DONGUIBOGAM; Internal Bodily Elements-Qi 氣 기

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

01 Qi Is the Basis of Essence and the Spirit 氣爲精神之根蔕기는 정과 신의 토대이다

① Dongyuan said, “Qi is the ancestor of spirit, and essence is the child of qi. Therefore, qi is the basis of essence and spirit.”

② Mao Zhenjun said, “Qi is the drug which elongates life, and the heart controls qi and spirit. One can become an immortal if one knows the master that controls qi.”

02 Qi Originates from the Grains 氣生於穀기는 정과 신의 토대이다

① Divine Pivot (靈樞) says, “A person gets qi from grains. Grains enter the stomach, get passed on to the lungs, and the five viscera and six bowels all receive the qi. Of the qi received, pure qi becomes nutrient qi and impure qi becomes defense qi. Nutrient qi flows within the meridians and defense qi flows outside the meridians. Nutrient qi and defense qi circulate within the body 50 times without rest and reunite. Yin and yang penetrate each other and circulate without rest.”

② It also says, “The upper energizer distributes the five flavors of the five grains, thus warming the skin, constituting the body, and nourishing the hair. As fog and dew moisten all things, qi moistens the body.”

③ Complete Compendium of the True Principles of the Golden Elixir (正理) says, “Essence from every food replenishes qi. Because qi comes perceive, move, see, hear, speak, and smell. Yang qi in humans can be compared to the sun in the sky. A person cannot live long if he/she loses yang qi, just as all beings cannot come into existence without sunrise.”

⑤ The Introduction to Medicine (入門) says, “Qi flows as yang qi arises every day from 11 pm to 1am from the KI1 located on the center of the sole of the left foot and climbs up along the left leg, abdomen, left side, left arm, and reaching the fontanelle from 11 am to 1 pm. From 11 am to 1 pm, qi slides down from the fontanelle along the right arm, right side, abdomen, and the right leg, coming to a stop at the center of the sole of the right foot. This is what they mean by the ‘Gam trigram (坎卦) and Li triagram (離卦) and how they explain the changes of yin and yang’.”

04 The Frequency of Movements of Defense Qi 衛氣行度 위기의 운행 횟수

① Divine Pivot says, “Defense qi circulates the body 50 times a day; 25 times along the yang part of the body during the day, and 25 times along the yin part of the body during the night. Therefore, if yin is depleted in dawn, the yang qi comes out through the eyes. When one opens one’s eyes, yang qi ascends to the head, and then descends along the nape of the neck
to meet Foot greater yang). It descends along the back and reaches the tip of the little toe. One of its scattered tributaries branches off from the canthus, descends to Hand greater yang, and reaches the outer part of the tip of the little finger. Another scattered branch branches off from the canthus, descends to Foot lesser yang, flows between the little toe and the fourth toe, ascends along the branch of Hand lesser yang to the little finger. Another one of the scattered tributaries ascends to the front of the ear and flows to Foot yang brightness, descending again to the back of the foot, and entering into the spaces in between the five toes. Another branch branches off from below the ear, descending to Hand yang brightness, passing through the thumb and entering the palm. At the foot, one of the branches enters the center of the sole of the foot, comes out again from
below the medial malleolus, flows through the yin part of the body, and joins other branches at the eyes. This completes a cycle. After defense qi circles the body 25 times, yang is depleted, and the time of yin comes and yin inherits qi. When qi enters yin, it always starts from Foot lesser yin, flows to the kidneys, then to the heart, lungs, liver, spleen, and finally to the kidneys again. It joins at the eyes after circling the body 25 times just as it circles the yang part of the body.”

② It also says, “There are 28 vessels―upward and downward, left and right, and front and back―in the human’s meridian vessels, which correspond to 28 constellations. The 28 vessels run 16 Jang 2 Cheok long, entwining the body. One day is divided into day and night by the 100 Gak (刻, the 100 divisions of a day) of a water clock. A person breathes 13,500 times a day, and qi circulates the body 50 times a day.”

③ Dongyuan said, “Source qi comes calmly, agreeably, and thinly as a thread, but pathogenic qi comes tightly and strongly; thus it cannot be stopped, for it is like a surging river.”

05 The Difference Between Movements of Nutrient Qi and Defense Qi 榮衛異行영기와 위기의 운행의 차이

The Compendium of Medicine (綱目) says, “Nutrient qi starts from Hand greater yin and circulates within the body one time before coming to an end in Foot reverting yin. Looking at how nutrient qi makes a round of the body, it reaches the torso and limbs outwardly, and the five viscera and six bowels inwardly. Because there is no place where nutrients do not reach, there is no difference between day and night or yin and yang. The movement of defense qi is different. During the day, it only circulates in the outer and yang parts such as the torso and the limbs, and it does not enter the inner parts, such as the five viscera and six bowels. During the night, it only circulates in the inner and yin parts such as the five viscera and six bowels, and it does not circulate in the outer body or the limbs. Thus, it must circulate 50 times and when dawn comes, it joins grandly with nutrient qi at Hand greater yin.”