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Sun Xi Kun on Daoism Part V: Woman’s Seated Meditation Method for Cultivating the Dao

Following Part 1 (Authentic Cultivation of Daoism), Part 2 (True Formula of the Dao Elixir Secret Treasure), Part 3 (The Method of Quiet Sitting) and Part 4 (General Discussion of the Medicine-Collecting Methodwe continue with Sun Xi Kun on Daoism with Woman’s Seated Meditation for Cultivating the Dao  These articles on Daoism are excerpted from The True Transmission of Ba Gua Zhang (八卦拳真传 Ba Gua Zhang Zhen Chuan), by Sun Xi Kun 孙锡 堃

In Kun Gong [1] seated meditation, shut the mouth and hide the tongue, with the tongue touching (propping up) the palate. On the palate, their are two holes. They are called Tian Chi (Mountain Lake) acu-points, which go up to link directly with the brain. Above the brain is the Bai Hui acu-point (DU 20), which is exactly at the top of the head (vertex). This is the “upper leakage”. If the qi leaks upward, it is not possible to extend life.

Touching the tongue to the palate prevents leakage of brain qi. Under the tongue, there are two acu-points. The left one is called Jian Jing (Jin Jin). The right one is called Shi Quan (Yu Ye). [2] By touching the tongue to the palate, fluid (Jin Ye) is copiously produced. [The water throughout the body is salty.] Only the water in the Magnificent Pool (Hua Chi), under the tongue, is sweet. Saliva is a treasure of the human body. When the mouth is full [of saliva], the tongue should still touch the upper palate and gulp the saliva down through the throat to 1.2 cun under the heart (the root of the liver: Jiang Gong – Crimson Palace), to transform into blood. For women, Jiang Gong is the Pre-Heaven ming (life; life force), which connects down via Ren Mai to a site 1.3 cun below the navel known as Jin Lu (Golden Stove), also called the Zhen Qi (True Qi) acu-point. Here blood changes into qi and qi is a woman’s Post-Natal life (ming).

When in the mother’s belly, the two eyes are opposite (face to face) and the tongue connects to the outer line of Du Mai. Inside the mouth is a blood cake. Inner nature and vital force (life-qi)  (xing and ming) combine in the same place and link with the mother’s breathing through the umbilical cord. After the baby is born, the umbilical cord is cut off. (In the pre-Heaven state the lung is small and the liver is large). Pre-Heaven qi is cut off. The infant is forced to breathe Post-Heaven qi through the mouth and nose. The lung expands and enlarges. Xing and Ming separate from other. Xing takes qi into the heart. Ming returns qi to the kidneys. [3] In the middle of the 8.4 cun distance between them is Qian Zi Li (“child cavity field”). When the Blood Cake in the mouth is swallowed down, the black pupils of the eyes are dispersed. Thereafter in this Post Natal state, the respiration does not link with the original ancestral qi. Through training and cultivation, one can accumulate essence and abundant qi. Food and drink can also generate qi, but it [this qi] can only sustain the physical body. If accumulated, it cannot prolong life. If let go of, life is not shortened.

The great and wonderful methods of augmentation teach one to cultivate and refine the quest for long life. It is known that the two nostrils under the nose are for respiration. This is because they can correctly grasp Heaven and Earth. In exhalation one’s own internal Yuan Qi exits. In inhalation, Heaven and Earth’s correct (positive) qi  from outside, enters. When the body is strong and healthy, it is possible to take in this correct qi of Heaven and Earth, so that one’s lifespan can be lengthened. If the Jing Qi is week and feeble, the correct qi  of Heaven and Earth will disperse and escape with exhalation, the body’s Yuan Qi (Original Qi) will not return and instead will be taken by Heaven and Earth. Everyone fails to understand that qi is the true medicine for prolonging life and cannot find the gate to enter. If one wants to return to the Pre-Heaven state, one must recognize the original appearance (true form). Metal-male and wood-female must merge. [4] Before the parents give birth, the sun in the west and the moon in the east Pre-Heaven concentration and intention drops to gather in the ancestral aperture. [5] In the Wu Ji state, the nose develops first, and then the two eyes. The spiritual qi of the eyes comes from the brain. The manifestation of intelligence in the brain comes is generated by the heart. Therefore, the ancestral aperture (this aperture exists before the body) must be refined skillfully in order for the eyes to perceive the moment the light of wisdom appears. Namely to observe the truth in the emptiness that is not emptiness of the Mysterious Pass (Xuan Guan). [6] Obstinate contemplation of only emptiness is false and so all things are completed.

