The Regular Meridians
The Primary (or regular) Meridians are the conduits of post-natal Qi: they are the roadmap of post-natal existence, and represent the relationship between exterior and interior, between Wei and Ying. The Primary meridians represent a system of behaviour, of learning, of movement through the world, and hence they follow a 5-Phases trajectory, both as a system and each meridian individually.
The pre-requisites of post-natal existence, or what it means to be human, are survival, interaction, and differentiation. (Jeffrey says self-survival, self-interaction, and self-differentiation, as it is always about the “self” doing these.) We can see that the Primary Meridian time clock revolves around this concept.
To survive we must breathe and digest food. This is the Lungs, Large Intestine (elimination is a pre-requisite of survival), the Stomach and the Spleen. Sleep is also a prerequisite of survival, and the Heart is the next meridian to follow.
Once survival is taken care of, I take on the challenges of life. I interact with my environment as well as with myself. This is the validation of my existence. I go on a quest for questions, seeking answers that will give me an understanding about myself, searching for meaning, learning the lessons to be learned. This is the Heart, Small Intestine, Urinary Bladder, and Kidney meridians. The Heart represents my quest to be sovereign over life, and the Kidneys represent the self, that which is at the base of the self. (Another way to look at it is that the Kidneys represent the bones, the skeletal system which allows for the movement, and the Heart represents outward movement in the form of blood circulation). The meridian representing the next transition is the Pericardium, no longer the Heart which is kept empty, but the that which protects/constricts the Heart according to notions, judgements, and socialised culture
Once interaction and “conquering” starts, limitations begin to be imposed. I begin to differentiate between those interactions that I like and those that I do not like, the questions that interest me, the answers that satisfy me, and those that do not. This is a process of differentiation, of protection. It involves harmonising myself (versus myself as well as versus the world). This third layer is represented by the Pericardium, the San Jiao, the Gall Bladder, and the Liver. Here I put values and judgements on my interactions, separating myself from that which I interact with. The Liver detoxifies, it allows me smooth flow, meaning it allows me to separate those things that seem to create an non-smooth flow (as dictated by the Pericardium).
This journey from Lungs to Liver further tells us that life is about decay: I am born to die, there is no escape from death. Life starts with the first breath, thus it starts with Metal (Lungs, L.I.). Life is about decay, so it will follow the reverse cycle of the elements (in reverse direction to the “creative cycle”). Thus the next element is Earth (Spleen and Stomach), and then Fire (Heart, S.I.).
As we saw above, life is about interaction. Interaction will involve conflict. Fire represents our desires, and hence once we reach Fire, it is required that we visit its opposite, Water, representing the conflict that creates life: the interaction of Yin Yang. This is represented by the next meridians, U.B. and Kidney. Moving back to Fire (Pericardium and San Jiao), and continuing the “decay” cycle, reverting to Wood (G.B., San Jiao) which represents re-initiation, rebirth (perhaps in another realm).
This journey through the elements also states that life begins with the breath (Metal – taking in the world), it creates and is bound by form (Earth), with which we attempt to explore our desires (Fire), to return to what we truly are (Water in terms of the Chaos representing the universe/origin), and to a new birth (Wood).
Using these ideas, we can now take a further look at Metal and Wood, the beginning and end of this cycle. Metal represents Yin-from-within-Yang while Wood represents Yang-from-within-Yin. Thus they represent the Yin Yang interaction. Thus the Jing (Well) points have been assigned either Metal or Wood affiliations. The Jing (Well) points are the points of extreme Yin/Yang, where the energy is most volatile and can most easily turn to its opposite. The Yin meridians start with the Yang transformation element Wood, while the Yang meridians start with the Metal.
We can extend this idea through the whole trajectory of the Primary meridans, and look at the role of Metal and Wood as activating the whole system. We see this in combinations like the “four gates”, L.I.4 and Liv3, representing the Source points of Metal and Wood. In Wei Qi language, we can say that Large Intestine is chosen (over Lung) because in the Sinew meridian time clock the Large Intestine is the last Yang meridian before Wei Qi starts to turn inwards, while Liver is the end of the Yin time zone and where Wei Qi begins to move out. (Kiiko Matsumoto also talks about this concept in the combination of Liv4, LU5 to treat “Oketsu”, the piling of non-physiological blood, an interference with the circulation of all the meridians.)
Since the Primary meridians are conduits of both Wei and Ying Qi, they represent the connection between exterior and interior. When taken as a system we can see the progression of a pathogenic factor from the exterior to the interior in the presenting symptoms of each channel. Three divisions are distinguished here. Lung, L.I., Stomach and Spleen are the division of moving from the exterior to the interior, with the Spleen being the channel that moves on to the next division. The Heart, S.I., U.B., and Kidney are where the pathogen sets in, becomes fixated and habituated. Finally, in the third division of the Pericardium, San Jiao, G.B. and Liver, we see an attempt to find resolution.
