Chinese New Year 2015: The Year of the Goat

19 February, 2015 at 17:14 | Posted in Chinese culture | Leave a comment
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By Lily Choo and Tanya Harrison
Epoch Times

This year, Feb. 19 marks the beginning of the Year of the Goat, from which we will enter a new Chinese zodiac year.

Chinese New Year is the most important festival to Chinese people the world over. Like the solar New Year, it represents a time for reflection, for resolutions, and new hope in the year to come.

Chinese New Year celebrations run for about 16 days, from the New Year’s Eve until the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first lunar month.

The Chinese lunar calendar incorporates both the lunar cycle and the position of the sun. So, using the traditional Chinese lunar calendar, the first day of the Chinese lunar year may fall anywhere between late January and the middle of February.

Chinese people have used the lunar calendar since 2600 B.C when the mythical Yellow Emperor, or Huang Di, started the first cycle of the Chinese zodiac.

According to legend, Huang Di named an animal to represent each year in a 12-year cycle that includes the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig.

Good Associations And Attribution

The Chinese character羊 (yáng), which generally refers to a goat, sheep, or ram, is considered a symbol of auspiciousness, good luck, and peace. Since ancient times, people have used 羊to symbolize good-naturedness.

羊is among the animals that Chinese people like most. It is generally gentle, calm, and quiet by nature and is a source of many things that benefit humankind.

羊 is close to the meaning of good things. As such, it is used in many Chinese characters to indicate something beneficial.

Here are a few characters related to羊

祥 (xiáng) means good omen or auspiciousness. It has a 羊 on the right.

善 (shàn) means compassion and kindness. There is a 羊on the upper part.

義 (yì) means righteousness and justice. It has a 羊on the upper part, too.

美 (měi) means perfection and beauty. There is also a 羊 on the upper part of this character.

鮮 (xiān) means fresh and tasty. You can find 羊 on the right in the character.

The Sign Of The Goat

The Goat is the eighth sign in the Chinese zodiac. If you were born in 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, or 2015, your Chinese zodiac sign is likely the goat. It is important, though, to consider the day of your birth in January or February in regard to the first day of the Chinese New Year.

Since ancient times, the goat became closely linked to Chinese people’s livelihood. Its meat and milk are highly nutritious, and its wool makes fabric that is lightweight, soft, and has other good properties. Chinese people also learned to use its fleece to make writing brushes and its skin to keep warm.

Being mostly quiet and calm, goat are considered peaceful animals. Like their animal counterpart, people born in the Year of the Goat are seen as calm individuals. Their personalities are quiet, reserved, and soothing. They tend to be easygoing and relaxed. Hanging in the background, they watch contentedly away from the limelight as others dazzle company. They enjoy life in their own quiet, individual way.

Read more: Chinese New Year 2015: The Year of the Goat


Treating Body and Mind Through the Spleen

2 December, 2014 at 13:41 | Posted in Body & Mind, Chinese culture, health | Leave a comment
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Obesity, insomnia, and depression can all result from trouble with the spleen

By Christopher Trahan

While Western medicine views disease as being biochemical or mechanical, in Chinese medicine, all disorders can involve both physical and psychological processes.

Therefore, when we talk about an organ in traditional Chinese medicine, it has a different scope than the Western organ with the same name (and for this reason, is capitalized in this article).

So, while Western spleen diseases all affect the “Spleen” of traditional Chinese medicine, the Spleen of Chinese medicine also includes other physiological functions.

In traditional Chinese medicine, the Spleen provides perhaps the most far-ranging array of physiological functions and is the most complex when compared to its Western equivalent organ.

The Spleen of Chinese medicine maintains our daily energy and metabolism. It includes our digestive system, our immune and lymphatic systems, our blood nutrients, and various aspects of our endocrine system.

The Spleen’s mental-emotional states are worry, over-thinking, pensiveness, and rumination. In modern Western psychological terms, the Spleen relates to anxiety and nervousness and some forms of depression and insomnia.

In Chinese medicine terms, the Spleen “Governs Transportation and Transformation” of food and fluids. In Western terms, this includes digestion, assimilation, the distribution of nutrients, and the utilization of lipids, hormones, and electrolytes.

Imbalances in these functions of the Spleen produce most digestive disorders, including diarrhea and constipation, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, excess or lack of appetite, obesity or emaciation, eating disorders, water retention, and skin disorders such as acne and weeping eczema.


In traditional Chinese medicine, wind, heat, cold, dryness, and dampness can unbalance the body and cause illness.

Spleen disorders are particularly affected when a person is exposed to damp environments. Damp weather aggravates conditions like diarrhea, edema, and excess mucous.

On both physical and mental levels, dampness is associated with dullness, slowness, and lack of energy. Dampness can weaken the Spleen energy, causing fatigue and lassitude, and can lead to hypothyroidism. When the Spleen is weak as a result of dampness, a person can develop environmental, seasonal, and food allergies, as well as yeast infections.


The taste associated with the Spleen is sweet. Craving sweets can indicate an imbalance in the Spleen, and over-consumption of sweets, including carbohydrates, can cause the Spleen to lose energy. Taken to the extreme, sweetness and excess dampness can lead to obesity. Deficient Spleen energy can also result in hypoglycemia and diabetes.


Spleen imbalance often occurs in combination with imbalances of other organs. Insomnia of all types relates to the heart, which is said to “house the mind” in Chinese medicine.

When people have trouble falling asleep, this relates to the blood of the Spleen failing to nourish the heart and is often due to over-thinking, anxiety, or worry.

Traditional Chinese medicine recognizes that the Spleen’s digestive function, which produces blood, relates to onset-insomnia. Chinese doctors understood the sleep-stomach connection, thousands of years before modern Western medicine discovered that some 70 percent of serotonin metabolism occurs in the gut.

Treating the Spleen

In my practice, at least 30 percent of my patients experience frequent insomnia, and most of them have trouble falling asleep, which can occur both at the start of the night or when their sleep is interrupted.

In my practice, I always use formulas combining herbs to flesh out the benefits to the Spleen and to address other organs’ imbalances.

