THE INTERNAL ALCHEMY OF THE TAO
Explanation of the Inner Alchemy Chart
This chart was never copied for over a couple of hundred years. There was only the original. It was never passed down to the rest of the world because it is so profound and mysterious that an ordinary person would have no way to understand it. It was rediscovered in the library at High Pine Tree Mountain in China suspended from the wall. It was carefully drawn and the printing was clear, so it was eventually reprinted at that time. When I first discovered this, I decided to reprint it with a complete explanation using the Healing Tao practices. By practicing the Healing Tao formulas you can start to comprehend the detailed illustrations of this mural connecting with our body and the universe. It is with this understanding that I give you this explanation of Internal Alchemy so beautifully illustrated in this ancient Taoist rendering.
The Tao adept saw human body as a microcosm of the natural world. Its anatomy was a landscape with mountain, river, streams, lake, pool, forest, fire, stars a natural harmoniously landscape. It shows a torso and head with few easily identifiable structures –
Master Mantak Chia
The numbered areas 1 to 5 are a series of nine sacred mountain peaks. These mountain peaks are like the funnels, which are able to draw down universal energy. This energy is then concentrated in the caves of the mountains. Taoist adepts go to mountain caves for initiation. In the human head there are nine different centers (peaks or points), which are able to extend to the heaven to make the connection to the cosmos. The cavity in the brain, the body and energy centers are like those caves in a mountain which you can concentrate, store and transform energy.
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1. IMMORTAL REALM is located in the center just in front of the crown. It is this point where our energy is able to ascending to heaven making the connection with the heavens drawing down even more powerful universal energies.
2. TOP OF THE GIANT PEAK is located in the back of the head. When we tilt the head and push the Chi back it reaches its highest point. This peak is connected to the North Star and the thymus gland. It is where we receive the descending universal energy.
3. MUD PILL is located in the center of the crown (Bai Hui or the hundredth meeting point) and when it is open it feels like soft mud. The crown point is connected to the Big Dipper and the hypothalamus gland. It is at this center that you can project your energy (soul or spirit) up or receive the energy down giving way to a two way street.
4. HOUSE OF RISING SUN is the third eye. At the middle of the forehead likely above, this center is able to receive the sun and moon energy, and is used to launch the soul and spirit bodies into space travel.
5. NINE PEAKS MOUNTAIN is more directly connected to the mid eyebrow and has a close connection to the pituitary gland. This center is used to received the cosmic force and used for launching the soul and spirit bodies the earthly plan or human plan traveling.
6. OBSCURE SPIRIT ALTER is between the Mud Pill and in front of the Giant Peak where the spirit and soul bodies are leaving and entering into horizontal flight.
7. CAVE OF THE SPIRIT PEAK is the jade pillow between the 1st cervical and the base of the skull which is know as the God mouth where we can receive universal knowledge.
8. TRUE JADE UPPER GATE is a water gate near to throat connecting to the brain.
9. SOURCE OF RISING LAW is behind the soft palate which is connected to the pituitary gland.
- 9a.The two circles representing the sun and the moon within us are the left and right eyes. By learning how to roll the eyes in a circle motion, we can blend these different energies together enabling us to direct the energies with our eyes. When we roll the eyes up looking to the crown, these energies along with the sexual energy will rise up to the crown. When we roll the eyes down looking to the lower Tan Tien, we bring the premixed energies down to our energy centers (reservoirs) storing them there.
- 9b. The figure of the old white headed man with eyebrows reaching down to the ground is Lao Tze (one of the founders of the Taoism). He is a seated figure with long eyebrows which is connected to the earthly energy.
- 9c. The blue eyed standing foreign monk holds the heaven in his hands. The standing figure is Bodhidharm, the founder of the Zen Buddhism in China, which is holding up his hands to reach the heavens being more connected to the heavenly energy. These two energies or natures are mixed together to form a new Taoist concept, the practice of the Modern Taoism or the Healing Tao system. It is the blending and the harmonizing of our heavenly destiny and our earthly nature.
