The Good Oath of the Great Masters of Traditional Chinese Medicine

       Sun Simiao        about A. D. 682-756

Medical Science is a very difficult skill to attain. There is no exception to this, neither in ancient nor in modern times, in China or elsewhere.

There are those, after studying medicine for three years, who believe that there is no disease in the world they cannot cure. But after working another three years they realize that there are very few diseases that can truly be cured.

For this reason doctors and students must be well-read, study diligently, and train hard. One must not blindly follow hearsay, nor pretend to know what one does not know, or one will deceive oneself as well as others.

When treating his patient the great master of medicine calms and concentrates his mind; his only desire and demand is to treat the disease with a merciful and benevolent heart, and to pledge to help those in need.

If the master is asked for acupuncture or medicine he does not pry into the patient’s riches and honor or poor and lowly, elder or child, beautiful or ugly, enemy or friend, compatriot or foreigner, wise or foolish, he treats them all the same, and as a member of his own family. He looks neither before nor after, is never anxious about good or ill luck, and has no concern for himself.

The master regards the sufferings of his patient as if they were his own, and keeps a heard of sympathy. He does not worry about hardship and dangers. Even when hungry, thirsty, and however tired, day and night, whatever the weather, he always does his utmost to help his patient. He never politely refuses and loses time. If he did that he would be a thief of life.

The great master of medicine is modest, serious, and generous. He is neither overbearing nor servile, and he treats his patient with single-hearted devotion, examining each symptom without carelessness. In acupuncture and herbal medicine there must be no mistakes.

There are also rules of practice: One must not speak out of turn, talk loudly or laugh. One must never gossip or betray confidences. One must neither show off one’s ability nor defame the reputations of others. And if, by chance, a case is cured, one must not be swollen with arrogance or intoxicated with self-satisfaction, nor regard oneself as the prime authority under heaven. In the conduct of doctors it is these above all that are the incurable diseases.