Chinese herbal medicine treats all deficient Spleen energy with formulas featuring ginseng and other Spleen tonics such as astragalus and atractylodes.

When we treat Spleen disorders such as excess dampness, we use herbs such as hawthorn to enhance lipid digestion and utilization, and alisma to promote urination.

Global Herbal Medicine and Homeopathy

I also use global herbal medicine and homeopathy to treat spleen issues. In global herbal medicine, I use Ayurvedic and Western herbs to treat spleen syndromes.

In classical homeopathy, I treat these syndromes, including physical and mental-emotional issues, with one or more of homeopathy’s hundreds of plant-based remedies.

The homeopathic remedy Lycopodium treats digestive and mental symptoms associated with Spleen imbalances. I also use the remedy Ceanothus, which dilates the splenic artery, allowing more oxygenated blood to get to the spleen, which enhances the spleen’s function as filtration.

I have found that classical homeopathy often achieves even more impressive results than traditional Chinese medicine and global herbal medicine when it comes to treating more severe psychological pathologies such as depression, anxiety, and insomnia. Homeopathy is also very effective in some cases of hormonal and immune disorders, including infertility and allergies.

Dr. Christopher Trahan, O.M.D., L.Ac., is the medical director of the Olympus Center for Holistic and Integrative Medicine. He is nationally board-certified in Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine (NCCA) and is a classically trained homeopathic physician. He has been in clinical practice for over 30 years. Complimentary consultation:

via Treating Body and Mind Through the Spleen

Shen Yun 2015 World Tour (Trailer)

4 October, 2014 at 10:20 | Posted in Chinese culture, Shen Yun | Leave a comment
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Trailer: 2015 World Tour

The Seven Emotional Factors in Chinese Medicine

29 June, 2014 at 09:04 | Posted in Body & Mind, Chinese culture, health | Leave a comment
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By Jennifer Dubowsky,

Last month, I wrote about “The Six Evils” which is how Traditional Chinese Medicine classifies the external causes of disease. Today I’m going to talk about the internal causes of illness which are called the “Seven Emotions” and are Anger, Fear, Shock, Grief, Joy, Pensiveness and Worry. These emotions are considered the major internal sources of disease in Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Remember how you felt when you fell in love? When you were unjustly accused of wrongdoing? When some jerk took your parking space and smirked at you from the window? Yes? Then I don’t have to convince you that emotions have a huge effect on our bodies. Think about how your chest and stomach tighten when you are upset or how your heart beats faster and adrenaline rushes through your veins when you are angry or afraid.

Emotional responses can cause a cascade of chemical reactions in the body stimulating some organ systems and shutting down others. It is normal and healthy to have emotional responses. However, when the reactions are severe and/or prolonged, they can injure your organs and make you more vulnerable to disease.

In Chinese Medicine, the Seven Emotions are each associated with an organ. Therefore, it follows that if you have a strong negative emotion, the organ associated with that emotion will be affected.

Below, I have listed the Seven Emotions and their associated organs.
1. Anger – Liver
2. Fear – Kidneys
3. Fright/Shock (acute condition) – Kidneys/Heart
4. Joy – Heart
5. Pensiveness (excessive thinking and mental stimulation.) – Spleen
6. Worry – Spleen/Lungs
7. Grief – Lungs

For example, prolonged grief will affect your lungs. The reverse is also true – if you have a long term physical problem, let’s use your lungs again, you will be affected emotionally and you may experience feelings of sadness. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation.  Here’s another example: if you carry a lot of anger with you for a long time, it will begin to affect the health of your liver and cause an imbalance. Also, if you have chronic liver disease, you might develop a shorter temper, have trouble tolerating frustration, and even become depressed.

This ancient concept of the Seven Emotions illustrates the importance of holistic treatment of disease because our bodies are not isolated parts. The WHOLE person needs to be treated. A disease or physical problem affects the rest of the body and the mind. Healing includes treating all the psychological, physical and spiritual imbalances.

Jennifer Dubowsky, LAc, is a licensed acupuncturist with a practice in downtown Chicago, Illinois, since 2002. Dubowsky earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology from University of Illinois in Chicago and her Master of Science degree in Oriental Medicine from Southwest Acupuncture College in Boulder, Colorado. During her studies, she completed an internship at the Sino-Japanese Friendship Hospital in Beijing, China. Dubowsky has researched and written articles on Chinese medicine and has given talks on the topic. She maintains a popular blog about health and Chinese medicine at Acupuncture Blog Chicago. Adventures in Chinese Medicine is her first book. You can find her at

via The Seven Emotional Factors in Chinese Medicine

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The Art of Deep Breathing

28 September, 2013 at 07:32 | Posted in Body & Mind, Chinese culture | Leave a comment
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By Tysan Lerner

Fall is sweeping in fast, and suddenly I find myself feeling a bit sad. The summer is over, my kids are getting older fast, and … Wait, why is that Dove commercial making me cry?

It turns out fall is the season associated with grief, according to Chinese medicine, as well as the season of the lungs.

Everything is interconnected. Even when an organ system is a little out of balance, you will feel it. According to ancient Chinese science, every organ has an associated emotion. For lungs, it’s the emotion of grief, which affects the health of the lungs.

So now that fall winds are sweeping summer away, cleaning up the air with a fresh cool breeze and getting the earth ready for winter, you too can prepare your body. You can clean up your lungs, keeping them healthy and strong by incorporating a deep breathing routine into your life.

When grieving, simply take a few deep breaths, go for a walk, and notice the sun, the trees, and the sky. Soon you’ll find you are no longer choked up.

Deep Breathing

When you breathe deeply, you’ll inevitably bring yourself out of a stress state and into a calm state. To breathe deeply, it is important to use your diaphragm to draw in your breath.

Many people can breathe deeply into their chest, but they are missing out on the calming effects breathing can have when they breathe into their belly and pelvis.

Not only will you be able to strengthen your belly-flattening muscles when you get belly breathing down, but you will also improve hip stability and bring your body into a deep state of calm—deeper than you may have ever experienced.

