I am just beyond words that Bob Flaws (Lama Pema) has accepted an invitation to be on the Golden Podcast! This is truly a special episode as I know he has long since retired from TCM to more deeply pursuit and continue his Buddhist practice. Thank you Lama!
We all know Bob Flaws for his unbelievable contributions to TCM as a whole in the West - his translations, his books, his lecturing, Blue Poppy, etc etc. I know I speak for us all when I say thank you so much Bob, we really appreciate everything you have done, and are elated to hear you, once again, share your pearls of wisdom so that we may all benefit from your pioneering.
Take great care Lama Pema.
Bob Flaws – Lama Pema
Spence: Hello, everybody, and welcome to another Golden Cabinet Podcast, where we have interviews with world-class TCM community leaders to discover their stories, their habits, their psychology and secrets that led to their success. And I am elated to be here today with a man who needs no introduction. You've been living under a rock, I'm pretty sure, if you don't know who Bob Flaws is. Thank you so much! Formerly Bob Flaws, now Lama Pema, thank you so much for coming on the show, I'm so honored.
Bob: Thank you, Spence, my pleasure.
Spence: Awesome. So, we all have known Bob Flaws through Blue Poppy, through wonderful translations and books that you've written over the years, playing a huge role and being responsible for the birth and growth of traditional Chinese medicine, more accurately, I know you'll correct me, but in the West here. And I know I can speak for everybody how grateful we are for all your contributions and what you've done throughout time and how you've taught so many people. And now, this current chapter of your life, if I may, is just so fascinating. As I said before we hit the record button, I'm so happy and excited for you, but we'll get to that, I guarantee it obviously. But for those few people that may not know who Bob Flaws or now Lama Pema is, could you say some story, some background and how you got into studying Chinese medicine? I mean, it's been how many years?
Bob: I practiced Chinese medicine for thirty years, but, anyway, in response to your question, I became a Tibetan Buddhist 50 years ago. 48, to be absolutely accurate. And I bought a one-way ticket to India, I went to India, and I went to India a couple of times ,trying to find a teacher, I eventually found a Tibetan Buddhist teacher, and I studied Tibetan Buddhism for six or seven years before getting involved with Chinese medicine. When I hit 30 or so, I realized that I was not going to become a Buddha any time in the
near future, and I needed a way to support myself. I wanted to study Tibetan medicine because that would dovetail with my religious practice, but there wasn't really any way to do that in the mid to late ‘70s. My teachers wouldn't let me go back to India to study with Tibetan doctors, there was no way to study Tibetan medicine here. So, it occurred to me that Chinese medicine was a kissing cousin, close enough for jazz. So, I found an old Chinese doctor who lived in Denver, I was in Boulder, Colorado, and I became student and studied acupuncture primarily with him. And then, I started teaching myself from whatever was available in English about Chinese herbal medicine, and that goes from about ‘78 to ’81 or so. Then, I met someone, an American, who had just come back from Shanghai, maybe Beijing, who had done one of the World Health Organization three-month trainings there. And so, I hadn't heard of those before, he kind of instilled me in, and I applied to the Shanghai College of TCM, and went there, did their three-month acupuncture training. And then, I went back from 1982, through 1986, I would go for a number of months, and then my wife would go for a number of months, and I would go for a number of months. So, we studied acupuncture training herbal medicine. That's kind of how I got my education. And then, I practiced in Boulder for 30 years approximately, and along way created the Blue Poppy. At first, it was Blue Poppy press, and then somebody said, well, you know, books are good, but really what you're doing is teaching. So, you should start teaching. And so, I started teaching. Then somebody came along saying distance learning is good, and so I started distance learning. Then, one of my students was living in Vietnam, and he said, what if you created a line of herbal products, manufactured here in Vietnam. I suggested that, but it turned out that they couldn't manufacture to the quality specs that we had. I had spent a couple of months kind of getting that project done, and so I wasn't willing to let it just go. Then I found a Chinese company that was willing to manufacture, so then we had Blue Poppy herbs, and then eventually, we started selling needles and then everything else under the sun concerning Chinese medicine. That's a synopsis of my Chinese medical life. I taught Chinese, I translated a lot of stuff. When I was a kid, I always wanted to be a writer. In college, when I was studying American literature, I majored with the idea that I was going to write the great American novel. I always had some ability to write, and so that's what really got me into writing books, translating, etc.
