turtlehermit

Lower Dantian / Hara vs. Third Eye

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Actually i can relate to this attitude. True story: back in the elementary school i was terrible at math. Not that i was particularly dumb, math was just not my thing. So when doing homework i would stare at a problem for some time, scribble some numbers, check my result with the answer provided in the back of the textbook - it would never match. Being unable to solve a stupid problem did wound my childish pride, so invariably, i would rationalize it as due to a typo in the textbook. Why not?!.. typos happen!  Feeling better,  i would slam the book shut and sneak off to play.

 

So... like i said, i can empathize with this whole "bad book, wily author" rationalization.

Edited by Taoist Texts
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I guess I'll never win a popularity prize with my opinion about the study of alchemy but here goes anyway: alchemy is secret knowledge protected by outside forces or entities. Being so, if any student thinks that he or she doesn't have to go through trials and tribulations to prove his merit before accessing vital information, if so, he or she don't have any idea with what they're getting envolved with. The masters aren't just a few dollars away and most importantly no one is alone while reading the classics.

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21 hours ago, Taoist Texts said:

So... like i said, i can empathize with this whole "bad book, wily author" rationalization.

The Golden Flower is a beautifully written text and translation by Wilhelm, one of which sparked my interest in Taoism. Just trying to clarify some key points in it, because I hold it in high esteem. The Yellow Court Classic might help clarify. It seems the texts describe the circulation between the dantians, and perhaps the Golden Flower just left out the original foundation in the lower. As I have heard it was assumed this was already cultivated. 

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35 minutes ago, turtlehermit said:

It seems the texts describe the circulation between the dantians, and perhaps the Golden Flower just left out the original foundation in the lower.

Perhaps not)

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2 hours ago, Taoist Texts said:

Perhaps not)

You're correct, in reading the Wilhelm text it briefly states to start by focusing on the abdomen, or the "house of water". It is strange that this is meagerly mentioned in the last part of the text. It does also mention the "lead in the water region" (which denotes the lower dantian), and describes the full course to the crown and back down to the lower dantian. Cleary states the that the "center" being between the eyes was a mistranslation by Wilhelm "doctored by quasi-taoist cultists", and that focusing there could be dangerous. He calls the center the Yellow Court, and the mysterious pass, which both are commonly the lower dantian. 

 

"The function is all in the center, but the mechanism is all in the two eyes. The two eyes are the handle of the stars, which manages Creation and operates yin and yang. 5 The major medicinal ingredient beginning to end is only the "metal in the middle of primary water" (i.e., the "lead in the region of water"). The preceding talk of turning the light around points out a method for beginners to control the inside from outside, thus helping them to attain independence. 6 This is fur middling and lesser people cultivating the lower two passes in order to penetrate the upper pass. Now as the Way gradually becomes clear and mastery of the device gradually matures, Heaven does not begrudge the Way but directly divulges the unsurpassed doctrine. Keep it confidential, and work it out."

 

This to me denotes the center being the lower dantian. Also it seems like it's saying to keep it secret, which would explain the confusion and roundabout way of explaining the method. This text does not make sense unless you get this key point which is tucked in discretely like an afterthought. Cleary does a good job of hiding it as well. It's like people don't want to say the word "lower dantian" haha. Anyways that's my rant. :) 

 

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3 hours ago, turtlehermit said:

. He calls the center the Yellow Court, and the mysterious pass, which both are commonly the lower dantian. 

 

"The function is all in the center, but the mechanism is all in the two eyes. 

 

This to me denotes the center being the lower dantian. 

 

There are more energetic centers than the LDT. 

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On 12/4/2017 at 9:56 PM, turtlehermit said:

The lower dantian, or hara seems to be the key factor in characterizing most taoist and zen meditation. It seems to be the great secret, focusing the yang on the yin, to create unity. Zen master Hakuin learned this from a taoist hermit. Zen goes on to use this as one of the only "explained" techniques, and prizes it as the source of zen. 

 

For some time I have been suspicious that there is some kind of conspiracy to keep people "up in their heads" by focusing on the third eye. Especially in the west, there is a vast number of traditions, teachers, subliminal propaganda, media, music, and movies that are aimed at the third eye. It seems like this creates lots of confusion, not to mention headaches, as focusing yang on yang would create an imbalance. The turtle school vs. the crane school for example. :) 

 

Ofcourse, non duality is key, but I am interested to hear peoples opinions on this. 

 

The third eye obsession in western culture isn't a conspiracy per say, I'd say it's more likely a natural extension of the western disposition towards overbearing intellect and thinking that pervades our society.

 

In the West from the moment we're entered into formal education there's a huge emphasis on the brain. To the neglect of the mind in general and the functions of the rest of the body which make the brain power even possible to begin with. Now compare this mindset to how westerners approach spirituality most often and you'll see the correlation.

