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Preface This is a basic post meant as a simple (yet also deep) guide and reminder to living with particular emphasis from the perspective of (jing) conservation. This piece does not talk about methods of jing tonification or replenishment1 which are different though inter-related issues. Rather, this provides foundational philosophy and perspectives with a few guiding lifestyle suggestions to consider in practicing conservation. I will note that many of the suggestions appear basic and they are. Yet most people fail to take care of the roots and the foundations: if you don't take care of the foundation at its roots, any accomplishment you come to at a more advanced level will be built on unstable ground and therefore eventually and likely come to some kind of fail. This includes people who experience aspects of the Void and become fearful of the existential, people who witness Tao and walk away in carelessness or disappointment, people who see some aspect of metaphysical light but cannot access them again or more profoundly, people who find bliss but become drunken, or people who have years and decades of cultivation that just one day simply get up and walk away in disillusionment, disheartened even given all their progress and effort. So, practitioners who come to resolve and completion on this path are people who care for and attend to the most basic until each succession of what is basic becomes what is fantastical to the novice. This is what makes the understanding deep, rich and profound; this is what allows it to become complete and enduring; this how existence transcends itself to become immortal. So, it is encouraged that after you read this, you take the time to assess what additional and specific changes you could make in your life to commit to improving your vitality- not only physiologically but also psychologically (which has more implication upon shen- the spiritual aspect of consciousness that resides with each yin organ (including zhi shen). Then as you regularly apply and assimilate these commitments into your life, consciously reflect upon how you can both broaden and deepen your understanding so as to refine your methods over time. Do this for the rest of your life. Every one who goes deep starts from a beginning over and over again, but what is the beginning becomes something completely anew with each successive cleansing and resolve, and what is basic in time becomes deep and profound if you are astute, diligent and sincere. As per usual and with few exceptions, I rarely post to a thread more than once. For those who continue this thread, please be mindful- post with generosity and take care that you words and ideas are posted with intention for benevolence. Share thoughtfully what you feel you know in yourself to be of value and benefit. Be as truthful as you understand while being kind. When we cultivate in ourselves strong yi (yi- spirit of the spleen organ whose virtue is intention), we can create greater shen for all beings (shen- spirit of the heart whose virtue is awareness and consciousness). ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Reference Notes for the following reading: Jing- is the primordial essence of existential potential and the root of vital energy. It also is one of the Three Treasues integral to the transmutation processes of internal alchemy. [Note that jing itself is not a tangible substance- though it becomes most notably the substance of semen and ovum; but as iterated above, it is an essence first and foremost before it transmutes into additional forms of (post-natal) qi.] Jing's associations are as follows, primarily because it manifests through the Water phase of the Kidneys: (thus these are direct notes about the Water element and Kidney organ as they relate to jing, but not necessarily directly about jing itself. Understanding the elemental phase from which jing arises and/or is associated is helpful to guiding health and living principles) Wu Xing Phase is: Water Housed in the Yin organ: Kidney Spiritual Axis and Stage: Heart (shao yin) Mother of: Wood Child of: Metal Seasonal phase: Winter Associated Gland: Adrenals Tissue governance: Bone Orifice opening: Ears Flavor quality: Salty Color of light: Blue Emotion: Fear Virtue: Faith Shen Spirit: Zhi Other terms Chong mai- the central channel deep within the core of the body running from perineum to crown that passes through the Triple Burners where primary subtle transmutations occur Shen- spirit, and for the purposes of this post refers to any one of five spirits that govern the yin organs of the body Principles of Conservation in Action and Non-Action The principle of conservation is a simple one, yet can be exceptionally sophisticated and deep. Pertaining to Jing, it is to prevent leakage and loss in each moment on a daily basis so that one can: -have vital essence from which to live a healthy, vibrant life -manifest the infinite potential in the ming of xing from jing (must be done in concert with Yuan Shen in wei wu wei from the Unnamable) -prolong existence so as to continue cultivation towards greater Consciousness (also known as part of the transmutation process of the The Three Treasures) [Notice that if you read these three points about why we conserve jing it is not so we can have egoic power to live forever, have more fun and attain more magical states- this isn't a celebrity contest to be novel and have a forever good time. Which isn't to