Saturday, December 29, 2007

Internal Work III: Cultivating the Three Treasures


In my last post on the Internal Work I mentioned the san bao (三寶, three treasures), namely jing, qi, shen, and their progressive transmutations at different stages of the work. Their collective name, three treasures, is far from accidental, as they are the basis of the elixir. They must be preserved and cultivated at all cost, as life and well-being depend on them.

But, how?

I know no better advice than the one given in Chapter IV of Taoist Yoga, a translation by Charles Luk of a treatise on internal development by the Daoist Master Chao Pi Chen. Here it is:
  • The essence (jing) changes into vitality (qi) when the body is immobile,
  • The vitality (qi) changes into spirit (shen) when the heart is not agitated,
  • The spirit (shen) turns into Void (xu) as a result of the Immutable Thought.
So, now you have it. Notice that in all three case immobility plays the pivotal role. Immobility, not death: the conscious outcome of letting go, immobility that is the very height of awareness.
Not easy to come by, of course (just try to keep your body relaxed and immobile for a few minutes). But think of this: every moment you reach this immobility in the midst of ordinary life, the san bao are cultivated.
The Three Treasures are our true inborn treasure. We can be wealthy beyond our wildest dreams, if we use them judiciously.

42 comments:

Greg Pass said...

This is incisive advise, thanks.

A few more venturesome words on the method...

You mentioned a key directive: relax. Immobilizing the body is not a hardening, but a loosening; not the result of building up a barrier, but the tearing down of one; not a desensitization, but an extension of awareness.

In the next case, some would say we are not so much after the close-eyed repose of a yogi, but the open-eyed equanimity of a hero about to enter battle. This is one way Mengzi described the effects of haoran zhi qi (full flowing qi), a spirit cultivated by extension — so vast that, though it can be prodded, it cannot be agitated.

As for the last, what is the extent of extension?

Polymathicus said...

And extension certainly is (although even extension eventually goes aways, because it is EMPTY, it has NO extension)....

Immobility is the right term,but, due to its strings attached, can be misleading. Perhaps a better way would be to say grounding, like remaining at the cog of a wheel. The 3 stages are just different forms of GROUNDING: physical, emotional, mental.

Thus Mengzi's advice (thanks) is sound: when you go to a battle, you go with eyes wide open, and grounded.

You have no choice, and that is always the best choice you have...

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