You are on page 1of 5

Hunagdi Nejing Suwen: Seven injuries and Eight benefits – compiled by Prana Neijing Suwen 5-43 (translation Paul U.

Unschuld pg 112) [Huang] Di: “In what way can yin and yang be considered as laws?” Qi Bo: “When yang dominates, the body is hot and the interstice structures close. Rough panting makes one bend down and up. No sweat flows and one is hot. The teeth are dry and [patients] experience vexation and grievance. If there is [a feeling of] fullness in the abdomen [this indicates imminent] death. It can be endured in winter; it cannot be endured in summer.

When yin dominates, the body is cold and sweat flows. The body is permanently cool. One shivers frequently and feels cold. In case of cold, receding [qi] results. When receding [qi] occurs, there is [a feeling of] fullness in the abdomen and [this indicates imminent] death. This can be endured in summer; it cannot be endured in winter.

“How are these two (yin and Yang) harmonized?” Qi Bo: “If one knows of the seven injuries and eight benefits, then the two can be harmonized. (82 - see below)

If one does not know to employ these [principles], then the term of weakening will come early. At the age of forty, the yin qi has decreased to half of its own [former amount]; one‘s daily activities weaken.

Hunagdi Nejing Suwen: Seven injuries and Eight benefits – compiled by Prana At the age of fifty, the body feels heavy; the ears and the eyes are no longer clear. At the age of sixty, the yin [reaches a state of] limpness; the qi is severely weakened and the nine orifices are no [longer] freely passable. Below is depletion; above is repletion. Snivel and tears both flow.

Hence it is said: If one knows these [principles], then one remains strong; if one does not know these [principles], then one turns old.88 Hence, the origin is identical, but the names are different.

Note: 82 See Wan Lanqing et al./7 for a listing of various interpretations in the course of time: Wang Bing, Gao Shishi , et al. refer to Su wen 01 where the life of females is periodized on the basis of the number seven and that of males on the basis of the number eight: In females it is most important that the monthly period descends in time, this is called 七損; in males it is most important that the seminal essence is complete, this is called 八益. Zhang Jiebin and Li Zhongzi interpret “seven” as an uneven number, referring to yang, and “eight” as an even number, referring to yin, with 損 standing for “decrease,” and 益 standing for “growth” here. 七損八益 is, in the opinion of Zhang Jiebin and Li Zhongzi, a reference to the “waning and waxing of yin and yang.” In contrast, Zhang Zhicong: “[The life of] females proceeds in periods of seven [years]; that of males in periods of eight [years]. 七損八益 means: if the yang has continuously surplus, one must take away from (i.e., “injure”) it. If the yin is continuously insufficient, one must add to (i.e., “benefit”) it.” Tanba: “In females, at the age of five times seven the yang

Hunagdi Nejing Suwen: Seven injuries and Eight benefits – compiled by Prana brilliance vessel weakens; at the age of six times seven the three yang vessels weaken above; at the age of seven times seven, the controlling vessel is depleted. These are the ‘three injuries’ affecting females. In males, at the age of five times eight, the qi of the kidneys weakens; at the age of six times eight, the yang weakens above; at the age of seven times eight, the qi of the liver weakens; at the age of eight times eight the qi of the kidneys weakens and the teeth fall out. These are the ‘four injuries’ affecting males. Three plus four is seven. In females, at the age of seven the qi of the kidneys flourishes; at two times seven, the true [qi] of heaven arrives; at three times seven the qi of the kidneys is balanced; at four times seven sinews and bones are firm. These are the ‘four benefits’ affecting females. In males, at the age of eight, the qi in the kidneys is replete. At two times eight, the qi of the kidneys flourishes; at three times eight the qi of the kidneys is balanced; at four times eight the sinews and bones are at the peak of their development. These are the ‘four benefits’ affecting males. Four plus four is eight.” All interpretations listed above have been superseded now by the discovery of the term 七孫 (=損) 八益 in the Mawangdui manuscript 天下至道谈. Here the “seven injuries and eight benefits” are linked to sexual arts. See Ma Jixing 1992, 1027 and Harper 1998, 428. A purely sexual interpretation is suggested also by Wang Bing’s comment unambiguously associat ing 用, in the following sentence, with sexual arts.

