May 15, 2005 at 6:51 pm #5737
Comment by Shui Ching-Tzu on the verses from the Ching-ching Ching on sitting and stilling the thoughts (circa 1600s)
The Confucian sages say when desire ceases, the way of heaven can flow. The Buddhists say No mind is clear mind. The Taoists say Empty the heart and fill the belly.
All are referring to the ways of regarding emptiness. Regarding emptiness is not just merely sitting still and stopping thinking.
If you do not receive instructions from an enlightened teacher, you will not know how to set up the stove and erect the cauldron. You will not know how to build the foundation, how to gather herbs, how to obtain the cinnabar, or how to pick the herbs at the right moment. You will not know what is the waterwheel, what is the right amount of fire, what is the union of Chien and Kun, what is the interaction of Kan and Li, and what is the exchange of metal and wood. You will not know what is meant by the attraction of lead and mercury, what is the rising of yang fire and the falling of yin, what is bathing in stillness, what is the filling of Chien and Kun, and what is the sequence of events leading to the emergence of the spirit from the womb.
If you merely sit in stillness, you will not be able to gather the three flowers in the cauldron nor direct the five vapors toward the origin. You will wither like dry wood. Your heart will dissolve like ashes. One day your life will be over and you will become a ghost. You may receive offerings and incense or you may be reincarnated as a person of high rank. If you abandon your original nature in this lifetime, all your works in the previous lifetimes will come to nothing.
-Shui Ching Tzu (1600), translated by Eva Wong Cultivating Stillness
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