A Guide to the Healing Tao USA System
9 Tao Inner Alchemy Formulas to cultivate our True Immortal Self, inspired by wandering Taoist One Cloud
by Michael Winn
Note: This short introductory essay by Michael Winn precedes his detailed description of the Healing Tao USA’s 9 Tao Inner Alchemy Formulas. This is followed by a list of the 8 Branches of the Great Tao and an Explanation of 8 Trigrams in the Healing Tao Logo. In Chinese pinyin, Tao = Dao, and Chi = Qi (have same pronounciation). I use the more popular western spelling of Tao and the pinyin Qi. Scholars and acupuncturists use pinyin Dao & Qi.
The stages of Taoist internal spiritual cultivation were transmitted by Mantak Chia to his Western students starting in 1981. Chia received his transmission from a wandering Taoist Hermit named One Cloud, who achieved the breatharian state.
One Cloud lived on Qi (chi) alone for many years while living in a cave on Eternally White Mountain (Changbaishan) in northeastern China. His teacher, White Cloud, lived on the side of this active volcano with its caldera filled by what is now called Heavenly Lake. During the Japanese invasion of China in 1930’s, One Cloud walked across China, and settled in the mountains behind Hong Kong’s Taoist Yuen Yuen temple. Mantak Chia was in high school in Hong Kong, and studied in his small mountain hut in the early 60’s. Chia never saw One Cloud after he graduated from high school and moved back to Thailand. One Cloud, born in 1880, left his body at age 96 in 1976.
For photographs of Mt. Changbai and details of my search for evidence of One Cloud, see China’s Crown Chakra: Mt. Changbai: https://healingtaousa.com/articles/chinas-crown-chakra-mt-changbai/
One Cloud originally shared Seven Alchemy Formulas for Cultivating the True Immortal Self. The Healing Tao’s knowledge base expanded so much, that we decided in 2010 to simplify things by dividing the huge 1st Formula into three separate formulas. The new total is Nine Inner Alchemy Formulas. In Tao numerology, seven is the number of Human evolution; eight is the number of Earth. Nine is the traditional Taoist number of Heavenly completion. Nine Formulas in Taoist Numerology invokes the integration of Humanity with Heaven and Earth.
My Modern Innovations Inspired by One Cloud’s Formulas
One Cloud’s traditional principles of cultivating Tao remain unchanged. But alchemy itself is by nature experimental, and constantly evolving new methods. What has changed in my teaching of One Cloud’s formulas?
1) A clear Taoist cosmology map of how Qi circulates between wuji (“unknowable mystery”) into our physical body-mind and back. It’s a continuous flow of never-ending change. It is useless to meditate unless one has a multi-dimensional map of the patterns and different qualities of Qi flow. A detailed Primordial Tao Cosmology is given in my 5 Bamboo Scrolls ebook series, titled: Primordial Tai Chi: Way of Enlightened Self-Love.
Bamboo Scroll #1 is titled: Tao Cosmology & Sacred Movement. see Table of Contents: https://healingtaousa.com/articles/primordial-tai-chi-way-of-enlightened-self-love/
Download a PDF (50 pages, 45 illustrations) with my Bamboo Scroll #1 introduction, “Awaken Self-Love with Sacred Movement”: https://healingtaousa.com/articles/primordial-tai-chi-book-one-introduction/
2) Many new Qi cultivation methods I’ve developed over the last 36 years to help western adepts achieve success with their qigong (skill with subtle breath) and neidan gong (inner elixir skill) practice. Some of my new methods came from trial and error. Some were borrowed from the dozens of teachers I studied with. Other were breakthroughs, directly received “transmissions from immortals”.
These two reasons are why my teachings today are very different from the methods taught by Mantak Chia first taught in 1980’s. One Cloud only taught the young teenager Chia up to his original 3rd formula, Greater Kan & Li. I discovered that Heaven will download the rest if you show you are serious and virtuous. I taught 400 week-long retreats on five continents over the past four decades. Chia knew very little qigong when I first met him in 1980. I studied widely, and integrated qigong movement methods with sitting meditation methods. Most important, I listened. I got a lot of feedback. I discovered what really works and what doesn’t.