Belly breathing can be difficult to experience if you haven’t practiced it before. Some people find it while standing, others while lying on their back, and some can’t find it unless they are kneeling on their hands and knees. Choose a position to start exploring your belly breath.

As you inhale, expand your belly out as if it were a balloon puffing up with air. Try to leave your chest muscles out of it. Think of breathing all the way down into the bottom of your pelvis.

As you exhale, squeeze the air out of you as though you were squeezing toothpaste out of a tube. Exhale until all the air is pushed out of your body. At the end of the exhalation, you should feel a tightening of the muscles in your abdomen.

Once you find this breath, try these belly-breathing exercises:

The Elevator. Inhale and expand your navel out. As you exhale, your navel will draw in. Imagine an elevator traveling from your navel to your spine. Draw the navel back six flights, pausing at each flight as you do so. Repeat three sets of 10 repetitions every day.

Belly Breath on All Fours. Kneel on all fours. Keep your hands in line with your shoulders and your knees in line with your hips. Keep your spine in a neutral position.

Inhale and expand your belly toward the floor, activating your diaphragm. Hold your breath and draw your navel to your spine, pushing all your organs out of the way, activating your transverse abdominis.

Lift your pelvic floor by using the muscles that can stop the flow of urine.

Exhale forcefully as you continue to draw your navel in without rounding your back. Repeat 6 to 10 times.

This autumn, keep your lungs healthy and clean by incorporating a deep-breathing routine into your life.

Tysan Lerner is a certified health coach and personal trainer. She helps women attain their body and beauty goals without starving themselves or spending hours at the gym. Her website is

via The Art of Deep Breathing » The Epoch Times

Preparing Ourselves for Autumn

26 September, 2013 at 16:24 | Posted in Body & Mind, Chinese culture, Food | Leave a comment
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By Tysan Lerner

In China, it was traditionally believed that our bodies are small worlds containing all the elements and energies found in the world around us and fully interconnected with our environment.

According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), the different parts of our bodies, just like the earth around us, are made up of the energies of the five elements—metal, wood, water, fire, and earth.

Each organ system is connected with specific elements as well as certain emotions, a color, flavors, and other energetic characteristics. The four seasons and the hours of the day also correspond to different elements.

Because of this, our bodies’ needs change as our environments changes. To maintain harmony in our lives, we need different things when the sun rises and when it sets, and different things during winter, spring, summer, and fall.

Most of us have experienced taking a walk outside during the transition from one season to the next. We smell the difference; we feel the difference.

In autumn, as the days get shorter and the weather cooler, we are reminded that winter is around the corner, and we must prepare for it. Traditionally, we would be stocking up on fuel and food, unpacking our warm-weather clothing, and preparing for the period of winter stillness.

You may have noticed feeling a little sad these days, mourning the end of summer fun. You may notice your hair and skin feeling a little dry, just like the leaves and plants which are also less lustrous as they transition into autumn dryness. You may feel more vulnerable to getting chilled as you feel the rising autumn winds swirling about and cooling the summer air.

If you walk outside in shorts and a T-shirt at the beginning of autumn, break a sweat that opens your pores, and don’t get covered soon, the “autumn wind” can easily enter your system, making you more vulnerable to colds and chills.

To protect yourself from illness during this season, it is time to start preparing your body for the cooler months ahead.

Autumn Eating

The easiest and most practical way to prevent colds, depression, and colon issues such as constipation during the transition into autumn is to eat the foods that are local and in season.

The earth, in its mysterious wisdom, produces foods that warm us during the cold months, just as it produces foods that cool us during the warm months.

Aligning ourselves with the five elements means connecting our choices to the ruling element of the season. Autumn is governed by the metal element, which, when in balance, allows us to be more organized, focused, and productive.

Therefore, how we cook and what we eat should give us the energy to thrive in the cooler season.

Autumn is a time when we want to gradually move away from raw, cooling foods such as smoothies, salads, popsicles, and watermelon and into warming soups. Since it is not winter yet, you can still balance your meals with foods that are light and mucous-reducing, such as shitake mushrooms, white button mushrooms, daikon or red radish, bok choy, and cabbage.

Slow-cooked dishes such as congee (Asian-style rice soup) with some pickled vegetables, miso soup, and bean soups such as chickpea or aduki bean soup with squash are all great autumn meal choices. The preferred meat choice is pork, which, as a white meat, relates to the metal element.

It will also help to include foods that are sour in flavor because these energetically help us pull our thoughts together and ground us. Some suggestions are sauerkraut, pickles, olives, lemons and limes, vinegar, plums, grapefruit, and even tart yogurt and sour dough bread (if you can handle gluten and dairy).

Emotional Cleansing

Autumn relates to grief. If we grieve too much, we can strain our lungs and colon. We must allow ourselves to process grief and let it go. We can release our emotions as we do our breath when we exhale fully.

Pick up your mood by exercising more, breathing deeply every day and at different times throughout the day, and spending quality time with friends or on activities that take you out of sadder emotions and into joy.


Just as the leaves on the trees start to dry up and shed, so does our skin and body. If you notice feeling thirstier lately or have dry skin and hair, it may be a reaction to the seasonal change; however, if thirst and dryness are severe or persist, there may be something out of balance in your diet, fitness, or internal health.

Foods that create more moisture in the body are tofu, tempeh, spinach, barley, millet, oysters, crabs, mussels, herring, pork, pesto made with pine nuts, eggs, almond butter, and seaweed. Avoid foods that are too bitter or aromatic.


For a healthy colon and strong lungs, it is important that you stay active and eat enough fiber. Avoid overeating, eating processed foods, and smoking.

Be sure to stay warm if you exercise outside. You don’t want to “catch wind” as the ancients used to say, referring to the fact that when you sweat, your pores open up and become gateways for pathogens to enter the body, especially during the cooler, windier autumn months. To avoid the flu and yearly colds, dress appropriately.

