In Taoist feng shui Huashan"s shape is considered to be a reflection of a yang stellar constellation manifesting on earth. Not far from my Spring Flower cave was another hidden cave used since Han dynasty times for viewing the Pole Star, the central star or higher earth element around which the other four stellar quadrants/elements of Heaven rotate each night. This inspired me on some evenings to go out on the narrow ledge in front of my cave and practice Taoist star alchemy, a method of absorbing and balancing the chi from all the star quadrants into the crystal palace or upper dan tien (etheric space of the pineal gland). |
Meditating in this granite cave day and night for five days awakened memories in me of the seven trips I had made to Egypt to meditate inside the Great Pyramid. The walls of the King"s Chamber are made of a special red granite, and above this chamber (which architecturally represents the pineal gland) there are five giant slabs of granite with space between them, wrongly thought to be for earthquake adjustments. According to esoteric lore I learned while studying pre-Egyptian internal alchemy practices, these five slabs of granite represent the five subtle bodies of man that are awakened by initiation in the pyramid. Taoist internal alchemy holds a similar pattern of unfoldment, but uses different methods to achieve the awakening.
But the use of granite to amplify spiritual vibrations from the mountain"s deep earth consciousness and act as a ground for Heavenly frequencies may be similar in the Taoist and Egyptian traditions. Mountains are just natural pyramids; their axis acts as a double vortex between the center of the earth below and the stars above. My experience of Huashan, a giant "earth flower" made of solid granite, is that the mountain is a vast initiation chamber for those who can attune to its inner frequency. When you align your human body axis to axis of the mountain, it becomes a pathway for communicating with all that the "mind of the mountain" is communicating with. Huashan is thus just an individual outlet for the collective planetary consciousness, like any ley line or sacred place. The more a place gets used for spiritual awakening, the more powerful and skillful it becomes at using the natural chi field to communicate with humans. For those following the path of the Tao, this is the major reason to visit China"s sacred mountains.
This lure of awakening to one"s spiritual truth is undoubtedly what motivated Taoists to spend years digging these caves. Chen told me that records reveal it took up to 30 years to dig a large cave like Spring Flower Cave out of the cliff wall of solid granite. After digging it, they would undergo tremendous deprivation of ordinary human pleasures to live in the cave. There had to be a special payoff in spiritual pleasure to keep them from abandoning their simple cave life. Meditating in solid rock seems to cause a special resonate with the bone level of human consciousness, where Taoists consider the jing or sexual essence to be stored. Bone and the jing within it is spiritually the most dense level of our human body, and thus the hardest to reach by ordinary meditation. But it is also the secret substance needed to crystallize an immortal Body of Light This may also explain why so many Taoist are said to have achieved their immortality on Huashan - they were able here to concentrate their full being on the process of gathering their jing essence and refining it into chi, shen, and ultimately wu (non-being).
What about harsh weather? You might ask, as I did: why didn"t the cave adepts simply light a fire in their caves to keep warm? Chen answered this question before he would even show me the way to the cave. "There is one very strict condition for your staying in the cave", he warned me."Absolutely no heating or cooking fires are permitted. You will notice that none of the dozens of caves on Huashan have their ceilings blackened by fire. This traditional Taoist rule against using fire is not to make cave life harder than it already is. It is to protect your internal practice. A strong external fire will disturb the delicate balance of water and fire within your dan tien. One purpose of cave practice is to activate more powerfully the internal fire needed for neidan (alchemy) practice". Of course, I readily agreed to this condition.
I soon discovered other factors that may have heloed warm Taoist cave adepts. The cave itself is good insulation. They did do not freeze in winter because the internal earth temperature radiates an average 57 degrees F. into the cave. They put wood doors on the cave to keep out the worst winter wind and retard heat loss. From that minimal baseline of external support they did internal alchemy practices to heat their body to a sustainable and comfortable temperature. While in the cave, I spent many hours practicing "internal chi breathing", a formerly secret method of empty force breathing (kong jing) that powerfully heats the dan tien or belly cauldron. This unique method mixes the chi from the fire (du mo) and water (ren mo) channels, and synchronizes the rhythm of physical breathing with chi body rhythms. Once the dan tien is warm, it feeds warm yang chi to all the deep channels of the body, particularly the Eight Extraordinary Vessels. These control your core body temperature and autonomic system functions, and are the reservoirs that overflow to feed the vital organs and their meridians. I teach this Internal Chi Breathing as part of the fundamentals of chi kung, but it was valuable for me to see it work so effectively in the cave.
