Some thoughts on the Hun and Po

"Life is known by its roots in the world of spirits, and by what is nearest to the spirits...the spiritual, psychic, intellectual, mental and emotional world" (Larré, 14).  

The Argument- from Ling Shu Chapter 8:

Virtue->Breaths->Essences->Spirits: this sequences establishes two trajectories.  One is Yang to Yin, transforming to Yin to Yang.  The other is: One (Heaven/Virtue), Two (HeavenEarth, Qi), Three (Essence), Ten Thousand Things (Spirits).  


It is clear that the unfolding of these lines describes the manifestation of a human being.  What also occurs to me is that the same dynamic applies to how a single thought becomes manifest.  And also that the development of any condition ("pathology") could be described in a similar light: even something as innocuous as a physical trauma or an external environmental influence.  All of it thus derives from a form of fixed idea.  An injury is a physically fixed idea.  And if this is the case, then one can identify that specific place, and essentially unwind the very tissue itself back into a state where the process-arising-out-of and disappearing-back-into can be enacted anew as a manifestation of the freely flowing creative movement of Heaven instantiated in form.  

Thoughts on temporicity

  • Each channel system represents a different register of time, and a different world
  • One must interact with each channel appropriately according to its temporicity
  • Depth is really an expression of temporicity (viz. Shaoyin vs. Jueyin)
  • All references to time in classical texts are highly symbolic
  • Flow and movement are intrinsic to temporicity (and also define "Channels")
  • Bi 痺 is thus stopped time.
  • Movement precedes and implies direction.
  • Direction precedes space. 

Thoughts this morning

  • Humans have evolved with the capacity for trance and other altered states of consciousness.
  • Trance is the aspect of consciousness most amenable to spiritual experience.
  • There is an anthropomorphic element to most eidetic or visionary experience.
  • Meditation and Ritual are expressions of skillful means to enter trance states/samadhi.
  • Phenomenology (and the practical elaboration of this theory via Eugene Gendlin's Focusing), are avenues to explore and examine these states via embodied experience.
  • Hypnotic trance is not counter to "genuine" spiritual experience- instead it is our evolved capacity for receptivity to spirits, which are imaginal, or aesthetic yet autonomous phenomena.  Not all trance states are necessarily spiritual in nature.
  • Entrainment and Heart Rate Variability coherence are means by which the state of the healer impacts the state of the patient.
  • Yoshio Manaka's elaboration of the X-signal system can be applied in terms of this coherence, and information transfer.
  • There is ample evidence that the activity of consciousness has the potential to dramatically influence physical, material expression, and this may include optimal gene expression or what is understood as Jing in Chinese medical terminology. 
  • Such influence is non-rational and communicated via sign, symbol, and metaphor through the interaction of the mind, and its physical receptors (including the nervous system, endocrine system, and organic tissue). This is an aspect of what I term physiosemiotics.
  • As everything has semiotic potential, then objects can be employed to create states of coherence.
  • Mental states also have the capacity to produce material effects and influence matter, even to the point of generating (what we think of as) objects. 
  • In fact, mental and material are not two, but in reality only two sides of one: not yin and yang, but yin/yang.  It is a matter, not of seeing yin and yang, but rather seeing through yin/yang.
  • These effects provide the means for change, development, and evolution.
  • If we apply developmental and evolutionary models such as espoused by Sri Aurobindo and Jean Gebser, then further human evolutionary potential is probable. 
  • The evolution of consciousness, driven by states of trance or samadhi, is an inherent aspect of the material world (including but not limited to human bodies) and its potential further evolution.
  • It is of critical importance for the trance/samadhi state to be integrated into daily, waking, active consciousness.
  • Given that the material world is itself an expression of that same consciousness (which can be termed Dharmakaya, or Sachchidananda), and that the activity of this consciousness is expressed through signs in more-or-less material manifestations, then consciousness expresses itself through recognizable patterns both internally and externally. 
  • These patterns are fruitfully approached through the lens of Yin/Yang and the Three Yin/Three Yang of the Six Conformations.


An arrow of geese pierces westward.

A wave of sound smashes the wall of Autumn's quiet.

Behind the clamor, silence explodes again,

a translucent steel-grey tumult strafes

the leaves off all the trees,

burnt-orange tears falling

on the earth's bare square feet.

The inevitable West, that Queen's 

garrulous guillotine!

What silence severs the rope held fast,

and unleashes that quick metal? 

An unseen bony hand throws Winter's

black blanket over the basket. Mushrooms

poke their heads out of that shroud.

We sleep facing East.


All in a flash the supplicant stands, suddenly illuminated by the expanding disk of the moon. As clouds might drift to obscure reflected light, the voices of memory whisper in the ear. A bitter draft is poured into the chalice, the near-deceased transubstantiated in the descendant flesh: a communion realized in the chapel of suffering. The subtle arc of stars and spheres circle around a central pole: its length conjoining Heaven and Earth. Cold blows above the waters. An unseen wind blows and lists like an echo. The sole flame sputters and sparks: an irrepressible fire yet burns in the nave.

Reading Du Fu on iPhone, November 2016

With just a tap of my finger

a cascade of images

tumbles from the cloud

like thunderbolts.


A cold wind flays

the skin from your bones

screaming down the Plains

like a water cannon.

- I watched sullen, tearful, weeks ago as the map of the Midwest turned red on my phone like a blood stain or a shadow darkening towards the setting sun.

