Yellow Emperor's Canon

Article Index
Yellow Emperor's Canon
Chapter One
Chapter Two
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The Yellow Emperor was a legendary king of ancient China. He founded his empire in YouXiong, central China where the earth is yellow, which gave his empire its color and him, his name "the Yellow Emperor".

Recognized for his great merits and virtues, he was supported as emperor by all the chieftains of the region. Ever since he was a small child he had a strong curiosity to understand things. He was wise, honest, analytical and righteous.

Throughout his life he maintained a thirst for understanding and so continued studying with his minister Qibo. During his reign as Emperor, he made profound contributions to medicine and science. To this day his works are still regarded as the foundation of Traditional Chinese Medicine, as well as an important guide in Daoism (Taoism).

Ancient thoughts on How to Maintain Natural, Health and Energy

The Yellow Emperor asked, "Why could people in ancient times, live to be over a hundred, without showing any signs of aging, but today people look and feel old at fifty?"

QiBo answered, "People in ancient times knew the Dao and understood how to preserve health by following the laws of yin and yang. They were moderate in drinking and eating, had regular schedules for work and rest and avoided overstraining. That's how they maintained harmony between their Shen and body, and lived so long.

People today, have no set time for work and rest. They drink too much and often indulge in sexual pleasure after drinking, depleting their JingQi and wasting their ZhengQi. They rarely try to preserve JingQi and don't know how to regulate their Shen, they too often give-in to sexual desires. And therefore look and feel old at fifty."

Ancient people knew the importance of avoiding Weak-Evil and Wind-Evil and keeping their minds free from insatiable greed and excessive daydreaming. That way their ZhengQi was harmonized, their spirit was contained and diseases did not occur.

These kinds of people were and still are stable, content, at peace and without any fear. They worked but never overstrained, allowing Qi to flow smoothly.

Satisfied with their lives and enjoying their food, natural and comfortable clothes and simple social customs, they did not desire high positions and lived simple and natural lives. And, so, unhealthy habits never tempted them. Whether ignorant or intelligent, virtuous or without virtue they feared nothing.

Behaving in accordance with the Dao is the reason why they could live to be over one hundred without any signs of aging. Having followed the Dao they enjoyed long lives free from disease.

The Yellow Emperor asked, "Most old people cannot produce offspring, is this because CaiLi is depleted or is it just the natural development of the body?"

QiBo answered, "The body goes through cycles, generally speaking:

For women,

  • At seven, Kidney-Qi flourishes and new teeth begin to grow.
  • At fourteen, Tiangui begins to appear, Ren Channel and Chong Channel work vigorously. Menstruation begins. She is able to bear children.
  • At twenty-one, kidney-Qi is full and wisdom teeth begin to grow, the body is fully developed.
  • At twenty-eight, muscles and bones are strong.
  • At thirty-five, the YangMing Channel starts to decline, her face becomes dry.
  • At forty-two, the Three Yang Channels are deficient in both blood and Qi, aging starts to show in her face and her hair begins turning white.
  • At forty-nine, both the Ren Channel and Chong Channel become deficient and menopause begins, her body becomes week and she is no longer able to bear children.

For men,

  • At eight, Kidney-Qi flourishes and new teeth begin to grow.
  • At sixteen, Kidney-Qi is abundant and Taingui occurs, he is able to impregnate females.
  • At twenty-four, Kidney-Qi is full, muscles and bones are strong, wisdom teeth appear and his body is fully developed.
  • At thirty-two, muscles and bones are well developed and very strong.
  • At forty, Kidney-Qi declines, his hair begins to thin and his teeth become weaker.
  • At forty-eight, Yang-Qi over his upper body collapses, aging starts to show in his face and his hair begins turning white.
  • At fifty-six, Liver-Qi declines, his muscles become stiff.

As Tiangui deteriorates and Kidney-Qi is reduced the kidneys are weakened and so is his body, his teeth and hair begin to fall out. The kidneys control water and receive and store Jing from the five Zang-Organs and six Fu-Organs. So, when all eleven organs are strong and active the kidneys have enough jing to discharge. But, now the five Zang-Organs have declined, the bones become weak and the Tiangui is exhausted, his hair turns white and his coordination declines. He walks with difficulty and is unable to have children."

The Yellow Emperor asked, "How come some very old people can still have children?"

QiBo answered, "They know the ways of preserving health and they save their jing, so they have a longer life-span than others. Their Qi and blood are always smooth in circulation and their Kidney-Qi remains abundant, that's why. Generally, these men still loose the ability to have children, but not until sixty-four and the women still loose the ability at forty-nine."

The Yellow Emperor asked, "Can those who have mastered the Dao still have children after they are over a hundred years old?"

QiBo answered, "Those who have mastered the Dao enjoy good health and show no signs of aging, so they can still have children even when very old."

The Yellow Emperor noted, "I've heard of Immortals in ancient times that grasped the laws of nature. They followed the principals of yin and yang, breathing fresh air and cultivating their spirits, so their life-span was as long as Heavens and Earths. That was their Dao of life.

