Sam F.S. Chin talks about the Philosophy of his “I Liq Chuan” system
Reference: I Liq Chuan
The Dao is nonaction, yet nothing is left undone.
Purity of mind does not come from knowledge and wisdom.
What is knowledge? What is purity?
Knowlegde is to give up all wisdom. Purity is to be empty in going along.
Going along, not following: this is pervasion of mind.
Pervade the One and all affairs are done!
The One is the root, affairs are the gate.
When affairs return to the One, the One is always there.
From Annotated Mysterious Pearly Mirror of the Mind by Jiao Shaoxuan
Reference: Sitting in Oblivion by Liva Kohn 2010 p.66
Daoist Neidan Yangsheng Gong by Daoist Master Su Hua Ren
Wang Xing Qing
A young woman, Lindsey Wei, graduates from high school in America and sets out to find her roots in China, questing for who she is and where her life path belongs. She discovers in herself a skill for martial arts and seeks the hidden knowledge of meditation. After three years of study in various martial styles and unveiling false teachers, she is finally led to the ancient Wudang Mountains. Here she meets a Daoist recluse, Li Shi Fu, who has renounced the world of the ‘red dust’ and long since retired into an isolated temple to cast oracles and read the stars. The coming together of these two extraordinary characters, master and disciple, begins a spiritual relationship taking the young adept on an unforgettable journey through the light and dark sides of modern China and deep into herself. Battling between earthly desires and heavenly knowledge, she makes the transformation into a dynamic and complete woman.
A coming-of-age, personal account, the book describes the lived experiences of a profoundly sincere, bitter yet ultimately liberating female quest. It is written for anyone who ponders the true meaning of Chinese wisdom and the way of the Dao in the hope of discovering a deeper strength within themselves.
Reference: The Valley Spirit: A Female Story of Daoist Cultivation by Lindsey Wei
When a person shouts in an empty valley, there is a reverberation of sound. In folklore this is called the spirit. Because it has a voice but no form, it is called the spirit of the valley.
What I realize as I observe this is the Tao of nurturing the spirit in emptiness.
If people can be empty within, this is the valley. Within emptiness there is a point of spiritual energy, hidden inside; this is the spirit.
This valley is tranquil and unperturbed, this spirit is sensitive and effective. Only the valley can be spiritual- without the valley there is no spirituality. The marvel of the spirit is only in the valley.
People of the world are full of personal desires that block up the spiritual opening, polluting it in a hundred ways – how can they have a valley? Since they do n o t have the valley, they are confused and troubled, like drunkards or dreamers; their spiritual energy wanes away, so how can they have the spirit? Once they have lost the spirit, even though alive they are as if dead.
If you can sweep away all entanglements and wash away accumulated obsessions, so as to be clean and naked, bare and free, with nothing at all, then in that empty valley there will naturally be something indefinable with essential vitality, a non psychological spirit that is responsive, effective, and wise. Let go, it fills the universe; wrapped up, it is stored in secrecy. Thereby one can be a peer of heaven above and earth below.
Reference: Awakening to the Tao Lui I-ming translated by Thomas Cleary
Precelestial breath, Postcelestial breath. Those who obtain them always seem to be drunk.
The precelestial Breath is the original and initial Ancestral Breath.1 This Ancestral Breath is in the real center of Heaven and Earth within the human body. [Placed between] the Secret Door and the Gate of Life, hanging in the middle, it is the Heart of Heaven.2 The self-cultivation of the divine Immortals only consists in collecting the precelestial One Breath and using it as the Mother of the Elixir.
The postcelestial Breath is the Breath that circulates internally: one exhalation, one inhalation, once coming, once going. “Exhaling touches onto the root of Heaven, inhaling touches onto the root of Earth. On exhaling, ‘the dragon howls and the clouds rise’; on inhaling, ‘the tiger roars and the wind blows.’”3
When [the postcelestial Breath] is “unceasing and continuous,”4 it returns to the Ancestral Breath. The internal and the external inchoately merge, and coalesce to form the Reverted Elixir (huandan). Then you become aware of a burning fire in the Cinnabar Field that spreads to the four limbs. You look like a fool or like drunk, but “its beauty lies within.”5 This is why it says, “those who obtain them always seem to be drunk.”
