TCM Looks at the Heart
From the Passing Lineage Traditions
From the Daoist classic, Contemplations by the Huainan Masters (Huainanzi) , ca. 110 B.C.:
The heart is the ruler of the five organ networks. It commands the movements of the four extremities, it circulates the qi and the blood, it roams the realms of the material and the immaterial, and it is in tune with the gateways of every action. Therefore, coveting to govern the flow of energy on earth without possessing a heart would be like aspiring to tune gongs and drums without ears, or like trying to read a piece of fancy literature without eyes.
From the Daoist classic, Guanzi, prior to 200 B.C.:
The heart is the emperor of the human body. Its subordinate officers are in charge of the nine orifices and their related functions. As long as the heart remains on its rightful path, the nine orifices will follow along and function properly. If the heart's desires become abundant, however, the eyes will lose their sense of color, and the ears will lose their sense of sound. Thus it is said: 'Keep your heart empty-this is the art of the heart through which the orifices can be mastered.'
Deviation above will necessarily cause malfunction below. Do not race your heart like a horse, or you will exhaust its energy. Do not fly your heart like a bird, or you will injure its wings. Never frantically move things around just for the sake of seeing what will happen. If you move things around you dislocate them from their proper place. If you will be calm and patient, everything will come to you by itself.
The Dao is never far away, yet it may be hard to reach. It is within every one of us, yet it may be hard to grasp. If we stay clear of desires, the shen will enter its home. If we sweep away all impurities, the shen will stay with us. Human beings all crave intelligence and wisdom, but rarely do we try to understand what the source of their existence is. Alas, intelligence, intelligence-even if you jump over the ocean, it will not just sit there waiting for you! The seeker will be limping behind the one who is without desires. The sage does not seek anything, and thus naturally achieves the state of vacuous understanding [ultimate knowledge apart from fixed concepts].
From Li Ting, A Primer of Medicine (Yixue Rumen) , 1575:
The heart is the master of the body and the emperor of the organ networks. There is the structural heart made from blood and flesh: it has the shape of a closed lotus flower and is situated underneath the lung and above the liver. And there is the luminous heart of spirit-shen-which generates qi and blood and thus is the root of life. It is the source of all our bodily parts and functions, yet it does not manifest in obvious signs and colors. Just when you want to define it and say 'here it is,' it is gone; whenever you forget about it, however, it comes closer to you than ever. This is why it is called the 'vacuous spirit.' Despite its elusive nature, shen commands our body's every action and every part. Material form and luminous shen must therefore be looked upon as an interdependent pair, and we have to understand that diseases of the structural heart are always caused by unbalanced emotions such as depression, anxiety, obsession, or sadness, which open up a pathway through which noxious pathogens can enter.
From Li Yuheng, Unfolding the Mat with Enlightening Words (Tuipeng Wuyu) , Ming dynasty, 1570:
The ancient book of definitions [Neijing] refers to the heart as the ruler of the human body, the seat of consciousness and intelligence. If we decide to nourish this crucial element in our daily practice, then our lives will be long, healthy, and secure. If the ruler's vision becomes distracted and unclear, however, the path will become congested, and severe harm to the material body will result. If we lead lives that are centered around distracting thoughts and activities, harmful consequences will result.
The sage regards his/her body like a country: the heart is the ruler, and the jing and the qi are the citizens. If the heart does not abuse its superior position, if it remains centered and focused on the essential matters, the jing will flourish and the qi will be steady, noxious intruders will always be fought off, the dantian will be full with treasures, and every part of the body landscape will be light and at piece.
