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Questions on Yangshen

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According to neidan literature, Quanzhen, etc. what exactly is the relationship between the Yangshen or immortal body and the Dao as Absolute? Does the practitioner "merge" into the Dao, does his sense of self get annihilated? Or is it that something remains, a sort of "fusion without confusion"?

 

Furthermore, what is the relationship between what is variously termed Mind or Atman, awareness, etc. pure consciousness and the Yangshen? We know that in Zen, other forms of Buddhism, and Vedanta, liberation is a matter of realization or awakening, of dispersing ignorance through enlightened wisdom of our true nature. How does this compare with neidan conceptions?

 

It is known that reverting shen to the Dao or Void is part of the neidan process, but what does this entail? Quanzhen, discussing the difference of their path with that of Buddhism, emphasized the ability to manifest the yangshen, with a famous story being of Lu Dongbin (I believe) and a Buddhist monk manifesting and Lu Dongbin being able to eat and drink while the Buddhist was only able to gulp air or something like that. What is the significance of this? 

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One of the significance of Taoist alchemy is  its emphasize on the difference between yin shen(spirit) and Yang shen ; such an emphasize not only  makes it different  from  Buddhism ,but  also makes it stand out from other religious ways of nourishing supernatural abilities.

 

Differences between these two spiritual forms  likely are as follows:

 

1)  Taoist alchemical theory tells us that  there is a dose of yang called yang-jing (陽精) ,  hidden somewhere  in our body that makes our  existence and  growth possible .All  other stuff after our  adolescence  are yin-typed  and subject to aging.  An immortal Yangshen , therefore , can only be  a mind or spirit   nourished  and uplifted by this secret yang -jing and the incoming   primordial qi that it later brings in .

 

 

 Because of this , any methods or ways , not making use of  the mentioned jing and qi  to achieve a spiritual accomplishment , can  hardly be  anything yang, but a  yinshen , regardless of  whatever wonderful  spiritual feeling  or ability that  it can  give you .

 

 

 This is also the  main argument , although not 100 % impartial , that Taoism blames Zen ( always in a polite way)and other similar religious ways , for their not following the Taoist jing-qi-shen way.  For examples, way asking people to project  their mind on an  mirror so as to nourish their mental abilities;  or way of singing the names of  some unknown , unreliable spirits so as to speed up their practice ..etc.

 

 

2) Although both Yangshen and yinshen can exist outside the body , their  freedom from physical limitations and their abilities in handling physical objects varied . For example, Yangshen can exist under sunlight , yinshen can't ; Yangshen can bring physical objects along with it and travel  , a spirit which you unfortunately come across in an old ,worn  hotel room , for example,  its utmost ability likely is  limited to turning on/off  the lighting of  your room or making some strange noises.

 

 

3) While Yangshen's leave of  the physical body is a mature product of  having enough   jing and qi ( pre-heavenly)  accumulated and nourished , some kind of  deliberate effort ; yinshen , its departure from the body is a result of  the depletion of  jing and qi  , an involuntary process.

 

 

4) Yangshen is free of entering and leaving the physical body at his own will ,  and  can determine its own fate because it is an outcome of a deliberate cultivation  ; on the other hand, a yinshen ,once left its physical base, can't determine its own fate or where to go .. , but succumbs to the karma brought along  with itself from past lives.

 

 

5) Yangshen , is a great mindless Mind that go wherever he likes  , explore whatever frontier he dares, split what forms he can  ;  yinshen , on the other hand ,is just a narrow spirit  entangled by  regrets, hatreds and attachments.
 
P.S. One of the most confusing posts I ever wrote on this forum . Although having revised by me many times, its clumsiness can still be seen  and since it seems difficult to be further improved,  I just leave it what it is . Sorry to those who ever tried reading such a difficult  piece..

 

Edited by exorcist_1699
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A couple of questions - Is it possible that yangshen is incomplete without yinshen, just as yang is incomplete without yin? So that both have to be developed? 
 

If so, would it be reasonable to say that this yangshen/yinshen ‘body’ needs to be brought to consciousness? 

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Posted (edited)

The yangshen is the elixir matured.