This is what the Daode jing (Book of the Way and Its Virtue) means when it says:
The Spirit of the Valley never dies:
it is called the Mysterious-Female. The gate of the Mysterious-Female
is called the root of Heaven and Earth.
Unceasing and continuous,
its operation never wears out.6
And this is what the Book of Changes (Yijing) means when it says about the Kun ䷁ hexagram:
From the Yellow Center it spreads to the veining, as it places itself in the correct position. Its beauty lies within, and extends to the four limbs.7
1. “Precelestial” (xiantian) and “postcelestial” (houtian) refer to the states before and after the generation of the cosmos. The precelestial Breath (qi) is the One Breath of the Dao. Once the cosmos is generated, it is permeated by the postcelestial Breath, which manifests itself in the multiplicity of the directions of space, the cycles of time, and all the entities and phenomena that exist and occur within space and time. In the human being, in particular, the postcelestial Breath is the breath (qi) of ordinary breathing. In any of its forms, however, the postceles- tial Breath hides and preserves the precelestial Breath, or one “particle” of it. In the strict sense of the term, the purpose of Neidan is the recovery of the precelestial Breath—represented as the Elixir—and its reconjunction with the postcelestial Breath.
2. The first part of this sentence alludes to the description of the center of the human body in the Huangting jing (Scripture of the Yellow Court): “Above is the Hun Numen, below is the Origin of the Barrier; on the left is the Minor Yang, on the right is the Great Yin; behind is the Secret Door, in front is the Gate of Life” (“Inner” version, poem 2). The Secret Door (mihu) is the kidneys, or a point in their region. The Gate of Life (shengmen) is the lower Cinnabar Field, or a point in its region. — The Huangting jing, originally dating from the second or the third century, is one of the main texts on early Taoist meditation. It exists in two versions, usually referred to as “Outer” and “Inner.” The “Inner” version” is later and longer compared to the “Outer” version.
3. This passage is quoted, without attribution, in Xiao Tingzhi’s (fl. 1260–64) Jindan wenda (Questions and Answers on the Golden Elixir). It is also found in Li Daochun’s (fl. 1288–92) Zhonghe ji (Anthology of Central Harmony), ch. 4.
4. This expression derives from the passage of the Daode jing (Book of the Way and Its Virtue) quoted at the end of the commentary to the present section.
5. This expression derives from the passage of the Book of Changes quoted at the end of the commentary to the present section.
6. Daode jing, sec. 6.
7. Book of Changes (Yijing), “Wenyan” (Explanation of the Sen- tences) on the hexagram Kun ䷁ (see Wilhelm, I Ching or Book of Changes, p. 395). The first sentence is also found in the Cantong qi (The Seal of the Unity of the Three), sec. 19: “From the Yellow Center it gradually spreads through the veining: moistening and impregnating, it reaches the flesh and the skin” (see Pregadio, The Seal of the Unity of the Three, p. 77). In the explication given by Wang Jie, these passages of the Daode jing and the Book of Changes refer to the precelestial Breath.
Reference: Commentary on the Mirror for Compounding the Medicine (Ruyao jing zhujie) translated by Fabrizio Pregadio
Essences Of Wudang -Ten Daoist Steps
Wudang Dragongate Kungfu Schools Headmaster introduces one of the most important essences for wudang daoist arts. The ten daoist steps which are shown here are only the yang part of the whole set which also includes the very advanced ten yin steps. The steps are movements which contain many different aspects of training like balance, qi development, qi control, breathing, coordination, flow, strength and internal cultivation.
The ten daoist steps include the cat step, taiji ball step, contemplating the dao step, yin yang harmony step, crane step, turtle step and more.