10. The DRAWBRIDGE is the tongue and the POND OF WATER is the mouth which holds the saliva. In the Taoist practice, when you touch the palate with the tongue (the Source of Rising Law known as the heavenly pool), we connect the circuit forming the link between the governor channel (yang) rising from the perineum up the spine to the head then down to the palate and the conception channel (yin) descending from the root of the lower jaw to the perineum. Once the tongue touches the palate, the Chi is activated. The sexual energy is pumped up to the brain, activating the hypothalamus, pituitary and thymus glands secreting more hormones. The sexual energy, especially the orgasm energy, will help draw in the heaven energy from above and the earth force from below. When you mix these two forces with the sexual energy the hormone secretion is stimulated. This creates an abundance of Chi and fluid. This fluid which flows like a waterfall down through the palate across the upper palate to the back down to the mouth and the throat (Twelve storied pagoda) from where we are able to swallow it down to fill the other two Tan Tiens. This water is also know as the nectar, water of life or the golden elixir.
11. GOVERNING MERIDIAN is located from the perineum up the spine to the head then down to the palate.
12. CONCEPTION OR RELEASING MERIDIAN is located from the root of the lower jaw to the perineum.
13. TWELVE STORIED PAGODA or twelve story tower is the throat center, CV-22. When the sexual energy is pumped up to the crown (reversing the flow) due to the Healing Tao practices of Testicle and Ovarian Breathing, Power Lock, and the Big Draw through the spine to fill the Lower Tan Tien (kidney and sexual centers) (lower reservoir), the Middle Tan Tien (solar plexus and heart center) (middle reservoir), and Upper Tan Tien (brain, and crystal room) (upper reservoir). During its passage through the spine into the brain center the sexual energy is transformed. After the upper reservoir is filled, then the energy flows down the palate through the tongue down the throat into the heart nourishing it.
14. I TILL MY OWN FIELD (Tan Tien or Elixir Field). Inside my field is a magical sprout (the immortal fetus or the unborn spirit) that lives 10,000 years. The color of its flowers (opening of the consciousness and the wisdom) resembles gold and they do not wilt. Its seeds are like Jade pebbles. Its fruits are round. To cultivate it, I depend on the earth of the middle palace (the solar plexus). To irrigate it (the sexual energy reverse the flow up to the crown) I depend on the fountain of the upper valley. After much toil, I achieve the Great Tao and stroll freely through the earth becoming an Immortal of Peng Lai Island.
15. COWHERDER BRIDGE STARS symbolizes the yang elements of the heart, fire and compassion fire. He looks like a child which we call yang heart. In Taoist Text and the Christian Bible, they refer it as becoming like a child again which is the symbol of spiritual wisdom, innocence and simplicity. Extending out of the cowherderï¿½s crown, you find the Big Dipper, which symbolizes the connection of the heart to the heaven seeking harmony with the cosmos. The Taoist regard the Big Dipper as the cosmic timepiece. During the course of the year, the Big Dipper makes a 360 degree rotation pointing to all the stars collecting all the universal power in the Big Dipperï¿½s cup. The law of the heaven is called destiny and the law of the earth is called nature. The harmony between the destiny and the nature is the Tao, the great way. Those who follow the Tao fulfill their spiritual destiny and enjoy the fruit of the earthly nature. The Taoist way of life is to tap into the energies of the heaven and earth while blending and harmonizing them with the human energy in order to cultivate and conserve the vital force in our bodies. Heaven Forces manifest into the celestial energy and its power appears to us as thoughts, consciousness, fate and destiny. Healing Tao is the practice of connecting the heaven (destiny) and the earth (nature) together. Some system or religion separate the heaven and earth into two realm forcing us to choose one.
16. WITHIN THE 50 REALMS IS CONCEALED THE MYSTERIOUS GATEWAY is opposite the heart which has a close relation and connection to the heart that generates the Big Aura protecting the heart and the crown.
17a. LUNG SPIRIT HWA HAO FROM THE EMPTY IS COMPLETED is the power and ability of the lung to totally empty so it can received more. Each inhale and exhale of our body is the breath of the universe expanding and contracting.
17b. HEART SPIRIT TAN YUAN ALSO CALLED GUARDING SPIRIT is located in the liver area.
17c. GALL BLADDER SPIRIT LUNG AU ALSO CALLED MAJESTIC AND BRIGHT is located in the middle of the liver.
