The Metal Element and Officials
Just as the metal element gives value to the earth in the form of minerals and trace elements, as well as providing the pure life-giving qi that we breathe, metal gives the inner sense of self-worth to each individual. The Officials of Metal (the Lungs and Colon) are called, respectively, the Official Who Receives the Pure Qi from the Heavens, and the Official of Drainage and Dregs. While it is the job of the lungs to take in the clean, pure and new, the colon releases that which is dirty, stale and old.
Each in-breath is an act of inspiration, a word that not only describes the physical act of breathing, but also the working of this official at the level of mind and spirit.
Belonging to metal, the lungs and colon are the link to the father (protector, leader, source of knowledge, provider of breath) just as the earth is the link to the mother (nurturer, caregiver, cultivator, provider of nourishment). Our spirit is enriched when our connection with the father is strong - giving us the capacity to experience inspiration, worthiness and higher purpose.
The Lung Official in its Three Levels
Physically, the Lung Official sends the pure qi downward, dispersing it to every organ, function and system. Many diseases, such as asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, pleurisy, coughing and upper respiratory infections can be ascribed to the failure of this official to properly take in the pure qi, or to disperse air and fluids downwards. The skin is considered the "third lung," as it is in contact with the outside air and does breathe. Hence, imbalances of the lung can manifest in skin diseases like eczema, psoriasis and acne. Moreover, it is the job of the lung to infuse our physical energy with the spark of quality and richness that ignites and invigorates every organ and function. Lacking the proper oxygenation, every system will suffer.
Mentally, when the lung is unable to receive, new ideas, emotions and experiences cannot penetrate or stimulate the mind. Rather, a person so afflicted may appear lifeless, dull and uninspired. Lacking the essential spark that comes from the father, the mind will be incapable of enthusiasm and excitement; it will be like cold metal - brittle and emotionless.
Spiritually, this official brings the heavenly guidance and wisdom so necessary for the quality of life. Without the connection to the Heavenly Father (God, Buddha, Nature, Tao, Higher Power, Inner Self, or whatever label we might choose), we feel lost, cut off, purposeless and uninspired. We may chase after gurus or religions, or pursue spiritual (or material) attainments to compensate for the inner emptiness, but our initial zeal will be replaced by disappointment time after time.
The deep grief of the metal imbalance is, at its core, a perceived loss of one's essence - a void, which can only be filled by the connection to the father. Once we have touched the father, we know what worth and value we truly have. We perceive the mundane world as less real than the spiritual. Our attachments to worldly tasks seem less compelling. We perceive ourselves as visitors to the corporeal world and find our true home in spirit.
The Metal Causative Factor
Using points on the Lung meridian for their spiritual connotation, translated from the Chinese characters, will be most effective when it has been determined that the patient's primary imbalance (or causative factor) resides within the metal element. This determination can only be made by methods of classical diagnosis of the patient's predominant odor, color, sound and emotion, not by analysis of past or present symptoms, what the patient says, body type, or any particular behavior. In the case of a metal causative factor, the patient will smell rotten, will display the color white in specific areas of the face, will make the sound of weeping in the voice, and will inappropriately display the emotion of grief. While it is relatively easy to memorize these associations, developing the sensory skills to truly smell, see, hear and feel these imbalances requires focused study, practice and skilled guidance.
Reaching the Spirit of the Patient
The vast majority of patients primarily are imbalanced at the spirit level, regardless of the presence of physical symptoms. By spirit, we mean the deepest part of ourselves, where we hold our core beliefs about whom and what we are. When imbalance reaches the level of spirit, it affects us at our very core - at the level of self-identity. We might feel resigned, purposeless, lifeless, depressed, frustrated, anxious, and worthless to use a few labels. Our bodies and minds might be functioning, thinking and analyzing, but we may be spiritually dead, struggling or an empty shell - perhaps using all manner of compensatory outlets to numb or mask the pain.
We can only determine which of the points truly are needed for their spiritual connotations from our own spirit. Only spirit can reach spirit. We cannot reach the spirit of another with the mind. This means that we must be present to our patients with our whole selves - not only with our analytical minds. We must be led by genuine curiosity rather than by a script, an agenda or any preconceived notions. We must become like children, intensely curious and fascinated. When we focus in this manner on the patient, a wonderful thing happens. Our notion of "self" disappears. Then, we are in a state of "oneness" with the patient; we are able to effortlessly feel what he/she feels at the level of the spirit. We call this state, "being in rapport." In this state, we also are best able to perceive the odor, color, sound and emotion from which we can diagnose the patient's causative factor element.
