The Heart of Kyo-Jitsu Diagnosis in Eastern Medicine an excerpt from Tzvika Calisar's "The Heart of Kyo-Jitsu Diagnosis in Eastern Medicine"
As people who grew up in the west and had a western education, and now take an interest in eastern culture, we need first of all to understand that the study of eastern philosophy and the healing arts that evolved out of eastern thinking requires us to change something in our perception. Since our perception of things is based on the criteria to which we are accustomed, we tend to "bend" things for our convenience in the way that we are used to acting and thinking. We study in western schools, following a western schedule and western examination systems. Our lives are different from life in the east and our way of looking at things is different. Therefore, it is very important that we do not try to "adapt" these healing arts to ourselves; if we have chosen to treat people using a method whose source is in the east, we must examine carefully the philosophy and the life from which it originated. When I say this in various forums, I immediately sense resistance from the listeners. Some of them even criticize the Japanese way of life in the last century, or the Japanese and Orientals in general.
It is not within my ability, my role or my wish to criticize and judge either the east or the west, but I must emphasize and reiterate the importance of a thorough and profound understanding of the method of treatment we use and the philosophical and practical sources from which it sprang. This is a basic condition. If we understand, our entrance to the ki-world and the meridians will be easier and smoother. In this article I will attempt to describe some of the vital principles for the understanding and application of Tao Shiatsu therapy, which originates from Japan.
The concepts kyo and jitsu, which are the basis of eastern medicine, may be unclear or confusing to therapists of western origin. This confusion stems mainly from a basic error in understanding these concepts - an error that leads to further errors, particularly in kyo-jitsu diagnosis.
The aim of this article is to clarify anew the terms kyo and jitsu, and thence to show that the kyo meridian cannot be diagnosed and located by the conscious mind.
We know from Shizuto Masunaga that "kyo is the whole and jitsu is the part. Kyo is also yin and jitsu is yang". Following this, Tao Shiatsu master Ryokyu Endo adds (in his book, Tao Shiatsu): "Yang (jitsu) is what is perceived by the conscious mind, and kyo (yin) is not perceived by the conscious mind". A good example of this can be seen by looking at the portrait of a person. The person is perceived and identified by the conscious mind - yang, while the background is identified and perceived as yin. This identification of the background occurs in the subconscious mind. What is this consciousness? One of the first functions of the conscious mind is to distinguish between the "self" and the "other". In the case of a therapist and a patient, the conscious mind is what enables us to separate ourselves, the therapists, from the patients. Now let us go back to the words of the masters: If kyo (yin) cannot be identified by the conscious mind, how can we diagnose kyo in the patient? When a western person thinks of the terms kyo-jitsu or yin-yang, he might easily interpret them as relative concepts, such as yin is negative and yang is positive; kyo is less and jitsu is more; kyo is soft and jitsu is hard. Many books try to convey the principle of yin and yang in this way. However, this is a classification that divides and separates - something very common in western, two-dimensional thinking ever since the time of Descartes. If we perceive the idea of yin-yang in this dichotomous way, we err in interpreting eastern philosophy. It is not our "fault": we can only perceive and interpret things with the tools we possess. The entire western scientific approach is based on such thinking. Therefore it is important for us to understand the gap between the true meaning of kyo-jitsu and their interpretation by a western, two-dimensional comparative approach.
As the masters Masunaga and Endo explained, kyo and jitsu are the part and the whole, or the subconscious and the conscious mind, in harmony. Their meaning cannot be grasped in terms of less/more, soft/hard, protruding/submerged. Why is this important? Because it is impossible to diagnose kyo-jitsu using terms such as less/more, soft/hard, protruding/ submerged - which are divisive terms of the conscious mind. We may also encounter questions such as: "Which meridian is more in kyo? Which is more in jitsu?", revealing that the approach of the one who asks is based on a comparative viewpoint.
Let us try to examine the concepts kyo and jitsu and the diagnosis of meridians from a truly eastern point of view, from within a state of Tao. Is the diagnosis of the meridians based on a divisive and searching approach? In the following lines I will attempt to clarify the true meaning of kyo-jitsu and the meaning of true diagnosis.
For example, what is the meaning of information obtained from pressing on the Hara? Is a soft, deep meridian really kyo? Is a hard meridian jitsu?
The unequivocal answer is no. This diagnosis stems from the sense of touch. With the sense of touch we identify an object. When we press we feel if it is soft or hard. The sense of touch also helps to make us aware of our existence - facing the other or facing material that we touch. The sense of touch is connected to the conscious mind, the ego, and therefore it is not possible for us to feel the whole through it, but only parts of the whole.
