Yaron Seidman is one of my recent herbal teachers. I’ve been studying with him for about 3 years now. This is embarrassing because I have only recently really felt that I understood how he actually works in terms of writing prescriptions. I had not, until recently, received the core transmission. Of course I have understood a lot of what Yaron points to in his teachings. I could have passed the tests and become a Certified Hun Yuan Practitioner. But that would have felt wrong to me. Actually it would still feel wrong! What I mean is that I did not feel that I truly grasped the way he works and the way a Hun Yuan practitioner would work. I do feel now that I got it! What a great feeling. However, I cannot call myself a Hun Yuan practitioner yet because I have not worked it myself in the clinic enough to make the teaching my own. That will take time and experience.
Yaron comes from a Huo Shen Pai, Fire God current in the vast world of Chinese herbal medicine. There is so much talk about the ideas from this school, the Huo Shen Pai 火神派 floating around these days. I have found that there are many currents within this current, meaning that there is a wide variety of perspectives and methods among practitioners of this way.
Probably the most prevalent image most of us have when we think of the Huo Shen Pai is the large dosage of Fu Zi and sometimes other warm or hot herbs. It is true that many practitioners from this lineage do use large dosages of Fu Zi but it is not true that all practitioners use it as the main focus all the time.
For me, the heart of the ideas behind the Huo Shen Pai is the idea that the life force is warm/Yang. The simple statement that we are cold when we are dead illustrates the life has warmth within it. In fact, Zhu Danxi’s school of tonifying Yin has been greatly criticized by some from the Huo Shen Pai tradition because it is so obvious when we die that there is plenty of Yin. What is gone is the Yang! When we are dead, nothing moves, nothing functions and nothing is warm. It’s a still and cold bag of bones. It is the most extreme case of Yang deficiency one could imagine!
If we start with the idea that the life force is warm, than anything that goes against the life force is the opposite, cold. Hot conditions are not due to hot pathogens but are rather due to the bodies own life force or Yang failing to move properly. When Yang gets blocked, it gets hot. But the question is, what is blocking it? Any lack of movement is basically lack of Yang and so, it is cold. Even with extreme heat as in a Yang Ming pattern, the formulas are not thought of as heat clearing but rather as unblocking so the Yang can move and not be so built up. Yang can be blocked and build up and Yang can also not be held in place properly. Yang not held in place can flare about causing heat signs and can also leak out causing cold signs. In any case, the heat is nothing other than our own life force being messed up with the opposite of it, cold.
The Shang Han Lun then can be seen as a book about what happens when the life force is blocked or not stored properly and what to do about this. It is the treatise on damage from cold because it is the treatise on what messes with our life force – which is warm. In other words, the text has almost nothing to do with “cold pathogens” coming in from the outside going deeper and deeper.
Yaron Seidman has a very unique and individual way of understanding the Shang Han Lun. Though I do not work exactly the way he does, I do try to work with the basic understanding of helping the life force find it’s root within us and function properly. Signs and symptoms tell us how the life force is not connecting or functioning well. Our methods return the patient to the flow of it. This is not fanciful thinking. It is really how it works and it is really what the Shang Han Lun is teaching us.
Yaron is going to be teaching next month in Fairfax, CA. on the Shang Han Lun Code – Click here for information).This is sponsored by Genevieve Le Goff at Between Heaven and Earth. The course will be streamed live for those who are far away. Yaron does not simply teach techniques or methods. He offers a way of connecting to the classics, especially the Nei Jing and Shang Han Lun that we can solidly bring into the clinic, eventually. It took me a long time to integrate and grind away at the teachings so it is not for those who want quick fixes. For those who want
- to bind back toward the oldest texts and the lineage of sages they arise from
- to feel that your way in the clinic connects directly back to them
- to work hard to reap the benefit of finally knowing what to do confidently
I think this coming workshop is a good one to take to check out Yaron’s work if you are interested.