Ryokyu Endo answers about Tao Shiatsu

Q1. Master Endo, what you think is the meaning of Shiatsu for our time age?

Manual Therapy is the Original Form of Medicine

Mum mum mum, what a big subject! If the question is in regards to “Shiatsu” in general, first let’s make clear that manual therapy has existed since the beginning of mankind. When there is any physical or mental discomfort people naturally touch and sometimes press with their hands on themselves or others. We still put our palm on our forehead when we have some trouble happening in our life, saying “Oh, no!”, don’t we?

As the spirit of mankind grew, religion and other culture developed. In the beginning, the healer was the priest in primitive religion, now we call them a medium or a shaman. That’s why the word “medicine” is in “medicine man”, they were the healers. Therefore, it could be said that manual hand therapy is the original form of medicine.


Principle of Science is not Useful to Heal a Living Body

In our age, medicine has developed out of two necessities. One is a military necessity, to treat soldiers on the battlefield. The other is to treat infectious disease. Since the discovery of viruses in the 17th century, western medicine seems to have succeeded in fighting infectious disease. Actually, infectious disease reduced its potency at the same time that public hygiene was developed in the west. Before that time there were no toilets in the west. Surprisingly, even in Versailles Palace, there were no toilets. In Japan, public baths and toilets were developed in the Edo period, which was about 400 years ago. Some say that public hygiene was the cause of reduced infectious disease, not medical treatment.

In our age, wise people started to realize that the idea “development of medicine will cure all diseases some day in the future” is an illusion. As a matter of fact, we are facing the reality that the number of patients hasn’t reduced at all. In fact, we are building more and more hospitals. The numbers of patients are increasing. Therefore medical expenses are increasing year by year, and now in the USA are becoming greater than military expenses. Western medicine is very useful for acute disease and surgery but we still have thousands of chronically ill patients who have not been cured by western medicine. Some medical specialists have started to point out that one-day antibiotics will no longer be effective. This could signal the end and the beginning.

Beginning to realize that a living body cannot be healed like fixing a machine, mechanically. One’s health and healing processes are very much controlled, or influenced, by one’s subconscious. Western medicine does not have any way to heal a patient’s subconsciousness.

Western medicine is based on natural science (western medical doctors are scientists). The basic principle of natural science is the separation of object and subject. In natural science, the heart (mind) is not supposed to influence matter. For example, if the result of a scientific experiment is controlled or influenced by the mind of the observer, it can never actually be called science. The result of a scientific experiment has to be completely objective and has to achieve the same result in the same physical conditions no matter what the heart (mental) state of the experimenter is. Western doctors are not supposed to think about the heart (mind) state of both doctor and patient. The heart is not supposed to change the effectiveness of the treatment. And that’s what we call ‘proven by the data’, and what people in this modern age believe, as followers of this religion called “science”.

This faith, in the religion of science, is based on what has been gained by the grace of science and technology. Just as when somebody gives us comfort, we believe what this person says. All of material civilization has been developed by science and technology. This human psychological tendency means we cannot refuse what science says. We accept the worldview of natural science, for example, the duality in subject and object, of the heart (mind) and matter, etc.

The worldview of science is very useful when developing the technology. But it is not so convenient for understanding how the living body can be healed, because the living body is controlled by the heart (subconscious). Therefore, I say that in the modern age treating the living body for chronic disease is like treating shoes but not foot. Some people feel that the foot is cured when the shoes are repaired. Because of this, the imagination of the patient is affected by western medicine. Western medicine is very much depending on “follower’s faith”. An important part of health and healing is controlled by the subconscious. In this regard, western medical thinking is missing a significant part.

Alfred: But it’s not a common idea now.