Embrace and abide by the true achievement (gong). Every day, sit quietly with the tongue touching the palate. The eyes watch the tip of the nose and concentrate on the Ancestral Aperture. Qi sinks to the bottom of the sea. First count the coming and going of the breath, ensuring the breaths are even, continuous and unbroken, as if accumulating the breath and returning it to the root without giving birth to distracting thoughts. Do not stop, let things take their own course, employing the boundless Yuan Qi of Heaven and Earth. If the body and form are uneasy and the heart-mind moves, then the spirit will not enter the qi and the body’s qi will be consumed and dispersed. Then one’s nature will be confused and will lack understanding. Therefore it is said that the body’s spirit must not exit. Nothing can reside in the Ling Tai [7] and the four gates must be tightly shut. This is the subtle meaning of guarding the center. Constant, unceasing thinking, sexual desire, and enchanted and unusual scenery demons (enchanted states) that disappear when you open your eyes.

The hand and foot should be harmonious and linked together. The hand should hold Zi Wu Ba Gua Yin Yang Lian Huan Jue (literally: Mid-Night and Mid-Day Ba Gua Yin and Yang Linking Rhyme). [8] The left hand is outside and the right hand is inside, for yang embracing yin. The right leg is outside and the left leg is inside, for yin embracing yang. Sitting in extreme tranquility, the True Qi (Zhen Qi) begins to move and the body becomes pleasantly warm. Gradually the brain is strengthened and activated; in front and behind the heart and the two palm centers start to sweat. It is similar to the moment between sleep and waking. The chest cavity is correct (natural). This is the true medicine. It cannot be described by words. After sitting, one should walk a little before doing other things.

Female Achievement (Gong) Aperture Closing (Female Practice)

In front of the two eyebrows and behind Feng Fu (DU 16), on the left and right 0.3 cun above the tips of the two ears in the center (with the hands crossed), there is a “qi sack” (qi bao) that links with the “long marrow tube” (Yan Sui Guan). [9] This is called Yu Ding (Jade Tripod). [10] 1.3 cun below and behind the navel and the navel and in front of the kidneys; in front 70% and behind 30%; above the two hips, there is an acu-point that is suspended in the center. It is called Jin Lu (Golden Stove). Originally there is no tripod at Yu Ding and no stove at Jin Lu. When qi is emitted they become apertures of a subtle and almost indistinct breathing mechanism. In Daoist cultivation practices one must know the location of the Tripod and the Stove. If the heart-mind is capricious and gives rise to distracting thoughts, one must rotate the Wheel of the Law (Fa Lun) quickly. [11] In Daoism this is known as Xiao Zhou Tian (Small Heavenly Circuit or Micro-Cosmic Orbit). One must think of the Fa Lun (Wheel of Law ) and inhale qi through the nose so that it descends to Dantian, and [guide it] using true intention to Wei Lu and Jia Ji [until it] reaches Ni Wan. Exhale from Dantian, through the nose with true intention descending from Zu Qian (Ancestral Aperture), to Jiang Gong (Crimson Palace) and then to Qi Xue, (Qi Cave) [12] the intention circulating without end. The True Qi gradually will create a warm sensation. After a long time the True Qi will emanate and move from the aperture of life and death, flowing to a certain place that you will know. The Scripture of Wisdom and Life (Hui Ming Jing) [13] says that the four respirations and two comings and goings refer to this.

There is another method of using the aperture of life and death as Zi (1st Earthly Branch), Jia Ji as Mao (4th Earthly Branch, Ni Wan as Wu (7th Earthly Branch), and Jiang Gong as You (10th Earthly Branch). Inhale qi through the nose as you silently recite “Zi”  with concentration focused on the aperture of life and death, silently recite “Mao” with concentration focused on on Jia Ji and silently recite “Wu” with concentration focused on Ni Wan. Pause briefly and then exhale qi through the nose as you silently recite “Wu” with concentration focused on Ni Wan. Silently recite “You” with concentration on  Jiang Gong and silently recite “ Zi” with concentration focused on Qi Xue and back to the aperture of life and death. [14]

In the cultivation of Daoism in Women, one must first eliminate illness, regulate menstruation and then train oneself to cut off the Red Dragon (menstruation), [15] and finally do the Small Heavenly Circulation. Excessive menses and irregular menstruation are related to Ren Mai and Dai Mai, and are caused by blood stasis from excess or deficiency. If the menses are not regulated (irregular) it is necessary to use an herbal formula (herbal decoction) for dredging the aperture and enlivening the  blood.

