I have been slowly corresponding with a well-known lecturer and scientist (Embryologist) who is open to discussing esoteric concepts. He asked me, among other questions, how early Taoist hermits could possibly know about the existence of an Egg “Cell” or Sperm “Cell” thousands of years before the first microscope was utilized.
I am not an expert on Chinese medicine. Most of what I say here I have derived from conversing with a couple of mentors who are themselves quite well-versed in esoteric roots of Taoist embryologic theory. Any errors in my interpretation of what they tell are strictly my own! I apologize ahead of time for them. However, I suspect you will find this conversation intriguing at least. 🙂
It has been my pleasure to chew on your words and to chat with my mentors who are expert in esoteric aspects of Chinese Medicine. I’m betting when you said, “Take your time,” you didn’t expect it to take me 5 months to get back to you… but here goes my response:
I am inspired by how much thought you have put into these topics and how you are interested in discovering scientific bases for how / why Chinese Medical perspectives might be “right” about embryologic concepts.
This is a long missive… just to let you know.
In this email, I want to touch on several areas:
- to answer your questions about early knowledge about Cells
- to mention thoughts on the Principle Meridians in early development
- to cover Extraordinary Meridians in the Embryo / in Utero
First, I am not asking you to suspend your scientific lens, but as you mention in your lecture, sometimes science does not have all the answers – like the Breath of Life causing blood to organize like a fluid until the moment of death, when live-saving machines in hospitals can no longer pump the lifeless blood through lifeless capillaries. With that said, mystics defy science at times – like how do Tibetan yogis, who practice inner fire meditations (Tummo), survive for hours at a time when placed in a refrigerated room (20 degrees F*) when they are wearing only a light robe. It defies logic. There are a number of studies on this with the University of Wisconsin, Harvard and more.
In another vein, how did the Buddha know about microscopic organisms 2550+ years ago? There are sutras which talk about his recommendations to just avoid eating organisms that a normal person can see. If a person has a lot of meditative realization, i.e. if someone is an Arhat, apparently then they can see microscopic organisms in water for instance, and then if they are avoiding all forms of organisms, they would basically starve to death. Hence the Buddha’s words that we should only eat with normal human’s vision – if we have enhanced meditative realization vision, turn that off when eating. This is mind-boggling even to me. But those sutras exist.
So coming back around to your question of how could early Taoist mystics and masters know about Egg “Cell” and Sperm “Cells,” I don’t have any clue in terms of tangible, evidence-based answers. I would posit that when someone is meditating in forest hermitages, they easily enter altered states of mind. And just like the body holding onto birth trauma for years without any conscious memories about it, and then under the proper circumstances (see Ray Castellino’s or Myrna Martin’s work on PPN / birth process work) their body will show them how it wanted to spiral and release that old unconscious stuff, I suspect that those meditators and Taoist hermits likewise started to encounter earlier and earlier memories from their lives. I have met people who have been doing PPN work for a long time who have clear and accurate memories from their own births. If we could just go back 9 months previous to that, then we might have a felt sense of morula and blastocyst?
I realize I am reaching here – even for a logical mystically-oriented mind. So that is the best I can come up with – and this is basically what my mentors in Chinese medicine mentioned when I ran your question by them… In other words, to be determined.
On my next topic above – how does Chinese medical theory discuss the formation of energy meridians in the embryo and fetus? (This information might come in handy for your talks.)
First, as I discussed in my previous email – the Dan Tien is the primordial point – where sperm enters egg. This is a major organizational point in the future body. Esoterically, it is also the point where all other energy meridians originate. The front point of the Dan Tien is known as the Gateway of Life on the Conception Vessel and the back of the Dan Tien is known as the Gateway of Source or the Ming Man on the Governing Vessel.
Side note: I find it fascinating that initially, the umbilicus starts forming on the Ming Man point (the back) and then slowly the embryo turns / rotates and the umbilicus rotates around to the front of the Dan Tien.
The Dan Tien is known as the Gateway of Life or of Source. There is a reason for this. The Extraordinary Meridians or Curious Flows or Strange Vessels (all the same thing, just different translations) begin to form in utero. They all develop out of the Dan Tien.
First, the two initial Extraordinary meridians to form are the Conception Vessel (the more yin component of the Microcosmic Orbit) down the front of the body and the Governing Vessel (the more yang component) up the back of the body. I would assert that these represent the primitive streak and the neural tube formation. The Microcosmic Orbit or the Conception / Governing Vessels are the only meridians which flow 24 / 7 (once they are complete) and they are said to be circulating Chi by the eighth* week of the first trimester. (*I need to verify this but I know it is close.)
The next Extraordinary meridians to form are the Belt / Girdle and the Penetrating / Deep meridians. The Belt meridian is the only meridian which flows horizontally and the Penetrating meridian is primarily deep in the body – it does not have many surfaces points. I suspect that these meridians also get started very early in gestation however, and here is why:
The horizontal movement of cells during early neural tube formation might also represent the Belt Meridian circulation of Chi and the Penetrating meridian is in charge of providing life-force energy (Chi) to the cerebrospinal fluid and the CNS. Therefore, these must also be developed and circulating pretty early in development.
These four meridians are primarily organized in the torso – there are points to work with them in the wrists / hands / feet and ankles, but their primary movement is only in the torso. This is another reason that Chinese Medical theory on them seems accurate. The arm buds and legs form a little later than neural tube / torso – as you intimately know.
[This wasn’t included in my email to him, but as I read and re-read here, I am struck by how it seems the body forms around the meridians, not vice versa! Body is condensed energy. First Microcosmic orbits forms, mirrored in the neural tube formation and closure of the CNS. And I suspect Belt and Penetrating meridians are also forming quite early, mirrored in formation of cerebrospinal fluid and the circular / oval shape of the waist. Just more food for thought!]
There is more esoteric knowledge about how the water meridians (Kidney and Bladder principle meridians) start forming before birth and there is an elemental progression through which the other principle meridians form, but I would like to hear your response to what I have shared already.
As yet another aside, there is a reason acupuncturists do not needle infants (or toddlers for that matter) – it is because some of their primary meridians are not formed yet. The Lung meridian is not completely formed until age twelve or so.
I appreciate all that you do and share. End missive. 🙂
Thank you for reading!