Holding Yin, Embracing Yang, text 2, cap. 1-13

pp. 65-156 Dao-jiao Tan ("Discussion on the Cavity of the Tao")

1 – p. 67 some advice

"Sleep on a bed of bamboo. Rise in the wee hours of the morning, cross your legs, and sit".

2 – p. 70 opening the gates

"you’ll need to learn how to

focus the spirit,

regulate the breath, and

direct the vapor of yin into the cauldron. ...

When the post-celestial vapor emerges, regulate and steam it, and the true wheel will begin to move. ... In time the gates will open, and the One cavity will expand naturally. When the true vapor rises to the Mudball (niwan) cavity, the path of the waterwheel will be open. ... In the transition between movement and stillness, fan the fire gently, route the vapor through the Tailbone (weilu) cavity, and let it flow backward (and thus upward) into the Celestial Valley (tiengu) cavity. In this way, generative energy will be transmuted into vapor. When the vapor waxes strong, it will fill the three palaces. ... Swirling inside, the vapor will not dissipate or become disorderly. Once you have attained the true vapor, you should protect it ... like a dragon nourishing its pearl ... . In time, the vapor will descend to the Yellow Pavilion to coagulate into a bright red ball known as the internal pill."

3 – pp. 71-5 the meaning of "post-caelestial"

p. 71

master Tao’s scheme of 4 steps

1st "opening the gates"


2nd "building the foundation"


3rd "obtaining the medicine"


4th "refining the body"

p. 72

"After the cauldron is erected, spirit and vapor can copulate. When ... both spirit and vital energy ... are plentiful, their thrusting power ... can open the gates and enlarge the One cavity. When the gates and the one cavity are open, the movement of reversal can begin and the waterwheel can turn. ...

The sage Qianxui said, "... vapor will fill the three dantiens.

The upper and lower will copulate and harmonize;

vapor will thrust through the joints and penetrate the bones; and

generative energy will fill the valley spirit." ...

p. 73

When the breath sinks low, vapor will penetrate the Bubbling Spring (yongquan) cavity and will flow in and out continuously. ...

p. 74

Once sufficient vapor is accumulated, the internal golden cauldron will be filled with light. The primordial yellow will swirl and tumble within, and the true vapor will penetrate the heart and enter the Tailbone cavity. As vapor rushes through the three gates,

the path connecting the cowherd and the weaving maiden will be open. The silver stream will be connected ... . ...


If you want to cultivate the body, you must harvest and use another person’s lead. This lead is the pre-celestial essence hidden within post-celestial existence.

The post-celestial golden water has vitality but lacks the essence of pre-celestial existence. When the true lead first emerges, it must be steamed in the area between the kidneys. When you feel the lead stirring, you must start the waterwheel, temper and refine it, and send it to the Tailbone cavity. From the Tailbone cavity,

direct the refined lead up to the Celestial Valley, where it will be transformed into sweet nectar. Finally,

let the sweet nectar sink into the Yellow Pavilion (huangting).


After the true lead has moistened the three palaces, it will be used to transform mercury. When vapor is transmuted into fluid, the yin fire will ebb

p. 75

and the pearl drops will not dissipate. When the fluid is transmuted back into vapor, it is time to stoke the yang fire and turn the waterwheel again. ... When the mercury within is secure and stable, you should take eight ounces of the pre-celestial essence to complement the half pound of the post-celestial substance."

4 – p. 76 building the foundation & refining the self

"The first part involves building the lesser and greater foundations;

the second part involves refining the self externally and internally. ...

Typically, building the lesser foundation is concerned with ... :

gathering the primordial yang energy and directing it into the internal cauldron,

gently engaging in fetal breathing,

producing the post-celestial medicine, and

activating the process of refining the jade. ...

Typically, building the greater foundation is concerned with ... :

nourishing the numinous pearl to give birth to the external lead,

churning the golden water,

activating the subtle movement of the Microcosmic Orbit, and

recovering original nature. ...

Internal refining of the self is concerned with the work of the waterwheel. According to the Triplex Unity, the production of the jade elixir is necessary for refining the body internally".

