“Illustration of Inner Classic” means the illustration of small complete Qi cycle inner body affected channel. It demonstrate the theory of traditional health cultivate practice with emphasised on illustrating the specific condition of the circulation of vital essence (Essential Qi) within the Ren and Du vessels. That is, the ““Illustration of Inner Classic” illustrates none of the inner scene which practitioners see through their body, instead, it demonstrate the theory of the circulation of Ren and Du vessels, in the meantime, to clarify the running route and principle of the Lesser Circulation exercises in the manner of comparable. The Lesser Circulation exercise described in “Illustration of Inner Classic” aims eliminate the illness and prolong life by promoting the circulation of the meridian system within the whole body by applying the vital essence (Essential Qi) to activate the Ren and Du vessels.
We know that governor vessel is one of the eight extra meridians of human body. It governs the yang meridians of the whole body. The three yang meridians of the hand and foot meet governor vessel at Dazhui, and connect with the brain, so the governor vessel is called “governor of yang meridians” and valued by health preserving practitioners. Ren meridian governs the yin meridians of the whole body. It is connected with all yin meridians and controls essence and blood, fluid and humor, so it is called “the sea of yin channels” and is also a meridian valued by health preserving practitioners.
According to the principle of “prograde yang and retrograde yin” of Yi-ology, the health preserving exercise needs to guide the essential qi to be prograde with the governor vessel governing yang meridians and then be retrograde with the ren meridian governing yin meridians. Keep withdrawing the rising essential qi and forwarding the falling essential qi to finish a Lesser Circulation exercise.
Then, whether the Ren and Du vessels of common people are unobstructed?
In fact, in a healthy condition, the Ren and Du vessels are unobstructed, and even the twelve meridians are unblocked. If there is a blocked meridian, one will fall ill and even die. The meridian plays a major role in “running qi and blood, nourishing yin and yang”, “deciding survival, dealing with illnesses”, etc. As the saying goes: “it is wrong to do anything if one is not clear with the twelve meridians”, “longevity depends on meridians”.
Dredging meridians in traditional health preserving exercise refers to making Ren and Du vessels smoother to run essential qi at a high speed. The passage of meridians is generally a flat channel, transmitting limited energy. Making the channel of Ren and Du vessels a circle can transmit energy at a high speed to burst through the eight extra meridians and the twelve meridians. This is the purpose of Lesser Circulation exercise. So, for health cultivation, it is important to study the health cultivation secret about Ren and Du vessels of the eight extra meridians in Illustration of Inner Classic.
Thus it can be seen that in traditional health cultivation exercise, the role of the system of meridians and collaterals is more important, which is true for Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Medicine and Militarism. Taoism emphasizes that “transform subtleness into qi, transform qi into sprit, return to emptiness, break emptiness”。In the process of fundamental “transformation of subtleness into qi”, the subtle energy in the human body is first transformed into breathing to circulate within the “Lesser Circulation” composed of Ren and Du vessels, and then enter the “Greater Circulation” of the system of twelve meridians. When the Greater and Lesser Circulations are dredged and unblocked, the body will be free from illnesses and invincible. Therefore, we can borrow beneficial strategy from this when exercising Health Qigong.