Creative Commons and the Inheritance of TCM Culture
– An Interview with Mr. Kong Lingqian, Founder of Kong Bohua TCM School

Mr. Kong Lingqian

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is an essential component of traditional Chinese culture. Its importance is not only clinically proven in the medical field of China, but also progressively recognized by the outside world. The culture behind this science is also getting more and more attention. Now Kong Bohua Clinic and Kong Bohua TCM school have made the decision to release all their teaching materials under CC Licenses, in order for better promotion the TCM culture. These two organizations are founded by Mr. Kong Lingqian, grandson of Mr. Kong Bohua who was among the four greatest TCM masters of Beijing,

Liu Ping, journalist of CCQ just had an interview with Mr. Kong Lingqian, president of Kong Bohua Clinic and Kong Bohua TCM School, for his ideas towards the inheritance and development of TCM culture.

CCQ: First of all, everyone is very curious about your decision of joining CC, what was your consideration to make this decision? And could you please share with us your experience with CC?

KONG: Personally, I was receiving my education in a traditional Chinese way. This kind of education features openness, same as what is promoted by CC: the spirit of share. My environment has convinced me the greatness and delicacy of Chinese culture, and the importance of inheritance and development of this culture. This is my personal inner reason of joining CC. And there is also an exterior reason, that it is the mission for every single Chinese to promote our great oriental culture abroad. Especially as I am an inheritor of TCM culture myself, I am bound to make my own efforts. For now I will publish my new book under CC licenses: Kong Bohua TCM Family Educational and Clinical Chronicle. And from now onwards, all educational materials on the website of our TCM school will be released under CC licenses.

CCQ: What is the initial consideration that triggered you to found Kong Bohua TCM School?

KONG: Initially it was my affections. And secondly it is that health preserving and TCM, inseparable as they are, form an important component of the traditional culture of our country. Different from text-book theories, their effects are clearly observable and provable in the practices on our bodies. Further, the basic principle of TCM – “heal those who are not yet sick, instead of healing the sick” – is a very advanced ancient philosophy which deserves to be displayed. Our school is now a pool of talent, which has the disciples and descendents of my grandfather, and many great TCM masters of Beijing. Its hardware may not be the most advanced, but its “software” is the best. Except for those TCM masters we have, the important thing is that the tradition is well exercised. And the tradition is actually about conducting oneself.

As for the features of Kong Bohua Clinic, I think the first thing is that it’s based on a cultural brand. It is a humanistic feature, or we can say it has such an inclination. Secondly we preserve and develop the spirit of TCM: we focus on the patient, only patient themselves, without considering richness or poverty. What’s more, the TCM has no secret prescriptions. All are public and all are fair; and healing people is the first priority, it’s beyond the money. That’s why it is very common that in Kong Bohua Clinic, the medicine is always charged lower than registration. Also we have lots of GOOD doctors here, for “good” I mean in their philosophy, not their fame. More importantly we founded Kong Bohua TCM School, which takes our advantage in clinical training to cultivate TCM talents.

CCQ: How do you think of the importance of TCM culture, of this quintessence in our society?

KONG: As for the diagnosis and treat, first it is the good efficacy, especially the dialectical guiding principle which is intended to eliminate diseases from the very beginning. What’s more, the lower price and simplicity made TCM available for every single person of this society. Our government pays much attention to TCM, and is now applying World Intangible Heritage for it.

From a cultural view, TCM is the integration and crystallization of the experience from human beings’ long battle against diseases. It is a precious crystallization of experience that we refer to as humanity, and a culture. And culture is among the triggering factors of the development of a society. Therefore, no matter past or present, we’ll have to always emphasize our culture.

CCQ: As the descendent of one of the four greatest TCM masters of Beijing, how do think of TCM as a culture other than as a social function of healing people?

KONG: For this question I would like to start from the four TCM masters. All the four masters are sharing something in common, that they all adhere to high standards of medical ethics. Doctor is a quite unique profession; one who want to become a doctor must have to learn about morality first. This is what Confucius always advocated, and is also the quintessence of Confucianism.

Another thing they have in common is that they all engaged themselves in promoting education. My grandfather and Xiao Longyou founded Peking TCM College, which existed for 13 years and contributed nearly a thousand graduates, who had mostly become the mainstay of TCM field. This is also an inheritance of culture rather than a medical conduct. In TCM there is a proverb “saving a person equals saving a country”, I believe this can be the best interpretation for TCM culture.

CCQ: In your opinion, how would your readers associate TCM with the concept of CC?

KONG: For this I would like to explain from several aspect. Firstly, our ancestors refer to the world as “under heaven”, which means that TCM belongs not only to China, but also to the world. My grandfather has written to Chairman Mao like this: ‘Why bothering choosing Chinese way or western way? Both are about saving lives and they share one purpose, distinguishable only through their respective logic and techniques. I wish my effort could perfect it and spread it worldly; but this could be done only through the cultivation of talents.” From here we can see two issues: spreading it worldly and talents cultivation. What I need to stress here is that the traditional education spirit is not like the current lecturing system, neither the multi-subject and multi-category approach, it is a system with equality in gender, age and nationality.

From another point of view, TCM is a science based on a culture of humanity, therefore we can say that TCM is supposed to be available wherever man exists, for TCM is humanity. And since TCM is also a form of culture, it should be sharable. Culture is created by human beings. Like language and writing, which is also a form of culture, they’re available for everyone and everyone is entitled to master it. So is TCM. Further more, as we are trying to introduce TCM to the whole world, I believe that the TCM culture should go first. People can only accept something like this when they accepted the culture first.

CCQ: The medical techniques of Kong Bohua family is already recognized as an intangible cultural heritage of Beijing. What is your opinion towards the many vanishing intangible cultural heritages? TCM is among these heritages and what is its situation? And what do you think is the proper way for us to save, or we can say, to protect them?

KONG: From a more impersonal view, applying for Intangible Cultural Heritage recognition is the last choice we can make. “Intangible” means they’re supposed to be heritable only through living generations, not through text books. As we all know, human being is the most complicated being in the universe. Men are constantly changing and therefore TCM diagnosis and treat are always evolving. And this evolution, along with the law governing it, are only heritable with the attendance of the master, the apprentice and the patient. The modern educational system of TCM focuses class lecturing, and the most precious clinic process are barely touched. As for its inheritance, there’re even more problems. So far as I know, many of the inheritor of Intangible Cultural Heritage just passed away soon after the approval is issued by the authorities.

The science of TCM is the heritage from our ancestors’ precious experiences; it’s an important component of our culture. Applying for Intangible Cultural Heritage recognition just evidenced that the protection thereto is powerless. Furthermore, the important thing is that it requires more from the understandings and support of our this society; only the government’s effort are not going to work it out.

by Liu Ping, Xin Xingzhi