location: Frist page History & Culture The Cultural Connotation of “Qi and Breath Return to the Origin (Qi Xi Gui Yuan)”
The Cultural Connotation of “Qi and Breath Return to the Origin (Qi Xi Gui Yuan)”

The name “Qi and Breath Return to the Origin (Qi Xi Gui Yuan)” has two meanings. One is “to absorb the yin qi and the yang qi into the body”, the other is “to move the tongue in your mouth like a red dragon swimming in the sea to salivate and improve health condition”.

According to Huangdineijing: “If a person has enough yin essence, he can enjoy longevity. If a person lacks yang essence, he will come to a premature end.” Because of this, we should pay attention to gathering both the yin qi and the yang qi. According to those ancient life-nourishing master's ideas, if people want to strengthen their body, they should not only absorb the essence coming from the heaven and the sun, but also gather the yin qi coming from the earth. For example, there is an immortal who is always bare-feeted, gathering the yin qi through his feet.

When doing Health Qigong Dao Yin Yang Sheng Gong Shi Er Fa, we should better absorb an equal amount of yang qi and yin qi according to specific circumstances. Because in one's life, yin qi is easy to consume, so yin qi is often in shortage while yang qi is often accumulated too much. Just as Wang Bing said: “The element of water should be strengthened to balance the yang.” Wu Jutong, a scholar studying warm disease also said: “To store yin essence is to store vitality.” Judging from the view of modern medical science, the atmosphere in the dawn (during sunrise) contains gaseous water and ozone composed of three oxygen atoms. Under ultraviolet light, these gases can produce various kinds of negative ions with charge. Biology tells us that negative ions have physiological functions such as strengthening the brain, improving cardiovascular function, improving lung capacity, reducing the lactic acid content in muscles, and delaying fatigue. Thus, ancient qigong masters and Dao Yin masters suggest that the best time for qigong practice is the dawn. This is the good opportunity for the yang qi in both the natural environment and the human body to gain vitality, and the time when negative ions that are beneficial to the physiological functions of the human body reach their peak concentration.

Also, when absorbing essence coming from the sun and the moon while doing “Qi and Breath Return to the Origin”, we should attach importance to moving the tongue in the mouth like a red dragon swimming in the sea to salivate. This is because the saliva can help people improve health condition and can be supplied bottomlessly.

It is recorded in Huangdineijing which was written between the Warring States period to the Qin and Han dynasties: “If a person has a chronic kidney disease remaining uncured, he can sit towards the south and calm his mind during the period from 3 a.m. to 5 a.m. ... stretch the neck as if swallowing something hard to smooth the qi in the throat... In this way, a large amount of saliva can be produced.” (Quoted from Suwenyipiancifalun)

The inscription on a bronze mirror made during the Eastern Han dynasty read: “The mirror produced by Shangfang(the institution producing royal utensils in ancient times) is ingenious. On it lives an immortal who never gets old. He drinks the jade spring and eats dates to live. He flies around the world and then goes back to a famous mountain to gather medical herbs.” (Quoted from Zhou Shirong, Drinking the Jade Spring and Moving the Tongue in the Mouth Like a Red Dragon Swimming in the Sea)

Huangfu Long, a centenarian who lived in the Three Kingdoms period once said: “A person should drink the jade spring to make himself strong and in good looks...The jade spring is actually the saliva in your mouth... Accumulate a mouthful of saliva, gargle with the saliva and then swallow. This process is called extracting the essence.” (Quoted from Qianjinyaofang)

Ge Hong who lived in the Jin dynasty wrote in Baopuzi: “If a person uses his saliva to wash his teeth three hundred times early every morning, his teeth will never loose.”

During the same dynasty, Wei Huacun also wrote in Huangtingwaijingjing Laozijingdiyi: “One should breathe deeply into Dantian and nourish his innate spirit root with clear water in the jade pond(saliva)to live a long life.” This tells us that adjusting breath to send it down to the lower Dantian can nourish the innate spirit root and get longevity.

During the Song dynasty, Zhang Junfang wrote in Yunjiqijian: “The jade spring can help people live longer and eliminate various diseases.”

