Circling the Square – Uniting Heaven and Earth Through Personal Incarnation

by Steve Kippax

In Chinese cosmology, the circle relates to heaven and the square relates to earth. Incarnation is seen as offering you the potential to unite heaven and earth through personal existence.

Even though some may not know it, incarnation is the reason for existence, along with ataraxia: having a good time in the process. While there is indeed suffering in life, life is not exclusively about suffering – but it is about balance. The mistake made is to regard the gap between birth and death as life, but this is not life. It is merely the manifestation of ego. Life continues beyond such manifestations. 

Whichever phrase you feel most comfortable with – enlightenment, the vision of God, Samadhi, Nirvana, awareness, union with the divine, bliss, rapture – in any given incarnation, any individual can attain the ability to, when the spirit leaves the body, decide whether or not to incarnate again rather than being a slave to karma and having no conscious control or awareness over one’s spiritual fate.

Once one has been freed of the shackles of necessity, there are seductive arguments on both sides. To exist as spirit allows communion with vast swathes of previous and future beings with none of the shackles and restrictions of mere physical existence. To incarnate can be in the Bodhisattva role to help and explain and teach others, which has the hugely beneficial aspect of inhabiting a physical body with all that implies: pain, suffering and grief, happiness, ecstasy, sensory experience and union with others.

During one’s meditational exercises, it is necessary to bring down fire from heaven and to bring up coolness from the earth to be amalgamated, mixed and purified in oneself. When incarnate, it is necessary to maintain and support one’s physical, mental and emotional wellness to provide a vehicle for development, enjoyment and to attain awareness.

The four pillars provide a practical schema for achieving this. Maintaining one’s health, regaining it rapidly when it is lost, and maximising life span are all achievable if one does the right thing. 

The Four Pillars


Sensible, physical, age-appropriate exercise has so many benefits for wellness that it is almost not necessary to list. However, just in case you may have forgotten, here are a few of the more obvious benefits of exercise:

Improves cardiovascular function

Exercise increases perfusion through the blood vessels and will strengthen the function of your heart. It will help to reduce cholesterol levels, as well as reducing the risk of hardening of the arteries, known as arteriosclerosis and atheroma.

Exercise will also help to reduce water retention (oedema).

Beneficial to the nervous system

Exercise has been shown to help to reduce stress and its negative effects on the body: it is well known for releasing endorphins. These are naturally-produced hormones that are responsible for a sense of relaxation, happiness and calmness. Endorphins have been compared to opiates due to their relaxing and euphoria-inducing ability – but are much better for you.

One survey showed that regular exercise could reduce the risk of womb (endometrial) cancer by 20 to 40%, while another showed that exercise could reduce the risk of breast cancer by approximately 25%.


Tranquility of mind makes us live longer and better. Awareness, wellness, and growth are grounded in body control, breath control and mind control. Breath control is an essential – though often overlooked and sometimes belittled – partner in your awareness.

If you are not actively getting better then you are getting worse. Nothing stays the same, so get better!


Treatments take many different shapes and sizes, however as part of the whole approach here advocated, there are solutions that you can access – touch, herbs and homeopathy – taken accurately in the correct time and place will do you no harm, and allows the time and space to initiate change to occur.


Don’t dig your grave with your teeth! The diet you need to regain your wellness may quite likely be different to the one you now enjoy.

While all foodstuffs have their inherent natures, flavours and temperatures, how they interact with you is unique. Though allergy and food tests are becoming more accurate and expanding all the time, they are not definitive. The only way to really find out is through avoiding foods that may aggravate your system (for about 2 weeks, allowing the body to ‘clear itself out’ and thus be in a neutral state) and then individually reintroduce the foods that have been missed and see what (if any) reaction occurs.

If you are interested in finding out more, Health in Theory and Practice – Circling the Square is available now, and Steve Kippax will be at Watkins Books on 24th October giving a free talk.  More information

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Originally using Western herbal medicine and homeopathy, Steve Kippax became interested in traditional Chinese medicine and studied Chinese herbal medicine from the late 1980s. He attended the University Hospital in Guangzhou People’s Republic of China to further his studies in herbal medicine and diet therapy, and to learn acupuncture, tui na massage and qi gong.

Steve has worked in private practices and the NHS, has been Head of Complementary Medicine at Third Space, President of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists, and was named as one of the top 20 Health Gurus in the country by the Daily Telegraph.

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