shén (神)

this character is often translated as “spirit,” though modern people should be very careful to understand the ancient Chinese idea of shén (神) without coloring it with the western idea of “spirit,” which is certainly loaded, and thus frequently misleading. I’ve chosen to use the phonetic (pinyin) for this character, rather than translating it; shén (神) represents each individual’s connection with heaven (tiān (天)), which is the primal source of yáng (陽), activation; in Chinese medicine, shén (神) is differentiated into five aspects, each with various specific roles and responsibilities; in general, shén (神) is a yáng (陽) aspect of life, as it animates movement and consequently vital process. Primal yīn (陰) within individuals is represented by jīng (精). (see also jīngshén (精神)).

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