Body and Cosmos In China

Last week, I had a chance to go to Philadelphia to attend a Symposium at The University of Pennsylvania. This truly was a unique experience in all parts. My Air B n B was a yurt in the middle of a community garden, made with Tibetan style clouds all around. A truly unique experience. This Symposium was in honor of Historian Nathan Sivin, a profound sinologist and truly a prominent figure in his field. He set a standard for interpretation of Ancient Chinese texts, and has planted a valuable seed in his students who have continued in his field.  What interested me so much was that this was an academic, not a clinical gaze upon Chinese Philosophical and Medical texts. Here the difference lies in the interpretation of texts. I may not be getting this right but, Hilary Smith from the University of Denver, quoted Nathan Sivin, that your work must be a “imaginative disciplined interpretation.” One can never truly get at the heart of the text, history has done its work and carried meaning over generations. It has been transformed, interpreted, and changed. It is the heart of the reader that imagines the meaning behind the text so that “The Work” does its work through the reading of the text. This is discipline, to understand the transformative work that happens over time and in one’s self. I personally fell in love with the Xing Zi Ming Chu. This recently excavated bamboo text has been going through interpretations over the past few decades. It is a warring states text that I feel can bridge a confucian ideal with daoist ones. It was a truly inspirational seminar and it gave me a greater sense of profundity with Ancient Chinese medical and philosophical texts.


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