I am very grateful to Mantak Chia for stimulating my exploration of Taoist inner alchemy. I applaud his pioneer work to promote Tao worldwide. I am pleased Chia has listened to audio tapes of my Kan & Li alchemy retreats and borrowed some of my innovations and qigong forms I’ve taught him. But overall, in my honest opinion, Chia has not been successful in teaching the higher levels of Tao inner alchemy. He has trained virtually no students qualified to teach the higher alchemy formulas.
My mission is to share my further evolution of the Tao inner alchemy process. To make it more transparent, deeper, easier to access and practical to apply in modern life. To put elusive and mystical alchemy into plain English that is easily understood. I believe Tao energetic science offers a middle path between traditional religious faith and modern empirical science. But it will only be adopted if it is adapted to Western minds and bodies. This is the task of the next generation of Taoist alchemists – possibly YOU, dear reader!
History of Inner Alchemy in China
One Cloud’s Alchemy Formulas to Cultivate the True Immortal Self are similar to those mentioned in thousand year old texts known as the Tao Canon (1160 books of the Taoist ‘bible’, mostly written on bamboo scrolls). These formulas are attributed to Lu Dong Bin, one of China’s revered Eight Immortals and the patron ‘saint’ of Inner Alchemy. The core methods themselves are undoubtedly thousands of years older, passed down by strict oral transmission and held in deepest secrecy. It took many generations of masters to refine the great spiritual truths into practical inner alchemy stages. These Alchemy Formulas are the spiritual crown jewels of Chinese civilization.
Even today, most students, qigong and meditation teachers in China do not have access to these inner alchemy methods. On a trip to Huashan (‘Flower Mountain’), one of the most sacred Taoist mountains in China, I eventually got around to discussing the Healing Tao alchemy formulas with my good friend Chen Yu Ming, then the vice abbot of Huashan. We had many long talks about Taoism on previous visits, but I was always careful to not probe into his personal practice or discuss mine. Chinese Taoists are very secretive, and it is not considered good taste to pry into someone’s practice.
The vice abbot had recently opened up. He taught a stage of Huashan inner alchemy to a group of Western Healing Tao adepts for the first time in Huashan’s 3000 year written history, he believed. It turned out that we already knew a similar practice, taught as the Lesser Enlightenment of Water and Fire in One Cloud’s system. I finally shared with Chen Yu Ming details of the Healing Tao practices and the structure of One Cloud’s Alchemy Formulas. He gasped in surprise, and was so shocked he could hardly speak. ‘These are very secret methods’, he said. ‘There are very few Taoists here in China who even know of what you speak.”
When I asked him the reason for the great secrecy, he replied, ‘because the ancients kept it secret’. He then added, ‘Those who are lucky enough to find a teacher often join the School of Seclusion, which believes the knowledge should be kept hidden except to one or two worthy students. This is the Chinese way.”
Inner Alchemy: Template for New Global Human Energy Science
We are in a time period where formerly secret esoteric mysteries from many cultures are being shared. These Inner Alchemy practices are probably surfacing in the West because cultural conditions are not currently conducive to their release in China. The weight of thousands of years of tradition preserved the secret alchemy practices. But that same historical weight is too great to allow for the change needed to introduce them into modern Chinese society.
These qigong and meditation practices are needed to stimulate the birth of a new global spiritual science for the benefit of all humanity. That is why these teachings are being publicly offered to sincere seekers in the West for the first time in history ‘ without groveling at anyone’s feet for years, hoping for a few spiritual crumbs. If you feel spiritually attracted to these teachings and feel worthy within yourself to receive these teachings, then you deserve the right to learn them. Why should any human be denied the opportunity of achieving true spiritual independence?
A parallel tradition of Western internal alchemy also exists, but it has largely been lost or fragmented. The principles of the Eastern and Western traditions of alchemy are identical, but the Western methods are more ‘fire’ centered, which translates into the dominance of matter by spirit. The ‘above’ is used to control and transform the ‘below’. What has mostly survived in the West is the laboratory or ‘external alchemy’ tradition, also known as spagyric science/art.
The Taoist Water and Fire alchemy practices are more internal and body-centered, and thus very grounded and appropriate for Westerners at this time. The human body is the vessel of transformation, and the anchor for growing a powerful Energy Body that can hold the vibration of cosmic forces. Cultivation of humility allows surrender to an adept’s natural inner alchemical process. Virtue (‘de’) opens the portal to the Inner Way of neidan gong, or Inner Elixir Skill.
