"Lady Regalia in the west; Gentle Goddess in the east. She is a master of the five elements of Tao and an observer of time; a witch with the potion of youth; and a seamstress who weaves the fabric of life.."
~ Nameless Ascetic
Sīchóu biàndòng (The Silken Movements)
The Silken Movements are an ancient form of Neigong founded by the Eight Immortals of Tao. The gong fu is designed to cultivate one's physical, mental and preternatural assets. In combat it's graceful and soft and utilizes the principles of yielding to momentum and inertia in order to combat strength and power. Phoenix is a long time master of this arcane art and has taught an intermediate degree of it to her two disciples.
Kǎ zhēn (Qi Needles)
Metaphysical needles that Phoenix has fashioned from concentrated and condensed energy (Crystallized Qi). Originally they were for sewing and crafts but she has employed their use in Chinese Acupuncture as well as combat. Her needles have the potential to pierce even the most durable of opponents, puncture some of the most protective armor and penetrate some of the most strongest of barriers.
Shēnghuó shā (Life Yarn)
Phoenix possesses the ability to perceive and interact with 'life yarn'. Life yarn are strings of Qi that seep out of a person's body. She may use an individual's own life yarn to bind them or to siphon their life forces.
Néngyuán gài cí (Energy Gates/Chakra Points)
The energy gates in your body are major relay stations where the strength of qi is regulated. Many gates are located at joints or, more precisely, in the actual space between the bones of a joint.
The concept of energy gates has been passed down from ancient China, originally worked out by the Taoists. Energy gates must be felt directly with the mind in your body, for they are part of your subtle energy body.
You learn to feel these points in order to channel the flow of your chi to stimulate the subtle body to the greatest extent possible. The first practice in Energy Gates Qigong is to enter each gate and dissolve through them.
There are 23 main points to open in the standing practice:
- Bai hui, or the crown of the head.
- The third eye, the eyes, the center of the ears and the temple. Also the four jaw points.
- Where the tongue touches the roof of the mouth and the throat notch.
- The base of the skull and in between each of the cervical (neck) vertebrae down to the seventh cervical vertebra at the base of the neck.
- From where the tongue touches the roof of your mouth to the end of the breastbone, on a line about the width of your mouth.
- The four points of the shoulder.
- The elbows.
- The wrists.
- The hands (all the points).
- The joints where the ribs connect to the sternum, the spaces between the ribs, the joints where the ribs connect to the spine, the area between the shoulder blades and the spine. For women only: the gates of the breasts (directly behind the nipples).
- The solar plexus.
- The whole of the belly, starting from the front and dissolving through the internal organs back to the spine.
- The tantien and the mingmen.
- All the points along the spine, from the occiput to the tailbone, paying special attention to the occiput, the seventh cervical vertebra, the vertebra in the center of the shoulder blades, the one at the base of the shoulder blades, mingmen and the tailbone.
- The hip sockets, the pelvic bones, and the kwa (that is, the area inside the front crest of the hip bones).
- The anus.
- The genitals.
- The perineum.
- The knees.
- The ankles.
- The feet.
- Below the floor.
- Above the head.
Sānbǎo (The Three Treasures/Jewels) Source
Jing is a necessary ingredient that forms life according to Daoist philosophy. Pragmatically, a person can refer that (Jing) to denote essence. A variety of processes are described that are important. But perhaps the most important and fundamental is that jing, in and of itself, aids in the creation of the human body. This aspects transforms the references that we have noted Jing to have in just being sexual essence because there is now lots of evidence that jing is in each and every single cell of the human body in addition to Qi. From here, if there were actually a closer physical (and western) interpretation of Jing, it would be that Jing is our body's hormones; and there is a lot of rationale to that. From the brief commentary mentioned by Wang Liping, we realize that Jing is related to growth and development of a variety of organs and systems throughout the body. In a western medical sense, the regulation of growth and development is chiefly centered around a didactic relationship between the mother's hormones and the father's hormones which drive the process of mitosis and eventually embryo genesis. In spite of this, the most important physical aspect of Jing from a western context and a Daoist context is the hormones that drive sexual development.
