『Dongui Bogam-Internal Bodily Elements(동의보감-내경편』 Ⅰ. Body(신형 身形) ⑥

△ ‘Diagram of the Viscera and Bowls of the Body’, 1613, the first edition of the Dongui Bogam (Courtesy of the National Library of Korea)

Written By Jun Heo(許浚, 1539~1615), Translated by Namil Kim, Wung Seok Cha et al., Published by Ministry of Health & Welfare (Korea)

10. There Are Three Passages on the Back 背有三關 몸 뒷면의 삼관

It is said in the Classic of the Immortals (仙經): “There are three passages on the back of the body; the back of the head is called the BL-9 passage and both sides of the spine are together called the pulley passage, and where Water and Fire meet is called the coccygeal passage. The three passages are the roads through which essence-qi moves. If the three passages stay well as the handle of the Big Dipper, the flow of essence-qi would be as smooth as the flow of the Milky Way flowing along the Big Dipper.”

② In the Essay on the Jade Void (翠虛篇) it says: “One single thread of qi flows through the three passages vaguely a short while after training and cultivating. Qi flows through the three passages endlessly, and a single thread of pulse gathers at the mud ball palace. Above this mud ball palace is a violet-gold caldron, and there is a mass colored violet-gold inside the caldron. It transforms itself into saliva and flows into the mouth, and the clear qi melts into the tip of the tongue.”

③ It is said in the Annotation on the Token of the Agreement of the Three (參同契註), “Qi and blood flow up and down the body endlessly during the day and night. It is similar to the river flowing endlessly to the east towards the sea and yet never drying out. The reason for not depleting is because the hole of the mountains and the river is interconnected. Water flows underneath the earth. So is the cycle of sun and moon.”

11. The Maintenance and Nurturing of Essence, Qi, and the Spirit 保養精氣神 정기신의 보양

Quxian (臞仙) once said, “Essence is the origin of the body, qi is the master of the spirit, and the body is the shelter of spirit. Therefore, the spirit becomes exhausted if the spirit is overused, the essence dries out if the essence is overused, and qi is depleted if qi is overused. The base of the life of the human is the spirit, and body relies on qi. The body is consumed when qi is depleted; in such a case, the person cannot live long.

Something is the shelter of nothing; shape is the shelter of spirit. If one does not protect this shelter and make it comfortable, and if one does not cultivate the spirit by training the body, qi will scatter and the spirit will roam away. It is the same logic as the candlelight unable to glow when the candle is burned out, and the water unable to remain in one place when the dike has broken. The ethereal soul is yang and corporeal soul is yin. The spirit feeds on qi and shape feeds on flavors; the spirit becomes bright when qi is clear, and qi becomes cloudy when the shape is tired.

Anyone who takes in qi does not die, hence his or her body is light enough to fly the sky; anyone who takes in food eventually dies, hence his or her shape returns to the earth. When a person dies, the ethereal soul flies to heaven and the corporeal soul sinks into the earth; this is the way of Fire and Water going back to their origins. They stay together during life, and they part at the time of death for one to return to heaven and for the other to sink into the earth; this is very natural. It is the same natural logic as the tree burned and smoke floating upwards and the ashes falling downwards. The bright spirit is the origin of the transformation, and essence qi is the frame of all things; so one lives if the shape is maintained, and life is maintained for a long time if one nurtures one’s essence qi.