Taoist Internal Alchemy emphasizes Water first, with the ‘below’ gradually revealing the Fire ‘above’ hidden within itself. One Cloud’s Taoist Water and Fire approach translates into the liberation of the spirit hidden within matter-body, and the rebirthing of deep earth consciousness.
We are at a critical juncture in the time cycle of human spiritual development. It is a time of the feminine discovering that yang fire is its true inner nature. The Healing Tao is sharing these alchemical secrets publicly because we feel they penetrate and resolve the problem of the BODY which plagues so many meditators seeking perfect union with Spirit.
Many people have a problem of wanting to get out of their body so that their meditation can be more perfectly spiritual, without the messy problems caused by having a body. It is a rude awakening for them to realize this desire is not for transcendence, it is at core escapist. What are they escaping?
The greatest spiritual difficulty is staying here, living in a body. Many are escaping their failure to recognize and accept the spiritual nature of the physical body. Many falsely believe if they open their third eye and go out my crown, that their spiritual journey will be complete.
These kinds of spiritual people either overlook or deny how essential the body is to full enlightenment. In the Healing Tao, we often make a distinction between those achieving ‘head enlightenment’ and those achieving ‘whole body enlightenment’. They are very different experiences. All meditation methods are wonderful gifts. Alchemy is a special kind of meditative gift that is dynamic, accepts the sexual nature of the body, and seeks to refine the entire polarized physical body into an elevated spiritual state infused with non-dual original Qi.
Internal Alchemy vs. Laboratory Alchemy, Taoist vs. Western Immortality
Internal alchemy in China is called neidan gong, or ‘inner elixir skill’. It is not to be confused with external alchemy, an art which arose much later during the Han Dynasty (200 b.c.) and involves the laboratory manipulation of substances external to the human body. External alchemy is a much later offshoot of internal alchemy. This position is accepted by such prominent scholars as Mircea Eliade in his history of alchemy, The Forge and the Crucible.
There is a misconception floating about that because Taoist adepts and Emperors died from ingesting mercury, that internal alchemy was invented as a later alternative to external alchemy. My research suggests inner alchemy was codified and refined in the Song Dynasty (10th century), but based on a much older oral tradition.
Many modern people fantasize about Taoist immortality formulas and use it to spice up kung fu novels or add spiritual romance to movies. Armchair philosophers of the Tao love to speculate about its meaning, and play with its arcane symbols and code words. But how many have understood this is an accessible human science, or really experienced its reality, its power to shape and embody reality?
The Taoist concept of immortality does not mean you live physically forever. Immortality means you achieve spiritual integration of your authentic self (zhenren). This achievement requires great humility, high spiritual virtue, and mastery of the Life Force on the part of the adept.
Your authentic Self is immortal because it has the power to survive the transition of physical death and continues its creative life in higher dimensions. This process requires integrating the physical body’s sexual essence (jing), the energy body (chi), and the spirit body (shen) into a functional state of total openness (wu) to the multi-dimensionality of the present moment.
The spiritual power of manifestation hidden within the jing or sexual essence is most critical to cultivating what is known as a ‘golden light body’ or the authentic immortal Self. Without the sexual essence being properly cultivated, the crystallization of one’s spirit does not occur. For this reason, I believe many meditators achieve enlightenment, but not immortality.
Cultivating this high level of harmony and balance requires a progressive training of the body’s sexual essence (jing), the mind (chi), and the spirit (shen) within a state of total openness (wu). The purpose of the Healing Tao training laid out in the Nine Supreme Alchemy Formulas is to accelerate transformations that might take Nature many lifetimes to accomplish. Inner Alchemy is a precise step-by-step process, and each step builds on the next.
Below is a summary of the precious Healing Tao methods to pass through these nine stages. It follows the original structure transmitted by the Taoist Hermit One Cloud, but has been rounded out with the addition of other supportive practices. My descriptions also reflect my personal experience teaching hundreds of retreats at the Water & Fire level (Kan & Li) or higher. The language in One Cloud’s original 7 Formulas was very sparse; he had quickly scrawled them onto a piece of paper and given it to Mantak Chia.Taoist Inner Alchemy is the practical bridge between personal self and your Cosmic Self.
Preparation & Supplemental Practices
Purification, grounding, and centering through various forms of qigong (meditation as movement). Examples:
- Simple qigong (chi kung) forms to open the dantian, See my Medical & Spiritual Qigong Fundamentals 1-4
- Chi Nei Tsang (Deep Organ Massage) to detoxify organs.
