This view is indeed confirmed by the ancient medical texts, which tell of a form of illness treatment and diagnosis which is both mysterious and miraculous.
One such doctor was Bian Que. Bian Ques real name was Qi Yueren. Ancient records lead us to believe that he is the first famous doctor in history who had his own, formal biography published. Sima Qian, a well-known writer from the West Han Dynasty, completed this physicians biography. In Historical Annals Biographies of Bian Que, Sima Qian recorded that Bian Que obtained his medical skills from personal teachings by Chang Sangjun. After consuming a certain herb, Bian Que had the supernormal capability to see through walls and the human body.
The biography written by Sima Qian recorded three specific medical cases that Bian Que handled. In the first case, he diagnosed Zhao Jianzis illness by feeling his pulses. In the second case, he kept track of the state of the illness of the Crown Prince Guo through consulting, examining and feeling the pulse and finally brought Crown Prince Guo back from death. In the third case, Bian was able to describe the developing illness of Marquis Qi Huan by simply looking at him. Besides the Historical Annals, further related, fragmentary records about Bain Que exist in Zhanguo Ce, Hanfei Zi, Hanshi Waizhuan, Lie Zi, and other ancient books. In Lie Zi - Chapter on Tangwen, it described how Bian Que administered anesthesia to patients for heart replacement surgery.
Gong Hu from the Warring State of Lu and Qi Ying from the Warring State of Zhao were ill. Both of them asked Bian Que to provide treatment. Under Bian Ques care, both of them recovered from their diseases and became completely healthy.
But then Bian Que said to them, Both of your illnesses are caused by invasion from external negatives which affected the function of your digestive system. Taking medicine or performing acupuncture could control the illnesses. But both of you suffer from another, inherent illness. It will grow more and more apparent and serious as you age. It would be better if I can do something about that right away. What do you think about it? Hearing that, both of them said, Please tell us what our illnesses are first. Bian Que said, Gong Hu has a strong self consciousness but lacks courage, so hes very resourceful but indecisive. Qi Ying has a weak self consciousness but has courage. He is not good at strategy planning but is very stubborn and likes to have his way with everything. If you could exchange your hearts, both of you would be perfect. The two people agreed with Bian Ques assessment of themselves and allowed Bian Que to treat them. Bian Que let them drink wine fortified with a narcotic, putting them into a sleep state for three days. During these days, Bian Que opened their chests, took out their hearts, exchanged the hearts, put their hearts back into their chests, and applied his own secret medicine. The cut healed so well that it seemed like no surgery had been performed. Both bid farewell to Bian Que and returned to their respective homes.
Unexpectedly Gong Hu went back to the home of Qi Ying but the family didnt know him; likewise, at the same time, Qi Ying went to Gong Hus home where Gong Hus wife did not recognize him either. So the two families went to court asking Bian Que to explain what had happened. Bian Que explained what he did, and that was the end of the lawsuit.
Maybe it is the first recorded case in history of open-heart replacement surgery, testifying to the advanced medicals skills Bian Que possessed. This famous physician also initiated ways for traditional Chinese medicine to arrive at a diagnosis by observing, learning, and feeling the pulse. Bian Que is the well-known founder of sphygmology (the science and art of pulse reading) in Chinese medicine.
Excerpted from the classic Chinese work, Liezi, Episode of Tangwen:
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