yíng (營)

this is the ‘yíng’ frequently use with wèi (衛), where yíng (營) is generally translated as “to nourish;” yíng (營) is the pictogram of a military encampment or barracks; Unschuld often translates it as “camp,” which certainly makes clear when the Chinese text includes this character, but its natural meaning is not helpful for the practitioner, something like Wiseman and Ye’s ‘constructive’ qì may be more helpful; in many of those cases, I simply leave it untranslated (in pinyin), as I believe this is one of the terms for which practitioners should simply learn the Chinese name; yet, in Língshū 1.1.5 yíng (營) appears to be used rather differently — meaning “to regulate or manage,” which is a meaning it exhibits especially relative to exchanges, as we see in the opening of Língshū 1, and commonly in business affairs. Yíng (營) is one of the three qì; life consists of the individual’s constant exchange with his or her environment; within that context, the character yíng (營) expresses the idea of regulating and managing the resources and processes that generate qì and blood, so the meaning of yíng (營) is more than just some variant of “to nourish,” as it is frequently translated in Chinese medicine contexts; Sabine often likes to render yíng (營) as “provision,” which can be read as either a verb or a noun and it maintains the military connotation, though with that rendition as well, we need to understand that yíng (營) includes not just the materials to generate vital humors (qì, blood, and fluids), but also the management or regulation of that process.

Wiseman and Ye render yíng (營) as “construction” (as a noun) or “constructive” (as an adjective), which they define as the qì that forms blood and qì (post-natal qì) that flows within the vessels to nourish the body; Unschuld renders yíng (營) as “camp,” because yíng (營) is the pictogram of a military encampment; like a military encampment, yíng (營) provides the working foundation and resources from which any ‘military’ action — 衛氣 (wèi qì) — can be waged; yíng (營) refers to how one is able “to manage or regulate” the digestion and processing into blood-qì from what the individual chooses to internalize, including both physical and experiential material; it has been rendered simply as “constructs” (as a verb) in Lingshu 47.1.3, though it could just as easily been rendered as “nourishes.”

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