Bai Yuzhan said, “The path of inner refinement is extremely simple and easy; just get the fire of the heart to descend into the elixir field. The elixir field is the chamber of water, while the heart is fire. When fire enters water, then water and fire mix and true yang is produced. Therefore people Call them heart and genitals,not water and fire.”
The realized man Zhengyang said, “Getting the fire of the heart to descend is the South Star shifting to the position of the North Star.”
Shi Xingling said, “Gather in your spirit back into your energy and the alchemical process will naturally take place.”
Liu Haizhan said, “I have realized the principle of long life – intense yang subdues intense yin.”
Xu Jingyang said, “I will disclose my family way to you – the sun shifts into the light of the moon.”
Master Wang Chongyang said, “When you begin to build the foundation, first take the spirit in the upper opening and sink it into the lower opening, in the cavern of energy. Mind and breath keeping together causes pure attention to be ever aware. Alternating exhalation and inhalation come and go in the furnace of creation; after a long time this becomes thoroughly familiar, and fire will naturally erupt from below the navel, a tiger will emerge from the water. Without even trying to return to central balance, you spontaneously revert to central balance.
“When you first watch over the opening, turning your attention around to gaze within, it is a black pearl, like the dark side of the moon. Steadily illumined by the fire of mind following the wind of respiration, the blackness spontane- ously produces white, fire erupts in water, and warm energy circulates in the cavern of energy. This is the initial movement of true yang, producing being from nonbeing.”
He also said, “The forging and refining of wind and fire must be applied to pure yang to activate the yang energy. This is all a matter of discovering and consciously nurturing the basic spirit, a point of empty nothingness, storing it down in the cavern of energy. This is called sending it back to the earth and it pot sealing tightly.”
“With the ethereal spiritual light of essence of the basic spirit within, be like a turtle hiding, like a snake hibernating; do not forget, do not force, as if present yet as if absent. Eventually exhalation and inhalation will join, spirit and energy will embrace, the mystic pass will naturally open, and the seed of realization will be produced.”
Reference: Taoist Meditation: Methods for Cultivating a Healthy Mind and Body translated by Thomas Cleary p. 115
by Chen Yingming
There is currently no effective medicine for stress-related disorders. Phosphoric supplements’ claim to fortifying the brain is unsubstantiated. All other stimulants or sedatives have only temporary effect. After the effect wears out, the symptoms come back, maybe with a vengeance.
One must ensure complete tranquility of the mind and disperse all random thoughts from it. This is the most important principle of jinggong practice and is the most effective treatment for stress-related disorders. However, it is difficult to put a stop to all the thoughts that go habitually through your mind. Our forefathers devised a host of methods to attain this purpose, among which the best one is Zhuangzi’s “listen-to-breathing” method (Zhuangzi, c. 369 – 286 BC).
You begin this exercise by using only your ears, not your mind. The idea is not to replace one thought with another, but more to force yourself to stay vigilant about your nose or your lungs. Nor is it to listen to any nasal sound. As long as you are aware ofthe exhalations and the inhalations, you are doing it right.Do not try to control the speed and depth of the breathing. Just let them be. By and by, your breath will beat one with your qi.All distracting thoughts will vanish. You will even forget about your breathing and gradually drift off to sleep. This is the most opportune moment to restore vigor to your frayed nerves. Seize the moment and abandon your self to deep sleep. Be sure not to resist the temptation to sleep. After you wake up, repeat the exercise all over again, and you will be able to drop off to blissful sleep again. If you have already slept several times during the day and do not wish to sleep anymore,you may get up and do some light exercise in a woody place outside where the air is fresh and clean. You may stand there for a few minutes doing breathing exercises, or practice calisthenics or taichi. But do not go overboard. Do not tire yourself out. Once you return indoors, you may either sit or lie in bed, resume your “listening-to-breathing” exercise and, perhaps, to fall asleep again.
Most people with stress-related disorders are also plagued by insomnia. It is not advisable to take sleep pills on a regular basis. Only the “listening-to—breathing” method can tackle the problem at the root, without leaving any side effect. It is in keeping with the theory about yang entering yin in the Classic of Internal Medicine (Huang Di Nei Jing, China’s earliest work on of medicine completed between 770 BC – 25 AD).
