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Taoist Yoga. Alchemy and Immortality. Part 4 of 4

Transmuting methods. For it is first necessary to restore the
generative force in order to invigorate the brain for the
purpose of sustaining (eternal) life. Hence this gradual
training should be clear to the student before he starts
training to master the creative power of heaven and earth
thereby sowing the true seed (of immortality).

‘It is up to the student to seek com¬
petent teachers.’ He cannot produce the alchemical agent
by himself because if he is not well versed in the training
he will not know what to do when encountering the mech¬
anism of Creativity; this is due to his wrong assumption
of knowing what he does not really know.

If he trains blindly without waiting for the mechanism of
Creativity to manifest his practice will be not only futile but
also very harmful. Readers are urged to be very careful on
this point. It would be far better for him to wait until his
face radiates before gathering the alchemical agent which
he should then sublimate with fire in the microcosmic orbit
in order to transmute it into vitality; when the generative
force and vitality are full (essential) nature and (eternal)
life will unite into one. For during each additional purifi¬
cation by microcosmic fire, the prenatal generative force,
vitality and spirit will become one, and the practiser will
be aware of the presence of the circle of light, somewhat
similar to the bright sun in mid-heaven which appears in
front of him.

The Taoist Scriptures say: ‘This cavity lies in the centre
between heaven (head) and earth (lower abdomen) in
the human body.’

‘It is wrong to seek it in the body and it is equally wrong to
search for it outside. For when it manifests it becomes a
cavity and when it does not it is undiscoverable.’

When bright stars and flashes of light are seen frequently
they always herald the Mysterious Gate which is in space
and manifests in front of the original cavity of spirit (between
and behind the eyes); it is the real One Vitality, which is
our ‘original face’, boundless like the great emptiness.
Hence it is said: ‘Prenatal One Vitality comes from nothing¬
ness.’

The practiser will see this Mysterious Gate (or circle of
light) suddenly move away from him, and when it returns,
he should gather and hold it first in the original cavity of
spirit (between and behind the eyes) and then absorb it
into the chiang kung centre (or solar plexus) where it will
vibrate as revealed by a rare fragrance in his mouth. He
should refrain from gathering the Mysterious Gate (by
concentrating on it) immediately after its appearance
because to do so will cause it to collide with and cause great
pain to the brain, while self-inflicting troubles follow.

Great emptiness is that nebula which has settled and is
called Heavenly Oneness in the Book of Change,
the All-pervading One in Confucian classics, and
Holding on to One in Taoist scriptures, all these
terms meaning the unity (of all things). The all-pervading
One penetrates the centre (of Reality in the brain i.e. the
tsu chiao) and Holding on to One upholds that centre. Hence
after the basic vitality has been absorbed in the abdomen,
this is what the Tan Ching means by: ‘When One is realised
nothing remains to be done.’

When bright stars and flashes of light are seen frequently
they always herald the Mysterious Gate which is in space
and manifests in front of the original cavity of spirit (between
and behind the eyes); it is the real One Vitality, which is
our ‘original face’, boundless like the great emptiness.
Hence it is said: ‘Prenatal One Vitality comes from nothing¬
ness.’

The practiser will see this Mysterious Gate (or circle of
light) suddenly move away from him, and when it returns,
he should gather and hold it first in the original cavity of
spirit (between and behind the eyes) and then absorb it
into the chiang kung centre (or solar plexus) where it will
vibrate as revealed by a rare fragrance in his mouth. He
should refrain from gathering the Mysterious Gate (by
concentrating on it) immediately after its appearance
because to do so will cause it to collide with and cause great
pain to the brain, while self-inflicting troubles follow.

Great emptiness is that nebula which has settled and is
called Heavenly Oneness (ch’ien i) in the Book of Change,
the All-pervading One (i kuan) in Confucian classics, and
Holding on to One (shou i) in Taoist scriptures, all these
terms meaning the unity (of all things). The all-pervading
One penetrates the centre (of Reality in the brain i.e. the
tsu chiao) and Holding on to One upholds that centre. Hence
after the basic vitality has been absorbed in the abdomen,
this is what the Tan Ching means by: ‘When One is realised
nothing remains to be done.’

