Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Medicine

One of medicine’s darkest but most open secrets revolves around the placebo effect. Typically shrugged off as some kind of foolishness, this powerful influence doesn’t receive the attention and research it deserves. Experimental results point to this as an overlooked but powerful influence on health. The Seventh Day Adventist approach make take this concept too far, but anyone interested in better health could learn a great deal from looking into how their attitudes, expectations, and opinions toward the medicine they use effect it’s efficacy and their health. And this dynamic goes beyond physical medicine and in real ways doctors, nurses, psychologists, dentists, and all health workers becomes living placebos. The powerful influence of our mind may be our most useful medicine. Unfortunately, this process also works in reverse creating hypochondria, drug addiction, and susceptibility to the power of hypnotic advertising and to the fake and harmful seductions of tobacco, drugs, alcohol, sugar, refined flour, soft drinks, chemically grown food, and food additives.

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Quotes (82)

“I wished to use this stoa to advertise publicly the medicines that bring salvation. These medicines we have put fully to the test; for we have dispelled the fears that grip us without justification, and, as for pains, those that are groundless we have completely excised, while those that are natural we have reduced to an absolute minimum, making their magnitude minute.”

Diogenes of Oenoanda Διογένης ὁ Οἰνοανδεύς 77 – 142 CE via Martin Ferguson Smith
Great Preserver of Epicureanism

Themes: Medicine Fear

“A physician is worth more than several other men put together, for he can cut out arrows and spread healing herbs.”

Homer 1
Primogenitor of Western culture
from Iliad

Themes: Medicine

“Punishment is a kind of medicine.”

Aristotle Ἀριστοτέλης 382 – 322 BCE
from Nicomachean Ethics

“Vain is the word of a philosopher which does not heal any human suffering. Just as there is no profit in medicine if it does not cure a disease of the body, to there is no profit in philosophy if it does not cure suffering of the mind.”

Epicurus ɛpɪˈkjɔːrəs 341 – 270 BCE
Western Buddha
from On Nature

67. Three Treasures

“The most High hath created medicines out of the earth, and a wise man will not abhor them... By these he shall cure and shall allay their pains, and of these the apothecary shall make sweet confections and ointments of health”

Koheleth 1
from Ecclesiastes קֹהֶלֶת‎

Themes: Medicine Health

“Though bitter, good medicine cures illness. Though it may hurt, loyal criticism will have beneficial effects.”

Sima Qian 司馬遷 145 – 86 BCE
(Ssu-ma Ch'ien)
Father of Chinese historians
from Shiji, Records of the Grand Historian, 太史公書

“Philosophy is the best medicine for the mind.”

Cicero 106 – 43 BCE
from Tuscalanes Disputationes, 47-44 BCE

“Nature, time, and patience are the three great physicians.”

Anonymous 1
Freedom from the narrow boxes defined by personal history
from Proverb

“It is medicine, not scenery, for which a sick man must go searching.”

Seneca ˈsɛnɪkə 4 BCE – 65 CE
(Lucius Annaeus)
from Letters to Lucilius

Themes: Medicine

“Would a sick person be helped only by reading a medical book?”

Shantideva ཞི་བ་ལྷ།།། 685 – 763 CE
(Bhusuku, Śāntideva)
from Bodhisattva Way of Life, Bodhicaryavatara

“May I be the doctor and the medicine
And may I be the nurse
For all sick beings in the world
Until everyone is healed.”

Shantideva ཞི་བ་ལྷ།།། 685 – 763 CE
(Bhusuku, Śāntideva)
from Bodhisattva Way of Life, Bodhicaryavatara

Themes: Medicine Health

“Although medicine and poison create contrary effects, in their ultimate essence they are one; likewise negative qualities”

Ghaṇṭāpa གྷ་ཎྚཱ་པ། 1 via Keith Dowman
(“The Celibate Bell-Ringer”)
Mahasiddha #52

Themes: Medicine

“There are three types of friends: those like food without which you can't live; those like medicine which you need occasionally; and those like an illness which you never want.”

Solomon ibn Gabirol שלמה בן יהודה אבן גבירול 1021 – 1070 CE via Ascher
(Avicebron)
from Choice of Pearls

“Only poison will cure illness brought on by poison;
If you want to cut iron only iron will do.”