Ancient books on medicine often make reference to the interdependence of the mind and the breath,but no specific instructions can be found.Su Dongpo’s way is to count your breathings and then let the mind follow the breath (Su Dongpo, 1037- 1101, a famous Chinese poet). ZhuXi’s way, as explained in his Advice on Breath Adjustment, is to “watch the tip of your nose,” according to The Surangama Sutra (Zhu Xi, 1130 – 1200, Confucian scholar and founder of the school of Neo—Confucianism). However, since you have to count, you are not free from all engagement of the mind. And, in the latter case, since you have to watch your nose, your eyes will get tired over time. Zhuangzi’s “listening-to-breathing” method is the only one that calls for absolutely no engagement of the mind and leads to no fatigue. What follows is a list of the three methods for you to practice.
1. Su Dongpo’s theory on health (Dongo Zhilin, Su Shi’a Record in His Daily Life, Vol.1):
Health conscious people must exercise moderation in their eating habits. Only when plagued with hunger can you start eating and you should stop before the feeling of fullness sets in. After each meal, take a stroll outdoors until the food has been digested. Then return indoors for exercises. You can freely decide whether to do the exercises in daytime or at night, seated or lying down. The only important thing is to keep your body from moving and stay immobile like a wooden statue. Then, in a combination of Buddhist and Daoist methods, gaze at the tip ofyour own nose while counting the number of exhalations and inhalations through your nose. The key is to empty your mind and not to force anything. When counting, count either all the exhalations or all the inhalations, not both.So each act of breathing, exhaling and inhaling, counts as one, not two. After you’ve counted hundreds of times, your mind will be a blank and your body motionless as a rock. Since you need not force anything on your mind and body, both will naturally enjoy tranquility.
After you’ve counted thousands of times, or if you have no more strength to go on counting, you can switch to another method, called “follow the breath.” When you exhale, let your mind follow the air out of the body. When you inhale, let your mind follow the air on its way in, not through the nostrils, but filling every pore like evaporation of cloud and fog. When you attain this level of accomplishment, all longstanding ailments and afflictions will gradually go away and you reach enlightenment, just like a blind man suddenly regaining sight. Able to see his way ahead now, he no longer needs guidance.
2. ZhuXi’s breath-adjustment method (The Complete Works Zhu Xi, Vol. 85):
Watching the tip of one’s own nose is the 14th of the 25 methods listed in The Surangama Sutra. Both Su Dongpo and Zhu Xi adopted the phrase, but each in a slightly different sense. In Zhu Xi’s words, this is a method applicable anywhere and at any time, provided you are relaxed and feel comfortable. Do not make yourself uncomfortable in any way. Stay calm and let things take their own course. Do not force anything. When tranquility reaches its height, the pendulum will naturally swing toward motion, like fish rising to the surface of the water in spring to breathe. When motion reaches its height, the pendulum swings naturally toward tranquility, like insects hibernating in winter to conserve energy. At this point, the qi in the body converges with the qi of heaven and earth, and the alterations of tranquility and motion unite with the movements of the universe. Words are inadequate to describe the wonders of this method. You may ask, who is behind all this? In fact, there is no one behind any of this. Everything is just a part of nature.
3. The Mind Tranquility method of Zhuangzi (Chapter IV, The Book of Zhuangzi):
Yan Hui asked Confucius, his teacher, about Zhuangzi’s Mind Tranquility method, and this was Confucius’ reply: Do not indulge in wild fancies. Gather all your thoughts to gether and then listen,not with your ears but with your mind. Then,listen not with your mind but with your qi.By this time, you should no longer be relying on your ears. Your mind and qi being at one, you should not be relying on your mind, either. Qi is something unsubstantial. It needs something to form a union with it. Only Dao can merge with the qi of the Great Void. If your mind attains the tranquility of the Great Void, you have made a success ofthe MindTranquility method.