He who does not know the potency of the original cavity
of spirit cannot produce basic vitality. He who does not
know how the cauldron and stove work cannot produce
this vitality. He who does not know how to gather the alchemi¬
cal agent, cannot transmute the generative force into basic
vitality and lift it to the brain. He who does not know how
to clear the eight psychic channels, cannot circulate vitality
through them. He who does not know how to join up the
four poles (i.e. prenatal heaven and earth and postnatal heart
and abdomen) cannot gather this basic vitality. He who
does not know how to raise positive and lower negative
fire, cannot develop the light of basic vitality. When this
prenatal basic vitality gathers to return to its source it is
expediently represented by a circle which is prenatal true
nature whose light emerges from the union of generative
force, vitality and spirit manifesting in front of the original
cavity of spirit (tsu ch’iao between and behind the eyes).

However, if he can unite the element of metal (male)
with that of wood (female) and the sun with the moon
in one place by drawing his pupils closely together in
a squint and if he then concentrates them and looks
within, he will see the light of true vitality appearing
(between his eyes) in front of his original cavity of spirit
which will then hold it to prevent it from running away;
and the longer it is held the brighter it will be. When it
becomes stable, it reveals the successful union of the dragon
and tiger (i.e. the female and male vital breaths). When
heart and lower abdomen are linked, heaven and earth are
in perfect harmony.

‘The union of nature and life is the foundation of Tao and
the harmony of the five elements (of metal, wood, water,
fire and earth) produces the elixir of immortality.’

A student should begin his practice with real nature in
order to develop the heavenly (macrocosmic) body so
that his true spirit can emerge from his heart. For form
relies on spirit to be free from decay, and spirit relies on
(essential) nature to be immune from death. So we know
that this real nature embodies both (essential) nature and
(eternal) life, and is symbolised by a circle which stands for
its immaterial substance, free from decay, which is its
spiritual body; and that all material forms are subject to
destruction.

Question Is this circle one’s real face before one was bom;
(if so) what are its form and shape?

Answer This circle manifests through the faithful cultiva¬
tion of (essential) nature and (eternal) life. A diligent
trainee is bound to realise the light of vitality which is red
and reveals the blood-coloured (spurious) Mysterious
Gate and when white shows the genuine gate which has
neither beginning nor end, is neither changeable nor
transformable, neither existing nor non-existent; neither
round nor square, neither excessive nor deficient, neither
increasing nor decreasing, neither coming nor going,
neither created nor destroyed, neither within nor without,
neither yellow nor red, neither white nor blue, and neither
sound nor smell; seeming to be real yet unreal, and dead yet
alive. It functions in activity and is hidden when inactive.
There is no fixed time for it to come in and out, and its
whereabouts is undiscoverable. Since time immemorial it
has existed between heaven and earth, being the core of all
things and the root of rebirth and transformation.

Question You have said that the first six steps
contribute to the full development of positive spirit
as revealed by the light of vitality which is called the
Mysterious Gate, positive spirit or original face. In spite of its
many names it is only the radiant circle or ball of light
(mentioned earlier). Although I have only recently begun
to practise, I realise this bright white light after the first
step; is it the true nature as revealed by the Mysterious
Gate?

Answer You have only realised the negative spirit which
appears during the preliminary step of practice. When you
close your eyes and see a white light in front of you it is
negative spirit which is absolutely useless. By practising
all the first six steps you will gather the outer and inner
alchemical agent and so restore the generative force to
invigorate the brain so that the positive spirit manifests.
The light of vitality thus seen while your eyes are open
is the Mysterious Gate which reveals the real nature realised
by cultivating both (essential) nature and (eternal) life, which
is the secret of alchemy.

HOLDING ON TO THE CENTRE

If you wrongly search for negative spirit by closing your
eyes to look into the (relative) emptiness of the void it will
lead to (the realm of) birth and death, which is in the pro¬
vince of consciousness; you will then achieve nothing until
you die. But if you follow the first six steps to gather the
alchemical agent according to the doctrine of the cultiva¬
tion of both (essential) nature and (eternal) life, you will
realise the positive spirit which is the outcome of meditation
on the void that is not empty (i.e. is the absolute) and is
beyond birth and death. The spirit thus created is beyond
spirit itself for the light of (essential) nature comes from the
ultimateless (wu chi) which manifests when your body is
full of prenatal generative force and disappears when the
latter is lacking. The presence of this light of (essential) nature
leads to life whereas its absence causes death. The cultiva¬
tion of both nature and life leads to the realisation of this
light of prenatal vitality whereas the production of post¬
natal negative spirit results in consciousness.

