We’re excited to announce that this year’s the European Introduction to Neijing Studies course will be offered over two 6-day intensives in Roujan, France, and two 3-day intensives in London, England. Accommodations are offered for the two sessions in Roujan. Join us for a restful and scholarly experience in the wine country of France and for two clinical intensives in historic London.
‘Since I have embarked on the wide ocean, and given full sails to the wind, I say there is nothing in the whole universe that persists. Everything flows, and is formed as a fleeting image. Time itself, also, glides, in its continual motion, no differently than a river. For neither the river, nor the swift hour can stop: but as wave impels wave, and as the prior wave is chased by the coming wave, and chases the one before, so time flees equally, and, equally, follows, and is always new. For what was before is left behind: and what was not comes to be: and each moment is renewed.
Ovid – Metamorphosis Book XV
Translated by A.S. Kline
鳥鳴澗 Birds Calling within the Ravine
人閑桂化落 At ease; the flowers of the Osmanthus plant fall
夜靜春山空 In the still night, the Spring mountains are spacious
月出驚山鳥 Moon’s appearance startles the mountain birds
時鳴春澗中 Now and then birds cry within the deep ravines of Spring
Wang Wei 王維 (699–759CE)
The three months of springtime are called ‘emerge and display’ (春三月此謂發陳). All things between heaven and earth begin their existence and the ten thousand things display their glory (天地俱生萬物以榮). Retire when the night falls and arise early in the morning (夜臥早起). Stroll through the courtyard with broad steps (廣步於庭). Loosen the hair and relax the body to align the will with what is newly emerging (被髮緩形以使志生). Support life and refrain from killing (生而勿殺). Be gentle and do not force your way (予而勿奪). Act with benevolence; do not bring accusations (賞而勿罰). In this way live in accordance with the qi of Spring (此春氣之應). This is the way of nourishing life (養生之道也). Going against (these principles) brings harm to the liver (逆之則傷肝). In summer there will be cold and the ability of things to grow is diminished (夏為寒變奉長者少).
Suwen, Chapter 2
Siqi Tiaoshen Lun
‘Great Treatise on the Four Seasons and the Regulation of Shen (神)’
The new Neijing teaching schedule for 2012/2013 is up. This year Introduction to Neijing Studies classes will be held in Portland, OR, Asheville, NC, San Diego, CA, and Europe (France and England). We are also in the final sages of organizing an East Coast class that will be held in the New York/New Jersey area. An Advanced Lingshu Studies Class is scheduled for the East Coast in August and an Introduction to Wuyun Liuqi Theory class is planned for London, England. Advanced Clinical Practicums are being help in Portland, Oregon and London, England.
For a full list of this years classes and conferences please visit:
Hope to see you there!
Classical Acupuncture describes the practice of acupuncture that originated during the time of China’s Warring States and Western Han Dynasty (475 BCE-206 BCE). During this time the primary theories and principles of Chinese medicine were formulated and codified. The primary text in which this information was transmitted was the Huangdi Neijing, or ‘Yellow Emperor’s Inner Classic’.
The Huangdi Neijing, in its most recent form is composed of primary texts, the Neijing Suwen and the Neijing Lingshu. These texts should not be seen as ‘books’ in the contemporary sense of the word but rather represent a collection of writings derived from different literary and philosophical streams that were generated during the intellectual renaissance of the early Warring States period. The Suwen deals primarily with the basic theories of Chinese medicine, while the Lingshu focuses on the clinical practice of acupuncture. Together, these texts serve as the classical source texts from which the entire field of Chinese medicine has been derived. Put another way, if Chinese medicine was thought of as being a great tree, the ideas contained within the Neijing would be the root system of this tree.
Despite their critical importance, the knowledge contained within these texts has largely been lost to modern practice and modern culture. This has been due to a variety of factors, including inherent difficulties in translating classical Chinese and an increasing emphasis on modern Western scientific research. The scholarly activity of Classical Acupuncture seeks to understand and rehabilitate this classical art form through direct translation, study and clinical application.
