The Master of Looking Diagnosis

Publisher: NAJOM
By Bunzo Takamatsu
Date: 2002-07

I found it strange that the first thing Ikeda Sensei said in his seminar in San Francisco, in March, was that we should be students. Are we not students when we come to seminars? Why does he make sure of it? In Zen principle there are three stages of learning: “Shu”(Keeping), “Ha”(Breaking), and “Ri”(Reaping). Maybe he is trying to tell us to concentrate on Shu stage where a student is supposed to learn with a non-critical mind. Only after a long learning period of Shu, requiring great patience, can one go on to the next stage, Ha. At the Ha stage, a student is ready to think critically and start judging teachings by the foundation he cultivated at the Shu stage. Then, finally at the Ri stage, he will reap. He starts having his own style. No matter what style he has, at this stage anything he does works. Others may call him a master at this point.

Perhaps what Ikeda Sensei meant when he said, “Study as a student!” was that we should listen to him and absorb what he says with a non-critical mind.

I think I learned a great deal from this seminar. Since I am not a good note taker, I usually do not take notes. To make matters worse, I don’t have much confidence in my memory power. As a result, I forgot most of the things I learned at the seminar. Yet, I found the seminar worthwhile because it reassured me that Oriental medicine is more than complementary to Western medicine.

I liked the way the Sensei explained symptoms, physiology, etiology, and healing mechanisms only in terms of Oriental medi- cine. He does not think it is a good idea to mix the concept of Oriental medicine with that of Western medicine.

It’s been over a month and half since the seminar, and there are a few things I still remember. I believe that, having remembered them, these things are important to share.

“Ho (tonification) is the foundation of acu- puncture treatments.”

The basic premise of etiology is Kyo (defi- ciency) of a particular meridian. Diseases can be divided into two categories: yin deficient-yang excess, and yang deficient-yin excess. In case of the former, we do Ho on the Yin meridian. In case ofthe latter, we do Ho on the Yang meridian. Thus Ho is the foundation of treatment. “Some method of Ho (tonifying) can result in Sha (sedating).”

For inflammation, Ho treatment is usually not recommended. However, we can do Chinetsu-kyu (which is Ho) on the spot and the spot sweats, which is, in effect, a Sha treatment. This paradoxical treatment is also used in macrobiotic therapy. When there is NAJOM a high fever due to a common cold, we prescribe Daikon drink #1. This is a hot bancha tea with grated daikon and soy sauce. You are supposed to drink this right before bedtime. During sleep you sweat a lot and by morning the fever is gone. This also is an example of Ho method but Sha in effect.

“Comparative pulse diagnosis will not give you the clear picture.”

It is not so difficult to decide the most deficient meridian by comparing the wrist pulses. But this method does not give the deeper mechanism of what is happening. Instead he recommends examining each pulse tojudge what is going on. Ikeda Sensei says that if we make it a habit to relate the pulse to the symptom the patient has, we will master the pulse diagnosis. I find this very difficult. My request to Sensei is that he write a modern version of “Manual of Pulse Diagnosis.” It will be a great help for acu- puncturists like us who are not fortunate enough to have a master and yet struggle to improve our technique.

“See patients as though you were to see them for the rest of their lives.” I have been practicing in Dallas for the last 15 years and some of my patients have been coming constantly. I feel like I know their physical condition like my own. They consider me a primary care physician and consult me first about their concerns. Because of their trust in me, I take their health problems very seriously. I find this is an ideal relationship between a patient and a doctor. However, as Ikeda Sensei warned us, we should be able to pick up any signs of an imminent problem with a patient’s health condition. If we miss it we lose their trust.

“Looking diagnosis is an inspiration.”

It is often said that the supreme form of diagnosis is Looking diagnosis. Pulse diagnosis and abdominal diagnosis are impressive. The ability to diagnose a patient at a glance is quite a feat. It is characteristic of Oriental medicine and usually attributed only to masters. The heart of Looking diagnosis IS not in a careful observing but in an inspiration you get through a glancing. How do we acquire this type of inspiration? Only through the steady training we accumulate through the practice of acupuncture. He warns us not to get into qi gong, meditation, or other types of mystical training in order to obtain this ability. In this respect, Ikeda Sensei is very orthodox. He may be saying that we should take our time to complete the “Shu” phase. If the root, “Shu,” is substantial, “Ha” phase will come in time and then “Ri” stage opens up and a big flower blooms.

Takamatsu Bunzo, DOM, LAc, graduatedfrom the Kototama Institute, Santa Fe, NM in 1982. He has been practicing in Dallas since 1988. His practice consists of acupuncture and moxibustion with some Sotai therapy and macrobiotic counseling