Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tao of Love and Sex: Shen (Awareness), Spirit, Mind

SHEN, OR AWARENESS, SPIRIT, MIND

Whereas jing is the source of life and qi makes it possible for us to move or to set things in motion, shen is conscious vitality. Shen represents the mirror of consciousness that can either be manifested in one of the seven emotions (anger, joy, sadness, grief, pensiveness, fear, and fright) or be purified in the beatific and empty state of objectless contemplation. Certain Chinese classic texts on Taoist spirituality say, through the mouth of the legendary Yellow Emperor, "Nourishing shen is the supreme task; nourishing the body is useful, but secondary." Nourishing shen through emptiness is one of the root ideas of Taoism. As the Taoist master of the dark secrets of heaven observed:

To make your awareness like the sun that illuminates the world, try to generate a light akin to that of the Cosmic Emptiness. For shen, the mirror of emptiness, is composed of the original qi of heaven (inborn qi). At the beginning of things, there existed neither the intellect nor the perversion of the senses.

In the present context, however, shen should be understood ; as the reflection of vitality, consciousness, and the seven; conflictual emotions. The light of shen can be seen in the; gleam of the eyes, particularly in the pupils.

Signs of disturbed shen include incoherent thoughts and speech, a nearly total lack of luster in the eyes, insomnia, and frequent forgetfulness. Extreme disharmony of shen can lead to madness.

The Chinese medical classic, the Neijing, says, The union of the two jings produces shen. The energy that circulates with shen is called hun (soul), the energy that circulates with jing is called po. That which commands all of this together is called heart, and the / heart's memory is thought; decisive thought is determination.

In the theory of the Five Evolutive Phases, hun is associated with the liver, po with the lungs, and determination, or will, with the kidneys.

Jing and qi axe both stored in the kidneys, which also control the bones and the production of marrow. The kidneys / are the root of qi. Taoist sexual practices are useful for exercising, nourishing, and preserving Jing and especially for exercising the vital energy contained in the kidneys.

In the practice of qigong, much attention is paid to preserving and training shen. That is why qigong masters have developed exercises to nourish the heart (pan) and calm, regulate, and preserve shen. Other disciplines too can help to regulate the body and breathing and harmonize the functions of the heart. These practices transform the activity of the brain and allow the body to feel relaxed and at ease; such a state is known as internal peace or neiyang gong. In this state, the body's metabolism slows down and oxygen consumption decreases as the storing of qi increases. The entire body's functioning is thereby directly affected and strengthened, and a state of disharmony gradually transforms into one of dynamic equilibrium.

Jing, qi, and shen play an important role in vital activity. Ancient Taoists and Chinese physicians, experts in preventive health care, accorded a special place to the use of exercise and Taoist meditation in conserving these three fundamental substances, particularly in the sexual domain.

The three treasures, jing, qi, and shen, exist only in their interdependence. They work together in the body and cannot be artificially dissociated. The body's health and longevity depend on the care that is taken to preserve jing, qi, and shen. The methods for transforming the three treasures follow the traditional schema indicated below:

MethodPrincipieResult
Manifest energyTransform jing into cfiStrengthening of the bones
Hidden energyTransform qi into shenStrengthening of the sinews
Transmuted energyTransform shen into emptinessStrengthening of the marrow

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