 

I, like most in this thread, whenever I'm approached by newbies to spirituality and the third eye invariably gets brought up, I emphasize that the third eye work should come much later, to prevent the mentally destablizing airy disposition that characterizes many people that neglect the rest of the energetic system to the exclusivity of practice towards the third eye.

 

I always give them the example in that building a house one does not build the roof on top of mere frame. first the foundation needs to be made solid, the insulation needs to be in place, THEN one can begin to think about the roof. It usually does the trick.

Edited by Meroe
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It is clear from Cleary's notes in his translation of The Secret Of The Golden Flower, that the main center being referred to is the Lower Dantian. Also the original author's (Lu Dongbin?) quoted texts (Mind Seal Scripture, Book Of The Yellow Caste a.k.a Yellow Court) speak of the center as the LDT. Thanks for the inspiration to reread these texts, the answers were there all along. 
 
In Taoist energetics, "the chamber of the creative' is the head: energy is drawn by attention upward from the lower torso (the chamber of water") through the spine and into the head. In purely spiritual Taoism, the energy of the initial stirring of the "celestial mind" of unconditioned awareness is fostered until it becomes complete awakening, as symbolized by the creative.
Focusing on the crown of the head is a method of enhancing alertness (to prevent quiet stillness from slipping into oblivion) and is only for temporary use at appropriate times.
 
  Stuart Alve Olson said:
This is so simple that it eludes discovery. In fact, it is so simple that unless someone tells you, you would never even think of it - and when someone tells you, it is difficult to believe. Chuang-tzu talked about it quite clearly, but everyone still runs around looking for that big secret. Lao-tzu told us not to leave our own houses, but off we go on a thousand mile journey. The breath is mind, the mind is breath. Even many well-known Taoists "put legs on a snake" and make breathing techniques complicated and further confuse the issue by implying there is a secrecy in the technique. Not that all these techniques and teachers per se are wrong, some techniques are certainly useful in various situations. But to acquire and maintain youthfulness abd tranquility is really quite simple.

 

First you need to understand the term natural breathing, whcih is not a method at all. The idea is to breath as we did when we babies. Lao-tzu's question "Can you attain the pliability of a child?" is a reference to this subject. Lao-tzu also said "The whole of cultivation is in subtraction, not addition." Taoism focuses on reversal, restoration and rejuvination to that state when we were children, to youthfulness.

 

When we are young our cheeks are reddened, joints are slightly bent, bones are soft, bodies are warm, and the breath is natural and concentrated in the abdomen. As we get older our cheeks pale. joints stiffen, bones become brittle, bodies chill, and the breath is concentrated in the chest. During the span of our lives our breath constantly rises upward, until at death the breath finds itself in the throat, not in the lower abdomen as it was during childhood. The Taoist seeks to restore this trend and return to a more natural state of health and vitality.

 

When a child breathes there are no thoughts of fixing the breath in the abdomen; the breath is there naturally. The child also breathes fully with the abdomen, meaning the entire stomach expands and contracts slightly si that it functions like a bellows or a balloon, not like those stomach pushers who just expand and contract the front of the stomach. This is only half-breathing. The breath should be felt on the lower spine and on both sides of the lower abdomen as well.

 

The big secret is really no secret at all. All that need be done is to focus the mind on the tan-tien, not the breath, The breath will follow the mind, mind does not follow the breath.

 

To breathe naturally you must allow the breath to become deep, slow and harmonious. This is something that cannot be forced by a technique. Picture your mind as a glass of dirty water. The more you agitate it, the cloudier it becomes. However, if you just let the glass sit, the debris will gradually filter to the bottom and the water will again be clear. Trying to make the breath deep, slow and harmonious is like stirring the water. The breath cannot be natural because you are forcing it. But just by letting it go, it will relax of its own accord and become natural. How can you be natural? Calm the mine. First empty your mind. and don't fill it with techniques and schemes. As the mind settles, so will the breath. Eventually, when the mind and breath settle, the breath will be almost undetectable, like Chuang-tzu's "Withered log and dead ashes" analogy.

 

Yin Shih-tzu, a famous modern day (1872 - 1934) Taoist, realtes in his work "When I left the breath alone to sink into the tan-tien of its own accord then the qi rose upward and circulated throughout all my limbs." His only technique was simple "abiding by the tan-tien." He focused his attention on the tan-tien, not his breath. The Tai Chi Chuan Classics relates the same principle of not focussung on the breath, as that will result in obstructing the qi.