The modern practice of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) acupuncture with which most people are familiar, is based upon a system of pattern recognition built around the concept of point actions. In this system, each acupuncture point has a distinct therapeutic effect. For example, one point may treat headache, while another treats cough. Practitioners match memorized treatment patterns to a patient’s specific symptoms and then uses specific points to treat this underlying pattern. TCM may be effective when a patient’s symptoms match specific treatment patterns, yet it begins to breakdown under more complex situations, such as those experienced by patients with serious or complex illness. This has lead to a widespread belief both within the West and in China, that acupuncture is of use only in mild or moderately complex medical conditions. Despite its name, TCM is a relatively recent phenomenon, being established only after the formation of the current Chinese government 1949. For over 2,000 years prior to this the medical classics remained the root of clinical practice.
In contrast to this, Classical Acupuncture was described as a medicine of “space, time and direction”. Its study is the examination of the patterns and rhythms of nature’s breath and the investigation of how these patterns and rhythms generate both health and disease. It has less to do with point activation and more to do with the restoration of the bodies natural terrain and cyclical energy flow. The originators of Classical Chinese medicine carefully studied the basic patterns of nature and understood that these same patterns must also operate within the human body. Classical Acupuncture and Classical Herbal medicine became the art of how to restore these rhythms and patterns of the body’s landscape through the use of needles and herbs. Classical Acupuncture is a traditional science that aims to restore the art of acupuncture to its original strength and efficacy, to the level of a physician level science.
秋雨夜眠 Sleeping on a Rainy Autumn Night
涼冷三秋夜 It is cool and brisk on this third night of Autumn.
安閑一老翁 At peace and at rest, an old man
臥遲燈滅后 retires late into the evening, the lamp now extinguished
睡美雨聲中 and sleeps the beautiful sleep amidst the sound of the rain
灰宿溫瓶火 Ash within the earthen vessel
香添暖被籠 adds its comforting fragrance and warmth beneath the quilt
曉晴寒未起 In the clear cold dawn, he does not rise
霜葉滿階紅 Frosted leaves blanket the steps in red.
Bai Juyi 白居易 (772–846CE)
The three months of autumn are called ‘containing balance’ (秋三月此謂容平). The qi of heaven quickens and the qi of earth is bright (天氣以急地氣以明). Retire early and arise with the waking of the cock (早臥早起與雞俱興). Still the will, be calm and peaceful, and in this way, reduce the punishing (qualities) of Autumn (使志安寧以緩秋刑). Gather and contain the shen qi (神氣) so as to come into balance with the prevailing qi of Autumn (收斂神氣使秋氣平). Do not extend the will outwards (無外其志). Keep the lung qi clear and pure (使肺氣清). In this way, nourish and align with the qi of Autumn (此秋氣之應養收之道也). Acting counter to this harms the lungs (逆之則傷肺). In Winter there will be diarrhea with undigested food (冬為餮泄). The storage of Winter is diminished (奉藏者少).
Suwen, Chapter 2
Siqi Tiaoshen Lun
‘Great Treatise on the Four Seasons and the Regulation of Shen (神)’
Due to a scheduling conflict, the starting dates for the Portland ‘Introduction to Neijing Studies’ Course has been pushed back to January 26-27. For a full schedule of updated classes please visit the Introductory Classes schedule page.
The teachings found within the Neijing derive from detailed observations of the natural world. Therefore, to respect the Neijing, is to respect the very world from which we are born. Senior teachers assist junior teachers and students in their understanding and reading of classical text material. So as we respect our teachers, we show our respect to the classical texts and the natural world from which we derive. As students become practitioners, this knowledge bears fruition in the clinical care of patients. As patients are made well, they positively influence their family and community. When families and communities are in balance they caretake the natural environment in which they live and safeguard it for future generations. In this way, information flows along an axis from nature to text, from text to teacher, from teacher to student, from student to patient, from patient to family and community and from family and community back to nature and on to future generations. If this relationship becomes imbalanced, the quality of this information transformation (傳) is weakened and authentic clinical practice and teaching is weakened. When clinical care is weakened patients do not live in optimum health. When patients do not live in optimal health, families and communities suffer. When this occurs nature is used to meet short term gains and the riches available to future generations is lessened. In a similar way, teachers must maintain special respect and care for the developing skills of students whom they are teaching, who will one day themselves become the teachers and caretakers of this information transfer and teach others.