"Please close your eyes for a while and try to feel your body. After a few seconds it will be hard for us to feel the body as a whole" (from Tao Shiatsu, Ryokyu Endo). Our conscious mind will always feel only part of the body, but never the whole. Eastern medicine is holistic. That is to say, it deals with the effect on the whole body - physical, emotional and energetic - and not just on part of it.
The aim of shiatsu is not to manipulate the body; the aim is to release negative energy that is stuck in the meridians and might cause disease. We can perform manipulations on part of the body using the sense of touch, through physical pressure, but without connecting with the ki or the whole body. Hence, it is not possible to diagnose ki and meridians by the sense of touch. Through yang-consciousness we can connect only to part of the body in the ki-field. That is the meaning of the sense of touch: it cannot serve as a means of affecting the whole body.
The reason for this is that the function of the conscious mind is always to separate the self from the other and to identify the object. If we have no comparative consciousness we cannot identify the object. And when we deal with identification we cannot connect to the whole.
This being so, how then, do we diagnose?
While western medicine is based on science and research, eastern medicine is based on a life philosophy that unites all the areas of everyday life in which the terms kyo-jitsu, yin-yang and the five elements are prevalent. These are not just abstract concepts or philosophy; ki really exists and there really are meridians. It is written in the sources: "An excess of yin becomes yang, an excess of yang becomes yin". And indeed, when a meridian is kyo for a long time, it turns into jitsu, and when a jitsu meridian is jitsu for a long time, it turns into kyo. In reality and in practice there is harmony between the philosophy and the meridian and the ki.
The word kyo comes from the Chinese character ko-ku, meaning "emptiness". The character ko became kyo. The ideal spiritual state, according to Chinese or Tao philosophy, is a state of emptiness. When we work out of ego-consciousness, our heart is in jitsu, that is, in a state of yang. In other words, the comparative approach is in conflict with nature, because it creates separation and prevents us from working out of the emptiness.
Endo says: "When our heart is empty, without consciousness, we see the kyo meridian clearly. There is one meridian out of the 14 that unites with absolute nature or the universal ki, and that is the kyo meridian". A heart that is empty sees the kyo. A brain that is empty recognizes the emptiness. This is not philosophy; it is concrete and practical. This is how the kyo meridian is diagnosed.
With the help of such a diagnosis and with the right treatment, the symptoms can be cleared up. Endo adds: "Master Masunaga diagnosed kyo and jitsu from a state of emptiness, and so did all the masters before him, since the days of Lao-Tse. This is the heart of diagnosis in eastern medicine".
The spirit over 2,500 years has been handed down in the tradition from generation to generation and from teacher to student. From the time of Lao-Tse to the Yellow Emperor and to the present day this spirit of understanding of the tradition has been preserved and passed on. We learn to diagnose first of all by observing the teacher: this observation allows the spirit to pass through the master, who received it from his teacher. When we observe the teacher, we witness the master's heart.
As we saw above, we cannot diagnose kyo-jitsu with our conscious mind, nor can we identify the meridians in this way, because the meridians are not physical matter. It is a common error to try to locate a meridian with the help of a map or anatomical measurements. The meridian, by its very nature as a channel of ki or life-energy, constantly changes its position and is not to be found in one definite place: meridians exist as ki, respond to our intention and our heart, and not to our ego-consciousness. They can be identified only in a state of unity between the therapist and the patient.
According to Endo: "In the ki-field there is no separation between therapist and patient, nor between past, present and future". Do you think this is philosophy? No, it is the reality of ki. "The relative world is a projection of our consciousness", adds Endo.
Therefore, when our ego-consciousness disappears, there is no relative world. When we press on the hara with our primal sense and not with the sense of touch, we will not feel the object as soft or hard: in this state we identify the meridian with our heart, and see it reflected in our heart. This is the way to see the meridian: a meridian is not part of the physical body, it is a channel for the flow of ki. And again, because the meridian has no physical existence, it cannot be identified physically. Even if we try to imagine the meridian as a physical line, we will be trapped in an illusion.
The meaning of Masunaga's words: "Kyo is the whole", in that kyo is the meridian that is connected to the whole of nature. The kyo meridian, the "emptiness" meridian, is connected to the universe, the whole, according to Endo. Kyo does not just mean emptiness: it also represents the desire and the need to be filled with ki, the need of all beings to live an active and healthy life. Health means that the kyo meridian changes constantly, because of the movement between yin and yang, just like in nature or in simple activities that the body performs. By definition nature is not static: it changes and fluctuates, moves and flows, and so does our body and our energy. When kyo becomes fixed on one meridian and does not change, it causes physical symptoms and illness. Therefore Lao-Tse said: "People will be healthy by uniting with nature".
