March 23, 2008 at 6:58 am #27875
Today starts a series of articles from the Daoist Literature on Daoist views on the human being. There exist today alot more translations on this subject; and relate to the Formulas of Master Yi Yun, from my expierence.
Alot has been written on the body and the practices such as inner Smile, Fusion, Microcosmic, Fire & Water, etc. all relate to the different text in the Dao Zang. Its important to be able to do them on a practical level and then get into all the nice writings as you go or even later in the training. Some people I meet believe they know the practice but never actually have begun their practice into a living existing
So one might say what can books and reading or even media do for one in todays media age? I feel they are to supplement ones knowledge and insight along the path.
Enjoy the series, please be patient it’s a long process of sacrificing my practice time to be at this computer and to organize it in a good flow.
Happy Easter! S.L.
Daoist Views on the Human Body
(Adapted for Healing Dao Forum 2008 from Encyclopedia of Daoism Vol. I)
Three main terms define the traditional Daoist views of the human body.
1. The first ti (體) or body” designates the physical frame as an order whole made of interdependent parts.
2. The second xing (形) or form” mainly refers to the body as the counterpart and residence of spirit (shen).
3. The third shen (身) or person” denotes the whole human being including its non-material aspects ranging from thinking and feeling to personality and social role.
These terms show that the Western notion of body” physical structure is inadequate to convey the complexity of the Classical Daoist Chinese views. The specifically Daoist views are further enriched by significant varieties among different traditions. In the absence of a single way of seeing the body shared by all Daoist traditions this article outlines some of the main themes that emerge from different contexts.
Body and State
The human body and the state are two microcosms related not only to macrocosm but also to each other.
The body is often described with bureaucratic metaphors and governing the state is often likened to self-cultivation.
This analogy runs throughout He Shang Gong’s(洞上公) commentary to the Dao De Jing and is restated in later texts. One of He Shang Gong’s relevant passages reads:
If in governing the body one cherishes one’s breath the body will be complete. If in governing the country one cherishes the people the country will be peaceful.
Governing the body means to inhale and exhale essence and Qi (Jing and Qi) without letting one’s ears hear them.
Govering the country means to distribute virtue (De) and bestow grace (hui 惠) without letting the lower ones know it”.
At the center of the bureaucratic metaphor are the five viscera (wuzang) described as offices” (or officers” guan 官) in both Daoist and medical texts including the Huang Di NeJing (Inner Scripture of the Yellow Emperor; Suwen 素間 sec. 3.8).
Body and Cosmos
Daoism adds much to the theory of the correspondence between cosmos and human body, Beginning with descriptions that focus on Lao Jun the divine aspect of Lao Zi.
According to the Lao Zi Bian Hua Jing (Scripture of the Transformations of Lao Zi) the Kai Tian Jing (Scripture of the Opening of Heaven) and other texts Lao Zi exists at the beginning of the formation of the cosmos and reappears throughout human history transforming his body each time. In other instances, the cosmos itself is seen as the body of Lao Zi, a theme that appears to have originated in myths concerning Pan Gu, the “cosmic man” (Seidel 1969, 93-96; Girardot 1983,191-97).
A text quoted in the Buddhist *Xiao Dao lun (Essays to Ridicule the Dao or Laughing at the Dao) describes the cosmic body of Lao Zi as follows:
“Lao Zi transformed his body. His left eye became the sun; his right eye, the moon; his head, Mount *Kunlun; his beard, the planets and constellations; his bones, the dragons; his flesh, the quadrupeds; his intestine, the snakes; his stomach, the sea; his fingers, the five peaks (Wu Yue); his hair, the trees and the herbs; his heart, the Flowery Canopy (Hua Gai i.e., Cassiopea in heaven and the lungs in the body); and his kidneys, the Real Father and the Real Mother of humanity” (T. 2I03, 9.144b; see Kohn 1995a, 54-55).
Attesting to the continuity among different times and traditions, an echo of this passage is found in an invocation that the Daoist priest pronounces at the beginning of the Offering (Jiao) ritual, when he performs a series of purifications of outer and inner space. With the Great Spell for the Transformation of the Body (Da Bian Shen Zhou) , the priest identifies himself with the cosmos and with some of the divinities who inhabit it (Lagerwey 1987C, 71-72; Andersen 1995, 195).
The Body as Residence of Gods and Spirits.