Gesar of Ling གེ་སར་རྒྱལ་པོ། 1 via Robin Kornman
from Gesar of Ling Epic

Themes: Medicine

“The words of the sages and men of wisdom are spread out in books... They may be compared to the prescriptions in a medicine basket... However, what a good doctor uses need not be extraordinary, it need only be good enough to cure an illness.”

Lù Jiǔyuān 陸九淵 1139 – 1192 CE
(Lu Xiangshan)
from Hsiang-shan ch'uan-chi

“May they realize that the real nature of poison is the essential medicine.”

Mondup Sherab 1 via Keith Dowman
from Masters of Mahamudra

“Of a man's abilities first comes knowledge of the teachings of the sages... Next should be learned the art of medicine. Without medicine, a man cannot care for his own body, nor help others, nor perform his duties to his parents”

Yoshida Kenkō 兼好 1284 – 1350 CE via Sir George Bailey Sansom
Inspiration of self-reinvention
from Essays in Idleness

Themes: Medicine

“For talk of medicine and surgery;
For he was was grounded in astronomy...
Ready he was with his apothecaries,
To send him drugs and all electuaries...
And yet he was right chary of expense;
He kept the gold he gained from pestilence.”

Geoffrey Chaucer 1343 – 1400 CE
“Father of English literature”
from Canterbury Tales

Themes: Medicine Health

“Iron rusts from disuse, stagnant water loses its purity, and in cold weather becomes frozen; even so does inaction sap the vigors of the mind”

Leonardo da Vinci 1452 – 1519 CE
from Notebooks, c. 1500

“Medicine is not merely a science but an art. The character of the physician may act more powerfully upon the patient than the drugs used.”

Paracelsus 1493 – 1541 CE
(Theophrastus von Hohenheim)
Revolutionary, shamanistic alchemist
from Archidoxies, 1525

Themes: Health Medicine

“Poison is in everything, and no thing is without poison. Only the dosage makes it either a poison or a remedy.”

Paracelsus 1493 – 1541 CE
(Theophrastus von Hohenheim)
Revolutionary, shamanistic alchemist

Themes: Paradox Medicine

“Everything that we find in to be healthful to life can be called a medicine... it is the privilege of medicine to attribute to itself all the happy successes that happen to the patient; and, as to all the ill accidents, they absolutely disown in laying fault upon the patient”

Montaigne 1533 – 1592 CE via Charles Cotton, Shan Dao
Grandfather of the Enlightenment
from Essays, French Essais

Themes: Medicine

“Anything that is understood is a delusion. Anything that is a delusion is an affliction. Understanding is not the affliction. It is the understanding of understanding that becomes the affliction. To understand what is the affliction is to cure the illness without medicine.”

Chiao Hung 1540 – 1620 CE via Red Pine
(Jiao Hung)

Themes: Medicine Delusion

“As the births of living creatures are at first ill-shapen, so are all Innovations... every medicine is an innovation and those who will not apply new remedies must expect new evils, for time is the greatest innovator.”

Francis Bacon 1561 – 1626 CE
from Of Goodness and the Goodness of Nature

“I observe the physician with the same diligence as the disease.”

John Donne 1572 – 1631 CE

Themes: Health Medicine

“The art of letting things alone… Remedies often make diseases worse… It takes a wise doctor to know when not to prescribe, and at times the greater skill consists in not applying remedies.”

Balthasar Gracian 1601 – 1658 CE

Themes: Health Medicine

24. Unnecessary Baggage

“Sleep is an infallible miracle drug but perfect sleep requires a peaceful conscience. First rest your mind, then your eyes keeping your health by dividing half your time to rest, have to activity.”

Lǐ Yú 李漁 1610 – 1680 CE via Lin Yutang, Shan Dao
(Li Liweng)
from Art of Living

Themes: Health Medicine

“Good artisans concentrating on one specialty, refuse to dissipate their mental energy. This gives strength to their bodies and they often live to be 70 or 80, healthy and skillful as in their youth”

Kāngxī 康熙帝 1654 – 1722 CE via Jonathan D. Spence, Shan Dao
from Emperor of China, Self-Portrait of K'ang-hsi

“Doctors put drugs of which they know little into bodies of which they know less for diseases of which they know nothing at all.”