I found my cave to be quite warm at night, as if it perhaps were still absorbing heat form the daytime sun. This may have been amplified by movement of warm valley air masses rising after sunset. I usually had to toss the cover of my sleeping bag off during the night. I noticed the reverse seemed to occur in the morning: as the sun rose, the cave went through a chilly period from 7 am to 11 am, perhaps from cold valley air masses rising. The sun would not actually shine on my cave until 11:35 am each day. I would watch the pyramid-like shadow of West Peak slowly move across the valley. Then the sun would rise above West peak and cook my cave for the afternoon. I would do practices to directly absorb solar chi , and to circulate it throughout my body and into the chi body of the mountain.
Of course, similar weather shifts are changing everyone"s patterns of bodily chi flow every moment. But the cave seemed to amplify my feeling of the mountain"s deep chi rhythmically pulsating with the cycles of the sun and moon. One night, the moon rose just as the sun was setting. I sat in the doorway of my cave, as if the darkness behind me were a warm opening from the earth"s womb. The forces of the sun and moon entered my body, and having well trained pathways from my inner alchemy practice, flowed inside my cauldron and coupled within my core channel. I watched in awe as these cosmic streams of energy effortlessly made love inside me.
My body began to glow from within, and I noticed that even though a cold wind came up as darkness descended, it did not disturb my internal bliss or make me feel cold. The experience continued long after the sun had set. After two hours, I finally moved back inside my cave-womb, feeling both deeply peaceful and exhilarated. It felt like the mountain had again been teaching me something about the Tao - how nature meditates inside us if we meditate inside nature. In alchemy, this is known as wu wei, a state where things happen effortlessly, in the deep silence of the universal mind. Your personal mind doesn"t need to make this happen with visualization, movement, or mantra. Once natural forces have been alchemically accelerated within the adept"s body, wu wei is the ensuing feeling of child"s play as your chi flows with zero resistance between the local self and the Tao.
After two days of not eating or drinking water, I awoke on the second night with a swollen tongue and feeling very overheated. I self-diagnosed myself, and decided it was the lack of water flowing through my kidneys that was causing my heart to overheat. I had brought water, but had decided on arriving in the cave to not drink any, to more quickly test my body response to the deprivations of cave life that might have been experienced by earlier Taoist adepts. I recalled that one of my western friends had a Taoist spiritual guide who taught him how ancient adepts drank their urine and then refined it with internal alchemy. Since this put no new water into my system, and was a well tested method used by sailors to survive at sea, I began drinking my urine.
No need to feel squeamish about this, if you"ve never drunk your urine. Urine doesn"t stink until after it grows cold. It was my first time, but I literally guzzled my yellow fluid down the next morning. I found it to be warm, salty, and like a very mild and tasty broth - and very satisfying to my kidneys and heart, which cooled off. I had no more problem the rest of the time, and had the feeling I could have continued for a very long time. There is also a homeopathic effect also created by recycling one"s urine repeatedly through your system, as it concentrates many subtle essences that can have healing properties. There is a large literature on people healing serious illnesses with urine drinking. I also noticed something unusual. Every time I urinated, I would pee on the ground the starting and ending urine flow, to remove toxins accumulated in the bladder. I was losing about 30% of my urine each day, a gradual loss of body water.
Curiously, the empty water bottle I used to catch the urine always refilled to the same level each time. This meant my body was either producing water from thin air or it was converting blood or body fat into water. This continued the entire five days, and since I didn"t grow thin, it felt like my kidneys were producing new water, in the same way my spleen chi felt like it was producing new food from the chi field. Of course scientists would say I was deluded and just consuming myself on a fast. But what can scientists say about others who rarely eat for months or years on end? I recalled a conference sponsored by another nei dan teacher, Yan Xin, attended by a number of his scientist-students who themselves had stopped eating for long periods without undue weight loss. Modern science does not have a paradigm for this and many other simple things in life, like love. The facts of our reality do not always fit the modern materialist hypothesis.
This is why I find Taoist internal alchemy so fascinating - it allows anyone to use his body-mind as a cosmic laboratory. You don"t need big science grants or a $6 billion dollar super-collider to run an experiment. You can apply Tao spiritual science to explore all the deepest mysteries of the universe in your own body, as a micro-universe. The Microcosmic Orbit meditation, the first of seven formulas of alchemical practice in the system I learned, was by itself a kind of internal super-collider for the yin and yang forces flowing within the body. I was using the cave to test for its effects on my own practice. I found the results to be very positive.
