I have always struggled with learning languages. It wasn’t something that I was introduced to in childhood, and because I skipped high school, I didn’t catch it there either. The first inkling I had to learn a language was around age 16 when I first started working with the Yijing. I was immediately interested in learning classical Chinese. But, I lacked resources and so only learned a few characters related to hexagrams I was receiving frequently during sittings.
In college, I had to take a language for my Master’s degree work in Applied Ethics.
I chose German, for whatever reason, and did poorly. This only further cemented in my mind that learning a language wasn’t for me. It was only when I got to NUNM and the Cosmology & Symbolism course taught by Heiner Fruehauf again piqued my interest. While I didn’t focus on Chinese language while I was in medical school, I picked quite a bit up as I progressed through my studies.
But to learn well enough to do the things I’d like to do, systematic and persistent engagement is necessary. I didn’t do that while I was in school because I focused so much on my herbal knowledge and raising my young daughter!
After graduation, I felt very excited to “finally have time to study.”
Anybody who has made this transition knows how funny that statement is. What ended up happening is that I got so busy with clinic and with teaching that the only study I could do was that which was directly related to a patient case, or an upcoming lecture. This rarely involved much work with classical Chinese language – mostly just translations.
In the last few months, my time for study and work on Deepest Health has ballooned.
Along with that has come a growing energy and curiosity about the next stage of my medical studies. Ongoing repetition & deeper engagement with my herbal lineage is, of course, a must. But, I’ve decided that Chinese language learning is going to come front and center for a while.
The reasons for learning classical Chinese as an acupuncturist or Chinese herbalist are diverse
For me, the most important reasons include:
- To provoke a deeper connection with the texts I use every day in translation, such as the Shanghan lun and Jinggui yao lue.
- To gain the mental benefits of language study
- To engage in the deeply meditative practice of character study and text translation. I got to taste this as a medical student, and still miss the courses that allowed me to spend time with the language.
- To engage with texts that are not yet translated into English, or have few or poor translations available
- To be able to say, “Yes,” when patients ask me if I understand Chinese 🙂
What has propelled me into this moment is chiefly the availability of a wonderful resource in Dr. Sabine Wilms’ Imperial Tutor mentorship and intensive.
Sabine is an eminent translator of classical Chinese texts, and was a colleague of mine on faculty at NUNM for several years. I learned to respect her scholarly capacities, as well as her vibrant personality and authentic sincerity. She has kindly prodded me for years to engage these studies – and now she’s created the perfect container within which I might do so. I’m so grateful!
One thing that sets Sabine apart is that one of her primary interests is the texts and traditions related to classical Chinese medicine. I’m interested in the broader classical literature, but of course my primary hope in learning classical Chinese is to help me with my medical studies.
Starting in September 2021, I’ll be jumping in with both feet with Sabine’s Classical Chinese Intensive.
It’s a 13 week course, taught entirely online, with a substantial library of support resources available to students. The instruction website itself is modern and easy to use, and Dr. Wilms has applied for NCCAOM continuing education credits. The intensive is reasonably priced at $1800- particularly given the level of instruction. Check out the website for more details!
This is an incredible opportunity for those interested in learning classical Chinese.
I’d really love to see you as a member of the course – so check out her website to learn more and sign up.
If you do – head over to the Deepest Health community and tell me you got registered! While Dr. Wilms has her own online community, maybe we can get some conversations going here as well. I’ll be sharing my journey on the blog, on Twitter, and on Instagram – both with this course and with my further studies.