Thinking without thoughts, beyond thought. Cf. Deshimaru 1991, 141

Huangdi Neijing

The Huángdì Nèijīng (also: Huáng Dì Nèi Jīng or Nèijīng) is one of the oldest standard works of Chinese medicine and was written around 2698-2598 BC. It translates as “Inner Canon of the Yellow Emperor” or “Esoteric Scripture of the Yellow Emperor” and has been  the fundamental doctrinal source for Chinese medicine for more than two millennia.

The Huángdì Nèijīng consists of two major parts. The first text, the Suwen, (Sù Wèn; Basic Questions) covers the theoretical foundation of Chinese Medicine and its diagnostic methods. The second and generally less referred-to text, the Lingshu (Spiritual Pivot), discusses acupuncture therapy in great detail. Collectively, these two texts are known as the Neijing or Huangdi Neijing. In practice, however, the title Neijing often refers only to the more influential Suwen.

Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huangdi_Neijing

I Ching

The I Ching (Chinese 易經, yì jing, W.-G. I Ching, auch: I Jing, YI Ching, Yi King; “The Book of Changes”) is based on cosmology and philosophy of ancient China, particularly Daoism (Taoism). Basic ideas behind the I Ching include balance of opposites and acceptance of change. The book describes the world in 64 images which in turn consist sets of six continuous (Yang) or broken (Yin) lines (= one hexagram). The I Ching is treasured both for wisdom and prophecy.

The I Ching’s divination tradition has shamanic roots extending into the third millennium BC. For a long time divination was done without any written text but according to traditional rules and the questioner’s intuition.

The Book of Changes (aka I Ching) contains various texts which were all written relatively late in time: the judgments (short sayings that describe the overall situation of a hexagram), date from the first millennium BC; the Ten Wings, explanatory and commenting texts (3rd and 4th wing: the image; 9th wing: order of the hexagrams), were written around 400-200 BC.

Especially due to their structure (brief sentences, hierarchical order) the Ten Wings are often attributed to Confucius, but this is controversial. Basically two notions regarding the I Ching developed during its eventful history over thousands of years: one explores cosmological and social principles, the other one around the philosopher Wang Bi wants to explore the ideas that are hidden within the images themselves.

Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Ching


Originates from the oldest part of the I Ching and is traditionally attributed to Wenwang (King Wen, the 12th century BC); short, vivid sentences describe the situation and conclude with a brief review.

Kan, the Water

Modern Interpretation: Basic trust; intuition; ancestral energy

Kan represents our basic trust and our unconscious resources, a distillate of our own – and sometimes third party – experiences and information that lie beyond our daily consciousness. Impulses and inspirations emerge from Kan and may trigger decisions or initiate actions. If we follow this gut feeling our actions will have a special quality: they feel a particular way “right”.

Phase Element: Water
Functional Circuit: Kidney (KI)

Read more: I Ching Study Guide: Kan, the Water

Kidney (KI)

In no2DO trigram Kan, the water, is associated with the functional circuit kidney (KI), which is the seat of our spiritual heritage and origin of our will, determination, vitality and strength. The kidneys store the basic principles, the essential, the energy of our ancestors and the essence that creates new life. They represent a rich and concentrated source of energy and contain the reserves we can draw on in times of greatest need.

Read more: Citations regarding the Functional Circuit Kidney
Read more: Trigrams, Elements, Functional Circuits

King Wen’s Later Heaven

“King Wen Later Heaven” is one of the many ways how to attribute trigrams to phenomena of nature, the seasons, character traits, family relations, geographical directions etc.

Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bagua#King_Wen_%22Later_Heaven%22

However, this system is not fully compatible with the five elements theory, because King Wen’s Later Heaven only considers the classical four seasons, and ignores late autumn as the fifth season with its corresponding fifth phase element earth. After careful consideration, I have made a few changes to the order of King Wen’s Later Heaven which I explain in detail here: Trigrams, Elements, Functional Circuits

Kun, the Earth

Modern Interpretation: Compassion; peace, stability, resting in oneself, feeling supported and maintained; to make good use of things; relationship and commitment; self-esteem; accepting that what is

The following image is often chosen to describe Kun: soil in which a seedling is growing. Soil is unstructured matter: in soil a seedling finds everything it needs to grow; dead plants decay to soil. Kun‘s meaning, however, goes beyond unstructured matter (such as soil): Kun is unstructured potential, including tangible and non-tangible matter.