- Tai Chi Qigong and other internal martial arts to refine and express outward chi flow using body movement,
- Tao Yin (Taoist Yoga) to relax and open up the body.
- Tai Chi for Enlightened Self-Love/Primordial Qigong for medical and spiritual health, centers and eases karmic difficulties.
1st Formula of Inner Alchemy
1. Inner Smile (self-acceptance), 6 Healing Sounds (detox & awaken organ spirits) & Micro-cosmic Orbit ( balance Yin-Yang Qi flow).
1a. Inner Smile radiates Heart/Soul Presence of our Original Spirit (yuan shen) into the physical body-mind. This radiates Unconditional Acceptance and Unconditional Love from our inner heart (soul) as the foundation of all lasting chi cultivation. Learning how our heart-soul can safely radiate its True Presence allows us to shape our chi flow and become who we truly are destined to be. It is a practical way to meditate while engaged in daily life.
Inner Smile cultivates our chi as a deep act of self-love. Yin practice allows to love our body, its tissues, our organ spirits, and to dissolve past energy patterns (positive and negative) that unconsciously shape our reality. Yang practice is to radiate a loving Inner Smile out to our friends, family, community and Nature. Inner Smile is the simplest and most profound body-centered Tao practice to grow our sense of harmony. It strengthens our inner virtues (moral compass) and integrates outer life with inner meditation and delivers true peace to our soul.
1b. Six Healing Sounds and Five Animals Qigong to purify the internal vital organs and bowels, and circulate chi in the Five Elements Creation Cycle of Nourishment.
1c. Microcosmic Orbit to balance and circulate chi in the Energy Body. It is a dynamic meditation creating a balanced, yin-yang flow of perpetual golden light chi circling around the spine and chest. Also known as ‘small heavenly round’ or ’embryonic breathing’, this meditation balances the pre-natal chi (from Heaven) and post-natal blood (from Earth, body, and ancestors) and stabilizes all yin-yang chi flow in the meridians.
2nd Formula of Inner Alchemy
2. Fusion of 5 Elements #1 (Emotional Alchemy) + Tao Sexology (medical & bedroom) to preserve health
2a. Iron Shirt 1: Internal Rooting & Bone Breathing to ground the Energy Body. Grounding is a major challenge for many westerners. Standing postures connect the skeletal structure to the flow of earth chi. This rooting is essential to managing sexual and emotional energy and allows one to absorb cosmic chi as one progresses.
2b. Fusion of the Five Elements 1 is about cultivating our original or true feelings, before they are corrupted by resistance and ego struggle. This is accomplished by harmonizing the five phases of chi flow (wu xing). Fusion 1 practice transforms negative emotions into positive, virtuous chi flow. It harmonizes the Five Spirits (shen), the biological-psychological intelligences of the personal self.
These Five Vital Organ spirits, also known as the ‘Inner Body Gods’, fuse their essence (jing) and natural virtue (de) into a pearl of original chi (yuan chi) in the belly cauldron (lower dantian). This purified chi pearl is then circulated in the 5 Elements Creation Cycle. When the emotional chi is harmonized, then sexual energy can be more deeply and safely cultivated.
2c. Healing Love/ Taoist Sexual Secrets: conserves, recharges, harmonizes, and spiritually guides sexual energy. Taoist medical sexology heals sexual dysfunction, the bedroom arts harmonize couples love life and guard their health. Women use the jade egg to strengthen and own the spiritual space of their womb. Women learn to reduce monthly blood loss with breast massage and Ovarian Breathing.
Men learn to build sexual power by re-circulating internally their semen’s essence with Testicle Breathing. The conserved sexual energy is guided by both men and women into the appropriate body center (dantian) or energy channel (microcosmic orbit, core channel, etc.). Sexual energy, when refined, is the primary fuel for the alchemical process of accelerating human evolution. It makes the physical body radiant and stimulates the mental/emotional bodies to be highly creative and positive.
3rd Formula of Inner Alchemy
3. Fusion of 5 Elements #2 & 3 (Psychic Alchemy): Open Macro-cosmic Orbit
3a. Iron Shirt 2 (Tendon Power) & Bone Marrow Neigong 3. These practice strengthen our body’s functional structure by storing long-lasting chi and clean the bone marrow by charging it with sexual energy to stimulate the production of fresh blood cells.
