Ancient Culture and Medicine: Story of Bian Que
(Minghui.org) Bian Que was a well-known doctor of Chinese medicine who lived long ago. He led quite a colorful life, which can be seen from the selection of stories below.
Learning Medical Skills
Bian Que worked at a hotel when he was very young. At that hotel, there was a regular by the name of Changsang.
Each time Bian Que served Changsang, he was very respectful – this went on for over 10 years, and his demeanor was not lost upon Changsang. He observed the young man carefully and eventually came to trust him very much.
One day, when they were alone, Changsang said to Bian Que, “I have some secret recipes for certain medicines. But I am old now and would like to pass them on to you. Please do not tell anyone else about it.” Bian Que thanked him and agreed.
A few days later, Changsang produced a bag of herbal medicine and asked Bian Que to take the medicine with “water that did not touch the ground” – like morning dew, for instance. Bian Que followed the old man's instructions and took the medicine; within 30 days, he was able to see things that had been invisible to him previously. If there was a wall, say, and someone standing on the other side, he would be able to see the other person through the wall. When looking at a patient, he could see all of their internal organs and instantly know if anything was wrong.
Changsang disappeared instantly after giving Bian Que the recipes and the medicine. From this, Bian Que knew that he couldn't have been an ordinary person.
After that, Bian Que began to practice medicine in the Kingdoms of Qi and Zhao. He was famous for analyzing the meridian system.
Once, Bian Que had passed the Kingdom of Guo, where a funeral was taking place. An officer told him that the prince had suddenly died and was about to be put in his coffin. Standing at the palace entrance, Bian Que told the officer that the prince had not really died. In fact, he could help the prince come back to life. The officer, who was interested in medicine, did not believe him. He said that unless Bian Que had skills like the ancient doctor of Yu Fu—where he could directly adjust a patient's meridian system instead of resorting to herbal medicine or acupuncture, there would be no hope for the prince.
Seeing that the officer was not convinced, Bian Que sighed and said that the methods mentioned by the officer were very limited; they were like trying to see the sky through a bamboo pipe.
“If you ask a doctor to examine the prince, he should hear a sound from the ears and notice slight movements of the nose. If the prince's groin area were also examined, the doctor would find warmth there,” he said.
The officer reported this to the king, who came out of the palace to greet Bian Que. Bian Que explained that the prince's illness was caused by the disharmony of yin and yang. That led to chaos within the meridian system and was reflected on the surface. As a result, the body was motionless, as if he had died.
Bian Que then asked one student, Ziyang, to prepare needles and applied acupuncture at the Baihui acupoint. The prince regained consciousness after a short while. Bian Que then asked another student, Bao, to prepare an herbal medicine plaster that worked through the skin and apply it under the prince's ribs. The prince was then able to sit up. With additional soup to balance yin and yang, the prince fully recovered in 20 days.
When people praised Bian Que for bringing a dead person back to life, he said, “There is nothing I can do if a person has died. But if he is supposed to continue living, I can help him regain his health.”
Through this story, we could see that Bian Que had not only extraordinary skills but also modesty to match.
Seeing Through the Body
When Bian Que was in the Kingdom of Qi, the King Huan Hou treated him very well.
Bian Que said to Huan Hou, “You have an illness, and right now it is between your skin and muscle. If you ignore it, it will go inside of you.”
Huan Hou replied, “But I feel all right.”
After Bian Que stepped out, the king said to the people around him, “Some doctors are just after fame and they like to 'cure illnesses' even for those who are not sick. They would then take the credit.”
When meeting the king again five days later, Bian Que said, “Your illness is now in your meridian system. It will go in further if ignored.” The king said, “I do not have any illnesses.” After Bian Que left, the king was unhappy.
Five days later when seeing the king another time, Bian Que said, “Your illness has reached the intestines and stomach. It will get worse if neglected.” The king did not say anything.
Another five days passed. When seeing the king this time, Bian Que backed off without saying a word and left. The king sent someone to ask him why. Bian Que said, “When the illness is between skin and muscle, merely soup or plaster will cure it. When the illness is in the meridian system, acupuncture and medicinal stones can take care of it. When the illness is in the intestines and stomach, medicinal wine can treat it. But when the illness is in the bone marrow, even the god in charge of fate cannot do anything about it. The king's illness is now in his bone marrow, so I can no longer offer to cure it.”
When the king felt the pain five days later and asked Bian Que for help, Bian Que had already left. The king died soon afterward.
Heart Exchange Surgery
In addition to seeing through the body, Bian Que was able to understand health and personality beyond that. One time, both Gong Hu and Qi Ying went to Bian Que to treat their illnesses. After curing them, Bian Que said they had inherited not just diseases but also shortcomings in personality. If their hearts were exchanged, he suggested, this issue could be resolved.
After receiving agreement from both of them, Bian Que gave them anesthetic wine and made both of them unconscious for three days. During that time, Bian Que opened their chests, exchanged their hearts, and applied a secret medicine for recovery. After the surgery was over, both men regained consciousness and were very healthy. Upon returning home, however, both men went to the other's house. This triggered arguments in both families that weren't pacified until Bian Que went and explained what had happened.
Ancient Chinese medicine was very advanced in ways perhaps beyond current medical science. One needs an open mind to truly understand it and accept it.