(from ISSCA mission statement: isscaonline.org)
After six years of teaching the Introduction to Neijing Studies Class, the class has undergone a major transformation and update. These changes were made to give more time for hands on practice, exploration of special topics, classical text reading and experience in clinical application. To incorporate these changes, the class has been lengthened from twelve to eighteen days. For a complete schedule of this years classes please see 2012/2013 classes.
“When the five zang organs are afflicted by illness, it is like a thorn, something foul, something tied in a knot, or something obstructed (今夫五藏之有疾也譬猶刺也猶污也猶結也猶閉也). When there is a thorn (within the body), even though it may have been present for some time it still it may be removed (刺雖久猶可拔也). When the body has been afflicted by something foul, even though it has been present for some time, it stil may be made (as clean) as snow. When there is something tied in a knot, even though it has been knotted for some time, it still it may be be untied (結雖久猶可解也). When there is an obstruction, even though it be present for a long time, still it may be be unblocked (閉雖久猶可決也).”
“There are three precious things which I hold dear and protect. The first is called ci 慈 (loving kindness), the second is called jian 俭 (frugalness) and the third is called bu gan wei tian xia xian 不敢为天下先 (a desire not to be first among others)”.
“In the first step of the year the qi of earth begins to stir (初之氣地氣遷氣). This causes a qi of great warmth (迺大溫). Grasses emerge early and begin to sprout (草迺早榮). People suffer excessive drought (民迺厲). Within the body there will be headaches, vomiting, sores and skin ulcers (溫病迺作身熱頭痛嘔吐肌腠瘡瘍).”
“In the second step of the year there is a widespread coolness that causes people to suffer epidemic illnesses (二之氣大涼反至民迺慘). Grasses encounter coldness and the qi of fire loses its influence (草迺遇寒火氣遂抑). People suffer from qi oppression and abdominal fullness (民病氣鬱中滿). Coldness begins its rule (寒迺始).”
“In the third step of the year, the decree of heaven spreads (from above) (三之氣天政布). Cold qi circulates and the rain begins to fall (寒氣行雨迺降). People suffer cold diseases that transform within the middle into heat (民病寒反熱中). Below, ulcers and sores proliferate (癰疽注下). There is heat in the heart, poor vision and a stuffy oppression (of qi), which if not treated may prove fatal (心熱瞀悶不治者死).”
“In the fourth step of the year wind and dampness contend together (四之氣風濕交爭). Wind transforms into rain, which grows (in strength) until it reaches its peak (風化為雨迺長迺化迺成). People suffer illnesses of great heat and shortness of breath (民病大熱少氣). There are (diseases of) withering and foot wei (委 atrophy) syndromes (肌肉萎足痿). Red and white (discharges) pour from below (注下赤白).”
“In the fifth step of the year yang returns and causes the growth and maturation of grasses (五之氣陽復化草迺長迺化迺成). People begin to feel more at ease (民迺舒).”
“In the last step of the year the qi of earth resides within the (governing position) (終之氣地氣正). Dampness governs the circulation (濕令行). Yin consolidates within the great void (陰凝太虛). Within the outskirts, in the wild areas, dark dust-storms arise (埃昏郊野). People suffer diseases of pestilence (民迺慘悽). Cold winds arrive and infants die within the womb (寒風以至反者孕迺死).”
“Therefore, during these years it is appropriate to use bitter flavors to dry and warm (故歲宜苦以燥之溫之). In these times it is essential to counteract the oppression of qi (必折其鬱氣). First attend to the source of the hua transformation (of illness) in order to restrain the (perverse) influences of the heavenly circulations (先資其化源抑其運氣). Support what is correct to counter overcoming (forces) that cause change and allow for the establishment of disease (扶其不勝無使暴過而生其疾). Eat the correct grains in alignment with (the year) (食歲穀以全其真). Avoid deficiency xie (邪 pernicious influences) to allow what is correct to remain tranquil and at peace (避虛邪以安其正).”
