Attaining Radiant Health
The Attitude Of Radiant Health
One of the great secrets of a long, satisfying and happy life, according to Eastern wisdom, is to focus on health instead of disease. This is the psychological basis of the “way of radiant health.” Develop the attitude of radiant health and radiant health can be attained surprisingly easily. Once we have trained ourselves to focus on the attainment and maintenance of radiant health, and have acquired the tools for accomplishing our goal, the functions of the mind, body and spirit can flourish. Once we have achieved a state of radiant health, the bodily functions cannot easily fall into disharmony, disease cannot readily arise in the body and, from the perspective of our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health, we are indeed beyond most dangers.
The attainment of radiant health is definitely attainable by most people who have not already severely damaged themselves. And it is also attainable by many who have severely damaged themselves through abuse and wrong living, but have the will to regain true health. In life, it is sometimes necessary to hit a low point before we discover the motivation to work at attaining radiant health. Complete success takes determination, knowledge, discipline and skill.
But we cannot do it by “ourselves.” We need help. Nature can provide that help. One of the ultimate sources of help from nature lies in the nutritional resources. The tonic herbs, being one of the richest sources of bionutrients, are used to promote over-all well being, to enhance the body's energy, and to regulate the bodily and psychic functioning, resulting in radiant health.
Health Beyond Danger
"Radiant health" is the highest level of health to which a person can attain, and is defined as "health beyond danger." In other words, the person is so internally strong and adaptive as to be able to adapt to virtually all normal stresses, as well as many extreme stresses, and is thus capable of overcoming most serious dangers. My teacher, Sung Jin Park, emphasized that protection is one of the primary characteristics of health and the higher the level of protection the better. When one’s protection has reached the stage of “health beyond danger,” then that person has achieved radiant health.
There are many Chinese tonic herbs, which strengthen the body resistance. There are thousands of active components in the various tonic herbs that influence various aspects of the human immune system. The tonics in particular are rich in substances that “modulate,” or regulate the immune system. Regular consumption of a major immune modulating herb, or a collection of herbs with modulating capacity, gradually builds up a person’s resistance. I have seen hundreds of people who were immune deficient and thus prone to chronic colds and other infections. After taking the tonics for several months, their immune systems showed tremendous improvement. After taking the herbs for a year or so, they became highly resistant to common colds and flus. People find it amazing. It’s this kind of response to the herbs that makes me think that the tonics are really foods that the body requires. It seems that without the herbs, the immune system is in fact underfed. With the herbs in the diet, the immune system flourishes.
The combination of factors found in the tonic herbs makes them an indispensable nutritional requirement. They replenish Primal Essence, they provide the energy to adapt to the stresses in our environment and they protect us. They can even strengthen our will power. Radiant health is much more easily attainable if we are truly nourished and these great tonic herbs provide a form of nourishment found only rarely in Nature.
In Asia, longevity is universally regarded as one of life’s primary goals. Throughout history, people have sought means of lengthening their lives. All Asian societies place the concept of longevity at the center of the entire societal mindset. In China, the concept of longevity comes up almost every day. People do many things to assure their longevity. They work at an even pace, they eat three meals a day at very regular times, they exercise in a way that is believed to promote longevity, and so on. One of the measurements most often sited in determining the advanced state of a country is to site the average longevity of its citizens. The average life expectancy of a Japanese woman, for example, is eighty-six years. This is an astounding and wonderful achievement.
It would do all of us well to start thinking about longevity as a virtue rather than an inevitable catastrophe. It is possible to live long and to live well. If youthfulness is so important (which it is to me), then we should attempt to maintain our youthful condition into old age. By watching our health and promoting our well being on a steady basis, we can reach old age without undo suffering. This does not in any way have to mitigate the excitement of life. On the contrary, with energy, protection and intelligence, our lives will ultimately turn out to be richer and more exciting. And then the latter years of our life can be truly great if we are not suffering from various ailments. While we are still young, it is wise to seek radiant health so that we can live a long, healthy, exciting and happy life.
Wisdom is something that can grow as we grow older, so we should seek to learn the underlying truths of life as we proceed through life. We in the West would do well to respect the wisdom of older souls who have seen and done more than we have and who have the wisdom to understand what has happened.
My wife, who is Chinese, was very surprised when she first came to America, to find out that there is not a single real, universally recognized symbol for longevity in our Western culture. Our Western culture seems to downplay the beauty of achieving great longevity. Youth seems to be king here. Yet we all eventually come to realize that life is finite and that growing old in a state of radiant health is far superior to living fast, hard and foolishly while we are young and then suffering intolerable illnesses when we reach middle age and beyond.
