This entry serves as a general reply to a reader’s recent question on how to discern a real neidan master. The question arose from my last entry titled ‘Blame it on fate?’ that touched briefly on what unscrupulous masters have done to two or possibly a third generation of Western students. Hopefully, fellow students of the Way can learn something from this entry, too.
The following general definition of a real neidan master would effectively cast out most ‘masters’ who sell their neidan skills online, in DVDs, and books:
As a rule of thumb, a real neidan master is someone healthy, very learned of the ancients and their Tao, highly cultivated, who is versed with dual cultivation – the cultivation of essence (Hsing) and that of life (Ming), and the Yijing, and can tell the student what signposts to expect along the Way with much clarity.
Think of the late Daoist, Confucian and Buddhist master, Liu I Ming (1734 – 1821) of Quanzhen, for example. Here are some of his wise thoughts on good and bad luck in terms of neidan and the Yi:
Heaven and earth can enslave whatever has form, but cannot enslave the formless. Heaven and earth can enslave the emotional but cannot enslave the unemotional. Heaven and earth can enslave those with desire but cannot enslave those without desire.
If you can find out the root source, rest your mind in open selflessness and nurture your mind in one energy, then you will find the two modes, four images, eight trigrams, and sixty four hexagrams are operating there at the root of open selflessness. None of them has ever left it.
Myriad forms are all empty – there is just an open sphere. Let us ask, how can good or bad luck affect this open selfless energy?
[Arcana section – I Ching Mandalas, Thomas Cleary]
Apart from such wisdom displayed, a real master would have a huge amount of Qi acquired through breath control meditation, and not through Taijiquan or physical Qigong exercises.
If the neidan adept really does not know the actual location of the Center or has yet to reach there, probably it could be wise to pack your bags and walk away; unless you prefer to be forever stuck at your master’s highest achievable state of neidan practice.
Probably these additional definitions of his or her capabilities would do away with the remaining balance of so-called masters that knows something about neidan, and may also help students sort out the genuine ones from the fake (and the greedy) in China.
Of course even if you happen to find a real master with whom you have affinity, it will also depend much on you, your intelligence and cultivation to be the right person. When your human master has finally attained Tao and ascended to Heaven, you may still struggle alone on Earth. I have heard of such examples.
Therefore, it does not necessarily mean that learning from a real master (a human or a Daoist heavenly immortal), a student can attain Tao. It is never that easy. A one in a million or a one in a billion chance to attain Tao perhaps, who knows, certainly not me!