Zhi (Memory) – The Spirit of the Kidneys
By Master Zhongxian Wu
Ancient Wu 巫 (Chinese shamans) taught us that every part of the body has its own spirit residing within. In the traditional Chinese shamanic or Daoist spiritual cultivation, one of the key elements of practice is to call the spiritual body back to the physical body. In Chinese, we call the physical body Xing 形 and the spiritual body Shen 神. Through our Qigong practice or inner cultivation practice, we endeavor to reach the state of Xing Shen He Yi 形神合一 — the union of the physical body and spiritual body. You will maintain health, peace, and longevity if your can keep your spirit residing within your body. If the spiritual body remains in connection with its corresponding physical body, that part of the body will function well. When the spiritual body begins to separate from the physical body, we see dysfunction develop within that part of your body. If your spirit continually disconnects with your body, you becomes increasingly ill and uneasy. Death occurs when the physical body and spiritual body completely separate.
Within our five physical organ systems, each system has its own particular kind of spiritual body. The spiritual body, or energy, of the kidney system is Zhi 志. The Chinese character Zhi means thought, mind, intensive will, feeling, purpose, record, or memory. The Zhi energy is also related with the heart — we can interpret the image of the Chinese character Zhi as “footprint in the heart.” Zhi, the spiritual energy of kidney, is the memory or footprint of your past life and the ancestral energy of human beings, which records who we are and where we come from. It is the reservoir of life energy. The spiritual name of kidney, Yuying 育嬰, literally means rear a baby, emphasizes that the kidney organ system is related to the root of our life.
According to Five Elements philosophy, the kidney belongs to the Water element and is associated with the northern direction. Through their direct observation of nature, ancient shamans understood that most of the surface of the Earth is composed of water.
They understood that water has the special function of carrying the universal energy from the primordial cosmos. They also knew that life originated in water. Ancient Chinese shamans lived in the northern hemisphere, where the northern regions were covered with ice, and understood that the qualities of the frozen water parallels those of the prenatal stage of life. The ancient shamans saw that the spiritual energy of Water is equivalent to the spiritual energy of the Kidney system in the body.
When a person’s Zhi energy decreases, a person will be quick to feel fear or shock; the function of the kidney will be affected and the person may have lower back pain, leg pain, tinitus, and/or poor memory. If the Zhi separates from the kidneys entirely, the personal will be in a critical condition, at risk of dying. People with strong Zhi energy fully integrated into their kidney systems will have good memories and with their strong life energy, will be able to accomplish many things.
To strengthen your kidney Qi 氣 and your Zhi, you can practice this Chinese shamanic Kidney Qigong Form:
At 11pm every night, facing north and seated in meditation, light a candle in front of you. Briefly take in the candle light with your eyes, then close your eyes and imagine the candle light shining within your lower Dantian 丹田. Adjust your breathing to be slow, smooth, deep and even. Feel and see the light becoming brighter in your Dantian with each breath.
Next, with each inhale, visualize you are taking in universal Qi 炁 from the north through all the pores of your skin. Envision the Qi merging into your kidneys and chant the kidney’s spiritual name, Yuying, with each exhale. Repeat this 36 times.
[Master Zhongxian Wu is the recognized master of multiple lineages of Yijing, Qigong, Taiji, and martial arts. He synthesizes wisdom and experience for beginning and advanced practitioners, as well as for patients seeking healing, in his unique and professionally designed courses and workshops. He is the author of Seeking the Spirit of The Book Change, The Vital Breath of the Dao, and The 12 Chinese Animals — Create Harmony in Your Daily Life through Ancient Chinese Wisdom. Please visit www.masterwu.net for further details about his teachings.]