Becoming a Superior Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine

△ According to Yellow Emperor’s Classic, being a superior doctor should be achieved by understanding numbers 8 and 3 which represent the Bagua and the trigrams. ⓒ Dollarphotoclub_gustavofrazao

By Bong Dal Kim, OMD, L.Ac., Founder, Emperor’s College

In the course of my meditation many years before the founding of Emperor’s College, I was presented with the Chinese characters for the numbers 8 and 3.  Although mystified at the significance of these images to my life, I understood the propitious value of such symbols well.  The I Ching was the first book to explain everything about human life and the universe and contains the root of all written knowledge.  The numbers 8 and 3 represent the Bagua and the trigrams of the I Ching.

According to the I Ching and the Yellow Emperor’s Classic, one of the most important classics of Chinese medicine, these numbers together symbolize the process of growth and change.  Through them the myriad changes of the universe are illuminated, including birth, death and the phenomenon of disease.  As healers, we should realize the meaning of universal change so we can be superior doctors.

When the Yellow Emperor explained all of the five elements and the organs, he said that the numbers for the liver and gallbladder were 8 and 3.  The teachings said that one must balance the liver and gallbladder, but that all the other organs must be balanced first.  One the liver and gallbladder are totally balanced, one attains enlightenment and goes beyond 8 and 3.

Along with these images, I experienced an overwhelming joy that remained in my memory even though the message of this meditation remained a mystery.  Infrequently, in varying ways and at odd times over the years, this strange and wonderful meditation recurred.  During this time, I enjoyed a gratifying level of success as a practitioner of Oriental medicine and an ever-expanding sense of personal satisfaction.  But the time came for me to re-direct my energies and take on a new challenge.  After carefully considering my options, I founded Emperor’s College in 1983 with a vision of educating the next generation of AOM practitioners in the United States.

The number 8 and 3 represent the Bagua and the trigrams of the I Ching. These numbers together symbolize the process of growth and change. As healers, we should realize the meaning of universal change so we can be superior doctors.

My vision of spreading Oriental medicine throughout the United States has come into fruition.  In the state of California, acupuncture has been designated as an Essential Health Benefit, and insurance plans are required to cover acupuncture treatments.  As a result of the opioid epidemic, the Joint Commission, the accrediting body for all hospitals in the United States, is requiring hospitals to offer non-pharmacological pain modalities, including acupuncture.   The military and the Veteran Administration are hiring staff acupuncturist to treat our veterans.

Along with the greater recognition of the efficacy of Oriental medicine, the number of acupuncture schools has grown to 56 across the United States.  Over a decade ago, the standards for the post-graduate, clinical Doctorate of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (DAOM) were established to provide students with the highest level of education–the terminal degree– available in the United States in acupuncture and Oriental medicine.  I have had the pleasure of mentoring DAOM fellows and sharing what I have learned in over 40 years of practice.  It is my personal mission to transmit all that I have learned to the next generation of doctors who will continue to advance the AOM profession and bring hope and healing to those in need. 

In the Yellow Emperor’s Classics, it is written that the heart is the Emperor of all organs and the brightness of spirits is derived from it.  This symbolism has guided Emperor’s College since its founding and continues to pervade our community today.  The effectiveness of an Oriental medical practitioner depends upon her ability to be a clear conduct through which energy can flow.  Beyond wisdom and intellect, this requires an open heart.  Students and practitioners are encouraged to learn with their open heart.    


© Acupuncture Times. All Rights Reserved.


By Bong Dal Kim, OMD, L.Ac., Founder, Emperor’s College