What does 經 mean?

In the previous two posts, we discovered that these Six Thing-a-ma-jigs were first named as Jīng, 經 by Qí Bó in NèijīngSùwèn, chapter 6.  Therefore, the next step in understanding what these Six Things are is to explore the meaning of 經.

To decide what any character “means”, one must look at the way it is used in different contexts and discover the consistent thread of meaning between these uses.  It is virtually impossible to accurately translate 經 as one word, though we often must.  For the student/practitioner, a bit of understanding of these complex meanings may expand our relationship to our medicine.

Jīng 經 is made up of the thread radical on the left and the image of water streaming below the surface on the right.  A possible definition of 經 is “an underlying structure or constant flow of threads or information that is invisible or enigmatic[1], giving rise to rise to and influencing visible phenomenon.

This broad definition covers the bases I think.  Let’s check. […]

These Six Things are Circular Motions

In the previous post, we looked at how the Three Yīn and Three Yáng are described as great movements.  Like Russian Matryoshka dolls, we saw that these Six thing-a-ma-jigs are circular images within circular images.

Let’s now contemplate this a bit further.  I hope you are enjoying yourself as much as I am!

In Sùwèn Chapter 6, Treatise on the separation and unity of the Three Yang, after describing the placement of the Six in heaven and earth as well as in our bodies, Qi Bo states “Hence, this is the separation and unity of the Three Yang.”  The three Yáng are one Yang.  This is the unity. We divide them into three, Tàiyáng, Yángmíng, and Shàoyáng. This is the separation.  He then goes on to say that Tàiyáng opens, Yángmíng and Shàoyáng pivots.”  This description is followed by, “These three Jīng 經,  they must not lose each other.  They come together in a circular fashion, instead of floating away.  This is named the One Yáng.”

He is saying that we divide them into three but they are actually one circle.  What are these three divisions?  In this chapter, he tells us they are actions.  They are the actions of opening, closing, and pivoting.  These are movements he is talking about.  If we imagine a […]

What are These Six Things?

Translation of Chinese into English must be a conversation, not a conclusion.  This is something I learned from my friend Sabine Wilms.  Her book, Humming with Elephants, is a 340-page book on a single, short chapter five of the Huángdì Nèijīng which models this translation-as-conversation.  In this text, she discusses her word choices and the context of her word choices.  She also translates historic commentary on the lines in the chapter.  In this way, the text invites the reader into the contemplation of the text rather than just telling us what it means.  I love this!  A translation is a conversation between readers past and present and the text itself.

In this spirit, soon, Sabine and I will be offering a short, four-part class on Chapter 1 of the Huángdì Nèijīng Sùwèn. This class will be a live discussion between the two of us as well as with participants as a way to, not just translate the chapter, but to bring it alive for practitioners.  If all goes well, we will continue on in the text together.  This way, the text is illuminated through a conversation between the two of us and the text as well as between all of us and the text.  Stay tuned!

It is in the spirit of this conversation I […]

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