Spence: The research papers that you've translated, the countless books that you've translated and written, it permeates so deeply into the TCM culture, I’m so influenced by you on how I approach my clinical practice still today. You know, your diagnostics, and was it Einstein that said something to the effect of, make everything as simple as possible but not simpler, or something to that effect. I'm probably not doing it any justice, but you helped me truly frame things that sometimes coming out of school, you feel so big and so lost within the sea of all these different schools. And when you actually see a patient in front of you, it's like, oh, no, what do I do now. You really helped me at least there.
Bob: That really goes to what you're interested in is what I'm doing now. And that really speaks to that a little bit, because it really was my intense Buddhist practice that helped develop my memory, my mental clarity, my focus, my energy, so, all of that in 15 years or so, of that training before I ever started writing anything about Chinese medicine. I had been a very, to say, diligent, persevering, intense practitioner for 15 years before ever applying any of those skills to Chinese medicine. And then once, I did start writing, and it became, I don't know, like a ball rolling downhill and I had some life, like any other life. You know, its growth, its maturity, and eventually, its decline.
Spence: Its decline. Everything has its life cycle. Do you want to touch on -- I don't know how to frame it, but toward the end of your career or time or chapter in Chinese medicine, and why and how the transition into to today or into what you're up to now with life more?
Bob: I don't know how much I want to get into that, Blue Poppy still exists, it has a different owner, I don't want to sneak out of school. But another reason that I got into Chinese medicine, which I don't think many people know and that is, since I was 18, I had suffered from heart arrhythmia, and a lot of my research in Chinese medicine was research on how to try to deal with my own health issues. And those health issues continued cyclically off and on throughout my entire adult life, but in my 60s, started getting much worse. I had three heart surgeries, medication, I have a pacemaker, so by certainly my mid sixties, I'm 72 now, by my mid sixties, mortality was becoming quite an
issue. And that's I suppose why I resurrected or threw myself back into my Buddhist practice. While I was at the height of my Chinese medical practice, my Buddhist practice was very simple, minimal. It wasn't insignificant but it wasn't elaborate, it was very to say under the tables. I didn't talk about it. Anyway, but because of my health issues, as the time was running out and I needed to get my shit together. That’s why I went back into Tibetan Buddhism with my original kind of perseverance and focus and energy. At first, while I was still with Blue Poppy, I was only working at Blue Poppy for several years half time, and for the rest of my days I was practicing Buddhism. And then right at 64, I received a small inheritance, which allowed me to walk away from the Poppy completely, and that's when I started practicing full-time. I did the equivalent of two years of retreat, home retreat, and then some time after that I was given the title Lama by my teachers to acknowledge my practice, Lama literally means guru, but for me the title means that I am a full-time practitioner and that some of my teachers appreciate the quality of my practice.
Spence: Well, from what I know of you, Bob, anything that you set your mind to, I'm not sure what gifts you were given from your parents or pre-heaven essence, however, you're always able to pick up on languages and learn and be able to soak in things that you were interested in. That little bit I knew about you, it was enviable. And it highlighted itself, I remember when you were giving a conference, and there was a Chinese lady that I think she was a representative of one of the herbal companies, and the company name in Vancouver is called Bema, and you started having a conversation with her about the name, and I think I remember you talking about Pema at that time, I forget what the conversation was about, I think you ended up talking to her in Chinese. What's Pema mean? Do you mind sharing that?
Bob: It's the first part of my religious name. My religious name for 48 years has been Pema Chophel. It literally it means lotus, but in this particular case, it's also the name of the founder of the sect lineage that I belong to. So, it's like being named after the original teacher. Chophel means to make the Dharma flourish, to expand, to make it bigger. Most of the time I used just Lama Pema, Lama Chophel gets abbreviated to Pecho, especially
in eastern Tibet.
Spence: Thanks for clarifying that.
Bob: If I knew I was going to be on a video today, I would put on my uniform. It’s a Sunday morning, so I didn't think I was going to be on video. I’m in my street clothes.
Spence: I'm sorry I wasn't clear about that. And I'm just glad we got the video going on for my selfish side, but it's nice to see you, maybe next time. That was about seven, eight years ago, is that right? When the TCM chapter closed finally?
