Ching, Chi, and Shen

Ching, Chi, and Shen

Classical Taoist philosophy talks about the relationships between matter, energy, and spirit through the concepts of Ching, Chi, and Shen.

If we think of a candle:

Ching: candle wax, the material

Chi: the flame itself

Shen: the light filling the room from the candle.

In a human, the Ching is the substance, the physical aspects including sexual water, bones, bone marrow, and all physical parts.

Chi is the energy that flows through the acupuncture channels of the body. Additionally chi flows through the eight extraordinary vessels.

Shen is spirit or virtue; expressed through the good deeds someone does or the spirit that causes or animates the good deeds.

This topic is covered widely in Taoist medical texts. This is just a brief scratching of the surface for the layman. As a Taoist ‘practitioner,’ chi kung exercises help me conserve and build the Ching essence in my body. Chi kung and meditation help chi to flow stronger and more unobstructed through my meridians. Taoist exercises also help me express myself in the world through positive virtues or a presence of Shen or spirit.

We are born with an abundance of Ching. During one’s life it can convert to chi and can express more abundantly as Shen later in life. Taoist practitioners can Consciously intervene in this natural process by building chi, strengthen chi, and converting these into Shen.

Learn more: The Alchemist’s Tao Te Ching: Transforming Your Lead Into Gold

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