17d. LIVER SPIRIT LUNG YIEN ALSO CALLED CONTAINING WISDOM represents the liver, the largest organ of the body as a forest. In Taoism we regard the liver as the controller of the Chi flow. Too much Chi in one place can cause stagnation or congestion, and too little causes weakness and depletion. Both conditions are results of a liver imbalance. The weaver maid (kidneys) also receives the water from the sexual energy, but also makes water which helps the wood (liver) to grow while the liver provides fuel for the heart fire. Each organ is interdependent to each other.
17e. SPLEEN SPIRIT CHï¿½ANG TSAI ALSO CALLED SOUL PAVILION is located in the spleen area.
17f. KIDNEY SPIRIT HSUAN MING ALSO CALLED NOURISHING THE SEEDS. The kidneys store the constitution of inherited energy from our parents.
18. MIDDLE TAN TIEN (heart center) is surrounded by the pericardiumï¿½s ring of fire.
19. WEAVING MAIDEN CIRCULATES AND TURNS is yin (kidneys and water element) and the cowherder standing above her is yang. The weaving maid has the ability to store energy, and to go inward to maintain quietness. She weaves silk like garments out of moonlight (Moon Light and the Milky Way energies accumulated and stored in the lower Tan Tien) by using the mind with the gently, soft, long and deep breaths like spinning or pulling silk drawing in the cosmic force and weaving into an internal Chi Web or Network. The Chinese legend says that the cowherder and the weaving maid were lovers once, but they neglect their duties and were change into stars and put at the opposite ends of the sky. One night a year, celebrated as the loverï¿½s day about September 15, the birds make a bridge (the milky way) across the sky to join them together. Likewise our heart (spirit, fire, compassion fire, love, and destiny) and the kidneys (earth nature, water, sexual energy, and physical body) are separate since the day we were born and never met again. By reuniting again the heart essence (love and compassion fire) and the kidney essence (sexual energy) we can form the immortal fetus giving birth to it and growing it.
20. KIDNEY CAVE (GV-4, Ming Men, or Door of Life) is know as the door of fire which is the gate where the sexual energy will pass and help to transform us.
21. CORRECT TAN TIEN (Real Tan Tien) is located in front and below the kidneys just behind the navel closer to the spine.
21a. YIN AND YANG TAN TIEN are the four yin yang symbols represent the Tan Tien area (field of the elixir) located slightly below the navel approximately 3 inches near the sexual center. This area is the first alchemical cauldron. Tai Chi (yin and yang) represents the moving force. By using the mind, eyes and abdominal breathing to move the Chi and accumulate the sexual energy you will start to cook and be transformed it into Chi (steam) flowing through the channels of the entire body to repair and energize the cells.
22. NORTH SEA WATER FLOWS IN REVERSE is located the sacral hiatus (GV-2). When the sexual energy is pumped up to the crown (reversing the flow) due to the Healing Tao practices of Testicle and Ovarian Breathing, Power Lock, and the Big Draw through the spine to fill the Lower Tan Tien (kidney and sexual centers) (lower reservoir), the Middle Tan Tien (solar plexus and heart center) (middle reservoir), and Upper Tan Tien (brain, and crystal room) (upper reservoir). During its passage through the spine into the brain center the sexual energy is transformed. After the upper reservoir is filled, then the energy flows down the palate through the tongue down the throat into the heart nourishing, cooling, and irrigating it.
23. YIN AND YANG MYSTERIOUS WATER WHEEL is located at the perineum. Sexual energy is the most vital life force that humans inherit from their parents. We need this energy ( orgasm force) to run our life each day. In the Human way this sexual energy is like water, which tends always to run down and out. Each day we lose this force through sexual desire, greed, or unnecessary worldly materialism. We need to reverse this process causing the sexual energy (water and earth nature) to flow inward and upward. The boy and girl represent the testicles and the ovaries connected to the kidneys and eyes working on the water treadmill step by step pumping the water (sexual energy) upward. This is the beginning of the Healing Love practice with the testicle and the ovarian breathing. By starting to roll the eyes like a ball down the front and up the back, we begin to become aware of the testicles and the ovaries feeling them start rolling together with the eyes. Through this process a sea of sexual energy in the lower Tan Tien will transform into a lighter force flowing upward through the spine to the brain, glands, and organs rejuvenating them. 24. AGAIN AND AGAIN, STEP BY STEP is the yin and yang mystery (the boy and the girl, the testicle and the ovaries, the mind and the eyes) continuously turning the great pumps (the coccyx and the sacrum) to make the water (arousal and orgasm sexual energy) rise to the East (the crown). Even in a lake of 10,000 fathoms (Hui Yin, where all the yin energy of the body meets at the perineum) we should penetrate to the bottom where a sweet spring flows upward to the top of the south mountains (Trusting Meridian starts from the perineum up to the crown, and spreads out from the crown like a spring fountain).
