Dantian, Ming Men and the Motive Force
Hara is the Japanese word for the abdomen. However the concept goes deeper. Hara also describes a particular area within the abdomen, the lower abdomen. The lower abdomen is host to a number of traditional Chinese concepts all of which can be referred to as residing in the space between and below the kidneys.
The area between and below the kidneys is said to store both pre and post natal Qi and Essence (Jing). Fire provided in the form of (pre-natal) Basic Qi and Qi drawn to the kidneys from the Lungs warms and moves the stored Essence to generate and circulate more Qi.
Classically there are three Dantian in the body. One centred around CV-4, one in the centre of the chest in front of the heart and one on the forehead between the eyebrows. Dantian are energetic centres in the body where Qi, Jing, and Shen is stored, interacts and transforms.
The Lower Dantian sometimes referred to as Qi Hai Dantian, or Tanden in Japanese, is an area centred around CV-4, which is three cun below the naval and covers an area two cun around this point. CV-6 is named Qi Hai, Sea of Qi, and is often taken to be Dantian. CV-6 resides within the area that is Dantian. CV-4, named Guan Yuan - Gate to the Original Qi is at the centre of the Lower Dantian.
The lower Dantian stores both pre natal and post natal Essence and is home to the Basic Qi which is received at conception. It is the area where these ingredients are warmed to produce further Qi including Source Qi which is a post-natal form of Basic Qi. Basic and Source Qi are often referred to as Original Qi.
The Motive Force
The Motive Force, or Moving Qi, really describes the action of the ingredients within the Dantian. It includes the warming action that activates and moves the Basic Qi and Essence, and the effect the Source/Original Qi has on the rest of the Body. In some texts Basic Qi is called the Motive Force. The Motive Force is also described as the physiological fire, True Fire or Minister Fire.
Ming Men, the Gate of Vitality, is the name given to the Point GV-4, however it is also the concept of the Fire that warms the Motive Force. In some texts Basic Qi is said to be the Fire of the Gate of Vitality. Ming Men is where Heaven hooks the Earth to give rise to human life. Where the Qi of breathing stokes the fire in the Basic Qi to fuel the transformation of Essence.
These three ideas cover the Yin and Yang of the concept in traditional Chinese medicine that is the “Kidneys” and their interaction in the space between and below the kidneys, Hara.