Holding Yin, Embracing Yang, text 2, cap. 27-39

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

27 pp. 130-1 discussion on the Cauldron

p. 130

"It is the solidity of yang that must fall into the embrace of emptiness. This is how the method of paired practice works. When metal returns to its source, it can distinguish the difference between aged and fresh medicine. ... Until metal emerges in the water ... it cannot be used. The medicine should be collected at the moment metal emerges, because at this time the energy is pristine and formless. ...

p. 131

The rising and falling of host and guest take place within the cauldron, and the key to setting up the cauldron is emptiness. ... During the process of gathering, the yang lead ... must be absorbed into the empty cauldron. Otherwise, the golden pill cannot materialize."

28 p. 133 returning Elixirs

"jade elixir can be returned to the dantien. ... When this is effected, the golden elixir can be produced and returned to the dantien."

29 p. 134 subtle method of gathering & refining

p. 134

"By gathering, we mean collecting the yang lead from the other to refine the vapor of the seed of the pearl within. The yang lead is the soul of the earth hidden in the extreme yin. ... Understanding Reality says : "Use the soul of the earth to capture the cinnabar grains of mercury. ..." ... When medicine meets fire, yin will dissolve and yang will strengthen. ... When gathering and refining are

p. 135

complete, the generative energy will be transmuted into vapor. When sufficient vapor has accumulated inside the body, the belly will be solid and full, and the internal pill will materialize."

30 pp. 136-8 Waterwheel

p. 136

"The work of the waterwheel ... is

the ebb and flow of vapor in the hours of zi and wu,

the closing and opening of the yin and yang orifices, and

the internal ascent and descent of fire. ...

When the spirit is focused, spirit and breath will be synchronized, and wind and fire will copulate. Suddenly, the numinous sprout will eject its light and the gears of the mechanism will move. ... The movement of the wheel begins at the bottom of its circuit. Next, the movement travels through the du meridian, moving upward in reverse to the Celestial Valley cavity. Finally, the movement will enter the Central Palace. ...

The subtlety of the wheel lies in focusing the intention internally while allowing the spirit to fly outside. ... .

p. 137

... when the spirit is focused within, it should be still. ... That which moves in the true intention. ... If you want the circulation to run smoothly outside, then it must be directed from the inside, and this internal director must be the true intention. ... The spirit is circulated outside. ... If there is internal circulation, there will also be external circulation. If you do not try to control the circulation, the two (spirit and intention) will naturally come to know each other. ... When the true intention moves, you will feel something thrusting through the gates and moving to the top of the head. ... I cant tell you ... how the internal and external circulations can be synchronized, because this knowledge is intuitive and not conscious. ... The movement of vapor is not

p. 138

forced, and the wind that drives its movement occurs without conscious knowledge or intervention. You will feel the presence of intention, but you will also feel the spirit floating out there somewhere. When I reach this state, ... I only feel that internally I have focused this entity within my home, and externally I am directing it up to the Celestial Gate (tienmen) cavity. I have no idea of how spirit and intention can become aware of each other. ... The internal universe is a kaleidoscope of feelings of the immortal floating and wandering in the silver stream, welcoming the jade petals falling, and returning leisurely to the Yellow Pavilion.


... the spirit is flowing free in exaltation. Daily it circulates; every morning it swirls back and forth. Penetrating the hundred joints, it moistens the three palaces."

31 pp. 139-41 True Mind

p. 139

"If you dont have the true mind, you wont be able to attain the true generative essence, true vapor, and true spirit. By true mind, we mean the state of mind before the emergence of knowledge and thought, ... and before the contamination of the sprouts. ...

When you feel a spark of clarity in your mind, you should unlock the three treasures within immediately. ... Let no thoughts inside reach outside, and let no objects from the external world enter your thoughts. Seize the time when desire and thoughts have not yet emerged. ... While the knowing mind is inactive, catch a glimpse of the true mind. While the vapor is not disturbed by emotions, take the opportunity to nourish the true vapor. ...

p. 140

My advice to all practitioners is this : Once you have encountered the true mind, do not lose it. The true mind can be attained when you are relaxed ... . ... The name "true mind" came about only when practitioners began to discuss this state of mind more openly. The important thing is that you should always hold on to the true mind and embrace it daily. ... In time, its occasional emergence will become constant, and you will attain pure stillness. ...

p. 141

Therefore, you should treasure this stillness and clarity and appreciate the precious moment when the true mind emerges."

32 pp. 142-3 Mind & Spirit

p. 142

"Laozi said, "The spirit tends toward stillness but is distracted by the mind." The sage Lu Qianxui said,

"Regulating the breath begins with regulating the mind,

and focusing the spirit begins with regulating the breath.""


"The mind that thinks is the wayward mind; the mind that has no thoughts is the true mind. ...

When the mind is quiet, it will be easy to regulate the breath. ... If the breath is regulated, the spirit will return to its rightful home and be focused within the cavity of the vapor. ... When the mind is still, it will return to the chamber of the spirit ... . ...

p. 143

Do not make the spirit control the breath, and do not force it to move the breath. ...

When you feel the first stirring of movement in absolute stillness, it is a sign that the spirit is coming into contact with vapor".

33 -- pp. 144-5 joint functions of Spirit & Breath

p. 144

"Spirit is fire {cf. Holy Spirit as fire at Pentacost} and breath is wind. ...

The spirit must be still before it can embody the light, and

the breath must be regulated before it can receive the true vapor. ...


