Canonization. Sun Simiao was one of the most important monk doctors of the Tang Dynasty (618-907). Born in Shanxi province, he was the son of a scholar. At the age of seven he was a devoted and diligent student. As a youth he studied the great Daoist writers as well as the Buddhist Canons. Early in his life he lived as a recluse in the mountains, but he was so famous that two emperors offered him high positions in their courts. He refused on the pretext of illness and returned to his hermitage in keeping with the tradition of the great Chinese sages. He died at an advanced age in 682 and was canonized after his death under the name Sun Zhenren.
Medical System. His medical system is a combination of Indian doctrine of the four elements (earth, water, fire, and wind) and the Chinese doctrine of the five viscera. When the fire’s breath was disturbed, the body became burning hot. If the breath of the wind was disturbed, the stomach was blocked. If the water was disturbed, the body swelled and the breathing was deep, panting, and thick. If the breath of the earth was disturbed, the four limbs were slow. If the fire was suppressed, the body grew cold. If the wind stopped, the breathing was interrupted. If the water failed, there was no more blood. If the earth was scattered, the body burst. If the four breaths combined their qualities, the four spirits were in peaceful harmony, but should one of the breaths be disturbed, 101 ailments were produced, and if all four spirits were shaken simultaneously, then 404 illnesses occurred.
Charles O. Hucher, China to 1850: A Short History (Stanford, Cal.: Stan-ford University Press, 1978).
William H. Nienhauser Jr., Bibliography of Selected Western Works on Tang Dynasty Literature (Taipei: Center for Chinese Studies, 1988).