9 grams         红花               Hong Hua (Flos Carthami)

3 grams         桃仁               Tao Ren (Semen Persicae)

3 grams         赤芍               Chi Shao (Radix Paeoniae Rubra)

6 grams         川芎               Chuan Xiong (Rhizoma Ligustici Chuanxiong)

9 grams         生姜               Sheng Jiang (Rhizoma Zingiberis Recens)

7 pieces         红枣               Hong Zao (Red Fructus Ziziphi Jujubae)

3 stems          老葱               Lao Cong (Old Green Onion: Scallion)

First, chop up the ginger green onion, and dates and combine with the other herbs and simmer in ½ kilo of yellow wine (Huang Jiu) until ½ cup remains and infuse with a little 麝香 She Xiang (Deer Musk) . Again bring to a simmer three times  and serve. The blood circulation will be smooth and unblocked. The menses will be regular and without any problem.

If one is sick with fatigue (weakness), they should take 四物汤 Si Wu Tang (Four Agents Decoction).

9 grams         当归               Dang Gui (Radix Angelicae Sinensis)

6 grams         白芍                Bai Shao (Radix Paeoniae Albae)

6 grams         川芎               Chuan Xiong (Rhizoma Ligustici Chuanxiong)

9 grams         生地               Sheng Di Huang (Radix Rehmanniae Cruda)

6 grams         人参               Ren Shen (Radix Ginseng)

6 grams         白术               Bai Zhu (Rhizoma Atractylodis Macrocephalae)

6 grams         柴胡               Chai Hu (Radix Bupleuri)

9 grams         白茯苓           Fu Ling (Sclerotium Poria)

6 grams         半夏               Ban Xia (Rhizoma Pinelliae)

9 grams         香附               Xiang Fu (Rhizoma Cyperi)

3 grams         炙甘草           Zhi Gan Cao (Radix Glycyrrhizae Praeparata)

3 slices 生姜  Sheng Jiang (Rhizoma Zingiberis Recens)

If qi is deficient: add 15 grams of 黄芪 Huang Qi (Radix Astragali)

Decoct and serve in three doses

When the blood is sufficient and full then the Red Dragon can be cut off. Women belong to Tai Yin (Greater Yin). Woman’s cultivation is based on the menstrual flow. Blood represents Shao Yin (Lesser Yin) Jing Luo (meridians). Ren Mai and Dai Mai combine to circulate the flow. Every month, women receive menstruation through one ascension and three harmonies. If the meridians flow smoothly then menstruation also goes smoothly.  At the age of 14, a woman’s whole body emits heat so the meridians are unobstructed and clear, so the menses emerge every month.

If one desires to cultivate life, sit in a quiet room, without others coming and going (alone). First sit in meditation, observing the Ancestral Aperture and stopping distracting thoughts. Focus the mind-intention carefully on the area between the two breasts. Namely 1.2 cun in the middle of the two breasts, called the Xue Yuan (Blood Origin). The fetus origin forms the fetus; the Blood Origin gives birth to Blood. Dantian gives birth to the elixir. Effort should be made at the time periods of midnight and noon. The heart-spirit and intention attentively watch the aperture of the breasts, while the breath is continuous and unbroken. A little goes out (exhalation) and much more comes in (inhalation). At the time of the menses, the menses are transported  from the Dantian to the breasts. As Tian Gui [16] approaches, first there are signs of their readiness. The woman knows and can prepare in advance because there is perhaps back pain, leg pain, toothache, restlessness, fatigue and poor appetite. This means menstruation is coming. Every 30 days it arrives and True Yin Moves. This is the harmony of Heaven.

At that time one must sit quietly and exhale from the back to the Qian diagram and to the lung, and inhale from the front to the kun diagram and to the kidney, regulating the breath and concentrating the spirit. Hold the breasts with crossed hands, and lightly rub them 36 times. Employ qi from Dantian to faintly inhale for 24 mouthfuls (24 cycle of inhalation and exhalation), still holding the breasts with crossed arms, returning the illumination (looking inward) and regulating respiration. After some time, the true yang will be abundant and the menstrual flow will be cut off. The breast will shrink to resemble those of a man. At the 26th time period, the gong fu is finished, meaning that it is in conformity with the required degrees of Heavenly Circuit (Small Heavenly Circulation). For virgin girls it is not necessary to rub and breathe to cut off the Red Dragon. Go straight to the Small Heavenly Circulation Gong Fu.

