In many traditions the liver was considered to be the "seat of the soul", and it is linked to the eyes. This is also the case with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It would be safe to say we have all heard the saying "the eyes are the window to the soul". The question then is why the liver? How is it connected to the eyes?
First thing is first, in the mystery teachings around the world, they each describe that we have 3 "bodies", that are really levels of our Conscious being. There is the carnal soul, associated with the conscious awareness of our "common" state. This is the soul that is associated with the liver. This is why in TCM it is such an important organ for the overall health and wellness of the body's energy.
In Alchemy they worked with what they called "Liquor Hepatis" which means "liquor of the liver", and the alchemists made a perfume of it called "Balsam of the Soul." In Kabbalah this part of the Soul is called "Nefesh". This is also described as being the instincts of the Soul.
The second of the three is centered in the heart, and the third is centered in the mind/brain. You will find these three bodies described in different ways in virtually every tradition.
Alchemy: Salt, Mercury, Sulfur
Kabbalah: Nefesh, Ruach, Neshemah
Taoism: Jing, Chi, Shen
Sufism: Nafs, Qalb, Ruh
Egypt: Ba, Ka, Akh
and so on and so on.
Biologically the liver plays a vital role in the body's ability to provide energy, and purify toxins. Today we also understand that when the liver is sufficiently weakened, it results in "brain fog", or a lowered ability for the mind to function. This highlights primal thoughts and desires due to an inhibited ability to retain higher thought, which is a modern medical way to describe what the ancients would call falling into the animal soul urge. When it is filled with toxins it can be seen in the eyes, often as a yellowing called jaundice.
Then we find the story of the Greek Myth of Prometheus, the Titan who stole fire from heaven and brought it down to man. In the myth, Prometheus is punished by being chained to the side of a mountain to have an eagle (the bird that represents Zeus) eat his liver, only to have it regenerate overnight and have the process repeated again. Compare this to the Titan Tityos, who was punished for rape (falling to carnal urges) and chained in Hades (Underworld) to have two vultures (the bird that represents Hades, the god of the underworld) eat his liver, which also regenerated repeatedly.
The Liver and TCM
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the liver is considered to be the General of the body. It is the largest glandular organ of the body, and plays a major role in the general flow of energy (qi). It is also considered to be the ruler of jing (essence).
Because the flow is backward to the natural flow of the center channels (Conception Vessel & Governor Vessel), which typically flow up the front and down the back, along with the natural flow of the liver channel, the energy is redirected inwards. This inward movement of energy and essence causes it to nourish the neuro-endocrine systems which are considered to be instrumental in the spiritual development of Internal Alchemy and symbolized as the 7 metals. It is because this energy is redirected inwards as opposed to out toward the physical use of the energy that we can see the connection between the stories of self sacrifice and the liver.
Laying the Foundation
Over time this link becomes strong enough that the practitioner begins to have images that appear in the minds eye related to the stimulation of certain regions within the body. This is an important development as many of the symbols and allegories are related to the nature of the visions that occur when the appropriate regions have been sufficiently impacted as a way to ensure that only those who actually take up the work can fully understand.
Above this is the ladder, which is symbolic of the spine itself. A quick look at an image of the spine and one can easily see that the vertebrae look like a ladder. In his vision, he saw angels that were ascending and descending on the ladder. This is the visual representation of the energy that is moving up and down the spinal tract as done in the microcosmic orbit during the phase of Laying the Foundations.
When the process of energizing the essence during spermatogenesis is complete, the practice of Laying the Foundation directs it to nourish the brain. The process of puberty itself is caused by an interaction between the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland. These are considered the master controls for the endocrine system in general and the completion of this stage regenerates the brain and endocrine system, which is the physical component related to what is commonly known as the chakra system in Yoga.
A sexual release would eliminate the seminal fluids and stop the process, and the work would have to begin again. This is why it is written in sacred texts that a man that has "spilled his seed" was not fit to perform rituals in the temple. It was symbolic allegory to the fact that the loss of Essence diminishes the necessary energies to cause the alchemical operations. For women it was during menstruation, as this is the way Essence is lost in women.
Using the Eyes to Circulate the Light
Chi'ien Feng Lao Jen said: "The sun and the moon when turning round unite positive yang with negative yin so that a glorious light emerges from the center of the brain. If you only gather the outer alchemical agent during the "inner copulation" of the male and female principles and do not gather the inner alchemical agent during the phases you are like a cart without wheels or a boat without rudders."
In Taoist Alchemy the eyes are referred to as "the two thieves" and are used to generate and gather the inner alchemical agent. If the positive and negative forces are not sent up and down the psychic channels through various phases of sublimation in the microcosmic orbit, the generative and vital forces cannot be transmuted into the "wondrous light". For this reason it is important to use the movement of the eyes.
This crossing point is where the "Wondrous Light" emerges from, in the central region between the two hemispheres of the brain as in the quote above. By combining the movement of the eyes, which helps direct the energy throughout the body, while also working with the seminal/generative fluids you are able to activate and rejuvenate the brain and body.
The meditation practices allow the brain and body connection to manifest images in the mind, which are the source of much of the symbolic expressions used so heavily in the esoteric traditions during the process.
In ancient Egypt, the sun and the moon were considered to be the "Eyes of Horus". In Shinto Izanagi no Okami purified himself and out of one eye was born a sun deity, out of the other eye a lunar deity and out of the nose (middle) a storm deity (lightning). In Taoism, Laozi transformed his body, and one eye became the sun and the other became the moon. Likewise in Hinduism, Shiva is depicted with three eyes. The two relating to the sun and the moon, and the third is considered the "Eye of Wisdom".
This gives us three places to look in order to find and confirm the Truth of the work; the Cosmos (Astrology), Sacred texts & Myths, and within the body (Anatomy and Physiology).
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