Riding the Phoenix to Penglai - poems of Sun Bu-Er

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Riding the Phoenix to Penglai is a recently published book including translated poems of Sun Bu-Er, noted Taoist Adept of the Complete Reality School, and commentary by Jill Gonet.


Here is an excerpt describing the book, and a review. The book is available for purchase here.


We are honored to have members who have been practicing in accordance with the instructions contained in this book, and it is our hope that a discussion extending beyond textual theories may unfold here to the mutual benefit of everyone involved.


As this book resolves around a female perspective on internal alchemy, there may be some subtle nuances that differ from what those of us find in the more male-centric classics of internal alchemy. Further, it is very easy for the masculine to trample over the feminine principle without listening long enough for the subtle depths to emerge. As this has already happened once, this new thread will be moderated and biased against comments that are not supportive to an environment of mutual collaboration in regards to this text. When people have to fight to be heard, stillness is left behind and the subtle remains hidden. When we surrender what we think we know and open to new possibilities, we may be surprised at what emerges as our perspective is invited to shift.



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Thank you  gracious Daeluin for creating this space.


 I am posting  from my person experience practice results from training I received for   Taming the Dragon what is traditionally  called Dragon Tiger Mating. 


I enter the state of Xian then  pass through the gate of Xuan to the Void.


 As I  become more and more relaxed a primary circulations takes over.


My mind is empty, my intuition stopped.


No thought of any kind. Body sensation with  Authentic Spirit leading a spontaneous  movement.


From the top of my head to  the tips of my toes the energy coming in is hot, heavy ( very , very heavy)and descending and contracting.


My whole body contracts from the  outside moving inward in what feels like  a multidimensional spiraling  motion.


The belt meridian then  contracts to the  point that  my navel touches my life gate curling my body  somewhat forward.


Simultaneously  my chin connects to  my big toes and beings moving  backward and forward  kneading the  qi like  bread or   like rocking a baby in a cradle.


 This movement of the  head connected to  the earth and the feet enhances the  energy between the  lower dantien, the jade pillow area , the front of the  forehead and the  sacrum.


My arms may  move with the  hand, wrist and elbow positions changing to direct the qi. Then  the pelvic floor opens , the earth gate expands to encompass all below.  


My knees bend  up and down kneading  the energy more purifying.


I  stand with this  flow of energy until it naturally shift. When it returns from the earth it travels  in multidimensional spirals up the  inside of my legs  but it feels like there are no legs only a  tunnel straight up the center of my body in front of the  spine out the of of my head into eternity.


 This energy feels light and cooler but still warm.


While this circulation is occurring the energy in the sacrum becomes very hot and starts pumping qi up the du meridian and down the ren.


The lower dantien then begins to spin like a gyroscope condensing.


The  pumping action of the sacrum then spreads through my entire body and acupuncture points  all over my body begin to  heat or cool synchronizing with the  pumping feeling at the sacrum and lower dantein then connect with  stars.  


The colors on my mind screen vary sometimes a Mandela of crimson with swirling gold sometimes a beautiful Caribbean  sea blue with gold swirling, other times a static solid white yields to  a dark black with  white chevrons speckled through.  Depending on  the organ system(s) being upgraded.


The qi is so strong and palatable I often wonder if my legs are strong enough to hold the weight.


 The strength of it feels like my body might  break.


But then it all changes and become elastic .


The sacrum is more static and the qi is less centralized, it   comes and goes rippling through my muscles and tendons , soaking into the bones.


I know the bathing has completed.


The final phase is cold.


Cold being misted out of my body for hours.


Ice cold in the midday sun, in the heat of summer.


Cold moving out from the  center of my very being returning to the earth. . 

Edited by quantumdragon
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As poem 4 has been published publicly, I'll make a humble attempt at a commentary.




静极能生动, 阴阳相与模。

风中擒玉兔, 月里捉金乌。


鹊桥重过处, 丹气复归炉。


Taming the Dragon (poem 4)


Great stillness generates movement,

Yin and Yang posture and pattern in relation to each other.

