Ben Shen: the Five Psychical-Emotional Phases

Annette de Vogel

Wuxing (Five Phase) Theory
In Wuxing theory, all the Phases nurture or feed each other (->) via the Sheng Cycle (Fire -> Earth -> Metal -> Water -> Wood -> Fire) and restrain or control each other (X) via the Ko Cycle (Fire X Metal X Wood X Earth X Water X Fire). This mutual support and control normally ensures balance. However, when one Phase is out of balance the others also have problems.

Ben Shen
The Ben Shen are the Five Phases, or aspects, of the psyche, emotions or mental manifestations. Each of the Five Phases relates to a Zang (Yin organ), a Zang Shu Point a psychic mentality and a Mental Shu Point (1.5" lateral to the related Zang Shu Point), as follows:

Phase Fire Earth Metal Water Wood
Zang-Organ HT SP LU KI LV
Zang Shu BL15 BL20 BL13 BL23 BL18
Mental Shu BL44 BL49 BL42 BL52 BL47


     Hun-Courage                  Yi-Thought  

     LV-Wood                  SP-Earth



      Zhi-Will       Po-Instinct

     KI-Water       LU-Metal

The above relationships operate along the Ko route (see diagram above).

1. SHEN (Fire Phase, HT/PC)

Shen belongs mainly to the Fire Phase but Shen itself is divided in Five Phases: the Ben Shen. Negative emotions are Yang and positive emotions are Yin. They are both necessary to feed Shen.

Shen is the power and spirit of life. It has Yin and Yang aspects. Yuan (Original) Shen is Yin, the passive form, the divine form, the higher self. Shih Shen is Yang, the active form, the emotions and the blood of living.

Intuition is a part of Shen, the incarnation of the mental part of the body.

Shen relates to HT and PC. When HT Qi is pure, PC obeys Shen. When HT Qi is weak, PC obeys the needs of the body, resulting in a lust for excitement and stimulating activities.

Shen and the Fire Phase involve love-relationships. When Shen is in balance, love-relationships are also in balance.

Body growth is very fast in puberty. Shen growth cannot keep pace with rapid body growth. Thus, many problems arise with relationships and emotions in puberty, especially problems between parents and pubescent children.



 gloomy                                                 very excited, recklessness

 self-doubt                     Sorrow                  restlessness, cheerlessness

 discouragement                 Shock                                                                    

                                Extreme joy                                                                     


 despair                        Joy                     nervousness

 depression (empty)             Happiness               concern

 hopelessness                                           hysteria

To help in Shen problems:

2. YI (Earth Phase, SP)

Yi governs personal opinions, thoughts, obsession, knowledge translating into words, and learning "by heart" (by rote). Yi relates to Earth and SP.

A strong Yi can take over a weak Shen (reverse-Sheng route). For example, a very intelligent person may be able to verbalize knowledge, but may find it difficult to translate that knowledge into practical action.

Negative remarks indicate a weak Shen or Yi, but can also indicate a strong Yi: intelligence and knowledge can blur vision/insight.
lack of concentration worry about
forgetful Sympathy Pity muse
Consideration Nostalgia worry out in the mind
difficulty with giving and receiving obsession
affection fear/concern

To help in Yi problems:

3. PO (Metal Phase, LU)

Po comes from our mother (Earth). It is a Yin aspect. Po houses all the automatic systems and instincts. It is the way to survive. The instinct develops right after conception. Everything that can breathe has Po. This Phase is always part of the body. Po makes one introspective.
low spirited very sensitive, self-pity
oppression Frankness Sadness stoic, arrogance
heavy hearted Accessible to Grief
Disengage Sorrow
egoism jealousy
miserly envy

To help in Po problems:

4.ZHI (Water Phase, KI)

Zhi is part of Yuanqi (Essential energy); it houses willpower and corresponds with ideals and goals. The more one enforces one's will on another person, the weaker Zhi becomes in the enforcer.

Zhi wants to open up towards the Shen
Shen is open
Yi is the need to verbalize
 feeling superior Fear Willpower shyness
reckless Fear Trust unattainable
Terror Determination inferiority
distrust afraid of
suspicion panic
paranoia phobia

To help in Zhi problems:

4. HUN (Wood Phase, LV)

Hun is a Yang aspect; it comes mainly from the father. It arrives three days after birth; after death, it returns to the great all. Hun is stored in LV; it gives courage, the "will to live", the will discover the world. When Hun does not feed Shen, one can be afraid to make decisions, or can become suicidal. Hun always wishes to change everything. (Po wants to leave everything as it is).

A weak Hun may manifest as out-of-body experiences or sensations during sleep or wakefulness. Drugs (especially abuse of alcohol, hypnotics, sedatives and narcotics) can drive Hun from the body; one feels disassociated or floating; one's links to the earth and material things are weak and uncertain.

irritation Frustration Assertiveness feeling of guilt
grudge Aggression Selfconsciousness self-disapproval
Anger Responsibility
hostility lack of motivation
bitterness boredom, apathy, depression

To help in Hun problems:

Types of insomnia according to the Ben Shen

When Shen is out of balance one cannot sleep because of

When Yi is out of balance one cannot sleep because of

When Po is out of balance one cannot sleep because of

When Zhi is out of balance one cannot sleep because

When Hun is out of balance one cannot sleep because of

In imbalances of the Ben Shen, as discussed above, one may use the Mental Shu or their Associated Zang (Organ) Shu Points (1.5" medial to the Mental Shu) as follows:

For problems of the Mental Shu Point Associated Zang
(Organ) Shu Point
Shen (Fire Psyche)
Shentang BL44
Spirit Hall
Xinshu BL15
HT Shu
Yi (Earth Psyche)
Yishe BL49
Reflection Abode
Pishu BL20
SP Shu
Po (Metal Psyche)
Pohu BL42
Soul Door
Feishu BL13
LU Shu
Zhi (Water Psyche)
Zhishi BL52
Will Chamber
Shenshu BL23
KI Shu
Hun (Wood Psyche)
Hunmen BL47
Courage Gate
Ganshu BL18
LV Shu