Hui Ming Ching or the Book of Consciousness and Life is a short Buddhist text written by Liu HuaYang, a Chan Buddhist. It is said that Liu started off as a Confucian scholar before he became a Chan Buddhist and subsequently ended up as a Daoist; therefore he could be more familiar than most with the Three Doctrines - Daoist, Confucian, and Buddhist. Liu co-founded Wu-Liu Pai with his accredited teacher, Wu Chungxu, a Quanzhen Daoist. Apparently both co-founders believe that Daoist Celestial Immortals and Buddhas practised the same methods for their enlightenment. They probably also subscribed to the advice of the renowned Neo Daoists, Quanzhen Patriarch Lu Dongbin and his friend, Chen Tuan, and his student, Wang ChongYang (the Founder and fifth Patriarch of Quanzhen) to study the Three Doctrines.
According to Liu HuaYang, he had had combined the notes of the Shurangama Sutra (Lengyen Ching) and the Huayen Ching with occasional references to other sutras to write his Hui Ming Ching. He had written the Book for companions pursuing the divine workings of the dual cultivation of human nature (Xing) and life (Ming); and to provide information on the germinal vesicle requisite to generate the spiritual embryo.
Based on this, the Shurangama Sutra and the Huayen Ching could be significant sutras to Chan Buddhists. And in his Secret of the Golden Flower, Lu Dongbin had had also made references to the Shurangama Sutra.
The Hui Ming Ching contains a few drawings, eight sections of verses, and commentary on the first five sections by Liu HuaYang. It is suggested that neidan students also read the Hui Ming Ching to understand the teachings of the Buddha.
This particular second section of verses and the accompanying commentary (extracts) is worthy of note to real neidan (inner alchemy) practitioners:
The six periods of circulation in conformity with the law
If one discerns the beginning of the Buddha’s path,
There will be the blessed city of the West.
After the circulation in conformity with the law, there is a turn upward towards heaven when the breath is drawn in.
When the breath flows out energy is directed towards the earth.
One time-period consists of six intervals (hou).
In two intervals one gathers Moni (Sakyamuni).
The great Tao comes forth from the centre.
Do not seek the primordial seed outside!
The most marvelous effect of the Tao is the circulation in conformity with the law. What makes the movement inexhaustible is the path. What best regulates the speed are the rhythms (kuei). What best determines the number of the exercises is the method of the intervals (hou).
This presentation contains the whole law, and the true features of the Buddha from the West are contained in it.
[Hui Ming Ching as translated by Wilhelm / Baynes]
Daoists, Buddhists, and others who practise the backward flow movement for the Circulation of the Light would recognize with ease ‘The six periods of circulation in conformity with the law’, since they are the same meditation.
If the indications by Liu HuaYang are correct, it could mean that the Buddha had also practised the ancient Circulation of the Light similar to what the Holy Sages, Laozi, and the Daoist Celestial Immortals had done in their dual cultivation of human nature and fate.
This would explain why the Shurangama Sutra contains some eternal signposts of the Way and why in the Secret of the Golden Flower, Lu Dongbin had had made references to what the Buddha had taught in this particular ancient Buddhist Classic.
And if regular readers do not quite understand why this second section of the Hui Ming Ching has anything to do with the ancient meditation, cross check it with my Circulation of the Light and I Ching (2) article dated May 6, 2013. For additional clarity, Qian is the image of Heaven and Kun is the image of Earth.
It is also advisable for those who believe in or are misled (by translators of the Secret of the Golden Flower or others) into believing in “turning the light around” to cross check it too. Otherwise they could spend a lifetime in chasing rainbows but never to find the proverbial pot of gold, thus sinking into oblivion.
The germinal vesicle and the spiritual embryo are major eternal signposts of Tao which can be witnessed in the advance stages of the dual cultivation of human nature and fate. Several Zhen Ren (realized persons) had had written about them in their Daoist texts.
Based on his writing of the Hui Ming Ching and on his vivid description of the germinal vesicle therein, Liu HuaYang would have reached stage two of the Zah Yung Ching by then. (The legendary Zhang SanFeng had had also reached the same stage at the time of his commentary on Lu Dongbin’ Hundred Character stele – refer to the article on Circulation of the Light and Zah Yung Ching – December 2013.)
With the dual cultivation of human nature and fate, the first class scholar of Tao would be able to empty the mind (Xin) and keep still the heart (Xin) for the Return. And those who have actually practised the ancient Circulation of the Light would be able to witness the eternal signposts of Tao, each and every major step they take to Heaven. This witnessing of the eternal signposts forms part and parcel of the magical far journey!
To repay a favor to Liu HuaYang having learned something from his Hui Ming Ching, I will point out the mistaken beliefs of some Chan and Zen Buddhists if they choose to listen before it is too late.
Just sitting in meditation (Dazou) and contemplating on the mind daily for hours on end, does not cut it. Any Chan masters worth their salt upon rereading the Tao Te Ching would know that during meditation the mind needs to be empty not cluttered! Zhuangzi had had also indicated in his Xin Zhai that the mind needs to be empty.
If Chan masters cannot witness any eternal signposts after years or decades of study and practice, it proves that the “turning the light around” is simply a bypath.
If these particular Chan masters cannot witness any of the eternal signposts embedded in the Book of Changes, Tao Te Ching, Zhuangzi, Shurangama Sutra, Zah Yung Ching, and in the Hui Ming Ching, what are they really practising, if not bypaths?
Instead of focusing on the breath (Qi) as indicated in Xin Zhai by Zhuangzi and in the Secret of the Golden Flower by Lu Dongbin, if these Chan masters continue to focus on the mind, they will not be able to witness any eternal signposts let alone prolong life (Ming). (Stage one of the Zah Yung Ching is to prolong life.)
If they cannot even see the Light as indicated in Xin Zhai, how could they investigate it as taught in the Shurangama Sutra (Lengyan Ching) by the Buddha? Without the investigation of the Light, how could they use the Light as taught in Tao Te Ching Chapter 52 by Laozi? (The Zhuangzi, the Shurangama Sutra, and the Tao Te Ching contain important ancient teachings for Chan masters.)
Buddhists would know that the great ancient sage Buddha attained his enlightenment only after a lengthy and gradual process. While a man of great wisdom such as the Buddha had had to go through the magical far journey just like the Holy Sages who wrote the Book of Changes and Laozi had done to reach enlightenment, those with little or no wisdom tend to toy with and cling on to the New Age invention of “sudden enlightenment”.
“Sudden enlightenment” was a term invented in 734 by Shenhui, the Imperial Court’s appointed Seventh Patriarch of Chan Buddhism, to attack the gradual enlightenment approach of the Northern School. It is interesting to note that Huineng, the Sixth Patriarch, had not passed on Bodhidharma’ robe, nor named a successor; probably because he could not find any of his students including Shenhui worthy to do so. And that a number of Western scholars had condemned Shenhui for coming up with the specious term, “Sudden Enlightenment”. (More details and information on Shenhui and his “Sudden Enlightenment” are available at Wikipedia.)
Chan and Zen Buddhists can now start shooting if they so wish. Thank you for your patience. Please do not tell your grandmasters’ (or grandfathers’) stories!
Instead, impress the audience by substantiating your shots with quotes from ancient classics and/or Buddhist sutras. And they may believe you.