Monday, January 20, 2014

Wu Shouyang on the Alchemical Embryo


The stage of "refining Breath to transmute it into Spirit" constitutes an advanced stage of the alchemical work, in which one's practice progresses from "doing" to "non-doing." The Great Medicine is called Embryo of Sainthood (shengtai) or Infant (ying'er). Both terms are actually metaphors for Spirit and Breath coagulating and coalescing with one another. Wu Shouyang explains the meaning of these terms saying:

"Metaphorically it is called 'embryo,' as if there is truly an embryo. In fact, however, there is no embryo. Why is it so? Because according to the principle of giving birth, one generates the embryo of a child in the womb; and according to the principle of cultivating immortality, one generates an embryo of Spirit in the Heart. The worldly people hear the word 'embryo' and say that within the womb there is truly an embryo, which then leaves and becomes 'a body outside the body' (shen wai shen). This is truly risible. Essentially, the human nature is perfectly empty and perfectly numinous; it is devoid of a form and a body." (1)

(1) Wu Shouyang (1574-1644), Xian Fo hezong yulu (Recorded Sayings on the Common Origin of the Immortals and the Buddhas), with minor omissions and changes


▶ Quoted from Foundations of Internal Alchemy: The Taoist Practice of Neidan, by Wang Mu, page 107— Read more on and from this book

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Qian and Kun, Kan and Li




▶ Quoted from The Seal of the Unity of the Three: A Study and Translation of the Cantong qi, the Source of the Taoist Way of the Golden Elixir, by Fabrizio Pregadio, pages 78-79— Read more on and from this book


Qian ☰ the firm and Kun ☷ the yielding
join and embrace one another;
Yang endows, Yin receives,
the masculine and the feminine attend
        one to the other.
Attending, they create and transform,
unfolding their Essence and Breath.

Kan ☵ and Li ☲ are at the fore:
their radiance and glow come down
        and spread out.
Mysterious and obscure, this can hardly
        be fathomed
and cannot be pictured or charted.
The sages gauged its depth;
one with it, they set forth its foundation.

These four, in indistinction,
are right within Empty Non-Being.
Sixty hexagrams revolve around them,
outspread like a chariot.
Harnessing a dragon and a mare,
the bright noble man holds the reins of time.

In harmony there are following and compliance:
the path is level and begets no evil.
Evil ways obstruct and hamper:
they endanger the kingdom.


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