袁康就太極內丹學會
 

袁康就太極內丹學會
The Tai-ji, Inner Alchemy and Kungfu Practice of
Master YUEN Hong-chau

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Comments on the Inner Path Diagram and the Cultivation of Perfection Diagram

Abstract

    In recent decades, two self-cultivation diagrams have been circulated extensively within the Daoist circle, namely: the Inner Path Diagram (《內景圖》) and the Cultivation of Perfection Diagram (《修真圖》). These two diagrams have been quite well-received. The former is a very good diagram, setting the path for the germination of vital energy (真炁) in inner alchemy. The latter is too cumbersome, with too many errors, definitely not a masterpiece but a patchwork of replicas. This paper attempts to give a concise analysis of the imagery meanings, annotations, extraction sources, intention for image selection, etc.

Key words: Inner Alchemy, Qi Gong, Self-cultivation Diagram, Inner Path Diagram, Cultivation of Perfection Diagram

…………………………………………

    In recent decades, two self-cultivation diagrams have emerged within the Daoist circle, namely: the Inner Path Diagram (《內景圖》) and the Cultivation of Perfection Diagram (《修真圖》). These two diagrams, in which secret practice methods not to be passed on are concealed, have been very well-received and claimed to be drawn by Qiu Chuji (丘處機) and Zhang Sanfeng (張三丰). However, we can verify the years of their creation and their self-cultivation implications through the source of annotations, the choice of verses and the details depicted in such diagrams.

I. Origin of the Inner Path Diagram

Inner Path Diagram

    The Inner Path Diagram was originally drawn by a Daoist in early Qing and was later found during the reign of Emperor Guangshu (光緒) (1875-1908) by a Daoist named Suyun (素雲道人) (i.e., Liu Cheng or 劉誠) when he was inspecting the collection of calligraphies and paintings in the Mount Gaosong Library (高松山齋). He discovered that this diagram revealed the essential keys for self-cultivation through meditation, which he considered to be very valuable, and so he took the initiative to send such diagram to the press and dated it as Guangshu Bingxu (光緒丙戌) (1886) in the bottom- left corner of the original diagram; and the woodblock print of which was later collected by Baiyun Temple (白雲觀) in Beijing. [1] Baiyuan Temple is the headquarters of all Daoist temples and monasteries [2] and is also the official premises of the Chinese Daoist Association, and because of its influence, all temples and monasteries, great and small, have reproduced such print. The Palace of Fulfilled Wishes (如意館) of the Qing Imperial Palace even collected a reproduced color scroll which was subsequently included in the collection published in the Gems of Cultural Relics (《文物選粹》) compiled by the China Medical History Museum.

    However, when modern men present or annotate such diagram, most of them have mistakenly thought that such diagram was drawn by Qiu Chuji (丘處機). [3] In fact, the emergence of such diagram was actually the result of two planchette writings from Lü Zu (呂祖 or呂洞賓). The two regular verses can be found in the Collection of Writings (Middle Section), Scroll IV, the Complete Works of Lü Zu (《呂祖全書‧卷四‧文集中》), one of them being: “An ironclad ox ploughs the soil for planting coins, a young lad carving the stone threads such coins into a string. A millet grain hidden in which is the universe, a tiny pot simmering in which are mountains and rivers. An old man with grey hair whose eye brows are touching the ground, a young lad with green eyes pushing his arms towards the sky. If mystical profoundness can be attained from this, there is nothing more mystically profound than this.” The other one being: “Our family works diligently in our own fields, in which spiritual seedlings are being nursed to live ten thousand years. The flowers look like gold with buds so tiny, the seeds resemble white jade each so round in shape. Cultivation relies totally on the earth in the Middle Palace, irrigation has to depend on the spring from the Upper Valley. Only waiting for that day of accomplishment in nine years, to be uplifted with the roots to the Great Overarching Heaven.” [4] Based on such analogy, it is believed that the story behind drawing such diagram could be: In early Qing, a Daoist read the Complete Works of Lü Zu (《呂祖全書》) [5] and was enlightened after browsing these two regular verses, and having understood the way of cultivating the elixir (丹), he then illustrated such verses in a diagram for teaching junior scholars. When drawing such diagram, the artist revised the original text of such verses a bit by changing a “young lad” to a “foreign monk”, [6] to indicate that the matter of self-cultivation is applicable to both the Daoist and Buddhist religions. [7] As for the Complete Works of Lü Zu (《呂祖全書》), it was compiled during the 7th year of the reign of Emperor Qianlong (乾隆) (1742) in the Qing Dynasty by a Daoist named Liu Tishu (劉體恕) with planchette writings from Lü Zu (呂祖). [8] According to the original legends in the Complete Works of Lü Zu, it was recorded that “the literary works of Lü Zu have been in circulation for a long time”. [9] Or, it could be that, the artist of such diagram had read the two regular verses a long time ago because the Inner Path Diagram was drawn before the Complete Works of Lü Zu. However, when Liu Tishu saw the two regular verses in the Inner Path Diagram, if he could not be sure that they were from the literary works of Lü Zu, he would not have incorporated such verses into the Complete Works of Lü Zu. Interesting enough, after the emergence of the Inner Path Diagram, it has become world-famous in recent decades. If such diagram had been in existence since ancient times, it should not be so infamous. Moreover, Liu Tishu was very serious in compiling and editing such works, if he first collected such verses from public sources and then saw them in the Inner Path Diagram which was created based on such verses, and if he found the text to be different, he definitely would have made a footnote during the final proof in order to distinguish such difference, [10] or he would have pointed out in the legends that, subject to “unavoidable scribal errors” [11] , the two regular verses had been quoted in drawing such diagram, etc., etc. However, from the two regular verses published in the collection of works, no footnote can be found, hence, the Inner Path Diagram cannot precede the Complete Works of Lü Zu. The period during which the Inner Path Diagram was drawn should be later than the Complete Works of Lü Zu but earlier than Liu Suyun, i.e., between 1742 and 1886.

    The Daoist religion has always treasured and placed great importance on riddles, enigmas, secret diagrams, etc., which, despite being clearly stated to be secretly passed on, tend to be mentioned on a high note. If such diagram existed a long time ago, it would indeed be hard to believe that during the few hundred years since the Jin and Yuan Dynasties, it had not been mentioned at all, not even a word, in the literature for self-cultivation in inner alchemy. We can be sure that such diagram is definitely not created by Celestial Master Qiu (丘真人).

II. Self-cultivation Practice Implications from the Inner Path Diagram

    The Inner Path Diagram is a diagram about the mechanism for the operation and transformation of qi (energy or 氣) inside the body. Starting from the bottom, such diagram illustrates the path along which qi travels during the process of self-cultivation. First of all, a couple of kids, a boy and a girl, are paddling the watermill of mysterious femininity (玄牝車), starting to transport the kidney-water (腎水) from the bottom all the way up against the current. Since the lower elixir field in the lower abdomen is the furnace inside the body, a self-cultivationist may adopt suitable technique in this area to convert the water into qi. The qi surges upwards along the spine, traveling along the spine like traveling up the mountains. The qi travels through the three passes: the lower pass Wei Lü (尾閭), the middle pass Jia Ji (夾脊), and the upper pass Yu Zhen (玉枕). Going through such passes has to rely on the transportation by three carts: a goat-drawn cart for the lower pass because a goat is best at climbing mountains; a deer-drawn cart for the middle pass because a deer runs faster; an ox-drawn cart for the upper pass because an ox has the magnificent power to crash into the Palace of Nirvāna (泥丸), and hence the saying: “crashing through the three passes straight into the Palace of Nirvāna (三關一撞直入泥丸)”. There are nine mountains where the brain is, symbolizing the nine palaces inside the brain, of which, the Palace of Nirvāna (泥丸) is the most important location, i.e., the headquarters. After the qi has reached the Palace of Nirvāna, it then travels via the base of the tongue to the throat, descending along the “twelve-storey mansion” (十二重樓). Written next to such mansion is: “Secret is hidden in the twelve-storey mansion (十二重樓藏秘訣)”. At that point, the quality of the saliva from the base of the tongue has improved, and longevity may be attained by swallowing such saliva, which conceals the technique for converting tangible qi (氣) into intangible qi (炁). The secret means “how to convert qi (氣) into an elixir (vital energy or真炁). After the qi has entered the Palace of Nirvāna, in the front where the oral cavity is located, there are respectively: “an old man with grey hair whose eye brows are touching the ground” and “a foreign monk with green eyes pushing his arms towards the sky”, implying “pressing the tongue against the palate (舌抵上顎)”. The foreign monk pushing his arms towards the sky, connecting to the qi from the eye brows touching the ground, forming the “upper magpie bridge (上鵲橋)”, which allows the qi to travel along the governing meridian (督脈) down to the conception meridian (任脈). The old man, grey hair, white eye brows, etc. are all substitutes for qi. Since vital energy is germinated, therefore, there is a gust of qi extending from next to the mansion, invoking the image of “a young lad carving the stone threads such coins into a string (刻石兒童把貫穿)”. This “young lad” originates from Lao Zi’s “reverting to an infant” [12], and the inner alchemists consider the cultivation of “elixir energy” (丹炁) as the first step for “becoming an immortal through reversion”. “Elixir energy” is “innate energy (先天炁)”, which is symbolized by an infant. If innate energy is cultivated, then one can easily manipulate the Big Dipper (北斗七星). The implication of the Big Dipper is that the laws for the movements of Heaven and Earth are set and cannot be violated; if the Big Dipper can be manipulated arbitrarily, then one’s destiny can be changed, i.e., one’s life in one’s own hand and not in the hands of Gods. Such meaning can be traced way back to the Song of Dispelling Delusion and Rectifying Dao (《破迷正道歌》) by Zhongli Quan (鍾離權) in the Five Dynasties, in which there is the saying: “If one meets a divine immortal who personally unveils the secret, one will be able to grasp firmly the cosmic cycle of the Big Dipper”.

