SU WEN CHAPTER 81 and TEARS
Chapter 81 of the Su Wen has an interesting view of sadness and tears.
The Jing of Water is Zhi and the Jing of Fire is Shen. The interaction of Water and Fire causes sadness of both the Zhi and the Shen and that is why tears run out of the eyes.
An old proverb says: “The sadness of the Heart is in fact the sadness of the Zhi.” The Jing of the Zhi and Heart accumulate in the eyes. Thus when both Heart and Kidneys are sad, Shen Qi goes to the Heart, Jing rises and does not go to the Zhi so that the Zhi alone is sad. That is why tears run out.1
Zhang Jie Bin (also called Zhang Jing Yue) commenting on this chapter says: “In case of sadness Shen Qi is transmitted to the Heart. When it istransmittedto the Heart the Jing is not transmitted downwards to the Zhi, the Jing collects above and Zhi is depleted below. As a result the Zhi alone generates sadness and the Jing has nothing to control. Hence the Water is not stored below and the tears appear above.”
This passage from the Su Wen highlights several interesting points. The first is the view that both Fire and Water (and therefore Heart and Kidneys) are transformations of Jing.
The second is that both Heart and Kidneys influence the eyes (and not just the Liver as we would think according to the 5-Element correspondences).
The other very interesting view is that the emotion of sadness is related to Heart and Kidneys and not just the Lungs as we would think according to the 5-Element correspondences.
The fourth point highlighted by this chapter is that tears are a fluid derived from the Kidneys.
Interestingly, my teacher Dr. Shen used to say that, when a person is very sad but does not cry, fluids do not come out in the form of tears and this may injure the Kidneys.
This may seem strange as, according to 5-Element correspondences, tears are the fluids of the Liver.2
However, this refers first of all to the tears running out when the eyes are exposed to wind, rather than the emotional tears from sadness. Also, the relationship between the Liver and eyes refers to good vision, again, rather than the emotional tears from sadness.3
Sadness of the Heart and Kidneys: Ren-15 Jiuwei, HE-7 Shenmen, KI-9 Zhubin, Ren-4 Guanyuan.Sadness of the Lungs: LU-7 Lieque, LU-3 Tianfu
Three Treasures remedies:
For the Heart and Kidneys: Strengthen the Root (for Kidney-Yang deficiency), Nourish the Root (for Kidney-Yin deficiency) with Calm the Shen.
1. 1979 The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine-Simple Questions (Huang Ti Nei Jing Su Wen). People’s Health Publishing House, Beijing, first published c. 100 BC, p. 571.
2. Ibid. p. 22, 31, 70.
3. 1981 Spiritual Axis (Ling Shu Jing 灵枢经), People=s Health Publishing House, Beijing. First published c. 100 BC., p. 49.