asbc_tao

Left-right polarity in Taoism

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Hello Daobums,

 

I'm wondering what Taoism has to say about the left-right polarity. Can you folks help me? From my readings so far, it looks that Taoism goes to a lot of depth on two spatial polarities: the up-down and the front-back. The first appears as the duality of heaven and earth. You find the second in the Microcosmic Orbit, with the contrast between the Conception and Governing meridians. In each case one side is yin (Earth, Conception meridian) and the other is yang (Heaven, Governing meridian). But what about the left and right?

 

One place I find it is in the contrast between the Liver on the right (which is yang) and the Spleen on the left (which some consider to be yin, though others say is neutral). In his book on craniosacral chi-kung Mantak Chia says the heart has a left and right aspect too. And of course so does the brain. As far as I know, the thrusting meridian has a left and right (and central) channel, and each of the 12 standard meridians is mirrored on both sides. 

 

But what I'm not seeing is a clear-cut way of interpreting left and right in Taoism. By contrast, take the Tree of Life from the Kabbalah:

Bronx-Zoo-Three-Pillars-of-Wisdom-Middle

 There the left-right polarity maps very clearly onto the two pillars: the Pillar of Severity/Justice (left brain, right body) and Pillar of Mercy (right brain, left body). The left and right attach to very specific moral qualities/attitudes. And you have strong emphasis on left/right in the Hinduist system, with the Ida and Pingala weaving around the Sushumna. Or in some systems there is a sideways orbit that goes left-right rather than forward-back as the MO does.

second_chakra_swadhisthan.gif

 

Does Taoism put less emphasis on the left-right split? If so why? If not how do we think of left-right in Taoism? Do they simply correspond to yin and yang? Is there any other meaning that attaches to the left/right duality? Are there any Taoist meditations that help to unify the left and right and create a 'middle pillar'? I've tried running the Microcosmic Orbit sideways, but it's not the same. I'm not even sure what points would be included in a 'sideways' orbit. And in Kan-Li meditation you can sometimes feel the upper and lower regions (head and pelvis - heaven and earth) come into contact at the heart.

 

But what about left and right? Thanks.

 

Edited by asbc_tao
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Well in gnosticism.. this is called the hypostasis of the Archons.. which in general means there is a definite difference between left and right..

 

We see the outside appearence of the(teh) body has perfect balance to it, ten fingers, and toes.. 2 eyes and equal limbs bisected.. which shows perfect beauty in the sphere or circle.. 

 

But the inside of our body is delegated differently.. it is hidden indeed.. inside of us is the true key to left and right.. the Teh, of the philosophers stone.. both power and mercy are aligned correctly..

 

But we had to create seperation for extra meaning.. the enrichment code of the disciple so to speak(The Zazen Serpent or Ki(Kundalini)).. Peaceful is all penchance.. And with this comes the Knowledge of Fire and Ice.. A sword indeed can only be wielded with one hand guiding.. from slice to slice.. each of the balance of the unmentionables.. the inner organs and tissues..

 

The solid degree of the left hand path is nothing, nothingness and attainment itself! The right hand path is about order and the proper place and philosophy of things, or otherwise the philosophers stone.. which in Kabbalah is The Saint and Sinner at once!

 

Good and Evil are defined in the bodies waste(33) recieval service..

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3 hours ago, asbc_tao said:

Are there any Taoist meditations that help to unify the left and right and create a 'middle pillar'? I've tried running the Microcosmic Orbit sideways, but it's not the same. I'm not even sure what points would be included in a 'sideways' orbit. And in Kan-Li meditation you can sometimes feel the upper and lower regions (head and pelvis - heaven and earth) come into contact at the heart.

 

But what about left and right? Thanks.

 

 

Pangu mystical qi gong ... ;)

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This thread is kinda' like a reminded to me to do more research on this concept of left/right.  There was a discussion recently that mentioned left/right, I stated that there is more to it than what we had at that point discussed but my thoughts weren't firm enough to speak to it.  My thoughts still aren't established so at this time I still can't speak to it.

 

If I ever do establish my thoughts I will remain in the observable manifest as I don't speak about alchemy or any other concept realms.

 

Work in progress.