    The conditions for actualizing elixir energy (丹炁) are the techniques illustrated by the two diagrams of the “ploughing ox” and the “weaving maiden”. The ox is ploughing the field at the lower elixir field, indicating the activation of kidney-qi (腎氣) . The maiden is weaving at the middle elixir field, indicating the transmission and distribution of heart-fluid (心液). When the kidney-qi meets the heart-fluid, it results in the so-called “harvesting (採藥)” technique in ancient inner alchemy terms, also known as “copulating the dragon with the tiger (龍虎交媾)”. However, “copulating the dragon with the tiger” requires a “match maker”, and the role of such “go-between” in the body is played by “intent (意)” , hence the key of such technique is to use “intent” to copulate the two. Only that, such “intent” is not the conscious intent (有意之意) but the unconscious intent (無意之意), known as “true intent (真意)”, which comes from the spleen-earth (脾土). There are six sentences at the location of the middle elixir field, which come from the Yellow Court Classic (《黃庭經》) and read: “The God of the Heart is Danyuan (丹元), whose epithet is Shouning (守靈)”, “The God of the Kidneys is Xuanming (玄冥), whose epithet is Yuying (育嬰)”, “The God of the Spleen is Changzai (常在), whose epithet is Hunting (魂亭)”, “The God of the Gallbladder is Longyao (龍曜), whose epithet is Weiming (威明)”, “The God of the Lungs is Huahao (華皓), whose epithet is Xucheng (虛成)”, and “The God of the Liver is Longyan (龍烟), whose epithet is Hanming (含明)”. The heart, liver, spleen, lungs and kidneys are all organs (臟), whereas the gallbladder is an entrail (腑). Although the gallbladder is an entrail, it also functions as an organ because the gall bile is always reserved. The “Six Healing Sounds (六字訣)” in the Tang Dynasty treated the gallbladder, not the triple foci (three visceral cavities or 三焦), as the representative entrail. The implication of five organs and one entrail is that we have to cultivate both organs and entrails, we have to ensure that each organ and each entrail are able to convert into vital energy (真炁) of the best quality, known as “five energies (qi) orienting towards primal energy (五氣朝元)” , a topic to be discussed later. What is worth noting is that, “intent” comes from the spleen, which is the “match maker” for self-cultivation and not one of the things to be “cultivated”. In earlier editions, there was no such sentence as “The God of the Spleen is Changzai, whose epithet is Hunting”, which was added later by someone who considered himself to be smart.

    During meditation, if one wants to actualize vital energy (真炁) through cultivation, how to handle “intent (意)” is the most important and the most basic technique. An ordinary person is usually bombarded by scattered thoughts during meditation, finding it hard to enter into tranquility (入定). After practicing for a longer period, he will naturally enter into the state of being elusive and impalpable (恍惚) and hence enter into tranquility. True intent (真意) exists in the state of being elusive and impalpable, which is seemingly “being” yet “non-being”. There is another planchette poem from Lü Zu (呂祖) in the top-left hand corner of the diagram, in which, there is the sentence: “Cultivation totally relies on the earth in the Middle Palace.” The earth in the Middle Palace is such true intent. Without true intent, and not being able to meditate until entering into the state of being elusive and impalpable, no elixir energy will be germinated. Without the elixir, no coins will be grown. The tree of coins was originally planted next to the weaving maiden at the middle elixir field, with appropriate conversion method, “the flowers look like gold with buds so tiny, the seeds resemble white jade each so round in shape” can then be found on such tree, which is the golden elixir (金丹).

III. Graphic Imagery of the Cultivation of Perfection Diagram

Cultivation of Perfection Diagram

    Like the Inner Path Diagram, the Cultivation of Perfection Diagram is also a self-cultivation diagram that has attracted lots of attention in recent decades, moreover, the Cultivation of Perfection Diagram seems to be even more highly regarded than the Inner Path Diagram, possibly because of its relatively rich details, with the addition of, among others, the annual macrocosmic cycle, monthly macrocosmic cycle, Eight Trigrams, eight meridians, nine hells, talisman, mantra, and the interpretation of the mythical creatures matching with the Five Elements (神獸配五行). When we unroll the Inner Path Diagram along side the Cultivation of Perfection Diagram, we get the feeling that the creator of the Cultivation of Perfection Diagram was trying to make further explanation and illustration on the basis of the Inner Path Diagram. At first glance, the body trunk and the head, which were originally more abstract in the Inner Path Diagram, are now drawn with the five facial features in the Cultivation of Perfection Diagram, even with distinctive toes. Same as the Inner Path Diagram, the Cultivation of Perfection Diagram should also be interpreted from the bottom. “Aperture leading to the secret entrance, the door attracting the immortals (機關之竅,引仙之門)”, where qi should be cultivated and where the journey for becoming an immortal begins. The qi travels upwards along the spine, and by means of the goat-drawn cart, the deer-drawn cart and the ox-drawn cart, it is being transmitted through the three passes (三關). When the qi reaches the top of the head, where the brain has nine lobes, there are nine celestial masters at the top. The twelve tracheal cartilages are drawn where the “twelve-storey mansion” should be located, which is very realistic. The ancient Chinese medicine diagram in which the pulmonary lobes were compared to the twenty-eight constellations (二十八宿) is also adopted in this diagram. The Big Dipper in the middle is obviously inherited from the Inner Path Diagram. However, with respect to the Inner Path Diagram’s “secret is hidden in the twelve-storey mansion”, which refers to the germination of elixir energy, and the imagery of the “infant grasping the Big Dipper”, which is a metaphor for changing one’s destiny after actualizing intangible qi (炁) in inner alchemy, now only the Big Dipper is drawn in the Cultivation of Perfection Diagram, abandoning the incisive imagery meaning of the “infant grasping the Big Dipper” in favor of the meaning of “internally controls the Big Dipper to stop its revolving cycle, externally applies the handle of the Big Dipper to push forward the time (內伏天罡斡運,外用斗柄推遷)” [13]. However, the Dipper and the Ox (斗牛) mean the Xu Wei acupoint (虛危穴). Liu Huayang (柳華陽) (1736-?) once pointed out that “Xu Wei resides in the Kan Palace (坎宮) at the Zi (子) position”, [14] perhaps, the creator of such diagram misunderstood this and etched the seven northern stars: “Dipper (斗), Ox (牛), Maiden (女), Void (虛), Rooftop (危), Encampment (室), Wall (壁)” , at the position of the Kan (坎) trigram where the essence (精) is to be cultivated. However, when the ancient sages, including Liu Huayang, talked about the Xu Wei acupoint, they actually meant that vital energy starts and ends at the point where the conception meridian and the governing meridian meet, and not in the abdomen. [15] As for the formation of elixir energy (丹炁), there is a young lad at the Kan (坎) trigram position in the diagram, who symbolizes the kidneys and is cultivating the essence (精) at the lower elixir field; the maiden at the Li (離) trigram position, who symbolizes the heart and is cultivating intangible qi (炁) at the middle elixir field. The “harvesting” on the other hand has the harvesting tool Dao Gui (刀圭) (i.e., wu-earth and ji-earth) and the earthen crucible Tu Fu (土釜) (i.e., the spleen) in the Yellow Court (黃庭) at the Middle Palace (中宮) as the match maker in order to distinguish “natural course for ordinary man, reversion for sages”. Unfortunately, the Kun (坤) trigram should have been placed in the abdomen, symbolizing the germination of elixir energy, [16] but instead, the Qian (乾) trigram was placed there by mistake, duplicating the Qian at the top of the head and the Qian in the abdomen, again reflecting that the creator of such diagram lacked knowledge in Daoism. This has already been amended in subsequent versions. 