5 – pp. 78-9 nourishing the body & refining the self (Pt. 1)

p. 78

"By self, we mean the true mercuric fire.

First, we must temper the true fire and conquer the true dragon, so that both fire and dragon will follow our command willingly and not wander away.

Next, we need to tame the white tiger and obtain its precious true metal."

p. 79

"When you use the paired method (which is working with a consort), the process of refining the self internally is concerned with using your partner’s lead to refine your mercury and letting them mutually control and create each other. ... the partner’s lead is used to nourish your mercury so that lead and mercury can strengthen each other."

6 – pp. 80-1 nourishing the body & refining the self (Pt. 2)

p. 80

"Both generative energy and vapor are necessary for building the foundation. To refine the self is to dissolve desire and recover original nature. ... In refining the self, we must temper and tame the mind so that it is alert and bright. Original nature is manifested in mind."

p. 81

"External refinement is concerned with harmonizing the light while merging with the mundane.

Internal refinement is concerned with steaming mercury and transforming it into red cinnabar. ...


The immortals tell us : "Internally, the mind must be awake; externally, the mind must be dead to the world." ... For the mind to be dead to the outside world, we must refine the self externally."

7 – pp. 82-4 methods used in the early stages of Foundation-building

p. 82

"There are four ... methods that ... are legitimate ...

the post-celestial,

the pre-celestial within the post-celestial,

the pre-celestial, and

the pre-celestial within the pre-celestial procedures.


The post-celestial procedure works with the vapor of the yin bridge, which is the root of procreation. ... If the practitioner can rouse it and direct it into the internal cauldron, generative energy will be transmuted into vital energy, and gates and the One cavity will be open.


The procedure of the pre-celestial within the post-celestial is concerned with routing the vapor to the five viscera ... . ... When the vapor has returned to the dantian, it is time to ... wait patiently for the mechanism of the waterwheel to move. When the waterwheel starts, you will hear a whistling sound. Immediately after this, the vapor will toot to the top of the head. {Likewise, a whistling-sound from a locomotive is accompanied by emission of steam.} ...

p. 83

The pre-celestial procedure requires using the sword to collect the vapor. The vapor is then harmonized, moved along the waterwheel, and finally sealed within the Yellow Pavilion. ... Then, use the true vapor in the cauldron to entice the pre-celestial essence you your consort to emerge. This process is known as "swirling the celestial constellations." When the partner’s pre-celestial essence emerges, capture it immediately. This grain is the mother of lead and is known as the external pill.


The procedure of the pre-celestial within the pre-celestial involves using lead to create the true yang. When collected, this true vapor of yang will shine like sunlight streaming through translucent curtains. ... Engage the yin fire and fan the yang flames daily. Preserve and treasure the fire so that is can be transformed into the golden fluid. ... After the elixir is ingested, the sacred fetus will be conceived. After the ten months of incubation are complete, the yang spirit will appear. When the yang spirit emanates beyond your bodily shell, you ... will attain immortality.


The final stage of cultivation is called "facing the wall for nine years." ... When you are ready to liberate your spirit, you should sit in stillness and face an empty wall. ... Facing the

p. 84

wall ... means abiding in absolute stillness for nine years and allowing the internal pill to make nine circulations."

8 – pp. 85-7 Internal & External Medicines


__ Medicine




is used to recover __

original nature

original life energy


is 1/ lb. of __




is __

generative energy from the heart

vapor from in kidneys


must be __




in context, is __

mercury within the cinnabar

lead within the water


in cultivating is __

sacred foetus

vapor of the mother of the pill


one must use __

mercury to welcome the lead

lead to control the mercury


is the __ pill




requiring emergence of __

mercury as yin within yan

lead as yan within yin


creation of golden __

elixir (liquid)



__ state

just before the Great Pill materializeth

transitional, when Great Pill is not realized

9 – pp. 88-9 types of Medicines

p. 88

__-caelestial lead & mercury



are used in creating the __ pill



p. 89

"When the lesser pill is heated and refined, the belly will be fully and you will feel as if intoxicated. ... After the great pill has coagulated and the fire in the furnace has become red-hot, add the fire of the external furnace, increasing and decreasing the heat when necessary. ... In refining the self and recovering original nature, you need to use the yin cinnabar grains to produce the yang cinnabar grains. ... The three years of incubation is involved with the production of the yang cinnabar grains. The nine years of facing the wall is concerned with recovering life, nourishing the yang cinnabar grains, circulating the pill nine times, and returning it to the dantian."

