丹田 Dān tián Cinnabar Field
As far as we can see together with the editor of the encyclopedia Fabrizio Pregadio, the term dantian is really ancient (not SO ancient as the whole Chinese civilization but) and firstly occurs in two sources concerning the divinization of Laozi, both dating from 165 CE.
As a matter of fact, there are three dantian centers in our bodies, and following the editor, we can define the first: “The lower Cinnabar Field is the dantian proper and is the seat of essence (jing). Different sources place it at 1.3, 2, 2.4, 3, or 3.6 inches (actually it is cun 寸, not inch – me) below or behind the navel, and consider it to be the same as, or closely related to, other loci in the same region of the body.” I see this description very useful for all of us because of opportunity to choose what you could like better. Very long time ago, when I was a student at the university and an absolutely wonderful volume of SYSTEMATISCHE ACUPUNCTURE by Porkert/ Hempen was in my hands first time, I did my choice, I used to think about my dantian center as located four fingers of the one palm lower than my navel. Spending the rest of my life between dictionaries and cups of green tea, I do not see any reason to change my mind on that location.
What is really important to know is that the first stage of neidan meditation includes circulation of qi along two channels, (renmai and dumai) and generates the inner elixir here, as a result of liànjīng huàqì 鍊精化氣 (refining essence into pneuma) process. By the way, if one’s curious mind needs further information, I guess, a screenshot from my favorite application A Manual of Acupuncture by the Journal of Chinese Medicine (England) and the app itself can be helpful here.
Almost the same picture (I mean, we still can choose but this time between two points only) we have with the second dantian: (F. Pregadio) — “The middle Cinnabar Field is at the center of the chest according to some authors, or between the heart and the navel according to others.” Appropriately, the second stage of meditation will be called ‘liànqì huàshén 鍊氣化神’ (refining pneuma into spirit)
It seems to me, readers of Encyclopedia of Taoism just deprived of making another sweet choice here due to considerably small size of a human brain, because ‘the upper Cinnabar Filed is located in the region of the brain and is the seat of spirit (shén 神), also known as Muddy Pellet (niwan)’. In consequence, the third and last stage of neidan meditation is defined as ‘liànshén huánxū 鍊神還虛(refining spirit and reverting to Emptiness).
The long story of inner teachings of China is multifaceted and varied but it does not mean absence of the core which only one can help us to preserve our wholeness day by day.
By the way, if you think you can find tones of Pinyin in the body of encyclopedia itself (as I thought before paying $248 for scientific text), you are wrong 😦 But you can still find tones in this blog (free of charge): simple, priceless, brilliant idea, right 🙂