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2NJissu23_29

2NJissu23_29

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ACU CENTRE
www.acucentre.com.au
(613) 9532 9602
ACU CENTRE, Suites 2 & 11, 219 Balaclava Rd., Caulfield North. Victoria. 3161.
Australia
1
NAN-CHING
THE CLASSIC OF DIFFICULT ISSUES
Chapter Two: Conduits and Network Vessels(Difficult Issues 23-29)
THE TWENTY-THIRD DIFFICULT ISSUE
Overview: Systematized presentation of the lengths and courses of the conduit vessels as sections of
a large circulatory system. Also, reference to the significance of feeling the movement in the vessels
at the wrists of both hands, and explanation of the concepts of "end" and "beginning."
The twenty-third difficult issue: (1) Can one be instructed on the measurements of the three yin and
three yang vessels of the hands and feet?

(2) It is like this. The vessels of the three hand-yang [conduits] extend from the hands to the head.
They are five feet long. Five [feet] times six amounts to three chang. (3) The vessels of the three
hand-yin [conduits] extend from the hands into the chest.1 They are three feet five inches long. Three
[feet] times six amounts to one chang eight feet; five [inches] times six amounts to three feet.
Together this is two chang and one foot. (4) The vessels of the three foot-yang [conduits] extend
from the feet to the head. They are eight feet long. Six times eight [feet] amounts to four chang and
eight feet. (5) The vessels of the three foot-yin [conduits] extend from the feet to the chest. They are
six feet five inches long. Six [feet] times six amounts to three chang and six feet; five [inches] times
six amounts to three feet. Together this is three chang and nine feet. (6) Man has in both feet the
walker-vessels; they extend from the feet to the eyes. They are seven feet five inches long. Two times
seven [feet] amounts to one chang four feet; two times five [inches] amounts to one foot. Together
this is one chang and five feet. (7) The vessel of the supervisor [conduit] and the vessel of the
controller [conduit] are both four feet five inches long. Two times four [feet] amounts to eight feet;
two times five [inches] amounts to one foot. Together this is nine feet. (8) All vessels together have a

ACU CENTRE
www.acucentre.com.au
(613) 9532 9602
ACU CENTRE, Suites 2 & 11, 219 Balaclava Rd., Caulfield North. Victoria. 3161.
Australia
2
length of sixteen chang and two feet. These are the so-called linear measurements of the twelve
conduit-vessels.

(9) There are twelve conduit-vessels and
fifteen network-vessels. Where does (the
movement in these conduits) start and where
does it end?

(10) It is like this. The conduit-vessels pass

the blood and the influences, penetrating the
yin and yang [sections of the organism], in
order to provide nourishment to the body.
(11) The [blood and the influences] start from
the central burner and flow into the hand-
great-yin and [hand-]yang-brilliance
[conduits. From the hand-]yang-brilliance
[conduit] they flow into the
foot-yang-brilliance and the [foot-]great-yin
[conduits. From the foot-]great-yin [conduit]
they flow into the hand-minor-yin and the
[hand-]great-yang [conduits. From the
hand-]great-yang [conduit] they flow into the
foot-great-yang and the [foot-]minor-yin

[conduits.

From the foot-]minor-yin [conduit] they flow into the hand-heart-master and the [hand-]minor-yang
[conduits. From the hand-]minor-yang [conduit] they flow into the foot-minor-yang and the
[foot-]ceasing-yin [conduits. From the foot-]ceasing-yin [conduit] they flow back again into the
hand-great-yin [conduit].2 (12) There are fifteen secondary network[-vessels]. (13) [The movement
through] all of them returns [again and again] to its origin, as in a ring without end, with [the
influences and the blood] pouring from one [conduit] into the next, thus revolving [through the entire
organism]. (14) [All the influences and the blood] appear at the inch-opening and at the jen-ying;
therefore, every illness can be located here and judgments can be made concerning [a person's] death

or survival.
(15) The scripture states: A clear understanding of end and of beginning can be determined at the yin
and yang [locations]. What does that mean?

(16) It is like this. End and beginning can be inferred from information provided by the [movement in
the] vessels. (17) In the morning, the influences begin their passage at the inch-opening and at the
jen-ying, [i.e.,] at the yin and yang [locations, respectively]. They cause [each other to flow through

ACU CENTRE
www.acucentre.com.au
(613) 9532 9602
ACU CENTRE, Suites 2 & 11, 219 Balaclava Rd., Caulfield North. Victoria. 3161.
Australia
3

the organism] as in a ring without end. Hence, [the text] speaks of [a continuous] "beginning." (18)
In case of an "end," the [movement in the] three yin and three yang [vessels] is interrupted.
Interruption entails death. Each [such situation of imminent] death has its [specific symptoms that
appear in the patient's bodily] form. Hence, [the text] speaks of [an imminent] end.3

Unschuld\u2019s Footnotes

1. In a corresponding Nei-ching outline\u2014in Ling-shu treatise 17, "Mai-tu"\u2014the courses of the
conduits take the same direction as is indicated here. It should be pointed out, however, that the
conduit directions defined in the present paragraph and in the "Mai-tu" do not completely coincide
with those defined elsewhere in the Nei-ching, (i.e., in Ling-shu treatise 10, "Ching-mai"), where the
hand-yin and foot-yang conduits are assigned the opposite direction. That is, the former are said to
extend from the chest into the hands, while the latter are said to extend from the head into the feet.
Interestingly, the conduit directions outlined here in the Nan-ching and in the "Mai-tu" coincide
completely with the oldest record extant on conduit therapy\u2014namely, the Tsu pi shih-i mo chiu
ching, a fragment of which was unearthed at Ma-wang-tui in 1973. Another fragment discovered at
Ma-wang-tui, the Yin-yang shih-i mo chiu ching, relates the same overall structure with but two
exceptions, as is illustrated by the following table:

2. This pattern is identical with the sequence of the conduits outlined in the Nei-ching, for instance in
Ling-shu treatise 15, "Ying-ch'i". The circulatory movement through the vessels can be illustrated as
per the following diagram.
3. The twenty-third difficult issue marks the transition from a discussion of the diagnostic
significance of the movement in the vessels to a discussion of the structure of the system of these
vessels. As the commentaries indicate, it was not at all easy for some later authors to interpret the
meaning of this issue\u2014especially of sentences 14 through 18. The idea that it is sufficient to
investigate the movement in the vessels at the two hands is expressed in the Nan-ching as a logical
consequence of the recognition of a continuous circulation. It was difficult to assert this new idea, in

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