It is, however, not enough to know that a patient is a metal imbalance. We must know exactly what the metal needs to restore it to balance and harmony. To know this, we must truly know the patient at all levels, as well as the spiritual gifts each point is capable of providing. Then, as we perceive the need, we choose the exact point or points to meet the need.
Lung 1 Middle Palace
Middle means center or the heart of, and therefore the deepest part of us, which is our spirit. A palace is a dwelling place of the emperor, who the Chinese considered to be God's representative on Earth. Thus, this palace is the heart of the house of God. In this palace, everything is of the highest quality, pure, full of light and majesty. One who enters this palace is filled with inspiration and awe. Herein is the essence of the Divine Father, the source of guidance, wisdom and respect. It is a place of peace and security, and a central residence in between heaven and Earth.
We consider this point for metal-imbalanced patients who are caught up in grief, loss, disconnection and feelings of emptiness or unworthiness. This point goes directly to the core of the spirit, giving a fresh breath of inspiration. It is as if the person is taken to the emperor himself for consolation, peace and understanding. Those who are bereaved and despairing can find nourishment and spiritual renewal as they are moved through their tears and reached at the very source of their grief, the disconnection from that within them that is eternal, incorruptible and impervious to loss. The point restores a sense of quality and purpose to the lives of those who are just muddling through, closed, cut off and deprived of the inspiration of heaven. When this palace is accessible, every breath should fill us with the richness and joy that comes from divine inspiration.
The Chinese say that when we live lives of moderation, we will operate from the center. Excess, for them, destroyed all sense of what was human. For an arrow to hit its target, it must fly straight and true. Once it has hit the center, or middle, it has attained the only true place. The ancients taught that even when confronted with the impossible in life, it is best to be moderate, responding from a place of peace and centeredness. If we keep our aim steady, there will be few mistakes in life.
Lung 2 Cloud Gate
The name itself is almost self-explanatory as to what this point is capable of doing. A gate may be open or closed. If this gate is stuck shut, the metal-imbalanced patient might appear to be under a cloud, the world perceived as a very gray place that has lost its color. The patient may find the world a very dark and difficult place in which to be. He or she might be unable to "see" or connect with a higher level, thus indicating the need for opening this gate.
In nature, clouds drift in the sky and when there are too many, they will even stop the sun from shining on the Earth. The sun is essential to life, as spirituality is essential to man and woman. When the gate is closed, patients are no longer able to see the light or the blue sky above. The cloud might be so low they cannot even see the highest branches of a tree or the birds flying overhead. Clarity has completely vanished through their loss of contact with their spiritual essence and the ability to see through the eyes of spirit. The cloud could even be so low that they are unable to truly see another human being. This could lead to terrible depression and feelings of isolation. Who could even carry on living under such a perpetual heavy cloud?
Of course, we can see in everyday life when the clouds can be a blessing - a welcome relief from the intense heat and brightness of the sun. Either extreme, in an inappropriate amount is imbalance. A patient who is perpetually spaced out, overheated and dazzled by the light, never coming "down-to-earth" is just as terrible a situation as one who never sees the light of the sky, or feels the warmth within themselves or in other people. Patients will tell us in a multiplicity of ways that they are running around in a cloud, utterly unclear as to what they are doing physically, mentally or spiritually. Their mental outlook might be blurred. They cannot come to grips with anything; they see the negative and dark side of everything; they might feel that no one cares for them. Mental clarity and clearness of thought is nearly a forgotten memory. Spiritually, there may be a resignation - a feeling that everything around and within is worthless garbage and there is no point in looking any further. Such people are lacking the vital breath of life, the life spirit freely given by nature, by the heavenly father that grants the ability to look at life with joy and enthusiasm. It is this vital breath that inspires people to plunge into life and get involved.
This point is a gateway parting the dark clouds, allowing the darkness to vanish and the light to reveal what is precious. When the spirit is under a cloud and the person can feel no value or worth, this point can bring in the fresh air allowing the return of heavenly inspiration. When the oppression and dark clouds are lifted, the patient can see further. Everything feels more open and free. When life becomes directionless, when someone cannot see for the clouds, this point can give grounding and direction and a clear sense of who the person is.
