Neidan Dictionary


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qiankun 乾坤

Qian ☰ and Kun ☷

① The two modes, active and passive, taken on by the Dao in its self-manifestation. With regard to both the entire cosmos and each individual entity, Qian is the inception and Kun is the accomplishment of creation.

Great indeed is Qian, the Origin! The ten thousand things owe their beginning to him. . . . Perfect indeed is Kun, the Origin! The ten thousand things owe their birth to her. 大哉乾元,萬物資始。 . . . 至哉坤元,萬物資生。 (Book of Changes)

② Original Essence (yuanjing) and Original Breath (yuanqi). Essence is the function of Kun, Breath is the function of Qian. (Original Spirit or yuanshen, the third component of Being, is the prior state of Unity, in which Qian and Kun are not yet distinguished from one another.)

Qian ☰ the firm and Kun ☷ the yielding join and embrace one another; Yang endows, Yin receives, the masculine and the feminine attend one to the other. Attending, they create and transform, unfolding their Essence and Breath. 乾剛坤柔,配合相包,陽稟陰受,雄雌相須,須以造化,精氣乃舒。 (The Seal of the Unity of the Three, sec. 43)

③ Yin and Yang.

Qian is Yang, Kun is Yin. 〔陽:〕乾。〔陰:〕坤。 (Weng Baoguang, "Model Images of the Golden Elixir", trans. in Taoist Internal Alchemy: An Anthology of Neidan Texts, p. 122)

④ Heaven and Earth.

Heaven and Earth are the images of Qian ☰ and Kun ☷. 天地者乾坤之象也。 (The Seal of the Unity of the Three, sec. 4)

Heaven and Earth are Qian and Kun. 天地者,即乾坤也。 (Wang Jie, comm. to Mirror for Compounding the Medicine, poem 8)