The experimental nature of internal alchemy has led to the development of many different systems of neidan or internal alchemy within China. On Huashan, Chen told me that historically the Taoists here followed a form of neidan taught by Chen Tuan, an 11th century Taoist famous for his dream practice, even though Huashan today formally belongs to the Complete Perfection school of Taoism that follows Lu Dong Bing style of alchemy. Ironically, the Seven Tao Formulas of Immortality I learned (via Mantak Chia) came from an adept named One Cloud who renounced his Complete Perfection monastic life to seek in the mountains the true teachings of alchemy.
One Cloud found a high level hermit teacher, and used the Seven Formulas to become a breatharian himself. Yet these Seven formulas are recognizably within the tradition of Lu Dong Bing, even though they don"t teach the theory of reincarnation adopted by the Complete Perfection school. Neither Lao Tzu nor Chuang Tzu taught reincarnation in their writings. I believe it was because living in the Tao dissolves all divisions of past and future into a present moment that is incarnating ever fresh from the coupling of Heaven and Earth.
There is a beautiful simplicity to this vision: there are no endless cycles of the same individual recycling and suffering through different lives; every human is instead the direct, fresh, and unique child of Heaven and Earth. There are no past lives, only a multiplicity of parallel lives in the present moment. Each person who rfines their essence and thus completes themself in this life completes life for all Heaven and Earth. One"s level of completion is what defines one"s level of immortality, as a human, earth, heaven, or celestial immortal. The concern is not to live physically forever, just long enough to complete one"s true destiny. Ultimately everyone has the same destiny, to return consciously to the Tao.
The adepts on most Taoist sacred mountains in China have adopted a different set of nei dan methods to explore the Tao. Yet all these variations derive from the same core principles of yin-yang chi flow, of five elements cycles on a matrix of eight primal forces emanating from a ninth neutral force (yuan, or original chi) in the center. The fluid and changing nature of Taoist practices makes it very difficult for westerners to pin down, and thus to understand in their normal analytical manner, what exactly internal alchemy is. Unlike most religions, Taoist alchemy is not based on a fixed set of beliefs, or on an single divine entity who saves humans, but rather is based on the merging of human body-mind rhythms with cosmic rhythms. As the adept learns to shape the chi field through chi kung and nei kung practices, he or she also shapes their destiny in the world.
I arrived in the Spring Flower cave just a few weeks after the Sept. 11 bombing of the World Trade Center. It might have appeared I was retreating from the world"s problems, rather than engaging them. Yet I did not experience it as a withdrawal, but rather saw my cave an observatory from which I could more clearly interact with the convulsive rhythms pulsing through the planetary brain from the heart of America. When you are caught up in reactive emotional patterns of society and politics, it is difficult to directly perceive the underlying natural forces at work in shaping society. Every event, even one seemingly caused by evil forces, is ultimately an expression of natural forces seeking to achieve balance.
I am not talking about the immediate or surface political reasons for terrorism, and maybe I should have made that clearer. I am talking about the core spiritual reasons/imbalances in the global mind that surface from the deep unconscious and get shaped by cultural forces into whatever they are. By the time any thought form/impulse gets to the stage of action, be it beneovlent or violent, it has gone thorugh many filters/layers of consciousness, some of which reflect the global brain imbalance I was attempting to refer to. These imbalances come from fears that are very
primordial/deep ancestral, and precede the current situation.
From my cave perspective, I saw that beneath the apparent political issues surrounding the 9-11 terrorist attack were deeper spiritual divisions in the collective global mind. The left-brained western hemisphere does not comprehend and thus cannot trust the more right brained eastern hemisphere. Its similar to the difficulty men and women have in communicating. This is a very ancient ancestral pattern buried deep within the planet that is resurfacing in a new form. The mistrust breeds fear, which in the current scenario has translated into western politico-military strategists seeking to dominate with weapons the near eastern and asian peoples and their resources. The U.S. military sees China"s huge population and political system as its only long term potential competitor on a global scale, and the oil rich Muslim countries as essential to controlling and containing the China threat. What can a simple western Taoist, while sitting in a cave in China, to do about all this? I love both China and America, the peoples of both the near eastern and the west. The politicians tell me I have to choose, that only one side can be in control.