Everybody knows about the placebo effect. That an image could take away your pain means your heart (mind) affects your physiology to produce endorphins. It means heart (image) affected matter (brain). If you are hypnotized and somebody puts a pen on your arm and says, “this is burning hot iron tongs!”. Your arm will be burned physically; it is not different from a real burn. Isn’t this also proof of how the heart affects the body? The principle of science that “heart (mind) has no influence on the matter” isn’t working in these examples. Of course to move matter with an image only happens in very special cases, almost never happens. We must realize that to use the principles of science has little meaning for the healing of the patient.

To understand the meaning of manual therapy in our age means to understand that it is an illusion that “disease can be cured with the physical way”. This illusion has been with us since the 17th century. We must start to research “how we can heal a patient’s subconscious?”

We must remember that the skin is connected to mid-brain (and autonomic nervous system) and that we can affect the subconscious through touching the skin. In this age, we will realize that manual therapy, Shiatsu, can be the most effective way to treat human subconscious.

Q2: I believe that it is clear to everybody that Eastern medicine is Meridian medicine and meridian is a stream of Ki. Which means eastern healer has to treat Ki (meridian).

If western medicine knows how to recognize meridian and how to treat Ki, to study the western medical approach is meaningful. Does western medicine know about Ki and meridian?

To study western medicine means, analyzing body as gathered part, and see the body as a duality of heart and body. Of Course, we need two aspects as common sense to live in a modern age.

But please have this common sense too.

All word of eastern medicine, such as Kyo Jitsu, etc, are all from the words of eastern philosophy, is because eastern medicine is based on eastern philosophy. By the way, in the west, philosophy is the way to understand trues (or world) by the thought.

But eastern philosophy is to, actually feels the true reality of the world with experience of heart and body. (therefore Tao philosopher is also a practitioner)

And, one of the basic concepts of Eastern philosophy( and also medicine) is oneness of Subject and Object.

I want to know, how can you ignore the main concept of eastern medicine, such as the oneness of subject and object?

To follow the way of western medicine is to accept the dualism. As gestalt psychology shows you when you see the background you don’t recognize the main form.

When you see a world based on dualism, you will not recognize the world of the oneness of subject and object, which we call Ki in another name. And the trues is meridian only can be recognized in the world of Ki, the world of the oneness of subject and object.

To study western medicine seems like studying how to measure the size of an apple, even when we need to know the taste.

Q3. In your books, you speak of Shiatsu to be the direct expression of the heart.

How would you explain the terms Ki and Heart and its relationship in Shiatsu?

Principle of Eastern Medicine is not just words

I think I made it clear that oneness of the subject and object is the basic principle of Eastern Medicine. This principle is practical, not something to be just understood with words. It is not like an affirmation often uttered by politicians, such as, “Let’s make peace,” or “I guarantee a better society.” This principle is a reality of Ki and meridians. If I explain this in a clinical Tao Shiatsu aspect, the Subject is the practitioner’s heart and the Object is the patient’s body.

Let’s say a Tao Shiatsu practitioner is in some specific state of heart, for example fully and purely wishing the best life for the receiver, and/or is 100% faithful to Tao Shiatsu. In this state of the heart, even if the practitioner isn’t touching the receiver’s body at all, the meridians of the receiver are reflected into the Tao Shiatsu practitioner’s heart. In Tao Shiatsu class, receivers (all students) can feel that meridians respond to the giver’s heart. It is a fact, and this is the way to learn meridians in Tao Shiatsu studies.

Meridian responds to the practitioner’s heart

A Tao Shiatsu practitioner will see the meridian in his/her own heart as an image. And if the practitioner won’t cut this meridian image at any moment, (i.e. focus on a different image such as the time, or weather, etc), the practitioner can touch the receiver’s meridian and be able to treat exactly where the meridian exists.

In this work there is no room for guessing, such as “maybe the liver meridian is here” or “in the chart, the lung meridian is here, so it should be here”. This is simply because the practitioner is recognizing the meridian exactly and at the same time, the receiver is feeling where the meridian is responding. If the practitioner works on the patient’s meridian with this state of heart, the practitioner can give truly effective meridian treatment.