 

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The basis of left and right in Daoism is found in the Loshu square:

 

     East              South           West

220px-Magic_Square_Lo_Shu.svg.png

     East              North           West

 

The first thing that you need to realize about the above square is that direction wise the position of 'one" is North, thus "nine" is South, "three" is East and "Seven" is West.  The Left and Right here is derived from the orientation of someone sitting in the North at "one" "and facing south toward "nine", thus East corresponds to left and West to right.  This magic square is considered to be the cosmic pattern of  the Earth, and is used everywhere from Feng Shui to the floor plan of Daoist Temples.  The North is considered to be the direction of the sacred, and with "one", the origin of all, in the North, thus in the North is where the Cosmogenic Gods of Daoism are  seated in Temples, facing South, their left sides toward the Eastern, Yang side of the Temple and their Right sides on the Western, Yin side of the Temple.  There are a lot of other attributes to directions that add to this, but this is the basic pattern, and I don't have time for fuller discussion.

 

I hope this is helpful.

 

ZYD

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yes the left/right is east/west based on facing south while the lower body is north and upper body is south.

 

So then for males the left hand is yang and right hand is yin since the hands are considered the lower body as they hand below the belly.

 

The left leg is yang and so should be "embracing" or above the right leg - in full lotus and this then activates the liver energy more on the right side of the body.

 

The right kidney is also activated more as the yuan qi.

 

The left eye is the lung but as the sun while the heart is the sun and the right eye is the liver as the moon while the kidney is the moon.

 

So the interaction is much more complicated than Western views.

 

So you can not separate left and right from top and bottom - and the meanings change based on the level of practice you are at.

 

You can study the books, "Taoist Yoga: Alchemy and Immortality" and "Foundations of Internal Alchemy" by Wang Mu and then the 1615 text, ‘Xingming Gui Zhi’ (性命圭旨) – or the ‘Principles of Inner Essence and Longevity’ – By Yin Zhen Ren (尹真人) 

 

If we study these three texts then the details of the alchemy training are revealed. But it is quite complicated.

 

For example I was confused by the change from chapter 6 to chapter 7 in the book Taoist Yoga: Alchemy and Immortality.

 

In chapter 6 the Sun is the left eye as the lungs and the Moon is the right eye - and so the Sun is also the heart is negative qi or yin qi of the liver which is the moon as the right eye.

 

So if you study the eye movements for example - when you rotate the eye to the right you do this on the back - at the kidneys - during the small universe meditation - and this is then the green light as the liver energy of the green dragon. Whereas on the heart you rotate the eyes to the left as the lung energy of the white tiger. So even though the white tiger is the West as the right side of the body it is moving to the east and vice versa.

 

That is the secret of how the water tiger is turned into the white tiger and the fire dragon is turned into the green dragon.

 

 

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On 4/6/2018 at 8:43 AM, Zhongyongdaoist said:

I hope this is helpful.

 

ZYD

 

It was, thanks.

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my wife often mentions this:  

男左女右 -

nánzuǒnǚyòu

Men-Right-Women-Left

 

So, for example... take a man.  The left hand lines are destiny and the right hand lines reveal your current life. 

 

My own left hand, life line is very precise and cleanly moves downward... my current life hand shows my life line with many interruptions and breaks.    

 

The moral of the story is:   I've been a bad boy  :)

 

 

 

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On 4/6/2018 at 8:43 AM, Zhongyongdaoist said:

The basis of left and right in Daoism is found in the Loshu square:

 

     East              South           West

220px-Magic_Square_Lo_Shu.svg.png

     East              North           West

 

 

This has a fascinating history, among the stories is that every direction adds up to 15...   so the most ancient Sudoku called a Magic Square.

 

I recall many years ago some correlation between this and an explanation for the five phases... maybe my memory is wrong but I do recall it really hurt my brain trying to grasp whatever the explanation was...

 

 

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In his Gi gong fundamentals Michael Winn has an easy form I believe its called Sun and Moon, its part of a series.  Very simple, your hands are held low, near together as if grasping a medium size ball, they travel from your lower hara, low and the right, as you breath in- up the leg, up to the shoulder, turn and the head slightly to see it, and the sun.  Then the hands go down the same leg as you breath out, to the neutral point then up the left leg as you breath in, turning the head to see it and feel the moon.  then slowly repeated left, neutral right, a slow pendulum U shaped swing.