say it isn't mystical and unimaginably beautiful- but it is also a sacred process and I encourage that those who have these kinds of feelings continue to work on their minds and hearts, to deepen their 'spiritual maturity'. It takes a combination of great fortitude, humility and wisdom to come to recognize this path for all that it is, let alone fulfill it through yourself. This in turn requires a depth of essence inherent to what manifests as the virtues of diligence, integrity and heartfelt courage. So every time you feel these stirrings of superiority, grandiosity, passionate zeal and desire, or conversely feel deep doubt, have reservation or fear your capacity- let it all go and just keep moving inherently, deeply, sincerely and unceasingly from the most essential place you know in yourself.] Just as jing can be conserved with awareness, diligence and care, it can also be lost through unconsciousness, wastefulness and careless expenditure, especially those that go above and beyond our most basic and foundational energy. In modern life, the propensity towards excess in living automatically leads to imbalance that can cause deficiency at a deeper physical and energetic level in the body, leading to disease manifested as aging and ultimately death. Three most basic, daily and common ways you can immediately begin working to conserve jing from the perspectives of: LIFESTYLE WELLNESS AND BALANCE: Be balanced and moderate in actions; do not over exert. For instance, do not work long hours, over-think, over exercise, stay up late, allow your emotions to be become stressed or upset. Do not consume caffeinated or high sugar drinks or foods to push your body to function beyond their basic healthful limit- this pulls energy from your reserves and taxes the adrenal system- the adrenals which are the glands of the kidneys and thus this will cause jing to be extracted. Do not indulge regularly in addictive substances- in most cases, the condition of 'getting high' draws from the jing and pushes out our reserves so that people can experience sensational phenomena through uncontrolled (and therefore not fully conscious) altered states (if you want to know bliss, god, and unceasing beauty, learn to find it from within naturally through your own heart and Consciousness. Through transcendent wisdom in meditation one comes to understand this beyond all measure and through all moments in ways that no drug, medicine or supplement can compare). Eat on time, and eat moderately so that you do not have to draw from the reserves from your body and so that the process of qi creation through the chong mai are not depleted progressively as it transmutes through each of the three burners. Drink a plentiful amount of clean fresh, vibrant water through out the day.2 Note: -as said in Taoism, "the highest good is like water" (implications which are both literal but also progressively energetically subtle, nuanced and deep) -the body is made almost entirely of water -all the jin ye (heavy and light) fluids of the body require fresh water to function -the kidney itself is the water organ in the wu xing phase To the degree that you think your life is 'too busy' or that 'you must' do certain things or that you feel your situation demands your extra energy to succeed, achieve or survive re-assess your perspective, remember that everything you do in life is a choice- even if some choices are difficult to make. Consider more deeply or profoundly what is essential- essence being not of the body or ideation of the mind, but of the yuan (original) in the universe. If you are a woman, until you learn the secrets to healthily cease menstruation (this is NOT the same as going into menopause- contrary) take care of your health so that your hormones are balanced during the moon phase and that your bleeding is fresh, bright and minimal. Menstruation and blood are in many ways for women analogous to the treasure of what jing is in men, so you must learn to conserve blood loss and smooth emotions/ hormones while purifying the menstrual blood. Menstrual blood that is dark, thick, heavy or excessive are signs of serious health issues in Chinese medicine and need to be addressed through lifestyle and dietary changes as well as with a trained practitioner. If you are perimenopausal, know there are ways- however rare but entirely possible, to restart your period. If you are late into menopause, then all the same lifestyle suggestions here apply but in particular you will be benefited by healthful methods of tonification because as noted later below, within most degrees generally and practically, it takes energy to make energy- so more tonification in this case will help with conservation, particularly if you can nourish the blood and focus on qi gong for the liver and breasts. SEXUAL INTIMACY AND HEALTH: When sexually engaging do so consciously, from a place of generosity and in mutual reciprocity where there is a foundation of clear, healthy trust and intimacy. Abstain from sexual behavior that is objectified, sexualized in action, thought and/or emotion whether it is with another person, a projection or image of another. The act of sexualization and/or objectification leads to perpetuation of leakage out the kidneys, eyes and penis- not only during masturbation or ejaculation, but upon mental and emotional provocation as well. Do not engage in random, casual or ungenerous and selfish sexual behaviors alone, with a partner or through 'fantasy' this reduces the