Xing 性 and Ming 命

Of the greatest questions one has on life is that of where did I come from and what am I doing here. Xing, is that of Human Nature, it is the essence of man, his birth, growth, and fruition. Ming, is that of Destiny, or better put directionality of life, purpose, and impulse of living. Unlike the sense of the Hun and Po which were mentioned in the previous article, libidinal drive and automatic selfhood, Xing and Ming have a greater connotation. Nor is it like the Shen and Gui, this is more of a refined sense of being outside of the relation of the external circumstance, and more of an internal knowing. Xing and Ming are of a more primordial sense and of direct continuity of living. For Xing, is greater than that of  the impulse of drives but of a greater sense of mind, and like Shen it is a greater composite sense of personhood that can relate to just the individual, or to the extent of humanity. Human nature with its own intrinsic sense has its multilayered sense of being that can slowly be aware of itself. This is where Ming sets in, it is the individuals path of knowing that leads him/her to cultivate their sense of knowing to go to a larger sense of self and knowing. Ming and Xing feed off of each other and build a greater sense of knowing, in essence a self consciousness that can eventually step out of itself to become a greater good.

A harmonious balance between the two create, a joyful purposeful life.

The Many Names of Light and Dark

In an ever continuing duality of nature, Yin and Yang finally develops into its large embracing category out of the light and shadow of Heaven and Earth. As the tendencies of form continue to evolve from hard and soft to big and small, to great and humble, The Yi Jing continues to place the oppositions of poles into their qualitative environments. The best way to arrange them was to put them with the natural forces that were ever present in the naturalist reality. Thunder and Wind, Fire and Water, Lake and Mountain, each had their active or passive roles in carrying out the forces of nature. However, there were still forces unaccounted for that were visible to man, and these were the psychological, physical, and supernatural unknowns that he hadn’t quite put together. These were the occurrences of the moon’s phases, its effects on man and woman, Man’s emotions and its effects on others, death and the continuity of life. These grand themes created separate dramas that some how became enmeshed in the history of Chinese Medicine and that of Taoism.

Ancestor worship was prominent ritual for the Ancient Chinese. They dedicated days of relation to Grandfather and Grandmother spirits that looked them over and gave advice when needed. They had actors perform their roles on their part, so that they may be accompanied on great feasts. Eventually, their greatness may have been carried on with next of kin through naming and rites. The Ancestor eventually became the source of all previous knowledge that the family may have had in the past, this was to be used to help out in present situations. One became a host to an Ancestor guest so to be imbued with the historical sense of progress not just for themselves, but for their family, clan, and people.

This historical light of guidance became to be known as Shen.

Opposed to the brightness of Knowing and Understanding, was Gui. The wandering ghost. The Gui is the dark side of the moon. It makes itself known through its unquestionable appearance. What is that thing? It is a headless ghost, meandering, unknown in the world. It is the shadow of the unknown so present in the world.

Shen 神 like Yang is rising, Gui 鬼 is like yin is descending. Shen is like finding the three corners of a puzzle, gui is like searching for the fourth corner.

I like to see the two as knowing and unknowing, a process of memory, a continual creation of moments strung together by life’s choices. Conscious and unconscious, an examination of one’s drives, emotions, and who they are in the greater scheme.

Shen is of heaven, and Gui is of earth. Shen leads us to seek more of Heaven, to complete Ming 命 – Destiny, our Authentic self. Gui is more of the unconscious duality that arises through the natural display of life.

Shen further is comprised two cycles, a vertical and a horizontal one. The horizontal cycle was mentioned before in the previous blog

Yi 意 and Xiang 像

This is the cycle of thought, Yi 意,  where inspiration becomes thought, consideration, ambition, fruition, and then wisdom.

The Shen as it manifests vertically is that through the body’s desires, emotions, feelings, and expressions. This is the cycle of the “Bright” spirits, the Hun 魂 and Po 魄. The Hun, are the cloud spirits, aptly named because they are like nebulous mist that arrises out of the earth. It is the vacillating drives and desires that arise out of the mind to become. The Hun liken with Shao yang and the Blue green dragon, as discussed briefly in the last blog entry. The Hun is the moving drive toward expansion, it is libidinous energy, a driving life force to arise and be carried away with the wind. It is Zhen and Xun. Arousal and dispersion. It is the desiring mind to create, embrace, grow, and inseminate.