In China and other Eastern societies, there are many symbols of longevity. Everywhere you look in China, Japan, Korea or Southeast Asia, various symbols of longevity are used in a multitude of settings. Interestingly, an herb now commonly used in Chinese tonic herbalism is the most widely used symbol of longevity---the Reishi mushroom. This mushroom is used throughout all the Asian societies as a symbol of health, happiness, wisdom and long life. It is an extremely common symbol in the art of China and Korea.
The Reishi is in fact a true longevity herb. Though historically it has been a rare herb, it has in recent years become much more commonly available, thanks to modern horticultural technology. Hundreds of scientific studies have confirmed that Reishi has powerful immune system strengthening capabilities which can be used to build the physical resistance to disease, as well as therapeutically for an amazingly wide range of ailments. No wonder it became a symbol of longevity.
We are so fortunate today to have herbs like the Reishi mushroom accessible to us. There are many other herbs that are similarly beneficial which were once rare but are now easily obtainable. It is unfortunate that most people in the West do not even know that these herbs exist. These herbs, when consumed over a period of time, can profoundly enhance the performance of our bodies and minds and can help us attain both radiant health and longevity. When used properly, they are completely safe and have no side effects at all. They are far less expensive than modern medical procedures used to cure illnesses and can be obtained at a local herb shop, health food store or by mail order.
Human Potential Potentiators
The Chinese call these tonic herbs “mild” because they are so safe and because they are not “drug-like.” They are not bolts of lightening nor are they mind-altering in the same sense as we have come to think of drugs. But they are extremely powerful. When taken regularly for a period of time, we change. A whole host of functions tend to improve, we feel better and stronger, and quite amazingly, we become more capable. Those who take advantage of the tonic herbs become more capable at work, more capable at home, more capable at play, more capable in bed, more capable in our art – more capable in every aspect of our lives. Our minds become clearer. We get more work done, and at a higher level. We look better and become more attractive.
The Chinese tonic herbs are so right for the age we live in. They are natural, they are effective, they are interesting, they are legal and they are readily available. They can help us achieve what we want out of life. If we want energy, they can provide it. If we want will power, they can help. If we need to relax, they can help us to calm down and loosen up. If we require endurance, the tonic herbs are truly effective. If we seek wisdom, these herbs are a godsend. And if we want it all – why not? The Chinese tonic herbs are truly that good. Three thousand years of experience has proven that the Chinese tonic herbs are the virtual fountain of life.
The tonic herbs were considered by Daoist and Chan (Zen) Buddhist masters, who contributed heavily to the development of the art of tonic herbalism and to the art of radiant health, to be "spiritual growth herbs." The tonic herbs have been used for thousands of years by wise men and women and spiritual seekers to aid in their spiritual development. The herbs are not psycho-active substances like drugs. They are beyond that. Because they have profound regulatory functions that help the body-mind maintain its equilibrium even under extremely stressful circumstances. They are thus enormously useful in supporting our ability to overcome intense challenges, and to learn from our experiences and thus to attain wisdom that might allude those less fortunate. The spiritual path is arduous and fraught with traps. And one of the biggest problems is that you may not even know when your caught in a trap. The illusory nature of traps is legendary. Many spiritual seekers have used the superior herbs to clarify their awareness and put things in perspective. Ginseng, Reishi and other similar herbs have played an enormous role in the spiritual world of Asia.
Adaptability–the Measure of Your Life
The psychic power bestowed upon us by taking these herbs need not be the exclusive possession of the spiritually-minded. The adaptive energy provided by the tonic herbs helps those who are not specifically on a “spiritual path” in a similar way. For one thing, the tonics help people handle stress much more easily. Success in the modern world can often be measured by how well we can handle stress. Those who can handle stress will generally move up in the world much more quickly. The person who is capable of handling more stress is capable of taking on greater challenges, heavier work loads, more confrontation, and can in general get more done. Successfully overcoming obstacles is the truest way to grow in experience, knowledge and wisdom---all very good things. It could easily be said that the motto of our age is: “He or she who can handle more stress most successfully wins!”
Resilience is an enormous aspect of radiant health. I consider it to be one of the key features. Resilience is the result of adaptability, and thus the concept of adaptability is central to the concept of radiant health.
The ability to adapt to the stresses of life is fundamental to life itself. Adaptability is the root of evolution and is the secret to biological success. The more adaptable one is, the more flexibility and resiliency one will be capable of showing in one's life. Adaptability is inherent in all living creatures, and human beings are inherently one of the most adaptable creatures on earth.
