The middle pass

In a previous post, we spoke about the three passes 三 關 sān guān, three gates on the dū mài.

The second pass is called 夹 脊 jiā jǐ, spinal handle (the handle of the spine). It is located behind the heart. In The Encyclopedia of Taoism, Monica Esposito writes:

The two characters jiā and are also found in Zhuangzi 30, where they are separately employed to describe the sword of the Son of Heaven that pierces the floating clouds above and penetrates the weft of the earth below. Expanding on the image of the celestial sword, this Pass is qualified as dual (shuang guan) as it is not only physically inserted between the heart and the vertebrae but also represents the interstice between earth and heaven.
– Encyclopedia of Taoism, 2008, p 835

This passage is doubly fascinating. First of all, the middle gate is not in the spine itself, but is the pass between the heart and the spine.

When I read this passage, however, I immediately thought of the words of the apostle Paul in the Letter to the Hebrews:

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
– Hebrews 4:12 (NIV)

Paul says that the word of God penetrates to the place where soul and spirit meet, and discerns the thoughts (will zhì ) and intention ( ) of the heart (xīn).

Paul is telling us that the word of God is active in the middle gate.

In TCM, there are no points on the spine called jiā jǐ. Looking at the function, the closest point would be shén dào 神 道, the spirit path, which is said to regulate the heart and calm the shén. I have to remind myself that the gates are not entirely physical, and cannot be fully said to have a particular location.

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~ by scalambra on December 4, 2010.

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