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 wheel turning, we can see that there are three movements. The wheel goes up and goes down and there is a hub that is pivoting. We can divide the circular movement of a wheel this way but really it is one movement. Tàiyáng opens up and out from Yīn to Yáng. Yángmíng closes the day and the season in the west, Yáng to Yīn, and the hub of the movement is Shàoyáng. They are separate but all one. They cannot be without this mutuality, circling together but not separating. Of course, we know that Yáng will float away if it is not bound in this unity, just as Yīn will sink away without it.
In this passage, Qí Bó first names these three Yáng as the Three 經 Jīng. This is our first naming of these what-nots. A noun is finally used!
The next question is obviously, “what is Jīng 經 ?” This is the central question I hope to address in the next post.
Before moving on to that, let’s look at what Qí Bó then says about the three Yīn Jīng 經 when Huáng Dì tells him he’d like to hear about them. Qi Bo says, “The three Yáng are the outside and the three Yīn are the inside. This being so, the center is Yīn and its rushing is below. This is named Tàiyīn. Tàiyīn‘s foundation arises from Yǐnbái, 隱白, Hidden White. This is called Yin within Yin. Behind Tàiyīn is Shàoyīn, whose foundation arises from the Yǒngquán, 涌泉, Bubbling Spring. This is the Yīn within Shàoyīn. In front of Shàoyīn is called Júeyīn, whose foundation arises from Dá Dūn, 大敦 Great Mound. This is called Yīn within Júeyīn. This is the separation and unity of the three Yīn 經. The Tàiyīn opens, the Júeyīn closes and the Shàoyīn is the pivot. They must not lose each other, coming together in a circular fashion, instead of sinking away. This is named the One Yīn.”
Qí Bó finishes this chapter by saying “Yīn and Yáng move ceaselessly, transmitting from one to the other, making one circle. The Qi on the interior and the form on the exterior mutually complete each other.
The one Yáng is described in three motions and the One Yīn is also described in three motions. These six motions “move ceaselessly, transmitting from one to the other.” The six are themselves one circular motion.
What happens when we view these Six as one circular motion? How does this affect our understanding of the human body, diagnosis, the herbal formulas we use, the acupuncture points we choose?
If these Six are one circular motion, separated into Two sets of Three, i.e. Six parts, then why did Qí Bó name them “Jīng 經?” In the next post, we will explore how these ideas of circular motion, expressed so well by Qí Bó, are summarized by the character 經 Jing. And what the heck does 經 Jīng really mean?