Voltaire, François-Marie Arouet 1694 – 1778 CE

Themes: Health Medicine

“The art of medicine consists of amusing the patient while nature cures the disease.”

Voltaire, François-Marie Arouet 1694 – 1778 CE

Themes: Health Medicine

57. Wu Wei

“God heals and the doctor takes the fees.”

Benjamin Franklin 1706 – 1790 CE

Themes: Health Medicine

“The greater part of our ills are of our own making... Man, in the state of nature, can have no need of remedies, and still less of physicians”

Jean-Jacques Rousseau 1712 – 1778 CE
from On the Origin of Inequality

Themes: Medicine Health

“If a man thinks about his physical or moral state, he usually discover that he is ill.”

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von 1749 – 1832 CE

Themes: Health Medicine

“Always laugh when you can. It is cheap medicine.”

Lord Byron 1788 – 1824 CE
(George Gordon Byron)
The first rock-star style celebrity

“What is a weed? A weed is a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803 – 1882 CE
Champion of individualism

“our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment...Thus the weak members of civilised societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man... hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.”

Charles Darwin 1809 – 1882 CE
from Descent of Man

Themes: Medicine Health

“We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. So medicine, law, business, engineering... these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love... these are what we stay alive for.”

Walt Whitman 1819 – 1892 CE
Premier "poet of democracy" and model for Dracula
from Leaves of Grass

Themes: Medicine Beauty

“The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will instruct his patient in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.”

Thomas Edison 1847 – 1931 CE
America's greatest inventor

Themes: Health Medicine

“To get back my youth I would do anything in the world, except take exercise, get up early, or be respectable.”

Oscar Wilde 1854 – 1900 CE

“They complain of their illness, but they make the most of it, and when it comes to taking it away from them, they will defend it like a lioness her young.”

Sigmund Freud 1856 – 1939 CE
from An Outline of Psychoanalysis (1940)

Themes: Medicine

“Medical advertisements are not to let you know the disease is curable, but to make you think you have it.”

Elbert Hubbard 1856 – 1915 CE
from A Thousand and One Epigrams

Themes: Medicine

“There is a whole round of maladies that can be cured by a new thought, a new sensation, new surroundings. A little excitement or a new experience often clears the cobwebs from the brain.”

Elbert Hubbard 1856 – 1915 CE
from A Thousand and One Epigrams

Themes: Medicine Health

“They came and gave an herb to me, the day-break star herb, the herb of understanding... all creatures saw it and in no place was there any more darkness”

Black Elk 1863 – 1950 CE
(Heȟáka Sápa)

Themes: Health Medicine

“I am, by calling, a dealer in words; and words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.”

Rudyard Kipling 1865 – 1936 CE
Greatest—in-English—short-story writer

“Medicine—being a compendium of the successive and contradictory mistakes of medical practitioners—when we summon the wisest of them to our aid, the chances are that we may be relying on a scientific truth the error of which will be recognized n a few years' time.”

Marcel Proust 1871 – 1922 CE
Apostle of Ordinary Mind
from In Search of Lost Time

Themes: Medicine

“For every malady that doctors cure with medicine, they produce ten in healthy people by inoculating them with that virus which is a thousand time more powerful than any microbe: the idea that one is ill.”

Marcel Proust 1871 – 1922 CE via Justin O'Brien
Apostle of Ordinary Mind

Themes: Medicine Health

“I feel I shall find the truth on my deathbed and be surrounded by people too stupid to understand—fussing about medicines instead of searching for wisdom.”

Bertrand Russell 1872 – 1970 CE
“20th century Voltaire”
from Autobiography of Bertrand Russell

“when no answer comes from within to the problems and complexities of life, they ultimately mean very little. Outward circumstances are no substitute for inner experience.”

Carl Jung 1875 – 1961 CE
Insightful shamanistic scientist
from Memories, Dreams, Reflections

Themes: Medicine

“Modern medicine lays greater stress on cure than on prevention, i.e., endeavors to protect against unnatural conditions rather than to change the social environment.”