IV. Source of Errors in the Cultivation of Perfection Diagram

    There are many flaws in the Cultivation of Perfection Diagram. Apart from those mentioned above, there are three more. Firstly, it is inappropriate to match the twenty-four solar terms (節氣) with the twenty-four vertebrae of the spine. It is acceptable for Winter Solstice (冬至) to be located at the Wei Lü (尾閭) acupoint, but unacceptable for Heavy Snow (大雪) to be located at the top of the cervical spine because the top is where Yang Qi is most vigorous, which should be matched with the Qian (乾) trigram and ought to symbolize Summer Solstice (夏至) and not the icy cold Heavy Snow. [17] Secondly, the lunar cycle is displayed by anima (Hun or魂) and animus (Po or魄), which is an important reference for advancing the Yang Fire (進陽火) and manipulating the Yin Amulet (退陰符), however, the crescent-shaped Moon (Po) on the 8th Day and the 23rd Day of the Lunar Cycle reflects that the creator of such diagram did not know the astrological phenomenon that the waxing Moon and the waning Moon should be half moon with a straight edge [18] on such days, which, luckily, has been amended in subsequent versions. Thirdly, the choice of, and the annotations for, the six mythical creatures (神獸) leave plenty to be desired. The six mythical creatures are further descriptions of the self-cultivation intention with respect to the five organs and one entrail in the Inner Path Diagram. However, the spleen-earth (脾土), which symbolizes true intent (真意), is the match maker and should not be “cultivated”. Moreover, if the mythical creatures are to be matched with the Five Elements (五行), we often use Xuanwu (玄武), the hybrid of a turtle and a snake, to represent the North. Wudang Mountain is home of the Northern Emperor Xuanwu, and the turtle is still most commonly adopted. In this diagram, a deer was used to represent the North, whereas Xuanwu, the hybrid of a turtle and a snake, was used to symbolize the gallbladder. Apart from making substantial citations from the text of the Yellow Court Classic (《黃庭經》), much of the language of the annotations came from the Yellow Court’s Invisible Armor and Mortal Body Scripture (《黃庭遁甲緣身經》), the choice of mythical creatures and the annotations all came from there. The practice of the “Six Healing Sounds” (六字訣) is found in the Yellow Court’s Invisible Armor and Mortal Body Scripture, the representative entrail is the gallbladder and not the triple foci (three visceral cavities or 三焦), and there is also the concept of replenishment and drainage through breathing (呼吸補瀉). If we look at the history of the development of the “Six Healing Sounds”, the Yellow Court’s Invisible Armor and Mortal Body Scripture should be created in the Tang Dynasty. [19] In such scripture, the deer was used to represent the North and to symbolize water, and the hybrid of a turtle and a snake was used to symbolize the gallbladder, which is rather unusual. Further, there are two versions of the Yellow Court’s Invisible Armor and Mortal Body Scripture as a result of different punctuations, one version with a single-headed deer whilst the other with a two-headed deer. The annotation next to the mystical deer in the Cultivation of Perfection Diagram reads: “The kidneys belong to the North and symbolize water, and in terms of the trigrams, they belong to the Kan trigram, their shape is like a two-headed mystical deer, named Xuanming, whose epithet is Yuying, and their image is like a cobble stone.” The Yellow Court’s Invisible Armor and Mortal Body Scripture compiled into the Bookcase Containing the Seven Sections (《雲笈七籤》) originally had no punctuations, the correct understanding of the original text totally relies on whether or not the punctuations are accurate. The original text reads: “Its color black its image resembles round stone its spirit resembles white deer two heads transforming into the Jade Youth (玉童).” One way to interpret it with punctuations is: “Its color black, its image resembles round stone, its spirit resembles white deer, two heads transforming into the Jade Youth.” Another way to interpret it is: “Its spirit resembles a two-headed white deer, transforming into the Jade Youth.” As a result, there are different illustrations attached to the Bookcase Containing the Seven Sections, one version with a single-headed deer whilst the other with a two-headed deer. [20] “Two heads (兩頭)” actually means “two deer” because each person has two kidneys, not “two-headed”. Fortunately, the earlier version of the Cultivation of Perfection Diagram adopted the first interpretation, i.e, a single-headed deer. However, after many woodblock reproductions, some presumptuous guy changed it to the second interpretation, i.e., a two-headed deer, and even worse, the character “之” (of) was added to turn it into “its shape resembles the two heads of the mystical deer”, making the meaning of “a two-headed deer” more concrete.

V. The Cultivation of Perfection Diagram Created During the Republic of China

    The woodblock print collected by Purple Heaven Palace (紫霄宮), Wudang Mountain, is generally considered as the earliest version and entitled: Wudang Mountain’s Complete Diagram for Cultivation of the Mind and Cultivation of Perfection (《武當山煉性修真全圖》). [21] Such woodblock print was made in the summer of the 13th Year of the Republic of China (1924) under the organization of Liu Liqing (劉理卿), the Superintendent of South Cliff Palace (南岩宮), Wudang Mountain. Some people consider such diagram to be created by Zhang Sanfeng (張三丰), revised by Xu Benshan (徐本善) (1851-?), and further turned into woodblock print by Liu Liqing, etc. etc., [22] but all lack concrete evidence.

    Let’s try to establish the year of its creation from the source of text. In the top-right hand corner of the diagram is a paragraph on “the body of a man (人之一身)”, explaining that the macro-universe and the micro-universe are the same and the theory of the interrelationship between Heaven and Man (天人相應). Such text was extracted from the Direct Guide for Great Elixir Secretly Transmitted by Celestial Master Qiu (《丘祖秘傳大丹直指》). [23] In such text, it reads: “Heaven being the heart accounts for 3.6 cun (寸) (1/3 decimeter), Earth being the kidneys accounts for 3.6 cun, the middle elixir field accounts for 1.2 cun, if not 8.4 cun then what?” The creator of the Cultivation of Perfection Diagram copied it all down, even the question “if not 8.4 cun then what?”, without any change. Also, in the Essential Points for Great Accomplishment-Secret of Passes and Apertures (《大成捷要‧關竅秘訣》), there is a substantial paragraph of the same text, [24] only without the question “if not 8.4 cun then what?”, but the text: “Heaven being the heart accounts for 3.6 cun, Earth being the kidneys accounts for 3.6 cun, the middle elixir field accounts for 1.2 cun, a total of 8.4 cun, which complies with the whole figure between Heaven and Earth, hence the human body is Heaven and Earth itself.” [25] The Essential Points for Great Accomplishment was given to Zhu Wenbin (朱文彬) of Mount Lao (嶗山) as a gift by Zhao Taichang (趙泰昌), the Superintendent of the Temple of Supreme Clarity (太清宮) of Mount Lao, [26] and since Zhu considered it to be a rare book on inner alchemy, he caused his friend Li Bingzhang (李炳章) to send it to the press for publication in the 22nd Year of the Republic of China (i.e., 1933). The original preface of the book was written in 1929 by Yao Zhiguo (姚至果) of the Temple of Supreme Clarity. [27] As for the Direct Guide for Great Elixir Secretly Transmitted by Celestial Master Qiu (《丘祖秘傳大丹直指》), it is of course not written by Celestial Master Qiu (Qiu Chuji or 丘處機), but Celestial Master Qiu did write the Direct Guide for Great Elixir (《大丹直指》) which was collected in the Pervasive Perfection Section (洞真部) of the Daoist Canon of the Zhengtong Reign (《正統道藏》). Attached to the Direct Guide for Great Elixir Secretly Transmitted by Celestial Master Qiu are the comments and epilogue written by Chen Yingning (陳攖寧) (1880-1969), which explain the history of such book, and probably is that: A Daoist from Qingdao brought such manuscript to Shanghai for Chen Yingning’s review and final proof; Chen found it to be poorly written and with lots of textual errors, and so made substantial amendments to it, ... which was during the 37th Year of the Republic of China (1948). [28]

    The Direct Guide for Great Elixir Secretly Transmitted by Celestial Master Qiu (《丘祖秘傳大丹直指》) has several characteristics. 1. The eight extra meridians. The Yin-Qiao and Yang-Qiao meridians (陰陽蹻) and the Yin-Wei and Yang-Wei meridians (陰陽維) were all mentioned. 2. Internal breathing. For instance, “if you want to breathe internally, you ought to attain “yi (一)”, then everything is complete”. [29] 3. Light echoing. For instance, “glimmer (蟾光), meaning eyesight; western river (西川), meaning the land of Kun below the navel. If one uses the eyes to echo the light back to the place below the navel in order to regulate primordial breathing (真息), that is Shen (spirit or 神) mutating into the Qi Xue (炁穴). Same as building the foundation, light echoing if done for longer period, a dot of Primordial Yang (真陽) in the kidneys will surge up to meet with the mind-spirit (心神), then the mind and the breathing will depend on each other. …the mind and the breathing depending on each other, then water and fire will interact with each other. The technique of light echoing and breathing regulation ….” [30]

    Let us try to briefly discuss these three points.

    I. On the Eight Meridians 

    In the past, the linking of the eight meridians with inner alchemy techniques was only found in the Wu-Liu School (伍柳派系) after the end of the Ming Dynasty; [31] and if in terms of exclusive discussion, there was only Zhao Bichen (趙避塵) (1860-1927), Elder of Thousand Peaks (千峯老人), of the Xiantian Denomination (先天派) [32]. The Cultivation of Perfection Diagram, printed in which were the Yin-Shu (陰腧), Yang-Shu (陽腧), Yin-Qiao (陰蹻), Yang-Qiao (陽蹻), was most likely created by Zhao Bichen or one of his junior scholars, or, a second possibility is by the Wu-Liu School. First of all, the advocation of the eight meridians comes from an important self-cultivation intention, which is “commissioning the eight meridians (開通八脈)”.

