Monday, August 11, 2014

A study of the ancient Way (Tao) - Neidan

What is Neidan? Neidan (Inner Alchemy) is a generic term commonly used in the West to differentiate it from that of Waidan (Outer Alchemy).

Waidan was practised over the span of a few centuries in China by the ignorant and the foolish who misunderstood the metaphors - especially of the furnace, of the cauldron, of the medicine and the cooking of it - written in earlier Daoist texts by realized persons (Zhen Ren). They literally fired up the furnace, cooked and melted various physical metals in the cauldron to make the so-called elixir of life (Dan). Quite a number of those including royalty who took in this physically manmade elixir, slowly got poisoned over a span of time and paid with their lives for their ignorance.

The metaphors used by realized persons in earlier Daoist texts had in fact pointed to the alchemical experiences of those who have correctly practised Neidan. The furnace (Kun / Earth) and the cauldron (Qian / Heaven) and the cooking of the medicine (Kan / Water and Li / Fire) are depicted in the scanned picture accompanying the articles on “The Circulation of the Light and the Book of Changes”.

Whether you know it, accept it or not, neidan is an integral part of the dual cultivation of human nature (Ren Xing) and fate (Ming).

If neidan meditation based on the ancient Circulation of the Light is practised correctly, essence (Jing) within the body would gradually transform into breath energy (Qi). With continual practice, the Qi (and the Light) would gradually transform into Spirit (Shen).

At a later stage, those with latent talents from Heaven would witness the development of the germinal vesicle. (Liu HuaYang has described the germinal vesicle in his Hui Ming Ching as translated by W/B.) If the germinal vesicle remains undeveloped, there will be no genuine fire to fire the furnace and the medicine cannot be cooked in the cauldron – Zhong LiQuan and Zhang Boduan have had emphasized to posterity its importance in their respective texts. They have had also indicated therein the exact location of the germinal vesicle based on the Book of Changes.

Top scholars of Tao including those who have spent decades in correct neidan practice may fail or get stuck at this stage and later drop out. They could have trivialized prior important instructions given a decade or two ago by their real teacher(s) to further their studies and now remain stuck. At this advance level of neidan they probably have to penetrate (Tong) the designated books and designated ancient classic to obtain the spiritual clarity and the lucidity of a sage before they can unlock the latent talents from Heaven to witness the major eternal signposts of the Way. After all, it is not that easy to join the ranks of the likes of the wise and legendary Zhang SanFeng, and Liu HuaYang at stage two of three of the Zah Yung Ching. (Refer to previous articles which discussed this stage two of the Zah Yung Ching.)

With the continual mixing of the Qi (breath energy) and the Spirit (Shen), and the cooking of the medicine, a golden elixir of life (Jin Dan) would be produced. Upon the intake of the golden elixir, a spiritual embryo would be born. And upon this happening, there will be a non being (Wu) within being (You). Wu Wei will be reached. The exact lodging of the non being would also be witnessed. (Refer to the Secret of the Golden Flower and the Tao Te Ching.)

According to the two referred texts below, the spiritual embryo needs to be constantly nurtured so that it would eventually emerge from the top of the head into empty space (Xu). Once the embryo emerges into empty space, enlightenment is attained with rays of light shining forth. The spiritual embryo would take on the image of the immortal or of a Buddha. (Refer to the Secret of the Golden Flower and the Hui Ming Ching as translated by W/B)

The spiritual embryo has to be further nurtured so that it can return to Tao thus becoming a celestial immortal or a Buddha. Upon this eventuality happening, beings (You) will be generated by the non being (Wu). (Refer to the Hui Ming Ching.)

The penetration (Tong) of the Tao Te Ching could be something like this. The foregoing three paragraphs explain why Laozi said in Tao Te Ching Chapter 40:

Return (reversal) is the movement to Tao

Yielding is the usefulness to Tao

Myriad things under Heaven are born from being

Being(s) born from non being

And that the third paragraph explains why he said in Tao Te Ching Chapter 16, “Tao last forever, without body, (there is) no death”.

There you go, in summary, these are the five alchemical transformations of neidan of Jing - Qi – Shen – Xu – Tao. Essence (Jing) is transformed to breath energy (Qi) and breath energy and the Light are transformed to Spirit (Shen). The spiritual embryo is nurtured and emerges to empty space (Xu) before it returns to the Way (Tao).

It all starts with the dual cultivation of human nature (Ren Xing) and fate (Ming); you could do well to remember that.

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Saturday, August 02, 2014

A study of the ancient Way (Tao)

Tao is a very profound subject to know and few down the ages have shown the wherewithal to write a complete study of the Way. For without a deep working knowledge of the Book of Changes, and of the Tao Te Ching, a study of the Way would just contain a lot of bias and misinformation leading to unnecessary hindrances to its cultivation.

