The mind is the master of the body. You must make this master peaceful and calm.
The body is the servant of the mind. You must make it move and work.
When the mind is tranquil, it is replete. It is joyful and without pain.
When your body moves and works, food and drink move through it smoothly. Your blood circulates well, and illness is kept at bay.
—From: Cultivating Ch’i A Samurai Physician’s Teachings on the Way of Health. Kaibara Ekiken.
This is part of a samurai doctor’s prescription for how to preserve life and make yours a long and healthy one. Unlike other samurai, Kaibara Ekiken (1630–1714) was concerned less with swordsmanship than with how to maintain and nurture the healthy mind and body upon which martial techniques and philosophy depended.
While serving as the chief medical doctor and healer to the Kuroda clan, he came to a holistic view of how the physical, mental, and spiritual lives of his patients were connected. Drawing from his medical practice, the principles of traditional Chinese medicine, and his life experience, Ekiken created a guide to sustaining health and stamina from youth to old age.
Ekiken’s advice regarding moderation, food and drink, sleep, sexual activity, bathing, and therapeutic practices is still amazingly intuitive, current, and appropriate nearly three hundred years after his book was written.