The light and heat of the sun are as essential to the growth of earthly things as they are to spiritual growth. This point helps patients to renew contact with the light, the beauty within and without, and to radiate and bathe in the warmth of the sun and people around them.
Inside the great clouds of the sky lie precious rains waiting to fall. The rain comes when the time is right. Rain is a blessing for those who live in harmony with nature. Our needs will be met when the time is right and as long as we live in cooperation with what is natural.
Lung 3 Heavenly Palace
This point's name conveys the fact that this palace is not a structure that has been built by man. It is a heavenly palace containing all the splendors, warmth and majesty of heaven. The beauty of a man-made palace may be awesome, and one can derive much from entry into such a palace, but the heavenly palace is a thousand times greater. A man-made palace, by comparison, would appear almost insignificant.
Here is the warmth, love, protection and inspiration of the heavenly father himself. This is the place where the emperor resides and is nurtured and protected with abundance, love, warmth and inspiration. This point is one of a group of points called Windows of the Sky, enabling a patient to truly see and receive.
This is the palace of light where the spirit can be fed, cared for, revitalized and rejuvenated. Here, all of the uncleanliness, which has defiled it from without and within, can be cleansed. Truly, all are born again and again by each breath and by the divine truth, which the spirit breathes. Many people spend large portions of their lives longing to enter this palace, seeking it without and, perhaps, never realizing that it is found within. Perhaps the palace doors have been closed. Some are under a cloud and cannot even see the palace, though it is always nearby. It seems ironic that this point is forbidden to moxa. There must be sufficient heat and warmth in this palace to last a person 10 lifetimes. With our needles alone, we can open or close the palace doors that have become rusty through neglect.
This point, when indicated, is one of the most dynamic, life-giving, reinforcing and spiritually uplifting points on the whole of the human body. If we find our metal causative factor patients, in their darkest hours, hammering on a door that will not open, and the care, attention, comfort and love they need so badly is not available, we can take them by the hand and open the door. By going in together, we too can be enriched through seeing what this point can do for another. One little trip here, when it is indicated, is worth a million journeys elsewhere. It brings peace, purpose, strength and courage. It is here that patients may see the father and the wonders of the creation. After a visit here, the patient may see the trees, the grass and the birds, as well as themselves as if for the first time. Patients may glimpse what a healthy body, mind and spirit could bring, and see a light in the future, instead of the perpetual darkness in which they have been living for so long.
As with all Windows of the Sky, we must wait to use this point until we see some spiritual progress in the patient, when he or she is able to see what is really available. When treating command points, all gates, doors and windows are gently encouraged to open and close appropriately. Command points prepare the patient to see, within and without, the brightness of heavenly light. We use Windows of the Sky when there is a readiness to see, a right moment when the patient is nearly there, on a plateau and wanting to go further, but unable. If we use this point too early, there could be huge despair, as the patient may see things they cannot reach. Once the official can see what needs doing and has the strength and resources to do it, harmony and balance can be restored.
Lung 4 Valiant White
This name "Valiant" conjures up the image of a valiant knight, arrayed in pristine armor, sword sharp and gleaming, setting off on the noble warrior's cause, with the purest of intention and highest of standards to battle with one's own dark side. The sword cuts through the veils of illusion and negativity that keeps metal-imbalanced patients disconnected from the divine source. This point stands for all the metal element symbolizes: the radiance of the heavens and the richness of the earth. It brings purity, light and inspiration to the official, while clearing out old ideas and habits that need letting go. It enables a transformation to take place in the body, mind and spirit so the patient can be inspired and move in new directions with courage and awe.
The point gives extra help to bring purity and cleanliness to this official. It can help a patient who has been in treatment for a while and needs extra inspiration to let go. Pure white light is an expression of the presence of all colors, thus a culmination or crowning. All life experience is an expression of the divine. We only perceive it when our negative associations and beliefs about life's experiences have been cut away.
Author's Note: Portions of this article are excerpted, with permission, from the forthcoming book, The Spirits of the Points, by J.R. and J.B. Worsley, with Neil Gumenick, principal editor.
Click here for more information about Neil Gumenick, MAc (UK), LAc, Dipl. Ac.