Excerpts from The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine
(The Neijing Suwen)~240 B.C.
Chapter 1: THE UNIVERSAL TRUTH
In ancient times the Yellow Emperor, Huang Di, was known to have been a child prodigy. As he grew
he showed himself to be sincere, wise, honest and compassionate. He became very learned and
developed keen powers for observing nature. His people recognized him as a natural leader and chose
him as their emperor.
During his reign, Huang Di had discussions concerning medicine, health, lifestyle, nutrition, Taoist
cosmology with his ministers, including Qi Bo, and others. Their first conversation began with Huang
Di asking, “I‟ve heard that in the days of old everyone lived one hundred years without showing the
usual signs of aging. In our time, however, people age prematurely, living only fifty years. Is this due
to a change in the environment, or is it because people have lost the correct way of life?”
Qi Bo replied, “In the past, people practiced the Tao, the Way of Life. They understood the principle of
balance as represented by the transformations of the energies of the universe. They formulated
exercises to promote energy flow to harmonize themselves with the universe. They ate a balanced diet
at regular times, arose and retired at regular hours, avoided overstressing their bodies and minds, and
refrained from overindulgence of all kinds. They maintained well-being of body and mind; thus, it is
not surprising that they lived over one hundred years.”
“These days, people have changed their way of life. They drink wine as though it were water, indulge
excessively in destructive activities, drain their jing - the body‟s essence that is stored in the Kidneys -
and deplete their qi. They do not know the secret of conserving their energy and vitality. Seeking
emotional excitement and momentary pleasures, people disregard the natural rhythm of the universe.
They fail to regulate their lifestyl