Bob: Yes, I was in my 64th year and then moving into my 65th year, that's when I completely gave up everything to do with Chinese medicine. The only thing that I continued is that my wife and I volunteered in Nepal for a month at a time at a clinic, in a monastery in Boda in Nepal. So, every year, I would spend a month doing acupuncture for free on local people there, Tibetans Nepali. And then also, I had the good luck or honor to be the doctor to my teacher in Nepal. I started treating him at ’99, and I continued treating him until he became a very famous Tibetan Lama. Actually, I have said that my thirty years detour into Chinese medicine was so that I could treat this teacher.
Spence: That's beautiful, that's great. Do you feel light, do you feel, looking back at Chinese medicine kind of what was that doing to your Chi, and I don't even know how to frame this question, Bob, but how do you feel different now that you've gone back to your spiritual or religious practice full-time?
Bob: I guess a little part of me was always conflicted about Chinese medicine in that it was taking me away from my practice, so now, I don't have that conflict. I had a good life in Chinese medicine, I had some success, financially, emotionally. For a number of years, it did consume me. It was my focus. I ate and drank Chinese medicine for many years.
When I stopped, people said, oh, you'll be back, and I said, no, not really. I had wanted to
move on for a good four or five years before I ever was able to completely quit and walk away from it. So, when I did quit and walk away from it, people were like, don't you miss it, don't you ever want to go back and do it. No, that karma had run its course, and I was completely finished with that thing. I'm not sad to not be involved anymore, if anything, I'm really happy. I'm doing what I really want to do, and have no conflict of interest. I get up every morning at 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning, and I practice to 6:00 in the evening, then he next day is the same, and I’m really doing what I want to be doing.
Spence: Your spirit seems at peace, or at least from what I can pick up from here. Do you mind saying what a day kind of looks like a practice?
Bob: I'm a Tibetan Buddhist, which means Vajrayana Buddhist or Tantric Buddhist, so, our practice has a lot to do with mantra, recitation of the mantra, and a lot to do with the visualization, very complex visualizations, it has a lot to do with ritual magic, it has a lot to do with working for the sake of all sentient beings that we practice not just to, I’m going to say save ourselves, the great ourselves, but for every sentient being covered by the sky. That's a lot.
Spence: Yes, it’s a lot.
Bob: Our practice is in three-our blocks. For years, I got up at 3:00, and then because of my health, my teachers told me that I had to sleep an extra hour or something, so now I get up at 4:00. I practice from 4:00 to 7:00, I take a walk, eat breakfast, hand out with my wife a little bit, do some exercises, and then 9:00 to 12:00 I practice again, 12:00 to 1:00, that's lunch, take another walk, be with my wife, 1:00 to 4:00 again practice, so now, that's nine hours. Then another walk, and at 4:30 to 6:00, one hour and a half, and then many days from 6:00 on, my wife and I relax. However, some of the time, I also lead ceremonies, that being Lama, that's another thing that goes along with being Lama that I officiate and lead different types of ceremonies. So, some evenings or on weekends, I also do that. And then we visit holy places, every pretty much we go somewhere. I’ve been to Tibet a number of times, Nepal many times, China. It was interesting to be in
China, really Chinese part of China not Tibetan part of China, but Chinese part of China. And be there as a Buddhist and not as a Chinese doctor, but some of our people got ill so I had to go to the Chinese pharmacy to get them medicines.
Spence: You can't leave that behind totally. It sounds very peaceful, and I'm so happy for you, Lama. That's so great. So, okay, thank you for sharing what your day looks like. I just am at peace listening to it, but if you could look back now at yourself, because obviously, the audience is practitioners of Chinese medicine or acupuncture, what might you give the 20-year-old self or a 30-year-old self, what kind of advice might you have now, looking back at how to practice or how to keep more balance, or anything I guess from wisdom you've imparted along the way including now? Because I would love to hear anything from you.
