The Seven Emotions and Six Desires 七情六欲

Reader should refer to the following structure while reading the text commentaries below.






元神      -       灵         -     识神

 yuán shén           líng              shí shén

无感而生                             有感而生

 wú gǎn ér sheng                     yǒu gǎn ér shēng

无感而知                             有感而知

 wú gǎn ér zhī                         yǒu gǎn ér zhī

阴神                                有为有意

      yīn shén                            yǒu wéi yǒuyì

阳神                                 无为无意

     yáng shén                         wúwéi wúyì

神行于体外                         神行于体内

 shén xíng yú tǐwài               shén xíng yú tǐnèi

六感      -         灵      -       七情

liù gǎn             líng               qī qíng

      (生)眼,鼻,口,(或身),耳,舌,意(死)        喜,怒,悲,惊,忧,恐,思

(shēng) yǎn, bí, kǒu,(huò shēn), ěr, shé, yì (sǐ) xǐ, nù, bēi, jīng, yōu, kǒng, sī

六欲: 眼-视觉(色), 鼻-嗅觉(香), 口-触觉(感), 耳-听觉(声),舌-味觉(味), 意-意觉(神)

liùyù: Yǎn-shìjué (sè), bí-xiùjué (xiāng), kǒu-chùjué (gǎn), ěr-tīngjué (shēng), shé-wèijué (wèi), yì-yì jué (shén)

七情              内脏            明窍              颜色

qī qíng         nèizàng        míng qiào      yánsè

喜                伤 心               舌              红

xǐ               shāngxīn          shé              hóng

怒                伤 肝              目              绿

nù              shāng gān        mù              lǜ

悲,忧           伤 肺              鼻              白

bēi yōu         shāng fèi         bí               bái

惊,恐           伤 肾              耳               黑

jīngkǒng        shāng shèn         ěr              hēi

思               伤 脾胃             口              黄

sī          shāng píwèi       kǒu            huáng

情             伤 魂魄(心)        意              彩

qíng        shāng húnpò (xīn)   yì               cǎi

自觉,        感觉,      知觉,       无觉

zìjué,       gǎnjué,  zhījué,     wú jué


The Taoist world view of 神 Shen

There is a 神 Shen, an ultimate ruler and creator in each discrete and distinct universe. The human body is a defined universe and therefore has a Shen within and so when the body dies, the Shen will go away.

There are many 神 Shen, for example 山神 mountain Shen, 河神 river Shen, 树神 tree Shen including 神 Shen in each one of our internal organs.

The 神 Shen and 灵 Ling are not separable.

Generally, there are 2 types of Shen: 元神 Yuan Shen and 识神 Shi Shen and they are connected through the 灵 Ling.

For the 元神 Yuan Shen, there are 2 scenarios:

  • 无感而生 arising from without sensory perception or beyond sensory perception;
  • 无感而知 knowing from without sensory perception or beyond sensory perception.

The Yuan Shen can be further divided into 阴神 Yin Shen and 阳神 Yang Shen.

For the 识神 Shi Shen, there are also 2 scenarios:

  • 有感而生 arising from sensory perception;
  • 有感而知 knowing from sensory perception.

When you see images while in sitting meditation, are you aware of the image/scene on the cusp of it being formed (ie before manifestation) or are you aware of the image/scene only after it has manifested?

Further, the Shi Shen can have 2 types:

  • 有为有意 purposeful and intentional, with effort;
  • 无为无意 without purpose and intent, without effort.

The context for (ii) is that one becomes aligned with nature and her rhythms so you become one with the wave rather than riding or fighting against the wave. 无为 (ii) does not mean not having to do anything, it refers to a state of consciousness and accomplishment.

六欲 Six desires arise from the 六感 sensory organs: 眼 eyes, 鼻 nose, 口 mouth (or 身 body), 舌 tongue, 耳ears, 意 yi and are confined within the gates of 生 birth and 死 death. The six desires are triggered when 神行于体外 the Shen is moving outside the physical body. First the 触觉 sensory inputs such as smell, taste, sight & hearing (through our sensory organs) from the visible surrounding (ie 身边 and not just anywhere outside the physical body 身外 which covers a much wider and further range by definition ) come in contact with our physical body and then from that we have a 感觉 sense of feeling. So if we are in a room then our range of perception will be much limited. Depending on whether this external stimulus is located far away or near-by, strong intensity or weak intensity, all in relative terms– this would lead to 色变 so everyone perceives the world differently.

As long as we have a physical body, we will have desires. These desires will lead to 7 emotions within our body.

Seven emotions: 喜 pleasure, 怒 anger, 悲 sorrow, 惊 fright, 忧 worry, 恐 fear, 思 thought. The seven emotions are triggered when 神行于体内 the Shen is moving within the physical body. When these emotions are out of balanced, people around us and the corresponding internal organ will be affected negatively.

The Six desires and seven emotions will color our overall perception of the world through 自觉(sense of self awareness), 感觉(sense of feeling), 知觉(sense of knowing),无觉(state beyond senses).

Emotion Internal Organ Linked Sensory organ Color
 Pleasure  Heart  Tongue  Red
 Anger  Liver  Eye  Green
 Sorrow/Worry  Lungs  Nose  White
 Thought  Spleen  Mouth  Yellow
 Fright/Fear  Kidney  Ear  Black

For the taoists, this is not merely a philosophical discourse, there are direct implications and applications to the practice of alchemy.

First the human universe is sealed off from the surrounding environment: eyes look within (preserves liver and reduces anger), ears hear within (preserves kidney and reduces fright/fear), nose not smelling outside (preserves lung and reduces sorrow/worry), mouth sealed (preserves spleen and reduces thoughts), tongue touching upper palette, 意念 yi nian/focus turned inward on own body/inside the body. The 7 emotions will be influenced/affected by the 6 desires and vice versa.

