this pair of characters is often rendered as a conjunction — channels and vessels, but the jīngmài (經脈) do not truly refer to two sets of things. I believe we should read and render jīngmài (經脈) as a complex, where jīng (經) refers to the “organizing principle(s),” and mài (脈) refers to the “vessel movement” (as Unschuld renders it) of the vital flux of life. So, that complex can be expressed in English as “the vessel movement(s) of the organizing principle(s).” Most often the jīngmài (經脈) seem to signify what we call the “primary channels” today, in contrast to the jīngjīn (經筋), luò (絡), and jīngbié (經別), which are sometimes called secondary vessels.
Each jīngmài (經脈) exhibits a specific organizing principle (jīng (經)) for the ‘vessel movements’ (mài (脈)), that sustain and regulate the vital functions of life. Sometimes, I’ve chosen to render jīngmài (經脈) as “meridian flux” to signify this entire network. In many instances, when either of these characters is used in Nèijīng (內經), it refers to this same group of jīngmài (經脈), though with an emphasis on either their organizing principles (jīng (經)) or the vital vessel movements (mài (脈)) they maintain.« Back to Glossary Index