Fengyang Taoist Chinese Medicine Past And Present
Dong Feng asked every patient he cured of a major illness to plant five plum trees, and every patient with a minor illness to plant one plum tree. In just a few years the hill near Dong Feng’s house had become a plum tree woods.
Fengyang Taoist Chinese Medicine (Fengyang TCM) is a system of Chinese medicine dating back 1,750 years. It is a complete system of holistic healing that includes: herbal medicine (including high-end healing teas and herbal infusions), external medicine (powders, creams, etc.), Fengyang tai chi, Fengyang qi gong, long distance healing and tui na acupressure. All these pieces work together as equal parts of a whole; none of them are separate from the other. Handed down from practitioner to practitioner for more than 1,750 years — all the way back to Dong Feng himself in 220 AD — these ancient methods have long since been refined down to a science and perfected, and are still practiced today.
The Story Of Fengyang Chinese Medicine
Dong Feng, the founder of the Fengyang Chinese Medicine system, lived in Fengyang City on Lu Mountain in China during the Three Kingdoms period (220-280 AD). There he freely shared many of his powerful secrets on improving personal health and curing diseases with the locals, as many of them were sick and poor. Dong Feng, himself, is said to have lived to over 300 years old. Perhaps it is possible that his practices were able to greatly improve his health and longevity.
Dong Feng, courtesy name Junyi, was born in Houguan (now Minxian in Fujian Province). As a young man, he worked very hard to study the classic works and medicine of China, wanting to become a doctor to help the people. Later on by chance, he met a Taoist monk, who taught him Taoist practices. Not only did he become very skilled in medicine, he could also predict the weather, among other abilities. People regarded him as a celestial being with special powers.
Taoist practices are known to be beneficial in improving one’s health and wellness. Dong Feng was able to stay looking young for the rest of his life. According to legend, a young man who was born in the same town first met Dong Feng when he was in his forties. Fifty years later, when he came back to visit his hometown, he saw Dong Feng still looked the same as when they first met. Out of curiosity, he asked Dong Feng, “You were a middle-aged man when I was young. Now my hair has all turned white and you still look the same. Is it because you have achieved the Tao?” Dong Feng answered, “It is just by luck.” Throughout history, immortality has been the dream of many emperors and powerful people. When more and more people came to Dong Feng, wanting to get special medicine or to learn practices to achieve immortality, his life was greatly disturbed. He finally left his hometown, and started traveling around the country, helping people with his medical skills.
When he arrived at Jiaozhou (now Guangxi Province), the local governor, Shi Xie, had been in a coma for three days. Dong Feng treated him and nursed him back to health. This news spread quickly to the whole of southern China. Shi Xie and his family were very grateful. They built a tall building by their house for Dong Feng and provided him with delicious food. A year later, Dong Feng declined respectfully of Shi Xie’s invitation to stay longer, and continued his travel northward.
When he arrived at Haozhou (now Fengyang in Anhui Province), he saw that the locals were suffering greatly from poverty and diseases due to the war between the three countries. He was sympathetic of their situation, so he decided to settle down in a poor hilly village 18 miles south of the Phoenix Mountain. Considering local geology and weather conditions, he wanted to teach the locals advanced agricultural skills from southern China, and encouraged them to plant plum trees on the barren mountains to increase income. However, the locals were doubtful because they saw him as just a travelling doctor, and did not want to accept his advice.
Dong Feng thereby announced a rule: he would not charge his patients any money. However, every patient he cured who had a severe illness was asked to plant five plum trees on the hill next to his house, and every patient with a minor illness plant one plum tree. Because of his excellent skills and ethics, many patients from near and far came to seek his help. After just a few years, his patients had planted over 10,000 plum trees. The hill near Dong Feng’s house had become a plum tree woods. When the plums ripened, Dong Feng posted a note saying that anyone who wanted to buy plums could trade one bag of grains for one bag of plums. He then gave those grains to the poor. It was said that he helped 20-30,000 poor people every year.
During the Three Kingdoms period, Dong Feng’s powerful methods became well known in the Fengyang area. The four basic kinds of medicine from Dong Feng are: 1. Fengyang Ointment for Furuncle (boil), 2. Fengyang Medicated Liquor for Bruise, 3. Fengyang Medicinal Powder for Stopping Bleeding, and 4. Fengyang Medicine for Burns.