Tysan Lerner is a certified health coach and personal trainer. She helps women attain their body and beauty goals without starving themselves or spending hours at the gym. Her website is

via Preparing Ourselves for Autumn » The Epoch Times

Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine strongly protect us from colds and flu

24 September, 2013 at 07:42 | Posted in Body & Mind, Chinese culture | Leave a comment
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By Melissa Sokulski

Cold and flu season is upon us. Traditional Chinese Medicine has effective time-tested techniques which boost immunity and protect us from colds or the flu. Points can be needled and herbal formulas can be given to balance the body’s energy, strengthen the body and even speed recovery if one does come down with symptoms.

In Chinese medicine colds and flu are considered to be an external pathogen invading the body. When our body`s energy, or qi, is strong we are able to fight off these pathogens. If our qi is weak we come down with symptoms of cold and flu: headache, chills, fever, body aches, cough, and sore throat.

To keep our qi strong and prevent colds and flu it is important to:

  • Eat a healthy diet full of fresh raw fruits and vegetables.
  • Cut out white and brown sugar, and corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup – all of which lower our immunity.
  • Wash hands frequently with regular soap and water.
  • Get outside in fresh air exposing your face to sunshine. It may be wise to supplement with vitamin D3 this time of year.
  • Receive acupuncture treatments which strengthen the qi and balance energy.
  • Choose herbal medicine, supplements and nourishing food to keep immunity strong.

It is important to make sure all meridians are balanced to keep the energy flowing smoothly and our immunity strong. Immunity relates especially to the earth and metal elements which show up in the pulse as the spleen and lung meridians.

An acupuncturist will often use points such as Stomach 36 to keep the energy strong and Spleen 6 to make sure food is digested properly and nutrients are absorbed and turned into vital energy.

Large Intestine 11 is a powerful immune point. Large Intestine 4 and Triple Warmer 5 are often used to help the body push pathogens out. Lung 7 combined with Large Intestine 4 strengthens the body`s defense against pathogens.

Often the earth and metal points on the back (Bladder 13 and Bladder 20) are needled to harmonize the body`s energy and strengthen immunity.

In terms of herbal medicine:

  • Astragalus is an excellent immune tonic.
  • Medicinal mushrooms such as Reishi and Maitake can boost the immune system especially if compromised.
  • Four Gentlemen Formula is a classic Chinese herb formula to keep the qi strong.
  • Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang is a combination of ginseng, astragalus, and other herbs used to strengthen qi.

If someone comes down with symptoms of the flu the treatment switches to formulas which expel the pathogen:

  • Yin Qiao contains cooling detoxifying herbs such as forsythia and honeysuckle. It is used with symptoms of sore throat, headache, and a yellow tongue coat.
  • Gan Mao Ling is used when in the midst of a bad cold or flu especially with head and body aches.

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine have been around for thousands of years successfully treating many disorders including colds and flu.

Originally published by and republished with permission
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via Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine strongly protect us from colds and flu » The Epoch Times

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Antibiotics are Proven Ineffective for Coughs; Try Chinese Medicine and Herbs Instead

21 September, 2013 at 17:35 | Posted in Body & Mind, Chinese culture, Food | Leave a comment
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By D.J. Heyes

As more research is done regarding so-called “non-traditional” healthcare, doctors and scientists are rediscovering “old” treatments that are increasingly supplanting today’s standard treatments for a number of conditions.

That includes coughs that often accompany the flu or mild chest infections, according to a recently published study in the journal Lancet.

About 2,000 patients from across 12 European countries were tasked with keeping an “illness journal,” the BBC reports. Researchers from the University of Southampton, led by Prof. Paul Little, found that the severity and duration of symptoms in those who were treated with antibiotics were no different than those who took a placebo (experts did say; however, that if pneumonia was suspected, patients should still be treated with antibiotics because of the severity of the condition).

Antibiotic effectiveness has been reduced because of over-prescribing

“Using the antibiotic amoxicillin to treat respiratory infections in patients not suspected of having pneumonia is not likely to help and could be harmful,” Little said.

“Overuse of antibiotics, dominated by primary care prescribing, particularly when they are ineffective, can lead to the development of resistance and have side effects like diarrhea, rash and vomiting,” Little continued. “Our results show that people get better on their own. But given that a small number of patients will benefit from antibiotics the challenge remains to identify these individuals.”

Earlier research into whether antibiotics were actually beneficial in the treatment of chest infections that included symptoms of weakness, high fever, shortness of breath, fatigue and coughing, produced conflicting conclusions, especially in older adults where chest infections have the potential of causing additional complications.

Researchers randomly assigned and divided patients into two groups – one that received an antibiotic for their cough and one that received a placebo – three times daily for seven days.

The study found little measurable difference in the severity and duration of symptoms that were reported from each patient group. Similar findings occurred in older patients as well – those who were aged 60 or older, a demographic that accounted for one-third of the entire study population.

Additionally, those who took antibiotics reported having more side effects, including nausea, rash and diarrhea, compared to those taking the placebo.

The study is particularly important, given the growing human resistance to antibiotics being seen all around the globe.

Fortunately, there are alternatives to treating mild forms of chest infections and cough, and it’s a treatment that has been around for centuries.

“Traditional Chinese medicine is especially effective in the treatment of coughs because of its careful differentiation of the various types,” write Bill Schoenbart and Ellen Shefi for Discovery Health.

For instance, they note, coughs due to heat produce a sticky phlegm that’s difficult to expectorate, so it is treated with cooling, moistening herbs and acupuncture directed at specific points on the body which clear heat from the lungs.

By comparison, “cough due to cold is accompanied by chills and copious mucus; it is treated with warming, drying herbs and the application of moxibustion,” a traditional Chinese medicine therapy using moxa, or mugwort herb, they wrote.

Here are two more treatment options for cough:

– Treating a dryness cough caused by wind: Usually contracted due to overexposure to a dry environment, symptoms are a dry, non-productive cough accompanied by a sore throat with a ticklish sensation. The focus is to repel the dryness; a typical formula includes Sang Xing Tang (pronounced sahng shing tahng), which helps moisten the lungs and repel the “dryness pernicious influence,” Schoenbart and Shefi said. The treatment should be accompanied by a diet of soups and plenty of liquids, and follow-up treatment should include American ginseng daily for two weeks.

