Acupuncture theories are based on the theory of three realms of Heaven-Earth-humanity
By Brandon SJ Oh, L.Ac.
There are three realms of Heaven-Earth-humanity (三才) in the Universe, and the three realms’ nature could be explained by the theory of triple-nature-theory (三才論).
The energy of Heaven and the movements of Yin and Yang of the Earth raise every living creature on the Earth. And humanity is representing all living creatures on the Earth.
▲ The Universe and the three realms of Heaven-Earth-humanity우주와 천지인
Based on the theory of triple-nature-theory, the head considered as Heaven, and the trunk is understood as Earth. Because Heaven looks round-shaped, and the appearance of Earth is square. Likely, Earth has five seas and six continents; there are five Jangs(臟) and six Fus(腑) in the human body.
If there is no operator existence of Heaven and Earth is meaningless. Therefore humanity is needed as operators or a bridge of Heaven and Earth. For human body parts, limbs take the role of operation of the body.
There could be criticism regarding the definition of Taoism for Heaven is round, and Earth is square. The ancient idea of figures of Heaven and Earth is not precisely described the actual appearance of Heaven and Earth.
Imagine that a man stands in a middle of the field and looks up the sky. How could the sky be seen to the man? The man feels that the air surrounds him and makes him think he is looking up a great dorm shaped ceiling.
Now the man who is standing on the field looks down the ground. To his eyes, the ground seemed to be flatter than sphere shape. The ancient Chinese philosophers considered square representing something flat. It is a metaphorical expression and understanding Universe.
Many acupuncturists are familiar to Left-Liver-Right-Lungs. If a western scientist reads the phrase, he or she will not understand what it means. Because the anatomic location of the lungs is right and left chest, and the liver is on the right chest. Left-Liver-Right-Lungs means that symptoms related to disease of the lungs are mostly shown on the right side of the human body, and liver illness frequently appears on the left side of the body. This is another example of ancient Chinese philosophers’ metaphorical expression.
For treating testalgia with Saam acupuncture technique and a patient complaints pain on his left testicle, the liver is needed to be balanced. If the other patient complaints pain on his right testicle, the lungs should be either tonified or sedated by Saam acupuncture technique.
If the theory of the three realms of Heaven-Earth-humanity to a human body, the head represents the energy of Heaven, the trunk resembles energy of Earth, and four limbs take the role of humanity. Also, Taichi Acupuncture points are on the head, acupuncture points which are acting as an axis of the energy of the human body are in the trunk, and the balancing and impetus acupuncture points that control twelve meridians located on four limbs.
The twelve meridians are grouped by three realms of Heaven-Earth-humanity by its characteristics. The Heart, Small intestine, Urinary Bladder, and Kidneys are easily affected by external pathogens and filled with Yuan Qi and were categorized to Heaven. Likely, living creatures on the Earth need to eat and execrate to preserve life; the lungs, Large intestine, Stomach, and Spleen take the role for metabolism as Earth does. The pericardia, Triple Burner, Gall Bladder, and the Live meridians are like humanity. Humanity stays in between Heaven and Earth and interconnect them. The organs such as pericardia, Triple Burner, Gall Bladder, and the Liver could be grouped and named as humanity.
Qi starts flowing on each meridian in the order of the Lungs, Large Intestine, Stomach, Spleen, Heart, Small Intestine, Urinary Bladder, Kidneys, Pericardia, Triple Burner, Gall Bladder and the Liver.
It also is expressed as Qi starts moving in the orders of Earth, Humanity, and Heaven meridians.
As we set up a treatment plan by using acupuncture, you need to consider how to control the Qi movement to perform the best treatment result. There are two possible ways to control Qi movement on the meridians such as ‘Natural Flow, 순경(順經)’ and ‘’Reversal Flow, 역경(逆經)”.
In Natural Flow, Qi moves in the order of Earth meridians→ Heaven meridians → Humanity meridians. In Reversal Flow, Qi travel in the order of Earth meridians → Humanity meridians → Heaven meridians.
If two acupuncture points were used and stimuli the acupuncture point by “Natural Flow,” stimulated points to force more reliable Qi movement but in a stable way on meridians. “Natural Flow” is suitable for use for chronic symptoms or symptoms caused by Qi weakness because of its gentle characteristics. But in the case of acute symptoms and Fullness, symptoms on the upper body require to faster and stronger Qi movement. In the case, “Reversal Flow” should be used.
Using either “Natural Flow” or “Reversal Flow” depend on the prognosis of a symptom, but in general, it is required not to apply “Reversal Flow” to the upper body to prevent a rapid and large amount of Qi goes up to head. Therefore, apply “Natural Flow” for the upper body and do with “Reversal Flow” by resolving Qi stagnation on the upper body to enhance more circulation on the lower body.