 

When xing and ming merge it is the beginning of the elixir. Xing and ming are preheaven hence the elixir is preheaven....

The yangshen is a divine "body" same as what is called light body or illusory body. When it is very high developed it can even manifest into physicality. BUT that is extremly high level....other light bodies can reach the same and have but neidan talks more about it. (hence they critisize other traditions...but other traditions critisize neidan so everyone critisizes everyone  lol).

 

Yinshen is given different meaning ....it can mean the ego or the undeveloped soul which is still bound to the cycle of reincarnation (so it is still yin).

However,  for ego the most often used term is shishen.

 

 

Edited by MIchael80
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Yes, I can see the sense of a yang spirit,  but I reckon a yin spirit must be developed to a high degree also to bring it to consciousness, but of course that’s just my thinking. 

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Yinshen, when a person is alive, usually associate with psychic abilities.  But the body has no benefits.  The person just age and die, and their abilities wane over time.  A person training for neidan should not indulge in these.

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4 hours ago, Master Logray said:

Yinshen, when a person is alive, usually associate with psychic abilities.  But the body has no benefits.  The person just age and die, and their abilities wane over time.  A person training for neidan should not indulge in these.


Is yinshen maybe then associated with the intuitive images of TCM, though not sought after in Neidan? 
 

Quote

 

While in a state of tranquility and inner peace, the Chi Kung doctor's Upper Dantian intuitively processes information from the environment and universe. This intuitive knowledge provides the Chi Kung doctor with a greater ability to explore his or her own consciousness, as well as the subtle subconscious patterns of the patient. The ancients called this ability "knowing without knowing."

 

As the Shen is developed and the Upper Dantian is opened, spiritual communications may reveal themselves in a flash of an image or as a vision in the mind's eye. These images and visions are sometimes very brief and abstract. Correctly interpreting these images takes practice, as the images streaming from the Yuan Shen must be distinguished from the dreamlike wanderings of the subconscious and cannot be interpreted easily by the logical mind.

 

https://ichikung.com/dantians

 

 

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2 hours ago, Bindi said:


Is yinshen maybe then associated with the intuitive images of TCM, though not sought after in Neidan? 
 

 

Not related to TCM.  Yinshen, or similar phenomenon, can arise from trainings or develop naturally as you can see a lot of western psychics with similar abilities, though they never have Neidan training.  

 

It is not encouraged for a few reasons, firstly, as in Buddhism, it sidetrack the seeker from the ultimate goal.  Secondly, it is somewhat between heightened abilities and hallucinations or both.  It is very hard to distinguish between the two.  The things can be so real that some people believe in what they have seen and become messiahs, gurus, starting their own religions or cults.  They become lost.

 

Yinshen is said to be rather safe in practising, comparing with YangShen.  But some Taoist traditions say it is necessary to have protections before engage in something similar. 

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20 minutes ago, Master Logray said:

 

Not related to TCM.  Yinshen, or similar phenomenon, can arise from trainings or develop naturally as you can see a lot of western psychics with similar abilities, though they never have Neidan training.  

 

It is not encouraged for a few reasons, firstly, as in Buddhism, it sidetrack the seeker from the ultimate goal.  Secondly, it is somewhat between heightened abilities and hallucinations or both.  It is very hard to distinguish between the two.  The things can be so real that some people believe in what they have seen and become messiahs, gurus, starting their own religions or cults.  They become lost.

 

Yinshen is said to be rather safe in practising, comparing with YangShen.  But some Taoist traditions say it is necessary to have protections before engage in something similar. 


Why is YangShen not safe? 

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YangShen is like a foetus or baby.  It is not allowed to venture away from the head at first.  With sufficient practices, it can only go out for a few steps from the body.  Only in very mature situation, then it can travel.  Otherwise it is easily be mesmerized or dread by hallucinations.  Death of the host can be a result as the YangShen is linked to its host.

 

YinShen is basically the Chi or consciousness going out.  There is no issue of not coming back.