– General acupuncture therapy: Acupuncture therapy in general is an ideal way to treat coughs from a number of causes. “Needling a point on the Conception Vessel meridian (an extra meridian) just above the sternum can quickly calm a cough and assist breathing. Moxa therapy is used typically in the cold, damp type of cough, since there is a need for warmth in that pattern,” Schoenbart and Shefi wrote.

Most Americans tend to use over-the-counter elixirs to treat coughs, but many of them prove ineffective. Chinese therapies can help.

Originally published by and republished with permission.  

Learn more:

via Antibiotics are Proven Ineffective for Coughs; Try Chinese Medicine and Herbs Instead » The Epoch Times

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Floral Water-Media Paintings Come to Life

18 September, 2013 at 07:19 | Posted in Culture, picture of the day | Leave a comment
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By Ron Dory
Epoch Times

Wheaton, Md.—It seems like the perfect setting for the Potomac Valley Watercolorists to display their floral watercolor paintings at Brookside Gardens in exhibition.

Light grapefruit colored Brugmaglia, or ‘angel’s bell’ flowers hang before a background of forest green and dark aqua hues in Ruth Ensley’s painting Reina de La Noche, which translates to “Queen of the Night.” Words cannot describe this beautiful painting.

Ensley’s painting is just one among many presented by the Potomac Valley Watercolorists (PVW). Other paintings in the show include works by local artists from the mid-Atlantic region, including Sue Moses, Jill Poyerd, and Yoshimi Matsukata.

Home to vibrant collection of plants flowers and wildlife, the Brookside Gardens is the setting of the last exhibit by the PVW before the upcoming public release of their first book titled “Potomac Valley Watercolorists Celebrating 40 years from 1974-2014.” The exhibit runs until Sep. 22.

The 200 member group is comprised of water color instructors and artists who exhibit at prominent galleries, museums, and in nationally acclaimed shows, according to the PVW website. The PVW book is a 188 page collection of photographs and information on its members’ art works, inspiration and process.

“You can see a range of styles represented in the book. It’s all water media but there are artists that work in multi-media and abstractly,” said Yoshimi Matsukata, a member of the group.

Matsukata’s painting ‘Exuberance’ is presented in the Brookside Garden exhibition. In Exuberance, Matsukata paints a close-up image of a Hosta plant in a realistic style that is almost 2-dimensional. She uses bright yellows and shades of green to portray the Hosta exuberance— the name of the painting.

“It was early spring, I felt the strength, the strength of life coming though,” said Matsukata about the moment that she painted Exuberance.

PVW artists often acknowledge the challenges of using watercolor. Jill Poyerd describes a water color technique of pouring a wash of color in her blog. In the process, the artist pours pigmented water over the working surface, with a not entirely predictable result!

“It’s a bit like harnessing the wind, you can’t really control it but you can use it” writes Poyerd of the technique.

The luminosity and the transparencies that can be created with watercolor are some of the aspects of the media that keeps Susan Moses connected with the medium.

“I like the convenience and the challenge of working with watercolor in the way it mixes with paper and I like to express myself and to share that joy with other people,” Moses said.

Moses prefers to paint outdoors in the environment of her subjects. She enjoys gardening at her home in North Potomac, painting landscapes, the natural environment and capturing the innocence of children in portraits.

Her painting “Agapanthus and Bee” was accepted into the Baltimore Watercolorists Society 2013 Regional Exhibition at Stevenson University in Maryland from June 30-July 31.

On Nov. 2nd and 3rd, St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Arlington, Va. will host an exhibition, “The Spirit of Water Color,” featuring approximately 200 artworks by about 52 Potomac Valley Watercolorists. Works of art and the group’s book will be available for purchase at the exhibit.

via Floral Water-Media Paintings Come to Life

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Chinese Idiom: To Bite the Hand That Feeds You 忘恩負義

15 September, 2013 at 15:55 | Posted in Chinese culture | Leave a comment
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By Lilly Choo
Epoch Times

Wàng Ēn Fù Yì

The idiom wàng ēn fù yì can be translated as “to bite the hand that feeds you.” Literally, it means to “forget favors and betray justice.”

In Volume 76 of the Book of the Former Han(1), there is a story about Zhang Chang(2), a distinguished scholar and a governor for Emperor Xuan of the Western Han Dynasty, that illustrates this idiom.

After implementing many policies that reduced crime and rebellion in the Shandong region, Zhang Chang was made governor of the Metropolitan District, and he participated in all the state councils.

Emperor Xuan was very fond of Zhang, not only because he had succeeded in bringing peace to citizens in many areas, but also because his advice was often based on his vast knowledge of history.

Zhang Chang had a friend named Yang Yun who was very arrogant and often made negative comments about the emperor’s rule. One day, Yang severely criticized Emperor Xuan and was sentenced to death.

In those times, relatives and friends of convicted people were also affected, more or less, and sometimes lost their positions.

One day, Zhang Chang asked one of his assistants, Xu Shun, to investigate a robbery. Thinking Zhang might soon lose his position, Xu refused to do the task and returned home to sleep.

Xu Shun told others: “I’ve worked for Governor Zhang for years. Now he’s in trouble. Within five days, he will no longer be the governor of the district. Why should I listen to him?”

Hearing this, Zhang Chang was so angry and hurt that he killed Xu Shun. Many debated whether the punishment was too heavy for the crime.

Xu Shun’s relatives appealed to Emperor Xuan and asked that Zhang Chang be sentenced to death for killing Xu Shun. The emperor had no choice but to punish Zhang and, so, dismissed him from office.

A few months after Zhang stepped down, the district was again in chaos. No one knew how to bring peace back to the area. Emperor Xuan sent a messenger to Zhang Chang asking him to return and be reinstated.

On the way to the palace, Zhang wrote a letter to the emperor clarifying the incident. He described how he had always been very kind to Xu Shun and had promoted him, yet Xu turned his back on him because he thought Zhang might be in trouble. He wrote how Xu also spread rumors about it.

Because Xu Shun had betrayed the person that was kind to him, or bit the hand that fed him, Zhang said he killed Xu as an example in order to stop that kind of behavior.