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THE 3 TREASURES OF LIFE: Jing/Qi/Shen
What does it mean-jing/qi/shen? As students of qigong and oriental healing arts, we may hear different meanings for jing/qi/shen everywhere we go. These differences are usually dependent on context. They could all be apropos and they are a piece of the meaning. One difficulty in accessing the concepts implied in jing/qi/shen is that we can not separate these words as we do in English. The character for heart--xin--refers to the whole entity of heart, the physical, emotional, and spiritual. Each of the five elements [wu xing] has spiritual, emotional, and physical realms of being. Often, because we are looking for one-word equivalents, we say jing/qi/shen means body, mind and spirit. O.K., that's a beginning. I hope that my article will fuel your own exploration of these concepts. Perhaps you have wondered, why does jing come before shen in this trilogy? Usually we think of jing as more physical and material than the shen, so why is jing the first word, why not shen/qi/jing? It is really simple: at the time of union of sperm and egg, this new being is pure jing. A bit later, qi and its potential to animate and circulate enter the embryo. Much, much later on, we develop the shen part of our being through practices and virtues. We can think of jing, qi, and shen as levels of development in life and in practices (taiji and qigong, meditation, yoga). At first we learn the bare-bones movements, then with time and effort we refine our cultivation, and our practice (and life) moves increasingly into the realm of shen cultivation.
The character for jing carries the meaning of sperm or essences; it has to be translated according to its context. Jing is considered the source of life. It is sperm and vaginalmoisture, ephemeral essence and the organic substance that forms the foundation for growth, reproduction, and development. Jing is responsible for bone growth in children, teeth, hair, normal mental development and sexual maturity. After puberty, jing engenders reproductive function and fertility. Jing moves us through the organic changes that punctuate our lives: birth, childhood, puberty, childbearing, maturity and elderhood. Jing has to do with time and changes. It can also be thought of as our foundation, as building blocks, like DNA. Deterioration of jing can be accelerated by prolonged illness or overwork, injury, abuse, stress, exhaustion, excessive sex, and poor nutrition. Evidences of jing waning are thinning and graying hair, decreasing moisture throughout the body, loss of sensory and mental acuity, and weakening of the bones, teeth, and connective tissue. The rate of deterioration can be slowed down by qigong practices, and techniques such as acupuncture, and herbs for enhancing the life force.
I like to think of qi as electrical current. Qi animates our being. Our meridians and organs are like the hardware: wires, transformers, power plants, through which the electrical current (qi) moves and get amped, stored, and routed. Every living being has qi, yet each of us is unique in our particular quality of qi. Qigong practices assist qi circu- lation and flow, storage, and regeneration. Our qi circulation and flow is dependent on how much and what kind of qi we received at birth from our ancestors, diet and nutrition, and overall lifestyle. Practices can transform qi into shen or jing and healing energy. In the old character for qi, there is an image of steam rising from a pot of rice on a fire. If the fire is continuous and appropriate to the proportion of rice to water, energy will show up as steam. If the fire gets too hot, the water dries up and not only the rice burns but eventually the container as well.
Diagnostically, in Chinese medicine the signs for the quality of the shen are observed in the eyes primarily and to a lesser extent skin and hair. When the shen is happy, we radiate and our eyes sparkle and mirror our souls. In serious mental illness, there is almost always shen dis- turbance. The sign for this is revealed by how the person looks out into the world, the gaze, how it connects (or doesn't) with the eyes of others, sometimes a wild look. In fact, one TCM diagnostic term for a type of mental imbalance is phlegm misting the soul. The soul becomes turbid and cloudy and is mirrored in the person's eyes. Shen is not an automatic given to all who live and breathe like jing and qi are. It is achieved in the higher levels of taiji and qigong practice and through a lifestyle that is integral to these practices. Shen has to do with the hun, or Ethereal Soul, which I won't go into here. Shen is spirit and it is everywhere. It comes to us when we reach a higher level in our practices after much time and perserverance; it goes elsewhere when we neglect our practices, when we abuse ourselves, or live in an unvirtuous fashion. The shen is sparked and nurtured by music and dancing, participation in the arts and creative activities. The character for shen contains the idea of a bird. A bird is free to fly away. It is free to go when conditions aren't favorable and may choose to remain when they are. We all have the capability through cultivation to have the kind of roost that the shen will be attracted to.
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A support structure for the body, Fascia is a web of thin elastic tissue that exists in continuous layers throughout the body. The fascial network surrounds all our internal body parts, muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones and even internal organs. Fascia is a system of tensional integrity (or tensgresity as Bucky Fuller called it) and allows for everything inside our bodies to be held in proper place. Fascia is what makes the shape we recognize as an individual.