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Posted (edited)

I was re-reading JAJ’s article on the three dantians and I read this - 

 

Of particular interest to Daoist alchemists is the opening of the center of the Upper Dantian, called the "Crystal Room," as this is where psychic perceptions and intuitive awareness take place. Higher communications, experiences of intense bliss, and perceptions that transcend time and space are associated with the Upper Dantian.

 

Is it reasonable to think that there are different perspectives and value given on what we are considering to be YinShen? Or is JAJ perhaps just coming from a TCM/medical Qigong perspective? 
 

Reading further -

 

Medical Chi Kung practitioners strive to gather and balance Yin and Yang energy within the Upper Dantian.

 

My questions seem to be more in line with the answers from Medical Chi Kung. 
 

 

Edited by Bindi

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@Bindi You might be looking at the Yang Shen (or Yuan Shen as I’d refer to it) from a different ‘level’.

 

In a sense what you’re talking about is aspects of a person’s ‘soul’ - which do indeed have Yin and Yang polarities. In alchemical Daoism this ‘soul’ divides into two polarities upon incarnation (and then subdivides into 9)

 

The initial division is into the Hun and the Po (and the Hun further divides into two aspects, while the Po subdivides into seven various aspects).

 

The Hun is like the Yang aspect of the soul and transmigrates (and is therefore immortal in one sense)… The Po is like the Yin aspect of the soul and anchors your incarnated form into physicality (time and space).

 

So when incarnate, if there’s a strong disturbance within either the ‘yang’ Hun or the ‘yin’ Po - then you could say the soul is ‘incomplete’. This would be kind of obvious in a person…

 

If the Hun is overactive and the Po is suppressed - people tend to be a bit manic and ‘up in the clouds’… lots of creativity and imagination, but completely ungrounded and divorced from reality. They'll see and imagine lots of things and when the situation is chronic and particularly bad, this leads to schizophrenic type tendencies.

 

If the Po is overactive and the Hun is suppressed, there’s a kind of depressed quality, as well as an over-identification with ‘base’ things (things that are physical or that satisfy the body and the senses) - often in a really addictive way. Whether it’s addiction to drugs, or owning things, or sex or food - it’s like the soul is mistakenly identifying itself through physical things and feelings and so becomes intoxicated with them.

 

When these aspects are balanced, you have a very healthy approach to life… and upon death, the Po can let go and it’s the Hun that goes through the process of rebirth. 
 

If especially unhealthy, then the Po gets attached to physicality and clings to the physical aspect of life (clinging to feelings, emotions or places and physical objects)… and so it can get stuck as a kind of ghost.

 

Similarly if you’ve had a pretty terrible incarnation, the Hun, damaged by that life, can gravitate towards a lower incarnation (either in the hell realms or as animals or just a difficult life in the new incarnation).

 

The Yang Shen is a different thing altogether - while permeating all of this, it exists at a different ‘level’ than what I’ve described above - as it’s a higher aspect that is ‘pre-heaven’.

 

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12 hours ago, Bindi said:

I was re-reading JAJ’s article on the three dantians and I read this - 

 

Of particular interest to Daoist alchemists is the opening of the center of the Upper Dantian, called the "Crystal Room," as this is where psychic perceptions and intuitive awareness take place. Higher communications, experiences of intense bliss, and perceptions that transcend time and space are associated with the Upper Dantian.

 

Is it reasonable to think that there are different perspectives and value given on what we are considering to be YinShen? Or is JAJ perhaps just coming from a TCM/medical Qigong perspective? 
 

Reading further -

 

Medical Chi Kung practitioners strive to gather and balance Yin and Yang energy within the Upper Dantian.

 

My questions seem to be more in line with the answers from Medical Chi Kung. 
 

 

 

There are different views on YinShen. 

 

Taoism and Chinese medicine are said to be from the same source, they share many things but there are differences between the two.  Pure Chinese medicine does not care about YinShen, YangShen or even Neidan, unless it becomes an emotional or psychological problem, then they will deal with it, by using medicine and/or acupuncture or offer living recommendations.  They won't prescribe ChiKung and many of the doctors don't practise ChiKung at all, not to mention Neidan.  But there are doctors who have high level of ChiKung and preach their styles.