    In Zhao Bichen’s Concise Guide to Methods and Exegeses for Cultivation of the Mind and the Body (《性命法訣明指》), there is a chapter on “commissioning the eight meridians”, which says: “the eight meridians for channeling qi in the human body have their root in the life and death aperture (生死竅), which meridians run upwards to the Palace of Nirvāna (泥丸) and downwards to the Yong Quan (湧泉) acupoint, and the gathering and dispersing of vital energy are all being transferred at this aperture”. [33] Zhao Bichen deliberately designed the “commissioning of the eight meridians” as the basic technique for his inner alchemy self-cultivation because of his lineage. His blood brother Kuiyizi (魁一子) said, “commissioning the eight meridians will cure all diseases, all depending on determination of the mind and application of techniques”, and his master Liaoran (了然) said, “use it personally after learning it from me, Yang Qi will rise once the eight meridians are connected”, and another master Liaokong (了空) said, “escape of essence and qi causes the separation of the eight meridians, have to carefully pass through Yin-Shu and Yang-Shu, and Yin-Qiao and Yang-Qiao (陰陽腧蹻)”. Earlier, there was “when the two meridians (governing and conception meridians) are connected, then all meridians will be connected” from Liu Huayang (柳華陽), [34] who also said, “the way qi travels is through the governing meridian (督脈) at the back, the conception meridian (任脈) in the front, the penetrating meridian (冲脈) in the middle, and the belt meridian (帶脈) running round the body, all the way up to the heart, down to Yang Guan (陽關), to the kidneys at the back, and to the navel in the front. They disperse all over the body and are considered to be the root of all meridians, hence being referred to as innate. Their acupoints are intangible and invisible, when vital energy is generated then they become apertures, and when such mechanism ceases then they become vague. Subject to their accomplishment, the eight meridians together form one acupoint, which is the hub for the creation of life and is named Qi Xue (炁穴).” [35] Zhao Bichen’s master was Liaokong whose master was Liu Huayang, [36] so we can see that they came from the same lineage. However, before the late Ming Dynasty, no one talked about “commissioning the eight meridians”, they only talked about “commissioning all meridians”. For example, Zhang Sanfeng said, “when the body remains still in a distant and indistinct state, and the mind is clear at home where non-being bears no being, then primordial breathing (真息) will hold itself and all meridians will cease”, “bright sun and full moon reaching the four limbs, flowing through all meridians, crashing open Jia Ji (夾脊), through the two passes all the way up to the Palace of Nirvāna (泥丸)”, [37] and he also said, “from Dao Gui (刀圭) (i.e., wu-earth and ji-earth) into the oral cavity, all of a sudden one aperture is commissioned and all meridians will then be commissioned.” [38] Zhang Sanfeng mainly explained that self-cultivation might achieve the commissioning of all meridians but had not mentioned the concept of commissioning the eight meridians. If we look again at the Direct Guide for Great Elixir Secretly Transmitted by Celestial Master Qiu (《丘祖秘傳大丹直指》), there is “if a man is able to connect the governing meridian with the conception meridian, then all meridians will be connected”, which is consistent with what Liu Huayang said. The author of the Direct Guide for Great Elixir Secretly Transmitted by Celestial Master Qiu and Liu Huayang attempted to arrive at the interpretation that when the eight meridians were connected, all meridians would be connected. If we look at it from the perspective of Chinese medicine, the conception meridian is the sea of the Yin meridians, whereas the governing meridian is the sea of the Yang meridians. Connecting the conception meridian with the governing meridian means that all Yin meridians and all Yang meridians in the body will be connected, hence, it is the same as: when the eight meridians are connected, all meridians will be connected. However, the original concept focused on all meridians, on the meaning of “one is connected, all will be connected”, and “bai mai” (百脈) implies plenty, not an actual figure; it later developed into the eight meridians, meaning “one is connected, the eight major meridians will all be connected”, the “eight meridians” are actual meridians, not implying plenty. Such difference in the choice of words reflects the chronological order of such origins. It is clearly written at the bottom of the Wudang Mountain’s Complete Diagram for Cultivation of the Mind and Cultivation of Perfection (《武當山煉性修真全圖》) that such diagram was woodblock-printed in “the 13th Year of the Republic of China” (1924), if we make our assumptions in a reverse manner, what if the Cultivation of Perfection Diagram was earlier than the Direct Guide for Great Elixir Secretly Transmitted by Celestial Master Qiu, and the author of the Direct Guide for Great Elixir Secretly Transmitted by Celestial Master Qiu adopted it when writing the section on “the body of a man”? Or, how about the author of the Essential Points for Great Accomplishment also adopted it and finished the Secret Exegesis for the Mystical Threshold (〈玄關秘訣〉)? However, with respect to the Cultivation of Perfection Diagram printed in 1924, Chen Yingning, being a master in inner alchemy, must have seen such diagram; it will be very difficult to convince people that he did not mention a word in his comments nor in the preface or epilogue when he found that the text was the same during the final proof of the Direct Guide for Great Elixir Secretly Transmitted by Celestial Master Qiu. Perhaps, we should be convinced and assume that one of the reasons being: the Wudang Mountain’s Complete Diagram for Cultivation of the Mind and Cultivation of Perfection had all along been kept secretly in Wudang Mountain and had not been disclosed to the public for their appreciation, therefore members of the public, including Chen Yingning, had not seen such diagram. However, such assumption is highly impossible because Chen Yingning was one of the masters in inner alchemy studies, and if there were such valuable inner alchemy diagram kept in Wudang Mountain, theoretically, he should be aware of it. It is hard not to cause people to doubt that such diagram was only created after Chen Yingning and the year of its creation was later added on such diagram arbitrarily by those making the wood block. No matter how, it is very difficult to convince people that no one was aware of the Cultivation of Perfection Diagram from 1924 to 1948, the year during which Chen Yingning did the final proof of the Direct Guide for Great Elixir Secretly Transmitted by Celestial Master Qiu. Moreover, in the Essential Points for Great Accomplishment (《大成捷要》), from which the essential points of the techniques adopted by our predecessors for inner alchemy self-cultivation were excerpted, there was no mention of the eight extra meridians. Therefore, it is unlikely that the Cultivation of Perfection Diagram was created earlier than the Direct Guide for Great Elixir Secretly Transmitted by Celestial Master Qiu or the Essential Points for Great Accomplishment.

    Interesting though, the emergence of the Essential Points for Great Accomplishment (《大成捷要》) in the Temple of Supreme Clarity (太清宮) of Mount Lao was no later than 1929; [39] and the Direct Guide for Great Elixir Secretly Transmitted by Celestial Master Qiu, which was proofread and reviewed by Chen Yingning, was brought to Chen Yingning personally by a Daoist from Qingdao. We may guess that it is highly possible that the Direct Guide for Great Elixir Secretly Transmitted by Celestial Master Qiu was excerpted from the Essential Points for Great Accomplishment found in the Temple of Supreme Clarity. Using the question “if not 8.4 cun then what?” as a lead, we may assert that the paragraph on “the body of a man” in the Cultivation of Perfection Diagram was found earliest in the Essential Points for Great Accomplishment. The Essential Points for Great Accomplishment was kept in the Temple of Supreme Clarity, and someone used it as the skeleton and added the eight extra meridians as the trunk to complete the work of the Direct Guide for Great Elixir Secretly Transmitted by Celestial Master Qiu, with minor revisions of the main text to include “if not 8.4 cun then what?” , which paragraph was later used by some Daoist to draw the Cultivation of Perfection Diagram with other information.

    Let’s look again at the assumption that the Cultivation of Perfection Diagram was created down the lineage of the Wu-Liu School. Upon examination of the diagrams attached to Liu Huayang’s Theory of Golden Immortal (《金仙證論》), they all mentioned the lower elixir field, the upper elixir field, the distribution of the organs and entrails, etc. Irrespective of whether or not the Cultivation of Perfection Diagram was created by Liu Huayang or handed down by Zhang Sanfeng, if Liu Huayang had already acquired the Cultivation of Perfection Diagram, he would have recommended such diagram for illustration purposes, there was no need for him to re-draw a simplified diagram which was more abstract and less specific, therefore, it is unlikely that the creator of the Cultivation of Perfection Diagram was from or earlier than the Wu-Liu School.

