Understanding Trigrams Systems



Introduction to Trigrams Systems


Does an Organized Energetic System That Has Clinical Applications Exist in the Human Body? Although biochemical and physiological studies have provided insight into some of the biological effects of acupuncture, acupuncture practice is based on a very different model of energy balance. This theory might or might not provide new insights to medical research, but it deserves further attention because of its potential for elucidating the basis of acupuncture. -JAMA, November 4, 1998, Vol 280, No17, p. 1522.


 In response to this question, we present an introduction to the work of Dr. Maurice Mussat. His work, the Energetics of Living Systems (T.S.), proposes an analytical matrix to model a logical process that simulates the structuralization of biology.


Attempts have been made recently to structuralize biology. Living systems are by their nature defined in a dynamic sense. Hence, one should study life-forms not only by their elements of matter, but also by their energetic and evolutionary processes. The question of the logical nature and the systematization of the process of observable events-i.e., events that can be observed directly-in evolution has been raised recently in a biological context.  In line with this concept, we propose a matrix that graphically represents the geometric projection of a solution of the complex holonomic equation of transformation, defined in terms of energy, matter, and evolution by which biology can be structuralized. As illustrated in the works of Dr. Maurice Mussat, this type of matrix permits a deeper understanding of biological systems by integrating diffuse information into clear patterns. It is a way to express complex ideas of biology visually, and thereby make them more accessible to analysis and verification.


This work is a prolegomenon to investigations into the structuring of data obtained by, but not limited to, various fields of medicine, with the goal of integrating them into a general coherent and logical operational model that will help define a complex ordering system.


It appears that the only element of this newly acquired knowledge that is lacking is its integration into a general understanding of Nature. Relevant models of such integration have been published recently. Mussat's model, then, is intended to be used as a tool for the study of ordering and organizing life events, and is also an attempt to achieve a better understanding of their nature.


This paper is an abridgment of T.S. as it would be impossible to derive all the laws here. It is divided into two sections. Section I is a short presentation of T.S. and Section II is a condensed overview of the basic Laws of T.S.

The various models



To fully understand the work on Trigrams Systems, it is important to place it in its wider context while keeping in mind that both Western science, Western methodology and Western medicine and traditional Eastern medicine are experiencing a crisis.


Eastern traditional medicine always had many different schools of thought, but always within their basic paradigms. With the influx of Western science, methodology and medicine, and the global dissemination of Eastern traditional medicine, new developments have arisen. For didactic purposes, the current trends can be divided into four general categories: a) the “traditional approaches”; b) the “scientific” approaches c) the “integrationist”[1] approach, and d) the “systems” approach.






Keiraku chiruyo




Traditional Acupuncture

Modern Styles



Ba gang bian zheng

Holographic systems










The traditional approach attempts to retain the richness and original integrity of the Eastern traditional medicine resorting to the classic texts, concepts and practice. Only the traditional language of Eastern traditional medicine is permitted, being everything defined within this discourse. Examples of this approach are the keiraku chiryo (Channel treatment) school, the “Traditional Acupuncture” school and the ba gang bian zheng (Eight Principles) school.


For the proponents of the “scientific” approach, the only valid models of acupuncture and East Asian traditional medicine are those based in scientific study and observation that strictly adhere to Western scientific methodology. It is also characterized by the dismissal or trivialization of concepts and procedures that do not easily relate to modern ideas. Mann, Baldry and Ulett[2] can be considered proponents of this school. We also note that this hard science approach actually accounts for a considerable body of current Chinese work and is in practice often found in works favored by the Traditional Chinese Medicine school of thought. While the traditional concepts are maintained, they are often re-defined in reductionist terms.[3]


The third approach, the integrationist, tries to find correlations of acupuncture and East Asian traditional medicine models with Western medical systems, explaining the terms and concepts of each in the language of the other and attempting to avoid rejection of the models and concepts of the other system. Examples of this approach and adapted versions are Requena, Voll and Nakatani.[4]


Dr. Nogier’s auriculotherapy[5] and the Koryo Sooji Chim hand acupuncture of Tae Woo Yoo, from Korea, are considered modern systems.  They share a foundation based on holographic theory.


However, in spite of much discussion, debate and conflict, several relevant issues remain unaddressed. Of these, the most critical differences lie at the level of the Eastern and Western knowledge paradigms.


The theories of acupuncture and East Asian traditional medicine stand on the same theoretical ground with advanced Western science. Apparent conflicts exist because there is a conservative tendency to insist on traditional Western scientific paradigms, ignoring or refusing to acknowledge the advances of twentieth century science itself.


With the exception of politically influenced modern Chinese works, acupuncture and East Asian traditional medicine are founded on a non-reductionist, non-dualist, acausal paradigm. On the other hand, reductionism is the mainstay of modern Western biology, chemistry and medicine. Western science is based on a cause-effect model where all things follow a direct causal logic.


The question is then whether one can express the non-dualist, non-reductionalist and acausal medical system of acupuncture and East Asian traditional medicine in the dualist, reductionalist and causal language of the West, specially that of Western science and medicine.


Is such a description possible?


This issue is the principal difficulty facing the traditional, the scientific and the integrationist approaches to acupuncture and East Asian traditional medicine. If this is a problem for the scientific and traditional approaches, it is particularly problematic for the integrationist school where the reciprocity of description is taken for granted. If it should be possible to generate a larger world view that sacrifices neither the conceptual integrity and ingenuity of the traditional theories, nor the conceptual richness of modern science, enhancing both paradigmatic systems, one would have a model capable of carrying East Asian traditional medicine successfully and globally into the twenty-first century.


