Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Middle Way

I just got back from China; any typos are due to my jet lag. Most of it is my own fault since I didn’t sleep very much and I had too many toasts with really strong stuff out of a blue bottle. Since I don’t drink at all, some of it went to my head. I may have asked a young female ophthalmologist to swim naked with me in the Yangtze River…

Things looked a bit different from my first visit there 20 years ago. But the people are just as wonderful and hospitable. They are aware that the future is on their side, and I agree. There are many reasons for their ascendancy; I will focus on one aspect, THE MIDDLE WAY.

Thomas Friedman wrote THE LEXUS AND THE OLIVE TREE a while back. His point was that in our rush to modernize and apply technology, we must not lose tract of our roots and the traditions that have served us well for millennia. In my opinion, there is no country more aware of this than China. Their Buddhist traditions have ingrained a slow, moderate approach to life focused on THE MIDDLE WAY. As they learn from the WEST they are holding fast to their EASTERN traditions. And the field of health is an excellent example.

Dr. Bocheng Zhao took me around the hospital he presides over; there were special sections for herbs, nutrition, and acupuncture; all of them on equal footing with surgery, internal medicine and the latest technology in radiology. There was no Mc Donald’s in the cafeteria area; the conference table where he welcomed me was decorated with flowers in beautiful harmony with the fruit and tea he provided. Later, he took me to the banks of the Yangtze River to enjoy fish that I saw flopping around in the kitchen overlooking the river when we first got there.

I met the good doctor at a dinner with the CEO of Nanjing Pharmaceuticals, the third largest in China. Yaoping Zhou is probably the most humble and down to earth CEO I will ever meet. He has caught the vision that is running through China’s rise, THE MIDDLE WAY. His company handles medical devises, herbs and pharmaceuticals. He is now planning to open an INTERNATIONAL HEALTH INN, IHI. He took me to the 100 acre campus under construction. The whole complex is framed by an ancient Chinese gate, more elaborate and genuine than the one you may have seen in San Francisco’s Chinatown. He envisions total integrative care. His hospitality and generosity were capped by his offer to publish both of my books in Chinese and my own office at the IHI.

After my trip to China my heart is full and grateful. It was all made possible by Dr. Robert Zeng, the acupuncturist at my clinic. But, more than anything else, I again had an opportunity to enjoy the company of my fellowman from throughout the small world we live in, a world that will have a better future if we find THE MIDDLE WAY of EAST and WEST, and integrate our collective ideas.

I watched the opening soccer World Cup game between South Africa and Mexico at a bar in Mexico and the finals between the Netherlands and Spain in Beijing. Truly we are all one.


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