"I heard ancient people were able to live to one hundred years and still be the same as when young. But nowadays, when fifty years old our activities decrease. How is this? Is it due to the times, or have humans lost something?" the Yellow Emperor asked.

"The ancient people knew the way, the Tao, and the rule of Yin <-> Yang and could get harmony of the numbers. The ancient people could control their eating habits. They knew the rules of life, waking and sitting. They don't overwork. For these reasons, they were healthy and balanced in body and mind and were able to live one hundred years. But today, people are not like this, they drink too much alcohol and think about sex and after drinking will go to bed and lose their Jing according to their sexual desire. At the same time as losing their Jing, they lose and disperse the truth. They don't know how to keep the body healthy. They don't know how to control their mind and cannot control their desires. They are against the living pleasure, the Tao." the physician Chi Po answered.

From the Huang Ti Nei Ching, Su Wen, Chapter One.

"The four seasons and Yin and Yang are the beginning and ending of everything, the root of birth and death. If ones goes against the rule of this one can get injury, creating general catastrophies, like a flood, which affect all others as well. If one doesn't go against the rule disease doesn't occur, this is the Tao."

From the Huang Ti Nei Ching, Su Wen, Chapter Two.

The following excerpts from the book Five Elements & Ten Stems supported by the classics Nan Ching, Ling Shu and Huang Jing Ching show the importance in cultivating Qi energy in the Hara and its energetic pathways through Qigong, meditation, herbs, diet, exercise, acupressure, and acupuncture for stress management, holistic health and well-being:

The energies of the Heaven <-> Man <-> Earth continuum are assimilated and drawn into the Hara. Located in the abdomen, the center of the body, the Hara is the central point for all of these energies. The Hara is described as the realm of the "Moving Chi between the Kidneys" and is centered around the "Sea of Chi," Chi Hai or Tanden and the umbilicus. This understanding is found in some of the earliest texts. In the Huang Jing Ching, or "Yellow Jing Textbook," the following description is given.

"The Yin Chi and Yang Chi meet and cross together {as in sex} and then Jing comes down and Jing alchemically transforms to Shen. Jing and Shen combine together to take on some form, and then come up to the Nine heavens to become the Chi of the Nine Heavens. The Chi coming down to Chi Hai meets Shen and then the person is created." But today, people are not like this, they drink too much alcohol and think about sex and after drinking will go to bed and lose their Jing according to their sexual desire. At the same time as losing their Jing, they lose and disperse the truth. They don't know how to keep the body healthy. They don't know how to control their mind and cannot control their desires. They are against the living pleasure, the Tao." the physician Chi Po answered.

The Nan Ching specifies the source of Chi as the Hara and the Breath. The Ling Shu ties both the Breath of Heaven and the Chi of food and water to formation of the true Chi. This quote from the Nan Ching tells us that the "source of vital Chi" is the Hara:

"The Hara ... the source of vital Chi .... is the gate of breathing."

Wang Shu He, who wrote a little known but brilliant treatise on the Nan Ching, explicitly states when commenting on this section of the Nan Ching that air when drawn into the abdomen creates Chi:

"Breath {gas/air from breathing} reaches to the inside {of the abdomen}. The Chi grows and then becomes solid; this protects against evil injuring the body. Protecting on the inside and defending on the outside, this is Chi."

This passage is very similar to the preceding quotation from San Dai Ji Jin Wen Tsun. Both emphasize the distention of the abdomen as air is drawn in from proper breathing. it would follow that the solidity mentioned by each is the elastic flexibility of a healthy Hara.

According to information from the Ling Shu, the energies of Heaven <-> Man <-> Earth interact to form the True Chi. One aspect or equivalent of True Chi is the Source Chi. It is in the Hara, the area of "the Moving Chi between the Kidneys," that all energies interact to create the basic or Source Chi of the body:

"True Chi is the prenatal Chi from the parents, Chi of the breathing from Heaven and Chi of food and water from Earth, mixing together."

The idea of energies coming down to the Hara or Chi Hai (Tanden) pervades the classic references. The Hara was seen as the merging point of the various energies and the source of True Chi. One aspect of this Chi forms, creates, or becomes the Five Elements energies. More precisely, this aspect of the energies presents, creates, or becomes the Ten Stems energies which are described by the Five Elements system. A second or additional aspect of this Basic or Source Chi forms, creates, becomes or nourishes the twelve meridians (The Twelve Branches).

The Hara is the center, the ultimate source of Chi.

The energetic anatomy is clear. The Hara is the center, the ultimate source of Chi. The Triple Warmer is the energetic connection of the Hara to the Source points of all the meridians. It is the "root" of health and life. Before any other treatment is administered, we need to treat the condition of the Hara.

Hara & Energetic Pathways

The Nan Ching theory of energetic anatomy is centered in the Hara. The energetic nourishment of Jing and Shen, the passage of Chi and maintenance of the pulse are not the only functions rooted in the Hara. The Gathering of Eminent Acupuncturists and the Compendium of Acupuncture and Moxibustion discuss how the Ten Stems relate to the Source points. At the same time they present another viewpoint on the relationship of Triple Warmer and Heart Main-Pericardium to the Ten Stems.

Recognition of the Hara as the "Root," the center, pervades the practice of acupuncture and all other ideas based on the classical concepts of health. As the center of the energetic system and the starting point from which many techniques of diagnosis and treatment are developed it completes or supplements the Five Elements system. The Hara itself is seen as an area that encompasses the whole abdomen. It is focused around the area called Chi Hai or Chi Hai Tanden which overlaps the Spleen and Kidney reflex areas centering around CV-5 and CV-6, the Ma Point of the Triple Warmer and the "Sea of Chi."

Hara, Dantien or Chi Hai Tanden
Hara, Dantien or Chi Hai Tanden

Reference:

Five Elements and Ten Stems by Kiiko Matsumoto and Stephen Birch, 1983.

 

See Cultivating Qi in the Hara and Its Energetic Pathways (2)

 


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