The “White” spirits, the Po, is that of a reflective nature. It is likened to the bright moon waning from fullness. It is the White tiger, Dui and Qian, Reflection and Contemplation instilling itself so that another cycle can complete and begin a new. It is Shao yin, as fire immerses itself in water to be released at a later time. The Po spirits are the resulting emotions that one experiences after one’s libido, urges, and actions are already expressed. It is the response one has from the other. It is the resting body’s reply as it processes after activity. It is the body reflecting on itself and its resulting display. As it reflects on itself, and processes its activity it then begins to recreate itself as itself with its new knowledge.

After it begins to excrete the unnecessary, the drive for the future begins again, and the wheels are spun again.




The Four Images



“[When] yin and yang not yet differentiated, the one qi is mixed and indistinct. [Since this] qi contains yin and yang, then it has clear and turbid [portion], the clear then floats and rises, the turbid then sinks and descends, this is their spontaneous nature.

The rising then becomes yang, the descending then becomes yin; yin and yang have separate positions; the two yi divide. [That which resides] in the space between the clear and the turbid, this is called center qi; the center qi is the pivoting axis of the ascent and descent of yin and yang, it is that which is called earth.”- Huang Yuan Hua- 1705BCE


Well known throughout Daoism, the unamable Dao goes through its multiplicity. Out of nothing, a unity of oneness occurs, Wu ji is formed. Out of Wu ji, the great ultimate, Tai ji arises from. Tai Ji, the great embrace is the union and separation of duality, from the passage above in the Si Xian Xin Yuan, The Four Sage’s Heart initiation, the creation of Yin and Yang becomes very clear. A process of differentiation occurs through the spontaneity of nature, where Yin and Yang become qualified into the Clear and the Turbid. The clear has the quality of rising, and the turbid has the quality of descending. This is of their nature.

The Shou gua describes Yin and Yang before it was called yin and yang, as the way of Shadow and Light, and the way of Soft and Firm. Duality takes it shape in the spontaneous arising nature of phenomena. In between the two, is a pivoting axis of rising and falling where Qi is formed. Qi can be seen as the force between the two, a middle ground of communication between the two extremes. Here there is a Trinity of creation, where the One becomes the Two, and then the Three. We then see out of states of transition four images arising from Yin and Yang. Shao yang, Tai Yang, Shao yin, and Tai yin. These are the four positions of Yin and Yang in its arising and descent.

“[In this] pivoting axis’s movement, the clear qi spins to the left, rising and transforming into fire; turbid qi is revolves to the right, descending and transforming into water, [that which] transforms into fire is then hot, [that which] transforms into water is then cold. Wood’s warm qi rises and does not stop, accumulating warmth becoming hot and transforms becoming fire.  Wood’s qi is warm, not fully hot as fire, but as it accumulates it becomes hot and results in fire. Metal’s cool qi descends and does not stop, accumulating cool becoming cold, and transforming into water. Water, fire, metal, wood, these are the names of the four images.”


From this passage we see that Yang at its height is called fire, and Yin in its depth is called water. Fire has the quality of heat, and water has the quality of cold. Growing and arising in between Yin and Yang is Wood, and contracting and condensing in between Yang and Yin is Metal.

The beauty of this explanation is the malleability of understanding. There is a simplicity to the Four “images”. These are natural relatable images that have a strong verisimilitude.

These Four images later on become through explanation and further examination over the centuries as the Four great Animals, The 4 seasons, The five phases, and a prominent part of the I Ching and Chinese Medicine.



Four Step Growth

There is evolving cycle to the Yi Ching, as observed through nature. It is the continual cycle of transformation and transmutation, 變 and 化. It is the change over time of hard and soft and that of dark and light. It becomes the cycle of yin and yang. As the ancients monitored the seasonal changes according to the circum-polar sky, four clear positions of transitional change became apparent. These were seen as the four seasons. Observing that they occurred at certain changes in the celestial skys, they were marked with the four cardinal directions. The stages of growth were then noted and put together in the the first Trigram of the Yi Ching, Qian.