There should be no division of stages to this method, but for the convenience of beginners, I’mgoing to divide the whole process into several steps and give some detailed instructions:
Step 1: “Gather all your thoughts together.” Before you begin the exercise, be sure to gather all your thoughts together and concentrate on the exercise. If any distracting thoughts remain, you will not b eable to do a good job of it.
you have completed Step 1, you are ready to begin to “listen,” but definitely not to listen with your ears to Conventional sounds. You may get skeptical and ask, since it involves lis- tening, what am I supposed to listento, ifnot to sounds? No clear answer to this question can be found in the annotations to all kinds of theories.So let me make this clear: You begin by listening for the sound of breathing through your nostrils. The breathing of those with normal, unimpeded respiratory systems should be noiseless, which is why you are not supposed to listen with your ears.Even though there is no sound, you are aware ofthe speed and the strength ofexhalations and inhala- tions through the nostrils, as are even the hearing-impaired. That’swhytheinstructionsareto “listenwithyourmind.”
Step 3: As for “listen not with your mind but with your qi,” this can again be problematic. You may be able to get away with saying “listen with your mind” because the mind, after all, is sentient, but qi is not. How can you listen with qi? If the mind listens to qi, what does qi listen to? So how should this be explained? My answer is: when you have become quite accomplished in jinggong, your mind and your qi will be at one and inseparable. Qi becomes something impossible for the mind to listen to, hence the phrase “You must not listen with your mind.” At this point, your mind and your qi, though at one, may not have reached the state of the Void and there fore may still have a slight awareness of your breathing. If you keep on, you will soon lose all awareness of your breathing. During the brief period of transition, rather than listen to qi with your mind and set mind and qi against each other, it makes more sense to listen to qi with qi and wipe out any rift between the two. That’s why the instructions say “listen with qi.”
Step 4: As for “You should no longer be relying on your ears,” and “You should not be relying on your mind, either,” a beginner should first try to gather his thoughts together before concentrating on “listening,” but carrying this on for too long would be overdoing it. So go on to the next step. Stop listening. By this time, you are moving into the stage of the Void, where your mind and qi are at one, you are no longer aware of your breathing.You may appear to be asleep on the outside, but on the inside, it’s another story.
Setp 5: As for “Qi is something unsubstantial. It needs something to form a union with it. Only Dao can merge with the qi of the Great Void. If your mind attains the tranquility of the Great Void, you have made a success of the Mind Tranquility method,” after you have gone from the simpler to the more sophisticated stages, you naturally reach the state of the Void without having to direct your mind to it. If you will it, you won’t be able to get there. The entire process is to go from what you have acquired to what you were given by nature. So the fifth should be be experienced in the state you were born, but I will not get in to that,because it exceeds the limits of therapy. For our purposes, it sufiices to reach the state where your mind and your qi merge.
A summary of the three methods cited above: Su Dongpo’s method is to begin by counting your breathing, then stop counting and let it be. Zhu Xi’s method is to begin by watch- ing your nose, then stop watching it and let everything take its own course. Zhuangzi’s method is to begin by listening to your breath, then stop listening and let everything take its own course. The three methods begin differently but end on the same path. Learners can feel free to apply them in combination.
Young patients with stress-related disorders can be 70% or 80% cured by practicing these exercises for three months. Middleaged patients can be 50 to 60% cured after three month’s practice. However, symptoms can vary in degree. I was referring to more severe cases. Those with less severe symptoms can achieve full recovery. After you leave the sanatorium and return to your workplace, it would be advisable to practice twice a day, once in the morning and once at night, and make it a habit. Only then will you be able to keep what you have gained and be fully accomplished in this healing art.