Bob: When I got into Chinese medicine, I was very much a practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism, and I don't know if you've ever seen any of my earliest work, books like Timing and The Times, Something Old, Something New, where I was really combining Tibetan Buddhism and Tibetan medicine with Chinese medicine. And my early work often did encourage that, while practicing Chinese medicine, it was important to do that out of a sense of compassion, and also to incorporate the spiritual side into the practice of medicine. That disappeared in little years, where I really was focusing on trying to help Westerners understand Chinese medicine the way Chinese understand Chinese medicine in China today. And their approach mostly in China today is a very secular, mundane, not spiritual, not religious practice, and so most of my books and lectures and etc, are all on a very secular version of Chinese medicine. And I think that if I look at what's going on today, my wife still teaches at a school here in Boulder, so I do meet students from time to time, I do hear about what's going on. I would encourage practitioners today to try to incorporate their spirituality into their practice, and encourage practitioners to not just get lost on the technical nitty-gritty of it, that we talk about our medicine being holistic medicine. And it is in the sense of the body-mind continuum that it's certainly holistic from that point of view. But I think sometimes maybe the modern Chinese approach does lack some spiritual qualities. I think I would maybe go back and, you know what I'm
saying, not to forget that that's that side. Last May, I went to the big conference in Rothenburg, Germany. Since the end of World War II, there's been a big conference every May in Rothenburg, Germany for acupuncture and Chinese medicine, and people come from all over the world. During the heyday of my career, I was a featured teacher at that conference for many years. And then when I stopped doing Chinese medicine, I hadn't been back to that conference for maybe ten years more, and so, I asked them if they would be interested in my coming and giving a class on how the spiritual side of Tibetan medicine could make up for the spiritual shortfall in Chinese medicine. I went and taught that class, which I kind of had to make up, that class didn't exist really. I think it was very well received and that people enjoyed it. My generation, when we went to Chinese medicine, it was part of this bigger journey to the east. I don't know if you've ever read any Hermann Hesse, he had a book called Journey To the East. It was very influential when I was in my early twenties, and it's what got a lot of people on the road to India, Nepal, Afghanistan, Pakistan, etcetera. So, my interest in Chinese medicine was part of this whole much larger spiritual quest, where the medicine was a part of that and was a way of funding that. I mean, it was a means to an end, it was how I put the bread on the table and money in the pocket in order to have this larger quest, larger vision. And I guess what I'm trying to say is I don't see that today in the young acupuncturists. There's such a focus on the mechanics of it, there's so many classes they have to take, exams they have to pass, and they have these huge debts, and therefore, they have to be so focused on being a good business person as well as a good practitioner, trying to repay those debts. That's what I would maybe urge people to not overlook, and that is the whole spiritual side of this Journey To the East. It's a great book. If you get a chance to read, read the Journey To the East by Hermann Hesse. It's a book that really shaped the lives of a lot of people from the baby boomers generation that got into Chinese medicine and the early days.
Spence: Journey To the East by Hermann Hesse. I got it. If we got to, that would have been one of my questions. Do you have any recommendations of study or literature that you would recommend? Thank you for that.
Bob: I said that in the early ‘70s, mid ‘70s, there was no way to study Tibetan medicine, but now, Tibetan medicine is definitely studied here in the United States, in Europe. And so, I would encourage practitioners of Chinese medicine to maybe take some classes in Tibetan medicine and see if there's anything there that could be a useful adjunct or something to make up for any shortfalls that do exist in Chinese medicine. There's a lot of classes, there's a couple of schools now, and there's some interesting stuff there that people might be interested in.
Spence: I remember you always saying, you were very clear on what you were teaching, it was a post-Mao traditional Chinese medicine, the secular, I think, that you're more referring to now. So, Tibetan medicine doesn't have the acupuncture, but has an herbal medical component, medicinal component, it brings in more of the some Buddhist principles.
Bob: It has a massage, it has acupuncture, but kind of rudimentary acupuncture, and in fact, the Tibetans are very happy to include Chinese acupuncture into Tibetan medicine. It has most of the modalities of Chinese medicine that has most of the theories of Chinese medicine, it has also some other theories from Ayurvedic medicine that have been added on. And then, it has all these spiritual practices for developing qualities within the practitioner like compassion, kindness. It has ways of developing super normal pulse reading. We read the stories and pulse reading from the past and we wonder, jeez, listen, we didn't learn that in school. We hear about them, we read about them, the Tibetans who still kept all that alive. And blessing the medicines that they are more powerful, for instance in the Tibetan medicine, there's ways of determining whether disease will respond to medical treatment alone or will require medicine plus some sort of spiritual intervention, or whether in fact, to pass like a karma, it's not treatable, the person is not going to get better. There's some interesting stuff there that that doesn't really exist in Chinese medicine. These days, when I'm out and about, going to Buddhist teachings or going to retreats in other places, and there's a significant number of Chinese medical practitioners acupuncturists that were involved in Tibetan medicine and Tibetan
Buddhism, much larger than it should be. If it wasn't for Chinese -- how do I put this – it’s a disproportionate number of acupuncturists and Chinese medical practitioners involved in Tibetan medicine and Tibetan Buddhism in the world, not even just here in the United States of North America, but in the world at large. It's very common to go to some Tibetan Buddhist practice or teaching, and the person sitting next to you to be an acupuncturist or a practitioner of Chinese medicine. There's a lot of stuff there that could be incorporated and it's quite useful.
