REN: THE VIRTUE OF HUMAN-HEARTEDNESS

“Whenever eminent physicians treat an illness, they must quiet the spirit and settle the will, they must be free of wants and desires, and they must first develop a heart full of great compassion and empathy. They must pledge to devote themselves completely to relieving the suffering of all sentient beings.”
— Sun Simiao (540 - 682 AD)

'The whole is more than the sum of it's parts' is a key principle in Chinese Medicine. A notion captured by the great Chinese physician Sun Simiao. The first to introduce a system of ethics into Medicine, and known as the "King of Medicine". Health involves caring for the whole of the person.

Sun Simiao emphasised the great importance of compassion and care for creating good health. The Chinese virtue of Ren, a mysterious word which can be translated as "human-heartedness". It describes the innate capacity of empathy that engenders basic care, dignity and appreciation between people.

In our modern society, life is often going at such a pace to not allow the proper time, space or attention for this kind of relating. We can spend far more time in waiting rooms, than relating sincerely with our doctors. To feel met, heard and witnessed are basic needs of good health.

Shiatsu as a health practice fully embodies the virtue of human heartedness. With the necessary time, space and attention, the Shiatsu Practitioner's primary concern is to promote good health within you. Disease, illness and pain are held within the over-arching attitude of care and compassion. The client also develops this same attitude towards their own mind and body, allowing a deeper, natural healing.


“To my mind, empathy is in itself a healing agent. It is one of the most potent aspects of therapy, because it releases, it confirms, it brings even the most frightened client into the human race. If a person is understood, he or she belongs.”
— Carl Rogers

cultivating the heart-mind

As a human being, we are all capable of experiencing states of happiness, appreciation, joy, peace, and love. 

We have learnt this directly from our own life experience at times, however fleeting or pervading it may have been. Across history and cultures, many traditions have taught ways to develop this potential of humanity in different ways. These highly positive states have been shown to be significantly supportive to the general state of our health.

Below is some guidance from the Buddhist tradition, well known for developing human compassion and love.

This is what should be done by one who is skilled in goodness
And who knows the path of peace:
Let them be able and upright, straightforward and gentle in speech,
Humble and not conceited, contented and easily satisfied.
Unburdened with duties and frugal in their ways.
Peaceful and calm, and wise and skilful,
Not proud and demanding in nature.

Let them not do the slightest thing that the wise would later reprove.
They should wish:
In gladness and in safety
May all beings be at ease.
Whatever living beings there may be,
Whether they are weak or strong, omitting none,
The great or the mighty, medium, short or small,
The seen and the unseen,
Those living near and far away,
Those born and to-be-born,
May all beings be at ease!

Let none deceive another, or despise any being in any state,
Let none through anger or ill-will wish harm upon another.

Even as a mother protects with her life her child, her only child,
So with a boundless heart should one cherish all living beings,
Radiating kindness over the entire world,
Spreading upwards to the skies, and downwards to the depths,
Outwards and unbounded, freed from hatred and ill-will.

Whether standing or walking, seated or lying down,
Free from drowsiness, one should sustain this recollection.
This is said to be the Sublime Abiding.

Unattached to speculations, views and sense desires, with clear vision,
Such a person will never be reborn in the cycles of suffering.
 
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Friends, for one whose hearts-release through loving-kindness is cultivated, developed, pursued, handed the reins and taken as a basis, given a grounding, steadied, consolidated, and well-undertaken, eleven benefits can be expected. Which eleven?

You will sleep easily
You will wake easily
You will have pleasant dreams
People will love you
Devas and animals will love you
Devas will protect you
External dangers, such as poisons, weapons, and fire, will not harm you
Your face will be radiant
Your mind will be serene
You will die unconfused
You will be re-born in happy realms

These are the eleven benefits that can be expected for one whose hearts-release through loving-kindness is cultivated, developed, pursued, handed the reins and taken as a basis, given a grounding, steadied, consolidated, and well-undertaken.
— The Buddha