What does the THRIVE symbol mean?

Hello everyone. It’s me. Jana. Blogging again. I am a blogger. I’m coming to accept that.   Acceptance is so much gentler than resistance. But that’s a subject for another time.

Today I want to talk to y’all about the Thrive Symbol. You know the one? It’s on our sign, Facebook page, website, shirts, cards...  You love it but you don’t know why.  You may even love it so much you secretly tattooed it somewhere on your body. (If so, DEFINITELY come show us for some serious hook ups...and maybe also seek therapy)

Well, today is the day that we will finally unveil the mystery of: “WHAT DOES IT MEAN?!?!?”

And while I’m at it I should probably apologize if it was implied that the symbol is a legitimate Chinese character. It’s totally not. We made it up. And by “we” I mean my husband and business partner Tony.

It’s significance is pretty interesting though (at least I think so). It was created by Tony while he and I were in Chinese medical school together.  He envisioned a drawing which would represent the Three Treasures transforming within the Human Body

Wait, what?! We have treasures inside us?? Yes, young grasshopper, we do. 

Basically the idea is if you were to take the entire spectrum of Human composition, from the most solid to the most ethereal, and divide this into into three, you would have the 3 treasures.  Body Mind and Spirit is the current catch phrase for this idea. But it’s an ancient and fundamental concept in Chinese Medicine.

The Three Treasures are known as Jing, Qi and Shen. Jing is the most physically dense of the three. It is the entire basis of our bodies.  It is our essence.  The individual nature of our Jing has to do with our constitution and is influenced by our Ancestral inheritance.  And hence in modern terms can be loosely seen to include our genetic material and it’s potential, though it is much more than that.  Qi!!! Wow. Trying to translate Qi is probably THE bane of my existence.  No it’s not. That’s a huge exaggeration. Anyway. For the sake of this being a blog I will stick to the cop-out watered-down version and say it’s “life-force” or “breath of life.”  It is not made of matter and therefore our culture generally struggles to conceptualize it. But all Life has Qi.  Let’s leave that there for now. And Shen means Spirit. Our Human Spirit. THE Spirit.  That Spirit that no one can define, though we can all perceive It in our own ways.

The Three Treasures are inseparable and interchangeable.  There is a process of internal alchemy within us whereby these transform into each other in different centers of our body. These “centers” are the Three Dan Tian.  Similar to the Chakra system, the Dan Tian are non-anatomical areas where very important processes occur.  I say non-anatomical to imply you can’t SEE them when you cut a body open.  Therefore you as a Westerner you are probably experiencing a healthy degree of skepticism at this point.  To that I will say; you can’ t see Love either and I’m pretty darn sure it exists.  Ironically it is often the things I have no physical proof of that are the mostmeaningful for me...but I digress.

Jing becomes Qi in our Lower Dan Tian, Qi becomes Shen in our MiddleDan Tian, and Shen becomes Wuji in our Upper Dan Tian.  New Vocab! What’s the Wuji?! Oo la la this is a fun one.  The term Wuji first appears in a (ca. 4th century BCE) Daodejing context about returning to one's original nature.  It can be translated as ‘limitless’, ‘the void’, ‘Infinity,’ and (my personal favorite) the ‘ultimate of beinglessness.’  OK. Hold up a sec. Are you getting this visual!? There’s this HUGE Universe of Wuji and it is not separate from us but we actually participate in it’s creation and it’s manifestation within us. WOW.

And if that doesn’t blow your mind; check this out.  Jing, Qi and Shen are all different states of the same thing.  Like water can be solid, liquid or vapor? So can these Treasures be varying states of consistency.  And in these states have different functions.  I’m not going to get into the specifics of these functions because I’m worried I may lose my audience here soon.

And there’s a little more.  Look back at the diagram.  You see the Taiji pole? Looks like a big lightening rod? It kinda is. Within our body it runs right down the center from the top of our head to our perineum.  It’s ever so loosely associated with the spine. For the sake of this blog let’s think of it like lightening rod that works in TWO directions. It is the connection between The Wuji (Heaven) and our bodies (Earth).

Then all this amazing stuff is wrapped up in the beautiful package that is our physical bodies.  The outer limit of which is called the ‘Wei Qi.’  Again, loosely associated with our skin and immune system.  It is where we end and the rest of the world begins. But because there is no absolute ending to us (as we are connected to everything) the Wei Qi is also like the dynamic interface of our inner and outer experience.

Are you still reading this? I’m so so so impressed. 

So Tony had all of this understanding of these concepts and basically thought up a way to draw it.  He took this idea to Joanna Zhao, the founder and director of our University, who is also a talented Doctor, Chinese Medical Practitioner and Classical Chinese Calligrapher.  She created a beautiful rendition of this, which hangs in our office.  When we opened Thrive we made a digital version as our logo.

We wanted this to be the symbol our Thrive because that is where we see the landscape of our work taking place.  In these transformations, these alchemical rarifying and solidifying processes through the entire spectrum of Human Experience.

Pretty cool, eh? Now you actually ARE considering that tattoo, aren’t you?

In all seriousness, I just love this paradigm of seeing the world and our place in it. And we here at Thrive feel honored to be part of your journey through it all, in any way we can. 

Thanks for your time and attention.  Wishing you peace everyday.