Zhang Chang put an end to the chaos and the district was at peace once again.

The words Zhang Chang used to describe Xu Shun’s behavior, “bite the hand that feeds you” became an idiom widely used later to describe ungrateful people.


  1. The “Book of the Former Han,”also known as “History of the Former Han,” is a classical Chinese history, which covers the Western Han from 202 B.C.–A.D. 9. It was finished in A.D. 111, mainly by the Ban family of scholars. Another classic Chinese historical text about the Han Dynasty is “The Book of the Later Han,” which was written by Fan Ye and covers the Eastern Han period from A.D. 25–220.
  2. Zhang Chang was a distinguished scholar, and a governor and advisor for Emperor Xuan of Han. It was not recorded when he was born, but he died in 48 B.C.

via Chinese Idiom: To Bite the Hand That Feeds You 忘恩負義 » The Epoch Times

Antikythera Mechanism: 2,000 Year Old Computer Used by Ancient Greeks

5 June, 2013 at 06:46 | Posted in Culture, Funny things :-), Science, Technology | Leave a comment
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Antikythera Mechanism: 2,000 Year Old Computer Used by Ancient GreeksBy Benjamin Chasteen
Epoch Times

In the early 1900s, divers looking for sponges in the Antikythera area between Crete and Greece came upon one of the most mysterious discoveries the world has ever seen—the Antikythera Mechanism.

The device was being carried on a Roman ship that was wrecked between 80 and 60 B.C. The ship was believed to have been sailing to the Anatolian Peninsula (also called Asia Minor) to what is now Turkey and was carrying some of the finest works of art of its day. The divers found over 200 amphorae, or ceramic jars, which were still intact on the sea floor.

After the device was found, it wasn’t until 50 years later that an Australian archaeologist using X-rays began to discover that there was a lot more to the mystery piece than was originally thought. However, due to limited technology at the time, the actual function of the Antikythera Mechanism wasn’t known until decades later.

In 2005, using sophisticated software and technology, it was finally discovered that the Antikythera Mechanism was an astronomical device, and by using it, one could navigate one’s position at sea by charting the stars in the skies.

It was also an astrological device. By setting it to a particular day, such as a person’s birth date, one could see how the stars and planets would line up for that person. Using it as a timeline, one could then tell that person’s future by looking at the planets’ alignment for decades to come.

The device could also predict lunar phases, lunar eclipses, and the positions of the sun and moon for years to follow. Later it was also found that the device could predict the motion of the planets, and cast horoscopes for planning future festivals and events in the ancient world.

Mathias Buttet, director of Research and Development at the Swiss watchmaking company Hublot, said, “It includes ingenious features which are not found in modern watchmaking.” Buttet has managed to recreate a smaller version of the device the size of an average wrist watch.

Altogether, the Antikythera Mechanism used about 30 gear wheels, with very sophisticated and intricate parts that all interconnect. Researchers are still not sure who created the device or what its true purpose ultimately was.

The Antikythera Mechanism, along with other artifacts found at the shipwreck, can be viewed at the exhibition “The Antikythera Shipwreck: the Ship, the Treasures, the Mechanism,” which will continue to run at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, Greece, from now through Aug. 31, 2013.

via Antikythera Mechanism: 2,000 Year Old Computer Used by Ancient Greeks

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Noah’s Ark and the Great Flood: Did it Really Happen?

30 May, 2013 at 16:04 | Posted in Culture, Science, Society, Spirituality | Leave a comment
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By Leonardo Vintini
Epoch Times

“In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights.” —Genesis 7:11-12

Approximately 9,000 to 5,000 years ago in the northern Turkish province of Sinop, an event of spectacular historic magnitude took place. So spectacular, in fact, that some believe it represents proof that the “Great Flood” recounted in the Bible may have been an actual (though somewhat exaggerated) representation of real events.

In September of 2004, an expedition in the Black Sea by a team of scientists from various institutions (including the National Geographic Society) determined that the sea in question was not always as we know it today.

They concluded that it had originated from an immense lake of black water that at one point in history began to widen in an unusually rapid way. The change was so great, in fact, that inhabitants of the surrounding area were immediately obliged to search for more secure land, hastily leaving behind housing, tools, and other traces of their former lives.

This led the underwater expedition headed by oceanographer Robert Ballad to declare that there once existed human settlements that now reside more than 300 feet underwater. This startling Black Sea discovery not only contributed to a thoroughly enriched historical understanding of the serious alterations in water level suffered in the ancient Middle East, but also raised questions about what caused the alteration in the first place.

Since then, scientists and reporters continue to probe the unresolved issue; it is a key to understanding the historical development of human civilization and the different climatic stages that Earth has experienced. Furthermore, it is an important theme intertwined not only with the Judeo-Christian tradition but with many legends from different cultures around the world—the Great Flood.

The Black Sea: Proof of the Flood?

Contemporary hypotheses suggesting that the rapid growth of the Black Sea was a consequence of an incredible rainfall of planetary proportions has never received great sale. Based on a large framework of scientific laws, predominantly geological, which have been established on the basis of empirical observation over the years, makes this a rather improbable scenario.

In the first place, skeptical geologists propose that for such a flood to have occurred, we would find a similar stratum throughout the world covered with pebbles, sludge, boulders, and other elements. It is curious that this layer cannot be found, even more so when the flood narrated by the Bible had taken place in a time as recent as 3000 B.C.

Neither can be found the strata of fossils, with different animal and vegetable species occupying specific soil layers. According to flood logic, the animal remains of all species before the big flood (including the extinct dinosaurs) should be found today in only one stratum, without any distinction. But paleontology completely contradicts these suppositions.

Yet these examples appear to be only the tip of the iceberg comprising the arguments that refute a global flood. Even so, much of such reasoning is refuted with equal grace by the “pro-flood” scientists. In fact, descriptions like “all the sources of the great abyss were broken” or “the waterfalls of the heavens were opened” recounted in Genesis are backed up by hypotheses that, although incredible, are impossible to rule out as being incompatible with reality.

