng believed curing diseases was my biggest business. He said to me, “It is your destiny.” And they both witnessed the entire process of how I alone treated a stroke patient with the acupressure skills I had just learned. I’m using acupressure on my first patient.

The patient had been treated as a heart disease patient for five days in the local hospital. Then his condition deteriorated and he fell from the hospital bed. He was found paralyzed, with crooked mouth and eyes. At the introduction of a neighbour, he was transferred here.

Master Li said to me, “I’ll let you treat this patient to see how you have progressed. Others are not allowed to touch him.”

That day, I was wearing a white costume, more like a doctor than usual.

After two days’ acupressure treatment, the patient’s blood pressure, askew eyes and mouth were basically back to normal. Five days later, he was able to walk slowly. My brother had always thought that I was roving everywhere and not doing proper business. Now after witnessing it all with his own eyes, he was pleasantly surprised and also puzzled. Taoist Zeng assured him, “I have said early on that he’s destined to become a master healer.”

Ten days later, the patient was able to walk freely. They joked that curing the 70-year-old man was my maiden work in healing.

That was how I started healing, not a cold or fever, but stroke-induced hemiplegia.

Faced with his family members’ grateful eyes and words, I quietly said to myself, “Life is full of changes, and full of miracles as well.” The sun rises in the east and sets in the west; Grass and trees grow and wither; the stock price goes up and down, and so does blood pressure; People live and die. Aren’t all these miracles? We cannot recognize them only because we are already used to them.

The game of life is to find an equilibrium between yin and yang, and to wander between life and death. A person’s body is a micro-universe. Just as is suggested in theyin-yang Tai Chi diagram, nothing is too big to exclude and nothing is too small to include. Hence, the life game is both a man’s game and also god’s game, for man and god are one. We are both man and god, Buddha and devil. All depends on one thought. So I was even more grateful than his family, to them, to God and to all.

When a person gets sick, the quality of life in his family is affected. If a person is paralyzed, it can get even worse. If acupressure could cure such patients, isn’t it a way to promote harmony in the family and in society at large? This healing technique passed down to us from our ancestors could relieve suffering and save a person’s life, without the need for injection or medication. Isn’t it joy to do so? If, before a man is paralyzed, his hypertension and cerebral arteriosclerosis could be cured with acupressure, wouldn’t it be even better?

Acupressure feels like artistic creation, full of joy, beauty and goodness. Compared with medication and surgery, it is much safer. How good it would be if acupressure could be used to enable hypertensive patients to get rid of their reliance on medicine!

For the human body, Western medicine works like pesticides sprayed on crops — effective, but also harmful. If a patient feels good when taking medicine and feels bad without it, is it any different from taking narcotic drugs?

Well, if one has to take medicine for the rest of his life, it is a narcotic drug for sure. Who knows that during the process of medication what and how many new diseases are thus induced? Who knows a patient’s death is due to existing problems or drug-induced illnesses?

The beauty of acupressure is that it is a drug-free, highly effective, and genuinely natural therapy.

Many people’s impression of acupressure comes from descriptions of it in Jin Yong’sKungfu novels. Hence, I am often asked, “Can it kill people?” Or, “can it make a person motionless?”

To that, my reply is, “It might be easy to kill someone with acupressure, yet the challenge is to activate a motionless person, to save a dying man, to stop the pain of injury and illness, and to make an insomnia patient fall asleep.” To put it bluntly, acupressure aims to find the “keys” in the human body, to activate the body’s innate regulatory functions and to create harmony from inside out.

But still, acupressure, similar to acupuncture, moxibustion, massage and Ba Guan(cupping) therapies, needs another person other than the patient himself to execute it. If I could find some method that would enable people to heal themselves and not rely on others, wouldn’t it be even better?

As I continued my journey, my wish was indeed satisfied. Well, that is another story.