We can compare this to stoking a fire in a furnace. ... In the tempering of metal, it is the wind that fans the fire, not the fire that fans the wind. ... Only then can the fire of the furnace turn blue and burn hot. ... When the fire in the furnace is ignited and the bright flames are dancing about, the spirit will become vapor. This vapor is the medicine. ... When fire and medicine interact and

p. 145

merge, the golden pill will materialize.

However, if the breath ... is routed through the throat, mouth, or nostrils, nothing will happen." {The "breath" intended here is not of physical air, but instead of immaterial internal winds circulating in the subtle (non-physical) body.}

34 p. 146 further discussion on Spirit & Breath

"The spirit must enter the void before the internal breath can emerge.

When the internal breath emerges, the breath will attach itself to the spirit and ... the spirit will stay in the embrace of the breath and not stray. ... Stoke the fire until wind and fire are merged and locked together."

35 p. 147 subtle workings of Spirit & Vapor

"In regulating the breath, we synchronize the post-celestial breath with the pre-celestial breath. Pre-celestial breath is the true vapor within the body. This true vapor can be moved ... . ... This is why it is said that the true breath is ephemeral and subtle, and that breath is always present in vapor. ... When the true breath moves, the true vapor will emerge. The true vapor originates from the root of life."

36 p. 148 subtle workings of Spirit & Intention

"The spirit ... is focused ... "... letting the light reflect back into the body." ... However, we need to use the true intention to reflect the light into the Mysterious Gate. ...

Qianxui said, "In order to moisten the upper and lower halves, the primordial spirit must swirl around between them." The swirling of the primordial spirit is that which brings the true intention out of the primordial spirit."

"The spirit is ephemeral and

is rooted in nonaction;

it is that which directs all things in stillness.

Intention is orderly and

is grounded in organized activity;

it is always straightforward and open.

This is why the spirit is the lord of the pill

and intention is the minister."

"If you want to strengthen the true intention, you must nourish the primordial vapor."

37 pp. 149-50 further discussion on Spirit & Intention

p. 149

"Spirit and intention separate only when movement and stillness begin to follow each other in cycles. {"they have within them a movement and a rest (51) ... which is achieved by their seeking and finding (1 and 91)." (SSJ, p. 111)}


Focus the spirit in the Central Palace,

but do not replace it with intention. ...


When the cycle of movement and stillness starts, you should start the furnace. ... you can focus the spirit in the Central Palace.

However, do not replace it with intention."


"Spirit and intention function differently.


The spirit works through nonaction, and

intention works through action.


It is in nonaction that the spirit can accomplish everything.

Intention ... works in the realm of action and reaction.


The spirit is the ruler of the intention,

and intention acknowledges spirit ... . ...

In its movement, intention directs spirit ... .


Spirit must work together with intention in order for true intuition to emerge."


"The sage Shangyang, commenting on the Triplex Unity, said, "The realized being hides in the great depth {cf. Valentinian Buthos} and uses nonthinking

p. 150

to respond to everything." Therefore, you too should float and wander within the great center. Use nonthoughts to direct things ... . ... When the three natures meet, let nonthinking guide you to enter and use it.

If you want to circulate the true intention, you must first refine the body."

SSJ = Robert McQueen Grant & David Noel Freedman: The Secret Sayings of Jesus. 1960. http://books.google.com/books?id=oj7brjcBiccC&pg=PA111&lpg=PA111&dq=spirit+%22movement+and+a+rest%22&source=bl&ots=Qdn1-x7V-M&sig=j_2TxnHqagf-zEI4OR0jHrTrUYM&hl=en&ei=MsDSTLbZBsP7lwfw5qWzDg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=10&sqi=2&ved=0CD0Q6AEwCQ#v=onepage&q=spirit%20%22movement%20and%20a%20rest%22&f=false

38 pp. 151-2 being a warrior {this Taoist expression is muchly-used by Carlos Castan~eda} and lasting forever

p. 151

"That which lasts forever is a part of the Tao, and since the deeds of the sages support the way of the Tao, they are constant and indestructible."


The virtue of __

formeth the __ of the Tao





softness and yielding



saving the world



"In speaking and writing about the Tao, the sage is as fearless as a warrior, and being fearless, his legacy lasts forever. ...

The warrior[ess] lasts forever because she does not fight with anyone and yet fights with all adversaries. {Spiritual obstacles considered to be all possible adversaries.} In not fighting, she softens motivation and tames hardness, and puts herself last in order to return to the beginning."

p. 152

"Confucian sages have said that a peaceful spirit is no different from the mind of the sage."

"Like sages past and present, be fearless in propagating the way of the Tao."

39 p. 153 retreating from the world after serving the world

"The Tao Te Ching says : "To retreat from the world after you have served it is the natural way of heaven."

The way of humanity should follow the way of heaven, and

the way of cultivating the self should be grounded in the way of humanity. ...

Following the same principle, we humans need to exercise virtue and contribute to the well-being of all.

However, when our work is finished, we should have the courage and wisdom to retire and hide. ...

As part of humankind, it is natural for us to ... serve our community and the world.

However, ... after weve served the world, its time for us to retire and devote ourselves to spiritual cultivation.

The sage ... understands what it means to achieve by not achieving. Elusive and ephemeral, he delights in becoming synonymous with anonymity.

When the sacred fetus is conceived and he is ready to return to the source, he retreats into the cavity of the primal beginning, embraces the One, and returns to the void."

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