Spence: You would know the history far more than I, but if you go back into Chinese medical history is more of this spiritual component from the Taoist culture, or is that just been bred out and standardized, is that partly where it kind of disappeared?
Bob: That's a very big and complicated question, and there's no simple answer to that. One of the things that I could say is that I did a lot of translation, and from the Yuan Dynasty, meaning 1200, time of Genghis Khan, Kublai Khan from that time on, all of the books that were written and became famous, I'm going to say, classics of Chinese medicine, were all written by Confucians, the Buddhists weren't writing books, or the books that they were writing didn’t become nationally important. The Taoists weren't writing the books or those books were only being used within the Taoist circle, but all the great names of Chinese medicine, [41:03] Li Dong-Yuan, I haven't thought of these names for years, but Li Dong-yuan, etc, they were all Confucians. And so that is one of the reasons why the school version of Chinese medicine has been for several hundred years a secular version of Chinese medicine. It's not that individual practitioners weren't also doing spiritual type stuff, but that stuff didn't show up in the classic literature because of the confusion bias. I know, as Westerners, we went to see Chinese medicine is Dallas, but if you go, write down a list of the most important seminal books in Chinese medicine, only one or two were not written by anybody who wasn't an avowed Taoist. So, it's a fascinating history well worth looking into if you're interested in that kind of thing.
Spence: I thank you for this the spiritual component, as you know, in some way, shape or form, I feel like that's, or at least the allure of it is, what attracted me to it, because in the
grand scheme of medicines that are around the world that you could study. Twenty years ago when I started as well, it “seemed” to have more of a spiritual component than the rest. So, to keep diving deeply, and this Tibetan side is amazing, and I'm for sure going to look deeper into that as well. Because you start out like you said, maybe from that place, and then, you have to learn almost the mechanical version of it, and because you want to be accepted maybe by people in the West that expect a bit more of a mechanical medicine, and the business component as well putting bread on the table. Now again, the deeper I get with my patients, I've been very focused in reproductive health my whole career in Chinese medicine. And I've found it takes me very short period of time to get the mechanics and the physical, and to put a bowl on it and say, okay, this is how you can take care of yourself there. But now, we need to open up and talk about your spiritual practices, because that's just I think maybe me projecting on to them, but it's what I want to talk about, and I feel what really deeply is healing to people, especially when they're faced with something so profound in their life. I see other practitioners too, maybe studying shamanism from -- I don't know if that's the right term, I know shamans don't like the word always -- from Peru, getting involved in sweat lodges and Ayahuasca ceremonies, and all kinds of things that somehow maybe they're trying to fill a void that they did get into Chinese medicine, for that was not quite there after they studied.
Bob: Yeah, and the neat thing about Tibetan medicine is that it has all these things, it doesn't have sweat lodges necessarily, but it has all sorts of magic and mystery and practices, secret teachings, etc. But it all dovetails with our theory, it all dovetails with a theory that is either part of Chinese medicine or kissing cousin to Chinese medicine. You asked about history, it really was Sun Simiao in the Tang dynasty, who was the last really great Chinese medical doctor who advocated the integration of the spiritual side, the religious side, the spiritual side into Chinese medicine. He studied Ayurvedic medicine, Indian Buddhist Ayurvedic medicine and tried to graft that onto his version of Chinese medicine. He had mantra and magical ceremonies, etc. He was really the last great Chinese doctor that we look upon as being seminal, and today, we still study his formulas and some of his books, etc. He was the last one to really try to preserve that and more than preserve, even promote that in Chinese medicine. And then after that, for a variety of
reasons, what I'm going to call the naturalist school of Chinese medicine, secular Confucian naturalist school of Chinese medicine became dominant. And we don't really look at Sun Simiao’s chapters that have to do with spiritual things, and they talk about his formulas that we can look at and say, well, this is Chinese medicine as we know of today. I know these herbs, I read this formula in school. But if one wanted to go back and see Chinese medicine that still had the full integration of the spiritual within the Chinese medicine, I suggest you go back and look at Sun Simiao’s books.
Spence: He is also famous for the ghost points, so maybe that's such an elusive topic for so many people, and maybe it’s kind of a seed of what you're talking about.