If Shiatsu is a medical method of meridian treatment….

I repeat again, what is “subject” and “object” in the clinical work of Tao Shiatsu or Eastern Medicine? The state of the heart and the image is the “subject” and the patient’s meridian is the “object”. The meridian (object) exists where the practitioner has imagined (subject). But please don’t think what the practitioner has imagined is created by him/herself.

As I said, the meridian image in clinical practice is a reflection from the receiver’s Ki. I think I need to make this clear. Actually, the Ki of the Meridian will not respond spontaneously. A meridian is living Ki. A meridian won’t respond to the practitioner’s daily life state and/or heart while in a state of dualism (separation of practitioner and patient). A meridian only responds to the practitioner’s Tao Heart (such as wishing the best life for others, faith to Tao, etc.)

*Note: Tao Shiatsu students study and practice the Ten Tao Hearts, which allow meridians to respond to the practitioner’s image at the same moment. Why the same moment? Because both are one. Therefore, if Shiatsu is the medical method of meridian treatment, it is impossible not to speak about the heart. A meridian is a flow of Ki, and actually, the practitioner is able to treat the meridian only through the same state of the heart.

Let’s look at an example. Imagine you are shooting a video. There are a video camera and a monitor. Your heart can represent the video camera, and monitor the receiver’s body. Also, let’s say you are treating a meridian, but not clearly recognizing what state of heart you are in every moment. This is the same as trying to move the location of the monitor, unsure of what your video camera is focusing on.

Ki belongs to the world of heart

If you agree that a meridian is not physical matter and that it is a flow of Ki as written in classics, you understand that a meridian belongs to the world of heart, and not the physical world, right? Also, nobody agrees that Ki belongs to any part of the body, right? That’s why it is hard for me to understand why so many people are trying to recognize a meridian as a fixed location on the body.

Does one think that their knowledge of the meridians, as shown in meridian charts is true? Some believe it is possible to recognize meridians based on knowledge and dualism, but I must say that it is an illusion.

Meridian treatment is not physical work because meridians are Ki. Meridian treatment is the heart work of the practitioner. The meridian method is not more than, and not less than, the expression of the practitioner’s heart and spirit.

Q4. We are living in a material culture

Difference between Tao Shiatsu and other Shiatsu? …..There is a big difference in view as medical treatment. Actually, this difference is not just between Tao Shiatsu and other Shiatsu. Tao Shiatsu and all treatment method in the modern age.

In the primitive age, view of medical treatment is how to take away bad spirit from the patient. Because the cause of the disease is a bad spirit, and Medicine man or Shaman were working as a doctor for this purpose.

Well, but generally, in the modern age, people see everything only the physical aspect of existence. We, humans, are all materialist now. And that’s why when we got some disease, we think something wrong happened in part of the body. And hospitals diagnose us with a very expensive machine and tells you what’s wrong in a body physically.

And as I said, cause of all internal disease is from the wounds of patients subconsciousness. Therefore the purpose of treatment has to be “how to heal wounds of the subconscious of the patient”.

And in fact, eastern medicine has view and philosophy that “heart and body is one”. Because in ancient time age, they knew the cause of the disease is Ki, and that’s why disease in Japanese is Byo ki. (Sickness in Ki)

And I dare to say this because, this is not well known in general but actually, subconsciousness and Ki is the same thing described in a different word. When eastern medicine talks about oneness of the heart and body, heart means subconscious.

And I would like to ask you if heart and body are oneness, why eastern medical practitioner does not think about “how to heal the heart of patient” instead of pushing this point or stick a needle to the point number XX, taking this herb?

Why modern age eastern doctors only talk about the physical method and don’t care about the patient’s heart? even the heart is oneness with the body?

Master Masunaga said “If the purpose of treatment is to treat physical body, even they are using materials of eastern medicine, such as needles, or hands or herbs, and working those methods, we cannot call it eastern medicine” If practitioner is working on patient’s body without trying to effect to patient’s subconscious, it is not different attitude of western doctors.