Catch the jade rabbit from the wind

and clutch the gold tortoise from the moon.

Become aware of the subtlety of warmth and timing.

Listen attentively at the crossroads of following and going against.

Once past the place of the magpie bridge

the elixir Qi returns to the stove again.

                                                             (trans. Jill Gonet)


And after careful consideration, I am removing the commentary to avoid confusing others. First, this was commentary on one poem of a set of poems. All of the poems are important, and people should study them all, not just one. Second, I have not mastered the merging of the dragon and tiger, and without absolute clarity and mastery any commentary would not lead true enough. Many pieces of my commentary were pointing in the right direction, but some were backwards and out of place within the set of poems. I revised this post several times and was not getting the sense it was clear enough. Third I cannot be certain the specific terminology used in these poems does not encode specific differences between male and female cultivation practice.


I'll leave here that the crossroads of following and going against might be related to hexagrams 17 and 54. The dragon and tiger are related to the trigrams of Thunder and Lake, which are explored in these two hexagrams. As Liu Yiming's commentary in Thomas Cleary's Taoist I Ching speaks specifically to the alchemical process, I would recommend this source first.


In regards to the trigrams, please keep in mind lake wants to be joyous, but in doing so will release what it has stored. When it turns inward and empties itself of joyous desire, what is missing becomes replenished and transformation unfolds. Use this principle to return within when the mundane encroaches - explore how this relates to the thoughts and the breath. I believe this is related to the concept of withdrawing the yin response. Thunder is sudden and unfolds from deep stillness. When the noise of wind and water are loud one only hears the manifestations of thunder, not the thunder itself. To reach that original clap of thunder, settle deep within, breathe to the lower abdomen and in emptiness see what arouses from the depths. Continue in stillness, and so encourage the arousing of the thunder. I believe this is related to the concept of advancing the yang fire.


And also, following and going against refers to the natural order of the five elements and the backwards order of the five elements. It is said that if the five elements do not interact in their reverse cycle, the dragon and tiger will not copulate. [Zhong Lu Chuan Dao Ji / Eva Wong] But of course it is much more complex than this. Here is an interesting exploration of how the five elements may be explored in the layer of virtues, such that in resting upon the direction of the controlling force, one is able to adapt and harmonize without attachment to any particular bias, desire, emotion, constantly using the inherent checks and balances of the five elemental forces to create balance and harmony, to create centered-ness. And as this is achieved at the post-celestial layer of the organs, the reversal process is able to manifefst, which I believe allows the creation of the pre-celestial medicines from the post-celestial qi's. But don't take my word for it. Please study the daoist classics on your own, refer to this, and humbly allow a teacher who has mastered themselves to help you identify your blind spots. Blessings to your way. :wub:

Edited by Daeluin
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Thus the taming of the dragon, and the mating of the dragon and tiger.

I am speechless.That is so brilliant. I am going to need to study  what you have written. 

Edited by quantumdragon

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Daeluin, this is truly a breath of what I was hoping for by participating in this forum. My practice is very experience based. The practices in the school I study with are specific for developing and experiencing certain purposes; i.e. beginning with small universe, large universe, extraordinary meridian development and extending to yin/yang, 5-element phase and other more advanced applications. Many times during my practice, I will have a certain experience or realization which I will then later see in written form based on traditional texts that I have no prior experience with. Reading and contemplating these texts and commentary then deepen and extend my understanding. Riding the Phoenix to Penglai is an example of this and also what you just posted in your commentary of Ms. Gonet's translation of Poem 4. Like quantumdragon, I will reflect on your understanding of Poem 4 to see how it jibes with my experience.  I hope you obtain a copy of her book so there is more open conversations in this thread regarding her translations and commentary. 

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Daeluin, Quantumdragon and Stone into Jade, thank you for the discussion.  I found Riding the Phoenix to Penglai to be an exceptional guidebook for women cultivators (men as well).   Imagine ancient poems on attaining immortality to be translated in a truly readable, practical, and straight-forward manner!    