opportunity for natural dual-circulation that can help heal and replenish the body, heart and subtle energy systems at the least and at the worse can increase the potential for deep hurt and harm to yourself and others, individually, inter-personally and collectively. To the degree that you suffer from forms of sexual addiction or unconscious habituation (ie. wanting sex out loneliness or emptiness; for vanity, control or power; viscerally unconscious base desires, etc), remove all forms of sexual stimulus from your life until you come to understand what is actually 'sexuality' free from socialized or unconscious base impulse. Instead, focus your attention on healthful life things. When you feel a strong urge or have a strong reaction to something- stop and bring great awareness to yourself. If you are in a healthy and secure relationship, make sure sharing intimacy is done in conscious presence with a mutually open heart and in generosity to each other. This alone if done with enough genuine care, will allow for a certain potential or opportunity for dual-circulation and/or at least mutual health even if neither persons entirely can recognize, sense or understand its technical processes. If you are abstaining from sexual engagement all together make sure that you are resolved. Without true resolve around the matter, conditions of stagnation and turbidity are likely to accumulate whether this is through suppression, repression, or other unconscious desire and fear. For health, flow, and to prevent negative accumulation, continue some measure of circulation until the system is fully purified; meaning in most cases that ejaculating (or some other more subtle clarified form if you are more advanced in your practice) on a rare occasion- will prevent imbalances to various layers of the system, including negative build-up and injury from excess, or conversely depression and increasing weakness in the body. Until the layers of the system are replete with shen to naturally circulate and refine the jing unaided, some measure of continued physical flow through the genital from a sacred inner place can be beneficial. The point in any case is to not simply abstain or not abstain from unconsciousness- be this a mindless procedure of discipline, fear or desire, listlessness or lust. MENTAL-EMOTIONAL and SPIRITUAL WISDOM: Find peace and faith; learn to release fear and do not engage doubt. (Note that not engaging doubt does not mean to relinquish discernment nor does it mean to have either blind faith nor harbor distrust) Fear is the emotion of the kidney that drains the organ's energy and source of jing. Doubt or the lack of faith (not meant from so much from a Western perspective but from the Taoist perspective of lacking trust in the mundane and existential mysterious) are opposing forces to the virtue of zhi- the spirit of the kidneys. People who live in perpetual fear and (particularly existential) distrust have a propensity to exert there will inappropriately (either forcing situations or giving up. As a side note, I also often observe greater levels of procrastination in those who have a constitutional predisposition to water) and cause harm to jing and more importantly, the zhi shen itself. Symptoms of these imbalances include feeling 'frozen' by fears, lacking faith about the course of things in your or other people's lives, doubting the potential of the existential, in yourself and in others; these are highly dangerous and harmful perspectives that come from a lack of clarity in the (organ) spirits. In fact, for so many the unfulfilled life, the unfilled dream, the doubt in whether this (spiritual) path is possible or true, is so integral to these emotions and perspectives. So when we look at jing from a more essential perspective of essence and spirit rather than purely as (post-natal) qi, we come to recognize that how we orient our mind, heart and spirit- and thus our perspective to existence can deeply impact our essence, and thus our actions and the outcomes of our life- including existence and non-existence, life and death. Among other practices, two of the most powerful to target the nature of the kidney and zhi is to dutifully practice 1) deep self-reflection in all moments- particularly when you experience fear or feel deep doubts and 2) to learn meditation that develops the capacity to listen into the silence of Nothing. Remember that the ears are the orifice of the kidneys and that deep self-reflection is the movement between the spiritual poles of kidney and heart. In time, once you have arrived at a certain successive mastery of these very basic life actions, go back to the foundation of the applied philosophy and move deeper. That is: Be still internally (in the spiritual and at the utmost, true stillness requires internal silence, the state of sung, and arrives through wisdom found through meditation), while in vibrant circulation (circulation which was once discrete circuits of the mundane body of qi as well as physical actions and behaviors in living; now becomes the movement of essences and treasures- including jing, and then eventually what is beyond essence and is radiant). When you can make living the same as conservation, the issue of either conditions will resolve and be no longer. Thus, refine your understanding of what it means to not-strive, be moderate, and to be free of desire and fear until your recognition is no longer mundane, until the energetic system and its spirits (the shens) do not move