Thus, we have defined the way to diagnose the kyo meridian. Because kyo is identified with a heart that is empty, we have to free ourselves from the separation between therapist and patient, and connect with the whole. This is not done by using judgment and the conscious mind. All well and good, but how do we do it???
In order to teach every student of shiatsu to do this, l will present here one of the basic principles of Tao Shiatsu work: empathic imagination. In fact, empathic imagination is the language of Tao Shiatsu. Let me explain.
First, let us look at the differences between the eastern and western definitions of the words "imagination" and "empathy". In the west, the word empathy means sharing the feelings of another person. The western meaning does not include empathy for inanimate objects or nature, for example, a stone or a mountain. This is because, from the western point of view, there is a clear division between man and nature, between the heart and matter. Therefore, western culture does not recognize the heart of the matter. In eastern culture it is different: nature has a heart, energy and a frequency, and there is no division between spirit-heart and matter. Ki is what connects them, ki contains both of them. Ki is energy, life and spirit; it is the basis of all the physical and psychological phenomena, the basis of the entire universe.
All entities, including inanimate objects, possess ki, a heart, and selfhood. The individual is always part of the whole and therefore every individual entity also contains all the other entities in the ki-world. Empathy in Tao Shiatsu is not directed only at the emotions of another human being, or an emotion that the therapist feels separately from and towards the patient. Empathy is towards the actual life of the patient, his entire body - the physical and energetic - including the subconscious. Empathy towards the ki of the patient means unity of the heart and the body, and connection with the subconscious.
In the west we use the word "imagination" almost synonymously with "illusion". But in the ki-field imagination has a different, much more important, meaning. Ki is ruled by the imagination. What you imagine exists in the ki-field or in the ki-world. We may even say that what you cannot imagine does not exist in the ki-world. Can you believe that? Can you imagine it? Please don't say: "That's imaginary". It is reality. That is how we work in Tao Shiatsu. The method is based on the use of empathic imagination, which causes most effective energetic movement, through pressure on the meridians. The correct use of imagination gives the therapist the approach to the meridian, and it responds to the heart of the therapist. We can treat the meridian when our empathic imagination and our body movements are synchronized.
Thus, imagination is of the greatest importance in the identification and diagnosis of meridians, because we can identify a meridian only by using empathic imagination. In Tao Shiatsu only two kinds of empathic imagination have been defined. One is to imagine where the receiver wants to be pressed most; the second is to imagine how the patient feels during the pressure (and not only during the pressure; try to imagine it at any time). If the therapist imagines where the receiver wants to be pressed most, simultaneously keeps imagining how the patient feels and constantly maintains these while not thinking about himself or anything else (the wish to succeed, and so forth), then after years of practice the therapist will be free of his dependence on the sense of touch while pressing, and will begin to be free of ego-consciousness during the treatment. What will happen then is that the therapist will begin to see clearly the patient's kyo meridian reflected in his own heart; he will clearly see the one meridian that is connected to the whole of nature at that moment, that is the kyo meridian. When the therapist presses the kyo meridian, ki spreads throughout the body of the patient. This kind of response occurs only when one presses on the kyo meridian, and not on any other meridian. Through treatment of the kyo meridian the symptoms will disappear.
Thus Masunaga and Endo diagnose purely by observation. This kind of diagnosis is called Bo-Shin - looking with the heart. This is diagnosis by means of ki, that is, from the viewpoint of eastern philosophy. This philosophy is well grounded in the reality of ki, and it always comes from the heart, not from the head. And it is only through empathic imagination that we can attain the state of Tao, which does not separate the self from the other in the ki-world.
And what is this heart? It is the heart that aspires to give to the other what is best for him. It is a heart that wants to feel one hundred percent empathy all the time. A heart that aspires to a state of an empty brain. A heart that hopes to free itself from the ego, which always wants to take something from the outside world. The heart of the therapist is truly the heart of eastern medicine.
Kyo is not just a written philosophy. It is part of our way of life. And Tao Shiatsu treatment will always cause us to experience it, and thus to experience Tao - the source of everything.
Questions and Answers
Q: Is it possible to find one meridian with more kyo and one with less kyo at the same time?