The spirits of the viscera have a human shape and the texts provide details on their names, heights, garments, and functions. Since the earliest descriptions, found in the Tai Ping Jing (Scripture
of Great Peace; Robinet 1993, 64-66), these details are provided as support for Cultivation:
Visualizing the inner gods causes them to remain in their corporeal abodes and perform their functions, while their departure would result in illness and death. More extended descriptions of the inner deities are found in the *Huang Ting Jing (Scripture of the Yellow Court) and especially in the *Lao Zi Zhong Jing (Central Scripture of Laozi), and were later developed by the Shang Qing school. The Huang Ting Jing describes the gods of the five viscera and of the *niwan, the upper Cinnabar Field (dantian) located in the region of the brain. The Lao Zi Zhong Jing features a group of deities who dwell in different regions of the human body, all of whom are different forms taken by the Great One (Tai Yi).
In both texts, the deities of the viscera perform administrative functions within the body, establishing a link with the views of the medical texts referred to above.
In other instances, the viscera are the seats of impersonal forces. According to the He Shang Gong commentary and to medical texts, the Hun(“soul”) (representing the Yang components of the human being), the Po (“soul”) (representing the Yin components), the essence (Jing), the spirit (Shen), and the Intention (Yi) respectively reside in the liver, lungs, kidneys, heart, and spleen (5 Shen).
Elsewhere, hun and po are represented in a divinized form; in this case, the hun deities are said to number three and the po seven. They are often mentioned with the “three corpses” and “nine worms” (San Shi and Jiu Chong), malevolent spirits who report the faults and sins of the individual in which they dwell to the Director of Destinies (Si Ming). Accumulating merit through good actions, abstaining from cereals (Bi Gu), and performing rites on the Geng Shen day (the fifty-seventh of the sexagesimal cycle) were among the methods used to neutralize them.
The Body as Mountain and Landscape
The Wu Shang Bi Yao (Supreme Secret Principles, 4I.3b; Lagerwey 1981b, 136) associates the Authentic Talismans of the Five Emperors (Wu Di Zhen Fu) with the five planets in heaven, the five sacred mountains on earth, and the five viscera in the human body.
The body itself is often represented as a mountain (Despeux 1990, 194-98; Lagerwey 1991, 127-42). Liang Kai (thirteenth century) painted a famous scroll that depicts an immortal-possibly meant to be Lao Zi himself-as a mountain, using the technique normally applied for painting landscapes.
Images of the body as a mountain are also found in Daoist texts. They illustrate loci in the body that are important for the practices of Nourishing Life (Yang Sheng) and inner alchemy (Nei Dan).
Some of these sites are represented as palaces that function as headquarters for the administration of the inner body: here too the metaphor of the government of the country as the government of the body is apparent. In turn, the visual depictions of the body as a mountain are related to the best-known Daoist image of the inner body, the Neijing Tu (Chart of the Inner Warp; see Nei Jing Tu and Xiu Zhen Tu. which maps the body as a landscape whose features (e.g., the watercourse, the mill, the furnace) have symbolic meanings in Nei Dan.
The Body in Inner Alchemy
The Nei Dan view of the body is complex, and remarkable differences occur among various sub traditions and authors. In general, the main components of the inner elixir (energy, essence, and spirit, or jing, qi, and shen), as well as the tripod and the furnace (Cauldron) (Ding Lu), are said to be found within the human being. Beyond this basic premise, neidan shares some of the views outlined above and dismisses others. For instance, it inherits from traditional medicine the importance of the Control and Function channels (du mai and ren mai) that play a central role in the circulation of essence (Zhou Tian); on the other hand, Nei Dan practice as it was codified during the Song period does not involve visualizing the inner gods.
Nei Dan, however, is more than a technique, and the importance it gives to immaterial notions such as inner nature and vital force (xing and ming), or inner nature and individual qualities (xing and qing), shows that its focus is not the physical body Li Daochun (fl. I288-92) explains that the various notions and practices have multiple “points of application” or “points of operation” (zuo yong chu); they take on different meanings at different levels, from the physical to the spiritual and beyond this distinction.
An example is the Mysterious Pass (Xuan Guan), which according to different authors is located between the eyebrows, between the kidneys, in the gallbladder, in the navel, or elsewhere, while other say it has no precise location in the body.
As Li Dao Chun remarks:
“The Mysterious Pass is the most mysterious and wondrous pivotal pass (ji guan). How can it have a fixed position? If you place it in the body (shen), this is not correct. If you separate it from the body and search for it outside the body, this is also not correct” (Zhonghe ji, 3.3a).March 27, 2008 at 9:00 pm #27876
I am just back from several weeks teaching in holland, a large and growing neidan field there.
Delighted to see you making good use of the encyclopedia.
I agree the Mysterious Female/ opening/pass is the key to cultivation in neidan – but the elixir is the key to grounding that cultivation.
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