In quiet sitting (meditation) the training time, must correctly use the four seasons – when Heaven’s Qi (the weather) is clear and gentle, avoiding wind, rain and severe cold days and damp, foul and dirty places. Avoid eating meat and cold, bitter and sour melons (gourds) and fruits. Within the seven days of menstruation one must cultivate tranquility, and avoid injuring the qi. One msut extricate oneself from the blood devil. After half a year, the temperament will change form turbid to clear, and one will be healthy and bright. It is very important to sit [in meditation] at Zi Hai (Earthly Branches 1 and 12: 9-11 pm and 11 pm -1 am). After sitting, rub the surface [of the body] with the hands to avoid getting wind- cold. In the female method of cutting off the Red Dragon, determine the date that the menstruation will arrive and two and a half days in advance sit quietly looking inward and menstruation will stop. If it is not complete after two and half days use kneading and breathing to cut off the Red Dragon completely. When the Red Dragon is cut off, the menses should change from bright red to yellow and from yellow to white, and from white to none. From none it changes to qi. Then it is time to do Heavenly Circuit Gong Fu. This is the slow cultivation method done at home (ie: not as a monk). If cultivation is done in the temple, one must use the quick method. The medicine from cultivating the Dao is the Yuan Qi (Original Qi) of the human body.

The mysterious gates of martial arts cannot be fully expressed and the mysteries of the ancient sages that are passed down will not harm people. I invite the reader to think about it. I cannot dare to say that I fully understand this marvelous Pre-Heaven wisdom, but after being instructed by honest teachers, I can give it to the reader to avoid. Danger. If the reader likes martial arts, I hope they will cherish it. I hope my poor words will create ties [of friendship] and we can research together.

[1] Kun – the Receptive: referencing Earth and the Kun trigram, who responds and receives the qi of Heaven (Qian trigram).

[2] Jin Jing 肩井: “Golden Well” or Jin Jin 金津: Golden Fluid”

Shi Quan: 石泉: “Rock Spring” or Yu Ye 玉液:“Jade Liquid”

[3] Xing 性: Inner Nature and Ming 性: Vital Force-Qi. Xing is related to shen and psycho-spiritual activity – the contemplation of mind and it understanding of the inner nature. Ming is related to the life force, the qi. They also can refer to yin and yang and are therefore not separate. Xing and Ming also refer to two paths of self-cultivation, one involving the primacy of mind and spirit and the other breath cultivation exercises that focus on the cultivation of qi. In practice these are often cultivated jointly so that their duality is transcended and they become one practice and one phenomenon.

[4] Metal-Male and Wood-Female is a reference to alchemical terminology in which Metal-Male is the true yang within yin and Wood-Female is the true yin within yang.  To return to the Pre-Heaven state, these elements must be extracted and combined though internal cultivation practices.

[5] The Ancestral Aperture (Zhu Qiao) is the cavity of the Ancestral breath and is located either between the navel and the heart or in the Dantian. Some Sources mention and upper and lower ancestral aperture one in the chest, associated with the heart and one in the Dantian, associated with the kidneys.

[6]  玄關 Xuan Guan, the “mysterious pass” represents the moment xing (the inner nature) and ming (the vital force) come together, or return to a state of oneness. These two (xing and ming) are also known as Dragon and Tiger; Lead and Mercury etc. The mysterious pass is the “door of life and death”, the place between being and non-being. It is also a synonym for the Xuan Pin (Mysterious Female) and the Hun Dun. This is the place transcendence and unity can occur in Daoist practices.

[7] Ling Tai 灵台: “spirit platform”; is an acu-point on the Du meridian just below the 6th thoracic vertebrae, just behind the heart.  However Ling Tai also refers to the faculties of the spirit and mind associated with the heart and in this context probably refers to the residence of the spirit.

[8] Zi Wu Jue is a position of the hands used in Daoist practice. The male holds the right hand with the left hand, and the female holds the left hand with the right hand, because the left of the male is yang, and the right hand of the female is yang. So, the yang hand is outside, and yin hand is inside. The thumb of the external yang hand is inside Hukou of the yin hang, with the thumbs crisscrossed, like the Tai Ji diagram.

In Zi Wu Jue can also be a hand form used to calculate the positions and time periods of the 12 earthly branches. In this case, the thumb of the left hand is flexed to dig the top part of the middle finger, and the thumb of the right hand goes through the ring of the left thumb and middle finger to the root of the ring finger The right middle finger touches it externally, to hold the two hands.