Western paradigms are in a process of dissolution. The advances in modern physics, in the study of chaotic and thermodynamic systems, in quantum mechanics and, particularly, in inquiry methodology, indicate that the world is non-reducible, non-dualist and acausal.


By what methods and with what language should this world be described? Physicist David Bohm's has advanced a theory that the perceivable and measurable world, the world of our senses, corresponds to ripples on an ocean where the activities and rules of this hidden or implicate order have great significance relative to the observable or explicate order. Birch suggests that Bohm's theory and related models could be useful starting points for developing a model and a language for East Asian traditional medicine, thus dealing with hidden or enfolded orders in the body, such as those described by the medical theories of ancient China.



The main characteristics of the General Systems Theory and the Information Theory[6] suggests that their languages are capable of describing the paradigmatic world views assumptions of traditional Chinese theories. Further, these languages and their theoretical frameworks meet the criteria for the development of a model that encompasses both the Western and Eastern paradigms, allowing logically consistent description and formulation of experimental procedures adequate to both paradigms.   Manaka’s and Mussat’s models pertain to such approaches


Manaka’s model: the X Signal System

Dr. Manaka's most relevant contribution has been the development of a model of East Asian traditional medicine using systems and information theory models. Based on years of clinical treatments, study, research and on the development of numerous innovative techniques, he formulated a coherent model of acupuncture as a method for modifying the biological information system. He first presented this idea in a benchmark paper, co-authored with Kazuko Itaya, “Acupuncture as Intervention in Biological Information System. Meridian Treatment and the X Signal System”, at the annual assembly of the Japan Meridian Treatment Association, in Tokyo, on March, 1986. This paper was subsequently published in English in the Journal of the Acupuncture Society of New York 1:324, 9-18, 1994. Signal, in this context, is considered as something that has a very low energy content, but a high information content, which can be changed or modified by applying appropriate low-energy stimulus (signal) to certain points in the acupuncture channels. The X is used to emphasize that the exact nature of the signal is not known. It is suggested that it might not even be knowable. This X-signal system is seen as a model connecting both East Asian traditional medicine and Western medicine systems without contradicting each other.


Birch considers that Manaka's proposal has permitted the systematic examination and testing of traditional theories and practices, something which is sadly lacking in most current research. He recalls that a feature of late traditional Chinese medicine, under strong Western ideological influence, has been to ignore much of the traditional literature that could not be made to fit the mold of empirical theories.[7]


Manaka's model is considered to be still incipient, but a unique combination of theory, research and practice. It has the merit of being theoretically justified by traditional medical literature and verified by clinical research and clinical efficacy. Finally, it addresses significant epistemological issues such as the methods by which we inquire into or gather knowledge about nature as well as the criteria for judgments of what will constitute knowledge.



Mussat’s Model: Energetics of Living Systems

While Manaka’s model emphasizes an aspect of Information Theory, Mussat’s model rests upon developments of General Systems Theory.  Real systems are open to, and interact with, their environments.  They can acquire qualitatively new properties through emergence, resulting in continual evolution. Rather than reducing an entity (e.g. the human body) to the properties of its parts or elements (e.g. organs or cells), ELS focuses on the arrangement of and relations between the parts which connect them into a whole (cf. holism). This particular organization determines a system, which is independent of the concrete substance of the elements (e.g. particles, cells, transistors, people, etc.).

Thus, the same concepts and principles of organization underlie the different East Asian disciplines (Yiing, meridian systems, five phases, six layers, eight extraordinary meridians) and Western disciplines (genetics, physics, biology, technology, sociology, etc.), providing a basis for their unification. Systems concepts include: system-environment boundary, input, output, process, state, hierarchy, goal-directedness, and information.



Figure 1. A synopsis of Trigrams Systems.



[1] Putting parts together to understand the operations of the larger system.

[2] Mann, F., Acupuncture: The Ancient Chinese Art of Healing and How it Works Scientifically, New York: Vintage Books, 1973. Baldry, P. E., Acupuncture, Trigger Points and Musculoskeletal Pain, Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 1989. Ulett, G. A., Principles and Practice of Physiologic Acupuncture, St. Louis: Warren H. Green, 1982.

[3] Birch cites as examples of this reductionist approach within the Traditional Chinese Medicine school Kaptchuk, T., The Web That Has No Weaver, particularly, Chapter 2, and The Essentials of Chinese Acupuncture.

[4] Requena, Y., Terrains and Pathology in Acupuncture, Brookline, Massachusetts: Paradigm Publications, 1986. Voll, R., “Twenty years of electroacupuncture diagnosis in Germany; a progress report” in Amer. J. Acup. 3: 7-17 (1975). Nakatani, Y. and K. Yamashita, Ryodoraku Acupuncture, Tokyo: Ryodoraku Research Institute, 1977.

[5] Nogier, P., Auriculotherapy to Auriculomedicine, Sainte-Ruffine: Maisonneuve, 1983.

[6] In 1948, Bell Labs scientist Claude Shannon developed Information Theory.

[7] See Wiseman, Fundamentals of Chinese Medicine, p. xxxii - xxxv and p. 18; Unschuld, Medicine in China: A History of Ideas, p. 229