The idea for this article came to me while I was scrubbing small pieces of dill, coated with some olive oil, out of the grooves of my Mr. Bento soup container (I’ll come back to Mr. Bento later). I remembered some basic chemistry and physics, and noticed that there were at least five observable factors at work in the cleaning of the container. There was the water itself, the heat of the water, the pressure of the water, the soap, and the scrubbing with a cloth, all interacting with both the material of the container itself and the food which I was rinsing off of it.
Diagnosis and treatment are just like this. There is never just one thing going on. Not one thing which is the cause, not one thing which is the complete diagnosis, not one thing which will correct the problem. There are always at least several factors acting simultaneously at any given time. In a system more complex than a soup container, say something like a human being, there are more things taking place at once that we can possibly conceive of. If we pay close attention, we can observe some of these factors and make up a story as to what is going on. We can make up good stories if we utilize a well worked out system, such as physics or Chinese medicine. But we can never know everything there is to know, and we need to be aware of this. Yet, we always want to know that one thing which caused our problem, and what one thing is going to fix it. I find in my practice, that people often do not want to make more than one change at once, because then how will they know “what is working”. In fact, they spend a great deal of energy trying to identify and quantify this one thing, rather than acting in a manner that will actually bring some relief. Generally speaking, we spend more time in our heads than in our actual experience. To practice or to receive Chinese medicine well (and really, this is true for anything), we have to be able to hold many things at once and not pick just one.
As far as Mr. Bento goes, I thought this would be a good opportunity to recommend it. Japanese bento boxes are multi-compartment, portable lunch boxes. Mr. Bento is a bento box with four storage containers, including a soup container, which fit into an insulated steel jar. Foods can be kept hot or cold. This is the perfect solution for everyone who says they have no way to bring and eat lunch at work. Mr. Bento, and his smaller companions Ms. Bento and Mini Bento, can be found online or at Asian grocery stores. More information is available on the Zojirushi lunch jars products page.