Heaven, Earth and Human (HEH)is basically a designation. A central component of Taoist philosophy, this concept can spawn many different bearings.

HEH is a viewpoint which suggests, amongst other things:

  • A theory of evolutive creative forces
  • The place occupied by humans in the scheme of things
  • Observances, via which one can restore balance, harmony, homeostasis to one’s body/mind/relationship life
  • That we can identify and appreciate the presence of change within our destiny and the nature of its source, the Tao.

‘In the literature of ancient China, before the medical classics were written, qi was used in a very broad cosmological sense, to refer to that which arose at the beginning of things and from which all else derived. If God is the creative agent in Western cosmology, qi is the medium of creation in Eastern cosmology…..the ‘Tao’ (is) the undifferentiated whole from which all else comes into being…..the tao, ‘the one’, differentiates into two, yin and yang. Original yin and yang are typically represented as heaven and earth…..Heaven and Earth interact to create a third level – human beings.’
(‘Understanding Acupuncture’, pages 88-89.)

A careful reading of the I Ching might allow us to approximately translate heaven, earth and (hu)man in terms of what we today consider to be the world of dreams (heaven), the world of ordinary life (man/human) and the realm of inorganic and organic existence, such as the body (earth).

Given that these particular spheres of activity continually interact, the HEH concept provides us with a ‘context’; a backdrop from which to ascertain, or more deeply understand the myriad signals/energies/qi manifestations etc., available to the senses at any one time.

Should I ignore or dismiss nocturnal dream context, especially dreams of a repetitive or series nature, (Heaven aspect) I might possibly over time, be visited upon by phenomenon, a more bodily level of signal (Earth aspect), such as a recurring or chronic symptom. This introduces a key concept, unique to the transpersonal approach, called ‘Process Oriented Psychology’, which posits ‘The Dreaming Body’.(for deeper delving see:- ‘Working with the Dreaming Body’ by Dr. Arnold Mindell.)

The defining essence of the HEH notion, is the absolute interconnectedness brought about by ‘Qi’.

Qi refers to an undifferentiated whole that is the precursor of everything in nature, including human beings. Everything that is, is qi. Everything reflects qi. Qi is the medium by which one thing reflects another because it is the ocean of being from which all arises and returns.”

“The Chinese observed nature and recorded the patterns of natural variation with a degree of skill and subtlety that led the world until the scientific revolution was well progressed. To support medical practices and theories the qi paradigm evolved specialized distinctions and differentiations. These developments occurred along two linked and parallel tracks. The first saw human beings as in an invisible relationship with nature. The second looked inside the human being to subdivide and categorize bodily functions. The former is the root of concepts that explain how behaviour, and ultimately health and disease, result from changes in nature. The latter results in descriptions of how the body works, and thus greatly influenced Chinese concepts of healing. Both were expressed in terms of qi. The concept of qi thus helps provide a unitary picture of nature that describes humans as both functional entities an, because qi is the universal stratum from which everything evolved, an inextricable part of all creation.”

“It was also natural for these concepts of qi to evolve toward a point of view in which the macrocosm and microcosm were seen to be parallel and related. As things change ‘out there,’ corresponding things change ‘in here.’ However, things out there did not cause change, or vice versa; both were changing in reference to their foundation in qi. Thus, this concept of relatedness subtly differs from similar-sounding ideas that developed in the West. For example, where the ‘as above, so below’ maxim of Middle Eastern astrology depends on the idea that a cosmic energy impels human events through time and space, the Chinese universe was alive. Things resonated with qi, even when unlinked in time or space. Humans changed with the interminable cycle of the universe because they were living expressions of the qi that formed that universe, not because they were impelled by a separate and irresistible power. Humans, heaven and earth breathed with one breath; that breath was qi”

Naturally, this was reflected in Chinese thought about medicine, and has been described as interlocking reactions. The late British sinologist Joseph Needham states it as follows:

“…things behaved in particular ways not necessarily because of prior actions or impulsions of other things, but because their position in the ever-changing cyclical universe was such that they were endowed with intrinsic natures which made their behaviour inevitable for them… …They were thus parts in existential dependence upon the whole world-organism.” (“Understanding Acupuncture” by Stephen J. Birch and Robert Feltman, Churchill-Livingstone1999, p 92, 93)