 

The interesting thing about this gi gong is as you move up the right side, you tend to breath exclusively from the right nostril and breath out it on the way down.  Same phenomena on the other side too. It activates single nostril breathing remotely.   For me at least, it nicely activates right and left channels. 

 

 

The OP also reminds me of a remembered quote from O'Sensei- With my right I show yan, with my left I show yin.  

Edited by thelerner
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2 hours ago, dawei said:

The moral of the story is:   I've been a bad boy  :)

 

I'm glad I'm not the only one.

 

Yes, man is on the right and woman on the left.   (Man defends woman.)

 

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Interesting to see the Pillars, i hadn’t thought about them with the ToL superimposed like that.

It is interesting speaking of thrusting channels and taiji pillars when the middle one is broken off in that image.

I’m a stark opponent to cartesian dualism as a truthful observation of the human condition since i believe that cartesian bisection is related to the fact that that middle pillar is broken, does it really have to be? Idk, i’m just riffing a little here.

 

Being a cantankerous nitpicker with words (where is Chi Dragon when you need him?!) is a passion of mine but i’m not very sharp so bear with me OP:

I think Daoist ideas reflect little on left-right polarity, but i’m sure that the relationship between left-medium-right and how they balance each other is pivotal. East and West are not the same. Ambidexterity isn’t necessarily being able to do the exact same things with either side of your body, it is having dexterity enough to harmonize with everything as appropriately as possible. Perhaps.

 

Spontaneous comments on the discussion so fark: isn’t the ”belt meridian”, one of the 8 extraordinary ones, that encircles the body at waist-ish level described as having a rotational direction also?

I remember reading somewhere on here that the belt is the only overtly illustrated latitudinal pattern, which shouldn’t leave us thinking that it is the only one period.

 

I’ve parttaken of teachings that have a lateral motion as well, both in the vertical (Head is Wood, Left Arm is Fire, Left Leg is Earth, Right Leg is Gold, Right Arm is Water) and qi gong exercises that follow this circumference pattern, but i fear to speak directly of it because my training and understanding of them is undeveloped as of yet.

 

Left-right is important in Daoism i think.

I know that on a physical level, say speaking of sung and studying base techniques bilaterally to achieve a symmetry in execution is important, at least in kung fu and tai gik training, from a Southern perspective at least.

Basic forms usually have a balance in execution while more ”advanced” ones forgo bilateral repetitions because you’re expected to solve that and such forms are either intermingled with qi gong stuff or have a particular specialization woven into them for other reasons.

 

If you look at alchemical texts the smaller medicine is produced in the correct joining of fire and water where the greater medicine that one returns to refine is heaven and earth. If not mistaken it is not uncommon to see the trigrams for these organized in left-right and up-down respectively. That can hardly be coincidental.

 

The Lo Shu is paramount and fundamental as i’ve come to understand it thus far. It has all directions, all compass points, a very specific pattern superimposed and more than a few Major rituals of balance between Heaven, Earth and Man connected to it with stepping patterns and footwork, and it covers the compass directions, their relative guardians and their respective armies, their sovereign rulers and the proper respect they are due. But the middle is always the greatest palace if i’m not mistaken.

 

also: i think saying using one hand to weild a single sword is theonöy possibility, even if you never switch grip, sounds like inefficie t use of energy and momentum. But thats just me in a playful sunday mood now, never mind :)

 

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DDJ verses 31 and 34 come to mind. Also in Chinese medicine texts, things like where there is symptoms on one side then treat the other, etc.

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18 hours ago, Marblehead said:

Yes, harmonizing (balancing) left and right (Yin and Yang).

 

 

It is a curious thing... we are harmonizing a perception we have of duality... but once one gets past the duality perception, is there such a thing as harmonize :mellow: :huh: :o ;) :P :D

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3 hours ago, dawei said:

 

It is a curious thing... we are harmonizing a perception we have of duality... but once one gets past the duality perception, is there such a thing as harmonize :mellow: :huh: :o ;) :P :D

Well, seems to me that once we have gone beyond duality we already have achieved harmony.

 

Wait a minute!  That doesn't sound logical.

 

Harmony requires the recognition of two or more.

