What do my personal finances have to do with Classical Chinese herbal formulas?

chinese medicine creativityAs part of my February Year of Sagely Living commitment, I am listening to Steven Covey’s Principle Centred Leadership on audiobook. It’s a wonderful theory Mr. Covey has put forward and I look forward to discussing it in more detail here on the blog. There’s something else I’ve been doing that I didn’t announce as a part of my February YSL commitment. I didn’t mention it as an official part, because I wasn’t sure how it would fit with the overall theme of the month and I wasn’t sure if it really had anything to do with Chinese medicine!

As I prepare for launching my professional career, I’ve been trying to clean up my personal finances. I have plenty of debt (mostly from school) and I haven’t always attended to my financial health. I’ve tried in the past to keep to a budget, to clean up my credit and to live frugally, but I haven’t always been particularly successful.

It seems in this year of the Rat, full of energy for cutting away old habits and launching new ones, I have been given new life for this part of my life. Within the last month, I was introduced to the financial philosophy of Dave Ramsey and his Total Money Makeover. Despite my disagreement with some of Mr. Ramsey’s political and social views, his financial philosophy rings pure with truth and as a family, we have committed ourselves to it.

Dave Ramsey offers old time advice. Save money for a rainy day. Don’t rely on others to take care of you! Look out for your future. Small sacrifices now reap huge benefits in the future. A penny saved is a penny earned (and then some, in certain cases!) Often simple thoughts are dismissed as sound in a time OTHER than the one we are living in. They are thought to be interesting, but antiquated. In the financial world, it seems that savvy modern people use credit to their advantage. They game the market. Sometimes it seems that there’s a latent idea that savvy, hip, and especially young people don’t worry about tomorrow – or at best, they employ some misunderstood principle of the “Law of Attraction” to bring them what they will need when their gambles don’t pay off. Dave Ramsey, with lots of huffing and puffing, brings a timely and easily understood message to all of the above – don’t be stupid. Take care of yourself.

For me, the philosophy resonates very strongly with what I’m learning about Chinese herbal formulas. Funny, right? The philosophy is, in essence – don’t try to get savvy and creative with things until you are absolutely certain you understand the principles. This is such an unpopular idea that it’s probably hard for many people to comprehend.

But, please, learn the principles! Learn them so thoroughly that you’re loathe to leave their stead. With Dave Ramsey you learn simple principles – no credit, pay cash, focus on debt payoff and preparation for the future first, delay gratification, focus on a simple and principle focused life. He teaches a program and that program, when lived, drives the principles very deep indeed. Eventually you will run into situations that the program didn’t give you specific practices to implement – and that’s ok. Because you know the principles so well that the creativity you spontaneously exhibit is absolutely in line with the wisdom you’ve received.

The same is true of formulas, at least how I am learning them from Dr. Versluys. For the next ten or fifteen years, I will have one focus with regards to Chinese herbalism. Learn, use and seek to understand the classical formulas. This does include original modifications, modification formulas, and the basic formula combination principles that are apparent within Zhang Zhong Jing’s writing. Sometimes these formulas will be applied to situations that aren’t exactly spelled out and that’s ok. As the formulas and their language become utterly embedded in my psyche – creativity will naturally emerge.

That creativity will be absolutely rooted in undeniable wisdom, it will have grown naturally, with no attempt to rush, with no worry that the basics won’t suffice.

About Eric Grey

Hi - I'm the founder of this site and the primary master of all functions here. When I'm not writing, you can find me reaching out to the Chinese Medicine community across the web and in my own backyard. I currently teach Chinese herbs at my alma mater, the National College of Natural Medicine. Additionally, I'm the founder of Watershed Wellness, a thriving local clinic in Southeast Portland in Oregon. No matter where I'm working, you'll find my focus on the Classical approach to Chinese medicine laced throughout everything I do.

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