ENCYCLOPEDIA OF TAOISM (VOL. 2): Mìngmén 命門 Gate of the Vital Force

mingmen copy

This entry in the encyclopedia is short (my favorite size) and informative. There are two minuses although: (1) no tones and (2) no illustration but now we shall have fixed both. Magic of hands!

Following Monica Esposito: “In the Chinese medical literature, the term mìngmén 命門 (also rendered as Gate of Life) denotes the right kidney in its function of procreation. The mìngmén is therefore related to the Original Pneuma (yuánqì 元氣) or Yang Pneuma (yángqì 陽氣), also called Real Fire (zhēnhuŏ 真火). The same term also refers to an acupoint located along the Control Channel between the second and third lumbar vertebrae (see dumai and renmai).”

“Neidan texts often designate mìngmén 命門 as a synonym for the lower Cinnabar Field (dāntián 丹田). Although the mìngmén can be physically located in the umbilical region or be related to the kidney,  spleen, nose, and so on, it shares the ambivalent meaning of other key alchemical terms. In fact, the mìngmén is the center beyond all spatial and temporal categories. It has no shape, but all polarities can be resumed in it and all transformations can take place within it. As the point where breath ascends and descends, and where thought can be perceived in its perpetual fluctuations between movement and quiescence (dong and jing), it is a symbol of the “mechanism of Life and Death” (shēngsĭ zhī jī 生死之機).”

This transition from an acupuncture point 命門 or a right kidney to ‘beyond all spatial and temporal categories’ IS absolutely amazing! That’s exactly why I  truly adore Chinese language and culture.


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