This intended comprehensive study of the ancient Way (Tao) will comprise of a series of articles that could show up the bias of past eminent Chinese scholars and the accompanying misinformation which probably had hindered many down the ages from the cultivation of Tao.

Since the Tang Dynasty, eminent Chinese scholars have had made studies of the Way (Tao). The most prominent of these scholars was probably top Tang poet Han Yu better known by his honorary name Han Wen Gong (Duke Wen of Han). It is to be noted that Han Yu had taught Confucian studies to his young nephew, Han Xiangzi – who later became one of the famous Eight Immortals (Ba Xian). However, Han Yu in turn rejected his nephew’s proffered teaching of Tao. His study of the Way while influential to Neo Confucians including Zhu Xi of Song restricts readers’ knowledge to the confines of benevolence (Ren) and righteousness (Yi). To remain truthful, he called it the study of the Confucian Way.

Yet true scholars of Tao, similar to Laozi and Confucius before them, know for a fact that the Way is universal. Why then is the Way universal?

The holy sages who discovered Tao during their lifetimes embedded this extraordinary natural phenomenon in the Book of Changes for posterity. In the Judgment of Hexagram 24 Fu / Return (extract), it is said:

Friends come without blame. To and fro goes the Way (Tao). On the seventh day comes return.”

This is the course of heaven. [Commentary on this part of the Judgment by Confucius – W/B]

Return is the movement of Tao.” Laozi, Tao Te Ching Chapter 40.

Since Tao cannot be perceived with any of the senses and can seemingly appear or disappear anytime for years, it can be called an extraordinary natural phenomenon.

While Tao cannot be directly perceived, the holy sages, the two great ancient sages – Laozi and Confucius –, and Mencius had had taught how to determine its presence or its absence all under Heaven. And according to these sages, when Tao is all under heaven, myriad things flourish. When Tao withdraws from all under heaven, myriad things recede.

When Tao can so affect the myriad things and mankind with its appearance or its disappearance, is it not therefore universal? (Refer to the Book of Changes, Tao Te Ching, Analects of Confucius, and the Book of Mencius.)

And the Book of Changes could also forewarn the utmost sincere who can foreknow and is like a spirit of the impending disappearance of Tao from all under heaven. (My previous articles on the phenomena and on the particular omen of the then impending closure of Heaven and Earth on September 15, 2008, as it unfolded provide easy reference for eminent Yijing and/or Daoist scholars if they want to do further research.)

In the Discussion on the Trigrams (Shou Gua) (Eight Wing), ancients of great antiquity had indicated that the holy sages put themselves in accord with Tao and Te (natural law and moral law), and in conformity with this laid down the order of what is right. By thinking through the order of the outer world to the end, and by exploring the law of their nature to the deepest core, they arrived at an understanding of fate.

Their purpose was to follow the order of their nature (Xing) and of their fate (Ming). Therefore they determine the tao of heaven and called it the dark and the light. They determined the tao of earth and called it the yielding and the firm. They determined the tao of man and called it benevolence (Ren) and righteousness (Yi). They combined these three fundamental powers and doubled them; therefore in the Book of Changes a sign is always formed by six lines.” [Book II pages 263 and 264 W/B]

In the Commentary on the Words of the Text (Wen Yen) (Seventh Wing), it is indicated that “Because the holy man is clear as to the end and the beginning, as to the way in which each of the six stages completes itself in its own time, he mounts on them toward heaven as though on six dragons.” [Qian / The Creative Book III page 371 W/B]

The holy man, clear to the end and beginning, is therefore able to mount on the six lines of Qian toward heaven as though on six dragons.

Therein lays the ancient secret to the dual cultivation of human nature (Ren Xing) and fate (Ming).

In so doing, humans would cultivate the tao of heaven, the tao of earth and the tao of man; eventually putting themselves - like the holy sages - in accord with Tao and Te. And attain immortality.

Celestial immortality is reached where “Tao last forever, without body, (there is) no death” – Laozi, Tao Te Ching Chapter 16.

The cultivation of Tao (Siu Tao) is the common term used by both Daoists and Buddhists in the Far East for this dual cultivation of human nature and fate; while Western translators have had in the main translated the term to: “the cultivation of essence (Xing) and bodily life (Ming)”.

Top scholars of Tao would eventually come to know that the technical term “human nature and fate” rather than “essence and bodily life” is more appropriate to their study and cultivation of the Way.

In the meantime, go and find a real teacher. The Quanzhen celestial immortals are the real teachers of the Way (Tao). Their knowledge of human nature (Ren Xing) and fate (Ming) is infinite.