In this section, detailed descriptions are given for the six primary steps of the Renchen 壬辰 year. In Neijing Wuyun Liuqi theory, the year was originally divided into six equal stations (六步) that correspond with the 24 solar jieqi, each step being comprised of 4 solar jieqi periods in total. Beginning with the solar period Dahan (大寒 great cold), the six primary solar nodal points that mark the transition of these steps are Dahan (大寒 great cold), Chunfen (春分 spring division), Xiaomen (小滿 little fullness), Dashu (大署 great summer heat), Qiufen (秋分 autumn division) and Xiaoxue (小雪 little snow). With one day plus or minus, the dates of these periods typically fall on Jan. 20th, March 21st, May 21st, July 23rd, Sept 23rd and Nov. 22nd respectively during the year.
In the first step of the year the energy of spring emerges early in a taiguo (太過) pattern. This occurs for several reasons. First, the qi of the previous 辛卯 year (shaoyin guest/taiyang host in midwinter and jueyin guest/yangming host in autumn) create an unusually weak contraction into winter. When yang forces return to earth, with the return of spring, they return earlier and with a stronger force than usual. Secondly, within the celestial heavens, the Renchen 壬辰 year is ruled by a major jue 太角, or strong wood note, which increases power of the early return of spring. In the first step of the year, jueyin is the host energy and shaoyang is the guest energy. These factors lead to spring energy which arrives early and is marked by both heat and drought.
In the second step of the year, shaoyin is the host energy and yangming is the guest energy of the year. This leads to a situation in which the ruling force of imperial fire (君火) and yangming dryness and heat combine their forces together. At the same time, taiyang cold is increasing in strength as the ruling factor of the Renchen 壬辰 year. The opposing yin forces of increasing taiyang cold against those of shaoyin imperial fire and yangming heat and dryness lead to a pattern of counterflow qi that manifests within the interior of the body. This situation is made more dangerous by the fact that the exterior of the body has previously been opened by the early movement into spring that occurred within the first step of the year. This leads to a disordered combination that can easily lead to epidemic diseases marked by heat with dryness and co-existing cold. Within the body, yangming is the main conveyor of heat and when its movements are blocked, the abdomen will swell. During this time, it is critical for people to realize, that although spring has arrived in terms of the annual calendar there is a strong superimposed force of winter which rules the climatic heavens that is increasing in strength. If a person acts in an improper way without knowing this, they can easily develop a complex pattern, marked by internal heat, cold and dryness that is not easily treated and may turn into a serious illness.
The Yellow Emperor said, “When taiyang rules (the climatic heavens) what are the conditions (帝曰太陽之政柰何)?” Qi Bo replied, “These patterns will occur during the years chen (辰) and xu (戌) (歧伯曰辰戌之紀也).”
“During the years of renchen (壬辰) and renxu (壬戌) , taiyang (rules the climatic heavens), greater jue (rules the celestial heavens) and taiyin resides (at the source) (太陽太角太陰壬辰壬戌). During these years, wind is the ruling force within the (celestial) heavens (其運風). The hua transformations (of this years) is marked by the singing of birds, chaotic disruptions and the cracking open (of things) 其化鳴紊啟拆). Bian transformations (in this year) are marked by shaking, pulling, destroying and uprooting (其變振拉摧拔其病眩掉目瞑). During these years, illnesses of vertigo, falling down and dim vision (will predominate) (其病眩掉目瞑).”
The Yellow Emperor said, “The six hua and bian transformations, the (varying conditions) of overcoming and retaliation, (the different types) of improper and (proper) governance, the (sequential expressions) of sweet, bitter, pungent, salty and sour (flavors) – these are the things of which I know (黃帝問曰六化六變勝復淫治甘苦辛鹹酸淡先後余知之矣).
elcome to the website of Dr. Edward Neal, MD, LAc.. Dr. Neal’s research work examines the classical roots of acupuncture through direct translations of classical sources within the Huangdi Neijing Suwen Lingshu 黃帝內經素問靈樞. Dr. Neal is a founding member and Director of the International Society for the Study of Classical Acupuncture (ISSCA) and writes and lectures internationally and domestically on a variety of topics related to Neijing Classical Acupuncture.
On this site you’ll find various resources related to classical Chinese acupuncture. Please visit the links above to learn more about Dr. Neal’s work, educational opportunities, current and future translation and publication projects,, and a calendar of upcoming lectures and workshops. If you wish to be added to our mailing list and receive information regarding future classes and lectures, please click on the newsletter sign-up on the sidebar.