    II. On “Internal Breathing”

     “Internal breathing” (內呼吸) is a relatively new concept in the study of inner alchemy. Liu Huayang said, “If a man understands internal breathing, then the bellows will function by itself, and Qian-Kun will operate by themselves.” [40] Internal breathing will enable a man to elevate himself to the innate state, breathing in and out in the same dimension as Qian-Kun, which creates the condition for generating innate energy (先天炁). In the actual practice of meditation, our breathing pattern is from coarse to fine, from fast to slow, until it is close to holding one’s breath, the so-called “embryo breathing” (胎息). This is the technique of “concentrating the spirit to mutate into intangible qi (凝神入炁中) ” or of “the spirit and intangible qi in unison (神炁合一) ” advocated in between the Yuan and Ming Dynasties, in particular by Zhang Sanfeng, after Wang Chongyang (王重陽) had followed Dao with the aid of Zen (援禪入道), directly pointing to one’s mind and nature (心性) in the cultivation of the body (命功). The breathing pattern of the “spirit mutating into intangible qi” is “internal breathing”. It is believed that the person who introduced such concept earliest was Zhang Sanfeng, who said, “Beginners must start from internal breathing which is the place for leaving one’s parents and re-establishing the embryo. A man is able to build up his practice from here, just like an embryo breathes as its mother breathes, just like a body is reborn.” [41] He also said, “Whenever one meditates, one’s mind must be clear and one must concentrate one’s spirit, without any presumption nor expectation, just focus on internal breathing during practice.” [42]

    Upon investigation of the Zhongli Quan-Lü Dongbin School during the Five Dynasties and of the Southern and Northern Schools during the Jin and Yuan Dynasties, such term had never been used. In the Daoist Country Collection (《道鄉集》) [43] which emerged during the Republic of China, it says: “This is referring to internal breathing, not breathing with one’s mouth and nose. Meditates until the spirit is concentrated and the breathing is stable, the air breathed through the mouth and nose will be cut off by itself, and internal breathing will start. External breathing is still far from the furnace, how can it be beneficial to Dao? The rise and fall of internal breathing is like the wind box being pushed in and out, therefore it is called a bellows.” The language of such paragraph clearly distinguishes the difference of internal breathing and external breathing, and internal breathing is not the air breathed through the mouth and nose, but a kind of actual “breathless” breathing, which is being used together with a bellows all because Zhang Sanfeng pointed out that “anything that has form and matter will not be able to rise and get into an aperture, only the vital energy generated from a bellows will be able to get into an aperture, hence the sages directly pointed to innate energy for crashing open such aperture, or as they say, the path for self-cultivation, which may prolong and extend life, is for cultivation of perfection to complete perfection, which has no beginning nor end and is neither created nor extinguished” . [44] From this we can see that, true bellows is a kind of state having the same dimension as innate energy and internal breathing. These few concepts emerged after Zhang Sanfeng, and are becoming more and more apparent and detailed. However, internal breathing was quoted in the Direct Guide for Great Elixir Secretly Transmitted by Celestial Master Qiu, although we are unable to determine its lower threshold, but the upper threshold is that it is definitely not the master piece of Master Qiu. No matter who is at the lower threshold, if viewed from the application of the two concepts of “internal breathing” in combination with the “eight meridians”, the Direct Guide for Great Elixir Secretly Transmitted by Celestial Master Qiu should be a piece of work created after Zhao Bichen of the Xiantian Denomination. Furthermore, the Cultivation of Perfection Diagram in which text was copied from the Direct Guide for Great Elixir Secretly Transmitted by Celestial Master Qiu was also created after Zhao Bichen.

    III. On “Light Echoing”

    The concern of self-cultivationists over light can be traced back to ancient times. Ever since Zhuang Zi (莊子) advocated his rendition of “an empty chamber filled with light (虛室生白)” [45], masters of self-cultivation and regimen interpret “filled with light” as seeing light. [46] In the ancient Daoist scripture: Scripture of Great Peace (《太平經》), it was mentioned that the light acquired from adhering to one (守一) during meditation is like sun rise: “the method of illumination through adhering to one, in which illumination is like the rays from sun rise, illumination from the sun”. [47] However, “light echoing” is different, light echoing is to echo the light back to the lower elixir field. With respect to this, the earliest manifestation was by Wang Chongyang who simplified the complicated inner alchemy techniques of the Zhongli Quan-Lü Dongbin School, using light echoing as the prerequisite for the germination of the great elixir (大藥). In Numinous Writings in Five Sections-Section 2: Producing Elixir (《五篇靈文‧產藥章第二》), he made the annotation: “The primal spirit (元神) shines down, echoing the light to enter into stillness and tranquility, retrogradation is for creation, turning the Celestial Gate (天關), the great elixir is produced this way, and the golden elixir is also formed this way. ” Such technique of light echoing refers to the primal spirit shining down on the elixir field in the abdomen during concentration and entering into tranquility. Such concept has been adopted for a long time, and Zhang Sanfeng, adopting such meaning, said in his Explaining Dao in Plain Language (《道言淺近說》) : “Thus, in adhering to one, one has to echo the light for self-reflection, focusing on the elixir field, at the point which is 1.3 cun below the navel, neither keeping it close nor at a distance.” [48] Since the Ming and Qing Dynasties, the concept of light echoing has become a hot topic. Liu Huayang said, “Having acquired the skill, either sitting or lying down, all of a sudden Yang Qi is generated, then echo the light for light reflection, concentrate the spirit to enter Qi Xue (炁穴), each breath returning to the root.” [49] During the reign of Emperor Xianfeng (咸丰) in the Qing Dynasty, Huang Yuanji (黃元吉) said in his Quotations from the Hall of Blissful Learning (《樂育堂語錄》): “A perfect man (至人) adopts the normal way of prograde movement as the Dao of inner alchemy for reversion, starting with lowering his eye lids and closing his mouth, getting rid of all worries and not being calculative, silently echoing the light to reflect on one aperture in the elixir field, in order to harvest Primordial Yang Qi and to simmer and cultivate it to become the essence of Yin.” However, the most methodical, exclusive discussion and interpretation of light echoing should be the Secret of the Golden Flowers (《太乙金華宗旨》), [50] a piece of planchette writing from Lü Zu (呂祖) in the 7th year of the reign of Emperor Kangxi (康熙) (1668), which was divided into: Adhere to the Center During Light Echoing, Regulate Breathing During Light Echoing, Differentiation During Light Echoing, Confirmatory Experiences During Light Echoing, Proactive Application of Light Echoing, and Light of Cognition (性光) and Light of Recognition (識光), etc. As for Zhao Bichen during the Republic of China, in his Concise Guide to Methods and Exegeses for Cultivation of the Mind and the Body (《性命法訣明指》), the light of cognition (性光), the glimmer (蟾光), the light of wisdom (慧光) and light echoing (回光) were discussed in various places, for instance, “such external strong fire (外武火) and external weak fire (外文火) ... also for cultivating the harmonization of the four phases (四相和合), the five elements are gathered (五行攢簇) for returning to the roots, the light is echoed for self-reflection (回光返照), a method for merging the Sun and the Moon”. [51] It also says, “If the light is echoed for self-reflection, cultivate such vital energy (真炁) into ○ like śarīra (舍利子), and when such śarīra is adequate, the six senses will vibrate, a time for harvesting the great elixir (大藥).” [52] It also says that when the śarīra is adequate, the glimmer (蟾光) will emerge: “Such light is also known as the light of wisdom (慧光), which, if nourished to the full, is called glimmer. If the essence (精) is inadequate, the light of wisdom will not emerge, and if the śarīra is inadequate, the glimmer will not emerge. The light of wisdom is like moon light, whereas the glimmer is like golden light. Such śarīra is created by the Yang sperm.” [53] It also says, “Such innate, perfected primal energy is harmonized and merged at one place, to reluctantly name it, we may attempt to call it ○, which is innate true nature, the true light of cognition from the gathering of essence (精), intangible qi (炁) and spirit (神), and is gathered in front of the primal aperture (祖竅), with it, then live, without it, then die. ... If the harmonization of the gold male and the wood female (金公木母) is achieved, with the Sun and the Moon merged at one place, and the two eyes looking like ○○, which is self-reflection through light echoing.” [54] It also says, “The true technique of dual cultivation of the mind and the body is taken to the heart and being practiced in earnest within this circle, and if practiced diligently without remiss, being practiced with extra efforts, the light of wisdom will be attained without fail ... further, the true light of cognition for a life of wisdom will immediately emerge, which is called “five energies (qi) orienting towards primal energy (五氣朝元)”, such light is my true nature.” [55]

    The Direct Guide for Great Elixir Secretly Transmitted by Celestial Master Qiu inherited such concepts as the spirit mutating into intangible qi, the mind and the breathing depending on each other, and regulating primordial breathing (眞息) to interpret light echoing, all of which originated from the lineage of Wang Chongyang and Zhang Sanfeng. However, the glimmer (蟾光) and the avalokiteśvara point (觀音堂) mentioned during the discussion on light echoing were exactly the language used by Zhao Bichen. When Zhao Bichen practiced the technique of light echoing, the place where the Sun and the Moon are merged is where the spirit (神) being concentrated in between the two eyes, which is the same as the discussion on the avalokiteśvara point (觀音堂) in the Direct Guide for Great Elixir Secretly Transmitted by Celestial Master Qiu: “Where the heart meets the kidneys is the avalokiteśvara point (觀音堂), which controls the whole body. When concentrating from the center of two eyes to the point in between the two eyes, that is the avalokiteśvara point (觀音堂).” [56] Whereas, the glimmer mentioned by Zhao Bichen can also be found in the Direct Guide for Great Elixir Secretly Transmitted by Celestial Master Qiu: “It also says, ‘the glimmer shines all day on the western river’ (蟾光終日照西川), which means this is the root of the elixir. The glimmer (蟾光), meaning eyesight; western river (西川), meaning the land of Kun below the navel.” From the perspective of extending the discussion on light echoing to the glimmer, or even the avalokiteśvara point (觀音堂), which has a twist of Buddhism, the author of the Direct Guide for Great Elixir Secretly Transmitted by Celestial Master Qiu most likely was a descendant from the lineage of the Xiantian Denomination (先天派).

