Taoist Yoga. Alchemy and Immortality. Part 5
This circle is achieved by the successful practice
of the first six steps (taught in Chapters 1 to 6). When pre¬
natal original vitality is realised the light of generative
force, vitality and spirit soars up and manifests in front of
the original cavity of spirit (tsu ch’iao between and behind
the eyes). It is indescribable and is expediently called Tao.
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).
He who has this vitality lives and he who loses it dies.
For the human body envelops vitality which in turn con¬
tains spirit. Hence when (vital) breath leaves the body a
man dies and when vitality scatters, his spirit, lacking
support, will become a ghost.
The circle (or Mysterious Gate) is achieved by successful
practice of the seventh step (taught in this chapter) which
consists of gathering basic vitality in order to hold on to the
centre (between and behind the eyes) and realise the one¬
ness (of things). He who succeeds in gathering it will see the
light of (essential) nature appear and then scatter. Because of
his successful practice of the method of uniting the sun with
the moon and of the rise of vitality in front of the original
cavity of spirit, this light will again appear and will in time
disperse once more. He will see it appear again as clean and
spotless as before, but since he fails to gather and hold it,
it will again fly away. Thus he will miss it and so let the
mechanism of Creativity slip away without achieving any
results, which is most regrettable.
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; and when the dragon and tiger ‘copu¬
late’, the positive and negative elements of earth unite,
thus gathering the four symbols ( prenatal
heaven and earth and postnatal heart and abdomen) in
the central cavity ( the solar plexus) to
produce the macrocosmic alchemical agent. The Book of
Change calls this the generative forces of heaven and earth by
means of which all things are reproduced without interruption.
The sexual union of man and woman begets offspring to
continue the human race. The union of the positive and
negative forces of heaven and earth creates myriads of
things. Alchemy produces the macrocosmic agent by means
of intercourse between the positive yang and negative yin.
If the macrocosmic alchemical agent is gathered when it
is young it will disperse and there is no way to prevent this,
but if the student has received instruction from an exper¬
ienced master and knows the correct method he can gather
and keep it in the cauldron (in the lower abdomen) to
produce the golden nectar.
“After nature and life have been
returned to the macrocosm there is no reason why the
practiser should fail to produce the golden elixir”
Only a good understanding of the union of sun and moon can
lead to real achievement.’
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.
(Life on Earth is bombarding the mind through the five senses, and make it difficult to spiritually evolving))
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).
What do you mean by the union of the male
element of metal with the female element of wood?
Answer The male element of metal is the sun and the female
element of wood is the moon. After a man has fallen into
the postnatal state (i.e. has been born), he loses the power of
concentration; this is why his sun and moon do not unite.
If he understands the profound meaning of their union and
concentrates on the cavity of the dragon (lung kung below
the navel) until they both unite, true vitality will manifest
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.
The immersion of fire in water causes their ‘copulation*
and the resultant condition is called ‘fire and water in stable
equilibrium ’ (shui huo chi chi). If the outer sun and moon
do not mingle their lights the inner water and fire do not
‘copulate’ and prenatal true vitality cannot manifest. If
they are left to themselves to follow their postnatal course the
element of fire will remain dry and that of water will
continue wet, with the former soaring up and the latter
going down, both running in opposite directions. If water is
not scorched by fire it will not evaporate to become steam
that soars up.
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.
Hsu Ching Yang said: ‘If the macrocosmic elixir of
immortality is not produced by intermingling the lights of
the sun and moon, and the union of heaven with earth,
what can make it?’ This is the wonderful union of the ele¬
ments of metal and wood.
Question Will you please enlighten me on the various stages
of sublimation during the microcosmic orbiting?
Answer The microcosmic orbit is also called the wheel of
the law. Wind and fire are used to drive vitality through
the (psychic) channels of control in the spine) and
of function ( in the front of the body). When starting
the exercise, inhalation and exhalation should succeed
each other to stop all external disturbances so that spirit
and vitality can unite. The practiser will feel warmth below
the navel, and this feeling may later last for the whole day.
He will then notice that positive vitality will first rise from
the base of the spine; it will in time, as his practice continues,
go up the backbone, and if his determination is firm, will
pierce through the occiput to reach the top of his head.
So if he has been taught the secret of alchemy, he can drive
t his positive vitality through the three gates (in the channel
of control) at once.
For when positive vitality manifests it always tends to
sink and disperse. Spirit can hold vitality only temporarily
but lacks the driving power of breathing, and without
breathing, vitality cannot be driven into the channels of
control and function (to circulate in the microcosmic
orbit) and will finally drain away by the genital gate; this
is caused by the lack of pressure from in and out breathing.
‘After gathering the
alchemical agent to make good the loss of generative
force, a fascinating white light will appear in both eyes’
which means the joining up of the sun (the left eye or the
male principle) with the moon (the right eye or female
principle); only then can both eyes be concentrated on
the lower abdomen in which a white light is imagined as
manifesting. After looking into the lower tan t’ien for
several tens of days suddenly a sound will be heard, fol¬
lowed by the ascent of real vitality from the lower belly to
the heart (the house of fire) where it stays still, thence going
down to return to the lower tan t’ien. This daily exercise
without counting the number of days, will decrease the
number of in and out breaths and strip the heart (the seat
of fire) of thoughts and stirrings while no trace of the body
can be found; this is the state of deep serenity.