The most interesting physical trend about Jing is the developmental aspect Jing plays throughout our very life. What is known is that the lack of Jing has a profound effect on our physical body. While systems have indicated that it is lack of kidney Jing (sexual essence) that is an issue, there are a lot of issues surrounding Jing. Before I get into that, there is something that truly must be said before continuing. From Wang Liping's interpretation we notice that Jing and Qi are connected (actually shen holds a deeper connection to Jing as well). A simple, yet profound way to recall the relationship is imagining Jing and Qi like a battery. For brevity, Qi is developed from Yin and Yang, and Jing can be considered the battery fluid. Jing fluid powers Qi through transformative processes and Qi has the ability to regenerate Jing fluid. An easy way to really explain this relationship is through the following
Jing <=> Qi
denoting the bidirectional relationship that Jing has on Qi and vice versa. Throughout fetal development, however, Jing rests in the lower area of the body, while Qi rests in the middle part of the body and Shen rests in the upper part of the body. In terms of control, Shen controls Jing. There's no question about that. The fire of the Shen (conscious mind) ignites Qi, which ignites Jing. In this aspect, Jing (and to a lesser extent Qi) act as water as Shen acts as fire. Any disharmony between Jing and Shen will lead to a lot of problems with an individual's Qi. For instance, you use up lots of Jing right? Well, sometimes the signs and symptoms of losing Jing is related to eyesight decline, lack of mental focus, and also back pain. Jing lubricates the bones, it acts as fluid for the bones. The more jing you have, the more pliable the bones are. But moving beyond the bones is the effect that loss of Jing has on Shen. When Shen fire runs rampant, eyesight decreases, mental focus decreases because of the close relationship Jing and Shen have. This also effects the levels of Qi as it tries to promote balance within the body. In time, the body will undergo Yin and Yang imbalance, which of course leads to some medical interventions.
What many of us are thinking is that Jing is lost through too much sex right? Not exactly. Jing can be lost through starvation as well, lack of sleep, too much thought, actually it is far too easy to lose Jing. And humans lose Jing every single day through a variety of different activities. What one has to consider is that with the act of sex, you lose the most Jing. That loss also includes masturbation as well. But consider what occurs when you have abundance of Jing (assuming there aren't any things you are holding back in Shen). The development (rather storing) of Jing without leading to burning of Shen will have a profound impact on our physical appearance and drastically change the way an indivdiual looks as well as their perception of reality. Why does a person look so young naturally for instance? One of my closest friends who I love dearly doesn't look a day over 17 (she's 29 going on 30).
Before I really get into the nitty-gritty of at least Jing, there is one huge aspect that has to be stated. While Jing is probably one of the most physical aspects of the three treasures, there is also a metaphysical point that must be explained. Recall in the first quote that Jing is an accumulation of an individual's lineage. In this case, we can consider this a very powerful breaking point in that Jing can also denote threads of karma an individual may have from their lineage. At this point, I won't try to mince words. Jing is also related to an individual's human destiny. This is not one aspect that I share. The Wu Liu Pai also shares this aspect in consideration of Ming. From what I've noted, the concept of ming is solely related to Jing, but adds the component of destiny and karma to this. In this aspect, we can consider that as how much stamina or life a person has left. Sometimes, this aspect is used up not in old age, but in young age. Again, practitioners get a unique sense of destiny here (but again, this is my interpretation) as well as lines of karma from the filial lineage.
From this discussion, an observer can make a few conclusions regarding Jing. The most important for our purposes is that Jing is in our body (in every single cell). For the purpose of practice, however, it is sexual essence that is important. When anyone begins any foundation regardless of school, you won't be having sex for a period of time. The reason why this happens is simple. Unlike schools of Qi Gong which argue that the xia dan tian (lower dan tian) is already made, schools of longmen pai believe the xia dan tian has to be made. To make this? Jing; sexual essence. We can already surmise that Jing is a measure of physical life and because of the karmic line Jing has as well as the aspect Jing has with destiny, one can argue there is a high level of spiritual thought with this too. Jing is the battery that fuels physical and spiritual development. Especially in terms of the longmen pai
Wǔ gè jiēduàn (The Five Phases) Source
The 5 elements represent the activities of the Yin and Yang forces when they are alternating, manifested in the changing cycles of nature that regulate the Earth's life. Also known as the 5 movements (Wu Yun), they define the various stages of transformation that occur during seasonal change: growth and decline; climate change; sounds and flavors; emotions in human psychology. Every energy is associated with a natural element whose function is similar to these energies' function, and from whence they take their name. The Chinese system takes into account energy and its transformation, different from the way of naming elements by their form and substance as we do in the West and in other systems. The elements symbolize the energy activities with which they are associated.
As the manifestations of Yin and Yang energy on Earth, the five phases of energy represent various stages of emptiness and fulfillment through which these energies pass to balance a determined energetic system. An ancient Chinese text explains:
The five phases of energy or Elements of Wood, Metal, Water, Earth and Fire appear in their specific nature, during the transformations of Yang force and from their union with the Yin force. These energy phases are constantly changing activity, each one nourishing and controlling the other so that there is a constant circular movement without beginning or end. The interaction of these primordial forces creates harmony in the changing course of nature's cycles. The Five phases of Elemental Energy combine and recombine in countless forms and produce material life. Everything that exists contains the five elements in varying proportions.