A: The meaning of the term "kyo" is completely different from the concepts of more or less ki. Kyo is only one meridian, that is connected to the whole, to the emptiness. It contains the largest potential for movement. When the kyo meridian is reflected in our hearts, we see nothing else; therefore, there is no room for comparison of more or less. Comparison, remember, comes from the conscious mind, so it has no place in diagnosis in eastern medicine.
Q: Is there a fixed, permanent link between kyo and the symptoms it creates?
A: The kyo and jitsu system is essential for our health. It creates healthy movement between yin and yang, and exists in harmony with the flow of nature. However when excessive amounts of Jaki (negative, disharmonious energy) accumulate in the body it can lead to the kyo pattern becoming fixated in a particular meridian and then symptoms associated with that meridian arise. The Kyo meridian can also be seen then as the meridian through which the body most strongly tries to release jaki or convert it into Seiki (positive, harmonious energy).
In many schools around the world they teach that certain symptoms indicate kyo in one meridian or another. But I want to emphasize again, that is a western way of teaching, based solely on statistics, or on clinical experience from thousands of years ago. It is important to understand that we can hardly rely today on such ancient clinical experience, because although the way of thinking and analysis has been preserved, the world has changed: the people, the air, the food, the water, the technology. For example, is a patient who suffered from lower back pains 3,000 years ago the same as a patient today, who perhaps works in a computer company and spends 14 hours a day sitting in front of a computer screen? Can we assume that kyo will be found in the same meridian in the case of these two people? The answer, of course, is no.
In addition, kyo can pass from one meridian to another between treatments, and sometimes even in the course of one treatment.
Q: In order to attain a state where the heart is empty, do we need to make efforts or the opposite, to cease all efforts?
A: Our effort should be to aim with all our heart to do our best for the patient, and of course, to imagine unceasingly "where the patient wants to be pressed most". The effort, in fact, is to adhere to the path, to Tao, and in so doing to receive the tradition that has been handed down to students for 5,000 years. The effort and the hard work are to free ourselves of the ego (during the treatment), to stop judging and wanting to succeed, and at every moment to try to imagine how the patient feels and not how we feel.
Q: Is it possible in Tao Shiatsu to release the patient of all his jaki?
A: In Tao Shiatsu we can help the kyo meridian to release a larger quantity of jaki by working with the super vessels, which are meridians discovered by Master Endo. By working with the super vessels and the kyo, the jaki is released and becomes seiki. Another effective way that Master Endo discovered is work on 18 special points called SST (super vessel specific tsubo). Through these tsubo we can quickly release jaki from specific areas in the body, and turn part of the jaki into seiki. However, it is hard to release a person of all his jaki. It is almost impossible, because we have very large accumulations of it from the day we were born and even before. Nevertheless, through effective treatment and correct diagnosis we can, in time, release a great deal of jaki.
It is not realistic to find a person without jaki, just as it is not realistic to see a perfect person.
Q: If it is hard for the therapist to reach the stage of diagnosis, is there another way to give effective treatment?
A: Yes, in Tao Shiatsu there are several ways to work on the kyo meridian without kyo-jitsu diagnosis. We teach a few types of specific treatment of the kyo: tsubo treatment, pattern treatment and random treatment. In fact, the basic Tao Shiatsu treatment also aims to work on the kyo meridian, without any diagnosis. If we take tsubo treatment, for example, we will try to empathetically imagine where the patient wants to be pressed most or what he most wants us to treat. Tsubo is connected to the kyo meridian. In fact, the tsubo crosses some branch (vertical main, sub meridian, ring or spiral - see details below) of the kyo meridian, and therefore is connected to it. By "tsubo" I do not mean the tsubo that one learns by names or numbers, as in acupuncture, but the way tsubo is understood in Tao Shiatsu.
This is the point that the patient, in his subconscious mind, most wants us to reach and treat.
Q: How can I know that I am diagnosing with an empty heart and not with my conscious mind? How can I know whether I have identified the true kyo meridian?
A: When we stop judging what is good and what is bad, what is hard and what is soft, what is deep and what is superficial, when we start treating with Sesshin (state of giving heart) and with empathic imagination; when we leave our ego out of the treatment - only then will the kyo meridian be reflected in our heart.
We can verify whether the meridian we have reached is really kyo if we press the tsubo of that meridian in the hara. When we do this, the symptom will disappear or grow weaker. Another way: when we press on the kyo meridian, the receiver's whole body subconsciously relaxes and ki spreads throughout the body.
Q: If I have not diagnosed the kyo correctly and I work on another meridian, is this effective?