The black-grass sea is

machined to a rusty channel

and a gross torrent of oil

clogs the turbid waters. Our

blood no longer infused

with arterial fire and arboreal

wending is thick, dirty,

viscous and foul.

- I woke in the night to check the results. The blue screen light like a thin slice of moon in the shadow dark of my bed. I read Du Fu on my phone:

"blossoms clotted there with swollen dark."

(Death, not water, is the universal solvent now).


A Reflection on Chinese Herbal Medicine

Chinese herbal medicine can introduce us to the phenomenological depth of the ancient Chinese perspective, especially as it describes a situated, embodied consciousness.   Phenomenological philosopher Merleau-Ponty employs the term lifeworld (umwelt) to describe embedded perception.  Focusing on the relationship between consciousness and awareness also recalls the insistence of Dr. Leon Hammer that, as clinicians we bear two major charges: to seek to know how the patient, as an individual, experiences the world, and secondly that our success is measured in the degree to which we offer something other than the typical response.  In light of the animistic and phenomenological perspective outlined here however, we might consider that each individual constitutes a world in her own right.  And that, as the formulas of the Shang Han Lun are based on the very structural principles through which the worlds manifest, that each iteration of these formulae constitute equally a world-making in progress.  And thus, the assimilation of these stimuli into the very flesh (the inter-subjective as Merleau-Ponty describes it, but also literally through metabolism) is necessarily to participate in something other than the typical response.  There is only one pathology in all of Chinese medicine, and that is flowing against (逆 Ni) the flow of the numinous.  Allopathic, meaning opposition, does not flow with but rather against, and all-too-often represents the typical response to pathology.  Since these formulae embody the establishment of flow, then, instead they promote the resonance of the effected conformation with its natural physiological state, and participate in the creation of an entirely new world for each and every patient: and this is a world that is itself alive, animated and embodied. 


A Reflection on Acupuncture & Acausal Intention

In the best case, intimations of future selves organized as semiotic processes are glimpsed.  What Pierce terms the "being in futuro" is made physically available through the divine pivot of the needles. All of the channels, all of the points, are defined by, or as, territories and terrains subject to stressors and autopoietically responsive in a constantly variable dynamic interaction with the environment as a whole: all aspects of the environment are highly symbolic referents that are expressed equally by the physiosemiotic body.  Another term to define this interaction is emptiness: each element devoid of intrinsic or autonomous separation and a factor in the interdependent co-arising of reality as it is experienced. In the context of the needling, the current self deterritorializes by becoming an image of an idealized future potential.  The future self reterritorializes on that image: the 3-dimensional system becomes the entire network of 4-dimensional pathways of animation through the act of the needling.  The so-called "de qi" is not a propagated sensation but the contact linking a potential flow of intensities mediating the further deterritorialization of interacting patterns expressed symbolically as sensation.  What emerges is the felt-sense of the becoming-future of the past self and the becoming-present of the future self. In all such operations, an acausal intention is simply the act of being present to the full range of potentials.  But it must also be recognized that even seemingly ideal patterns still represent terrains subject to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.  And ultimately, the last and unavoidable step- the Paces of Yu in the ascent to the stars- must be taken by the patient alone in a pathless land, where discernment reigns.

Animism and Classical Chinese Medicine

Following recent reconsiderations of exactly what animism means, I perceive, within the worldview of Chinese medicine, a recognition of movement and a practice of investigation that sees all spiritual health and well-being firmly ensconced in relationships with the natural world, and sees human beings as participating in this great mystery internally and externally since time immemorial. That is, at the very roots of the history, cosmology and philosophy underlying Chinese medicine there is a substrate of animistic consciousness.  "To elaborate: life in the animic ontology is not an emanation but a generation of being, in a world that is not pre-ordained but incipient, forever on the verge of the actual" (Ingold, 2006).  And further, 

...there is no inside or outside, and no boundary separating the two domains. Rather there is a trail of movement or growth. Every such trail traces a relation. But the relation is not between one thing and another — between the organism ‘here’ and the environment ‘there’. It is rather a trail along which life is lived: one strand in a tissue of trails that together make up the texture of the lifeworld. That texture is what I mean when I speak of organisms being constituted within a relational field. It is a field not of inter-connected points but of interwoven lines, not a network but a meshwork.
Nevertheless the depiction of the single line is of course a simplification. For the lives of organisms generally extend along not one but multiple trails, branching out from a source. We should imagine the organism, then, not as a self-contained object like a ball that can propel itself from place to place, but as an ever ramifying web of lines of growth. The philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari (1983) famously likened this web to a rhizome, though I prefer the image of the fungal mycelium (Ingold 2003:302–6).

 While I also love Deleuze and Guattari's characterization of the rhizome, and can appreciate the image of the mycelium (the unseen structure that produces fungi as its manifestation in the visible), what strikes me of course is that an equally apt characterization of the relational ontology is embodied in the myriad pathways of animation (the entire channel system) described by Chinese medicine, and their manifestation in the Opening, Pivoting and Closing of Yin and Yang.  Likewise, within the contiguous junctions of all these pathways one also sees the relational, rhizomic unfolding of consciousness itself.  The Channel System in its entirety, and the patterns of organization upon which these are modeled, is an example of the three-dimensional incarnation of consciousness and animation itself as is the world in which this animation unfolds.  They are, in short, Deleuzian lines-of-flight.