Translated by Harold Roth
One The vital essence of all things: It is this that brings them to life. It generates the five grains below And becomes the constellated stars above. When flowing amid the heavens and the earth We call it ghostly and numinous. When stored within the chests of human beings, We call them sages. Two Therefore this vital energy is: Bright! - as if ascending from the heavens; Dark! - as if entering an abyss; Vast! - as if dwelling in an ocean; Lofty! - as if dwelling on a mountain peak. Therefore this vital energy Cannot be halted by force, Yet can be secured by inner power [Te]. Cannot be summoned by speech, Yet can be welcomed by awareness. Reverently hold onto it and do not lose it: This is called "developing inner power." When inner power develops and wisdom emerges, The myriad things will, to the last one, be grasped. Three All the forms of the mind Are naturally infused and filled with it [the vital essence], Are naturally generated and developed [because of] it. It is lost Inevitably because of sorrow, happiness, joy, anger, desire, and profit-seeking. If you are able to cast off sorrow, happiness, joy, anger, desire and profit-seeking, Your mind will just revert to equanimity. The true condition of the mind Is that it finds calmness beneficial and, by it, attains repose. Do not disturb it, do not disrupt it And harmony will naturally develop. Four Clear! as though right by your side. Vague! as though it will not be attained. Indescribable! as though beyond the limitless. The test of this is not far off: Daily we make use of its inner power. The Way is what infuses the body, Yet people are unable to fix it in place. It goes forth but does not return, It comes back but does not stay. Silent! none can hear its sound. Suddenly stopping! it abides within the mind. Obscure! we do not see its form. Surging forth! it arises with us. We do not see its form, We do not hear its sound, Yet we can perceive an order to its accomplishments. We call it "the Way." Five The Way has no fixed position; It abides within the excellent mind. When the mind is tranquil and the vital breath is regular, The Way can thereby be halted. That Way is not distant from us; When people attain it they are sustained That Way is not separated from us; When people accord with it they are harmonious. Therefore: Concentrated! as though you could be roped together with it. Indiscernible! as though beyond all locations. The true state of that Way: How could it be conceived of and pronounced upon? Cultivate your mind, make your thoughts tranquil, And the Way can thereby be attained. Six As for the Way: It is what the mouth cannot speak of, The eyes cannot see, And the ears cannot hear. It is that with which we cultivate the mind and align the body. When people lose it they die; When people gain it they flourish. When endeavours lose it they fail; When they gain it they succeed. The Way never has a root or trunk, It never has leaves or flowers. The myriad things are generated by it; The myriad things are completed by it. We designate it "the Way." Seven For the heavens, the ruling principle is to be aligned. For the earth, the ruling principle is to be level. For human beings the ruling principle is to be tranquil. Spring, autumn, winter and summer are the seasons of the heavens. Mountains, hills, rivers, and valleys are the resources of the earth. Pleasure and anger, accepting and rejecting are the devices of human beings. Therefore, the sage: Alters with the seasons but doesn't transform, Shifts with things but doesn't change places with them. Eight If you can be aligned and be tranquil, Only then can you be stable. With a stable mind at your core, With the eyes and ears acute and clear, And with the four limbs firm and fixed, You can thereby make a lodging place for the vital essence. The vital essence: it is the essence of the vital energy. When the vital energy is guided, it [the vital essence] is generated, But when it is generated, there is thought, When there is thought, there is knowledge, But when there is knowledge, then you must stop. Whenever the forms of the mind have excessive knowledge, You loose your vitality. Nine Those who can transform even a single thing, call them "numinous"; Those who can alter even a single situation, call them "wise." But to transform without expending vital energy; to alter without expending wisdom: Only exemplary persons who hold fast to the One are able to do this. Hold fast to the One; do not loose it, And you will be able to master the myriad things. Exemplary persons act upon things, And are not acted upon by them, Because they grasp the guiding principle of the One. Ten With a well-ordered mind within you, Well-ordered words issue forth from your mouth, And well-ordered tasks are imposed on others. Then all under heaven will be well-ordered. "When one word is grasped, All under the heavens will submit. When one word is fixed, All under heavens will listen." It is this [word "Way"] to which the saying refers. Eleven When your