Phase Element: Earth
Functional Circuit: Spleen (SP)

Read more: I Ching Study Guide: Kun, the Earth


Legendary Chinese philosopher who is said to have lived in the 6th century BC. Depending on the transcription, the name is also written Laotse, Lao-Tse, Laudse or Lao-tzu.

Laozi is considered to be the founder of Daoism (Taoism). He is credited with the Daodejing, the main work of Daoism, which was probably written in the 4th century BC.

Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laozi

Large Intestine (LI)

In no2DO  trigram Gen, the mountain, is associated with the functional circuit large intestine (LI). The elimination of waste – not only in the material realm, but also emotions, thoughts, relationships, etc. – is its subject. Everything that has become worthless for us has to be excreted, because only when the unusable parts compost back into earth, they transform into new fertilizer, prequisit for change and new growth.

Read more: Citations regarding the Functional Circuit Large Intestine
Read more: Trigrams, Elements, Functional Circuits

Li Shizhen

Chinese doctor and naturalist (1518-1593). Li Shizhen wrote numerous medical textbooks, three of which are preserved:

  • Běn Cǎo Gāng Mù本草綱目 (“Compendium of Materia Medica”)
  • Bīn Hú Mài Xué瀕湖脈學 (“Teachings on Pulse Diagnosis”)
  • Qí Jīng Bā Mài Kǎo奇經八脈考 (“An Exposition on the  Eight Extraordinary Vessels“)

To the present day Li Shizhen’s teachings on pulse diagnosis serve as a basic textbook. In addition, a fundamental paradigm shift in the tradition of Chinese medicine is attributed to him, as he changed the old concept that the heart houses shen 神 and for the first time and officially made the brain the residence of mind and thinking. In doing so, he integrated alchemical experiences into medical thinking and approached the ideas of Western medicine.

Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Li_Shizhen

Li, the Fire

Modern Interpretation: Clear discernment, purification, separation

Li (the fire) stands for our ability to differentiate facts, influences, emotions – in short: the world’s fullness. Without this ability to separate the “clear from the unclear”, we would be lost in a chaos of diversities. Only by differentiation, thus distinguishing what is important and what is not, we can concentrate on the essentials and are able to act.

Phase Element: Fire
Functional Circuit: Small Intestine (SI)

Read more: I Ching Study Guide: Li, the Fire


Functional circuit, pathway or channel through which, according to Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), the life energy (Qi) flows.

There are twelve main channels, each of which is assigned to one organ system. On the meridians themselves, there are special points where – e.g. through needles (acupuncture) or finger pressure (acupressure) – the energy balance can be influenced.

ElementFunctional CircuitTimeQualityEmotionSense
MetalLung (LU)03-05YinSorrowNose
MetalLarge Intestine (LI)05-07YangSorrowNose
EarthStomach (ST)07-09YangWorryLips
EarthSpleen (SP)09-11YinWorryLips
FireHeart (HT)11-13YinJoyTongue
FireSmall Intestine (SI)13-15YangJoyTongue
WaterBladder (BL)15-17YangFearEar
WaterKidney (KI)17-19YinFearEar
FirePericardium (PE)19-21YinJoyTongue
FireTriple Warmer (Sanjiao, SJ)21-23YangJoyTongue
WoodGallbladder (GB)23-01YangAngerEye
WoodLiver (LIV)01-03YinAngerAuge

Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meridian_(Chinese_medicine)


Nonthought. An expression from Zen Buddhism that refers to a state of mind in which one acts without thinking, without emotions, feelings or ego consciousness. Experienced martial artists act like this during a fight. In this state the mind work very fast and without hesitation, as it is without intention or goal.