Dong Feng’s methods were summarized into a system called “Fengyang Health and Wellness Practices and Treatment Methods Using Qi and Pressure Points,” which was based on Feng’s deep medical knowledge, ancient Taoist teachings and Zen Buddhism practices. It remained in widespread use until the Ming Dynasty many centuries later. Even though many of the locals who practiced these methods were monks and the descendants of the military officers who helped establish the Ming Dynasty, they were suppressed when the new government took over, and could only secretly practice Feng’s methods.
After the fall of the Ming Dynasty in 1644, the rulers of the new Qing Dynasty tightened their grip on Fengyang to prevent rebellion. People could still only practice Dong Feng’s methods in secret. By the end of the Qing Dynasty in the early 1900s, almost everyone in Fengyang forgot how to practice Dong Feng’s ancient healing methods. The practice had almost been entirely destroyed.
Fortunately, some of Feng’s disciples moved to what is now called Guangdong Province, where his healing practices were passed down practitioner-to-practitioner, and continued to the present. There it is known as Medicine from Fengyang.
Fengyang TCM Today
Dr. Ming Wu is a doctor of Chinese medicine and 20th generation Fengyang TCM practitioner. Having been an apprentice since the age of seven under his father Muqing Wu, a 19th generation practitioner of the art, Ming Wu is the sole Fengyang practitioner in the United States. He is also a tai chi and qi gong Master.
Dr. Wu has received authentic Yang Style Tai Chi instruction from his Sifu Grandmaster Gin Soon Chu, a disciple of Yang Sau Chung, and has been carefully instructing students in qi gong and tai chi in the U.S. for over 26 years. He has dedicated his life to healing and teaching others how to live healthy lives and remain present in the moment by practicing Chuang Tzu’s teachings.
“30% of healing is the doctor’s job, such as prescribing medicine,” says Wu. “70% is the patient’s job. They have to learn how to change their lifestyle — prevention — and learn how to take care of themselves. The patient is our healing partner. We’re going to help them heal and teach them how to stay healthy — find the root cause, not just the symptom. Symptoms will return indefinitely if the root cause is never addressed.”
Tai chi and qi gong can improve all areas of a person’s health including, but not limited to: balance, bone and soft tissue (muscle and tendon) strength, mental clarity, problems with stiffness and reducing pain, normalizing blood pressure, gastrointestinal disorders, arthritis and back pain. Using slow movements to help bring awareness to every part of the body, tai chi and qi gong help one to remain present in the moment. When you are aware of your body in the moment, that is mindfulness.
“You not only say or think ‘live in the moment,’ you do it,” says Dr. Wu. “You practice it. It is a practical experience. When you come into the room, you will feel the group energy and experience it for yourself. You incorporate this new awareness into all areas of your life.
“If someone tells you, ‘Honey is delicious,’ or you read it in a book or see it on the Internet, but you’ve never tasted honey yourself, you have to taste it before it will become your knowledge. Then it’s your wisdom, your experience. You will remember the taste. That’s practical knowledge.”
According to Dr. Wu, the practice of tai chi and qi gong focuses on strengthening the mind-body-spirit connection. “When everything becomes one, that’s what being in the moment is. You free yourself to feel the unlimited energy within, and you feel amazing. When you open up to the inside, then you can connect to Earth and the universe, and energy will always flow. That’s what we call living in the moment.”
In China, as well as in the United States, it is very important for Fengyang TCM doctors to practice tai chi and qi gong to serve as an example and inspire their patients with something they can see with their own eyes. Doctors trying to help many patients who are stressed out may be prone to energy depletion, and need to take care of themselves before taking care of others. By grounding themselves and feeling connected, their energy will flow so patients around them will feel calm and peaceful and get better.
“The Taoist concept of Wu Wei means ‘effortless power,’” concludes Dr. Wu. “You cultivate effortless power by doing tai chi and qi gong and living in the moment. When you do this every day people around you feel better without you doing anything. It is a daily practice.”
Dr. Ming Wu is the director of Wu Healing Center and Taoist Institute of TCM with offices in W. Hartford, CT and Maynard, MA. He offers private consultations as well as distance and in-person classes on all levels. Text or call 978-790-8888 or visit www.wuhealing.com.
Dr. Wei Li received her Ph.D. in Biology from Tufts University. She joined Taoist Institute of TCM and Wu Healing Center in 2014 with an interest in promoting the Taoist health and wellness culture worldwide.