Countless practitioners around the globe were in shock and devastated by the recent news of the passing of Dr. Richard Teh-Fu Tan. To say that I was deeply affected by this news is an understatement. Today I find it important to write something about this Master teacher that had such a profound impact on my practice.
After my first seminar with Dr. Tan just three years ago I was so blown away by what he was able to unlock around my understanding of Chinese Medicine that I took every seminar I could with him during an intense two year period. I was devastated when he had to cancel another seminar I was planning to attend in San Diego this past summer. I knew he was ill but I was praying that I would see him again.
There is no doubt that Chinese Medicine lost a legend. But for those who were fortunate to study with Dr Tan we know what an immense blessing it was to have seen him in action. For those who chose to assiduously study and apply his teachings to recognize their full potential we are more than grateful to have shared his passion and understand our debt to him and his vision.
Dr. Tan challenged all his students not to simply follow him or take his teachings as the gospel but insisted we diligently practice the teachings to make the theory and medicine come to life.
“When you cast a pole in the sun you must see its shadow.” This was more than a simple admonition from the great teacher that acupuncture “always works” — it was a challenge to all of us to rethink, restudy, reconsider our diagnoses and continually deepen our understandings to effect dynamic change everyday with our patients in our practice.
Dr. Tan’s teachings were impressive because they emanated from a thorough and deep study of the Classics. His genius was in his ability to distill the Chinese classics over many years of study and unlock a logic that only a brilliant mind could decipher. This “logic” is what he shared in his seminars with his student practitioners and provided them with the ability to continue to evolve the art and science of acupuncture in their clinical practice. He provided the bridge between the philosophy and theory to actual clinical practice in a way that has eluded many. In addition once you’ve attended a Tan seminar you read the Classics and anything surrounding Chinese medicine with a valuable, distinct, and discerning perspective. Numerous are the numbers of practitioners around the world who speak of revolutionizing their practice after studying with Dr. Tan.
He exuded the type of confidence that only comes with true merit and the assurance that he was called upon to share this knowledge for a greater purpose. His intention was never to play the guru and clothe his teachings in mysticism. His confidence came from a higher calling and thus his intent was to make this knowledge truly accessible to those who would use that knowledge to further study and explore. He not only wants his practitioners to bring this medicine to greater throngs of people globally, particularly in the West, but to empower them to usher this medicine in its rightful place for the healing of this planet in the 21st Century.
Dr Tan was a great teacher because his wisdom was inspired, his mission was selfless and his compassion was great. While I am deeply saddened that I will not see Dr. Tan again I am grateful that he will always inspire my every contact with every patient. He will continue to be one of the driving spirits behind my lifelong devotion to this art and science.
Like every true master with a higher mission Dr. Tan made sure that his teachings would survive him. He trained master students who will continue to propagate the teachings and infuse future generations with the dynamic spirit of Dr Tan and his legacy.
Thus his spirit will not rest in peace but will continue to inspire continued healing for generations to come.
His shadow is cast!
Thank you Dr. Tan.