xing ming dual practice

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Hi again friends,

I don't want to overload you with too much information, but think this may also be helpful for people.

Daoist writing has a great deal of literature concerning two phenomenon,

one is called xing and the other is called ming.


The easiest way we can understand xing and ming philosophically is to use Zhu Xi's explanation (he was a Neo Confucian who studied the book of changes and created his own meditation methods based on 'li' or propriety through ceremony).

Zhu Xi said that Xing is like the emptiness of the heavens and Ming is the life of the earth.

From these two things, we can see that Xing and Ming are yang and yin.

Much later on, Xing Ming Gui Zhi, a very important meditation manual from the middle school of Daoism said that Xing is the mind before it has met with the spirit (shen) and Ming is the body before it has met with Qi.

Xing and Ming are things which apply directly to meditation in the middle school and I just want to touch a bit on how they work.  I promise I won't write an essay  :) :)


The most basic way to understand how to use Xing and Ming is to use the analogy of Chen Yingning (founder of the Immortality Study School).  Chen said "Ming is like the gas of a lamp, while Xing is like the brightness of the lamp, illuminated by the gas."  He used this analogy to explain how the body cannot function without both Xing and Ming.   If there is no Ming, then there can be no Xing, but if there is no Xing, although there may be Ming, it will be dormant and useless.

We can use that analogy to further inform our practice!

If you remember, earlier I mentioned that Zhu Xi compared Xing to the sky and Ming to the earth.  Consider that the sky is a basically empty entity and that it allows all things to pass through it unobstructed.   That means that the sunlight is able to reach the beings on the earth.

Ming is the earth, and although things do not pass through it (in the sense that things can easily pass through the sky), it upholds, births and sustains all life.  

The important part is that Xing, while being insubstantial, is required for things to exist.

When you meditate, the mind should naturally enter an empty, connected state, similar to the relationship of the sky and the earth.   Assuming you meditate on your lower dantian (I use this just because it is the most common method among the various schools), then after you have set your mind there and after the mind slows down, it will naturally begin to become open and empty.  This is when Xing begins to interact with Ming.

When the energy of the body becomes lighened up, the Xing and Ming are mixing and giving birth to life (Yang energy).

This is also related to the concept of "San Cai," or heaven man and earth.   Xing is the heavens, Ming is the earth, and the marriage of heaven and earth create humanity, who are a combination of the energies of yang and yin as represented by heaven and earth.

Both the middle school and the Immortality school call this type of activity "xing ming shuang xiu," or "xing and ming practiced simultaneously."

Just some thoughts.  :) :)

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Interesting. The taiji form I practice has san cai as a philosophical foundation. We use a mudra with the forefinger and thumb pressed together and the other three fingers tight and erect making 'heaven, earth, and human in one formation'.


These threads are great for bringing all these concepts into focus. Always interesting to discover how certain ideas appear and reappear until they finally start making sense!



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