What is “Jing Qi Shen”?
This is simple yet complex to answer.
When Taoist wisdom regarding these basic cultivation elements was revealed, the secular society was unable to comprehend their fundamental essence, which consequently led them to produce their own radical misinterpretations. To illustrate this point, the Jing is usually understood as the “spirit“ (referring to mental health) or “disturbing lust” (referring to semen) however both of these understandings are limited, one-sided and only serve to undermine their value.
“Jing” represents the essence of our blood; this is its true meaning. Maintaining life through the steady supply of nutrients and energy. Daily activities are made possible by the uninterrupted flow of blood circulating through our bodies, for Taoists the circulatory system is also known as the “spiritual roots”. Without this process, life is simply not possible. A key component in the topic of Jing is semen. The release of semen through sexual intercourse originates from the link between the Yuanjing (original Jing) and the blood. Each time this release process takes place, precious Yangjing (positive Jing) is spent and life is compromised. Such is the extent of the damage that Taoists created this saying “Love Jing value Qi, complement intelligence with the essence of Jing Qi”.
“Qi” (炁in Taoist translation) is the most crucial of the fundamental cultivation elements. Its substance is in the form of gas. It includes our vital oxygen but most importantly, the Yuanqi (meaning original Qi), which resides in our kidneys. There are various forms of Qi such as the ‘internal Qi’ that relates to ones health, the ‘Qi of breathing’ refers to the process of inhaling and exhaling also the ‘external Qi’ which refers to the Qi of nature, above all these the Yuanqi holds the most importance because of its function. It is the origin of life. Its coexistence with semen and blood is indispensable and key for our survival.
“Shen”(positive spirit) is even more complex to define. The concept of Shen is generally associated with the likes of the religious, witchcraft and superstitious ideology. From a Taoist standpoint, Shen is not related to the God taught in the religious context and doctrines, instead it is something we all posses naturally. Even a variety of animals have a “spirit” or “soul”. These spirits are divided into yin and yang (negative and positive); the “Yang” Shen accompanies a living person or animal, the shadow of Shen accompanies dead people or animals. The fact is, Yangshen (positive spirit) is within us from birth and once it is fully exhausted, life is over. Prevent consumption to avoid an early death. In Taoist practice there are three Shen that endure forever, “the positive spirit that wants to fly high into the sky”, “the negative spirit that wants to descend into the depths of the abyss” and the “resurrection of the soul”.
To disregard the essence of Jing Qi Shen equates to everything being out of the question, impossible; on the other hand, to highly regard it means the exact opposite, happiness. The sooner you begin to acknowledge its true value, the easier it is to comprehend its true meaning. When Chinese people greet each other in familiar terms, one of the most commonly used greetings is “your spirit is not bad” (meaning you look great) which is in fact a reference to the person’s overall physical appearance. Another one is “you have enough spirit” referring to the person’s beautiful appearance. There are many other examples that illustrate just how deeply rooted fundamental Taoist terminology is in today’s society, even though their meaning has been greatly diminished and generalized through the lack of knowledge and understanding. The fact remains, the spirit is the fundamental assurance of an individual or a country, a person with an ample positive spirit will more than likely succeed in their career, equally but on a larger scale, a nation will flourish. On the other hand, a country without positive spirit will decay and individuals will perish.
Western countries advocate promiscuous and decadent lifestyles that result in the depletion of people’s essential energy and in the process destroying lives. You need to understand that daily struggles such as stress, depression and recurring health issues are a direct consequence of depleted energy. Without the lack of essence, how can one possibly achieve a positive and successful life? People losing the nourishing qualities of the essence is comparable to “a hundred rivers flooding the ocean and then causing it to overturn”, under this condition how can anyone consider or even discuss the possibility of success or the prosperity of a country? Taoism is the simplest and most certain survival guarantee for every individual and country.
The crucial question is, how can one restore and preserve the essence of the “positive spirit”? For one, we must become highly aware of the fact that we lose life at any given moment. This awareness can be described as “sensing and recognising all the sand leaks”. Those that acknowledge this have hope of managing the daily leaks as well as preventing and repairing the incurred damage. From consciousness to action is only a step away. Remove yourself as far as possible from the sensual pleasures and the lure of worldly desires, doing so will lead you to a state of awakening, where you will be able to refresh the body and mind, restrengthen the bones, retain longer lasting youthfulness, replenish all that has been depleted and recover precious life. You could even say this process is like being born again, eventually leading to a permanent connection with the Tao.The ancient sages purposely sought solitude because of their inward search; this allowed them to endure extended periods of loneliness but it also provide them with the opportunity to expand their wisdom through the inward process.
Needless to say if your pursuit is of the external kind then you will undoubtedly wrestle with the many devils that plague humanity such as materialism, gradually you will accumulate more and more trouble with no relief in sight. The “inward search” signifies obtaining help directly from the Shen, this is a certain and effective method. We must not allow fire to infiltrate and consume our hearts, in the same token we must not disturb the Jing nor damage the Qi, doing so will draw a path to potential death. We must do everything within our power to protect and maintain the gift of the three treasures, “Jing Qi Shen”.
By © Master Dongyang