3b. Fusion of Five Elements 2 and 3. The pearl activates the yin-yang pulsation of the eight cosmic forces (I Ching trigram energy) that flow into the Eight Extraordinary Vessels of the human body. These deep energy channels form the blue print or matrix of our personal soul or Energy Body. The 8 “big rivers of Qi” supplies the twelve regular meridians with smaller streams of Qi.
When these eight psychic energy channels are activated, they collectively open the Macro-cosmic Orbit (or ‘large heavenly round’) and can heal at a very deep level. Faster and far more powerful than acupuncture or herbs. more effective for healing chronic illness and ancestral (genetic and epigenetic) issues.
This practice opens deep awareness of Qi field beyond the body, hence its reputation for awakening psychic powers (known as the eight Siddhas in a parallel Indian tradition). We activate the Nine Cosmic Spirals that allow us to expand our Energy Body out to the far edge of the Cosmos and receive guidance and renewal from source Qi.
4th Formula of Inner Alchemy
4. Inner Sexual Alchemy: Heal Inner Male-Female Split
4. Lesser Enlightenment of Kan and Lii (Water & Fire), also known as Inner Sexual Alchemy. This practice presupposes some skill in the Taoist Healing Love sexual cultivation art of semen retention for men and partial lessening of the menstrual cycle in women. It involves a shift from horizontal Fusion of the Five Elements (Post-natal or manifest chi) to vertical axis coupling of Three soul aspects: Fire-Inner Male, Water-Inner Female, & True Earth-Portal of Self-Creation.
The Kan & Li method of ‘spiritual self-intercourse’ couples primal Fire and Water chi in the body. This is the first and critical stage of dissolving the personal mind-body split (and its resulting diseases). We unify all male and female soul fragments in the lower belly cauldron (dantian- center of gravity). This alchemical internal sex clears out all our old outer sexual relationship patterns, and creates a feeling of spiritual pregnancy that can last 9 months. We physically feel a deep body bliss known as the formation of the ‘immortal embryo’.
When primal fire and water chi are ‘steamed’ in the belly, it produces Original Chi that dissolves deep genetic patterns and false yin and yang syndromes in our personality and body. It opens our Inner Eye at all levels of the body’s core channel, thus enhancing and our ability to ‘see’ inside our body and matter. A special Black Pearl meditation allows us to dissolve our shadow side’s Inner Demons, by taking them on a journey into the pre-natal portal.
5th Formula of Inner Alchemy
5. Sun-Moon-Earth Alchemy: Heal Our Ancestral Bloodline
5. Greater Enlightenment of Kan and Li (Water & Fire), also called Sun-Moon Alchemy. Horizontally we integrate the 5 inner essences of the personal self with the five directional forces of the planetary self. These are identified as the Five Dragon Spirits of Earth, a.k.a. the spirits of the North, South, East, & West meeting in the Center of Earth, at our solar plexus cauldron. We work within Deep Earth, and learn how to harmonize with the greater energy body of Mother Earth.
The powers of the Sun and Moon are vertically coupled to ‘cook’ the Directional spirits/Dragons. This dissolves many patterns trapped in the cycles of Time and spiritually births the ‘immortal child’ or the greater elixir. We experience our reborn inner self as our young Inner Sage playing in the global astral field of reality.
This dissolves the boundary between the adept and Nature (including human nature). It dissolves geomantic (feng shui) blockages in the Earth’s ley lines and heals our bloodline’s patterns long buried in the bones of the earth and purifies our own blood of ancestral traumas.
6th Formula of Inner Alchemy
6. Planetary Alchemy: Manage Archetypal Soul Issues, Merge our Sage into Inner Sun
6. Greatest Enlightenment of Kan and Li, also called Planet and Soul Alchemy. This is One Cloud’s third Kan & Li (Water & Fire) formula. It uses planetary polarities to cultivate a more refined ling, The ling is roughly equivalent to the western notion of ‘soul’, but viewed as an evolutionary process. Your responsibility as a human being is to ‘grow’ your soul, not to ‘save’ it.
The alchemy process begins with a cosmic Fusion of the Five Elements. It horizontally integrates in the middle cauldron of the heart our personal self, the 5 vital organ body spirit-essences, with the 5 planetary forces of the Solar system Self. This is ‘living astrology’, in which cosmic forces are interiorized inside the body. The planets are evolving storehouses for the collective archetypal soul forces of humanity. We can experience them directly through planetary tones (music of the spheres), and download their vibration to more deeply divinize our own vital organ spirits.