VI. Conclusion

    The text of the Cultivation of Perfection Diagram was copied from the Direct Guide for Great Elixir Secretly Transmitted by Celestial Master Qiu, whereas the contents of the latter show traces of the lineage of the Xiantian Denomination (先天派). Chen Yingning (陳攖寧) was a master in inner alchemy in the last century, whose comment on the Direct Guide for Great Elixir Secretly Transmitted by Celestial Master Qiu was only that it had too many textual errors, without mentioning the relationship between such work and the Cultivation of Perfection Diagram, which only reflects that Chen Yingning had never seen the Cultivation of Perfection Diagram. We may say that, the Cultivation of Perfection Diagram should emerge after Chen Yingning had reviewed and commented on the Direct Guide for Great Elixir Secretly Transmitted by Celestial Master Qiu. This is the first point.

    The characteristic of the theories of Zhao Bichen’s (趙避塵) Xiantian Denomination is the commissioning of the eight meridians. Although the application of the eight meridians was first advocated by the Wu-Liu School, which is regarded as his grand master’s generation, but the person who exclusively discussed it was Zhao Bichen. The verification of the woodblock-printed text like Yin-Shu and Yang-Shu, and Yin-Qiao and Yang-Qiao in the Cultivation of Perfection Diagram, in combination with the paragraph on “the body of a man”, reflects that the author was a successor of the Xiantian Denomination. The Cultivation of Perfection Diagram therefore should be created during the latter half of the last century. This is the second point.

    The special way by which Zhao Bichen preached the Dao was to use illustrations for revealing secrets. He was a pupil to more than thirty masters and felt strongly about finding a good master, so he determined to teach what he had learned to future generations, [57] and he was highly regarded by the people of his time. [58] He was even better in using diagrams to illustrate the techniques for inner alchemy. He once created a diagram as an attachment to the chapter on “Harvesting External Elixir”, and said very confidently that “once this diagram is published, all imposters who pretend to be Daoists will have no where to hide”, [59] therefore we can see that he was very good in using diagrams to demonstrate the secrets of inner alchemy, and for the same token, the Cultivation of Perfection Diagram could not have been his work because he would not remain silent if he had passed on anything that was supposed to be a secret. As Xu Zhaoren (徐兆仁) said, “The passing on of exegeses by the Xiantian Denomination is unconventional, they dare to take all kinds of risks and are determined to completely reveal without any reservation the true exegeses and actual techniques for inner alchemy self-cultivation that are considered by their own denomination as top secrets.” [60] The Cultivation of Perfection Diagram attempts to reveal the secrets of inner alchemy, which resembles the style of Zhao Bichen, and must be a piece of work created later by his successor in a way that upholds his master’s style. This is the third point.

    Finally, a point that tends to be easily overlooked is that, the Cultivation of Perfection Diagram copied the poem from the Inner Path Diagram (that is Lü Zu’s planchette poem). At the lower elixir field, there is the text: “The place of black mystery of the old man with grey hair, which is actually the mountains and rivers where my own life is created.” At the Crimson Palace (Jiang Gong or 絳宮), there is: “It is called Primordial Yin (真陰), and is also known as the foreign lad with green eyes (碧眼胡兒).” “An old man with grey hair whose eye brows are touching the ground, a foreign monk with green eyes pushing his arms towards the sky” are from the theme poem of the Inner Path Diagram, which was copied from the Complete Works of Lü Zu (《呂祖全書》). Obviously, the Cultivation of Perfection Diagram emerged after the Inner Path Diagram. This is the fourth point.

    Summarizing the above four points, the Cultivation of Perfection Diagram emerged later than the Inner Path Diagram, which also means, the Inner Path Diagram emerged during the late Qing Dynasty, whereas the Cultivation of Perfection Diagram emerged during the latter half of the last century.    

    It can be imagined that the creator of the Cultivation of Perfection Diagram attempted to draw a self-cultivation diagram that was more precise than the Inner Path Diagram, so he spent a great deal of efforts in searching for materials. Unfortunately, the negative characteristics of the Cultivation of Perfection Diagram, i.e., it is too complicated, cumbersome and erroneous, reflect that the creator of such diagram lacked knowledge in Daoism. It is not easy for us to criticize the Inner Path Diagram because its theme is only on the phenomenon of the inner landscape; however, we can criticize the Cultivation of Perfection Diagram because it utterly fails to guide us on how to cultivate perfection, moreover, all those illustrated in such diagram are not supposed to be handed down secretly without revelation.   

    After the millennium, in the forefront of computer technology, the promotion of and the publicity on religious culture become much easier. In this century, all major religions are integrating with daily life. The religious doctrines and religious principles, or even the religious activities, are all developing to reach and penetrate the masses. This was originally an advantage for the development of the Daoist religion. Despite that self-cultivation touches on the communion between Man and Gods, there are many experiences which cannot be expressed in a textual form or speech, however, the big era requires all major religions to display a form of expression that is more precise, rational and down to earth. Even if we have the passionate heart of a Daoist, we cannot wantonly twist the facts of history over-enthusiastically, nor should we abuse the sayings of the immortals and the Buddha as if they were planchette writings (扶鸞) to fabricate what is right and what is wrong. To maintain an attitude that is placid and non-assertive is the prerequisite for founding a healthy Daoist religion. After all, the Inner Path Diagram and the Cultivation of Perfection Diagram have given vision to many faithful Daoists, and have also confirmed a positive way for self-cultivation for many with great virtues who practice self-cultivation alone and on their own, such virtuous deeds are immeasurable. However, just like the teachings of our ancestral masters, the Gods are inside our bodies, and there is no need to seek secret words externally. Today, people are so excited as if they have found treasure because they have found these two self-cultivation diagrams, tomorrow, they will read 300 or 500 secret scrolls on the computer, and even if there is wisdom in each word, they will soon forget about them, disappearing without a trace. The most important is a determined mind that vows to adhere to real self-cultivation and actual practice; only after reaching such state, one will then know what is meant by “the four great elements are fundamentally empty (四大皆空)” and “shattering the primordial world (劈破鴻蒙)”.

(End)

Author: Dr. Hong-chau Yuen (Hong Kong)

This paper was presented at the Fifth International Daoist Studies Conference on Wudang Mountain on June 18, 2009.

Translated by: Joanna S. Y. Yau, MCIL (U.K., H.K.), NAATI accredited (Australia), HKTS (Life Member)


[1] The following text is found at the bottom of the Inner Path Diagram (《內景圖》) collected by Baiyun Temple (白雲觀), Beijing: “No copy of this diagram has ever been handed down for the reason that the Dao of inner alchemy is extensive and precise, it is impossible for a person with dull faculty to acquire it, and therefore it has rarely been disclosed to the world. I accidentally found it hanging on the wall when inspecting the collection of calligraphies and paintings in the Gaosong Library. The way it is drawn is meticulous, with specific annotations on each muscle, joint, meridian and collateral, all concealing the secret keys. After looking at it for a long while, I felt inspired and began to understand that the inhalation and exhalation and the expiration and inspiration of the body are like interaction between Heaven and Earth, with abundance and deficiency and with ebb and flow, and if fathomed in a spiritual way with illumination, the Great Way of the Golden Elixir will be advanced by more than half, and honestly, I dare not keep it to myself, so I properly and promptly send it to the press in order that it may be widely disseminated. Daoist Suyun (素雲道人) Liu Cheng (劉誠), sealed with reverence for woodblock printing and as an inscribed record. The wood block is to be kept in Baiyun Temple, Beijing.”

[2] Baiyun Temple, Beijing is the birthplace of the Longmen Denomination (龍門派) of the Complete Perfection (全真) Sect.

[3] Chen Heyuan (陳禾塬) quoted the following paragraph from the Inner Path Diagram (內經圖) in Volume II of the Concise Edition for the 10th Anniversary of the First Issue of Wudang Journal (《武當雜誌創刊十周年精華本》): “This diagram was originally created by Celestial Master Qiu (邱(丘)真人). At that time, he had used his best efforts and kindheartedness for the purpose of preaching to and educating the masses. Later, as time and circumstance changed, all kinds of religion emerged. To date, although the Daoist lineage is preserved, but those who have mastered his true teachings are few and far between! Nowadays, there are quite a number of self-cultivation diagrams in circulation, however, they are old and full of textual errors, and people tend to avoid them and not pay any attention to them. Fortunately, our society was especially authorized by Celestial Master Zhang Hua (張化真人) to correct and amend such errors if they indeed exist. Ever since, the authenticity of such diagram has been preserved to date. We have been told that: the Daoist way and the Buddhist allegory are all hidden in such diagram. It is best to protect and preserve it. From the Yuan Dynasty to date, it has survived 500 years, and it is fortunate that such diagram is preserved. Such celestial secret is thus preserved for the benefit of my successors. It is hoped that those who have acquired such diagram will treasure and value such diagram. Unholy place, in order to realize the utmost intention of the Celestial Master’s act of kindness to save the world. Humbly yours.” Extracted from Chen Heyuan’s Inner Alchemy Self-cultivation and Regimen (《丹道修煉與養生學》) (Beijing: Social Sciences Literature Publication, 2007), p. 393.

