13 August 2010


Is credibility our best option?

Today I spoke with students about the psychic surgery I witnessed during while in acupuncture school. I was in the front row of a public lecture. It was incredible in many ways:
  • He gave an accurate diagnosis after brushing the body with his hands
  • He proceeded to give the best chiropractic adjustment I've witnessed
  • He mentioned herbs for cancer that are increasingly endangered
  • The theories of organ function he learned from his Aztec grandfather closely paralleled the Chinese teachings in my first year of acupuncture college
  • The patient (apparently a stranger to the practitioner) gave a profound look of appreciation after the session
OK, did I mention the psychic surgery?

The practitioner, Mike Valenzuela, worked in bare shirt sleeves. The patient pulled her shirt up to the chest. He pressed a bare hand through her skin -- up to his knuckles into the liver area, and retrieved what looked like a baseball-sized clotted blood, rather like seaweed. I could see about two-three cups of blood, heard gurgling sounds, and watched him throw the items into a bucket with a splat.

He never advertised himself as a psychic surgeon. It was a fringe benefit. The whole event took place on an Indian Reservation in Northern New Mexico at one of the 12 Pueblos. Had it occurred in Portland, he would have been quickly arrested for practicing medicine without a license.

He supported himself as a car mechanic, and did healings gratis.

Regarding auto mechanics, his grandfather said that if his teachings were true, then they were applicable to any domain. The grandson found that the same theories handed down to him worked on cars as well.

I write this because 'alternative and complementary' health practitioners like myself seek to gain credibility in this amorphous 'system.'

If we can provide 5% improvement --like Prozac did in some of the trials that made it a blockbuster drug-- then we are fitting in.

If we do something incredible though, what then? Would total cures threaten our position?

Patients want the incredible. They don't mind a miracle. Miracles are supposed to happen. Children get that rap every Christmas....

Practitioners, like everyone, don't mind being loved and accepted.

Do we have to be auto mechanics to find that?

...My son just entered motorcycle mechanic school....
in the home state of that Aztec healer, who is now dead (or "transitioned," as his friends say).

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While travelling in China on a low-budget cruise ship, I saw another incredible healing act with nothing more than human hands and imagination.  There were so many, but this one comes up tonight....

It was by a travelling Buddhist monk, who'd been given up as dead with an incurable disease by his impoverished parents in inner Mongolia. They dropped him off at a monastery as a last-ditch effort. He learned Buddhist qigong and recovered his health.

Every ten years, they send the monks for a year-long sabbatical into the world, to see what they are missing.

(The Amish who lived a bicycle ride from my boyhood home did the same thing for all young men, briefly, to see where their hearts lay. Most returned.)

So here was this monk, getting a close look at the world, making his way by doing healings and readings on the cruise ships.

Our trip was on a budget. The ship was comfortable, but more like a Tri-Met bus. We were delayed for mechanical failure, so we had time. Time is one thing China seems to have a lot more of.

We were nestled into the Yangtze River, prior to its damming. It was much like the Columbia Gorge in the Pacific Northwest, with rugged mountains sculpted by ancient floods, petroglyphs, and local bigfoot/yeti legends.

The monk did his thing. One treatment he gave was to stand about 20 feet away from a patient. He would vigorously crouch and wave his arms, eventually pointing at the patient.
Coins the size of a quarter were placed on acupoints. The monk directed his intention at them, which warmed the coins. When the patient said, "hot!" then the coins were removed. He tapped them on a table, and ash would fall off the coin.

Were he in America, it would be no doubt be televised. Then he'd be decried as either a charlatan or locked up in a lab for study, as a kind of treasure to be watched over. The reaction would be extreme either way.

In China, however, it was a Middle Way. There we were, stuck in a Gorge, getting palm readings and Buddhist external qigong heat treatments by this young monk. The shipworkers were totally unfazed: vaguely interested but not excited by the monk. They did not seem jaded, but what they saw seemed more part of life and nature.

In my experience, more things like this happen in China. It's in the air.

Could it happen here?

One of the patients, Claudia, was from Texas --she could take heat! Just out of acupuncture school, she was curious. "I wanted to see how hot the coins could get," so she didn't tell him when the coins got hot. As a result, blisters welled up at each acupoint, as thick as a little finger. I've got pictures of them.

We can say that magic is everywhere. Personally, though, I've seen more of it within the context of ancient cultures.

May we grow old together, then--and quickly.

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