For example: we directly experience and make friends with the planetary spirit of Saturn, ruler of the ‘Higher Earth’ element. It teaches us how to hold the core unity of living matter and balance planetary and stellar forces of manifestation. Successful practice removes all fear of death and dissolves deep karmic patterns of resistance and struggle that plague humanity. In effect, we are completing Humanity’s natal chart. This process allows us to clearly receive and transmit our soul’s inner ‘solar logos’ or Way of knowing. The planets ground a deep opening of our inner heart, so we can become a vessel to receive the Spirit of the Sun. The hidden yin nature of the Sun (Yin within the Yang) and the hidden yang nature of the Spirit of Earth (Yang within the Yin) are vertically coupled internally to mature the heart of our Inner Sage.
7th Formula of Inner Alchemy
7. Star Alchemy: Shape Soul Destiny, Awaken Over Soul Causality
7. Sealing of the Five Senses, also called Star Alchemy. This unifies the five shen, the five streams of personal consciousness that operate through our senses, with the five forces of the collective Stellar Self, in the West called the Over Souls. The body of our stellar mind can be viewed in the four quadrants of fixed stars in the night sky, originally symbolized by heraldic animals (Black Turtle, Red Phoenix, Green Dragon, White Tiger).
The fifth, the quintessence, is the Purple Pole Star in the center of the sky, with the Great Bear of the Big Dipper marking the progression of the seasons as its handles rotates like the arm of a cosmic clock. These personal and stellar essences are fused in the upper dantian, the cauldron in the head. This is the process of our Inner Sage attaining the stellar logos, celestial level of immortality.
The pure open space connecting the three cauldrons is integrated. This stabilizes the celestial axis and activates what Lao Tzu calls the ‘Great Tone’. Profound peace and different spiritual qualities continuously manifest from this activated core and radiate sonically into our physical becoming. Our soul pattern expands its conscious destiny to include dimensions of life beyond the physical plane.
8th Formula of Inner Alchemy
8. Heaven & Earth Alchemy: Marry Form & Formless, Feel Central Sun Pure Love Qi
8. The Congress of Heaven and Earth, or simply Heaven and Earth Alchemy. This practice explores the origins of human love and how it serves to integrate the 3 Treasures/Originals of the Tao. We couple the Early Heaven or formless Self with the Later Heaven (Earth) physical Self. The Self here identifies itself here with two dimensions that co-exist and co-create: the ‘formless form’ of our being and the ‘substantial form’ of our becoming.
These two polar dimensions of our greater Self engage in cosmic sex. They couple in order to re-open the portal to their Original state, or ‘Pre-Self’. This pre-state or Primordial Heaven is called hundun, the primal chaos-unity or unconditional love state that preceded the ‘big bang’ of the cosmic egg cracking open.
The Three Pure Ones or Three Originals (san yuan) of Heaven, Earth, and Humanity are gathered in the three body cauldrons as original jing, original chi, and original shen. This three-tone harmonic chord is resonated with the fundamental or original tone of time and space. Consciousness then stabilizes in the axial center where our true multi-dimensional nature can now be embodied. A continuum between unconditional love and the myriad forms of conditional love is consciously crystallized.
This practice creates a tonal double vortex spinning faster than the speed of light within the void of space. This opens up fully the Music of the Spheres, the cosmic subtle bodies in harmonic play. Into this symphony is fused our inner sage’s immortal presence, the quintessence of humanity meditating on unconditional love in the center of a cosmic torus (spiritual black hole). We must enter this primordial sound portal to complete our journey of Return to the Origin.
9th Formula of Inner Alchemy
9. Human Sage Merges with Tao
9. Union of Human and Tao. This stage is the integration of the eight previous levels of consciousness into the experience of living simultaneously in the present moment in all dimensions, from physical linear time to spirit’s eternal time. This state cannot be fully known or defined conceptually for others. The Taoists simply describe it as the experience of living fully in the wuji, the Cosmic Present Moment. Wuji is sometimes translated as the Supreme Unknown — which could be equated, in western religious terms, as living from a godhead that has no ruling god.