Bob: He was a hermit, he lived in Shanxi, and he lived on top of a mountain in a hermitage. They spent a lot of time meditating and practicing. And on the mountain just across from him, a Buddhist abbot was his best friend, and so they would get together and share, etc. I think he probably would say that he was a Taoist, but he incorporated a lot of Buddhism into his practice, and in fact, if you look at his medical ethics, they're exactly relying on the Buddhist subject, almost word-for-word applied to medicine. I've been to his temple complex, and there's a cave there. And the story is that Sun Simiao treated a snake – I don’t remember it all -- but the snake was a child, a son or a daughter of the dragon that lived in the mountain. Buddhists would say Naga spirit. And there's a cave, and it said that the Naga King, the Dragon King was so happy that Sun Simiao had cured his son that he then imparted the secrets of medicine to Sun Simiao through this cave, that he spoke to Sun Simiao about.
Spence: I loved that.
Bob: That's very far away from the modern TC.
Spence: It contains the magic that like fills the void that you spoke to that's there maybe.
Bob: A lot of people would walk to other cultures and other religious systems to fill that
in, and that's great however you do it, if it works for you and your patients. The Tibetan system, it's very interesting because it's so close. Another quick story, a few years ago, five, six, seven years ago, I was in a very remote part of Tibet visiting a monastery there, and at the monastery, they had a medical clinic, and in the medical clinic, there were Tibetan medicines and there were Chinese medicines. And the doctor was “Tibetan” medical doctor, but he was prescribing these Chinese medicines. And I asked, you know, is there any conflict here. These are two slightly different systems, and he said, you know, all these Chinese medicines are really great and they're very effective, and they're cheap, and there's no problem. In the same way, there are certain things that Tibetan medicine can do the Chinese medicine can't do so well. Certain formulas, treatment protocols and all. In Tibet, they don’t have a problem with combining the two of these medicines. A lot of lamas regularly get acupuncture and use Chinese medicine.
Spence: I guess from the same part of the world or somewhat area, there must be underpinning philosophical evolutions that keep them cousins that you're calling them. From here forward for Lama Pema or for Bob Flaws, do you have plans with your wife? I'll digress a second, last time I spoke to you, I think you were going to take your kids and your whole family on a motorcycle trip through India.
Bob: Yeah, I did.
Spence: I assume that was epic.
Bob: Yeah, that was in early, 2000, 2002 or something like that.
Spence: That was fun.
Bob: Back then I was into motorcycles , I was building motorcycles because of my heart condition I was passing out, and it's not really good to ride a motorcycle and pass out. It's not good to drive a car either but on a motorcycle, it's even more critical. Six or seven years ago, I had to stop riding motorcycles. Anyway, I’m just continuing doing what I'm
doing. I continue to have heart disease, and I'm on a very short leash and I don't know what future I have. This year in Tibetan Buddhism, we use the same astrology as Chinese, with the twelve animals, and this is a dog year. And in the Tibetan system, the year that you're born in when that animal comes around, that can be a very dangerous year with a lot of problems, especially this year for me at 72 is considered an extremely difficult year. I'd had a lot of problems, I had Lymphedema that I developed after a broken arm. Anyway, my teachers have instructed me to stay basically in retreat the whole year, just focusing on practice, so this year it’s that. And I don't know whether I’m going to get through this year or not, but, yeah, I’m going to practice for as long as I can practice.
Spence: Well, for anyone who's out there listening or watching, send Bob some prayer, some white lights, some love, I believe that what is to be is to be. I just hope you're happy and comfortable on whatever journey that is, and you seem like you are. I'm super honored again that you took some time out to chat. This is so so great.
Bob: When you asked, my routine answer for six or seven years is simply no, no, no. And I can't tell you why I said yes to this, I have no idea, but it was something made me say yes, and this has been an enjoyable conversation. If anybody else gets anything else, anything useful out of it, that's wonderful, but thank you for asking.
Spence: On behalf of everyone, you are the mentor, you are who I'm so appreciative and I have so many to just hear from, but life past Chinese medicine, or later on after putting in so much time and effort can look like imparting some wisdom back to the 20-year-old self, it's just you've never stopped teaching. And this is just another class maybe that you've given well. I don't know what to say besides thank you so much. We will be in touch with you again maybe soon, maybe after this year, well, after the year of the dog has passed, we can touch base again sometime, But once again, thank you so much, Bob, Lama Pema.
Bob: Thank you, Spence, I appreciate that. Bye.