[4] The version adopted is from the Complete Works of Lü Zu (《呂祖全書》) (Hong Kong: Ching Chung Taoist Temple, 1991).

[5] Even if the planchette poem was already in circulation and had not been compiled, and the creator of such diagram perhaps only read such planchette poem and not the Complete Works of Lü Zu (《呂祖全書》), i.e., the Complete Works of Lü Zu was compiled before such diagram, it will not affect to a great extent the upper threshold of the year in which the Inner Path Diagram was created because the source of planchette writings was mainly from the planchette alter run by Liu Tishu (劉體恕) in Wuchang. Liu Tishu reorganized the original One Hundred Characters Tablet (《百字碑》), Yellow Crane Ballad (《黃鶴賦》), Coal Pit Song (《窑頭歌》), Song of Interpreting Trigram Lines (《敲爻歌》), Patio Spring (《沁園春》), etc. and then incorporated them all together with the planchette writings: First Eight Chapters of the Immortal Scripture《前八品經》, Last Eight Chapters of the Immortal Scripture《後八品經》, Five Chapters of the Immortal Scripture (《五品經》), Three Chapters of the Immortal Scripture (《三品經》), Triplex Unity Scripture《參同經》, etc. from the Hansan Palace (涵三宮) built during the reign of Emperor Shunzhi (順治). See the Complete Compilation of Lü Dongbin - Preface by Wang Mu (《呂洞賓全集‧王沐序言》), (Guangzhou: Huacheng Publication, 1995), pp. 19-20.

[6] Apart from changing the “young lad” to a “foreign monk”, “[i]f mystical profoundness can be attained from this” was also changed to “if mystical profoundness can be attained from probing such mystical profoundness”, and it is thought that the traditional Chinese character “向” was mistaken for the simplified Chinese character “问”.

[7] In the top-left hand corner of the diagram is the text: “Master Fa Tsang (法藏) said: His dark blue eyes are as clear as the four oceans, his white eye brows are so long as if they can go round the Sumeru Mountains (紺目澄清四大海,白毫宛轉至須彌).” From this, we can tell the creator of such diagram was into dual cultivation as a Buddhist and a Daoist.

[8] Apart from Liu Tishu (劉體恕) who compiled the articles in the Complete Works of Lü Zu (《呂祖全書》), there were several others who participated in the proofreading work, and they included, among others, Huang Chengshu (黃誠恕), Liu Yincheng (劉蔭誠) and Liu Yuncheng (劉允誠). See the preface of the book.

[9] See the Complete Compilation of Lü Dongbin (《呂洞賓全集》), (Guangzhou: Huacheng Publication, 1995), p. 23.

[10] In proofreading and revising a piece of work, the footnote “once read as a certain character” is often inserted to distinguish the difference, for instance, in another regular verse in the same volume, the footnote “once read as ultimate (至)” was inserted beneath the character “nectar (玉)” in “the nectar elixir has no root but grows from earth (玉藥無根得地生) ” following “originally there was no deed nor act (本來無作亦無行) ”. For these two regular verses, there was no footnote.

[11] It says in the legends: “The compilation of writings by Lü Zu has been in circulation for a long time and subject to unavoidable scribal errors, they are hereby revised with clear annotations.”

[12] See Verse 28 of Lao Zi: “Knowing one’s masculinity, yet maintaining one’s femininity, being the river feeding this world. Being the river feeding this world, constantly without departing from virtues. Constantly without departing from virtues, reverting to an infant.”

[13] This quotation is from Hunranzi (混然子) Wang Daoyuan (王道淵) in the Yuan Dynasty. See the introduction of Liu Huayang’s (柳華陽) Theory of Golden Immortal-Section 6: Scripture of Wind and Fire (《金仙證論‧風火經第六》), Proper Way of the Immortals (《仙道正傳》) by Xu Zhaoren (徐兆仁) (Beijing, China People’s University Press, 1992) p. 175.

[14] See Proper Way of the Immortals (《仙道正傳》) p. 176.

[15] Ibib, Proper Way of the Immortals (《仙道正傳》) p. 187.

[16] For instance, Zhang Boduan (張伯端) said in Folios on Awakening to Perfection (《悟真篇》): “According to whom at the Kun position it is formed, to the Palace of Nirvāna at the home of Qian it is planted (依他坤位生成體,種在乾家交感宮).”

[17] Although the creator of such diagram had tried his best to apply the theory of interaction between Heaven and Earth to interpret the micro-universe inside the human body, he of course had his reasons to match the 24 vertebrae of the spine with the 24 solar terms, but to present the annual cosmic cycle of Heavy Snow in a zone where qi is most vigorous as illustrated by the Qian trigram at the top of the head and the full-moon monthly cosmic cycle will tend to create misunderstanding.

[18] That is, half Moon with a straight edge, cutting anima (Hun or魂) and animus (Po or魄) each into half, hence the saying: “waxing Moon with a straight edge like a piece of string (上弦平如繩)”, “waning Moon with a straight edge like a piece of string (下弦平如繩)”.

[19] The “Six Healing Sounds (六字訣)” adopted different practicing techniques in different times. The two special characteristics of “replenishment and drainage through breathing” and “treating the gallbladder as an entrail” may be used as important references. The “Six Healing Sounds” was first advocated by Tao Hongjing (陶弘景) (456-536) of the South and North Dynasties in his Extracts on Nourishing the Mind and Extending Physical Life (《養性延命錄》), in which the “heart” had two sounds, but there was no entrail. Zhiyi (智顗) (538-597) of the Sui Dynasty matched the five organs with five sounds and added the triple foci (three visceral cavities or 三焦) as the representative entrail. By the time of Sun Simiao (孫思邈) (581-682) of the Tang Dynasty, the handling of deep and shallow exhalation was added, which followed the idea of Tao Hongjing, i.e., there was no entrail for the six sounds. By the time of Hu Yin’s (胡愔) Diagram for Replenishment and Drainage of the Five Organs and Six Entrails in Yellow Court’s Inner Path (《黃庭內景五臟六腑補泄圖》), the gallbladder was treated as the representative entrail, and the concept of replenishment and drainage through breathing (呼吸補瀉) was also adopted. From such development, we can be sure that the Yellow Court’s Invisible Armor and Mortal Body Scripture (《黃庭遁甲緣身經》) was created during the Tang Dynasty.

[20] Versions in which such sentence was interpreted as a single-headed deer included that proofread and annotated by Jiang Lisheng (蔣力生) et al and published in 1996 by Beijing’s Huaxia Publication House. Versions in which such sentence was interpreted as a two-headed deer included that punctuated and proofread by Li Yongcheng (李永晟) and published in 2003 by Beijing’s Zhonghua Bookstore and that published in 1992 by Beijing Bibliography and Document Publishing House.

[21] The Cultivation of Perfection Diagram (《修真圖》) has many versions, including, among others, the woodblock print version collected by Purple Heaven Palace (紫霄宮), Wudang Mountain; the woodblock print version collected by Baiyun Temple (白雲觀), Beijing; and the version collected by Longhu Hall (龍虎堂), among which, the one collected by Wudang Mountain was the earliest.

[22] Those in support of such interpretation included Chen Heyuan (陳禾塬), see his Inner Alchemy Self-cultivation and Regimen (《丹道修煉與養生學》), p. 189.

[23] The Direct Guide for Great Elixir Secretly Transmitted by Celestial Master Qiu (《丘祖秘傳大丹直指》) has a total of 14 chapters, this paragraph in the Cultivation of Perfection Diagram (《修真圖》) is the same as that in Chapter XIII: On the Three Passes and Three Elixir Fields (〈第十三章論三關三田〉).

[24] The version adopted is from that punctuated and proofread by Guo Renzhi (郭任治), Shanxi People’s Publishing House, 1988.

[25] See the Essential Points for Great Accomplishment (《大成捷要》) (Shanxi: Shanxi People’s Publishing House, 1988), pp. 10-11.