This is the true achievement of the authentic or Immortal Self, a permanent state of grace and high creativity known as wu wei, ‘effortless action’, or ‘spontaneous action without acting’. Creation (of the manifest) and Return to Formless Origin seamlessly complete each other. Attainment of this final level is, in my belief, spontaneous; it is not a technique. It is the natural evolution of humans to realize their divine nature.
It happens naturally only when our spiritual virtue (de) reaches a refined level. We have persevered in humbly completing the challenges of our worldly destiny, and diligently cultivated our highest spiritual virtues given to us as yet-to-be-realized gifts at birth. The inner will of our immortal sage displaces our personality and reaches complete alignment with the Tao, Heaven and Earth and Humanity, and the flow of the Life Force. It is the supreme level of grace, bestowed by direct transmission from the Tao to the mature and receptive adept.
Suggested further reading:
1. For a concise survey of the Healing Tao’s role in the spread of Daoist Internal Alchemy in the West, and how it has changed due to the influence of Western energy bodies: http://www.healingtaousa.com/blk7.html This is a 15 page excerpt from my chapter in Livia Kohn’s Internal Alchemy: Self, Society, and the Quest for Immortality. I highly recommend this book as the best available scholarly work on Taoist alchemy.
2. For a more in-depth analysis of One Cloud’s Alchemy Formulas, I suggest my paper presented to a conference of Taoist scholars and adepts in 2001, titled ‘Daoist Internal Alchemy: A Deep Language for Communicating with Nature’s Intelligence‘. Go to Articles section.
Taoist tradition often described itself as having Eight Branches emanating from the ninth, the axial formless trunk of the Tao. Different writers may describe these eight branches with slightly different variations. Here is one version:
- Nei gong, or meditation. Includes the 9 Supreme Formulas of Inner Alchemy (neidan gong) and all forms of meditation, from Inner Smile to Union of Man with Tao. The stillness within the stillness of the mind is the source that bursts into the movement of Life.
- Qigong , which includes taiji chuan, bagua chuan, and all sacred dance/ritual. Moving meditation as a dynamic body-centered path of unfolding Nature’s inner patterns.
- Tao philosophy – I Ching sciences: cosmology, astrology, numerology, physiognomy (face reading), palmisty, divination, and the application of yin-yang, five-phase, or 8-cosmic force principles to any natural science.
- Healing/medical arts: acupuncture, tuina, deep organ massage, moxabustion, medical qigong.
- Sexology: bedroom arts (fangzhi), medical and spiritual-alchemical sexual practices.
- Feng shui: living (homes, offices) and dead (graves).
- Five element nutrition & herbology.
- Fine/expressive chi arts: music, singing, calligraphy, painting, sculpture, dance, story telling (today film and theatre).
Healing Tao USA supports the adoption of these Eight Branches of Taoist energy arts & sciences and their integration into all aspects of modern western culture: education, art, science, psychology, politics and medicine.
The hidden ninth branch is the True Self at the center of the bagua.
Explanation of the 8 Trigrams in Healing Tao Logo
Tao of Balance and Harmony Song of a New Heaven on Earth
By Michael Winn
Tao births the One. One births the Two. Two births the Three. Three births the 10,000. things. – Verse 42, Tao Te Ching
This Healing Tao USA logo is a map of Higher Consciousness based on Taoist cosmology. I designed it based on decades of exploring the secrets of Taoist internal alchemy meditation, deep experience of qigong (chi kung), and study of the ancient classic – I Ching: Book of Unchanging Changes.
Are you ready for a quick journey deep into Taoist cosmology?
The logo maps an image of a vibrational experience: flowing consciousness is being ‘sung’ into physical form through a pattern of subtle tones. A subtle tone is just a vibration moving in a particular pattern, that can be known by the shape of what is created.
Just as Nature sings itself into existence, we each sing our human body-mind into existence. But humans are generally not aware of how we ‘sing-vibrate’ the shape of our reality.
This image expresses the principle of balance in the yin-yang pulsations of the chi field. Chi, also spelled ‘qi’, is the subtle breathing of Nature. Yin-Yang is any polarity – male-female, positive-negative, etc. – flowing dynamically in equilibrium within a matrix of neutral or Original Chi (yuan chi). Tao as Musical Cosmology
Each of the eight trigram tone-symbols has three lines or notes that form a musical chord. The eight trigrams are from the Early Heaven (formless) arrangement, in which each trigram-tone is the mirror opposite of the trigram-tone facing it.
