Although these are the techniques of practicing Tao in the Hou-tien, 10 understanding them is still necessary.
Whoever dissipates his vitality, spirit, and soul through ears and eyes is a commoner.
Whoever retrieves inward his vitality, spirit, and soul can become a Saint.
The practice of going with the flow dissipates. The practice of going against the flow retrieves. That is why Mencius said,
“To practice Tao, one needs nothing
but to retrieve his lost heart.”
The technique of maintaining and nurturing one’s vitality, spirit, and soul is to keep tranquility in one’s heart and reflect one’s aureole inward. Through this process, the True Fire of li will descend.
By raising one’s tongue to lightly touch the upper palate, his True Water of kan will ascend through the glands in his mouth. When there is enough True Water, it is swallowed into Dan-tian (the root of human life or, literally, the cavity of the immortal embryo) in the abdomen.
Here is where the True Water meets the True Fire from Ming-men (the door of life at the fifth joint of the spine). The True Water is then converted into Qi. When the Qi and soul are full, one can labor without feeling fatigued.
The Qi circulates in the body by ascending along the spine and descending down in the front continuously. When vitality becomes full, one has no desire for lust.
The vitality then is refined and transforms into Qi (spirit). When the Qi (spirit) is full, one has no appetite.
The Qi (spirit) then is refined and transformed into the soul. When the soul is full, one has no desire for sleep.
Then the soul returns to the Void. Once the soul returns to the Void, it is bright and its presence permeates throughout the cosmos.
This is what Taoism calls “turning the water mill,”
Buddhism calls “turning the wheel of Dharma,” and
Confucianism calls “pervading the Truth after the elimination of desires.”
This is the practice of
going against the flow.
The circulation of the Qi of the common ascends in the front and descends in the back.
The circulation of the Qi of Saints descends in the front and ascends in the back.
Aren’t the two exactly the opposite?
66. Why is “wisdom” the True Self and life of a person?
When we speak of wisdom, it refers to True Self and life. Wisdom has two attributes. One is to enlighten to the Truth. The other is to manifest the enlightenment as all knowing.
Responding to any event in accordance with the Truth, knowing and acting as Oneness, and merging foundation and practices are the underlying meanings of wisdom.
Why is wisdom the True Self and life? Before one is born, his True Self is qian (☰) and kun (☷). Once he is born, qian loses its middle yang and becomes li (☲), and kun receives the middle yang from qian and becomes kan (☵).
So when one is born, his True Self is li and life is kan. Kan symbolizes water and wisdom. Thus Confucian Analects states “The wise enjoy waters.”
Now using the Gong-fu 15 of restoring the True Selves and returning to the Origin, the water kan rises and the fire Ii descends. As the water and the fire constantly interact, the two attributes of wisdom merge as one. Then, how can one not attain Tao?
Tao belongs to the Xian-tien. 10 But to attain Tao, one must practice in the Hou-tien. 10Hou-tien is the changes of yang and yin. Thus I Ching states,
“The confrontation of yin and yang
The Volume of Fen-tien* states “The eight trigrams flow in the body with each inhaling and exhaling, how many persons in ancient and contemporary time know this? The fool searches for Tao through scriptures, but how would they know Tao is in kan and li?”
*The Volume of Fen-tien is one of Taoist Scriptures.
67. The practice of Tao is endless. Is there any easy method for a beginner to follow step by step?
Confucian practice of Tao is holding the heart to cultivate the True Self. A beginner in practicing Tao needs only to follow this method.
Rewards will be awarded when one keeps goodness in his heart. Punishments will be instituted when one keeps evil in his heart.
Longevity can be attained by keeping tranquility in one’s heart.
Thus, one must constantly adhere his mind to his Right Portal. This is what the saying,
“A practitioner of Tao constantly keeps himself at the center.”
By constantly adhering one’s mind to his Right Portal, he is holding his heart to cultivate his True Self.
Mencius said “A practitioner of Tao differs from the common by keeping the five virtues of Tao. …Some keep benevolence in their consciences. Some keep propriety in their consciences… The benevolent love others. The wise benefits others. The decorous respects others. …One who loves others will be loved. One who respects others will be respected.”
As practitioners of Tao, in addition to the five virtues of Tao, we should constantly keep the True Nature in our mind, and this will be sufficient.
68. What is the practice of Gong-fu?
The practice of Gong-fu 15 has two attributes. The first attribute is to exercise rigid self-discipline and maintain tranquility in one’s heart. The second attribute is to eliminate the yin Qi inside the body and restore the True Self to pure yang or full radiance.
As a man grows, his desires grow. These desires are the yin Qi. The soul originally is pure yang. When desires grow, the yin Qi masks the yang soul. To rid of one’s yin Qi, one must adhere to his Right Portal and perform good deeds.
Performing good deeds strengthens one’s yang Qi or aureole. By adhering to the Right Portal, one’s aureole is reflected inward, and the pure yang neutralizes the yin Qi. When the yin Qi is eliminated, one’s soul is restored to pure yang.
By adhering to the Right Portal and performing good deeds tenaciously with balanced efforts, one can attain the ultimate center.
69. What is the meaning of reflecting one’s aureole inward?
When a man is in the Hou-tien, 10 his mind is occupied by thoughts and concerns. If one thinks about external chores, he is with the flow of the Hou-tien. If one reflects his aureole inward, he is going against the Hou-tien.
When one goes with the flow of the Hou-tien as he pursues materialism, emotions, and desires, he is bound for the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth, and becomes a ghost.
When one goes against the flow of the Hou-tien as he abandons the pursuit of materialism, emotions, and desires, and seeks his True Self, he is following the way of Tao and becomes Saints.
To encourage a person to pursue Tao, we should encourage him to look inward into his True Nature. To look inward into the True Nature is to seek the True Self. To seek the True Self means to reflect one’s aureole inward. One should concentrate on the Right Portal every moment.
If one constantly adheres to his Right Portal, he can achieve a state that he makes no distinction of himself and the others.
The practice of keeping one’s heart
in Oneness at his Right Portal
is the way to part from sufferings and
A Sutra states “One must keep his heart at his Right Portal at all times.” Confucius said, “Once learned, one must practice constantly.”
Both teachings encourage practitioners of Tao to follow this practice. So all practitioners of Tao must keep this in mind.