Moving between winter and spring, we find the gate of life that sparks growth. This first new moon of the Chinese New Year sees a conjunction of Jupiter and Venus; for those of you interested in astrology, look here for the meaning of this conjunction at this time.
Here in Portland, we experience alternating periods of rain, soggy dampness and bright, fleeting rays of sun which accentuate the gray environment in which we normally live at the end of winter. The relationship between fire and water, Heart and Kidney, shine clearly in this alternation and cooperation of sun and rain. I will attempt to clarify my thoughts on this after using a short passage to give context. To quote from Claude Larre and Elizabeth Rochat de la Vallee in The Secret Treatise of the Spiritual Orchid:
“Rochat: The kidneys store the essences while the heart is the dwelling place of the shen. The expression ‘essences/spirits,’ jing shen, is therefore the expression that denotes life and vitality at its highest level, the vital spirit.
Larre: When you go to a concert, if the conductor is full of jing shen then everybody playing instruments and in the audience will be seized by a common spirit and elation in their minds. Everything will rise up. Why? Because the essences have been activated by the conductor, and the feeling you have is nearly physical. You feel the music with all your body, mind and spirit. That is an example of jing shen…
Rochat: The essences which are fundamentally dependent on the kidneys serve as the support and basis for the spirits. This connection between the kidneys and the heart, given by shao yin, establishes the central axis for vitality. So if on one hand the marrow and the bones are solid, and on the other the spirits can seize and rely on essences that are of good quality, then you will be able to live with all the know-how, skill and ability that is necessary for life. This is ‘savoir vivre‘ in the sense of knowing how to live. It is because the marrow and the bones are there that you can make movements and can stand upright, and know how to direct your awareness through the clarity of the spirits.
Larre: This is being able to conduct one’s own life at the highest level of operation, with strong will, strong purpose, clear ideas and good feelings. All this is under the charge of the kidneys. It is a question of conducting, and you conduct life from the bottom to the top. The conducting relies on the bones and marrow and the essences which are stored in the kidneys.
Rochat: Now we come to the question of why the kidneys come in the ninth position in this presentation. We can say that nine, which is three times three, is a number of power.
Larre: ..The heart meridian has nine points and the kidney meridian has 27, three times nine. This is significant.
Rochat: The kidneys come in this position, as if they were in an inferior position, because they represent life in the depths, in the invisible beginnings and in the seed. From this basis the fire of life will emerge, the fire which comes out of the water and which is expressed by the shao yang, and by the fire of the heart which is the supreme development of this fire of life. At that moment the kidneys are no more than the permanent and original basis for life. That is to say, the fire of the kidneys, the fire of ming men, is continually active right up until the death of an individual. So Su wen chapter 8 is taking account of the concentrated power of the kidneys as the basis of life, like the foundations of a house. I think this is the reason that they are presented in this position in the text. It is not that they are less noble than the intestines, it is just that in the presentation of the whole ensemble they are in the depths.
Question: Why is the kidney connected with the ear?
Rochat: There is the question of shape or form, where shape is indicative of the deep nature of something. If the ear, like the kidneys, has the shape of a crescent moon, it indicates that there is a deep connection between the two. This is a connection between the depths of life and the reception of life, because just as the moon receives the light of the sun, so the ears receive all the time. So the kidneys are that which continually receives and stores the essences of life.”
From Larre and Rochet de la Valle, The Secret Treatise of the Spiritual Orchid: Nei jing Su wen chapter 8. Monkey Press, 2003.
An example of the feeling of springtime; specifically the power of warmth breaking up the ice in a river as it thaws. The Finale of Sibelius’s Symphony No. 5