 

ChiKung methods, generally deal with everything in the body, though some of the movements may benefit a particular part like kidney more.  They are better term as a system adjuster.  In this regard, the term Medical ChiKung is somewhat not so appropriate.  We mostly see all kinds of ChiKung used for medical purposes. But they are usually termed as "Life Nourishing".  This is an official term.

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3 hours ago, freeform said:

@Bindi You might be looking at the Yang Shen (or Yuan Shen as I’d refer to it) from a different ‘level’.

 

In a sense what you’re talking about is aspects of a person’s ‘soul’ - which do indeed have Yin and Yang polarities. In alchemical Daoism this ‘soul’ divides into two polarities upon incarnation (and then subdivides into 9)

 

The initial division is into the Hun and the Po (and the Hun further divides into two aspects, while the Po subdivides into seven various aspects).

 

The Hun is like the Yang aspect of the soul and transmigrates (and is therefore immortal in one sense)… The Po is like the Yin aspect of the soul and anchors your incarnated form into physicality (time and space).

 

So when incarnate, if there’s a strong disturbance within either the ‘yang’ Hun or the ‘yin’ Po - then you could say the soul is ‘incomplete’. This would be kind of obvious in a person…

 

If the Hun is overactive and the Po is suppressed - people tend to be a bit manic and ‘up in the clouds’… lots of creativity and imagination, but completely ungrounded and divorced from reality. They'll see and imagine lots of things and when the situation is chronic and particularly bad, this leads to schizophrenic type tendencies.

 

If the Po is overactive and the Hun is suppressed, there’s a kind of depressed quality, as well as an over-identification with ‘base’ things (things that are physical or that satisfy the body and the senses) - often in a really addictive way. Whether it’s addiction to drugs, or owning things, or sex or food - it’s like the soul is mistakenly identifying itself through physical things and feelings and so becomes intoxicated with them.

 

When these aspects are balanced, you have a very healthy approach to life… and upon death, the Po can let go and it’s the Hun that goes through the process of rebirth. 
 

If especially unhealthy, then the Po gets attached to physicality and clings to the physical aspect of life (clinging to feelings, emotions or places and physical objects)… and so it can get stuck as a kind of ghost.

 

Similarly if you’ve had a pretty terrible incarnation, the Hun, damaged by that life, can gravitate towards a lower incarnation (either in the hell realms or as animals or just a difficult life in the new incarnation).

 

The Yang Shen is a different thing altogether - while permeating all of this, it exists at a different ‘level’ than what I’ve described above - as it’s a higher aspect that is ‘pre-heaven’.

 

Hi freeform!

 

In your school you use yangshen and yuanshen as the same?

 

I always find it fascinating how different the terms are used from one school to the other. 

 

I was taught....yuanshen is xing (the soul)

And Yangshen is xing merged with ming and that merged thing (called the elixir) matured becomes the yangshen. 

And of course i was taught that this is the only real way and all the others are wrong. :lol: lol!

 

All the best

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, MIchael80 said:

Hi freeform!

 

In your school you use yangshen and yuanshen as the same?

 

I always find it fascinating how different the terms are used from one school to the other. 

 

I was taught....yuanshen is xing (the soul)

And Yangshen is xing merged with ming and that merged thing (called the elixir) matured becomes the yangshen. 

And of course i was taught that this is the only real way and all the others are wrong. :lol: lol!

 

All the best


Yeah - the terminology gets confusing. In fact for these later levels (which I’m nowhere near achieving) - my teacher explains the processes using hexagrams rather than words… in an attempt to do away with misunderstanding… but as a result my understanding is still in the very early stages. 

 

Ive had a teacher who teaches to merge and dissolve within a particular light that arises at the very core of the central channel in the later stages which is meant to be a different approach to immortality - and my main teacher now teaches the golden embryo approach… which is perhaps similar to your tradition.
 

Bit by bit I’m learning what is metaphorical and what isn’t with experience. Something can be seen as a substance (or an embryo) from one perspective and can be seen as a state of consciousness from another vantage point…

 

Over the years, as I start to experience the depth of the ‘real’ teachings within even the foundational stages, I become more and more confused about these later levels :) 

 

But yes in my tradition Yuanshen is past the ‘xuan men’ and beyond xing/ming…

 

Its all terminology in the end.