Trigram 1, is called Qian, not Tian for a particular reason. Tian is the over head sky, but Qian is more than just the sky over head, it is the yearly sky. It is heaven over heaven. Heaven mirroring itself within and through out. It is translated as the creative impulse behind all. There are four parts to the pictogram of Qian according to Alfred Huang. The first upper left corner is the sun’s rising with a green sprout breaking the ground. The upper right is the Sun’s rays spreading out across the sky, then the lower right is the Sun’s rays falling on the ground, and then finally the lower left is that of a root sinking down into the ground. The light of Heaven penetrates all. Others hold that the left side of the pictogram is that of heaven’s banner, the big dipper, pointing out the directions of time with the right being that bound to earth. The four parts in the Huang description go with the description line of the Trigram.


Alfred Huang interprets it as

Initiating, Sublime and initiative, Prosperous and Smooth, Favourable and beneficial, Steadfast and upright.

Legge translates it as

Qian (represents) what is great and originating, penetrating, advantageous, correct and firm.

The characters of the line are called, Yuan, Heng, Li, and Zhen.

Each one has an expression of heaven. Yuan is the original, it is the starting point, it is initiation. Heng, is the growth and completion, it is the best ripe fruits given up for sacrifice. Li is the harvest, the gathering, and the preservation. Finally, Zhen is consultation, it is asking for advice, and finding the best outcome. It becomes determination as the next cycle will then continue.

It is funny how these four, experience permutations through out Chinese History in different forms. The permutations take on correspondences in the cyclical dynamism in Chinese thought and medicine. The Four directions become the Four Seasons, the Four seasons become the four animals, the four animals become the four images.

Next The Four Images

Shu數 and Shi時

Another aspect about the Yi jing is that of number, Shu. Number takes on a different role besides being a counter, it is both part and whole. It is a summation and an expression. It shows form and particular. It is used as a qualifier, either for position, direction, and even structure. It can designate type.

For example:

One can stand for the great unity of all things. I can be the source, the origin, the unfathomable, the singular.

Two can stand for duality, division, coupling, polarity, doubling, copying, mirroring, and many other things.

Three can be the intermediary, the midpoint, synthesis, birthing, a child, multiplicity, and branching. It can be the union of two or its division. It can be the beginning of a plane or an interlocution.

As you can see the picture there is more to a number than meets the eye.

With number comes time or timeliness, Shi. Whatever the function of the operand, number has a result, out of that result is a probability, a permutation. Timeliness, points the direction toward a favorable or unfavorable outcome. As you learn sequences, or sequences of events, you are more certain as to how they are going to turn out. In the most auspicious sense, you would like your outcome to be for the better, not just for yourself but also for others. Shi, is arrival and leaving, it is staying or dwelling or waiting for proper conduct. It is whether to plant seeds or to harvest fruit. It is to arrive on foot, or in a carriage. Shi is an order of time, a pattern of cause and effect, an overall theme, where you can spontaneously act for the better.

The Body Ecologic Prt. 2

Prt. 2

The Sentimental body

The notion of qi was always around. Qi is the communication of heaven and earth. It communicates through the myriad species. However before the Body Ecologic, the proponent metaphor of the body was the Sentimental body. The Sentimental body came around the Warring States period after Confucius, where the ruling class amongst the tribes were educated by the scholars of the times. The scholars were travelling philosophers who engaged in ritualistic endeavors to keep the ancient traditions alive. They went from ruler of state to state to teach how to handle the people, educate the people and themselves. In order to understand the human mind, the scholars of the times explored human emotions and how they manifested physically and mentally. Qi, the grand communicator of Heaven and Earth had its development in this role. Directionality of qi and its expression of yin and yang was attributed to the emotions, each one having a different expression.

The way one felt when they experienced emotions showed the relationship of one’s body to their awareness. For example, the Yin shu, mentions “When one is joyful, one augments yang. When one is angry, one augments yin.” Here a dichotomy of emotions is developed as well as a directionality. Joy, lightens the spirit and has an upward motion. Anger weighs down the body and compresses the body.  Another dichotomy, that developed was that of emptiness and fullness, an inward extent and an outward extent.

