The three passes 三 關 sān guān

The three passes or three gates 三 關 sān guān are spoken of as three points on the Governing Vessel dū mài that must be opened for energy to flow up the spine. This energy is yáng and fiery. The three passes are located in the sacrum, between the shoulder blades, and at the top of the neck. [e.g. Pregadio 2002]

The first or lower gate is the 尾 閭 wěi-lú or tail gate. Some say it relates to te coccyx, but one can also think of the sacrum. The diagram of internals illustrates wěi-lú with the waterwheel treaders, meaning that this pass is related to the movement of the sacrum between the ilia under primary respiration (of the cerebrospinal fluid). This implies that wěi-lú is not a point.

wěi-lú certainly does not correspond to the perineum CV1 (會陰, huì yīn. It relates to GV1 長 強, cháng qiáng (Mantak Chia gives cháng qiáng), but is not identical. Da Liu relates this pass to Hexagram 24

The second or middle gate is called 夹 脊 jiā jǐ, spinal handle. It is located behind the heart, which would locate it at T5. Some texts describe it as exactly in the middle of the 24 vertebra, i.e. between T5 and T6, which would identify it as GV11. Dai Lu relates it to Hexagram 34 ta chuang 大 壯 dà zhuàng which makes fascinating reading for those who can understand the commentary in terms of Daoist alchemy [Liu Da T’ai Chi Ch’uan and Meditation 1987].

The third or upper gate is situated where the spine enters the head and is called the Jade Pillow (玉 枕 yù zhěn). Jade is the most precious substance in China, more precious than gold, the possession of emperors. The Jade Pillow is located at the junction between the Occiput and the Atlas. (In TCM, The Jade Pillow point is not actually on the Governing Vessel but is accessed from the side at BL-9, at the level of GV-16). The upper gate is said to take longer than opening the other two gates. So difficult is this barrier to overcome that it has been referred to as the Iron Wall.

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~ by scalambra on December 3, 2010.

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