By admin on Aug 30, 2009 | In Oriental/New Age
An Excerpt from the writings of Daniel P Reid
In practicing internal alchemy of spiritual enlightenment through meditation, the adept progresses through eight stages of development.
1. Conservation of Essence
“When the oil is used up, the lamp goes out,” says an old Daoist adage, which means ‘When semen is exhausted, life ends’. Therefore, the first step on the road to physical longevity as well as spiritual immortality is to conserve semen either through strict celibacy or else through ‘dual cultivation’ which means prevention of loss of semen during sexual activity.
2. Restoration of Essence
Semen is preserved and collected in order to restore it to its original state of purity and potency. This is an especially important stage for adepts who previously spent a lifetime squandering their semen in reckless sexual indulgence. Semen is restored through External Elixirs of diet, herbs and exercise, in alliance of Internal Elixirs of breathing, meditation and sexual restraint.
3. Transmutation of Essence
Transmutation of Essence into Energy can occur only after conservation and restoration of semen-essence is complete. Until then, essence is insufficiently pure and potent for transmutation into energy. This transmutation stage requires the perfect stillness of the body, breath and mind that can be achieved only through deep meditation. Breathing plays a vital role at this stage, acting as a gentle bellows to fan the inner fires of inner alchemy.
4. Nourishing Energy
Having learned to transmute Essence into Energy, the adept is now ready to ‘nourish energy’, which means accumulating sufficient stores of pure vitality from both external and internal sources in order to completely restore his yuan-chee, or ‘original vitality’. Man is animated by the same cosmic energy that permeates the entire universe and everything in it, and he may enhance and renew his own individual stores of this energy by learning how to draw upon the great cosmic battery with breath and mind during deep meditation. This stage is indispensible for success in subsequent stages of spiritual cultivation, because those stages require tremendous amounts of energy.
5. Transmutation of Energy
This stage raises the centre of attention from the lower Elixir Field below the navel up to the middle Elixir Field in the solar plexus, where the heat from the fires of essence-to-energy transmutation below rises up to catalyze the transmutation of energy into spirit in the higher centers. At this stage, the adept enters the nebulous realm of pure spirit, a realm so fantastic that it makes the alchemy of essence and energy seem like mere child’s play. The transmutation of energy into pure spirit involves the opening of certain subtle energy channels that connect the lower and middle Elixir Fields directly with the energy centers located in the brain. Adepts must learn how to drive their vital energy into these channels, collect and concentrate it there, then draw it up into the energy centers in the head, where transmutation into pure spirit occurs.
6. Nourishing the Spirit
The Yellow Emperor’s Classic states, ‘Nourishing the spirit is the highest task’. Spirit is the divine spark of cosmic radiance planted in all human souls at conception, and it forms the shining light of human consciousness. By nourishing spirit, the adept expands his consciousness and strengthens his direct spiritual bonds with the cosmic powers of Tao. Adepts who reach this stage are those whose ultimate goal is immortality via the indestructible ‘diamond body’ of pure spirit, which serves as a vehicle for carrying consciousness beyond death. Their sole purpose in cultivating physical health and longevity is to give themselves sufficient time and energy to complete the final stages of internal alchemy required to forge indestructible spirit-bodies.
7. Transmutation of Spirit
An ancient Daoist adept known as the Master of the Celestial Mystery wrote, ‘When the spirit of knowing ceases, the great wisdom is born’. Ordinary human spirit abides within the restricted realm of ordinary knowledge and is bound by words, facts and fancy. True cosmic wisdom transcends all arbitrary human knowledge with direct, overwhelming awareness of Tao. This awareness and wisdom can be achieved only by transmuting ordinary spirit into cosmic spirit, a long and difficult process in which the adept gradually peels away layer upon layer of illusion and sheds ordinary knowledge until he uncovers the precious pearls of original spirit.
This previous pearl of original spirit is the hidden treasure that all adepts of advanced meditation seek within themselves. The moment they find it, ordinary spirit transmutes and merges with it in a spontaneous reaction variously translated in English as ‘enlightenment’, ‘transcendence’, or ‘liberation’. In Chinese, it’s called wu-dao - ‘to realize the Way’ – and it may occur any time, any place, not just during meditation. There are stories of ancient adepts who first saw the Way in a flash of brilliant insight while chopping wood or working in a garden. Such adepts, having accomplished stage six, live in a state of perpetual stillness and nothingness, regardless of what their physical bodies are doing.
8. Transmutation of Spirit into Void
Daoists refer to this stage as ‘return to the Source’. Since an adept who has already achieved pure Cosmic Spirit has no ego, no personal identity and no mundane desire to bind him to life on earth, he may at the time of his own choosing abandon his material body and leap into the great cosmic void from where his precious pearl of original spirit came. In so doing, he gains spiritual immortality, although he may also choose to be reborn in this world at the time of his own choosing, if he so desires. Prior to death, such adepts practice for the final leap into space by projecting their spirit-bodies beyond their physical bodies during deep states of meditation, so that they will be fearless and fully prepared when the final moment arrives.
Everyone has the choice of how to spend his or her life. We may choose to dissipate the Three Treasures of Essence, Energy and Spirit in a brief lifetime of riotous sensual self-indulgence, but then we must face early death and complete personal extinction thereafter. We may also choose a more moderate lifestyle and cultivate the Three Treasures in such a manner that we enjoy a long and healthy life on this earth, leaving the ‘afterlife’ and the ‘next life’ up to fate. Or we may gird our loins, steel our minds and discipline our lives for the ultimate goal of forging an indestructible spirit-body that can carry our consciousness intact into the void after our physical bodies die.
Western religions promise eternal salvation and spiritual immortality to everyone in exchange for a few simple vows, unquestioning faith, prayer and the observation of rituals. But Daoism teaches that individual men and women must earn their own salvation and spiritual immortality by their own intensive efforts in this life, just as ordinary men and women must ultimately earn physical health and longevity by their own individual efforts. Cultivating spiritual immortality requires a life-time of hard work, self-discipline and a little luck or fate, with no iron-clad guarantee of achieving the desired results, which is why so few people choose to devote their lives to this path.
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