Missing information of Sexual Techniques Suwen:
(ref. http://www.giuliaboschi.com/medicinacinese/chapter%203.htm)

There’s another element to be taken into account: the daoist immortal, upholder of both “Heavenly Dao of Yin and Yang”’s teachings and “Bedroom arts”, is the mythical Su Nü, “Pure maid”; the character Su in her name is the same we find in the title of the Su Wen1. This coincidence might suggest a relationship with the school that practiced long-life methods (including “sexual hygiene”) according to the principles of Yin-Yang. The term “hygiene” is to be intended in its ancient Greek meaning of “Art of Health”; “sexual” is referred to the principles of Yin-Yang and their application in psychophysiology, both in monastic and conjugal context; there’s no contradiction with the connotation of “purity”. A later text entitled Huangdi Neijing Taisu (Yellow Emperor’s Great Purity) is almost identical in contents with the Huangdi Neijing, showing a merging process – most probably during the Han’s - between medical tradition (Huangdi Neijing) and

Hunagdi Nejing Suwen: Seven injuries and Eight benefits – compiled by Prana “Yin-Yang school” (Huangdi Taisu) inside the current that took the Yellow Emperor as a patron figure. In this amalgam, following the customary procedures we already analyzed, the subjects strictly related to sexual hygiene –still included in full right among medical subjects in Mawangdui’s texts – were omitted. Let’s compare this text from Mawangdui’s Tianxia Zhi Dao Tan with its counterpart in the Neijing:

Tianxia Zhi Dao Tan

Huangdi Neijing Suwen: Yin Yang Yinxiang Da Lun

There are eight ways to implement Qi and seven to disperse it. If these eight implementing and seven loosing are not known then: at forty Yin Qi is reduced to a half; at fifty the daily life becomes very tiring; at sixty eyes and ears do not see or hear clearly. At seventy the lower part of the body is weak while the superior part looses [the hair]. Yin Qi is not functional anymore and there’s dripping of saliva, mucus and tears. To regain strength and health there’s a way: avoid the seven ways in which one loses [Qi] to get rid of illness and use the eight ways to implement in order to increase one’s Qi. Following this the elderly will regain physical power and the strong ones won’t decay.

If the seven loosing and the eight implementing are known, then Yin and Yang can be regulated; if they’re not known then there will be an early decay: at forty Yin and Yang will be reduced to a half and daily life will become tiring; at fifty the body gains weight, eyes and ears do not see or hear clearly; at sixty…the nine orifices do not work properly, in the lower part there’s weakness, in the upper part excess, with loss of mucus and tears. That is way it is said: to know them means strength, not to know them means getting old2

Up to here it is clear that both authors have drawn from the same sources; Mawangdui’s text, however, goes on explaining what has been omitted in the later Neijing: the fact that these ‘seven’ and ‘eight’ are referred to sexual techniques: Virtuous persons live in serene gladness, eating what they please. Their skin is soft, Blood3 and Qi abundant, their body light and nimble. If inside [the bedroom] there’s haste this Way cannot be followed. Haste is the cause of illness; one sweats and remains short-breathed; Qi [emotions] is chaotic and thoughts confused. If this condition is not treated it develops in inner heat. In this case it is necessary to take medicines, use moxibustion to regulate Qi and adopt a tonic diet. If one lacks vigour one cannot follow this way. If [despite the lack of vigour one tries] then pimples appear, scrotum swells, nine orifices are not [fully] active, [Qi and blood] don’t serve upper and lower [parts of the body], making pimples and ulcerations appear.

Hunagdi Nejing Suwen: Seven injuries and Eight benefits – compiled by Prana So, only if one really knows how to use the eight implementing at their best, and knows how to avoid the seven losses, one will be able to escape the five illnesses4. Eight implementing: the first is called “governing and directing Qi” the second is called “accumulate saliva”; the third is called “know proper timing”; the fourth is called “nourish Qi”; the fifth is called “exchange saliva”; the sixth is called “gather the Qi”; the seventh is called “wait for fullness”; the eighth is called “stabilize the reversal”. Seven Losses: The first is called “to block”; the second is called “Dispersing”; the third is called “To exhaust”; the fourth is called “Not” [reaching excitement]; the fifth is called “anxiety and confusion”; the seventh is called “To force”5.

1 The question of the significance of the title is thouroughly treated in J. Keegan: The Huang Ti Nei Ching; the Structure of the Compilation, the Significance of the Structure, Berkeley, final dissertation, 1988.

2 Neijing Suwen, cap. 5, p.49.

3 The Chinese concept of Xue (Blood) it is not the same as blood in western cultures. For this reason we will always capitalize Blood to remember it refers to the Chinese meaning.

4 Most probably referring to the five signs of physical decay previously mentioned: Yin Qi to a half, deteriorating of daily activities, shortening of sight and hearing, weakness of inferior limbs and loss of hair, sialorrhea, rhinorrhea and lachrymation.

5 One commentator explains that this means forcing to a sexual act a woman that doesn’t desire it. Another comment interprets this passage as referred to a swift interruption.