Neidan Dictionary


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dantian 丹田

cinnabar field; cinnabar fields


① The three Cinnabar Fields, located in the regions of the abdomen, the heart, and the brain.

There are three Cinnabar Fields: the upper Field is the dwelling of Spirit; the middle Field is the mansion of Breath; the lower Field is the residence of the Essence. 丹田有三:上田神舍,中田氣府,下田精區。 (The Transmission of the Dao from Zhongli Quan to Lü Dongbin: An Anthology, sec. 13)

② The main name of the lower Cinnabar Field, located in the region of the abdomen. To distinguish this sense of dantian, the lower Cinnabar Field is also called “the Cinnabar Field proper” (zheng dantian 正丹田).

The lower Cinnabar Field is the Cinnabar Field in the strict sense. Different views exist concerning its position. The medical texts usually say that it is located 1.3 inches below the navel. According to the alchemical texts, instead, it is found 1.3 inches behind the navel. Its location corresponds to the point of intersection of the Thoroughfare and the Girdle vessels (chongmai and daimai). As this point, projected onto the external surface of the belly, forms a shape similar to the Chinese character for tian 田 (“field”), it is called “Cinnabar Field”. . . . In addition to these explanations, there is another one. The Cinnabar Field is the place where the Elixir coalesces. As this is similar to a seed sown in a field, which naturally gives birth to sprouts and fruits that ripen in due time, it is called “field”. In general, Taoism and medicine agree on one important point with regard to the position of the lower Cinnabar Field: this is the point that directs the functioning of the entire body. (Wang Mu, Foundations of Internal Alchemy, pp. 21-22)

③ An image of the Center. This sense applies both to the middle Cinnabar Field (jianggong) and to all three Cinnabar Fields, each of which is one of the multiple centers of the human being.

The Cinnabar Field is the Central Palace. 〔中宮:〕丹田。 (Weng Baoguang, "Model Images of the Golden Elixir", trans. in Taoist Internal Alchemy: An Anthology of Neidan Texts, p. 40)