Ananda Coomaraswamy குமாரசுவாமி 1877 – 1947 CE
Perennial philosophy's Citizen of the World
from The Dance of Shiva (1918)

Themes: Medicine Health

“I didn't know that being religious meant health and cheerfulness.”

Hermann Hesse 1877 – 1962 CE

“Song brings us health, and color will heal wounds…therefore, I advise to keep more flowers. Plants wisely selected according to color are healing.”

Helena Roerich Елéна Ивáновна Рéрих 1879 – 1955 CE

“Just as a pearl is a sickness and at the same time the oyster's supreme accomplishment, so too I felt turmoil and fever in my blood, and at the same time a secret message”

Nikos Kazantzakis 1883 – 1957 CE via P. A. Bien
from Report to Greco

Themes: Medicine

“Health lies in action, and so it graces youth. To be busy is the secret of grace, and half the secret of content... Let us play is as good as Let us pray, and the results are more assured.”

Will Durant 1885 – 1981 CE
Philosophy apostle and popularizer of history's lessons
from Fallen Leaves

Themes: Pleasure Medicine

“What’s in a name? — practically everything… We give the stuff good names—moksha-medicine, reality revealer, a truth-and-beauty pill. And we know, by direct experience, that the good names are deserved.”

Aldous Huxley 1894 – 1963 CE
from Island

Themes: Health Medicine

“You are looking for a cure while I am concerned with prevention. As long as their are causes, there must also be results... If you want peace and harmony in the world, you must first have peace and harmony in your hearts and minds.”

Nisargadatta Maharaj 1897 – 1981 CE
Householder guru of non-duality
from I Am That

“True teaching can be on an individual basis only. The same medicine cannot be prescribed for all.”

Nisargadatta Maharaj 1897 – 1981 CE via Maurice Frydman
Householder guru of non-duality
from I Am That

“What is dangerous about tranquillizers is that whatever peace of mind they bring is packaged peace of mind. where you buy a pill and buy peace with it, you get conditioned to cheap solutions instead of deep ones.”

Max Lerner 1902 – 1992 CE
(Maxwell Alan)

Themes: Peace Medicine

“A medicine man has to be of the earth, somebody who reads nature like white men read a book.”

John Fire Lame Deer 1903 – 1976 CE via Richard Erdoes
from Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions

27. No Trace

“Meditation practice is just medicine… sometimes it’s necessary but you should not mistake medicine for food.”

Shunryu Suzuki Roshi 1904 – 1971 CE
from Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

“The primitive magician, the medicine man or shaman is not only a sick man, he is above all, a sick man who has been cured, who has succeeded in curing himself.”

Mircea Eliade 1907 – 1986 CE

Themes: Magic Medicine

“The anesthetic made possible fiendish human torments that transferred all the human pain to convalescence. With anesthetics, what was really new was convalescence.”

Marshall McLuhan 1911 – 1980 CE
from War and Peace in the Global Village

Themes: Medicine Health

“Good applied science in medicine, as in physics, requires a high degree of certainty about the basic facts at hand, and especially about their meaning, and we have not yet reached this point for most of medicine.”

Lewis Thomas 1913 – 1993 CE
Gestaltist of science and art
from Medusa and the Snail (1974)

Themes: Medicine

“as medicine becomes more advanced and the number of hospitals increases, the human body becomes frailer. The advance of the hospital is merely a barometer of the collapse of the human body... but for some reason everyone is celebrating progress in medicine”

Masanobu Fukuoka 福岡 正信 1913 – 2008 CE via Metreaud
from Road Back to Nature

Themes: Medicine

“Dying is easy. Living is a pain in the butt. It's like an athletic event. You've got to train for it. You've got to eat right. You've got to exercise. Your health account, your bank account, they're the same thing. The more you put in, the more you can take out. Exercise is king and nutrition is queen: together, you have a kingdom.”

Jack LaLanne 1914 – 2011 CE

Themes: Health Medicine

“If you get the message, hang up the phone. For psychedelic drugs are simply instruments, like microscopes, telescopes, and telephones. The biologist does not sit with eye permanently glued to the microscope, he goes away and works on what he has seen.”

