Hang a Gourd (Practice Medicine) to Help the World
This term means to help people by practicing medicine. “Hanging a gourd” refers to the tradition of using a gourd containing medications as a sign for those practicing and selling medicine; it is used more broadly to refer to those in the medical profession. “Helping the world” means providing aid and relief to those in distress. This concept elevates the practice of medicine above ordinary occupations and livelihoods, and imbues it with humanistic caring. It praises the deeds of physicians who care for the sick and dying, and is also a moral standard and value by which they should measure themselves.
There was an old man who sold medicine in the market. He hung a medicine gourd at his market stand. (The History of the Later Han Dynasty)
Someone who practices medicine must not simply rely on a particular skill and think only of acquiring money and goods. Rather, he must have a passion for relieving the sufferings of others… My aim is to help others, and I hope students of medicine will not mock my keeping saying so as being shallow. (Sun Simiao: Essential Formulas for Emergencies)