One of the more dramatic hypotheses proposed that the planet could have been covered with water up to its highest points, contrary to the calculations indicating that all the water suspended in the atmosphere would only be enough to reach a modest 1.2 inches over the total surface of Earth.

These “flood supporters” calculate that if the geography of Earth went through a leveling out in its surface—the mountains being lowered, the sea troughs being elevated—then the entire Earth would be covered by thousands of feet of water.

According to the water-covers-the-earth theory, in the times of Noah the upper layers of the atmosphere contained a substantial amount of water that today makes up the oceans. This atmospheric water was what covered the whole planet, and which later returned to the ocean troughs by violent vertical tectonic movements. Researchers in support of this idea believe it makes suitable reference to the “waterfalls of the heavens” that could condense themselves thanks to dust generated by several simultaneous volcanic eruptions.

With respect to non-Biblical myths about a purifying flood, these can be found in the Hindu, Sumerian, Greek, Acadia, Chinese, Mapuche, Mayan, Aztec, and Pascuanese (Easter Island) cultures, among others. Several of these stories appear to possess surprisingly similar common factors. Among the most repeated themes are those of celestial announcements ignored by the people, the great flood itself, the construction of an ark to preserve life from the flood, and the later restoration of life on the planet.

A clear example of this similarity is provided by pre-Biblical Mesopotamian history of the flood in which the god “Ea” warned Uta-na-pistim, king of Shuruppak, about the punishment that awaits humanity for its serious moral degeneration. Uta-na-pistim received instructions from the god to construct a craft in the form of a cube with eight floors, and said that it should include in it a pair of each species of animal, plant seeds, as well as his own family. Thus, Uta-na-pistim survived the several-day-long deluge, released a bird to verify the proximity of dry land, and made an animal sacrifice to the gods.

In Search of the Lost Ark

One separate point that adds weight to the Bible controversy is the body of photographic and physical evidence of a large object encrusted in Mount Ararat, where, according to the Christian text narrations, finally rested the ark of Noah.

In the beginning of 2006, University of Richmond professor Porcher Taylor declared that according to an extensive study made over years of satellite photography there is a foreign object encrusted in the area northeast of the mountain, the length of which coincides perfectly with that of the ark recounted in the Bible.

Such satellite images from above Ararat have inspired the curiosity of a great number of scientists since this declaration was made in 1974. Several expeditions of investigators also managed to rescue remains of petrified wood, as well as 13 strong anchors of rock in the area surrounding the supposed location of the possible archeological treasure. Ultrasonic tests have also been made, revealing a very odd structure embedded in the rock.

In spite of the multiplicity of texts from diverse cultures which tell the story of a great ancient flood, the magnitude and duration of such an event seems to be a point of argument, even among those who believe that such an event actually occurred. Thus, while a small number of researchers suggests that this flood covered the entire Earth in vast amounts of water, most geologists agree that such a scenario is an impossibility.

While not everyone believes ancient accounts that describe the re-creation of humanity from the salvation of a handful of people, it would seem that a climatic catastrophe actually did take place across the entire planet several millennia ago. We can also safely assume that an indefinite number of human beings in elevated locations had the capacity to continue civilization, and to transmit the story of the occurrence to later generations.

Up until the time when evidence is revealed to definitively tip the scales toward one of these particular theories, the story of a time when a great flood purged the sins of man will be taken as a myth for some and a statement of historical fact for others. Either way, this great ancient flood remains forever a part of the story of humankind.

via Noah’s Ark and the Great Flood: Did it Really Happen?

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Bollywood Actress After Seeing Shen Yun: ‘I shall remember this forever’

4 May, 2013 at 07:47 | Posted in Chinese culture, Shen Yun | Leave a comment
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By Epoch Times

NEW YORK—Bollywood actress and film producer Kalpana Pandit said Shen Yun Performing Arts was unreal.

“I would say it’s one of the best, musical, spiritual, precision dance pieces I’ve seen in the world,” she said after the performance at Lincoln Center on April 28. “I shall remember this forever.”

Ms. Pandit, an emergency physician-turned-actress, was the leading actress in Panithuli and starred in Janleva 555, as well as appearing in a range of other films, music videos, and television commercials. She was in New York to judge a Bollywood dance competition and ended up experiencing Shen Yun.

Shen Yun is a New York-based performance company that aims to revive the divinely-inspired, 5,000 years of traditional Chinese culture.

Ms. Pandit said the “depth of this beautiful culture” has very deep meaning, especially in today’s world.

“I feel that lack of spirituality is causing a lot of today’s problems with the youth,” she said. “There’s no grounding, because they have no concept of what to hang onto in order to satisfy the soul.”

“I think the deep spirituality which you see in shows like this, it awakens something, and I hope that these kind of shows will help people to explore what it is,” Ms. Pandit added.

Shen Yun presents in some of its dance pieces realms of paradise and the heavens, transporting the audience through the colors of the costumes, the divine nature of the dancing, and the digital backdrops that utilize patented technology.

The performance evoked contemplation from Ms. Pandit.

“There is something that pulls you deep inside, it gives you that sense of belonging to the earth,” she said. “That’s what I felt, especially when they showed all the heavens and the earth, the connection.”

“I aspire that this show touches every corner of the world so that everybody sees it,” she said. “I would love for it to go to India one day and for the people for India to see. This is gorgeous; it is perfect. I aspire that other shows can come up to this level.”

Spiritual Depth of Chinese Culture and Shen Yun

The long Chinese history formed on the three main faiths of Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism.

“Under the influence of these faiths, Chinese culture has spawned a rich and profound system of values,” explains Shen Yun’s website. “The concepts of ‘man and nature must be in balance,’ ‘respect the heavens to know one’s destiny,’ and the five cardinal virtues of benevolence, righteousness, propriety, wisdom, and faithfulness (ren yi li zhi xin) are all products of these three religions’ teachings.”

Classical Chinese dance is at the heart of a Shen Yun performance, accentuated by handmade costumes, digital backdrops, and an orchestra that melds both classical Western and Chinese instruments.

Yet there is much more to Shen Yun than what’s on the surface.

