Excellence Reporter: Karlene, what is the meaning of life?
Karlene Stange: Ancient Taoists believed the purpose of life is spiritual growth through alchemy. Alchemical transformation can only occur within a cauldron of opposites. The physical body is that cauldron where yin and yang, spirit and matter unite.
Here, in these corporeal-incorporeal lives we experience contrasts that fuel the fire for change. We realize right when we know wrong, understand peace after tumult, enjoy health following illness. Our choices teach us consequences; we suffer and learn. The ultimate goal is the transformation of suffering into wisdom and compassion.
I like this Taoist philosophy because it makes sense of duality. The meaning of life is then a scared quest toward spiritual expansion. Each animal—ant, lizard, ostrich, trout, elephant, human body—represents a divine alchemical vessel. This teaching allows me to view suffering with more ease.
As a veterinary acupuncturist, I treat both the spiritual and the physical. The two cooperate in life and separate at death. With stress, illness or trauma the spirit and body disassociate. The spirit wants to fly off exhibiting anxiety and insomnia; matter gets buried manifesting as depression and exhaustion. With acupuncture we invite the spirit to be housed and activate the matter. Yin and yang must be balanced for healing to proceed. With the placement of a needle my intention becomes the invitation for transformation.
~As a child, Karlene Stange, DVM, author of The Spiritual Nature of Animals wanted to be an “animal doctor” before she knew the word “veterinarian.” Today she incorporates acupuncture, traditional Chinese herbal medicine, and nutritional therapy into her Rocky Mountain practice. She often speaks at conferences and lives in Durango, Colorado.
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