 

In our terminology, one doesn’t even have ‘Shen’ to begin with… people start out with another form of mind - and it must be developed to generate Shen. Which kind of messes up the jing-Qi-shen model.

 

There is also a significant difference between ‘spirit’ and ‘soul’ too…
 

But I don’t think it matters too much.
 

What matters is that you understand your own school’s mental model… at a period when that’s pertinent to your own training. These are all just mental models that aim to assist an actual process. It’s the actual process that matters - the mental model not so much.

Edited by freeform
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YangShen is by nature YuanShen.  For practical purpose, it is the duplicate of oneself, a spiritual doppelganger or Horcrux as in Harry Potter.   The confusion probably arises as people seldom can achieve that level.  We all just talk about it.   Those who achieve such would not in human society, never on internet. 

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11 hours ago, freeform said:

@Bindi You might be looking at the Yang Shen (or Yuan Shen as I’d refer to it) from a different ‘level’.

 

In a sense what you’re talking about is aspects of a person’s ‘soul’ - which do indeed have Yin and Yang polarities. In alchemical Daoism this ‘soul’ divides into two polarities upon incarnation (and then subdivides into 9)

 

The initial division is into the Hun and the Po (and the Hun further divides into two aspects, while the Po subdivides into seven various aspects).

 

The Hun is like the Yang aspect of the soul and transmigrates (and is therefore immortal in one sense)… The Po is like the Yin aspect of the soul and anchors your incarnated form into physicality (time and space).

 

So when incarnate, if there’s a strong disturbance within either the ‘yang’ Hun or the ‘yin’ Po - then you could say the soul is ‘incomplete’. This would be kind of obvious in a person…

 

If the Hun is overactive and the Po is suppressed - people tend to be a bit manic and ‘up in the clouds’… lots of creativity and imagination, but completely ungrounded and divorced from reality. They'll see and imagine lots of things and when the situation is chronic and particularly bad, this leads to schizophrenic type tendencies.

 

If the Po is overactive and the Hun is suppressed, there’s a kind of depressed quality, as well as an over-identification with ‘base’ things (things that are physical or that satisfy the body and the senses) - often in a really addictive way. Whether it’s addiction to drugs, or owning things, or sex or food - it’s like the soul is mistakenly identifying itself through physical things and feelings and so becomes intoxicated with them.

 

When these aspects are balanced, you have a very healthy approach to life… and upon death, the Po can let go and it’s the Hun that goes through the process of rebirth. 
 

If especially unhealthy, then the Po gets attached to physicality and clings to the physical aspect of life (clinging to feelings, emotions or places and physical objects)… and so it can get stuck as a kind of ghost.

 

Similarly if you’ve had a pretty terrible incarnation, the Hun, damaged by that life, can gravitate towards a lower incarnation (either in the hell realms or as animals or just a difficult life in the new incarnation).

 

The Yang Shen is a different thing altogether - while permeating all of this, it exists at a different ‘level’ than what I’ve described above - as it’s a higher aspect that is ‘pre-heaven’.

 

Not to derail the thread, and hopefully if this doesnt go well I can quickly drop it, but I immediately identified with having (at varying degrees at varying times) something like the overactive Hun and the suppressed Po. This was especially true when I was 20 when I had emotional shutdown, was smoking marijuana on a semi-regular basis, alienated from society, etc. But even in the past couple of months, my friend who is a Reiki Teacher had me for a reiki session over video chat, and she diagnoses me as having a deficient root chakra, and a "tear" in my sacral chakra (as well as an overactive heart chakra somewhat surprisingly). Now I know this is a bit complex in cross-comparing systems, and I dont know if I have certainty in Reiki, but I believe my friend is legit in her methods and sincerity... So, any practical, non-drastic advice towards balancing Hun and Po? if needed to message as opposed to commenting feel free.

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11 hours ago, TranquilTurmoil said:

So, any practical, non-drastic advice towards balancing Hun and Po?

