There have been a lot of interesting discussion concerning jing in another thread. I think it is a good idea to get some conceptualization of jing for several different reasons. One of which is the misconceptions of jing and the other is to lightly expound on the karmic nature of jing and how it can
impact practice. It will be aligned with the intent that the result is to deepen oneís practice of meditation and creation of the LDT and nothing else. Therefore, the assumption(s) are the following:
1. The lower dan tian is a process created by the mingling of original ingredients
2. The lower dan tian is not a physical location in the body but it is expressed physically once the ingredients have formed and the lower dan tian begins to ďbubbleĒ
3. This is not a discussion of medical beliefs or the predominant qi gong belief. I cannot state that enough because there is a large distinction between the medical versus nei gong contexts. Much of the knowledge espoused on Veritas is the medical and qi gong method
and when applied to the practical or nei gong, there are a lot of gaps and areas of confusion. For more information, thereís a myriad of different texts about it and if youíre really interested, please refer to any
Daoist translation by Fabrizio Pregadio or Livia Kohn.
To begin with, at its simplest, in this context, Iíll refer to jing (essence) as the original water. The original water, if anyone were to find a western equivalent,Iíll refer to the biological processes of life The misconception is most certainly predicated on the belief that this life is the only life, there was no previous life and therefore the purpose is prolonging health (or the predominant Chinese medical model). The problem is from a practical perspective, according to several different long men practitioners and general practitioners of the noble paths, jing itself expressed in several different ways:
a. original essence (yuanjing)
b. pre celestial essence (xiantian jing)
c. true essence (zhenjing)
d. post celestial essence (or sexual essence - houtian jing / jiaogan jing)
Practitioners are reminded of the Bai Yuchan who makes a bold distinction in terms of practice:
is not the essence of intercourse: it is the saliva in the mouth of the Jade Sovereign
This is further indicated by Wu Shouyang:
Why is the Original Essence called pre-celestial? The undivided heaven is devoid of image and form. In the Great Ultimate, quiescent and pure, there is something like a movement. The numinous opening, mainspring of immortality, lies in what has nothing prior to itself
When I refer to jing, I refer to pre-celestial jing and not post celestial jing. In addition, I refer to life
function including the secretion of the internal organs, hormones, and the regulation of fire and water within the body. Letís be blunt for a moment. You lose jing all the time. You lose jing when you wake up, when you shower, when you eat, when you poop, when you get dressed, when you type and so on and so on and so on. Jing is lost all of the time! To make a very bold statement, to connect things from a Freudian perspective, jing is life. Youíre going to lose jing by living life. It is the mother elixir and when any jing is damaged, aging and weakening results. We age, itís a natural part of life!note
Hereís where there is a moment of karma in the philosophy of jing. Since jing is pre-celestial, actions (including previous actions and current actions) are predicated by jing. An individualís health, and even where an individual is born are an expression of the dynamism of jing and karma. To argue jing isnít karmic, one needs to look no further and consider your current family tree. That isnít to say that things canít change and karma cannot be manipulated (because it can), but it is to underscore the impact karma and jing have together. For those who portend to separate it on the notion that karma canít be proven scientifically, why are you reading this discussion? Jing, like the other three major treasures cannot be truly expressed scientifically.
These concepts donít begin to mesh for several different reasons. Of note, it is due to misinformation concerning jing. There are multiple erroneous beliefs concerning jing. Once it is gone, you canít get it back. That is actually false and it is a belief that has been spread in America for a very long time resulting in silly methods all to preserve jing (semen retention and the like). But at its core, semen retention doesnít rebuild jing. If jing refers to life, it is discord (or imbalance in life) that causes jing to dry and damage. Whatís the way to return jing back?
There are two ways actually: directly and indirectly. The two are synonymous to each other. The indirect methods of rebuilding jing impacts the direct methods. Indirectly, a good diet, proper weight lifting (canít stress weight lifting enough), adequate sleep, cutting down on the sex, and relaxation
of the entire being indirectly restore jing because it returns the vessel of the body to itís origin. A state of homeostatic balance (note I refer to homeostatic as not just encompassing the physical body but also the spiritual and mental framework).
Directly, to build jing, true meditation is key. For a lack of better terming, I will refer to meditation as the point of sustained single minded focus on an internal or external object. In order to achieve that single minded focus, your mind, body and spirit has to be ready. The preparation starts at healing the body, absolutely. But it also continues with the indirect methods of jing conservation.
From a Daoist perspective, meditation begins, and ends with the single minded focus on the lower dan tian. This is where the three day rule becomes important and where a lot more misinformation comes into play. At its heart, jing, qi and shen are used to create the lower dan tian (this is literally laying the foundation
), but the process involves replenishing, harmonizing, coagulating, transforming all three treasures. Keep in mind that during the single minded focus on the lower dan tian, a natural outgrowth of this process is a shift of conscious toward the area of concentration. When you meditate and shift your consciousness after sex (for instance), the shen is imbalanced and false fire is rampant. Itís necessary
that a cooling period needs to happen and it is usually 3 days to be safe. It has very little to do with Chinese people denigrating sex, alcohol or any of the other ďpleasuresĒ of the senses. Itís so you donít break the lower dan tian.
To really make this context more coherent, imagine the process in this way. You are living in a 2 story house (kitchen is downstairs your room is upstairs). You need to walk downstairs to get some water from the kitchen. You walk downstairs, turn on the faucet, and drink water. You go back upstairs. The sublime nature of the example is one perspective of the shift in conscious when true meditation occurs. The senses and the very nature of ĎIí shift toward the object of focus. To maintain the focus, the body, mind, and spirit must be harmony.
From this perspective, true meditation is important because it directly rebuilds jing. Zhang Boduan stated:
As regards spirit, there is an original spirit, and as regards breath, thereís an original breath. Therefore, as regards essence, how could there not be an original essenceÖwhen the original spirit appears, the original breath is generated and when original breath is generated, the original essence is born
The above also reinforces Wu Shouyangís previous quote. The formless heaven, or our true nature, is reached through true meditation. Meditation allows for a modest return of jing because it takes us back to our true nature or the pre-celestial state! The impact of this is special as indicated by Zhang Boduan:
Swallowing saliva and ingesting breath are human actions;
only when you have the medicine (development of lower dan tian) can you form and transform
If in the tripod there is no true seed,
it is like using water and fire to boil an empty pot
Therefore, the foundation step as it were is to strengthen, restore, and rebuild the three treasures. But jing is vital to the discussion. In addition, so is the misinformation expressly related to jing. Jing is a lot of things and it is important in several different contexts. Do not take the belief that jing is only lost through sex. Losing sex through jing is one of the largest losses of jing but so is drinking, lack of sleep and a myriad of different processes. It is taking your body, mind and spirit out of balance. When your body is out of balance it is important to get the body back into balance.
This is a very brief and concise discussion of jing from the perspective of the nei gong. Thereís a lot that isnít covered that I did cover previously in this thread. But keep in mind, moderation is key. So is not attaching to things. Those aspects do impact practice and can decrease jing.