Saturday, February 5, 2011

Perfected Master Sun (Sun Simiao)

Sun Simiao, also known as Perfected Master Sun
The 3rd day of the first Chinese lunar month is the Birthday of Perfected Master Sun (孫真人聖誕 Sun Zhenren Shengdan). Perfected Master Sun (孫真人 Sun Zhenren) refers to Sun Simiao (孫思邈) (581-682), a famous physician and herbalist of the Sui and Tang dynasty. He was a practitioner of Taoism and integrated it with Buddhism and Confucianism. He was the author of many important texts, but the two most significant ones were Essential Formulas for Emergencies Worth a Thousand Pieces of Gold (備急千金要方 Beiji Qianjin Yaofang) and Supplement to the Formulas Worth a Thousand Pieces of Gold (千金翼方 Qianjin Yifang). These two encyclopedic works are considered a very important achievement in the history of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Aside from being a valuable collection of over six thousand herbal formulas (along with the proper methods for their collection, processing, categorization, and storage), there are also important treatises on acupuncture, moxibustion, manipulative massage therapy, exercise, and diet. Of notable importance are volumes especially devoted to gynecology, obstetrics, pediatrics, and even mystical practices for treating spirit possession. Sun also contributed an important text on medical ethics called On the Absolute Sincerity of Great Physicians (大醫精誠 Dayi Jingcheng) which is sometimes called the Chinese Hippocratic Oath. Sun wrote: A Great Physician should not pay attention to status, wealth or age. Neither should he question whether the particular person is attractive or unattractive, whether he is an enemy or a friend, whether he is a Chinese or a foreigner, and finally, whether he is uneducated or educated. He should meet everyone on equal grounds. He should always act as if he were thinking of his close relatives. Sun’s works are considered the earliest texts on clinical medical practice and became required reading for all practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Sun lived to be 101 years of age, and after his death, he was posthumously granted the honorific titles King of Medicine (藥王 Yaowang) and Perfected Master Sun (孫真人 Sun Zhenren). He was deified by the Taoist religious community and venerated as a god of medicine and healing due to his almost superhuman contributions to Chinese medical knowledge and his moral principles on patient care.

Wooden statue of Sun Simiao as a medicine god

May Sun Simiao’s healing knowledge and humanist values bring health and peace to all beings.

Text © 2011 Harry Leong

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