Let's analyze these ideas observing the seasons of the year that influence the Earth. Water is the energy phase associated with winter, when the Yin force is prevalent. The winter is a time of rest and quiet, when energy is saved, gathered, condensed, conserved and stored. Water is a very concentrated element containing great potential, a great power waiting to be liberated. In the human body water is associated with essential fluids like hormones, lymphatic liquids, marrow, enzymes, all with great energetic potential. Its color is black or midnight blue. It is the color that contains all the other colors in concentrated form. In nature, water evaporates under excess heat; in human beings water's energy disperses because of excess stress and strong emotions. The way to conserve water's energy is with quiet and rest, by staying "cold".
The next phase in the seasonal cycle is spring. Wood grows as a result of the energizing force of water, like plants grown in the earth in springtime. This is the new Yang season of the energy cycle. The Wood phase is expansive, happy and explosive. It is a creative generation of energy, awakening the sexual desire to procreate. It is associated with vigor, youth, growth and development. The Wood energy seeks free expression and space to expand. To block its development creates feelings of frustration, anger, jealousy and stagnation.
Just like spring changes naturally into summer, the expansive and creative Wood energy matures into the fluorescent energy of the old Yang, fire energy. This is the fullest energetic phase in the whole cycle, when the hottest phase of the yang energy is full. All life forms heat up in this phase marked by the fire energy's growth. Heat is associated with the heart, which is the home of human emotions and the organ that pulses and distributes the blood and its energy throughout the body. Red is the color of blood's heat. This energy is associated with love and compassion, generosity and happiness, openness and abundance. If we block this energy, the result is hypertension, heart disease and nervous disorders.
At the end of summer there is an interlude of perfect balance when the fire energy diminishes and transforms into earth energy, neither very Yin nor very Yang, and a state of perfect equilibrium is achieved. This moment is the cycle's climax, the interval between the Yang energies of spring and summer and the Yin energies of autumn and winter. The temper of the 5 energy phases is in harmony at this moment, bringing a sensation of well-being and completeness. The energy at the end of summer is earth energy, its color is yellow, the color of the earth and sun. In human anatomy it is associated with the stomach, the spleen and the pancreas that are situated in the center of the body and feed the body's system. If the earth energy is insufficient, the system becomes malnourished, digestion is affected and the whole system becomes weak and unbalanced.
When the summer becomes autumn, Earth energy turns into Metal. During the metal phase, the energy again begins to condense, contract, accumulate and store itself, like we store food in the autumn in order to survive the winter. In this phase we release everything that is spent similiar to how trees let their leaves fall to conserve their essence, which is then stored to withstand the period when water is scarce in winter. If during this phase there is not enough energy to draw together, there will not be enough strength to survive the winter and the next wood/spring cycle will be weak. Metal energy controls the lungs, that extract the essential energy and expel toxins from the blood and the large intestine, that eliminates the heavy wastes while retaining and recycling all the system's water. The Metal phase's color is white, the essential color of purity. The autumn is the season of introspection and meditation, of recycling old feelings, external attachments and excess emotions built up during the summer, like trees drop dry leaves and seek the nutrients in their roots. If we resist this energy and remain imprisoned in the past we can fall into melancholy, sadness and depression that manifest themselves in respiratory difficulties, back pain, skin ailments and low resistance to disease. Just like metal is the refined energy drawn from the earth and formed in fire, autumn is the season when we should take lessons from our summer activities and experiences, transforming them in the quiet and wisdom of winter.
So the great wheel of life keeps turning between the elementary energy cycles, waking and giving life to things, following an ordered process of rhythmic sequence.
The five energy phases or 5 elements maintain an inner equilibrium and harmony between Yin and Yang energies throughout the check and balance cycles, called the creative cycle and the control cycle. Both cycles, each one interacting with and balancing the other, are constantly active, maintaining these polarized forces in a dynamic field that is necessary to move and transform energy. The creative cycle generates energy and nourishes the energy--like the relationship betweeen mother and child. Water generates Wood and nurtures its growth. Wood generates Fire by giving it fuel to burn; Fire generates Earth, fertilizing it with ashes; Earth produces Metal for extraction and refinement; Metal becomes liquid like Water when melted, acquiring special properties when mixed (like mineral water).
On the other hand, the control cycle creates a relationship of subjugation, like that which exists between victor and defeated after a battle. The Book of Classical Medicine describes the control cycle like this:
Wood in contact with Metal is cut down. Fire in contact with Water is extinguished.
Earth is penetrated by Wood.
Metal in contact with Fire melts down.
Water in contact with Earth stops flowing.
This is how one of the energy phases exceeds and tends to exercise an excessive stimulus on the following element of the creative cycle. In this precise moment, the element that controls this excessive energy goes into affect to restore harmony. For example: if the Wood generates too much energy, providing the Fire with too much fuel--which could cause lots of burning--Metal comes into play, cutting the wood supply and so reestablishing the balance. The Creative and Control Cycles maintain a constant relationship of harmony and equilibrium among the 5 energy phases or the 5 Elemental Energies.