Fascia contains certain tensional forces - when injured, stressed or traumatized, fascia responds by increasing the tensional forces thus making its own "sling" so that the injured area will be safe from further trauma. The tensional forces then may increase exponentially, binding down nerves, muscles, blood vessels, osseous structures and internal organs. With injury or trauma, a chain reaction occurs with other parts of the body and over time, pulls the body out of proper alignment. The internal structural imbalance begins a series of compensating patterns within our posture and our subconscious mind.
With injury, trauma or any inflammatory illness, not only does the fascial tension increase, but the fascial layers also respond by "gluing" affected areas around the site of injury. After the injury has healed, the fascia often "forgets" to let go and we continue our lives with this compensating layer of tension and adhesion. The deep layers, which are supposed to have a smooth gliding and sliding effect over one another, no longer slide - rather they cause adjacent structures to tug on each other...”
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Hsin Hsin MING (Verses on the Faith of the Mind)
Sen T'san, 3rd Patriarch
We started this exposure to these old teaching last month. One month is a good start for contemplating each verse. This is the third verse, each month we will add one more until it is complete. Check the Newsletter Archive at transformationarts.org for past months.
Those who do not live in the single way
fail in both activity and passivity,
assertion ans denial.
To deny the reality of things
is to miss their reality:
to assert the emptiness of things
is to miss their reality.
The more you talk and think about it,
the further astray you wander from the truth.
Stop talking and thinking,
and there is nothing you will not be able to know.
To return to the root is to find the meaning,
but to pursue appearances is to miss the source.
At the moment of inner enlightenment
there is a going beyond appearance and emptiness.
The changes that appear to occur in the empty world
we call real only because of our ignorance.
Do not search for the truth;
only cease to cherish opinions.
NEW SCIENCE MODEL:
Self-Health Foundation Recognition
Diagnosis/Recovery/Maintenance/Development Level Training
New Science Model- The reference to the afore mentioned “New Science Model” is an acknowledged understanding that Earth-Based Traditions/Cultures have long ago acquired principles and methodologies than have utilized “common abilities & capacities” to recover, regulate, regenerate and maintain basic active health perimeters, and are now recognized by Western Science. This model is specifically referencing the cumulative passing knowledge base of Yogic, Taoist & Traditional Chinese Medicine Lineage fundamentals, that has existed for thousands of years and benefited millions of people, thusly a time-tested scientific tradition. There is also now Science-based research that has been done at all levels of International medicine including Western based research.
Public Level Self-Health Re-Education Project- The basic level of Individual inter-active Holistic Health could develop to include;
the ability to self-adjust oxygen levels, balance blood pressure, regulate energy and bolster the immune system
self diagnosis by feeling, method, principles and the “adaptive action response” to mental disturbances and emotional imbalances that include unraveling past fears/limitations, destructive patterns, un-natural & contrived personality traits etc
Stability, equilibrium, whole-body connection and a basic sense of Inner connection, problem-solving capacity and basic sanity.
The terms Internal Arts refers to Physical Practices used to formally re-educate and in many cases, recover, the mind & body to natural innate agreements and rhythmic communications that are basic to instincts and conscience. Balance, change and momentum are understood to have effects of us, Internal Practice helps us understand how to harmonize our inner world of feelings, thoughts, actions and their motives.
The basic positions we spend most of are time in, are the key to maintaining long-term health and wellness; how to stand and use the feet, basic mechanics of bodily systems & sensing accuracy, body and breath fundamentals for sitting positions, dynamic equilibrium, Bio-electric circulation and connection, grounding and stability in walking & the transitions.
Self Diagnosis is a modern term for knowing thyself and suggests the connection between the material aspects of the body, ie; flesh, bone, tendons, fluids, organs, systems etc and the less tangible or intangible aspects of the Human Experience such as thoughts, feelings senses, memories, etc that seem to have a very definite influence in our lives. How we learn to care for the more tangible aspects of our body seems to be equal in importance & connection/influence to functional ways to develop, care and maintain the life force of the less tangible aspects. In other words, both the tangible and intangible aspects of being a Human are not only intimately connected, but share all experience and can influence health & wellness on any and all levels; the parts influence the whole.