This statement highlights the Gong-fu 15 of refining and cultivating of one’s True Self as adopted by Saints. It describes the six stages in the process of refining oneself.
1. Where to rest.
The first stage is to know where to rest. To rest means to arrest one’s innate ability at Oneness. When one knows where to rest, he holds fast to his True Self. When one knows when to rest, he acts properly. To rest is to return one’s spirit to Oneness. To rest at Oneness is the ultimate rest.
One should know the Truth first
and then acts accordingly.
He who knows the Truth knows where the point of perfection is. The true practitioner of Tao will not stray away from the point of perfection, and his actions are consistent with his True Self.
2. Direction is set.
When the direction of practicing Tao is set, one neither senses the thunder above him nor is frightened by a mountain that crumbles in front of him. He could not be allured by any temptations. Having the direction of practicing Tao set allows one to understand the Truth and not be swayed by heresies. He has the courage and can take on important missions. When one’s heart rests, his heart is set. When one knows what matters to rest, his future is set. This way, one has a determination and a goal.
3. Be tranquil.
When one is tranquil, his heart remains still. He can rid of his impatience and recklessness. He is perfectly tranquil like still Water. When a person is tranquil, his True Self can light up the cosmos, just like still water can reflect perfect images. In calmness, wisdom can be revealed to oneself. One can then be inspired.
4. Reveal True Nature.
Revealing the True Nature means to be natural. To be natural means to put away one’s mind, or attain the state of no Human Nature. Then one can understand Tao without thinking, and stay in the center without effort. In motion or in stillness, he is natural. This is attaining what Confucius described as
“At seventy I can follow my heart without
transgressing what is right.”
To follow the heart is to put away the Human Nature.
5. Be pure.
Knowing to rest, being set, being tranquil, and revealing the True Nature lead a person from motion to quiescence. He turns emotions away and fulfills his True Self, returning all into Oneness. Then he can be pure, or in other words, he is awakened. The Law governing all lives, matters, and the cosmos becomes clear to him. He realizes what the Truth is and what emotions and desires are. He purifies his behaviors to distinguish the right from wrong. When all is quiet, he is still. When matters arise, his response is always appropriate.
6. Attain Tao.
When one attains Tao, he is united with God. This means the cosmos is within him, and he is within the cosmos. They are two of the same. Celestial bodies, wind, thunder, rain, electric storms, earth, and oceans all belong to him. He is united with the cosmos, or in other words, he returns to God’s kingdom.
71. The Gong-fu of cultivating oneself.
Once where to rest is known, the direction of practicing Tao is set. (In Buddhism, this is called Zen meditation. When one has no fancy, it is called Zen. Seeing one’s True Self in tranquility is called meditation.)
One cannot know where to rest without receiving Tien-Tao transmitted by the Enlightened Teacher with Tien-Ming. 1 Being set means one will not stray away from the True Self, which is equal for a Saint or a commoner.
After being set, the next four stages are:
- can be tranquil,
- can reveal his True Nature,
- can be pure, and
- can attain Tao.
The word “is” in “is set” refers to the True Self which has always been there, and cannot be enhanced or degraded, contaminated or purified. The word “can” implies effort. Effort can be great or minute, or tenacious or sporadic. Regardless of one’s effort, the True Self remains the same.
However, the attainment of each of these four stages depends on one’s effort, resulting in different achievements. This is why there are three Vehicles of Dharma and nine levels of peerage.
72. What is the meaning of “I has neither thought nor purpose. When it is extremely quiescent, it has supernatural inspiration.” in I Ching?
Patriarch Wang said, “I encompasses the I that does not change and the I that changes.” The I that does not change is the Truth and the I that change is deductions. The Truth cannot depart from deductions, nor can deductions stand without the Truth. If these two separate, Heaven collapses, Earth cleaves, life becomes extinct, and matters disintegrate.
The quote “It is always in quiescence with supernatural inspiration.” refers to the conscience and the display of the conscience, which are the manifestation of the True Self. The True Self is in eternal quiescence. When it is inspired, all Dharmas are there; like a mirror reflects the image of whatever is in front of it. Once the object disappears, there is no trace in the mirror.
That is why the Saints taught others to rid of emotions and desires, and purify the heart. Emotions and desires are like clouds masking the moon (the True Self). Once the clouds dissipate, the brightness of the moon can be seen again. The True Self, which possesses all of the wisdom, needs no thought.