The Essence (jing)


In the alchemical texts, Essence, Breath, and Spirit are specialized terms, used in substantially different ways compared to the medical texts. These differences are often indicated by the use of such expressions as Original Essence (yuanjing), precelestial Essence (xiantian jing), or True Essence (zhenjing), on the one hand; and postcelestial essence (houtian jing) or "essence of the intercourse" (jiaogan jing, i.e., semen), on the other hand.

Bai Yuchan explicates this point saying: "This essence is not the essence of the intercourse: it is the saliva in the mouth of the Jade Sovereign."

The Jade Sovereign (Yuhuang) represents the Origin, and the "saliva in his mouth" represents the precelestial state. This passage shows that the terms used in the alchemical texts should not be confused with those used in the medical texts. Min Yide's (1748–1836) commentary on this passage states: "This is what we call Original Essence."


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