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The Apricot Forest Story: Giving What We Can

When I was in Acupuncture school, my teacher, Heming Zhu, told us the story of Dong Feng's Apricot Forest and his philosophy of treatment: he only “charged” his patients when they got better. In the hearing of that story, I knew that if I ever could be in position to do this, it is how I would do “business.”

2020 has landed us in extreme times and many people have lost income. I feel called to this philosophy and accept what people can pay and only IF they feel benefit from our sessions together. I ask that my patients give forward what they can in other ways that do not require money but their heart and time: reading a story to someone, picking up something for someone who is home bound, cleaning up a stray piece of garbage. You’ll know what you can do.

Can you imagine how much we could all do together in this spirit?

Here is the story of the Apricot Forest:

Dong Feng was a revered and skilled doctor in the period of the Three Kingdoms (220 – 280 A.D.). Dong Feng, and other two well-known doctors, Zhang Zhong Jing and Hua Tuo, were called the “Three Miracle Doctors” for their tremendous healing powers. Dong Feng practiced medicine in Mountain Lu, where his philanthropic deeds were praised and he became a legend.

During the day Dong Feng treated patients but charged no fees. When patients were cured from serious illnesses, he would ask them to plant five apricot trees; when they were cured of simple illnesses, he would ask them to plant one tree. Many patients came to see him and he was very busy every day.

After several years, the trees grew into a bountiful Apricot forest. In that forest, there were many birds and beasts playing, and when apricots were mature, he built a warehouse. He put a notice to the public: “Those who want to buy apricots do not need to tell me but could just leave a liter of rice in exchange for a liter of apricots.”

At times, a greedy person would give less rice and would take more. But whenever this happened, a tiger from the forest would chase and roar at those greedy people. They were frightened and would hurriedly dump some apricots that they took on the side of the road. Surprisingly, when they arrived home and weighed the remaining apricots, they found that the apricots were exactly equal to the rice they contributed. When people stole the apricots without paying, the tiger would chase them to their homes. These people were so scared they returned the stolen apricots and apologized. Then the tiger would forgive them.

Dong Feng then exchanged the apricots for rice and gave the rice to patients with financial difficulties. Dong Feng’s apricot forest saved numerous lives.

The story about Dong Feng’s medical practice is in Chapter 12 of Legends of Supernatural Beings.

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