“Digging deeper, one discovers a sea of traditional Chinese culture. Mortals and divine beings merge on stage as one,” says the Shen Yun website. Furthermore, the range of principles and virtues from Chinese culture “come to life” through the performance, “washing over the audience.”

Ms. Pandit said: “I’m going to recommend this to all my friends, because it’s something that is obviously thousands and thousands of years old. That traditional culture comes through because of that ancient art form.”

Reporting by NTD Television, Ivan Pentchoukov, and Zachary Stieber

New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. The next performances in the northeastern United States are in Philadelphia May 3-5. For more information, visit

The Epoch Times considers Shen Yun Performing Arts the significant cultural event of our time. We have proudly covered audience reactions since Shen Yun’s inception in 2006.

via Bollywood Actress After Seeing Shen Yun: ‘I shall remember this forever’ » The Epoch Times

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Chinese Consular Officials Demand Japanese Forsake Shen Yun

26 April, 2013 at 18:55 | Posted in China, Chinese culture, human rights, persecution, Shen Yun, Society | Leave a comment
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Letters sent to businesses and government officials ask for withdrawal of support

By Matthew Robertson
Epoch Times

TOKYO—Chinese consulates in Japan have recently sent letters to businesses, newspapers, and government officials in cities and prefectures across the country, demanding that they withdraw their support for Shen Yun Performing Arts, a Chinese classical dance company that tours the world. Good relations with the People’s Republic of China PRC are said to be at issue.

Shen Yun’s tour in Japan runs from April 19 until May 1. It will perform 11 shows in five cities, and is currently playing in Tokyo.

Last year, and the year before, Chinese consular officials also sent similar letters.

One of the letters, reviewed by The Epoch Times, asks a businessman to cancel his sponsorship of Shen Yun’s local promoters in Fukuoka, where the company is scheduled to perform on May 1. He was additionally asked to withdraw all public relations activities, “involvement,” or other support.

Local government officials have also received such letters, like that sent to the mayor of a city in the Fukuoka Prefecture, by Li Tianran, an official at a PRC consular office in Fukuoka.

Officials in prefectural governments in Tokyo, Kanagawa, Osaka, and Aichi, at least, have also received the letters, according to the local promoters in those areas, who were contacted by confused officials after receiving the abusive notes.

So have theaters, television broadcasters, magazines, and three of Japan’s largest newspapers.

The letters frame their demands as being “for the sake of Sino-Japanese relations,” according to the text in the letter seen by The Epoch Times. The Epoch Times devotes a segment of its website to feedback from audiences that have seen Shen Yun.

The Chinese authorities have long attempted to shut down Shen Yun’s performances around the world. The company is frequently sponsored by the Falun Dafa Associations where it performs; Falun Dafa, a spiritual practice, is persecuted ferociously by the Communist Party in China.

A focus of the round of letters in Japan was to slander the host Falun Dafa Association, using the Communist Party’s propaganda against the practice.

In addition, analysts say that the Chinese regime fears the attractiveness to Chinese audiences of the traditional Chinese culture Shen Yun presents. The Chinese Communist Party has sought over the past 60 years to stamp out China’s traditional culture.

The demanding letters were sent in the context of ongoing maritime disputes between Japan and the PRC, where many Japanese feel that the PRC is acting like a bully.

This round of letters targeting Shen Yun is unlikely to reassure the Japanese that China is a generally benign presence, indicated Koyu Nishimura, a Japanese critic and journalist, who read the letter sent to government officials.

“We have the freedom to think, freedom to speak, and freedom to believe. This is what the Communist Party is most frightened of,” he said in an interview with The Epoch Times. “The world is awakening to the real nature of the Communist Party.”

Nishimura continued: “If this has been happening each time the performers come to Japan, we should not keep silent. We must take action.” He added: “We shouldn’t forgive these actions.”

As a result of the letter-writing campaign, some of the sponsors of the hosting organization withdrew their support, and newspapers have been reluctant to run advertising for Shen Yun.

In the history of Shen Yun’s performances this response is unusual. Letters of this kind are regularly sent to sponsors and politicians who support the hosting organizations in countries around the world, and are often ignored or dismissed. Sometimes they are roundly rebuffed.

In early 2011 one such letter reached Dr. Cathy Casey, a member of the city council of Auckland, New Zealand. “I was quite outraged by it,” she said in an interview at the time. “I’m really upset that the consulate should think it can influence elected members in a host country, where they’re our guest. … How dare they!”

After seeing Shen Yun on April 20, Hirosato Nakatsugawa, a member of Japan’s House of Representatives, said: “I deplore the Chinese Communist Party sabotaging the performing arts. It is just pure artistic performance. People want this emotional experience.”

Updates: The article was updated to reflect the widespread nature of the letter-writing campaign, the content of the letters sent, and the impact they had in Japan.

Translation by Yukari Werrell. Written in English by Matthew Robertson.

Read the original article in Japanese. 

via Chinese Consular Officials Demand Japanese Forsake Shen Yun » The Epoch Times

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Chinese Characters for Music: Yīn Yuè 音樂

19 April, 2013 at 07:02 | Posted in Chinese culture, Music | Leave a comment
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Conveying the special significance of music,
literally ‘the sound of happiness’

By Cindy Chan
Epoch Times Staff

The Chinese characters 音樂 (yīn yuè) stand for music. 音 is the character for sound, while 樂 refers to music itself as well as the concepts of happiness, pleasure, and enjoyment. The two characters combined literally mean “the sound of happiness.”

The ancient Chinese regarded music as a tool to contact the gods, and music was not only for enjoyment and entertainment but also part of sacred ceremony to reunite humankind with Heaven.

In addition, music is the ancestor of medicine and its primary purpose in ancient China was to heal illness. The character for medicine, 藥 (yào), is derived from the character for music.

藥 comprises two parts: 樂 at the bottom and the radical 艹 at the top, which refers to grass, herbs, and other grass-related plants. Following discovery of the healing effects of herbs, 艹 and 樂 were combined to form 藥.

via Chinese Characters: Yīn Yuè 音樂 | Culture | China | Epoch Times

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