Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tao of Love and Sex: Sexual Taos Doors of Jade

THE SEXUAL TAOS DOORS OF JADE

Before undertaking any of the exercises, it is necessary to have an idea of the ancient Taoists' conception of the anatomical energies, in particular, some important points where qi is concentrated in the body. These essential points were called the Doors of Jade by certain ancient Taoist schools, which sought to emphasize how precious these points were for self-knowledge. They are intimately linked to sexuality and sexual energy.

THE ABDOMINAL CINNABAR FIELD, OR X/A DANTIAN
The term dantian, or cinnabar field, refers to three important zones that are traditionally associated with the three treasures: the upper cinnabar field, in the center of the head (shen); the middle cinnabar field, in the middle of the chest (qi); and the lower cinnabar field, in the center of the belly (jing).

The lower dantian is approximately four thumb widths below the navel, at a location corresponding roughly to the acupuncture point CV4 (Conception Vessel 4), a point known to acupuncturists as the sea of energy. It is a main focus for the meditative internal-healing practices of nei-yang gong and is thought to be the site in the body where qi is generated and develops. All Chinese acupuncture and health-exercise traditions concur that concentrating thought and sensorial awareness on this point increases energy and improves a person's physical constitution. Certain ancient Taoist texts claim that diseases of all types can be cured through sustained concentration on this point.

The middle dantian (zhanzong), known as the heart cavity or the scarlet palace, is level with the acupuncture point CV17, exactly midway between the nipples. This center is linked to heart energy, which in traditional Chinese medicine is connected with the functioning of spirit and consciousness. Women are sometimes advised to concentrate on this point, particularly during their menstrual periods, and so are adolescents; it helps eliminate obstructions of qi in the lower dantian.

The upper dantian (yingtang), located between the eyebrows and level with acupuncture point GV24 (Governing Vessel 24), is also called the marvelous point, or niwan. It is used to treat many afflictions, including headaches, vertigo, disorders involving the eye and the nose, insomnia, convulsions, hypertonia, and tension. It is also used as a measuring point in cranial acupuncture.

From the standpoint of sexuality, it is extremely important for the abdominal cinnabar field to be strong and filled with energy. The word tian means "field." The xia dantian is not a particular point but a large zone. It is also called qihai (sea of energy) or shenlu, which means "crucible of consciousness." It is traversed by a number of channels: Ren (conception), Chong, kidney, stomach, liver, and spleen. The ancient Taoists called the xia dantian "the place where the five qis of the five viscera returned to their origin." The abdominal cinnabar field is thus an essential point for energy development. It is here that energy purified through qigong work is stored and concentrated. This essential and purified qi, the zhengqi of the body's organs and energy channels, concentrates in the abdominal dantian.

The xia dantian is an area that promotes the production, concentration, and circulation of zhengqi throughout the body. It does this by transforming jing into qi (as described above), by regulating and strengthening qi, by preserving jing, by fortifying the kidneys, spleen, and stomach, by toning the Chong channel and the uterus, and by warming the "palace of jing." The energy that collects at the mingmen (see below) between the two kidneys (the primordial qi of the Triple Burner channel) flows into the abdominal dantian through special connections between the channels. -
A traditional Taoist precept, "Focus your spirit on the point of qi," underscores the importance of the xia dantian in the process of energy transformation. According to oral Taoist traditions, the xia dantian is the crucible where the energies of heaven and earth come together, the site where earthly sustenance (food and drink) joins with the subtle breath of the universe through natural abdominal breathing. The breath, thus enriched, then circulates according to the well-known Taoist cycle of the Five Movements: first toward the liver, then toward the heart, spleen, and lungs, and finally to the kidneys. The xia dantian is thus the concrete basis of the Taoist sexual method.

Qihai, the Sea of Energy

Located one and a half thumb widths below the navel, this point is one of the external manifestations of the xia dantian. Chinese physicians consider it the stimulation point for qi in men. The sea of energy is also the area where the zhenqi, the primordial breath, is concentrated. Many Far Eastern practices rely on the xia dantian as the starting point for various kinds of energy work that involve such methods as massage, breathing, qigong poses, and Tai Chi Chuan. These practices regard the qihai point as the place where breath is produced. Taoist natural abdominal-breathing techniques refer to this point explicitly as the origin of breath.

The activation of this point has many positive effects on health and sexuality: it awakens the vital forces, dispels pathogenic abdominal cold, and stimulates kidney energy. The qihai and the guanyuan, which is discussed below, represent the two aspects of the cinnabar field: the qihai is the dynamic aspect, whereas the guanyuan plays a stabilizing role and helps develop groundedness.
Guanyuan: The Door of Ancestral Qi

This point is located in the middle of the abdomen, below the qihai point, exactly four thumb widths below the navel. It is the closest point on the outside of the body to the xia dantian; because of this proximity, it is traditionally held to be the external manifestation of the cinnabar field. In Chinese medicine, this point is the intersection of the three yin channels of the foot (the kidney channel, the liver channel, and the spleen channel) and also the point of origin of the autoregulatory system known as the Triple Burner (sanjiao). In Taoist energy work, this point is one of the most important for strengthening body and mind.

This point is used in traditional Chinese medicine in the treatment of yin and yang deficiencies, especially chronic illnesses. Its nourishing and toning action on energy and blood permits the stabilization of the emotions that practitioners of qigong are familiar with. When stabilization occurs, it is said that the spirit has been calmed by the action of the guanyuan. This point is particularly effective in reducing anxieties and grounding the etheric body.

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