Alan Watts 1915 – 1973 CE

Themes: Health Medicine

“the medicine of the discipline becomes a diet, the cure an addiction, and the raft a houseboat... liberation turns into just another social institution and dies of respectability”

Alan Watts 1915 – 1973 CE
from Psychotherapy East and West

“The minute something is wrong, we run to the doctor and see if we can't get a quick fix... Western culture tells us that if something does not please us, that if it feels disturbing or wrong to us, it should have an immediate antidote.”

Charlotte Joko Beck 1917 – 2011 CE
Authentic, pioneering Western Zen master

from Ordinary Wonder

Themes: Medicine

“New diseases like syphilis seemed to call for new and ‘stronger’ medicines; and this became one of the stock arguments for resorting to the Paracelsian chemical pharmacopeia and mystical medical philosophy… The swift development of European medical practice to levels of skill exceeding all other civilized traditions resulted.”

William Hardy McNeill 1917 – 2016 CE
Historian
from Plagues and Peoples, 1976

Themes: Medicine

“What is sickness? What is health? Both are distractions. Put them both aside and go forward.”

Huston Smith 1919 – 2016 CE

Themes: Health Medicine

“Psychoactive drugs may produce religious experiences. ...it is far less clear that they can produce religious lives.”

Huston Smith 1919 – 2016 CE

Themes: Illusion Medicine

“the dangers of prolonged contact with any poetry that seems to exceed what we most familiarly know of the the first-class are formidable... Used with moderation, a first-class verse is an excellent and usually fast-working form of heat therapy.”

J. D. Salinger 1919 – 2010 CE
from Raise High the Roof Beams, Seymour an Introduction

Themes: Poetry Medicine

“What conventional medicine means by 'incurable' is that a condition is not responsive to either drugs or surgery.”

Ralph Alan Dale 1920 – 2006 CE
Translator, author, visionary

Themes: Medicine

“Modern medicine is a negation of health. It isn’t organized to serve human health, but only itself, as an institution. It makes more people sick than it heals.”

Ivan Illich 1926 – 2002 CE
"an archaeologist of ideas"
from Medical Nemesis (1976)

Themes: Medicine Health

“The more time, toil, and sacrifice spent by a population in producing medicine as a commodity, the larger will be the by-product, namely, the fallacy that society has a supply of health locked away which can be mined and marketed.”

Ivan Illich 1926 – 2002 CE
"an archaeologist of ideas"
from Limits to Medicine: Medical Nemesis

Themes: Medicine

“No medicine cures what happiness cannot.”

Gabriel García Márquez 1927 – 2014 CE
(Gabo, Gabito)
The greatest Colombian

Themes: Health Medicine

“Reading quotes and words of wisdom from ancient and modern sages is like taking vitamins, a kind of psychological preventative medicine.”

Shan Dao 山道 1933 CE –

“People are fed by the food industry, which pays no attention to health, and are treated by the health industry, which pays no attention to food.”

Wendell Berry 1934 CE –

75. Greed

“You have to recover from the hangover of the previous medicine you were taking.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE

Themes: Medicine

19. All Methods Become Obstacles

“I'm so mean, I make medicine sick.”

Muhammad Ali 1942 – 2016 CE
(Cassius Clay)

Themes: Medicine Health

33. Know Yourself

“For many people, self-pity attaches to sickness like sticky glue, and the voice of ego asks, Why me?”

Mingyur Rinpoche 1975 CE –
Modern-day Mahasiddha

from In Love With the World

Themes: Medicine

“Switching from mother’s milk to goat’s milk and gruel weakened your children’s immune systems… we wanted to create the perfect place for humans but we accidentally created the perfect place for germs”

Yuval Harari יובל נח הררי‎ 1976 CE –
Israeli historian, professor, and philosopher

from Sapiens, A Graphic History Vol. 2

Themes: Medicine

“The loss of many traditional jobs in everything from art to healthcare will partly be offset by the creation of new human jobs. GPs who focus on diagnosing known diseases and administering familiar treatments will probably be replaced by AI doctors. But precisely because of that, there will be much more money to pay human doctors and lab assistants to do groundbreaking research and develop new medicines or surgical procedures.”

Yuval Harari יובל נח הררי‎ 1976 CE –
Israeli historian, professor, and philosopher

from 21 Lessons for the 21st Century (2018)

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