10 – pp. 90-1 nourishing the 3 substances

p. 90

"When you cannot gather the energies in their primordial state, you need to get them from a partner. When you absorb energy from a partner, the method of reverse is used. To transmute generative energy into vital energy, we take the generative energy from the yin bridge, reverse its flow, direct it into the Yellow Pavilion, and refine it. ... The method of reversal starts with gathering

p. 91

generative energy, while the method of forward movement starts with focusing the spirit. ... When spirit and vapor copulate, the pre-celestial generative energy will emerge. This generative energy is water of the celestial numeric one. ... Just as the mother vapor is used to conceive the child vapor, the external generative energy is used to replenish the internal generative energy. The child vapor is the vapor of the heart, while the internal generative energy is the generative essence of the heart. ...


It is also possible for spirit energy to be transmuted into generative energy and generative energy to be transmuted into vapor. These processes involve transmuting the vapor into fluid in the Crimson Palace cavity and activating the waterwheel."

11 – pp. 92-3 the 3 stages of Refining

p. 92

1st stage : "refining the generative energy. Here, we take the cauldron and join it with the primordial yellow. After these two have interacted with each other, the golden raven will emerge and fly upward. This is the process of transmuting generative energy into vital energy."


2nd stage : "knowing how to extract the yang ... to replenish the yin ... . This is the process of transmuting vital energy into spirit energy."


3rd stage : "refining the spirit. This stage can be divided into three steps.

First, we refine the spirit to recover original nature;

next, we refine the spirit to recover original life;

finally, we refine the spirit to return to the void.


The process of refining the spirit to recover original nature concerns using the jade elixir to refine the self. ... Internally, the true fire must

p. 93

burn constantly. Externally, extracting and replenishing must occur in the hours of zi and wu. ...


The process of refining the spirit to recover original life concerns the golden elixir to refine the bodily form. ... Internally, the fire must be heated until it becomes red-hot. ... The amount of fire and heat must be increased and decreased according to a daily schedule. ...


The process of refining the spirit to return to the void to merge with the Tao concern moving the spirit to the Upper Court ... . When the light within emanates and shines on thousands of myriad worlds, the Diamond Body will be realized. As rays of light ... spread in all directions, multiple bodily forms will appear and ... these emanations of the spirit will help you complete the final alchemical transformation."

12 – pp. 94-5 stages of creating the Medicine

p. 94

"The creation of the medicine is divided into three stages."

1st : "the medicinal substances emerge from the nonsubstantial."

2nd : "these substantive entities become nonsubstantive."

3rd : "substances are created again, this time from nothingness."


"When we talk about substantive entities returning to a nonsubstantive state, we are referring to the process of escorting the substances to their western homeland. ...


When we talk about creating substance from nothingness, we are talking about the emergence of ... the one pre-celestial vapor born from the void. ... "Out of the formless arises the subtle form, and out of nonsubstance arises the numinous substance." ... When the compounding is complete, the golden pill will materialize and the fetus will be conceived.

p. 95

After the fetus has been incubated and nourished for the required period of time, the yang spirit will appear."

13 – p. 96 the 3 stages of applying the Medicines

"Medicine is applied in three stages."

1st : "the external medicine is gathered as used to manufacture the internal medicine."

2nd : "the internal medicine is used to cultivate the external medicine."

3rd : "the external medicine is ingested and merged with the internal medicine."





is part of __

"building the foundation to refine the self."

"joining the sky and earth in the cauldron."

"forging the relationship between the mother and the child."

during __

"transmutation of generative into vital energy."

"to sow the seed of the generative essence."

"you will feel intoxicated."

"When the processes of nourishing and streaming are complete, you will become immortal."

Eva Wong (translatrix) : Holding Yin, Embracing Yang. Shambhala Publ, Boston, 2005.