On the Psychological Significance of the Heart Governing Shen Ming
AbstractAccording to the Huangdi Neijing, Suwen Chapter 8, the heart is the ruler of the body and the host for spirit brightness (shen ming). The paper examines the meaning and contribution of the heart with spirit brightness (xin zhu shen ming) to Chinese medical thinking. From earliest times, Chinese medicine's analysis of health and illness included the physical, sensory, emotional, social and cognitive aspects of the person's lived experience. The shen-mind with ming-brightness was said to radiate peace, virtue, clarity and intelligence, and the cultivation of shenming was thought to enhance one's physical health and longevity. In Part One, we discuss the conditions that influence the development of shenming and the maturation of mental-emotional intelligence. In Part Two we discuss its opposite, the heart without spirit brightness (xin zhu bu ming) to identify its mechanisms and the consequences for health. Xin zhu bu ming leads to the distortion of sensory perceptions and emotional responses, and refers to a person with mental-emotional instability and poor adaptive ability. Daoism, Confucianism and Buddhism identify the influences affecting shenming-spirit brightness and explain the connections between ethical conduct, correct qi, and mind-body health. Mental-emotional development and the cultivation of shenming is discussed and contrasted with the social consequences and clinical manifestations of human mentality without spirit brightness.
Australian journal of acupuncture and Chinese medic, 2009, 4 (1), pp. 14 - 22