Everything is interlinked!

爱 Love is not part of the seven emotions but is implied (hidden) in the six desires 意 yi.(意里藏爱)。爱不是情,有意才有情,没意就无情。爱中不一定有情,但爱是在感里出现。有情不一定有爱。如爱在七情里-> 思 -> 病

So practitioner creates a sealed off universe within the body and uses the human universe as a basis to discover and know the World 感悟(性功) beyond the normal sensory organs 感觉(命功). And this will give you lots of inspiration 感悟中灵感 . Discover the extraordinary from the ordinary and integrate the extraordinary back into the ordinary 从感觉(平凡)找感悟(超自然),从超自然再回来找自己的感觉. In short, both 性功命功 are needed.

Normally the six desires and seven emotions are dynamic, generally balanced out although one affects the other. The practice aims to disrupt this balance. Desires will be greatly enhanced e.g. desire to succeed in the training, creating something out of nothing and/or achieve things ordinarily not possible. The following are examples where the practitioners are able to experience when the sensory organs are sealed off during sitting;

(a)  下田 Xia Tian begins to pulsate and move in 小腹 xiaofu cavity;

(b)  Shifting of the heart beat from left side of chest to mid line and then down to 下田 Xia Tian. And being able to hear the pulse at mid line as well as down in 下田 Xia Tian.

(c)  Detecting the astral/etheric body (有形无质 with form and no substance) and causing this layer to breathe and under our conscious control. The aura is part of this layer. The aura is the layer of light between the physical body and the etheric/astral body. The light/aura can be of different colour and size at different time and different for each person.

Achieving these feats will cause you to have cellular memory of the experiences and through this have an even greater desire to achieve more. 从无到有,从有到得

Note that in this instance the desires referred here are beyond human emotions 无情欲望 (cf 大道无情无义 Having the same characteristics as the Dao )and are qualitatively different from those desires that arise from sensory organs 有情欲望


Where to look for the Shen?

How to seek this Shen?

How do you know that it is your Shen communicating with you and not some entity outside of yourself?

Seal sensory organs and 下三阴 lower 3 yin (前阴 front yin, 后阴 back yin and 会阴 huiyin) – this creates changes inside the body and triggers the seven emotions. Here the emotions will be relatively balanced,干净 “clean and pure” and will not potentially harm the internal organs.

Stabilize body and activate pore breathing, gradually shift from normal breathing to inner breathing and True breathing.

Once the practitioner’s own human universe is properly sealed, the emotions and desires will be more stabilized and this will allow the 神光 Shen Guang to enter from 天目 Tian Mu directly into the 下田 Xia Tian。 Otherwise the light may be directed to the organ that has the corresponding emotion out of balanced rather than into the 小腹 Xiao Fu cavity eg if practitioner is feeling anger, the 神光 Shen Guang will end up in the liver instead of the 下田 Xia Tian.

The method to attain emptiness /void:

Compress the 3 cavities (3D sphere) and connecting all 3 cavities into 1 inner cavity. Continue to compress.

Compress the human universe, training space and cosmic space and connect all 3 spaces (3D sphere) into 1.

If the above are done properly, we can see:

  • a glow of light around practitioner’s body;.
  • a well formed layer (with form but no substance) outside the physical body.

Ideally practitioner should progress to next stage of practice when these benchmarks are met.

Increase length of time for sitting, keeping still despite pain in the legs causes:

  • the 元神 Yuan Shen to separate from 识神 Shi Shen;
  • the form without substance (astral/etheric body) part of our anatomy to separate from the physical body.

Guided meditation: intentionally use 识神 Shi Shen to guide 元神 Yuan Shen by executing guided meditation instructions one after another.

When awake you see images/scene in sitting/sleeping practice and/or you see images/scene outside your body: 阳神 Yang Shen.

When asleep you see images/scene in sitting/sleeping practice and/or you see images/scene within body: 阴神 Yin Shen.

When you can see images/scenes during sitting and not during mirror practice: too much 识神 Shi Shen, too forceful and anxious to get result.

Purpose of practice is to :

  • enable the 神 Shen to experience pain,
  • attain the 无觉 State Beyond senses,
  • attain 无觉的爱 love in the state beyond senses (the parent’s love for their children is no where near this state),
  • attain state of Emptiness/Void, return to become Light/energy (to be all present and everywhere at once).

As you progress towards the 无觉 State Beyond senses, then your sense of self awareness (自觉), sense of knowing (知觉) and sense of feeling (感觉)are less likely to be in error and more in touch with reality.

All of this is applicable and must be integrated into your daily lives so that you become a better Man. Taoists believe that until you become a True Man by finding your 真我 True Self, you are not really fully human 是人可是还不算成人. 心化藏而变质成人,神化藏而变形成仙,灵化藏而变光成道:三个条件具备就是真人。

The following 3 conditions must be met before the True Self is revealed:

  • the 心 heart transforms, becomes hidden, causes a change in substance to become human;
  • the 神 Shen transforms, becomes hidden, causes a change in the form/shape to become immortal;
  • the 灵 Ling transforms, becomes hidden, causes a change in the light to become one with the Tao.


One response to “The Seven Emotions and Six Desires 七情六欲”

  1. Richard Avatar

    I think this article is really advanced and we need to think and experiment a lot in order to grasp more and more meaning. Also it provoked joy in me while reading carefully.

    I suggest we can all meditate upon things and try to come with intelligent questions for the next seminar. You are invited to leave the questions here, then we will compile a list and simplify it and hopefully we can get more insight in the future.

    Of course, questions should arise from practice, not from an intellectual play of mind…