Then, I think now you can understand why many eastern medicine schools demand western way of Shiatsu, isn’t it?

Anyway, back to the subject, the purpose of Tao Shiatsu treatment is to heal a patient’s subconscious, because Ki is subconscious. And this is the specific difference between Tao Shiatsu and not only other Shiatsu but any medical treatment method is modern age

Doin Anma as Yin and Yang

The Anma which was the origin of Shiatsu was the center of eastern medicine and was called Doin/Anma. Doin is self-discipline to develop own Ki and Anma gives others treatment with ki. And because Doin /Anma was one set as Yin and Yang, in ancient China. Therefore basically all manual therapist was martial art players as well. Traditionally they practiced the martial art in the mountain and gave treatment in down the city.

And about art, for example, students of the Chinese philosopher Confucius have to study 4 subject in order to learn Tao. Calligraphy, music, painting, and Chinese chess. Also in ancient Greece, music was one of the main methods to heal disease. Are these enough to explain about the relationship, martial art and art, and Shiatsu?

Ki belongs to the world of oneness

And about spirituality, if people are asking me such a question, I understand that people, in general, think it’s not common to practice both spiritual way and eastern medicine, isn’t it?

As I said, to recognize or diagnose and treat meridian, the heart state of practitioner has to go beyond the dualism, such as Subject & Object, heart & body, heart & matter, nature & me, you and me, etc.

Why we have to go beyond dualism? One is because Ki itself belongs to the world of oneness. (that’s why science can never prove the existence of Ki)

And the meridian, which is a flow of Ki only can recognize in the heart when a practitioner is in a state of beyond dualism.

Beyond dualism is the state of emptiness

The word “beyond dualism” sounds very philosophical. So you might think that you must sit and meditate and be in emptiness state in order to gain beyond dualism state. Also, you might think that emptiness is sitting like a rock. Isn’t it?

But if so, I must say that there is a big missing aspect of your understanding. Heart of beyond dualism is the heart of compassion.

Actually, setsu-shin is touch diagnoses in eastern medicine, and the word setsu means to cut. Why cut? It symbolically expressed that feeling of the practitioner’s heart is just as feeling one’s heart is cut when you see somebody in pain. And that’s why the word compassion is called JI-HI in Buddhism(in Japanese). Ji is compassion and Hi is sadness. Why sadness? Because feeling pain when see others suffering. Beyond dualism means feeling others pain as your own pain. That’s what means in the oneness of subject and object. Of Course, we cannot have the same sensation in the physical body as what the patient has. But in the meridian treatment, we feel that everything that’s happening in patients in Ki field and meridian is completely synchronizing to what’s happening in a practitioner’s heart. Yes if there is some amount of ego conscious, we don’t realize it. But if there is an emptiness state in our heart, you will see in your heart that everything that happens in the patient’s meridian is 100% reflecting to own heart as in the image. As an addition, in clinical practice, there is some piece of ego conscious in the state of emptiness. Otherwise, we cannot diagnose and judge where to work on.

Feeling another problem as your own problem, this is the feeling of a practitioner who is living beyond dualism. Therefore beyond dualism does not mean just sit and meditate and feels nothing about others. It is a very warm heart. It is feeling full of care of others. Being responsible for others happiness and about the future of the world.

Therefore also the word “emptiness” doesn’t mean you recognize the outside world as “nothing exist”. Emptiness is a state of the heart to be full compassion to whole world or universe, and in the Nembutsu practice(Mahayana Buddhist Chanting meditation) if you are fully focused your heart to Buddha and all being in the universe, you will receive the state that you don’t exist. I believe that this is the same state when Paul wrote “Now I don’t live anymore, Jesus living in me” Therefore the basic concept of Mahayana Buddhism is praying for all beings, and reach the state of emptiness.

Dream or reality of the future?