(In the discussion below, the pathogen is considered to have been exterior, and once it is internalised it is considered to be Heat since it originally represented change, Wei Qi, something Yang, and as it moves in, it intensifies the invitation to change, to movement. Thus it is seen as Heat, not to be confused with the Heat pathogen progression as described in the Wen Bing school.)
We begin with the Lung channel with symptoms of Wind. We begin to suffer when we are unwilling to change. By the time it moves to the next channel, the Large Intestine, it has converted to Wind-Heat affecting the upper region, the eyes, mouth, teeth, and throat.
By the time we reach the Stomach channel, the Heat is beginning to inetrnalise, to disturb the blood with symptoms involving the mental state and bleeding. The Heat is being intensified on both the exterior and interior, with sweating and infections (a sore throat may turn infected rather than just sore). As the Heat spreads and intensifies it begins to consume the four limbs. This is the Spleen channel: atrophy and wasting (Wei) of the limbs. Once the four limbs have been affected all the meridians have been affected and can no longer function in the same way, as the external branches of the meridians are being destroyed.
In the next division, the pathogen settles in, taking over the interior domain of the body. The Heart channel symptoms are of heat trapped in the chest, with restlessness and palpitations. The Small Intestine represents the last chance of separation of the pure from the turbid. The Heat is now moving further in, into the abdomen, with abdominal Bi and irritable bowels as the presenting symptoms. Through the Small Intestine domain, the pathogen is now being suppressed down into the bone (via the connection of U.B.11 – meeting point of the bones). The pathology is now entering the Jing and Kidney domain. One of the Small Intestine pathologies represents this as abdominal pain radiating to the lower back and genitals (areas of Jing). The Heat in the intestines results in altered microflora and the beginning of chronic degenerative diseases.
Here Deficiency begins to set in with the building of Latent Cold. There is an accumulation of impure Yin (phlegm) and later on swelling. In the Bladder domain, the symptoms are of genital Damp Heat and cystitis. The Heat has clearly penetrated the level of the Jing. There may also be Wind Heat signs such as headache, and body aches, which still represent the attempt to through off the pathogen. Now the Jing (Kidneys) is mobilised, and the areas associated with the Jing, such as genitals, low back, bones, become cold and stiff. The body attempts to keep more Yin in order to help trap the pathogen, and thus there is accumulation of fluids and edema.
The constitution has been threatened, and the next division symptoms manifest in a tremendous effort to push the pathogen out, to bring about a resolution. At the Pericardium level, the diaphragm and chest have become unstable, there is heat in the 5 palms, but the joints (elbows, knees) are cold, representing an effort to push out the pathogen or divert it through to the Divergent meridians. The person becomes very irritable with, perhaps, panic disorder, as the attempt to push the Heat out intensifies. Running Piglet Qi, the feeling of something moving from the Kidneys (source) upwards, can manifest here. The diaphragm represents the communication between the three burners.
By the San Jiao level there has been a disruption in all three Burners and the communication between them is no longer in tact. Above there will be a chronic attempt at venting out in the form of ear problems, eye problems and joint pain. This is not just the shutting down of the senses as a way of refusing to absorb further external impulses, but the degeneration of areas of the Jing of the eyes, ears, bones. Below, the symptoms of this channel are of abdominal masses. Chronic sweating (often a clammy skin) is the result of the chronic attempt to vent out the pathogen (this is related to S.J.2 – Ye Men, the Gateway to body fluids).
The Gall Bladder represents the place where either the pathogen will settle in and paralise us, or it will be permanently harmonised into our body, or we might still push it out. Pushing out the pathogen from this deeper level is bound to induce a healing crisis, and so we see intense and alternating chills and fever, malaria and vomiting. The internalisation of the pathogen results in goiters, nodules, and swellings. The harmisation of the pathogen can result in thyroid conditions, adrenal insufficiency, and tumors.
The final level, that of the Liver channel, is where the pathogen has taken over: change/wind has become an internal pathology, manifesting as “Internal Wind”. The body attempts to push down and “cement” the pathogen at the lowest region of Jing, the genitals, resulting in hernia. However, changes to the Jing are ultimately changes to the Shen. The Liver channel is that which represents the transmutation of the Jing of the genitals up through the diaphragm into the eyes and the vertex, and hence we see vertex headache and vision problems as symptoms here also.
This progression of disease can be seen through the meridian system as a whole, as demonstrated above, or one can look at a microcosm of this progression within one meridian. Therefore, one can say that the more distal points (Jing-Well, Ying-Spring points) affect the more Yang and acute pathogens as Wind and Heat, while the more medial points (such as the He-Sea points) affect the deeper layers and the Yin factors of Damp and Cold). Past the knees and elbows, points have a strong effect on the Blood, and hence on the Shen. (e.g., Liv9, SP10, P.2, HT2, LU3, or LU3 which cultivates forgiveness). The points in the abdomen, affect the Jing level, as those are in the vicinity of the organs and the Mu points.