The Symbolism of Tao in Acupuncture

Report
The Symbolism of Tao in
Acupuncture
Liu Hongbin



etymological research of acupuncture points
art of its naming
the Tao of Needling.
Why?
I argue why practitioners should go beyond
memorising the acupuncture points as
numbers, using rather their original names,
which are encoded with the philosophy of
Tao.“The Tao finds its law in the affirmation
of nature”.
Returning to the Tao and the
archetype of the River Map and
Luo Shu


whole of Chinese civilisation based on Taoism
most influential physicians of Chinese medicine
have been Taoists




formed and shaped Chinese medicine
Taoist philosophy is the cornerstone of Chinese
medicine
Taoist perspective about the cosmos shares
much in common with modern science
In my opinion, Chinese Medicine is arguably
the science of science.
The Beginning Of The World Is Void,
Emptiness And Nothingness.
Huang Lao Philosophy (黄老哲学)




Three Classics:
I Ching (Book of Changes)
Lao Zi
Huangdi Neijing


Reading in Classical Text in original
Chinese- Tao, Way,
Reading Classical Text in English
translation, Word. Logos,( Greek
philosophy, absolute idea)
Archetype of Chinese thought
Cornerstone of Chinese medicine
Nine Palace
Taiji Tu did not appear until Song
Dynasty , Chen Tuan 陈抟/ 邵康节
What is Tao?



Yin and Yang makes the Tao
一阴一阳谓之道。(易经系辞上传第五章)
(They are opposite to each other, but yield
to each other).
This is the basis of the existence of the
universe. Reaching for balance such
movement never stops.
What does Tao Look Like?
“There was something formless yet complete,
That existed before heaven and earth;
It is calm, it is formless,
It stands alone and changes not!
Reaching everywhere and inexhaustible,
It may be regarded as Mother of the Universe.
I do not know its name.
For a title we call it the Tao.
If I forced to give it a name we call it the great.
Now Tao also means passing on,
And passing on means going Far Away,
And going far away means returning.
Man finds his law in the Earth. 人法地,
The earth finds its law in Heaven, 地法天
Heaven finds its law in the Tao, 天法道,
The Tao finds its law in the affirmation of
Nature,” 道法自然。
有物混成,先天地生。寂兮寥兮,独立而不改
行而不殆,可以为天下母。
吾不知其名,字之曰大。大曰逝,逝曰远。
人法地,地法天,天法道,道法自然。
Single Yin will not grow, lone Yang will not
survive. 孤阴不生,寡阳不长
In Tao is Unity of life,
In Unity is Duality of Life,
In Duality is Trinity of Life,
In Trinity all beings have life.
( Lao Zi, Chapter 42)
老子“道生一、一生二、二生三、三生万物”
The energy-points for affecting the channels
are all located in specific positions and all
have their definite names. ( Lao Zi, Chapter 5)
What is Tao and one?

interpreted as the ontology of Emptiness and
Nothingness


Taoism is a natural philosophy


Emptiness and Nothingness are the ultimate source of
being (有)
lays emphasis on Heaven’s relationship to Man
Heaven and Man are in harmony. Heaven and Man
are one.



For Example:
twelve rivers then in China, it followed the twelve
meridians were named after them
365 days a year, so there 361 acupuncture points in the
human body to correspond with that
Understood simply, our attempt as
practitioners of acupuncture to readjust the
flux of Qi within the body can be seen as
realigning the natural harmony between
Heaven and Man.




Acupuncture points are first named in the
Neijing.
The Neijing is heavily influenced by Taoism.
It is later on collected in the Taoist Cannon.
(道藏)
There are over fifty names of acupuncture
points are from the Taoist classic Yellow
Palace Scripture.

