[Daoist Internal Alchemist]
Deep Language for Communicating with Nature’s Intelligence (Part 4)
by Michael Winn
Original Energy as the Mysterious Language of Alchemy
One Cloud’s seven formulas offer a progressive experience of Original Energy as the mover behind all cosmic cycles of change. But what exactly is Original Energy? Yuanqi is paradoxical, the very definition of undefinable energy. In learning to speak the deep language of qi, the ordinary mind can easily grasp the notion of yin-yang through its many tangible polarities— light-dark, hot-cold, male-female. (In China yin is always listed first, in the west the yang qualities are first, perhaps revealing reversed hemisphere dominance). Spoken language uses words to habitually fix these polarities into rigid dualistic concepts of black and white, right and wrong, self and other.
The deep grammar of alchemy reverses this process. Beyond the tangible bi-poles of yin-yang, in alchemy practice the third force of yuanqi is always present as an invisible monopole dissolving any fixity. As a simple metaphor for the mind to grasp, yang qi is white light (photons that refract into seven prismatic rays), yin qi is dark light (attractive forces like gravity or magnetism approximate this), and yuanqi is clear light that can be polarized into both white and dark light without losing its innate neutral property.
Between the yin-yang (north-south) poles of our planet is a monopole of Original Energy in the heart of the earth. In humans, the heart center functions as a monopole balancing messages from the head (heaven) and belly (earth) poles. In the emotional field between two lovers, there is a neutral pole that holds a single essence in their two hearts beyond the time and space fluctuations of their emotional relationship. Even if they divorce, the neutral qi field created by their earlier love cannot be destroyed by any subsequent hatred for each other. Their collective field of Original Energy, produced in the loving phase of their relationship, simply ceases to be active as their personal field of communication. This is why the innate virtue of love (as neutral acceptance or unity) ultimately triumphs over the learned force of hate (as separating impulse). Forced separation does not build any Original Energy, thus weakening itself over time, while unificationi of opposites grows Original Energy forever.
We often fail to recognize Original Energy even when we are communicating through its matrix. Our brain, polarized into left-right hemispheres, physically reflects the nature of our ordinary mind’s polarized sensory perception. We see with two eyes, hear with two ears, breathe through two nostrils. However, yuanqi exists underneath these yin-yang pairs, and is generated at the crossing point of the corpus collosum at the center between the left and right brains. Original Energy generates the protons and electrons orbiting the nucleus in each of our atoms. It is in the neutrinos that go whizzing past us without stopping because there is no “neutral force container” on the polarized surface of our earth that can hold these stellar particles.
Original Energy is the invisible monopole around which DNA spirals, in serpent-like coils of yin-yang pairs (like the Microcosmic Orbit, the ends of DNA strands are joined at the ends, like a snake swallowing its tail). DNA is the modern equivalent of jing, the essence that holds our shape. As qi converts into jing, the latent (ignorantly called “junk DNA”) patterns are activated. Thus the original trinity of jing-qi-shen is able to communicate with its human form and shape it moment to moment. The subtle qi field of a human being controls the timing of the unfoldment of these genetic patterns, whose encoding at the jing level form an unimaginably complex text three billion characters long. Some microbiologists admit that the gene code is best described as the “language text” of nature, even though their scientific paradigm prevents them from admitting that Nature is intelligent and thus able to “speak”, much less write a text in any language (Narby, 1998, p.144).
In Primordial Heaven yuanqi is the cosmic parent that births yin-yang qi, but paradoxically in Later Heaven yuanqi is the offspring of yin-yang qi. In the physical plane Original Energy is re-birthed only when yin-yang come into sustained balance. This is the key principle of Daoist internal alchemy. A neutral monopole is what allows communication and harmonious qi flow between any two poles or dimensions. A neutral axis of original qi is what allows yin and yang to rhythmically flip their positions after reaching their extremes of expansion or contraction. To first experience, and later to shape the polarities of one’s qi field from this neutral point of eternally balanced qi is to speak the deep language of Nature’s intelligence. If you can find and stay centered in the awareness of this neutral balance point at every moment of your life, you have stabilized the effortless state of wuwei and the door is open to realize your immortality. If you can create a vessel — an energy body — to hold the Original Energy in later heaven, you have produced the elixir.
