Saturday, December 15, 2007

Internal Work II: The Three Crucibles

In my last post on the Internal Work I have talked about the meaning of dantian. As it turns out, there are three dantian, not just one. They are known as the xia (low) dantian , zhong (middle) dantian, and sha (high) dantian. Their location is in the belly, in the solar plexus, and in the middle of the front, respectively.

The dantian that is mentioned all over internal martial arts is in fact only the lower elixir field. One could then ask why the other two are usually ignored. They are not. Quite simply, one must start with a good foundation, and that comes from the work with the lower crucible. To be precise, the work that is accomplished in the xia dantian is epitomized by the saying 煉精化氣 lianjing huaqi, refine (lian) the essence (jing) and transform it (hua) into the vital force (qi).

The essence, or generative force, is the basic raw fuel without which the body decays. It is "boiled" into qi by the fire of attention in the lower dantian.

Later on, when sufficient qi has been produced and stored, the further steps are 煉氣化神 lianqi huashen, refine the vital force & turn it into spirit, which takes place in the middle dantian, and finally 煉神還虛 lianshen huanxu, refine the spirit & turn it into the Void (xu), inside the upper dantian.

As everything comes from the Void, or hunlun (the Primordial Chaos, see the recent post by Unurthed), everything must go back to it.

Before I leave, let me just point out one thing: each of the three stages is made of two components, the refinement and the transmutation of one substance into the next one.
Indeed, these two are one: it is by proper refinement that transmutation occurs.

PS The picture at the top, known as the neijin tu, beautifully illustrates the alchemical work in its entirety (notice the three levels, corresponding to the three dantian). You can take a more detailed look at the neijintu here.


Greg Pass said...

The FIRE OF ATTENTION. Well said, Pmac.

The dantian may house the raw materials, but it is the proper GESTURE (Aor) — attention — that is impetus to transmutation.

Polymathicus said...

It is indeed. In the classics is often repeated that the essence is stored in the kidneys (WATER), but the spirit is in the heart (FIRE). One must bring that fire gently into the dantian (their meeting place), and keep it there.

Gently, like a hen hatching her eggs.

Anonymous said...

Good point, though sometimes it's hard to arrive to definite conclusions

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