During the Ming dynasty, Gao Lian wrote Dao Yin Methods of Ba Duan Jin in his book Zunshengbajian: “Close your eyes and cross your legs, meditate while holding your fists tight. Click your teeth thirty-six times, hold the back side of your head...gently turn your neck, stir the saliva pond with your red dragon. (The “red dragon” here is actually the tongue. Rub the left and right walls of your oral cavity and your teeth and swallow the newly-produced saliva.) Gargle with your saliva for thirty-six times, make your saliva full your mouth, swallow the mouthful in three times, and your dragon (body fluid) and tiger(qi) can run smoothly.

The famous doctor Cheng Guopeng living in the Qing dynasty wrote in Yixuexinwu: “The saliva is the best medicine to cure yin deficiency.”

When ancient people were creating the character “活” (alive), they used the character “舌” (tongue) and placed the character “氵” (water) beside it. The “water” here indicates saliva.

Modern medical research has shown that saliva contains globulin, mucus protein, amino acid, amylase, lysozyme, alkaline ion, immunoglobulin and various trace elements. It has also been shown that saliva can help improve glucose metabolism and keep a stable blood sugar level.

A Japanese researcher studied and proved that saliva is a natural anticancer agent that can turn carcinogenic substances into harmless substances. He used a kind of carcinogenic substance which was produced in overly grilled fish in his experiment and found that if saliva was not added in, the amount of carcinogenic substances will increase. When saliva is added, at 37 ° C after a day and night time, the amount of carcinogenic substances decreased significantly. (Quoted from Chinese Medical Journal, Feb. 11, 1988.)

In general, accumulating saliva and always holding it in the mouth and swallowing it can help improve digestion, nourish viscera, strengthen the body, enhance resistance, and make people live longer.

Then when doing “Qi and Breath Return to the Origin”, why should the exerciser turn his tongue leftwards for three times and then rightwards for another three times?

The famous scholar Li Xinji showed the answer in Finding the Origin of the Three Yin and the Three Yang: “The number ‘three’is an important number in the culture of Chinese Medicine. This number appeared frequently in the lives, ideas and spirits of the Chinese people’s ancestors. Laozi felt the number’s power, and first firmly suggested that “the Tao produced one(stands for the smallest unit to build the universe), one produced two(stands for yin and yang, the two opposing parties), two produced three(stands for various kinds of things in nature), three produced all things”, and constructed the idea that all things in the universe are originated from “three”. Due to this reason, all things in the universe can be divided into three groups. Suwen Liujiezangxianglun wrote: “Three things (taiyang, shaoyang, yangming) constitute the heaven, three things (taiyin, shaoyin, jueyin) constitute the earth, three things (essence, qi, spirit) constitute the human body. Three times three equals nine.” The meanings of “three” changed gradually from people's latent consciousness into the solidified thinking set and accumulated in the heart of ancient Chinese people. In the Western Han dynasty, Dong Zhongshu treats “three” as the most honorable number and called it “the important rule of nature” He wrote: “Three qi(“起”, an eight-hour period) is one day, three days is one gui(“规”,a three-day period), three xun(“旬”,a ten-day period) is one month, three months is a season, and three seasons can bring a harvest. Freezing days, hot days and warm days make creatures grow. The sun, the moon and the stars emit light. The heaven, the earth and the human have virtues. So, we can know that putting three things into one is the important rule of nature.” Comparatively, Lu Xiangshan who lived in the Southern Song dynasty, had a more practical, intuitive and intriguing summary. He said: “The heaven, the earth and the people are the three Cai (“才”, three things composing the world). The sun, the moon and the stars are three kinds of heavenly bodies. All hexagrams are composed of three strokes, and all tripods have three legs. Those who agree with the studies of Laozi also say: ‘The Tao produced one, one produced two, two produced three, three produced all things.’ Because the number “three” can symbolize the start of changes.” From these we can find out that in ancient Chinese’s frame of mind, “one” (an integral whole) can only be divided into three parts, and there is no other dividing way. Zhizhenyaodalun recorded: “The Yellow Emperor asks: ‘What is the three of yin and yang?’” The answer is: “The yang or the yin can only be divided into three parts.” This is the psychological accumulation that the ancient Chinese people formed in the long course of history.

This is the origin of turning the tongue leftwards for three times and then rightwards for another three times when doing “Qi and Breath Return to the Origin” in Health Qigong Dao Yin Yang Sheng Gong Shi Er Fa.

(By Zhang Guangde, Zhang Yusong, Si Chaoquan)

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