"Commemoration of Todo YOSHIMASU"
Published on 10 November 1973 in commemoration of the bicentenary of Todo YOSHIMASU
Todo YOSHIMASU as a Student
Yasuyoshi NISHIMARU[西丸,和義], M.D.
Students are truth-seekers, who pursue truth or what is correct persons who continue to proceed toward this goal all through their life.
Students, therefore, should continue to have a desire and a strong enthusiasm to seek truth. They should be mentally prepared, that is, have a philosophy, for this cause. Students document for posterity what they have pursued all through their life. Their course of life should strongly influence their juniors and serve as a guide to people of other fields of science as well. These would be people who are called top-class characters from the world-wide point of view.
If we should seek such a man among the Japanese, he would be no other person than Todo YOSHIMASU[吉益,東洞] himself. This is clear from the complete collection on Todo and other books by Shuso KURE[呉,秀三] and Yu Fujikawa[富士川,游], the pioneers of Geibi[芸備] Province[today Hiroshima Prefecture].
With reference to seeking what is true, Todo[東洞] stated, “Neither heaven nor sage exist without truth.”
As to his enthusiasm for seeking truth, when at the age of 42 years he fell into needy circumstances with his rice box empty and having his parents and younger sister to support, he declared, “It is destiny whether we become poor or wealthy, and nothing we need worry about. If Heaven really does not want to lose medicine, it will never allow me to starve to death. No matter how poor and needy I may become, I will never give up my intention and disgrace my ancestors' name,” and he further stated, “Even if I may starve to death, I would be quite satisfied if my principle is accepted in this world.” This reminds us of the following accounts of seniors. When Galen(130-210) was ordered by the Roman Emperor to accompany him to the field of battle, he refused this order, saying, “I am now experimenting on the spinal cord.” Pavlov(1849-1936) of Russia, after all his assistants ran away as street battles began in the midst of the Revolutionary War, continued his experiment alone in his deserted laboratory, saying, “I am making a revolution myself.” The accounts of these seniors' enthusiasm for pursuing truth are perhaps the same as the accounts of Todo's enthusiasm. This shows how ardent his enthusiasm for seeking truth was.
When he was at the bottom of poverty and making dolls as a side work to barely eke out a living, Mr. Murano and other friends, unable to look on at his needy plight with indifference recommended him to Lord Sakura as his family doctor and he was accepted. They joyfully reported this to Todo but he refused, saying, “Now I know you do not know me.” He is also reported to have said, “I am practising and enjoying what is morally right. Why should I worry about my poverty?” This is like the following account of Dr. and Mrs. Curie of France. When they were carrying on experiments in a gloomy cellar of a night school in Paris with no regular occupation, the Geneva University saw their actual state and proposed to invite them to its completely equipped laboratory as professors, which they refused, saying, “This is the best place for our study.” Here we can see how Todo had lived making life as a student his first principle.
The mental attitude for seeking truth, or philosophy for study, in his case, is “Study of ancient lessons will help us to gain something useful.” For instance, perusal of his book “Kosho-igen[古書医言]” (Medical sayings in ancient books) shows that he seemed to have gained much from old Chinese books, especially “Roshi Shunju[呂氏春秋]”(chronicles of the Lȕ clan) and Tso's Henjyakuden[扁鵲倉公列伝] (Biography of Henjyaku[扁鵲], a noted doctor).
However, in order to succeed to the old tradition and make a step forward from it, he had a philosophy for study, which was, “If we stick to books too much, we will never in our life master the art,” “Nothing is acceptable unless confirmed by own experiments, or “Preference for experimentation.” This mental attitude of his is similar to that of students in the days after Vesalius in the 16th century who took the lead in the Medical Renaissance in Europe. Harvey stated, “We should clarify truth by our own experiments, not from others' books or papers.” Jenner discovered the method of vaccination with this same mental attitude. The tradition of the Physiology Department, Cambridge University of England is “See and Do.” Six Nobel Prize winners have so far emerged from the department by this tradition, which is nothing but “Preference for experimentation.” From this, we can appreciate how great Todo’s philosophy for study is.
The theory he thus gained was “All diseases are caused by a single “poison.” Drugs are all poisons. “Poison” is controlled with poisons. Our body becomes healthy by purging “poison.” Use of drugs does not serve to increase energy. What more is there to be said?”
Priest Honen left documented 2 days before death what he had pursued all through his life of 80 years. There is a western proverb that says “Our grave-post shows our words.” Claude Bernard(1878) said, “Life exists by homeostasis of extracellular fluid.” Like these, Todo's documentation is also very splendid.
This life of his served as a guide-post for his juniors not only during his life but also for 200 years after his death, as the following shows.
In guiding his pupils, he used to say, “You should not be bewitched by the fox of Chukei” and warned them not to swallow indiscriminately the writings and words of predecessors. He even said, “Don't observe the words from Yoshimasu's tongue.” These are wise words for his pupils to follow.
The “Ruijuho[類聚方]” (Medical Methodology of Collection and Classification) he wrote for people other than his own pupils became a best seller of the day. Some parts of it have been reprinted in China to serve as a “Bible” for Chinese medicine. Among the doctors who made original studies in the age of Edo, Seishu HANAOKA[華岡,青洲], who is internationally famous for his study on anesthesia, is a pupil of Nangai YOSHIMASU[吉益,南涯] who succeeded to the tradition of Todo. He perhaps succeeded in his scientific experiments because he learned Todo's study philosophy through Nangai[吉益,南涯] and was influenced also by western medicine.
Recently, Shuso KURE[呉,秀三], Yu FUJIKAWA[富士川,游], etc. studied Todo[東洞] and many people must have shared the recollection of Shuso KURE[呉,秀三]. who said. “After aspiring to study medicine, I have always admired Todo's[東洞] spirit and enterprise.”
The fact that votive offerings totalling 6 million yen were immediately collected in this plan to erect a monument to honor Todo YOSHIMASU[吉益,東洞] shows that even now there are many people who admire his character and look up to him as a leader.
From the above-stated, it can be said that he is a precious guide of life for not only those studying medicine but also those making other pursuits in life.