From the Nei Ye,

“The form of the Heart is spontaneously replete (Qi). Spontaneously born and complete. It loses this form through, care and joy, pleasure and anger, desire and profit seeking. If (the heart/you) are able to rid itself of care and joy, pleasure and anger, desire and profit seeking, the natural feelings of the heart cleave to rest and calm.”

Here fullness and emptiness take on the roles of Qi, and how the emotions may diminish and fill the heart. Ultimately the nature of the heart is to be rested and calm. So one must try to control one’s emotions so that they may control their Qi.

“with a settled heart within, the eyes and ears are keen and clear, the four limbs are strong and firm. He is fit to be a dwelling of essence. By essence it is meant the essence of qi”

Here the settling of the heart, clears the senses and strengthens the body. This allows one’s body to be open to qi, the communication of heaven and earth. With this there is a settling where Qi can make itself known.

Before seeing the landscape of the body as a reflection of Heaven and Earth, the pre-unified Chinese had to see the body as a settling place of the communication of Heaven and Earth. Qi was recognized as a directional force that through Dao yin, an early form of Qi gong could be moved around in the body by controlling the emotions. The Sentimental Body was an exploration of the directionality of the effects of the emotions, and how they played a role on rudimentary physiology and psychology.








Yi 意 and Xiang 像

In the Huang di Nei Jing, one of the daoist cannons that make a cornerstone of Traditional Chinese medicine, states that the zang fu- organs store the zhi- virtues/spirits/wills. The Zang fu organs are the Heart, Lung, Liver, Spleen, and the Kidney. These organs are storehouses for these virtues/spirits/wills. 伸,Shen, the word for spirit, is that which animates, so one could look at it as the processes that give the person and body life. This is why, I use the terms virtues, spirits, and wills. For each on their prospective level, show a way of life, perhaps one of a sage, or a regular person, or just for one surviving. A virtue fuels the sage to continue his path, a spirit enlivens your Joe, and will gives strength for someone to persist. These are all driving forces. Strengths and powers to keep us alive, and better ourselves. There is a Hierarchy of the Zang fu, and with a simple start the Heart is the Ruler in the schema of the Daoist and Chinese medical body.

“That which takes charge of things is the Heart. When the Heart is utilized, there is intention 意。 When intention is preserved, there is will 志. When will is maintained for changes, there is consideration 思. When thought extends itself far and is oriented there is reflection, 慮. When reflection is applied to dealing with things there is wisdom 智。” Lingshu 8

Here I will take loosely these two cognates and their interactions. In dealing with Xiang, as what has been mention in the previous two blog entries. Its more like the impression that nature gives us. Xiang is the image that pops in our heads when a moment unfolds. It is the beauty and wonder, or the simple and boring. It is the imprint that is let to us to unpackage. As with the Yi ching, it can be the overall impression given to us in a reading. Yi, intention happens when the heart is used. Here, the heart is the mind/body connection. It is more than consciousness, our cognitive function, beyond recognition and know, but also the process of preservation, and self-awareness. Yi, stirs out from the heart, but is store in the spleen. It is the intentionality that is derived from a thought. It is the active component from where the thought came from. When an intention is held, it solidifies and strengthens into a form, and this becomes will. Will is a persistence for existence. It is a drive into being. It takes power to feed a thought, and strength to manifest it, either in word, deed, or act. Will is stored in the Kidneys, for it is from the Kidneys that we get our impulse and our drives. This we will go into detail in the next entry. From the persisting will, consideration is then formed. Consideration is the stitching and a making of thought. It orients thought in the schema of one’s life, goals, or daily dealings. It places value upon that thought and that drive. It chooses. After consideration, then there is reflection, which is a strengthening of consideration through identification with the thought, the thought then incorporates with the self, and self image through a variety of degrees. From there, Wisdom, then develops, wisdom is the change of life for the better.

It is from life’s impressions that we ultimately make the choices in our lives.