 

Okay, back to duality.

 

Harmonizing and non-duality cannot be spoken of in the same thought.

 

(You probably shouldn't quote me on that.)

 

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6 hours ago, OldDog said:

I feel strongly both ways. ; )

So you are just going to let me disagree with myself?

 

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If you draw Early Heaven sequence on the ground and stand in the middle of it facing South, with correct alignment of trigrams at North and South and East and West - you see what Fu Hsi saw:

 

You see the Sun come up into your left hand.

As the Sun hits Noon, you have Yang in your embrace (facing Sun) and the cold Yin North winds at your back.

 

Your hair spiral points at the North Pole.

 

The Sun sets at your right hand and circles back around behind the planet and behind your head, out of your view..

 

So - standing together for a picture, if you are facing them with camera - the Man is on the right and Woman on the left.

 

In face diagnosis, also facing person, the right side is Yang and Father's side, and Left is Mother.

 

 

 

 

-VonKrankenhaus

Edited by vonkrankenhaus
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On 2018-06-25 at 8:00 AM, dawei said:

 

It is a curious thing... we are harmonizing a perception we have of duality... but once one gets past the duality perception, is there such a thing as harmonize :mellow: :huh: :o ;) :P :D

 

Oh, i think so, i’d say that question has the answer of ”i’m stuck in my head” for me, since harmonizing is necessary with everything and it is the tendency of every movement really.

 

 

@Marblehead i’m right there with you disagreeing, don’t worry, you will never walk alone nor disagree alone. <3

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On 4/6/2018 at 5:43 AM, Zhongyongdaoist said:

The basis of left and right in Daoism is found in the Loshu square:

 

     East              South           West

220px-Magic_Square_Lo_Shu.svg.png

     East              North           West

 

The first thing that you need to realize about the above square is that direction wise the position of 'one" is North, thus "nine" is South, "three" is East and "Seven" is West.  The Left and Right here is derived from the orientation of someone sitting in the North at "one" "and facing south toward "nine", thus East corresponds to left and West to right.  This magic square is considered to be the cosmic pattern of  the Earth, and is used everywhere from Feng Shui to the floor plan of Daoist Temples.  The North is considered to be the direction of the sacred, and with "one", the origin of all, in the North, thus in the North is where the Cosmogenic Gods of Daoism are  seated in Temples, facing South, their left sides toward the Eastern, Yang side of the Temple and their Right sides on the Western, Yin side of the Temple.  There are a lot of other attributes to directions that add to this, but this is the basic pattern, and I don't have time for fuller discussion.

 

I hope this is helpful.

 

ZYD

 

I am very busy right now, but I will try to have a fuller discussion at some point.

 

ZYD

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7 hours ago, Zhongyongdaoist said:

.... but I will try to have a fuller discussion at some point.

 

 

I would like that. While I do not have much interest in the Daoist Gods, I do have interest in cosmology and the relation of the natural world to human life, which I think is foundational to both religious and philosophical daoism. So, I woild welcome discussion that touched on such things as ...

 

What is the significance of the middle position, 5, in the square?

 

What can be said of the four corners?

 

Does the cyclic change in seasons find expression in the square?

 

Are there other mappings of the square that are instructive, familial, social, etc?

 

Looking forward to discussion.

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5 is Earth, solid center.

The odd numbers form a cross of the five primary directions, compass points and even the elements as well if you like (see the gods of the four directions for correspondence). The even corners are the counterbalance of yin to the yang of the odd ones (five is still center so leave that one be) and i think they can represent turning points, like an end-of-the-line idea.

 

The overlaps are there, i think you might find Michael Sasos chapters on the Rites of Cosmic Renewal and the Steps of Yu (spelling might differ) instersting, also refer to european magic traditions where the magic squares are connected to the planets, that should give you some glue to fill a few gaps illustration-wise but dont take it too far.

You can theoretically overlap the Lo Shu square on a classic Bagua symbol with taijitu in the middle, see where that leads.

I use the Lo Shu square for a few exercises but i’m not at liberty to speak on those at the moment.

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On 1/5/2019 at 10:14 AM, OldDog said:

 

I would like that.

 

Me too as it has re-kindled my interest in the magic squares... may try to find those articles I previously referred to.

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