This creates four pairs of musical chords that represent the primordial Tao or Nature ‘singing itself into creation’ as the four sacred directions/ cardinal vibrations.
The fifth direction ‘ the Center ‘ is symbolized by the five-pointed star emerging from the ‘vesica piscis’ or sexually coupled large red (fire) and blue (water) spheres. Three forces are coiled inside this geometric vesica piscis ‘ the black and white spirals of primal yin-yang chi force, and the golden glowing sphere of Original Breath, or yuan chi.
In the center of the star is a tiny circle, representing the Original Breath emerging from the Supreme Mystery, or Wuji. This center can never be fully known, it is the Mystery beyond all other mysteries. Yet this Mystery lives inside each of us. It divides itself out three times into:
- The Fundamental Tone of Oneness (yuan or Original chi field).
- The chi field of Two-ness (Yin-Yang polarity).
- The Five Phase cycle (five-ness called Fire, Earth, Gold, Water, and Wood).
These three core layers of tonal patterns are vibrating simultaneously in everything in nature, creating the seasons, the flow of chi inside our body meridians and organs, the spin of galaxies and atoms. Five Elements Pattern at Core of Every Human
The 5-pointed star in the center also represents a Completed Human Being. This is any human being who has internalized the five sacred directions/elements/tones within themselves. When this happens, there is no boundary between their body and the body of Nature.
This is a human being in perfect harmony and balance with its environment, they have expanded their awareness to become one with the universal natural flow. It is a state of consciousness that is simultaneously transcendent (multi-dimensional) and immanent (physically present).
The star expresses the principle of five elements/five phases, which, along with yin-yang theory, is central to all Chinese culture. These principles are the foundation of Chinese medicine, feng shui, qigong, inner and outer alchemy, astrology, face and palm reading, martial arts and war strategy, city planning, the Chinese calendar, etc.
Five Elements is also a universal pattern, found in all ancient cultures as the sacred four directions and the Center. Flipping Yin-Yang Poles to Rejuvenate Life
The mirroring of the eight trigram tones also suggests a timeless equilibrium of cosmic musical forces that are all held in the Unnamed center, as a 9th tone-force. This is also known as the Fundamental, or Original Tone that sings out all the tones of creation.
The eight tonal-trigrams in my arrangement have been changed from the normal Early Heaven arrangement: each pair of trigrams has been flipped or inverted twice. Heaven (three solid lines) used to be on top, now it is below. Earth (three broken lines) used to be on bottom, now it is on top.
Fire (yang-yin-yang lines) and Water (yin-yang-yini) lines have reversed their positions o the left and right.
This flipping of the eight trigram-tones naturally occurs the ‘refining’ process of inner alchemy meditations. When we meditate, we dissolve our fixed sense of duality/separation by ‘flipping’ the energetic poles inside our body-mind.
This produces a refreshed state of consciousness, and one that is more stable. This is similar to life and death cycles in nature rejuvenating each other.
The flipping or inverting of any two polarities creates a new awakening of the third force in the center, the Original Breath of Humanity. Paradigm Shift: A New Heaven on Earth
What does ‘a new Heaven on Earth’ mean? The Chinese term is ‘zhong tian’. It implies the sexual coupling of Early Heaven (formless plane) and Later Heaven (physical plane). It also reveals that humanity is in a major paradigm shift, a major birthing process, a critical point in the turning of the great cosmic wheel.
Heaven, the formless, is below Earth, the embodiment of form. Heaven supports Earth (vertical axis), and Fire is stabilized by Water (horizontal axis). This represents the free flow of chi or subtle energy between these poles ‘ the state of wu wei manifested.
Wu-wei is the ‘no-resistance’ state of grace natural to every being. It was made famous by Lao Tzu in his 2500 year old classic, Tao Te Ching (daodejing). Qigong and Meditation as Best Tools for Personal Change
Tao inner Alchemy and qigong (chi kung) are the meditation and movement aspects of an ancient spiritual science. Healing Tao USA has as its mission to make these wonderful spiritual tools available to you. They can help each of us to speed up the process of unfolding our Natural Path.
Alchemy is the ancient term for the natural way to speed up evolution. It allows us to more easily and quickly merge with Nature and the formless Oneness of the Tao while preserving our individual will and responsibility for shaping creation.