Human beings have been able to adapt to virtually every climate on the earth. There are humans living in the most inhospitable climates: the hottest, driest deserts; the hottest, dampest jungles; the coldest, most barren tundra, etc. But mankind is now creating a new, often artificial world that is in many ways a new challenge to the adaptive nature of the people living in these environments. Not only is the well being of every individual now at stake, but the very survival of mankind and the majority of the species on earth are at risk due to extreme changes that are taking place in the ecosystem as a result of humankind's aggressive technological "advancement."
It is not quite clear whether or not people are under more or less stress than they were in the past. The stresses of poverty, enormous seasonal weather changes (without heating, insulation or air conditioners), the hard work of acquiring food, war, pestilence, etc. have always been stressful. Many of the stresses that our forefathers had to bare have been lessened by modern invention. What would we do without electricity, the modern toilet, the automobile, the telephone, the modern printing press, refrigeration, heating oil, grocery stores, etc. On the other hand, life is so full of trivial pursuits and is so fast paced that new stresses have arisen and humankind is being forced to adapt in new ways. Will we be able to adapt to the widening holes in the Stratosphere? Will we be able to adapt to the carcinogens in our water, food and air? Will we be able to adapt to artificial food? Will we be able to adapt to the constant bombardment of various forms of radiation?
A healthy person adapts easily to a wide range of "normal" stress factors, such as changes in the weather. But if for some reason, we lose some of our ability to adapt, we can easily become imbalanced and this often results in illness. And it is important to remember that an over-reaction is just as dangerous as an under-reaction. One must adapt precisely according to the degree of change to be considered optimally adaptive.
If for some reason we lose the ability to adjust appropriately, sooner or later we fall prey to the forces of nature. In a desperate attempt to regain homeostasis, our bodies rely on back-up methods of regaining balance. If these too are insufficient, severe symptoms arise, followed by death.
As the great endocrinologist Hans Selye has pointed out in his classic biomedical text, Stress:
“Adaptability is probably the most distinctive characteristic of life. In maintaining the independence and individuality of natural units, none of the great forces on inanimate matter are as successful as that alertness and adaptability to change which we designate as life – and the loss of which is death. Indeed there is perhaps even a certain parallelism between the degree of aliveness and the extent of adaptability in every animal – and man.”
Selye postulated that there is some sort of intrinsic energy with which a person is born. He presented compelling evidence that it can be used slowly or quickly, but when it is all gone, we die.
Adaptability is the very measure by which an Oriental master would judge the true health of an individual. The more adaptive an individual, the more vigor with which one can meet the challenges of life, the greater that person's degree of health. The Daoist sages of China have taught that we are all born with an intrinsic energy which determines one's fundamental, constitutional strength. It is called Primal Essence, or Jing. This Jing is said to determine our potential life expectancy as well as the vitality of our life while we are living it.
Oriental sages say that it is easy to abuse and thus dissipate this Jing with which we are born. As we lose this fundamental energy, we stiffen and lose our ability to change. We cannot adapt easily or appropriately, either on the microscopic or macroscopic level. Therefore we easily become imbalanced, toxic and stagnant, and dangerously susceptible to attack by microbial invaders. Selye has supported this principle of an original, apparently limited energy by demonstrating scientifically that stress of any sort can be adjusted to for a while, but that finally the stress response mechanism exhausts itself and death ensues prematurely.
Long ago Chinese sages knew this. They investigated the natural world, and over many centuries they discovered and developed means of enhancing this Primal Essence, Jing, by working with natural laws rather than against them. The oldest philosophical teaching of China, Daoism, is a philosophy of flowing with Nature's changes, constantly harmonizing, always maintaining balance so as to avoid the stress of extremes. Nature itself presents enough difficulties. Why add more stress by bringing it upon ourselves? By knowing when you have gone far enough and by knowing when you have had enough, you will lead a less stressed, less draining life. Additionally, by living close to Nature and by changing gracefully with the changes in the environment, one can avoid calamity and slow down aging.
Aside from simply avoiding stress, the ancient masters found it possible to replenish our reserves of Jing. It is obviously impossible to avoid stress entirely. Anything that taxes our system drains us of some of our Jing. Thus, to promote our health, we must nurture our Jing, that is, our primal energy. Techniques were established which could do exactly this, and have been passed along from one generation to the next for three millennia. These health arts for replacing spent Jing---or beyond that, building reserves---are the greatest health secrets of the East.
Chinese tonic herbalism is a primary means in the Orient for replenishing and enhancing energy and for preserving harmonious balance in the human body. It is the primary tool for attaining radiant health.