In a previous entry – May 11, 2005 – one had briefly run through this magic spell which according to Lu Dongbin was left behind by Yu Ching, an ancient who lived during the Chun Chiu (Spring & Autumn) era. In his Secret of the Golden Flower, Lu Dongbin probably had explained about the poem, but the version of this part of the tract obtained by Richard Wilhelm seemed corrupted (refer to page 7 of his translation).
Without an accompanying explanation to the poem, neidan students reading it may not understand what Yu Ching wanted to say. Frankly speaking, one had also been confused for a while, but when students have reached a fairly advanced stage, they can be a bit clearer about what the magic spell for the far journey is all about.
Meanwhile for those who follow the Secret of the Golden Flower for their daily neidan practice, one will make an attempt to explain what ‘A magic spell for the far journey’ may actually mean:
Four words crystallize the spirit in the space of energy.
The four words refer to the four verses (which represent two stages in neidan practice) in the poem before reaching the crystallization of the spirit in the space of energy. A neidan practitioner must first learn how to convert Essence to Qi, then Qi to Spirit. The practitioner can see where the space of energy is.
The space of energy is similar to the ‘lighted room’ in Xin Zhai and/or the ‘lodging place’ in the Nei-Yeh.
In the sixth month white snow is suddenly seen to fly.
Greater heat falls in the Chinese sixth month. Can white snow be seen to fly during late summer? Probably not, perhaps the reason why later generations thought this verse depicts a looming disaster since it is not of nature to see flying snow during the sixth month. They may have misunderstood its meaning.
When the Qi and light circulates during meditation, the practitioner feels warm or hot just like in summer no matter what the season.
With the strong heat and rising steam, the neidan practitioner depending on his or her aptitude may see white snow flying.
At the third watch the sun’s disk sends out blinding rays.
The third watch signifies midnight to the Chinese. Can the sun send out blinding rays during midnight? Of course in nature, it cannot.
However at midnight or in the dark, the sun’s blinding rays can be seen during meditation.
When neidan practitioners progress further, they may reach the following stage:
In the water blows the wind of the Gentle.
The trigram Sun / The Gentle represents wind and wood. Yu Ching seems to know the Book of Changes well.
In the water (Dui) blows the wind (Sun), signifies the Qi moving water up from the kidneys.
Wandering in heaven, one eats the spirit-energy of the Receptive.
This advanced stage is a bit more complicated to explain. By now the Qi has already cleansed the lodging place for the numinous spirit. The spirit has appeared in heaven (Qian / The Creative) and energy has come up from earth (Kun / The Receptive) to meet it.
Energy and spirit then mutually penetrate each other in heaven to form spirit-energy on earth.
And the still deeper secret of the secret: The land that is nowhere, that is the true home…
Since it is the deeper secret of the secret, one will let readers and neidan practitioners figure it out for themselves where the true home is.
After you have found out where the true home is, there is still some ways to go. Otherwise the poem will not be called, "A magic spell for the far journey".
With my attempt to explain this poem written more than 2,500 years ago, regular readers may understand why one often suggests that the various signposts given by ancients or Daoist immortals in their texts and classics can still be seen by neidan practitioners of today. That is magic. But if you wish to take the explanation with a pinch of salt, by all means do so.