 

For you, by far the most important thing is the Zhi - the spirit of the kidneys.

 

If the Zhi is dysfunctional, then the rest of the system cannot move into any kind of harmony - just as if you poison the spring that feeds the well, any remediation work on the well will only ever have temporary results.

 

The Zhi is in charge of your jing - which is both a kind of energetic substance and a kind of blueprint for the unfoldment of your physical body. It is also closely related to the ming men - which is 'the gate of destiny'... which is like where your spirit enters into physicality - a healthy ming men means your incarnation unfolds smoothly and efficiently through your lifetime. A dysfunctional mingmen means your lifepath goes off plan and results in a difficult and 'unlucky' life.

 

Energetically when the Zhi is deficient and unintegrated, one's Qi and jing disperse. The Qi cannot anchor - which creates disharmony through the other organ spirits and results in Qi going up and 'burning' the heart and the head (emotional issues, mental issues, anxiety, palpitations, spaciness, psychotic behaviour etc) When the jing disperses, you lose your physical robustness, lose vitality, become consumed by various base desires (for food, sex, power) - lower back gets weak, knees and ankles start to hurt and give out easily... bones deteriorate, sexual fluids leak in various ways.

 

The Zhi is damaged acutely by trauma that involves the taking away of one's agency - so physical, mental and sexual abuse, being imprisoned and restrained (either physically or psychologically) - or even by giving away one's agency to another (such as in cult type situations, abusive relationships or even addictions).

 

Secondly the Zhi is damaged by chronic stress and fear for survival... think worrying over extreme, unmanageable debt... or how you're going to feed or house yourself. This can be 'imagined' too... for example someone clearly very wealthy can create the same form of internal 'survival stress' even though they clearly have all the necessities for survival.

 

Lastly the Zhi is damaged by over-work - extreme amount of labour where you can't rest and recuperate. Constant use of (energetically, as well as physically) cold foods. Late nights and not enough sleep... too much sexual activity... too much lust and sexual thinking... extreme emotions and too much partying :)

 

In terms of practical solutions to increase the health of the Zhi... first one must stop what is harming them... walk away from abusive relationships, stop addictions, regain agency, adjust life circumstances and your outlook so that you're not fighting mentally for survival.

 

Then there's a lot more to do - everything from diet, to sleep to mental and emotional regulation... but just like the poisoned spring analogy - no point eating Kidney supporting foods if you're still stressed or letting someone or something control your agency over yourself.

 

The kidneys are difficult to treat. It takes a long time and requires a substantial changes in how you live your life. While some believe that the jing is like the wax in a candle - in the sense that once it's out, the candle is finished... that is true 'medically' - but in the alchemical traditions, there is another source for 'wax'... it's just you need to get to the stage of being able to access it (pretty difficult) - and you need to get as healthy as you possibly can to be able to get to that stage.

 

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Thanks a lot @freeform I can see how my path has led to deficient Zhi. I’m actually setting boundaries now in personal relationships, not over-doing forbearance to the point of detriment, and have at least a healthy level of free will (I cut off my hair and beard last night myself… it was quite an experience). I’m certainly not mentally fighting for survival these days but I’m sure I still have steps to take to continue nourishing the spirit. I feel like I’m making strides. Thank you 🙏🏼

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Another question, does the concept of true yang within yin (and true yin within yang) have anything to do with Yang Shen? 

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3 hours ago, Bindi said:

Another question, does the concept of true yang within yin (and true yin within yang) have anything to do with Yang Shen? 

Yes. 

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Well, it answered the question 😁

 

But ok, true yin + true yang +true intention makes marvellous result. 

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@freeform how does the model Yuan shen -> Hun (yang soul) + Po (yin soul) relate to the model Yuan shen -> Shen, Hun, Yi, Po, Zhi (five phases of shen)?  Do Hun and Po have the same meaning in both contexts or not?

 

Also, how would you describe the difference between Yi-intent and Zhi-will?

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25 minutes ago, Creation said:

@freeform how does the model Yuan shen -> Hun (yang soul) + Po (yin soul) relate to the model Yuan shen -> Shen, Hun, Yi, Po, Zhi (five phases of shen)?

