The Meaning of Shen Men

We are much more than just a physical body, we reflect and interact with the world both within and outside our physical form. Our understanding is deepened the more we penetrate this knowledge. The practice of education is an art — at the heart of this endeavor is the connection between people.

© Yumiko East. 1994

The Meaning of Shen Men

From “Rooted In Spirit” by Claude Larre and 
Elizabeth Rochat de la Vallee

The character Shen refers to Spirits. Divinities. The vital principle. Something marvelous. The Spirits are the Heaven within us. They conduct us and guard us, and we must guard them.

The character Men refers to a gate, it can be thought of a reference to acupuncture points in general.

According to ancient Chinese thought, our health and well-being depend on the harmonious dwelling of the “spirits” (shen) in the heart. At the deepest level, the practice of medicine involves the proper communication between the practitioner and shen.


Spirit Gate

In essence, all that nourishes and connects us to the heart is a gateway to the “spirits” that reside within us. Our senses provide a gate between our inner and outer worlds. Feeling comfortable in our physical body and being able to take in the world through our many senses allows us to build capacities for life on earth.

According to Rudolf Steiner there are ways to connect with our senses that are not compatible with human dignity and there are ways that allow us to connect to our highest development and to the supersensory world. We need to feed them truth, beauty and goodness. We need to take hold of, develop, and rejoice in the world of the senses as gates to the heavenly spirits within ourselves and within the universe. These programs are informed by these ideas with the goal of supporting our highest development.