OF PULSE TAKING
to Chinese physicians there were 6 points on each of the patient's
2 wrists where one could listen for the pulsation of the passing
blood. The physician lightly placed three fingertips on the patient's
wrist until he felt three "superficial" beats and then he pressed
down with the fingertips until he felt three so-called "profound"
beats. Each of the three beats was then evaluated to determine
if it was Ying or Yang.
together they formed two hexagrams that, when compared with one
another revealed the patient's state of health. In effect, the
prevalence of Ying or Yang lines indicates the illness and tells
which type of energy is responsible for the energy imbalance in
Each point on the pulse is correlated to one of the bodily organs,
thus indicating which of the organs has been affected by too much
Ying or too much Yang.
comparing as well the way in which the lines were arranged in
the two hexagrams, the physician decided which of the symbols
he could try to modify in order to obtain a more harmonic disposition
of the two polarities, so that the two symbols
be distributed equally between the two hexagrams and uniformly
within each hexagram.
this line of analysis, the physician, decided the diagnosis and
the map of the body, to determine where he should insert the needles
(always consulting the I Ching which told him the correct point
and what would be the effect of the treatment).
(To think that for centuries the examination of the pulse was
the only diagnostic technique that could be used with married
women! In fact the reigning sexual taboos precluded the physician
from seeing the woman, who showedhim, from behind a curtain, only
her hand s and wrists and, what's more, the wrists and hands were
the only places in which the physician was authorized, in these
cases, to insert the needles).
medicine, this approach to reality was applied in many other scientific
areas. The Chinese emperors of then spent enormous sums to finance
these studies that, taken as a whole, constitute an enormous effort
to construct a map of all of the phenomena the universe, using
the I Ching as a kind of decodifier, capable of translating observations
made on elements of reality easily observable by man into information
about other phenomena which man was incapable of observing directly.
Thus the flavour of herbs, translated into hexagrammatic sequences
of Ying and Yang, furnished indications about the energetic qualities
present in plants.
In the same way some astronomers, observed for years the changes
in the pores of the skin on their bellies and reduced them to
a map of the heavens on which were marked the movements of stars
which were able to be observed directly only in very recent times
with the most powerful telescope. In summation, we could say that
the taoist used the I Ching as a map for the interpretation of
reality, convinced that the diversity of polar sequences was such
a fundamental piece of data that it could be used as the element
which revealed the characteristics of all things.