[26] According to the Genesis of the Essential Points for Great Accomplishment (〈大成捷要緣起〉) written by Chen Yuanpu (陳圓普) of Baiyun Temple (白雲觀), in which the origin of the Essential Points for Great Accomplishment (《大成捷要》) was mentioned. The Essential Points for Great Accomplishment was found by inner alchemist Wang Qianyi (王乾一) when he was visiting the Chongfu Palace (崇福宮) in Mount Song (嵩山), the Middle Range (中嶽), Henan Province. Wang considered it as the secret classic of the Daoists and copied it and took it back to Liaoning, from where it was disseminated to the Temple of Supreme Clarity (太清宮) in Qingdao. Later, Zhu Wenbin (朱文彬) was given the Essential Points for Great Accomplishment as a gift from Superintendent Zhao Taichang (趙泰昌) and was also given the Daoist Country Collection (《道鄉集》) by Wang Quanqi (王全啟) of Baiyun Cave (白雲洞). See the Essential Points for Great Accomplishment, p. 1, 5-8.

[27] See Narration of the Essential Points for Great Accomplishment (〈大成捷要叙〉), the Essential Points for Great Accomplishment, p. 2.

[28] See the Essential Guide for Immortal Studies (《仙學輯要》) edited by Hu Haiya (胡海牙) (Hong Kong: Cosmos Books, 2004), p. 586.

[29] See the Direct Guide for Great Elixir Secretly Transmitted by Celestial Master Qiu-Section 2: On Mysterious Aperture (《丘祖秘傳大丹直指‧二論玄竅》), Essential Guide for Immortal Studies (《仙學輯要》) p. 588.

[30] Ibid, Section 2: On Mysterious Aperture, Essential Guide for Immortal Studies (《仙學輯要》) pp. 588-589.

[31] The commissioning of the eight meridians is a secret of the Wu-Liu School, which is not to be handed down, prior to the Wu-Liu School, there was no exclusive discussion on combining the eight meridians with inner alchemy practice.

[32] Zhao Bichen (趙避塵), 11th generation of the Longmen Denomination, Daoist name: Shunyizi (順一子), also known as “Elder of Thousand Peaks (千峰老人)”. In the 21st year of the reign of Emperor Guangshu (光緒) (i.e., 1895), he followed his Zen masters Liaoran (了然) and Liaokong (了空). The questions and answers on inner alchemy self-cultivation exchanged between him and his pupils were compiled into the Concise Guide to Methods and Exegeses for Cultivation of the Mind and the Body (《性命法訣明指》), in which the “commissioning of the eight meridians” was found in the third exegesis, and it was mentioned that the inhalation and exhalation techniques may commission the Yin-Shu and Yang-Shu (陰陽腧), and the Yin-Qiao and Yang-Qiao (陰陽蹻) meridians.

[33] See the Concise Guide to Methods and Exegeses for Cultivation of the Mind and the Body-Third Exegesis-Commissioning of the Eight Meridians (《性命法訣明指‧第三口訣‧開通八脈》), Xu Zhaoren’s (徐兆仁) Wu-Liu Lineage (《伍柳法脈》) (Beijing: China People’s University Press, 1990) p. 33.

[34] See Liu Huayang’s (柳華陽) Scripture of Wisdom and Life (《慧命經》), Wu-Liu Lineage (《伍柳法脈》) p. 201.

[35] See Liu Huayang’s (柳華陽) Theory of Golden Immortal-Illustration X (《金仙證論‧圖說第十》), Xu Zhaoren’s (徐兆仁) Proper Way of the Immortals (《仙道正傳》) (Beijing: China People’s University Press, 1992) p. 190.

[36] See the Concise Guide to Methods and Exegeses for Cultivation of the Mind and the Body-Preface by Thousand Peaks (《性命法訣明指‧千峯序語》), Xu Zhaoren’s (徐兆仁) Exegeses of the Xiantian Denomination (《先天派訣》) (Beijing: China People’s University Press, 1990) p. 2.

[37] See Zhang Sanfeng’s (張三丰) Explaining Dao in Plain Language (《道言淺近說》), Xu Zhaoren’s (徐兆仁) Keys to Taiji Dao (《太極道訣》) (Beijing: China People’s University Press, 1990) p. 21.

[38] See Zhang Sanfeng’s (張三丰) Direct Explanation on Profound Mystery-About One Millet Grain (《玄機直講‧一粒黍米說》), Keys to Taiji Dao (《太極道訣》) p. 8.

[39] The Narration of the Essential Points for Great Accomplishment (〈大成捷要叙〉) was written by Yao Zhiguo (姚至果) of the Temple of Supreme Clarity (太清宮) in the 18th Year of the Republic of China, i.e., 1929. Therefore, the Essential Points for Great Accomplishment (《大成捷要》) should emerge in 1929 or earlier.

[40] Liu Huayang’s (柳華陽) Theory of Golden Immortal (《金仙證論》), Proper Way of the Immortals (《仙道正傳》) p. 178.

[41] See Zhang Sanfeng’s (張三丰) Explaining Dao in Plain Language (《道言淺近說》), Keys to Taiji Dao (《太極道訣》) pp. 20-21.

[42] Ibid, p. 22.

[43] The Daoist Country Collection (《道鄉集》) was handed down by Daoist Master Wang Quanqi (王全啟) of Baiyun Cave (白雲洞), Mount Lao (嶗山), in the Qing Dynasty, and was compiled and proofread into a book by Daoist Xuanzhongzi (道人玄中子), Zhu Wenbin (朱文彬), in the 22nd Year of the Republic of China. See Proper Way of the Immortals (《仙道正傳》) pp. 8-9. Also, Essential Points for Great Accomplishment (《大成捷要》), pp. 7-8.

[44] See Zhang Sanfeng’s (張三丰) On the Grand Dao (《大道論》), Keys to Taiji Dao (《太極道訣》) p. 34.

[45] Zhuang Zi-Human Vanities (《莊子‧人間世》) : “An empty chamber filled with light, auspiciousness knows no bound. Without repose, the mind will be galloping despite sitting still.”

[46] There are numerous examples, for instance, Zhao Bichen said, “Suddenly a flash of lightning zaps across the eye brows, feeling like an empty chamber filled with light, generated from intangible qi, and the golden light will appear three times, indicating that it is time to harvest the grand elixir.” See the Concise Guide to Methods and Exegeses for Cultivation of the Mind and the Body-Thirteen Exegesis-Harvesting the Great Elixir and Going Through the Passes (《性命法訣明指‧第十三口訣‧採大藥過關》), Exegeses of the Xiantian Denomination (《先天派訣》), p. 138.

[47] See the Collation of the Scripture of Great Peace-Scrolls 18-34-Method of Illumination Through Adhering to One (《太平經合校‧卷18-34‧守一明法》) p. 16.

[48] See Zhang Sanfeng’s (張三丰) On the Grand Dao (《大道論》), Keys to Taiji Dao (《太極道訣》) p. 20.

[49] Liu Huayang’s (柳華陽) Theory of Golden Immortal-Section 16: Order of Fire Phases (《金仙證論‧火候次序第十六》), Proper Way of the Immortals (《仙道正傳》) p. 197.

[50] The Secret of the Golden Flowers (《太乙金華宗旨》) was a piece of planchette writing delivered in the 7th year of the reign of Emperor Kangxi (康熙) (1668), but its manuscript was only available in the 40th year of the reign of Emperor Qianlong (乾隆) (1775). This book exclusively discussed “light echoing”, for example, Chapter III: Adhere to the Center During Light Echoing (回光守中), Chapter IV: Regulate Breathing During Light Echoing (回光調息), Chapter V: Differentiation During Light Echoing (回光差謬), Chapter VI: Confirmatory Experiences During Light Echoing (回光証驗), Chapter VII: Proactive Application of Light Echoing (回光活法), and Chapter X: Light of Cognition (性光) and Light of Recognition (識光), etc., all involving exclusive presentations on light echoing emerging during inner alchemy self-cultivation.

[51] See the Concise Guide to Methods and Exegeses for Cultivation of the Mind and the Body-Fifth Exegesis-External Strong and Weak Fire Method (《性命法訣明指‧第五口訣‧外文武火法》), Exegeses of the Xiantian Denomination (《先天派訣》), p. 48.

[52] Ibid, p. 69.

[53] Ibid, p. 124.

[54] Ibid, p. 74.

[55] Ibid, p. 75.

[56] See the Direct Guide for Great Elixir Secretly Transmitted by Celestial Master Qiu-Section 2: On Mysterious Aperture (《丘祖秘傳大丹直指‧二論玄竅》), Essential Guide for Immortal Studies (《仙學輯要》) p. 588.

[57] Zhao Bichen said, “Today, I whole-heartedly pronounce that I will teach my pupils what I have learned and share with them my own experience. I hope that self-cultivationists practicing in accordance with such method will be able to prove that they have cultivated themselves to the class of immortals or that they will all arrive at the land of longevity, then my wish will be fulfilled.” See Preface by Thousand Peaks (〈千峰序語〉), Concise Guide to Methods and Exegeses for Cultivation of the Mind and the Body (《性命法訣明指》) p. 2.

[58] Li Zixin (李子欣) also said that this book “divulges the secret from ancient times, each character with true meaning, each saying is a secret exegesis”, see Preface by Li Zixin (〈李子欣序〉), Concise Guide to Methods and Exegeses for Cultivation of the Mind and the Body (《性命法訣明指》) p. 8.

[59] Ibid, p. 37.

[60] Ibid, Preface, p. ii.

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