In mid-ancient times, there were Perfect People who possessed the highest degree of mortality and the principles of cultivating health. They abided to the cycles of yin and yang, adapted to the changes of the seasons, abandoned worldly desires, avoided distractions and roamed both Earth and Heaven. They could see and hear beyond the eight directions. These people were similar to immortals.

The third type of people were the Sages, capable of living in harmony in the realm between Heaven and Earth. Adapting to the wind from the eight directions. In daily life they could properly meet there interest and tackle their desires. Their minds were free from anger and discontent.

They didn't draw them selves away from worldly customs and they often wore luxurious clothes, but never followed the behavior or ordinary people. Physically, they tried never to exhaust their bodies; mentally, they freed themselves from anxiety. Peace and happiness were their goals in life and self-contentment was their sign of achievement. Their bodies rarely weakened and their spirits never were subject to exhaustion. That was why they could live over a hundred years.

The fourth type of people were Virtuous People who followed the laws of Heaven and Earth. They imitated the changes of the sun and moon and followed the order of the stars. They adhered to the cycles of yin and yang and the practice of the immortals from ancient times. In this way they prolonged their lives.

How the Changes of the Four Seasons Affect Ones Spirit

Heaven-Qi is clear, bright and pure. It never stops moving, which is why it never reveals it's light. If it did the sky would become bright and the sun and moon would become dim. As a result Evil-Qi would take control.

When that happens Yang-Qi would be blocked from the Heavens, Earth-Qi would fail to ascend, dark clouds and fog would not lift, rain would not fall. The communication between Heaven and Earth would cease, making it impossible for all things in nature to continue developing. Even large trees would die.

If Virulent-Qi emerges, if wind and rain fail to appear at the right time, plants will wither. In addition, frequent attacks of Wind-Evil will lead to the immature death of everything. Only sages can follow such natural changes. That is why they do not fall ill during such disasters. If all things in nature follow the principles of health cultivation, their vitality will never be exhausted.

The changes of Yin and Yang in the four seasons are the roots of all things in nature. So the sages cultivate Yang-Qi in Spring and Summer, while nourish Yin-Qi in Autumn and Winter. Ignorance of these roots means destruction of the primordial base and impairment of the body.

Thus the changes of Yin and Yang are responsible for growth, decline and the death of all things. Ignorance of it brings disasters while abidance by it prevents the occurrence of disease. This is why we follow the law of nature. The law of nature is followed by the sages, but ignored by fools.

Following the rules of Yin and Yang ensures life, while ignoring them leads to death. Abidance by the rules brings about peace, while ignorance of them results in disorders. If ignorance of the rules is mistaken as abidance of them, a disease know as Neige will occur.

Therefore, the sages usually pay less attention to the treatment of disease, but more to the prevention of it. To resort to treatment when a disorder has already been caused, is just like to dig a well when one feels thirsty or to make weapons when a war has already broken out. Isn't it too late then?


Spring is the season when all things on Earth begin to grow and flourish. We should go to sleep late and get up early, taking a walk in the courtyard with our hair running free, relaxing our bodies and enlivening our minds. Such a natural revival process should be activated, promoted and encouraged; we should let ourselves grow.

This is how we adapt to Spring-Qi and how to cultivate health during the Spring. Otherwise, Liver-Qi will be stagnated and we may contract cold-disease during Summer and won't be able to adapt to it's long, hot days.


Summer is the season when all prosper. Heaven-Qi and Earth-Qi converge with each other and all things bloom and bear fruit. We should go to sleep late and get up early. Avoid, hating the long days and hot weather, stay cheerful enabling Qi to flow smoothly.

This is how to adapt to Summer-Qi and how to cultivate health during the Summer. Otherwise, Heart-Qi will be deficient and we may contract malaria in Autumn and become ill in Winter.


Autumn is the season of ripening. In Autumn it's cool, the wind blows fast and the atmosphere is clear. We should go to sleep early and get up at dawn, just like the rooster. We should keep our minds at peace to calm the effect of Autumn's cool weather on the body, moderate our mental activities to balance Autumn-Qi and avoid nostalgic feelings to harmonize Lung-Qi.

This is how to adapt to Autumn-Qi and how to cultivate health in Autumn. Otherwise, Lung-Qi will be dry and distended and may contract Sunxie in Winter.


Winter is the season for storage. Water freezes and the Earth cracks. Care must be taken to avoid disturbing Yang-Qi in our bodies. People should go to sleep early and get up late when the sun is shinning. Mentally maintain quiet just like when keeping a secret. We should avoid the cold and try to keep warm, avoid sweating so as to prevent loss of Yang-Qi.

This is how adapt to Winter-Qi and how to cultivate health in Winter, promoting the storage functions of the body. Otherwise, Kidney-Qi will sink and the energy for the following seasons will be reduced, leading to dysfunction, weakness and coldness of the limbs in Spring.