The translated poems paralleled some of the experiences I have had in my qigong practice. I particularly appreciated the chapters on nourishment and bigu because I have found dietary up-grades to be part of the transformation process.  This process is so clearly, accurately and beautifully described in Ms. Gonet's translation.


As the organ information changes with the accumulation and refinement of Qi and internal energetic interactions, the normal organ function changes as well to utilize more refined sources of energy.  Food energy (calories) is one kind of energy.  Sunlight and moonlight is quite another kind of energy.  With a more refined energy body, all sorts of energy sources become available for consumption other than food.  "With all of creation laid out before one, the cultivator looks upon a vast array of possible sources/enhancers of energy.  And with astuteness, one will know which energy/essence is best at which time in a given situation." pg. 71  Oh boy, I have found this to be so true!


At a certain point in the cultivation process, my body required a switch from ordinary food to more refined choices.  The first step for me was the rejection of grains.  i was so shocked when my body responded with pain any time I attempted to eat a grain product!  I couldn't believe it!  My body knew before my mind did.  It makes perfect sense that if we wish our Qi to flow freely, we do not wish to line our insides with "paste." (pg. 73)


Then with a twice daily practice, longer practices, and honoring seasonal fasts, my lungs began to express their true nature which is one of judgement, dignity, and discernment.  When my food choices were poor, my nose ran (I later learned the lungs and nose are closely related).  Eating even a bite too much made my nose run.  Also, my pancreas, the organ of harmony, let me know if my choices were correct or not through pain or warmth in my big toes!  The body becomes a very accurate tool, friend and guide to assist in further refinement of itself!


It makes sense too because as the body becomes more efficient and purified, it's required needs change.  Qigong practice is much more than accumulating Qi.  It is about refining the body's consciousness.  Food most definitely has it's own consciousness (information) as does each organ.  How is your selection going to interact with your body?  Will it raise or lower your consciousness?  The body is able to provide very helpful and practical information regarding your choice.  For me, this area has been a critical part of the cultivation process.  Qi accumulation and benefit is more quickly realized when the diet supports the process. 


The development of the lungs as the nourishment center rather than the stomach allows the body to effectively use Qi as food.  The body makes the adjustment from the stomach (calories and food), to the lungs (Qi and breath).  The stomach then requires less and less food.  This is a very natural process with regular practice and internal energy interactions.  "As the lungs become more primary in nourishing the body, the stomach cooperates with this shift and actually may no longer desire foods that the cultivator may have previously enjoyed a great deal." pg. 73  This is exactly what happened to me!  My body very naturally shifted.


You might think that the practitioner losses a lot of weight, but actually the weight stays pretty stable.  The body thrives on a more refined energy source when it is prepared to do so, but it is a process.


There comes a point where the cultivator realizes the importance of changing outdated concepts about eating; wishes to honor the body; and desires to move forward in the cultivation process.  It can be challenging to deal with the socio-cultural expectations.  Ms. Gonet offers practical suggestions and advice throughout these chapters which I found helpful and true! 


Have you had some of these experiences too?  I really appreciate this forum and the discussion.  Thanks everybody.

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Rainbowvein, your connection with Sun Bu'er is most definitely expressed through the lovely poem.    The beautiful connection is capable of transforming the consciousness of arrogance, competitiveness and other low consciousness which can easily lurk just below the seemingly refined exterior.  Homage to the heavenly Sun Bu'er!

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I cannot agree with you more freedomrose. Sun Bu"er is a wonderful teacher with great " pruning shears" for postnatal energies. As Ms. Gonet mentions in her commentary this can feel quite severe.

I welcome the severity. When I feel  the feeling of  "severity" I know my ego has identified with something that is not De.

I thank , in great gratitude, any and all guidance from  the  Immortal Sister leading me to  understand, realize what an act of love disciplining a student is.

I have had some "severe suggestions"  and great support for transformations regarding my participation in the old Pengali Thread. There it is  for everyone to see , my post natal state. What joy to be exposed in order to learn, have realizations and insights to bring into my practice purifying the  Organ systems. . 

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