body is not aligned, The inner power will not come. When you are not tranquil within, Your mind will not be ordered. Align your body, assist the inner power, Then it will gradually come on its own. Twelve The numinous [mind]: no one knows its limit; It intuitively knows the myriad things. Hold it within you, do not let it waver. To not disrupt your senses with external things, To not disrupt your mind with your senses: This is called "grasping it within you." Thirteen There is a numinous [mind] naturally residing within; One moment it goes, the next it comes, And no one is able to conceive of it. If you loose it you are inevitably disordered; If you attain it you are inevitably well ordered. Diligently clean out its lodging place And its vital essence will naturally arrive. Still your attempts to imagine and conceive of it. Relax your efforts to reflect on and control it. Be reverent and diligent And its vital essence will naturally stabilize. Grasp it and don't let go Then the eyes and ears won't overflow And the mind will have nothing else to seek. When a properly aligned mind resides within you, The myriad things will be seen in their proper perspective. Fourteen The Way fills the entire world. It is everywhere that people are, But people are unable to understand this. When you are released by this one word: You reach up to the heavens above; You stretch down to the earth below; You pervade the nine inhabited regions. What does it mean to be released by it? The answer resides in the calmness of the mind. When your mind is well-ordered, your senses are well-ordered. When your mind is calm, your senses are calmed. What makes them well-ordered is the mind; What makes them calm is the mind. By means of the mind you store the mind: Within the mind there is yet another mind. That mind within the mind: it is an awareness that precedes words. Only after there is awareness does it take shape; Only after it takes shape it there a word. Only after there is a word is it implemented; Only after it is implemented is there order. Without order, you will always be chaotic. If chaotic, you die. Fifteen For those who preserve and naturally generate vital essence On the outside a calmness will flourish. Stored inside, we take it to be the well-spring. Floodlike, it harmonizes and equalizes And we take it to be the fount of the vital energy. When the fount is not dried up, The four limbs are firm. When the spring is not drained, Vital energy freely circulates through the nine apertures. You can then exhaust the heavens and the earth And spread over the four seas. When you have no delusions within you, Externally there will be no disasters. Those who keep their minds unimpaired within, Externally keep their bodies unimpaired, Who do not encounter heavenly disasters Or meet with harm at the hands of others, Call them Sages. Sixteen If people can be aligned and tranquil, Their skin will be ample and smooth, Their eyes and ears will be acute and clear, Their muscles will be supple and their bones will be strong, They will then be able to hold up the Great Circle [of the heavens] And tread firmly over the Great Square [of the earth]. They will mirror things with great purity. And they will perceive things with great clarity. Reverently be aware [of the Way] and do not waver, And you will daily renew your inner power, Thoroughly understand all under the heavens, And exhaust everything within the Four Directions. To reverently bring forth the effulgence [of the Way]: This is called "inward attainment." If you do this but fail to return to it, This will cause a wavering in your vitality. Seventeen For all [to practice] this Way: You must coil, you must contract, You must uncoil, you must expand, You must be firm, you must be regular [in this practice]. Hold fast to this excellent [practice]; do not let go of it. Chase away the excessive; abandon the trivial. And when you reach its ultimate limit You will return to the Way and the inner power. Eighteen When there is a mind that is unimpaired within you, It cannot be hidden. It will be known in your countenance, And seen in your skin colour. If with this good flow of vital energy you encounter others, They will be kinder to you than your own brethren. But if with a bad flow of vital energy you encounter others, They will harm you with their weapons. [This is because] the wordless pronouncement Is more rapid than the drumming of thunder. The perceptible form of the mind's vital energy Is brighter than the sun and moon, And more apparent than the concern of parents. Rewards are not sufficient to encourage the good; Punishments are not sufficient to discourage the bad. Yet once this flow of vital energy is achieved, All under heaven will submit. And once the mind is made stable, All under heaven will listen. Nineteen By concentrating your vital breath as if numinous, The myriad things will all be contained within you. Can you concentrate? Can you unite with them? Can you not resort to divining by tortoise or milfoil Yet know bad and good