 

Within Taoist works there are many technique for breathing excercises, such as holding the breath, embryonic breath, reverse breath and tortoise breath. All these excercises are valuable. However, natual breathing should be considered both the basis for and the culmination of all the techniques. Without acquiring natural breath, the other methods are merely fascinating techniques that lead nowwhere, except to some psychological and, possibly, physical ills. The other methods become valuable only after you have experienced and can consciously control the circulatation of qi. not before. As Master Liang related, "Don't speak of defecation to a starving man; don't speak of winter to the mayfly." The first and biggest step is to acquire natural breath. Don;t bother with other forms of breathing until you've natural breath. Don't be like the man who lived during the Ming dynasty wo bought a thousand books but could not read.

 

Breathing is not a secret, or, if it is, then it is an "open secret." Natural breathing occurs naturally, not by force or invention. Just feel and sense what is going on in your lower abdomen. Instantly, you will find that your breath followed you attention there. The more you pay attention to - sensing, observing, feeling - the lower abdomen, the deeper and more profound the breath will become. Just leave the breath alone, it will sink and develop of its own accord. The effort is simple keeping mentally focused on the lower abdomen. not on physicaly pushing the stomach in and out or bringing in great quantities of air."

Edited by turtlehermit
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Why not placing awareness in front of your eyes, stop clinging to the various "magical spots" and actually forget your body for real?

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7 hours ago, turtlehermit said:
It is clear from Cleary's notes in his translation of The Secret Of The Golden Flower, that the main center being referred to is the Lower Dantian. Also the original author's (Lu Dongbin?) quoted texts (Mind Seal Scripture, Book Of The Yellow Caste a.k.a Yellow Court) speak of the center as the LDT. Thanks for the inspiration to reread these texts, the answers were there all along. 
 
In Taoist energetics, "the chamber of the creative' is the head: energy is drawn by attention upward from the lower torso (the chamber of water") through the spine and into the head. In purely spiritual Taoism, the energy of the initial stirring of the "celestial mind" of unconditioned awareness is fostered until it becomes complete awakening, as symbolized by the creative.
Focusing on the crown of the head is a method of enhancing alertness (to prevent quiet stillness from slipping into oblivion) and is only for temporary use at appropriate times.
 
  Stuart Alve Olson said:
This is so simple that it eludes discovery. In fact, it is so simple that unless someone tells you, you would never even think of it - and when someone tells you, it is difficult to believe. Chuang-tzu talked about it quite clearly, but everyone still runs around looking for that big secret. Lao-tzu told us not to leave our own houses, but off we go on a thousand mile journey. The breath is mind, the mind is breath. Even many well-known Taoists "put legs on a snake" and make breathing techniques complicated and further confuse the issue by implying there is a secrecy in the technique. Not that all these techniques and teachers per se are wrong, some techniques are certainly useful in various situations. But to acquire and maintain youthfulness abd tranquility is really quite simple.

 

First you need to understand the term natural breathing, whcih is not a method at all. The idea is to breath as we did when we babies. Lao-tzu's question "Can you attain the pliability of a child?" is a reference to this subject. Lao-tzu also said "The whole of cultivation is in subtraction, not addition." Taoism focuses on reversal, restoration and rejuvination to that state when we were children, to youthfulness.

 

When we are young our cheeks are reddened, joints are slightly bent, bones are soft, bodies are warm, and the breath is natural and concentrated in the abdomen. As we get older our cheeks pale. joints stiffen, bones become brittle, bodies chill, and the breath is concentrated in the chest. During the span of our lives our breath constantly rises upward, until at death the breath finds itself in the throat, not in the lower abdomen as it was during childhood. The Taoist seeks to restore this trend and return to a more natural state of health and vitality.

 

When a child breathes there are no thoughts of fixing the breath in the abdomen; the breath is there naturally. The child also breathes fully with the abdomen, meaning the entire stomach expands and contracts slightly si that it functions like a bellows or a balloon, not like those stomach pushers who just expand and contract the front of the stomach. This is only half-breathing. The breath should be felt on the lower spine and on both sides of the lower abdomen as well.

 

The big secret is really no secret at all. All that need be done is to focus the mind on the tan-tien, not the breath, The breath will follow the mind, mind does not follow the breath.

 

To breathe naturally you must allow the breath to become deep, slow and harmonious. This is something that cannot be forced by a technique. Picture your mind as a glass of dirty water. The more you agitate it, the cloudier it becomes. However, if you just let the glass sit, the debris will gradually filter to the bottom and the water will again be clear. Trying to make the breath deep, slow and harmonious is like stirring the water. The breath cannot be natural because you are forcing it. But just by letting it go, it will relax of its own accord and become natural. How can you be natural? Calm the mine. First empty your mind. and don't fill it with techniques and schemes. As the mind settles, so will the breath. Eventually, when the mind and breath settle, the breath will be almost undetectable, like Chuang-tzu's "Withered log and dead ashes" analogy.

