Taoist Yoga has always been a bit weird. Swallowing spit, semen retention, tonic herbs, and lots of time alone breathing to the naval. The question is- what is all of this about and why practice in this way?
To understand Taoist Alchemy, Taoist Qi Gong, and the development of the Taoist Light Body, one must understand the relationship of HEAVEN, EARTH, Fire, and Water. There are different forms of Taoist Schools out there. My tradition (Tao Tan Pai) is a “Steam” based Taoist School. What does all of this mean? Let’s delve into it…
In the I Ching, there are a series of Trigrams which represent the various aspects or emanations of phenomena in nature. These are pictographically displayed by combinations of either solid (YANG) lines, or broken (YIN) ones. The various combinations of these lines create a complex binary system of relations and correspondences which equal the 64 emanations of the I Ching. People spend their entire lives studying this stuff and are still amazed by the depth of it. We’re going to keep it really simple here so we can better understand Taoist Yoga.
Notice how HEAVEN has three unbroken YANG lines and how EARTH has three broken YIN lines. These are the symbols for PURE YIN/YANG in Taoist Alchemy. Now, in the trigrams to the right, we see that FIRE is similar to HEAVEN but the central line is now a broken YIN line. On our plane of existence, the early Taoists observed that Fire always needed some SUBSTANCE to consume and burn- hence the YIN line in the middle- energy surrounding substance. The trigram for WATER looks like the EARTH trigram except the central line is now a YANG line. This is how water, being is soft and flowing as it is, carries the power to carve out the Grand Canyon. Force within softness.
So how does this apply to Taoist Alchemy and Taoist Yoga? Well, the essence of Taoist Light Body training is to return our human vehicle back to the state of primordial perfection- the pure Yang and Yin states of HEAVEN and EARTH- the fusion of which is Tao- Oneness with the Universe. There are many ways to achieve this according to the various Taoist Schools out there. Again, my system is a “Steam” based system- some cultivate Fire and refine it to its source HEAVEN energy and others work primarily with Water and purify themselves to connect with the primordial EARTH energy. In the Tao Tan Pai system, we use Fire and Water together to generate STEAM inside the body and use that steam to open up vital energy centers and awaken the spiritual third eye.
In Taoist Yoga and Taoist Qi Gong, there are many ways to cultivate the Qi energy and refine it into shen. However, in Taoist Nei Gong (or inner alchemical work), there is more going on than just circulating Qi. We create a powerful dynamo in the lower dantien where we house the fire. Then, with specialized breathing and mudras, we swallow the saliva in a certain way and allow it to “steam” up once it hits the lower dantien. This steam then rises to the third eye and drives the “Heavenly Dew” to descend from the Pineal gland and this creates a very powerful circuit of refinement and distillation of vital essences in the human frame. This is the basis of how Taoist Light Body work is started in my Taoist school. For the serious student, I refer you to this Ebook recently published on the Western Alchemical tradition (http://bookofaquarius.forgottenbooks.org/) so you can compare notes and see how in Taoist Alchemy, we internalize this process and bind or consciousness to it instead of an externalized -out of body methodology.
I’ve had many questions emailed to me about this subject recently so I hope this blogpost helps. The idea of an Online Taoist School is new and much of Taoist Yoga is taught through direct transmission but I find it cool to be able to share ideas and teach philosophy online. I hope this helps 🙂