This article examines the concept of ‘the natural state’—an experiential state of being in the world that is said to be an innate potential accessible to all humans and is a central concept present in the traditions of both acupuncture/Chinese medicine and Daoism. This article first explores the characteristics of the natural state, and then examines what it means for an individual to gravitate towards accessing this potential. This discussion forms a general background to then examine the relationship of the natural state to various conceptions of health in acupuncture and Chinese medicine—to investigate the similarities and differences between the religio-spiritual aspects and the medical aspects. The primary purpose of this article is to explore the way in which this spiritual and philosophical concept of the natural state has similarities to the understanding of what it means to be healthy and what it means to be human in acupuncture and Chinese medical philosophy, as well as to see where the medical and philosophical-spiritual perspectives differ.
The Natural State: Daoist and Chinese Medical Views