Charged with healing

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Physician cures people using electricity he can generate within his body

Thay Muoi (Master Muoi) (R) treats a woman who has been suffering from insomnia for a long time

He extended a wizened right hand.

"Touch my hand," he said.

I did so without any hesitation, but got the shock of my life, literally.

He gave me a toothless smile.

"You felt the shock, right?" he asked.

"Yes." I said.

"You can actually generate electricity?"

He nodded.

"Now touch me again," he said.

This time I was nervous as I reached out, but nothing happened.

Thay Muoi (Master Muoi) can switch electricity on and off within himself. And, as the honorific "thay" (master) suggests, he is a physician, but a very unusual one. His medicine is electricity.

The elderly, gaunt man, looking somewhat disheveled in a worn T-shirt and trousers does not look much like a healer, much less one who has been treating people from different parts of the country for nearly 40 years now.

In fact, he is one of those people guaranteed not to get a second glance on the street. Then you talk to people who swear by him and meet him yourself and you are in for an "electrifying" experience.

His house is as unpretentious as the man himself - a small, narrow, two-story dwelling with small rooms, in a narrow alley where two bicycles can barely ride abreast. But this humble abode off Hoa Hung Street in Ho Chi Minh City's District 10 has been a place of healing, miraculously so at times, for many.

Taciturn by nature, 67-year-old Muoi has never ever advertised his unique skill, and is not keen on doing so. People come to him after hearing from others who have either recovered after his treatment or have known people he has cured.

That is how I came to know of him. I was told about Thay Muoi by my aunt who has suffered from rheumatoid arthritis for many years. She heard about him, received his treatment and her condition improved.

There were several people waiting their turn when I entered his small home. I sat on a chair and waited.

The small generator of the sort used by acupuncturists and physiotherapists to generate electric pulses

The tools of Thay Muoi's trade are very simple a pair of scissors, two cylindrical objects with two small copper tubes and a small generator of the sort used by acupuncturists and physiotherapists to send electric pulses. Depending on the ailment he is treating insomnia, sinusitis, arthritis, heart problems, backache and so on he uses these to transmit electricity to patients' bodies at different places. One session takes between 10-15 minutes.

Soon, it was my turn.

I told him I had a problem with my spine due to a fall in the 1980s. He felt my pulse and told me that I have problems not only my backbone but my heart as well.

I was impressed. He told me I was suffering from "ischemic heart disease," exactly what a doctor at the Nguyen Trai Hospital found when I was hospitalized around four years ago. I have since taken medicines daily.

"But don't worry. I can cure your heart disease in a short time. For your backbone, the treatment will be longer because you suffered it long time ago," Muoi said.

He said he would transmit electricity at my back and the waist, and I was to tell him if it was too strong. The electricity would work through the nervous system to mitigate the patients' problems, he explained.

I felt the electric current pulse in the left side of my back. It was very pleasant. After three or four minutes he increased the intensity and I felt as if a wave was spreading through my heart.

Then he went to work on my spine. I felt hundreds of needles prick at my back. It was uncomfortable, but Muoi encouraged me to bear it for a while as the trauma had happened a long time ago. He adjusted the intensity and I felt a strong pressure on the lower part of my backbone.

I felt that my heart had become stronger after the treatment. Three days later, Muoi felt my pulse and said my disease had reduced some 80 percent. I felt better and was hopeful I would find some real relief at last.

But other patients had far more dramatic stories to tell me.

Tran Thi Thanh, 78, said she was diagnosed with a tumor in her brain that got bigger and bigger, gradually paralyzing her. She went to many hospitals in HCMC but there was no hope.

"Then a person told me about Thay Muoi and my children took me here," Thanh said, recalling that she was "very weak and immobile". Thanh said Muoi examined her and told her that he could treat her.

"It was indeed a miracle," Thanh continued. "I felt better just a few days later and I could move slowly. When I went to the hospital two months later, the doctors were very surprised as my tumor had disappeared.

"Now, I can walk fast and feel very strong as if I have never suffered that disease before. I continue having the treatment though Muoi told me I don't need to come. But I like coming here sometimes just to get treatment for my back.