My natural response to this event as a Taoist is that there is always a third choice. I chose to align with and alchemically balance the natural chi field of the planetary mind with this third point, the stillpoint between the global yin and yang forces. My hope was to bypass the apparent political polarity on the surface of the planet and use Huashan to help me dive deep into humanity"s collective heart. My intent was to lessen the intensity of fear driving the two split and competing halves of the planetary brain. As a westerner sitting in a cave at the geographic center of China near its ancient capitol of Xian, I felt perfectly positioned to initiate such an alignment through meditation. To amplify the effect of my practice, I had pre-arranged for my wife and alchemy partner Joyce Gayheart to do similar meditations from the nearly exact opposite side of the planet back in America, not far from Washington D.C.
Lao Tzu became famous in China because his 5,000 character meditation manual (the Tao Te Ching) integrated politics and spirituality. It emphasizes repeatedly the necessity for politial leaders to harmonize with the chi field of the Tao. Following the Tao is not about choosing one political system or leader over another, but about choosing the balance point between all contending forces. Only from this still point of calmness can the emotion-crazed and polarized politicians on both sides be guided to peace and harmony. This situation today is no different from Lao Tzu"s 2500 years ago. Unless the innate harmony of the Tao is sought, the cycle of guerrilla terrorism vs. state terrorism (a.k.a. war) will continue until all parties exhaust themselves and many innocents are harmed. This is a slow and tortuous way to achieve balance.
The meditations I did on the global situation from my cave on Mt. Huashan were very profound. I linked my own polarized brain hemispheres and deep energy body channels to the powerful granite meridians of Mt. Huashan. These connected me into the core of the planetary brain that links humanity into a single collective mind. I called in the polarized forces from the different Tao alchemy formulas, in equal and opposing streams of chi flow: male sexual fire vs. female sexual water, sun vs. moon, stellar spirit vs. earthly matter, formless chi field of Early Heaven vs. formed chi field of Later Heaven. Ultimately all these poles are fluctuations between the eternal desire of beings to return to the primordial chaos of Oneness vs. the impulse to create new order as the Ten Thousand Things. Into the meeting point or cauldron of all these octaves of my consciousness, I called in the archetypal fear splitting the planet in half. Fear lacks its own center, and thus cannot survive such powerful cosmic impulses to unite in the center. I had an experience of the vast currents of fear flowing about the planetary chi field as fuel for a powerful meltdown into a deep and peaceful inner space.
Joyce and I, meditating on opposite sides of the planet, were only two people out of six billlion people on the planet. But by alchemically aligning and accelerating these natural forces, I am certain that we were able to dissolve some deep unconscious layers of fear and shift the mind of humanity far out of proportion to our tiny number of two. In this way, the Spring Flower cave on Huashan became in the inner planes a cauldron of hope and renewal for all humanity. Later, after I left Haushan, I could still feel the chi from Huashan"s granite still coursing through my deep channels, and the heart of humanity beating more palpably within my own heart.
The only book I took with me into the cave was Lao Tzu"s Tao Te Ching. In it Lao Tzu comments that "the sage stays at home, does nothing, and yet everything is accomplished." Staying home is a Taoist metaphor for staying in one"s spiritual center, in the inner heart of hearts, at the core of one"s personal cauldron. The easiest way to "do nothing" is to align with the natural harmonizing flow of cosmic forces. Those forces will ultimately and effortlessly accomplish the return to peace and harmony. Internal alchemy is one very deep and powerful way to align with those forces.
Lao Tzu also mentions that "Humans hate to be alone, poor, and hungry". Yet there have been countless generations of Taoist adepts on Mt. Huashan who have chosen to live in remote mountain caves in lives of apparent aloneness, poverty, and hunger. Why did they do it? Perhaps only the paradoxical thinking of Lao Tzu can define their motive, incomprehensible to the great mass of humanity: "We we gain by losing, we lose by gaining,"Lao Tzu advises. In their cold caves without much food or water, lost to the gaity of outer world, I believe these alchemy adepts fed themselves and gained everything by embracing the Tao itself.
Author Bio :
Micheal Winn, president Healing Tao USA offers : Qigong exercise for health. Top Tai Chi, Qi Gong, & meditation exercises on dvd, audio-video,or at healing week long retreats. http://www.healingtaousa.com
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