This seems simple, and yet is unimaginably difficult because of polarized language patterns of perception programmed into our mind and senses by generations of everyday life. The missing link is understanding that our Original Spirit (yuanshen) is Nature’s inner voice. Whenever the door between dimensions is opened, especially at moments of human birth, death and sexual copulation, our Original Spirit is actively present to assist us in communicating our inner will. These moments of grace allow our Early Heaven self to express its unconditional nature within the physical plane as unconditional love, acceptance, or trust of the qi field. The adept internalizes these processes of birth, death, and sexual self-intercourse in the inner cauldron to keep open the Mysterious Pass. Each alchemy meditation is an opportunity to practice internal self-intercourse, ego-death of the separated body spirits, and rebirth of the Original Spirit.
Alchemists, Shamans, and the Empty Mind State
Original Energy is not a substance or a thing, although it generates and dissolves both. When any yin-yang field is reversed and held in a steady balanced waveform, Original Energy arises and physical reality appears to dissolve or at least lose some of its density. This can occur in any expanded state of consciousness where our bodies feel light, as if our molecules had moved farther apart. We describe this state as “more empty”, because we have temporarily emptied out the rigid patterns of perception. The term xu in early Daoist texts is often translated as “emptiness”. However, it is a relative, not an absolute state, meaning “empty of objects” but not “empty of qi”. Original Energy thus “fills” or rather is the actual matrix of all “empty” space-time. An open or pure mind space more accurately describes the state in which Original Energy is engaged. The uncultivated ordinary mind (xin) abhors the apparent vacuum created by yuanqi, and unconsciously converts it into yin or yang qi. In alchemy, Original Energy is seen as unshaped energy available to create a new level of health and spiritual freedom in our lives — if we have the skill to grasp it.
Original Energy is also often present whenever someone “blanks out” or has “missing time”, during a meditative activity such as reading a book. Single pointed concentration can cause your five jingshen to spontaeously fuse and temporarily shift dimensions into the boundary zone of Early Heaven. It can happen by simple resonance; just reading about Original Energy might cause you to drift off for a few moments into your own more core field of neutral qi. Daoist alchemy offers a method for making these shifts consciously, and for including the whole body in the shift, not just the mind. Daoist folklore is filled with stories of adepts who disappear and reappear at will, sometimes bringing back an item from far away as proof of their journey.
Between the Supreme Unknown (wuji), which can never be known, and Later Heaven where everything can be named and thus known, there is a continuous qi field. However, there are empty spaces within and between the qi patterns, like silent spaces between musical notes. Silence is not heard as one listens to music, but without silent spaces there could be no distinguishing of the note harmonics. Likewise, silence itself must become part of the deep language spoken by the adept. Traditionally, there are three levels of increasingly empty or pure silence: kong, xu, and wu. In the oral tradition of alchemy, “kong” denotes the tangible empty physical space within Later Heaven matter, described as the empty space inside a pot. “Xu” is the open mind space in Early Heaven where the xin (mind) refines itself. “Wu” denotes Wuji, the unknowable, unbounded, non space-time underlying chaos-unity in Primordial Heaven where our soul (ling) completes its journey.21
The adept must enter into and pass through these three “voids” or “open mind” states in order to receive the deepest communications of the Dao. These are not true voids, but are in fact filled with Original Energy holding the still space between the yin-yang pulsation of the three heavens. Entry into these “voids” requires the adept to absorb and couple an increasingly higher power of yin-yang forces to refine a more pure quality of Original Energy. Sitting passively in an “empty mind” meditation may leave a meditator in a relaxed but superficial level of kong emptiness, in which occurs little communication with the deeper xu or wu mind states.