And you know that “ be responsible for each other’s life” is most missing part of people living in modern age.? Do you know this is the reason why so many people are spending an unhappy life?. Why so many people are lonely? Why so many people worried about the future with the word “If something happens—”?. Because there is no guarantee to be cared for by others. Who is responsible for your happiness for now and the future? If nobody, then bank account will be the only thing you can depend on. Therefore insurance company has so as many customers as a population. The heart of dualism is not taking responsibility for each other’s happiness. This is not normal, or may I say people don’t think this way of living is abnormal itself is a sickness of this time age.

Therefore let’s imagine the opposite. Imagine if people are taking responsibility to other people’s happiness for each other. They are all caring about other problem as their own problem. This is the heart state beyond dualism. They no longer live and work only for their future concern.

Then how this society will be? There will be no lonely people. There will be no people who worry about their future. There will be no unhappy people.

Do you think it’s a dream? Or it will be a reality someday in the future?

There is only a clear fact about this subject. If this is just a dream, a human being will never be able to create a happy society, no matter how much civilization are improved, no matter how much life become comfortable by technology, human beings life is just miserable.

Because no one can escape from the principle of nature, as Shakyamuni Buddha cleared. The principle is “we all get old and die someday in the future”

Why many young people find difficult to live?

In the modern age, human beings created a highly developed civilization. If you are born in developed countries, there is no starvation. You don’t have to fight for survival as we were fighting with a Mammoth. But at the same time, the difference of riches and poor is increasing and

many young people have no hope in the future. They know either consciously or unconscious, that happiness doesn’t come with the way we have been developing to build modern society….For example, we human being still haven’t find the economic system to make people happy. And there is one ironically thing. The convenience of living by high technology increases people’s mental suffering. You know why?

One is because if life is not so convenience who need the help of others each other. And that makes people nice to each other and care about each other. But we are living in the society we can live without having any contact with other people. For example, we can order pizza via the internet and they will deliver you. As long as we have money, we don’t need to depend on others. We can use others by paying money.

Another reason is that if we are busy with how to survive, we don’t have no time to think about “what is the meaning of life!?” “what is trues in life!?” But now, especially young people, they have a lot of time, without the necessity to spend time to survive.

And that’s why many young people in developed countries are feeling difficult to live. They are unconsciously confronting to those problems of life as representative of mankind’s spirit. (in ancient time only a few people had to confront to solve these problems in life and they became famous philosophers, spiritual sage, etc)

Next to the spiritual development of mankind

It’s because now is the time age that spirit of mankind progress to the next development. At Synchronously, we are facing to the reality that word view of dualism which created separation among people itself was the cause of an unhappy life. Of Course, dualism Science technology was useful for material happiness. But it was not useful for spiritual happiness of mankind and this is affecting people’s mental life.

We human beings are created to feel happy only when we work together and shared good result from it. Sharing goodness is the only way to make yourself happy. And this principle or DNA hasn’t disappeared or changed since we fought together with the Mammos and share food. As all cell of our body is created to help each other, we human being are created in that way.

Therefore, in the next spiritual development, in of human being, the view of the world will be based on beyond dualism. In the next development, people will be no longer not responsible for others happiness. This should be postmodern next step after a highly developed civilization age.

Then what about in the medical field in the next development? As we all know, the medicine based on a view of dualism was useful for the battlefield and of course, it is still useful for emergency treatment. But in the next development of a human being’s spirit, we will realize that it is not useful for disease in general. A human being will be awakening to the reality, that true clinical effectiveness will be happened by the method which is based on the view of the oneness of heart and body.

And those are the reasons why Tao Shiatsu is so much involved with spiritual practice such as Buddhist chanting meditation called Nembutsu.

To show the effectiveness of meridian diagnose and treatment would be one of the ways to prove oneness of subject and object which is a principle of eastern medicine is the true reality of life. And this can be one of the helping mankind bring to next spiritual development. All medicine will follow this principle, the reality of life in the future.