Tuesday, October 12, 2010


As you enter Natural Life Therapy Clinic, directly in front of you there is a place of honor for my studies. There is a portrait of M. Masahilo Nakazono Osensei, founder of Kototama Life Medicine and my teacher. It is a beautiful pastel chalk on sandpaper painting by an extraordinary artist, Kitty Wallis. Sensei was about 64 when she painted him. To the left of Sensei's painting is a portrait of the three legendary emperors: Fu Hsi ([2852-2738 BCE], the Father of Philosophy and Divination who brought us the Principle of Tai Chi, Yin/Yang and authored The Book of Change (I CHING),(invented writing and fishing with nets); Shen Nung [28th Century BCE], Emperor of the Five Grains, Father of Agriculture and herbal identification; he is considered the Father of Chinese Medicine (who invented the plow, tamed the cow, yoked the horse and used fire to clear farm land); and Huang Ti [26997-2597 BCE], the author of the 'Yellow Emperior's Classic of Internal Medicine' and Father of Acupuncture. It is a copy by Judy Stone Sawyer from a 1798 Japanese scroll by Sibi Wake that I commissioned in 1989.

To the right of Sensei is the Medicine Buddha poster from the Tibetan Medical Center at Dharamsala. This 'clinic warming gift' travelled from the Dalai Lama's Clinic to mine via Larry Brilliant, MD, a World Health Organization physician involved in the eradication of small pox and a co-founder of SEVA, an international service organization serving the vision needs of indigenous people throughout the world Larry presented it soon after I opened my practice in June 1980. Our connection is through our beloved guru, Neem Karoli Baba Maharaji who instructed his followers to "Feed everyone; Serve everyone." In front of the painting is a sword resting on a small wooden bench.

On left side of the bench is a 'medicine bone' from Africa, a reminder that the art of healing comes in many forms; on the other side is a sand dollar, an object of beauty that remarkably resembles the symbol for Kototama Medicine that was designed by Sensei. It is round, contains a five-pointed 'flower,' has five holes and inside, has five 'doves,' continual reminders of the five dimensions of life energy and the multi-faceted ways the five energies create a whole. In front of the bench is a wooden plaque that reads "I have no sword, I make absence of self my sword."

On the shelf below is a copy of the 'Long Landscape Scroll' (1486), by Sesshu, considered Japan’s greatest artist; it depicts the gentle, gradual flow of the seasons from spring to winter. (The original is 51-feet long by 1 1/4-feet tall.) This too was gift from Sensei. In front of the scroll is a length of braided sweetgrass that Jason Hackler bestowed upon me. Sweetgrass is a spiritual ceremonial plant used by the First People of this continent and is referred to as "the Hair of Mother Earth." It is held that Earth gives us life and any person who thinks he is more important than Earth is truly and sadly lost.

On the middle shelf is a photo of Jason and me. It's a good picture. In front of the photo is a wild turkey feather I brought home from a retreat in Texas. Ben Franklin was a strong advocate of declaring the wild turkey as the national bird. It is a gentle social creature that clusters in large flocks and though they can fly, seemed rooted to the earth. Franklin felt the eagle to be a stand-alone bully that kills anything it sees and, as Franklin observed, "is a carrion beast." If things get tight, won't hesitate to eat 'road kill.' He didn't think the eagle represented the heart of America. Now, of course, he would see the eagle very much represents America, flying around killing whatever it sees.

Below that is a five picture frame presentation of cartoon samurai ducks… and you were expecting what?

Back to the top shelf. The sword came from a long time martial arts practitioner who wished to acknowledge the study and practice of Kototama Life Medicine as being in the tradition of the warrior-priest. The bench was a present from another extraordinary artist, Steve Auger. (The large painting on the north wall behind the puja table is an Auger creation.) The bench is a traditional tool of the shaman of South America. It was used as a seat for the physician, as a chopping block where he prepared his herbal medicines and as a headrest when he slept. The symbolism and grace of this simple piece of furniture never ceases to awe me. And the wooden plaque...

The wooden plaque is a gift from my close friend, student extraordinaire and long-time clinical associate, Jason Hackler, DOM, L.Ac. It is a constant reminder of the path I have chosen, the goals I seek and the attitude that best serves my quest. The lines, "I have no sword, I make absence of self my sword," are the final lines of a prayer/poem penned by a 14th Century samurai.

From Catholic seminarian to psychedelic explorer; Hindu devotee to Buddhist meditation practitioner; shaman and Shinto student and, finally, mastery of the Kototama Principle; my path has been long, intense, varied in form yet singular in purpose. I have sought and still seek to embrace everything with attachment to nothing; I have attempted to be whole and to be zero. My pride is my distraction, my determination, which some term arrogance, is fueled from deep within and in this poem/prayer I have found a sensible guide to physical life, spiritual development and intellectual integrity.

"I have no parents;
I make the heavens and earth my parents.
I have no home;
I make awareness my home.
I have no life or death;
I make the tides of breathing my life and death.
I have no divine power;
I make honesty my divine power.
I have no means;
I make understanding my means.
I have no magic secrets;
I make character my magic secret.
I have no body;
I make endurance my body.
I have no eye;
I make the flash of lightening my eyes.
I have no ears;
I make sensibility my ears.
I have no limbs;
I make promptness my limbs.
I have no strategy;
I make 'unshadowed by thought' my strategy.
I have no designs;
I make 'seizing the opportunity by the forelock' my design.
I have no miracles;
I make right-action my miracles.
I have no principles;
I make adaptability to all circumstances my principles.
I have no tactics;
I make emptiness and fullness my tactics.
I have no talents;
I make ready wit my talent.
I have no friends;
I make my mind my friend.
I have no enemy;
I make carelessness my enemy.
I have no armor;
I make benevolence and righteousness my armor.
I have no castle;
I make immovable-mind my castle.
I have no sword;
I make absence of self my sword."

This then is what greets me each time I walk through the door of Natural Life Therapy Clinic. When I greet you, this is what I am seeking to convey.

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