Zi Wu Ba Gua Yin Yang Lian Huan Jue (Mid-Night and Mid-Day Ba Gua Yin and Yang Linking Rhyme). 子午八卦阴阳连环诀。The Zi Wu cycle is associated with the Pre-Heaven and Post-Heaven arrangement of the trigrams and their relationship to the ten Heavenly Stems and twelve Earthly Branches. Here, Zi Wu Ba Gua Linking references, the circulation of the microcosmic orbit the transformation of yin and yang and jing qi and shen that takes place within that circulation. This is a reflection of the larger heavenly circulation that takes place in the cosmos which is reflected in the cyclical daily,  seasonal and sixty year cycles.

It is also a metaphor for the inter-transformation of fire and water, and Li returning to Qian and Kan returning to Kun in the return from the Post-Heaven state to the Pre-Heaven state, and the requisite inner realization that results: one of the goals of Daosit meditation.

[9] Yan Sui Guan : seems to refer to portion of the brain stem that may include the pons, medulla oblongata. The pons is a portion of the hindbrain that connects the cerebral cortex with the medulla oblongata. As a part of the brainstem, the pons helps in the transferring of messages between various parts of the brain and the spinal cord.

[10] Ding 鼎: An ancient cooking vessel that was tripodal, with two ear shaped handles.

[11] The Dharmachakra: “Wheel of the Law”, ” Dharma Wheel” or “Wheel of Life”, is a symbol that represents the dharma: Buddha’s teaching of the eightfold path, the path to enlightenment.  Dharmacakra is translated as Fa Lun in Chinese, and in Daoism is alternative name  for the Xiao Zhou Tian (Small Heavenly Circuit or Micro-Cosmic Orbit)

[12] Zu Qian 祖窍 (Ancestral Aperture) in this case refers to the upper ancestral aperture which is located between the eyebrows. Jiang Gong 绛宫 (Crimson Palace) is below the heart at the root of the liver and Qi Xue 气穴 (Qi Cave) may be the area below navel know as Qi Hai (Ren 6) or it may refer to the KID 13 acu-point (3 cun below the navel lateral to Guan Yuan: Ren 4) Most likely it is the lower ancestral aperture located in Dantian.

[13] The Scripture of Wisdom and Life 慧命经 Hui Ming Jingi was written by the  Chan Monk Liu Hua Yang. It is similar to Daoist alchemical texts that talk about the formation of a spiritual embryo. (The Routledge Encyclopedia of Taoism Volume I: A-L edited by Fabrizio Pregadio, London and New York: Routledge, 2008, pp.520-21).

[14] Aperture of life and death in this method is presumably the Ming Men.

[15] Cutting off the “Red Dragon”, is a metaphor for cutting off menstruation. In the Daoist alchemical tradition, Jing is refined into qi and qi into shen, which eventually merges with emptiness and the Dao. However, the process of life depletes the jing. In men, jing and semen are related, so sexual activity, particularly in excess, depletes the jing.  The jing that travels up the spine during the Small Heavenly Circulation is jing that has been transformed and refined. Over time, the Small Heavenly Circulation gives birth to a pearl (the mysterious pearl) in the Dantian, which is the formation of the elixir which grows (the fetus) and moves upward as qi continues to cycle through the channels. This gives birth to a luminous spirit as the body becomes more yang and returns to the True Yang of the original state, and merges with the Dao.

Women lose jingi not through sexual activity but through the monthly menses. The breasts are thought to be where the secretions of “perfect yin” originate. These secretions normally descend into the abdomen and transform into menstrual blood. These secretions, which are the foundations of breast milk, therefore transform into the menses. The breasts then, are one of the key centers for physical and spiritual cultivation in women. By rubbing the breast and focusing on the chest area to stimulate secretions which first turn the menses to white (the color of semen) and ultimately stop them altogether. This practice must be made to coincide with the monthly cycle at the moment yang qi is about to transform into yin blood. This is explained later in this text. (Women In Daoism,  by Catherine Despeux and Livia Kohn. Cambridge Mass: Three Pines Press, 2003, pp.223- 227.)

[16] According to Chinese medical theory, there is a reproductive substance called Tian Gui that exists in the human body. As the Tian Gui develops and matures, men start to produce sperm along and to manifest other sexual functions that are associated with reproductive capacity. Women begin menstruating and are ready for reproductive functions. In modern China, Tian Gui is sometimes equated with hormones.