Traditionally the simple practice of emptying the ordinary mind of thoughts was to weaken the desires and conflicting wills of the body spirits. The Daoist practice of zuowang, “sitting and forgetting”, was first made famous by Zhuangzi (Chuang-tzu). As Livia Kohn notes in her translation of Sima Chengzhen’s Zuowanglun, in later alchemical classics emptying the mind was considered a beginning practice that laid the foundation for succeeding phases of alchemical refinement of yuanqi (Kohn, 1987). However, it is also an advanced practice. After alchemically refining the male-female, sun-moon and other paired forces, the adepts again empties the mind of alchemical qi patterns before merging with the Dao. One Cloud’s formulas follow this pattern. The Inner Smile is used by the beginner to empty the mind of physical tension, and also as the most advanced practice of simplicity — an adept merged with the Dao, smiling effortlessly through all three heavens.
Is internal alchemy a form of shamanic communication with Nature? Some shamanic elements can be found in One Cloud’s formulas. I believe that generations of alchemy practitioners have over the millennium refined the shamanic journey out of the body and interiorized it so it all happens inside the adept’s cosmicized energy body. This may have evolved to allow communication between heaven and earth to be more continuous and deeper. In my own alchemy practice, I rarely “leave” my physical body on journeys. It is easier to simply expand my qi field out to embrace by resonance whatever level of Nature I wish to communicate with, and allow the vibrational information to silently flow back inside me. Once it is down loaded it becomes part of a library of cosmic essences available for refining in my ongoing alchemical process. Once digested, these essences absorbed from Nature open up continuous pathways of communication. The cycles of the moon, solstices and equinoxes, all impact strongly on my energy field as spontaneous communications.
I offer a few experiences that correlate my inner perceptions with objective physical events. When there are major sun spots, my heart beat accelerates and my body grows very warm. Major astrological configurations will sometimes force me to stop all other activities to “listen” to them. The most dramatic case came in 1994, when I suddenly felt my liver get hugely inflamed, despite perfect health and no changes in diet or lifestyle. I was very puzzled. It was only when I saw television pictures of Jupiter being hit twenty-two times by a comet that I realized my experiences were caused by the cosmic resonance between my liver/hun spirit and Jupiter. Each vital organ spirit learns to communicate with its planetary spirit “cousin” in the Greatest Kan and Li formula, and there is no shutting Nature out once it knows you will listen to it.
Interesting objective confirmation of alchemy as a deep language spoken by one’s whole being came from recent tests on Mantak Chia by an Austrian scientist using modern equipment to measure brainwave patterns and hemispheric balance.22 This scientist had for years been testing monks and meditators from different traditions to try to map their bodily response to meditation. He was very surprised to find that alchemy meditation was totally unique. Chia produced on demand (by practice of the first formula Inner Smile and sexual recycling of jing in the Microcosmic Orbit) a simultaneous rise in alpha, beta, and theta brain waves. This meant that as his mind slowed and relaxed more deeply, his body’s physical energy field grew more active. Also unique was that the measured rise was equal in both brain hemispheres and lasted for a much longer duration — three days — versus several hours for other types of meditation.
The applications of alchemy to healing are vast, and beyond the scope of this paper. The healing essentially is a natural by-product of the deep language process. My experience suggests it can shift the genetic level of disease. I started going blind with a rare condition inherited from my mother known as birdshot choroiditis, with initial symptoms of my not being able to read for six months. After a week’s intense practice of Greater Water & Fire formula and absorbing inner solar essence, the condition abruptly reversed itself.
Michael Winnis the founder of Healing Tao University with 30 Tao summer retreats in Asheville, N.C. and is the past President of the National Qigong Association. Michael has over 30 years experience in Taoist arts and leads an annual China Dream Trip. He has co-authored 7 books with Mantak Chia, and is also the author of 10 Qigong and Inner Alchemy home study courses, as well as a free e-book, Way of the Inner Smile. All are available on www.HealingTaoUSA.com or call: 88-999-0555.