This method consists of driving into the cavity of vitality
(below the navel) the positive spirit which has gathered in
front of its original cavity (tsu ch’iao between and behind
the eyes) and is called plunging spirit into the lower tan
t’ien centre. This centre (under the navel) has outer and
inner cells; the outer cell is the source of the positive and
negative principles, which is the abode of (vital) breath,
the spring of foetal breathing and the mechanism of in
and out breathing; the inner is where the Tao foetus is
created and the (vital) breath stays, and is the home of
serenity. When the (inner) vital breath moving up and down
in the body, does not go up beyond the heart or down
beyond the lower abdomen, it becomes the real (or stabi¬
lised vital) breath which will in time enter this cavity
(under the navel to stay there) causing the sudden mani¬
festation of true serenity.

The student, awakened to the teaching, should strive to
control his heart (the house of fire) by driving his mind
into the field of concentration so as to still and disengage
it from sense data. When the mind stops wandering outside,
consciousness will melt away, and the five aggregates will
be empty of externals so that spirit and vitality will gather
and stay within and no longer scatter without.

The body is the abode of (vital) breath and the heart
(the house of fire) is the temple of spirit. If vitality is cut off
spirit will lose support and cannot stay in the heart for an
instant. Therefore, a practiser enjoying good health will
feel his vital breath vibrate in his body after practising
meditation for a long time, and he will finally perceive his
original face which is the light of (essential) nature. He
will feel unusual comfort, and by concentrating on spirit
to gather vitality he will thereby cultivate (eternal) life;
only then can the goal of cultivating (eternal) fife be attained.

He should wait until the light becomes red and vibrates
to gather immediately prenatal vitality which is bound to
disperse if it is not kept in cold storage in the lower tan
t’ien cavity (under the navel).

In your daily meditation if you cannot set your heart
at rest in order to fix spirit in its original cavity (in the
centre of the brain between and behind the eyes), you
should rely on the working of the stove and cauldron and
on the channels of control and function so that you can stop
the thinking process. If you succeed in holding on to that
cavity you will immediately realise the state of serenity;
but if you fail, this is due solely to your remissness.

All eight (psychic) channels are clear in the prenatal state
but prenatal vitality is cut off after a man falls into post¬
natal condition (i.e. when the umbilical cord has been cut).
Therefore, it is important to study Chapter 3 and practise
its teaching in order to keep all psychic channels clear so
that vitality and blood circulate freely in the body and
thereby wipe out all ailments.

If you do not practise meditation you will never achieve
this wonderful result.

The cavity of the dragon is (the lower tan t’ien under
the navel) which is the seat of the element of water and
contains the original vital force. The heart is the seat of the
element of fire and contains the original spirit. The method
consists of concentrating on the lower abdomen under the
navel thereby directing the element of fire in spirit down to
the northern sea (the lower tan t’ien) wherein the element
of water, being scorched, will evaporate and become
steam that soars up.

Fire is hot and soars up; it is symbolised by the maiden
who weaves hard day and night, is likened to the heart
(the seat of fire) which is impermanent, refuses to relinquish
worldly attachments and is subject to the endless round of
birth and death. Water is wet and flows down; it is sym¬
bolised by the cowherd tilling the soil without respite, who
stands for vitality that scatters easily; when the latter is
exhausted he will have no time even to turn his head (to
think of himself).

Taoist alchemy uses the (planetary) signs in heaven to
teach the method of preparing the elixir of immortality
with analogies which are very profound and are not meant
to deceive (and harm) others.

‘Even if you are still
not clear about heaven and earth, the sun and moon, the
heart (house of fire) and lower abdomen (house of water)
and the centre (of the four cardinal points) (see figure 4 on
page 30) you can gather the light as expounded in Chapter 7
and drive it into your lower abdomen by concentrating on
the lower tan t’ien cavity there, until true vitality in time
vibrates and rises to the chiang kung centre (in the solar
plexus) where it will stay for a little before returning to the
lower tan t’ien where it will vibrate there for some time
before returning to stillness. Suddenly it will re-enter the
cavity of vitality (below the navel) where it will stay still;
this is the state of utter serenity (ta ting) which reveals the
linking of heart and lower abdomen, and the centralisation
of all four cardinal points, also called ‘the stable equilibrium
of water and fire.

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