A If we work on a meridian that is not the kyo meridian, but find tsubo on it with empathic imagination, then we will really reach and work on the kyo meridian itself. The meridians flow in the body in several forms: vertical main meridians (according to Masunaga), sub meridians, ring meridians and spiral meridians. Therefore, if we work on a different meridian from kyo and seek tsubo with empathic imagination (where the patient most wants us to press), there is a chance that we will treat the kyo meridian that crosses the meridian we are working on. Working on the tsubo should be effective if we are careful: we must work with the help of the super vessel, with empathic imagination. We must go out as soon as the meridian and ki-body respond, otherwise there will be damage to the ki and the meridian. If we work this way, the treatment will be effective. However, we must always aspire to make the treatment as effective and as quick as possible, that means to treat directly through super vessel and kyo meridians.
My patient has chronic kyo in the kidney meridian. In one of the treatments I found that the kyo had passed to the large intestine. What should I have treated: the chronic kyo or the "new" kyo?
We have to treat the meridian that is kyo at that moment. If we take the example you have given, in the large intestine, at that given moment, that was the kyo meridian. If you treated the kidney meridian, it would not be the kyo of that moment.
It is important to understand that the kyo meridian can and should change and therefore, when the treatment is right and effective, kyo will change. Therefore there is no point in fixing on a previous diagnosis. Life changes from one moment to the next, and so do the meridians.
Q: In Tao Shiatsu you speak of the spirit and of a 2,500 year old tradition, but the things you present here are totally different from what we learned and read about the principles of Chinese medicine. Isn't there a contradiction here?
A: I don't think that kyo-jitsu diagnosis and Tao Shiatsu are at all different from the tradition of Chinese medicine. On the contrary, do you think that the Chinese masters thousands of years ago reached their diagnosis through statistics and conclusions? Anyone who is really connected to the ki-world knows that everything changes all the time. Life changes, and with it the meridians and the symptoms. Master Endo often says, "Meridians are a living thing, and this is ki!".
We tend to think that the patient is something like the meridians chart hanging on the wall of our clinic. We have to understand that these charts express the clinical experience of that Chinese master of thousands of years ago, experience that matched his period.
Q: Do you think that the Chinese master who lived 2,500 years ago didn't see that those meridians that passed through the legs also passed through the arms, and vice versa?
A: Already during the time of Master Masunaga it was less effective to work along the "classic" meridians in the arms and legs, because kyo had changed, and Masunaga found that the treatment would be more effective if the work on the kyo meridian included the arms and legs. Therefore he sketched new charts with additional meridians according to his experience. Unfortunately, in our times the symptoms and the kyo meridian are becoming more and more chronic, and we have to work more efficiently. Therefore, Master Endo developed the method most suited to our period and according to the need of the patients. We work on the main meridian (according to Masunaga), on the sub meridian, on the ring or spiral meridian. But our form of diagnosis is in no way different from the diagnosis of the ancient Chinese masters, in fact, it is the very heart of traditional Chinese medicine. This is the ki-world and not a world of texts, charts and conclusions, ego and judgment.
Q: After the treatment, is the kyo meridian supposed to be filled up?
A: Since the role of the kyo meridian is not to be filled up or emptied but to release the patient's jaki, if the kyo meridian is correctly diagnosed the treatment is effective and releases the jaki from the body. Afterwards the kyo meridian will change, but there is no situation when there is no kyo-jitsu in any of the meridians. As I said, kyo-jitsu is a system that is vital for our body - unless we are perfect, and I don't know anyone who is.
Finally, I will attempt to sum up in a few words what I want to say to therapists who practice shiatsu, eastern medicine, and to the readers of this book. In order to engage in the healing arts from the east, we must start to see from the angle of vision that was the source of this method. I do not claim that we have to turn ourselves into Chinese or Japanese, but in order to diagnose kyo-jitsu correctly, to treat the meridians and enter into the ki-world, we have to change our western perception to some extent. In other words, not to look and decide with the ego, not to judge, but to try to imagine where the receiver wants to be pressed most. Our focus as therapists should be one hundred percent on the well-being of the patient. And this we learn only through observing and working with a qualified teacher, who studied with a teacher.
In conclusion, I wish to express my immense gratitude and appreciation to my teachers, the Master of Tao Shiatsu Mr. Ryokyu Endo and Mrs. Mayu Endo Sensei, to their teacher, Master Masunaga and the entire 2,500 year old tradition of Tao that has been handed down from teacher to student.