What is mushin?
Mushin: nonthought. D. T. Suzuki wrote at length on mushin. It’s  nonthought, unconsciously, Mind without Thought, non-thought. It is the essence of Zen. Supposing you do something or want something in your ordinary life: if you act consciously, you are not mushin. If the impulse is expressed at conscious thought, it is not Zen. That is why training in a practice that involves the muscles an whole body is so important. It’s important for speaking too, Most people speak after the brain has given them the order to do so. But if you become mushin, hishiryo, you can speak unconsciously, without thought.Take a mondo*: if you ask a professor a question he has to think before he answers. But the zen monk answers without thinking, unconsciously. That’s why a Zen mondo is important.
It’s the the same with actions. The brain thinks and you act afterwards. That is not mushin. Mushin is the body thinking. If you understand that, you can understand Zen. Most Zen stories have to do with mushin. Wisdom and intellectual learning are not the same. in everyday life, in conversations, most people think first and then answer; but very intelligent people use wisdom and do not think. They speak and answer through intuition. Book learning is different from true knowledge. In time, one ceases using the brain to answer questions.
Through zazen you can understand how one can speak unconsciously. Your superficial brain rests and your inner brain becomes active and receives energy. In a mondo my answers come from the inner brain; the activity begins there. My inner brain answers you unconsciously, mushin. That’s why a zen mondo is different from an oral examination at the university. Speaking out of one’s book-learning is not wisdom. From long practice of zazen you will acquire this unconsciously: wisdom, not book-learning.
When I give a talk, for example, I must prepare what I am going to say. Learning first… and a bit of wisdom. But the moment I stand up in the hall I begin to talk unconsciously and I don’t always stick to what I have prepared. I look at at the faces and see whether I need to change my talk. There is no more plan, my words come out of the unconscious, an that is why they impress people so strongly. That is teisho. Deshimaru 1991, 77


Our culture of 2do-lists (also: to-do-lists) tends to reward activism. In this respect, no2DO is first of all a play on words and refers to the exact opposite: there is nothing to do.

Except perhaps to become aware of a situation in all its complexity and intricacy. Then, from this state of inner silence, to act spontaneously and in harmony with this overall situation, just a little, easily and effortlessly, without any effort of the will.

There is an expression for this attitude in Eastern philosophies: Wu Wei. Non-action. The exact opposite of a 2DO list. no2DO.


Central notion of the traditional interpretation of the I Ching. Meaning: be steadfast, remain true.


Five Phases of Transformation. The teachings of the five elements and the five phases of transformation (wǔxíng) is a Daoist theory for describing nature. It searches for regularities according to which dynamic transformation processes take place within the realm of the living. The five elements Wood, Earth, Water, Fire and Metal are derived from nature and stand for abstract properties.


(Πλάτων Plátōn, latin: Plato; * 428/427 AC; † 348/347 AC) ancient Greek philosopher.


Life force, energy, breath, fluidum; central concept of Daoism and Chinese culture, which still shapes the world view of many people today. Alternative spellings: ch’i (China), ki (Japan) or gi (Korea).

In traditional Chinese culture qi is believed to be  a vital force within every living being and must flow unhindered. Therefore qi is the central basic principle of traditional Chinese medicine and also plays an important role in Chinese martial arts. The practice of cultivating and balancing qi is called Qigong.

Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qi

Qian, the Heaven

Modern Interpretation: Expression, passion, spontaneity; warmth, love; spirituality

Qian represents the zenith of our human potential, a state of mind of clarity and coherence, undisturbed by worries, desires, thought loops. When our mind is clear, if we are simultaneously one with ourselves and with our goal, we become creator: the constellating power of our coherent mind, our own living consciousness is able to act upon the unstructured potential that surrounds us, to organize and form it according to our will.

Phase (Element): Fire
Functional Circuit: Heart (HE)

Read more: I Ching Study Guide: Qian, the Heaven


In the context of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shén refers to the human mind or human psyche; Shen refers to the fundamental force or instance within a person that is responsible for life, and in order to promote life to its full potential, the mind must grow and be cultivated.

Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shen
Citations: Shen


The “Book of Documents” or “Classic of History” (Shūjīng, Shu Jing, formerly: Shu King; also known as Shàngshū) is one of the Five Classics of ancient Chinese literature. The compendium itself contains, among other, texts that were written 1000 years before the Book of Documents was elevated to the status of a “classic”. Most of the chapters, however, date from later times. Due to its heterogeneity, Shūjīng has long been the focus of great philosophical debates.

Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Documents

Small Intestine (SI)

In no2DO trigram Li, the fire, is associated with the functional circuit small intestine (SI), The small intestine is considered the alchemist of the inner being, the instance that is able to distinguish the important from the unimportant. This is not only about digestive processes and energy production, but also about the clarification of facts, relationships and feelings, i.e. about issues of mental health. The small intestine nourishes our heart (HT) and protects it from all that is unimportant and disturbing.

Read more: Citations regarding the Functional Circuit Small Intestine
Read more: Trigrams, Elements, Functional Circuits