25. THE IRON BULL TILLS THE GROUND AND PLANTS THE GOLDEN COIN is located at the lower Tan Tien around the navel connected to the spleen, ground and the earth connection to the spleen. The spleen center is the seed of the spirit and the life force (Chi). Once we are able to reverse the flow of the sexual energy, we can irrigate the dry land allowing us to till the soil to plant the magical golden sprout producing the golden round fruit
26. THE GOLD COIN. Once the land is ready, the seed of long life and wisdom (the immortal fetus or the gold coin) can be planted. All the land and the plants (our soul, spirit, mind, organs and glands) only need sexual energy to grow. The stone carving child strings them together. In one grain of rice the world mystery is hiding as the human form is the microcosm of the universe) and once we learn to understand and control our mind and ourselves, we will understand the mystery of the universe. In a small pot (either the lower, middle, or upper Tan Tien) we can cook all the mountains and rivers forces (natural forces), stars, moon, and sun forces (universal forces) and the primordial forces (cosmic particles) and combine them within ourselves to transform them into the higher force to form the IMMORTAL FETUS.
Three Jewels New York City, Lama Marut, Explorations of Emptiness Arya Nagarjuna 6/21/07
A traditional exercise practised by martial artists over the centuries, Standing Practise (Zhan Zhuang) is known for its surprising toughness (postures are traditionally held for at least 60 to 80 minutes) and for its ability to develop health, strengthen the bones and tendons, increase core stability, correct any muscular-skeletal misalignments (crucial for lop-sided sports like golf, javelin, tennis etc), increase sensitivity to balance, and develop a powerful competitive spirit
The six benefits of Standing Practise are as follows:
- Physical strength and stamina
- Lower Abdominal Breathing
- Opening the energy gates of the body
- Cultivation of intrinsic energy
Other benefits include correcting misalignments of the skeleton and cultivating a calm, aware mental state (’Here and Now’ thought). The more advanced posture you are going to learn here, will continue to help train all the above, and due to its intensity and demanding nature, it will help to prepare your mind for increased focus, intent and competitiveness.
San Ti Shi – Three Body Posture
The foundation of Xingyiquan (Hsing Yi Ch’uan) is its stance keeping practise of San Ti Shi, which means “Three Body Posture” or “Trinity Posture”. Hsing Yi Ch’uan is one of the three Chinese internal martial arts, alongside the more well-known T’ai Chi and the more esoteric style of Ba Gua Ch’uan. To get a rare glimpse of these ancient arts in action, watch a film called “The One”, staring Jet Li, in which he plays two roles – a good guy and a bad guy – the first using the fighting skills of Ba Gua Ch’uan and the other using Hsing Yi Ch’uan . These arts are known for their physical toughness and for their ability to develop the practitioner’s mind to a level where the mind sets the intent for the physical movement – Hsing Yi Ch’uan actually means “the mind that forms the fist”. The exercise you are going to learn here will help you set your mental intent for the movement skills of any sport and is particularly good if you are a competitive athlete, as it will help to increase your level of intent or desire by training your mind, breathing and nervous-system to stay focused yet relaxed under pressure.
San Ti Shi – How to Stand
- Stand with your feet about half shoulder width wide, the toes of both feet parallel and pointing straight forward
- Gently tuck under your lower back to take out the lumbar curve
- Unlock your knees and sink your weight into the balls of your feet
- Turn your right toes out about 45 degrees and shift your weight onto your right leg – then step forward with your left leg, keeping your left toes facing straight ahead
- Keep your weight 70% on your right leg and 30% on your left leg
- Keep your centre of gravity mid-way between your feet, rather than predominantly on either the right or left leg
- Turn your hips and shoulders 45 degrees to the right, matching the direction of your right toes – your eyes and head point straight forwards, in the direction of your left toes
- Relax your shoulders – bring your left arm in line with your left leg, arm and fingers pointing straight forward and your elbow relaxed and in line with your left knee
- Bring your right arm in front of you – waist height – and touch the outside edge of your right thumb against your lower abdomen, about 2″ below your navel (this is your T’an Tien – the body’s natural centre of gravity) – your right fingers point forward and your elbow is relaxed and holding your ribs
- Keep your chin tucked under, to take the curve from the neck and hold your head upright, imagining the crown of your head is suspended by a balloon on a thread
- Gently touch your tongue to the roof of your mouth
- Breathe in and out through your nose
- Relax all the muscles of your body and try to be aware of your breathing
- Look straight ahead
For a left back-stance (the opposite of that described above), simply mirror the posture on the other side of your body. Try 3 minutes each side at first and gradually work up to 10, 15 or 20 minutes each side.