Such as:










Huágài REN-20 (Magnificent Canopy) 华盖
Xuánjï REN-21 (Jade Pivot) 璇玑
Tiänshü ST-25 (Heaven’s Pivot) 天枢
Nèitíng ST-44 (Inner Courtyard) 内庭
Jíquán HE-1 (Summit Spring) 极泉
Qïnglíng HE-2 (Green Spirit) 青灵
Tàibái SP-3 (Supreme White) 太白
Tàiyî ST-23 (Supreme Unity) 太亿
Língdào HE-4 (Spirit Path)灵道
Shénmén HE-7 (Spirit Gate) 神门
Acupuncture points are the sites into which Qi
and blood are fused. Each has its own location
and name.
《素问 阴阳应象大论》“气穴所发 ,各有处名”。
Sun Simiao pinpoints that as, ‘for the acupuncture
points , they are not randomly named, every name
bears a significant meaning.’ (Sun Simao, Thousand
Golden Ducats Prescriptions AD 652)
“凡诸孔穴,名不虚设,皆有深意”。- 孙思邈《千金
翼方》




Often each given name of the acupuncture
point indicates its diagnostic and
therapeutic significance
On the other hand, when the acupuncture
points are reduced to numbers and letters,
the change can result in Derivation
while there may be clarity of logic, yet the
meaning remains linear.
It is somehow deficient.
Science and Taoism



Science and Taoism have something in common. The
advancement of science is based on hypothesis,
while Taoism by way of the unreal attains the real.
Jie jia huan zhen (借假还真)
To make something out of nothing. (无中生有)Wu
zheng sheng you. It is not Chinese medicine which
has been left behind, it is that Western science is still
not sophisticated enough to interpret Chinese
medicine. ….
For example Da Dao zhi dian. The great Tao is simple
in the extreme.(大道至简)
1. Names referring to anatomical
landmarks:




Wàngû SI-4 (Wrist Bone) 腕骨, on the lunar border of
the hand, in the depression between the base of the fifth
metacarpal bone and the triquetral bone.
Rûgën ST-18 (Root of the Breast) 乳根, directly below
the nipple, in the fifth intercostal space.
Quánliáo SI-18 (Cheek Bone Crevice) 颧髎directly below
the outer canthus, in the depression of the lower border
of the Zygomatic Bone.
Dàzhuï DU-14 (Great Vertebra) 大椎(百劳) in a
depression below the spinous process of the 7th cervical
vertebra, Hempen and Chow translated this point to
Great Hammer, Deadman’s Great Vertebra is obviously
better.
2. Named according to its particular
clinical indications:

Jing ming and Guangming for eye problems:







Jïngmíng BL-1 (Bright Eyes) 睛明 a depression in the middle and slightly
above the inner canthus of the eye
Guängmíng GB-37 (Bright Light) 光明,5 cun superior to the prominence
of the lateral malleolus, at the anterior border of the fibula.
Shuifeng and Shuidao for edema:
Shuîfën REN-9 (Water Separation or Water Divide), 水分 is one cun
above the umbilicus, regulates fluids and stabilizes water metabolism.
Shuîdào ST-28 (Water Passage or Waterway), 水, is 3 cun below the
umbilicus, 2 cun lateral to the middleline, clears damp-heat in the
lower burner and benefits the bladder.
Qianzhen is for:
Qian zhen, EX-HN-20,(Pull Aright) 牵正,, is 0.5-1 cun in front of the
ear lobe, at a point that is tender or where a tubercle can be palpated.
Expels wind, pareses of the facial muscles.
3. The name of Acupunctures points are
analogous to astrophysical stars,
landform, rivers and seas












Rìyuè GB-24 (Sun and Moon) 日月
Shàngxïng DU-23 (Upper Star) 上星
Tàiyî ST-23 (Supreme Unity) 太亿
Chéngshän BL-57 (Support the Mountain) 承山
Dàlíng P-7 (Great Mound) 大陵
Shängqiü SP-5 (Shang Mound) 商丘
Tàixï KID-3 (Supreme Stream) 太溪
Hégû L.I.-4 (Joining Valley) 合谷
Qüzé P-3 (Marsh at the Crook) 曲泽
Yôngquân KID-1 (Gushing Spring) 涌泉
Xiâohâi SI-8 (Small Sea) 小海
Sìdú SJ-9 (Four Rivers) 四渎
4. Naming as and relating to
animals and plants:

Using animal and plant names to illustrate
the position and the image, for example:






Crouching Rabit伏兔 fu tu,ST-32
Fish Border鱼际 yu ji( LU-10)
Calf’s Nose 犊鼻 du bi(ST-35)
Crane’s Summit鹤顶 (N-LE-27
Gathered Bamboo攒竹 (BL-2)
Mouth Grain Crevice口禾髎 (L.I.19)
5. Names inspired by architecture:

