On the continuum from health to disease, from life to death, we find the concerns of Western medicine situated mostly at the disease end of the spectrum. The focus, for instance, is on laboratory tests capable of detecting objective, concrete, measurable, organ tissue damage. The patients whose electrocardiograms, G.I. series, or brain scans are clearly positive, justify this focus. The doctor who makes the diagnosis has fulfilled his genuine desire to be helpful, and has vindicated his long, arduous, and expensive training. Presently, however, such patients account for only about one percent of all people who seek medical assistance in the consultation rooms of Western medical practitioners. The other ninety-nine percent come with complaints that cannot be quantified even by our most sophisticated, expensive laboratory equipment. The vast majority of patients actually belong somewhere toward the health end of the spectrum, where Western scientific measurements reveal nothing.

The reason for this state of affairs, so frustrating to both patient and practitioner, is that Western medicine has a theory of disease, but no theory of health. We are thus prisoners of pathology, and in thinking about health we must always start with serious disease or death as our subject. Recently, Western medicine, concerned as it is with the early diagnosis of disease, seems to have been attempting to move toward the health end of the spectrum. However, its understanding, and therefore its method, are flawed. It begins with gross pathology, and moves via computer technology to master the measurements of even more minute fragments of matter. Having started with a corpse, we are engaged now with molecules. We are searching for a method of early diagnosis by refining our ability to scrutinize smaller and smaller particles, hoping to pick up the process of disease at the molecular level. While this is without doubt proving to be an extraordinarily interesting development in the history of knowledge, it has thus far proven to be an expensive and futile exercise in the quest for early diagnosis and prevention. Preventive medicine in the West is, at best, an early warning system of an already existing morphological, identifiable lesion. The truth is that at the health end of the spectrum, material changes are not yet manifest even at the level of small particle physics. The idea that we can reach these changes through increasingly fine instrumentation is untenable. It is this concept and experience of energy that essentially divides the East from the West.

Since the life force may never yield itself to instrumentation, it may never be acceptable to the Western scientific mind, whose knowledge of reality reposes itself entirely within its instruments. The ancient Chinese observed that Qi is unlimited, and that movement – regardless of how small or large, how brief or long, how fast or slow – is caused by Qi. When Qi concentrates, it is called matter, and when it spreads, it is called space; when Qi gathers together, it is called life, and when it separates, it is called death. When Qi flows in a living entity, it is called health, and when Qi is blocked, there is sickness. Energy and matter are, therefore, interchangeable, and E=mc2, the famous mass-energy equivalence formula of Einstein, has unexpected confirmation in the realm of Eastern medicine.