What to expect
With your waist and shoulders facing right, while your eyes, fingers and intent are directed forward, you are learning to train your ability to release energy from the T’an Tien – your body’s natural centre of gravity – which is used all the time in sports yet rarely trained in isolation. In the martial arts, this stance is used to develop Fa Jing or explosive power in your punches, and if you want to experience this, try this exercise once you can hold the San Ti Shi posture each side for at least 5 minutes:
- Starting in San Ti Shi, sink your weight deeper into your feet
- Make a loose fist with your right hand
- Throw your hips forward and release the punch at waist height, keeping your shoulder, elbow and wrist relaxed – your punch should end up in line with your T’an Tien (2″ below your navel) – your hips and shoulders will now be facing forwards
- As you punch, simultaneously grip and pull your left hand back to your waist, turning your left closed fist upwards as you do so – feel as if you are grabbing and twisting someone’s belt-buckle and are pulling them towards you with your left hand, while punching with your right
- Focus on the T’an Tien – the pivot point around which the hips turn – this is an energy centre about the size of a golf ball, located 2″ below your navel. Imagine the ball rotating and that in turn, your hips, shoulders, arms and fists are all thrown into place as a result
If you really want to give yourself a challenge, try this exercise standing in front of a lighted candle and use the intent, relaxation and speed combined in your punch to generate enough force to put out the flame. Once you can do this up close to the candle, step back a little and try again.
Learning to hold the San Ti Shi stance for 10 or more minutes each side will really train your core stability muscles to keep you relaxed and poised while keeping only a narrow base. Usually we are comfortable with a wider base and generally stand and play sports with our feet under our shoulders. Narrowing your stance like this while lengthening your stride will help to lower your centre of gravity and increase your relaxation response, which in turn makes your body denser and stronger. This type of training also strengthens the bone marrow and tendons and is used a great deal in Traditional Chinese Medicine where it is considered a form of Chi Kung or energy training.
Having a strong intent and competitive nature is vital to achievement in sports, whether you are competing against others, against your own self, or against the time-marker on the treadmill. Masters’ level swimmers who have trained in San Ti Shi, agree that their intent pool-side while warming up and getting ready to enter the water has increased dramatically, as has their opponents reactions to them on account of their indomitable body-language (a much over-looked weapon in the athlete’s arsenal). I believe San Ti Shi can be used to great advantage by any athlete who has to face the starting blocks in some form or another. I have even worked with a potential Formula 1 driver who has used San Ti Shi as part of her race preparation including psyching herself up on the grid at the start of a race.
Any time you need to initiate an all-out performance of pure action without heed to reaction, internal chatter or self-observation, then San Ti Shi is the training tool for you. But remember, the exercise really starts to work, just at the point when your mind wants to give up (”I’m bored”, “this hurts”, “God, is that only two minutes?”).
Stay with it, relax and breath and in no time you’ll be stronger, quicker, ready for competition, and above all, focused. Next time, we will look at elements of T’ai Chi for extreme and endurance sports.
- The Tao of Yi Quan – Warriors of Stillness, Volume II, by Jan Diepersloot
- Xing Yi Nei Gong – Health Maintenance and Internal Strength Development, Edited by Dan Miller and Tim Cartmell
This article, written by Jane Storey, appeared in Issue 37 of the Successful Coaching Newsletter (November 2006).
About the Author
Jayne Storey is a specialist in T`ai Chi and uses this to help athletes and teams with balance, posture, body-mechanics, attention control, co-ordination, stress management, mindfulness….and also to create the right internal conditions for accessing the sporting zone/flow state. Jayne can be contacted through her website at www.jaynestorey.com