 

Not pulling any punches today! :D

 

It's a good question.

 

You're already aware that everything in these models is contextual - but it's worht repeating, because it's so important to understand the Daoist way of thinking.

 

For instance the 'phase' model - with its creative and destructive cycles is designed for a specific context...

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---

 

What I'm talking about here is a slightly deeper, more alchemical model. One is not more right than the other - they each try to explain a different aspect of reality...

 

ym49rseyb8311.jpg

 

The alchemical model shows how your Yuan Shen - your original, 'pre-birth' spirit transforms from pure consciousness into the 'manifest', finite, physical/energetic form.

 

The model is there to demonstrate how our consciousness connects with (and therefore can disconnect from) our acquired mind.

 

Yuan Shen is 'perfect' and 'complete'... however, when it manifests into our incarnate world, it splits into two - Yin and Yang... Heaven and Earth.

 

The Heavenly part splits into two - Hun and Shen (Wood and Fire)

 

The Earthly aspect splits into two - Zhi and Po (Water and Metal)

 

The Yi (Earth) acts like a spoke in the middle of the wheel - a central point that brings everything together.

 

I tend to think of the Heavenly spirits as a connection to the divine aspect of human consciousness - and the Earthly spirits as the primal, animalistic aspects of human consciousness. With the Yi being the mediator and support for these.

 

Psychologically, you can see this play out when you have lofty goals and ideas from the Heavenly aspect... but are held back by the desires and attachments from the Earthly side. You could say your mind (which is the Yi) is split in two...

 

Similarly you could be living out your lofty ideals but your health and capacity deteriorate because you're not looking after your earthly aspect.

 

The Hun is the Heavenly aspect of your soul and the Po is the Earthly aspect that dissolves back into the Yin field of the earth upon death.

 

Since your understanding of the motives of these spirits happens mostly through your intellectual mind (Yi) - that's why you can have opposing thoughts pulling you in different directions.

 

The Hun receives direction and inspiration from Heaven... The Hun directs the Yi to put the inspiration into action.

 

The Shen acts like a mirror or a screen onto which aspects of the Dao are projected (the clarity of the projection varies with the qualities of one's Shen) - The Shen receives this from Heaven and makes it available to the human mind to percieve.

 

The Zhi is more like willpower - the motivation to put something into action and to achieve fruition. It's also the part that has various personal desires - sexual, status, power etc... while at the same time being connected with our Ming - which acts as the balancing point between the will of heaven and the will of our individual self.

 

The Po is very much the Earthly spirit. Attached to physicality which inevitably breaks down and dissolves. Attachment, sadness and an inability to let go are a result of the Po's intimate recognition of the principle of impermanence. The Po is able to perceive physicality and the requirements for surviving in physical form... It's the spirit that makes you gasp for air, to feel hungry, to feel tired... all tangible senses are produced by the Po.

 

The Yi is human thought... It's quite neutral when centred - but it perceives and interacts with the other spirits to create intellectual, human thought. Your decision to be kind might have started out as a kind of vague impulse in the Shen - but it's only through interacting with the Yi that kindness can become manifest into thought and be brought into action - and it's through you Zhi that you could accomplish a large, kind act.

 

1 hour ago, Creation said:

Also, how would you describe the difference between Yi-intent and Zhi-will?

 

Weirdly Yi  in this context is both awareness and intent. Intent in the sense that you direct something... and awareness in the sense that you're simply aware of something. It's a bit of a paradox.

 

Interestingly, by simply becoming aware of a process of unfolding - we feed that process. So in a sense, awareness is also a subtle form of intent. If your Dantien is glowing with heat, by simply becoming aware of it without contrivance, you will fan the flames... but add some force into it and turn awareness into intent, then you'll blow out the flame...

 

But similarly if you have no ember or flame in your dantien, then simply becoming aware of it won't do much... you must put some intent into establishing the flame before settling into a more passive awareness.

 

The Zhi is very different. It's force of will. It's sweating through very hard postures - or pushing through long hours to achieve something. This also has a sliding scale of course... but there is a sense of directed force involved.

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