The Chinese word for heart is xin. The Chinese word refers to the organ Western medicine recognizes as the heart as well as what is sometimes referred to as the heartmind, the central organizing principle or processing unit of individual life. For the ancient Chinese, xin was much more than a fleshy muscular blood pump. It was thought of as the palace of the Emperor, the residence of the spirit, the center of psychological life and function.
In traditional Chinese medicine and ancient Taoist thought, the heart is likened to the ruler of a kingdom. Like an emperor the heart is the organizing principle of a persons being, the regulating principle of the body and the mind. It is found at the crossing point of the upper and lower body, at the X point of the arms and the legs. The ancient Chinese character for the heart is a primitive rendering of the actual organ; it shows the hollow vessel of the organ itself as well as the main arteries leading to and away from it.
In addition to being a rudimentary picture of the heart, the graphic can be viewed as a picture of an empty bowl that is open at the top. The emptiness at the center of the heart makes it useful. This emptiness creates a space for the shen, the fiery sparks of spirit that, according to Taoist mythology, come to us at the moment of conception, directly from the stars. This fiery cosmic light illuminates our capacity for consciousness and self-awareness and is the spark that ignites all other aspects of personal awareness represented by the spirits of the hun, yi, po, and zhi. Look at the small brush stroke at the center of the heart as representing the shen, the tiny spark of divine fire that resides in the heart space and radiates out into the world as the light of individual awareness and identity.
The Heart is like an empty bowl, a nest into which the shen or spirits settle like tiny winged birds. The lines extending outward represent the vena cava, pulmonary vein and aorta which connect the Heart to the rest of the body. On a physical level, these lines represent the conduits of the blood. But, on a subtler, psychic level, the lines represent the ephemeral soul threads through which the radiance of the spirits extends outward into my life and my environment through my attitudes and actions in the world.
The emptiness at the center of the heart is the meeting point where all contradictions are resolved and all of life is welcome.
home » about Lorie Eve Dechar » alchemical acupuncture » resources » making contact
Five Spirits: the book » events