Celestial well天井tian jing (TB-10)
Hall of Impression印堂 ying tang (EX-HN-5)
Great Tower Gate巨阙 ju que(CV-14)
Brain’s Door脑户 nao hu(D-17)
Room Screen 屋翳 wu yi (ST-15)
Breast Window膺窗 Yïngchuäng (ST-16)
Kùfáng ST-14 (Storehouse)库房
Dìcäng ST-4 (Earth Granary) 地仓
Qìhù ST-13 (Qi Door) 气户

Liángmén ST-21 (Beam Gate) 梁门








6. Naming based on the theory of
Chinese medicine:





Naming according to the location of the
transport point, its indication, Ying Yang,
Zangfu, meridians, such as:
Yïnlíngquán SP-9 (Yin Mound Spring) 阴陵
泉
Yánglíngquán GB-34 (Yang Mound Spring)
阳陵泉
Xïnshü BL-15 (Heart Shu) 心俞
Taoism has definitive influence on
Chinese medicine


The source for this research is Taoism
I Ching ( the Book of Changes, the major Taoist text)





Chinese medicine share the same fountain source
The I Ching is the primary classic of all classics
Some say the principle of Chinese medicine originates from the I
Ching
they wind up being deeply connected in thought, language and
practice
Other important points of reference are




the Taiji Tu (Taichi diagram)
He Tu (River Map)
As the archetype of Chinese civilization, they can be seen as the
collective subconscious of the Chinese people and Chinese thought
It is not an exaggeration to say that the whole of Chinese
civilization comes from the River Map, and therefore by inference
so does Chinese medicine
Lao Zi Taoist Philosophy and Yellow
Emperor Internal Classics are the cornerstone
of Chinese Medicine
 LaoZi: Everything bears Yin in the back and
embrace Yin in the front. ( 万物负阴而抱阳)
 Zhuang Zi:’’There is law governing heaven
and earth, and it is hidden latent in Yin and
Yang”. He goes on to elaborate “Stillness is
the virtue of Yin, while movement and yang
both manifest change”. Therefore Yin and
Yang are the cornerstone concepts of Taoist
metaphysics.
Taoist Doctors made decisive contribution to
the formation and development of Chinese
medicine















Bian Que扁鹊
Zhang Daoling张道陵
Hua Tuo华佗
Wei Boyang魏伯阳
Huang Fumi (214-282 CE)皇甫谧
Ge Hong(281-341 CE) 葛洪
Tao Hongjing(456-536 CE) 陶弘景
Sun Simiao(581-682CE)孙思邈
Wang Bing(710-805CE) 王冰
Chen Tun(871-989CE)陈抟
Zhang Bo-duan(984-1082CE)张伯端
Qiu Chu-ji(1148-1227CE)丘处机
Ma Dan-yang (1123-1183CE)马丹阳
Liu Wan-Su(1110-1200CE)刘完素
Zhang San-feng,(1247-张三丰
Tao of Needling and spiritual
physiology
Tao never does; yet through it all things are done.
道常无为而无不为。 (Lao Zi chapter 37)
 Chinese medicine recognizes there is a spiritual physiology,
as it sees mental and physical health as intertwined.

Therefore when treating a patient, the practitioner tries to
achieve harmony between the Tao and nature, body and
mind, himself and his patient.
 Each interaction tries to reach the universal breath of life.
 The following extract about De Qi from the Yellow Emperor’s
classic canon presents the highest goal and ultimate state of
mind of a practitioner.
Part I






Your body is confident with your hands
身不疑乎手
Your hands are not doubtful of you mind
手不疑乎心
Your mind is not apprehensive of Qi
心不疑乎气
And Qi doesn’t mistrust chance
气不疑乎机
The movement of chance
机之动
Only exists with emptiness
不离其空
Part II










针法不在针,the Tao of needling doesn’t rely on your needle,
而在于手; but your hand;
手法不在手,the Tao of your hand doesn’t depend on your hands
而在于心; but your mind;
心法不在心,the Tao of your mind doesn't put in trust in your mind.
而在于空;but emptiness.
空中之机,chances amid emptiness
清静而微,is tranquil and dim
其来不可逢,its arrival cannot be anticipated
其往不可追。And its departure cannot be chased.

similar documents