Since its origins in the Shang Dynasty nearly 3,000 years ago, traditional Chinese medicine has undergone many dramatic shifts and adapted to a wide range of cultural, social, religious and foreign pressures. One of the most notable changes is the attribution of the etiology of disease (as well as general poor health and behaviors) from volatile and dissatisfied external forces to manageable internal forces. This allowed for a flourishing of thought in Chinese medicine, for once granting an individual the power to influence his or her own health. Three religions—Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism—were also introduced to China at this time, all of which promoted varying degrees of self-cultivation. This paper compares ritual incense burning associated with these religions (which had no direct link to traditional Chinese medicine) to the known medical practice of moxibustion. This paper argues that, although not obviously related, both of these entities “healed” the human body, whether corporeally or ethereally, cleansing them of worldly impurities while simultaneously strengthening their connectedness to nature, the “Most High”, and others on the same path.
Matulek, Hannah E.
"Succor in Smoke: A Historical and Comparative Analysis of Incense and Moxibustion as Similar Agents of Edification and Self-Cultivation,"
Black & Gold:
Available at: https://openworks.wooster.edu/blackandgold/vol3/iss1/2
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