from unconscious impulse and until you are free of all notions that lead to such impulses- not only now in this life time and this moment, but across all planes and dimensions that are the field of time, space and dimension that become the thing you experience to be body and spirit. This is how we cleanse the 'karmic' to prepare the 'body' for the utmost forms of profundity. ------------- Footnotes and Miscellaneous Note: Note to cultivators who are middle-aged or later in life and/or those who are sincere and exceptionally serious in progressing along this path: If you are starting this process now, I suggest that in addition to the above, spend as much leisure time focusing on cleansing and/or purification as the means to actually conserve. Without a properly pure and bright system at all levels, jing can only be cultivated so far- so in order to go deep, you must make sure the system is very clear. The later one starts this process and/or the more accumulation a person has to work through (whether this is mental, emotional, physical or karmic) the more complex it is to minimize the loss of jing over time and thus hinder decline. This is because, if nothing else, as people age they have a phsyiological propensity toward less and less resources within themselves to achieve daily functions and balance, therefore all living increasingly must draw on the foundation of vital jing (rather than post-natal stomach and spleen) qi to act and survive, and eventually even down to the Sea of Marrow (these are bone and blood systems in Taoist medicine). Because the deeper process of systemic purification requires an intense energy of focus and application- particularly if it involves the density of physicality, in order to cultivate a more ascendant form and to refine and transmute more subtle energies, it actually requires a lot of energy. So it takes energy to make energy- energy which you may have less of depending on your constitution and/or level of health if you are deficient or burdened. (Note that once the system reaches are certain level of purity, the system will circulate in a more optimal manner and then this principal changes in certain deep and nuanced regards) Therefore, it is best to spend all time devoting energy to caring for your energy: spend your jing wisely! 1 True jing replenishment and tonification- that is what is deep and substantial enough to make an impact that is profound and lasting enough for transmutation, exceptional longevity or immortality; only truly begins after one has sufficient mastery of conservation in their living and adequately purified the system to the degree where shen and aspects of shen can begin to guide the process. Notice here that people who talk of subtle orbital circulation as a mental-physiological procedural process of qi have not realized True Nature (xing) and that spiritual maturity, greater depth and more profound realization is required to fulfill this process clearly and truly. 2 Regarding Water: those who have cultivated to a very advanced level will note that the start and end phases of all existential processes in the system begin and end with water, breath, and light- so water, like breath and shen, are core to cultivation. Students of mine who in early phases are dismissive when asked to take inventory of how much water they drink through out a day, trivialize a core aspect of the foundational root and thus foolishly jeopardize their potential towards more profound cultivation- not so much exactly because of this one thing, but because of the totality of their perspective in depth and breadth that leads to continually misguided perception born from unconsciously entrenched notions. There is a lot of Western conception that objectifies water into a mere mundane scientifically discrete particle and so much emptily spoken rhetoric around 'drink X ounces of water a day' that others hear the mere suggestion and automatically dismiss it as trite at some level while superficially nodding in agreement at its importance to one another at another level. Deep listening means the potential for deep recognition. Deep recognition leads eventually to profound understanding. And in time, that leads to wisdom; if you can do this in all moments, through all things, your understanding of what is existence and its manifestations will change beyond all conception. Take that to heart. And recognize that what is wise, is often simple. Be so humble so as to be sincere when being basic. Strive less to achieve all Taoist advancements yet be utterly profound in your sincerity and inherent in your diligence and you will surpass any need for stages and levels.
I do have to say it has always been a little frustrating asking my male teachers about female cultivation questions. Fortunately they have all been married, and also had female students before (though not usually ones who asked such frank questions I don't think lol). But still... fortunately they were honest enough to reply with a lot of "I think" and "I don't know". Also a lot of the research in some cases has been more modern due to the lack of good historical aspects written about or passed down. Though I have been told the yin style Bagua folks have a lot of the women's cultivation and health stuff. Also JAJ has some in his books, some from his teachers, some from other books, and some from having female students. But aside from all that... not much out there. I'm just starting to read a book recommended by Zanshin in her PPF....