Essence 精 정

△ English version of 『Dongui Bogam』.

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 Essence Is the Basis of the Human Body 精爲身本정은 몸의 근본이다

In the Divine Pivot (靈樞), it is said that: “The spirit of two people join to form a new shape. What is always made before the body is formed is called essence. “Essence is the fundamental substance of the body. It is also said that: “The fluid and humor from the five grains are combined to make oil which seeps into the holes of the bones, fills up the bone marrow and the brain, and flows into the groins. When the balance between yin and yang is broken, semen leaks out to the genitals. Too much leaking out causes a deficiency, which leads to pain in the thoracic and lumbar regions, and a sore feeling in the shins. “Also, it is said: “Bone marrow is what fills the insides of the bones and the brain is the sea of bone marrow. When the sea of bone marrow is deficient, there is dizziness, ringing in the ears, soreness in the shins, and blurred vision.”

02 Essence Is the Ultimate Treasure 精爲至寶정은 지극한 보배이다

① Essence refers to the extremely good. The essence is of the most treasurable in a person, and the amount is very small. There is 1 doe 6 hop in total inside the body, and this is the amount before one starts letting the semen out of the body at the age of 16, and it weighs 1 geun. If it is all gathered to fill up, it totals up to 3 doe, but it becomes even less than 1 doe if one uses up and spends too much. Essence and qi raise one another, so when essence is filled when qi is gathered, qi becomes
strong if essence is abundant. The essence of everyday food makes up the essence, which is why the character “精” is made up of the parts meaning rice (米) and blue (靑). The essence is let out when one turns 16; one loses one-half hop at one intercourse. The essence is depleted soon if one only lets out and does not refill, and the body easily becomes worn out.
Therefore, the essence is wasted if one does not control one’s desire; qi becomes weak if the essence is worn out and diseases follow. The body will be in danger. Oh, the essence! It is the treasure of our body!

② It is said as follows in the Immortals’ Writings (仙書), “Essence is considered a treasure in the Tao of yin-yang. When it is protected carefully, one will age slowly. In the Songs for the Classics (經頌) it says: “Essence is treasured in the Tao, and one should be covert when protecting his treasure. Given to other, a child will be born, and when kept within oneself, it will extend one’s lifespan. Why would one waste it when it is not even enough to make children? One would get old and lessen the lifespan if one does not realize how much is thrown away. It is destiny that it should be kept as a treasure, the body that must be saved, and essence that must be considered important. One’s eyes get dizzy and loses sparkle when liver essence is not
enough. The flesh gets thinner when lung essence is not enough. Kidney qi decreases when kidney essence is not enough. One’s teeth become bare and hair falls out when spleen essence is not enough. Diseases occur and eventually death follows if the true essence is all used up.”

③ Xiang Chuanweng said: “Essence engenders qi and qi engenders spirit. It nurtures and protects the body; there is nothing more important than this essence. A person who cares for one’s health must value essence first of all. Qi gets healthy if there is enough essence, and the spirit is full if qi is healthy, and the body becomes healthy if the spirit is full. Fewer diseases follow if the body is healthy. Inside the five viscera become replete and outside the skin gets rich; the face glows, the eyes and ears get brighter, and one gets healthier as one ages.”

④ It is said in the Scripture of the Yellow Court (黃庭經): “One is able to live long only when the essence is not let out for leakage; one must treasure it dearly and value it.”

03 There Is Essence with the Five Viscera 五藏皆有精오장에는 모두 정이 있다

① It is said in the Classic of Difficult Issues (難經): “The heart can store 3 hop of essence juice, the spleen contains 0.5 geun of dispersed oil, and the gallbladder can store 3 hop of essence juice.”

② It is said in the Inner Classic (內經): “The kidneys are in charge of Water and receive the essence of the five viscera and six bowels for storage.” In the Annotation it says: “The kidneys are where the essence is gathered and controlled; they are not,
however, the only organ with essence inside.”

③ All the five viscera store essence, but it does not remain in the stored place. It stays in the blood in an unrecognizable form when a person is not interacting with another person. However, when the person interacts with another person and desire
peaks, blood transforms to essence in the life gate, and leaks out. Therefore, the essence from a person is kept in a bowl with a little amount of salt and wine for one night and put outside, it will transform back to blood.”

04 Diagnosis by Pulse Taking 脈法맥법

① It is said in the Classic of the Pulse (脈經); “If a man has a faint, weak and rough pulse and is childless, it is because his essence qi is watery and cold.”

② It is said in the Rhymes for the Pulse (脈訣); “When essence is leaked to the urine and the urine is murky, it is manifested in the cubit pulse. When the cubit pulse is bound, hollow, stirred, and tight, there is no doubt that the essence is leaking to cause murky urine.”

③ Also, “A rough pulse means the lack of essence-blood, and when a man’s pulse is rough such a symptom is called an injury of the essence.” Also, “The rough pulse implies depletion of essence and drying of blood.”

④ It is said in the Medical Mirror of Past and Present (醫鑑): “The essence is harmed when the pulse is faint and rough.”



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