fortune? Can you stop? Can you cease? Can you not seek it in others, Yet attain it within yourself? You think and think about it And think still further about it. You think, yet still cannot penetrate it. While the ghostly and numinous will penetrate it, It is not due to the power of the ghostly and numinous, But to the utmost refinement of your essential vital breath. When the four limbs are aligned And the blood and vital breath are tranquil, Unify your awareness, concentrate your mind, Then your eyes and ears will not be over-stimulated. And even the far-off will seem close at hand. Twenty Deep thinking generates knowledge. Idleness and carelessness generate worry. Cruelty and arrogance generate resentment. Worry and grief generate illness. When illness reaches a distressing degree, you die. When you think about something and don't let got of it, Internally you will be distressed, externally you will be weak. Do not plan things out in advance Or else your vitality will cede its dwelling. In eating, it is best not to fill up; In thinking, it is best not to overdo. Limit these to the appropriate degree And you will naturally reach it [vitality]. Twenty-one As for the life of all human beings: The heavens brings forth their vital essence, The earth brings forth their bodies. These two combine to make a person. When they are in harmony there is vitality; When they are not in harmony there is no vitality. If we examine the Way of harmonizing them, Its essentials are not visible, Its signs are not numerous. Just let a balanced and aligned [breathing] fill your chest And it will swirl and blend with your mind, This confers longevity. When joy and anger are not limited, You should make a plan [to limit them]. Restrict the five sense-desires; Cast away these dual misfortunes. Be not joyous, be not angry, Just let a balanced and aligned [breathing] fill your chest. Twenty-two As for the vitality of all human beings: It inevitably occurs because of balanced and aligned [breathing]. The reason for its loss Is inevitably pleasure and anger, worry and anxiety. Therefore, to bring your anger to a halt, there is nothing better than poetry; To cast off worry there is nothing better than music; To limit music there is nothing better than rites; To hold onto the rites there is nothing better than reverence; To hold onto reverence there is nothing better than tranquility. When you are inwardly tranquil and outwardly reverent You are able to return to your innate nature And this nature will become greatly stable. Twenty-three For all the Way of eating is that: Overfilling yourself with food will impair your vital energy And cause your body to deteriorate. Over-restricting your consumption causes the bones to wither And the blood to congeal. The mean between overfilling and over-restricting: This is called "harmonious completion." It is where the vital essence lodges And knowledge is generated. When hunger and fullness lose their proper balance, You make a plan to correct this. When full, move quickly; When hungry, neglect your thoughts; When old, forget worry. If when full you don't move quickly, Vital energy will not circulate to your limbs. If when hungry you don't neglect your thoughts of food, When you finally eat you will not stop. If when old you don't forget your worries, The fount of your vital energy will rapidly drain out. Twenty-four When you enlarge your mind and let go of it, When you relax your vital breath and expand it, When your body is calm and unmoving: And you maintain the One and discard the myriad disturbances, You will see profit and not be enticed by it, You will see harm and not be frightened by it. Relaxed and unwound, yet acutely sensitive, In solitude you delight in your own person. This is called "revolving the vital breath": Your thoughts and deeds seem heavenly. Twenty-five The vitality of all people Inevitably comes from their peace of mind. When anxious, you loose this guiding thread; When angry, you lose this basic point. When you are anxious or sad, pleased or angry, The Way has no place to settle. Love and desire: still them! Folly and disturbance: correct them! Do not push it! do not pull it! Good fortune will naturally return to you, And that Way will naturally come to you So you can rely on and take counsel from it. If you are tranquil then you will attain it; If you are agitated then you will lose it. Twenty-six That mysterious vital energy within the mind: One moment it arrives, the next it departs. So fine, there is nothing within it; So vast, there is nothing outside it. We lose it Because of the harm caused by mental agitation. When the mind can hold on to tranquility, The Way will become naturally stabilized. For people who have attained the Way It permeates their pores and saturates their hair. Within their chest, they remain unvanquished. [Follow] this Way of restricting sense-desires And the myriad things will not cause you harm.
Book: Harold D. Roth Original Tao: Inward Training (Nei-yeh) and the Foundations of Taoist Mysticism