 

Yin Shih-tzu, a famous modern day (1872 - 1934) Taoist, realtes in his work "When I left the breath alone to sink into the tan-tien of its own accord then the qi rose upward and circulated throughout all my limbs." His only technique was simple "abiding by the tan-tien." He focused his attention on the tan-tien, not his breath. The Tai Chi Chuan Classics relates the same principle of not focussung on the breath, as that will result in obstructing the qi.

 

Within Taoist works there are many technique for breathing excercises, such as holding the breath, embryonic breath, reverse breath and tortoise breath. All these excercises are valuable. However, natual breathing should be considered both the basis for and the culmination of all the techniques. Without acquiring natural breath, the other methods are merely fascinating techniques that lead nowwhere, except to some psychological and, possibly, physical ills. The other methods become valuable only after you have experienced and can consciously control the circulatation of qi. not before. As Master Liang related, "Don't speak of defecation to a starving man; don't speak of winter to the mayfly." The first and biggest step is to acquire natural breath. Don;t bother with other forms of breathing until you've natural breath. Don't be like the man who lived during the Ming dynasty wo bought a thousand books but could not read.

 

Breathing is not a secret, or, if it is, then it is an "open secret." Natural breathing occurs naturally, not by force or invention. Just feel and sense what is going on in your lower abdomen. Instantly, you will find that your breath followed you attention there. The more you pay attention to - sensing, observing, feeling - the lower abdomen, the deeper and more profound the breath will become. Just leave the breath alone, it will sink and develop of its own accord. The effort is simple keeping mentally focused on the lower abdomen. not on physicaly pushing the stomach in and out or bringing in great quantities of air."

Its difficult to get a good picture when someone writes so many errors.  So much efficiency and accomplishment get left on the table by holding this viewpoint, its not even funny.

 

That's not to say one cant make accomplishment while having these errors - but to correct them appropriately at the beginner level is the most desirable path.

 

Subtraction, not addition.  But people miss out on the fact that training for efficiency results in the subtraction, and not only that, but a more solid one than if one left the winds to blow his breath around until it became calm.

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7 hours ago, Cheshire Cat said:

Why not placing awareness in front of your eyes, stop clinging to the various "magical spots" and actually forget your body for real?

awareness in front of your eyes....I see the board still does not have a facepalm smiley :D

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22 minutes ago, joeblast said:

awareness in front of your eyes....I see the board still does not have a facepalm smiley :D

 

I'm sure you can find other great ways to vent your frustrations without that facepalm smiley ;)

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5 minutes ago, Cheshire Cat said:

 

I'm sure you can find other great ways to vent your frustrations without that facepalm smiley ;)

Its hard enough for people to practice a good method without being subjected to all kinds of misconceptions that help them waste their time and leave tons of potential on the table

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Each one of us has a standard for "good methods".

 

It's so fascinating to focus awareness in the body that many people think of it as the standard of effective methods. 

 

Then there are those who don't practice "methods" at all...

Edited by Cheshire Cat

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1 hour ago, Cheshire Cat said:

Each one of us has a standard for "good methods".

 

It's so fascinating to focus awareness in the body that many people think of it as the standard of effective methods. 

 

Then there are those who don't practice "methods" at all...

hehe....I'll respond again when I have some sort of inkling that there's anything resembling practice anecdote to back up the words, because so far I've only seen what appears to be an armchair weekend warrior in terms of comments

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Interesting discussion.

 

It seems to me that the relationship between text and practice is different than with us here in the modern West. Most of the old neidan texts I have read don't seem to be how-to manuals, that includes Secret of the Golden Flower. During the late Qing there were one or two that began to appear, I’m thinking of Zhao Bichen’s text (the one that was translated as Taoist Yoga). But all in all they don’t seem meant as instruction manuals. As some of you mentioned we need the oral transmission for that. 

 

I wonder what they were for then? I guess they help contextualize the practice, and in turn the practice unlocks the meaning of the text. But I’m sure there is more to it than that. The texts seem to act as a source of authority too. Sort of like a map that helps practitioners not stray too far off the path, or vice a versa, to let us know we are still on path. My teacher often brings up quotes from old texts to underline a point of practice. Probably not necessary, but I like it, and the classical Chinese Taoist language is just so beautiful.

 

PS I heard that the Secret of the Golden Flower originally had 20 chapters, but the version that was translated only has 12  or 13.

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Neidan is markedly split into superior methods and inferior ones. The latter are based on complicated instructions re bodily energetics. The former are simple. TGF is a superior method.

 

When trying to understand the TGF ppl are looking for details that are  not  supposed to be a part of a superior method to begin with; upon not finding them ppl conclude that such details are missing, orally or textually. It is a misunderstanding, TGF is a complete set of instructions.

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lol, just because I may take a lot of words to say something rather simple, and sometimes people need to get out the dictionary, does not mean what I am describing is necessarily complex.  :)

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