"Honestly, I consider Muoi a deity who has recreated me."

Pham Thi Thao Ngan, 44, said she came here to treat severe sinusitis that she had suffered for more than 20 years. Despite treatment by many doctors in HCMC, her condition had worsened.

"It caused terrible headaches and made my eyesight dim. One of my neighbors advised me to go to Muoi's house. I did not hope for much as I had suffered the disease for long time. But it was wonderful. I felt much better after just one session of treatment and I can now see very well, as if a cloud has just been moved from my eyes.

"It's now my third day here. And I feel much, much better."

Thu Thao, 36, told me that Muoi's treatment was very effective for those suffering from brain or cardiovascular problems, especially if they were brought to him soon. She said that her father was treated by Muoi after suffering a stroke. After treatment, he was cured of memory loss and speech impairments that he'd had as side effects of the stroke.

No followers

Muoi makes no claim of doing something miraculous. He wants to have a successor to continue his work.

"I'm trying to find a person who can learn my method," he said, adding that none of his four children could do it. It is not easy and requires a lot of patience, he said.

He is worried that what he has learnt and applied will be lost forever when he dies.

"I'm willing to teach someone on condition that he is kind hearted and never thinks of making a fortune with it."

He said he has had 16 people so far as his students, six of them his younger colleagues, but all of them quit after some time.

"They could not abide by the strict rules as well as practices." He requires that practitioners do not drink a lot or lead an excessively debauched lifestyle. They also have to spend several hours a day "taking in energy from the sun and/or the moon" and learn to read pulse.

Muoi's own story of learning this unusual method of treating people goes back to 1967 when he, then a neurologist in Saigon, was sent to the US to do an advanced medical course in Los Angeles. Muoi said that during this time, he began to think of seeking a method that can treat different diseases, because he was seeing many patients suffer serious pain with no effective medicines to help them recover fully.

He began to wonder whether human energy or bioelectricity could be used to treat diseases.

"I returned to Vietnam in 1972 though I had invitations to work in the US. My father did not want his youngest son to live abroad. I myself did not want to live far away from my ailing father.

"After I returned to Saigon I tried to develop my bioelectricity and make it stronger. It took me two years."

Muoi said that to generate electricity from within, he sat motionless for several hours to receive the energy from the sun or the moon. He learned that doing so can help create an electric field inside his body.

"Even today, I practice daily to charge myself. But now, it does not take much time. 10 minutes is enough."

Just destiny

Muoi told me that once, nearly 20 years ago, a man living in front of his house suffered a heart attack. Muoi was not in his house when the attack happened and only learnt about it a few hours later. He saw a coffin placed in front of the man's house and his family had also invited some monks to prepare for the man's funeral. The man was just over 30 years old.

Muoi went into the house and asked to see the body. He examined the body and found he could revive the man. But he had gone to the house without taking any of his devices with him. So the only way was to touch the body directly and transmit his bioelectricity into the man. After a few minutes, the man woke up and was able to lead a normal life later.

But the incident sparked a rumor that he was a sorcerer who could revive a dead person using his hands. "It was difficult for me at that time because I did not know how to explain and make my neighbors understand," he said.

Muoi further said he has saved several people lying unconscious after traffic accidents on the streets, but usually he left immediately when they regained consciousness and got help from other passers-by.

"I don't want to receive their thanks."

At his house, Muoi does not charge a lot for his treatment. Each session costs just VND20,000 (less than one US dollar).

An agency in the US had learned about his ability and invited him many times to go there, so that they could study his abilities further, but he has refused, he said. "They said they can even seek permission to allow all my family members to go with me if I agree.

"I can't leave to seek prosperity or a comfortable life abroad for myself. Many poor patients here need me and I can't leave them."

Muoi receives patients at home from the morning till 5 p.m. and then leaves to work at a city hospital, where he is the head of its neurology ward, from 5:30 p.m. till midnight. He returns home early the next morning and sometimes has to begin treating patients without having any breakfast because they are many people waiting for him.

"I usually sleep for only two hours a day. Sometimes I want to take rest but I cannot leave my patients waiting."

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