Paradoxal

Question on the dantians

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On 6/30/2020 at 7:26 PM, Nintendao said:

I heard that some people have a bowl made of hands. I have hands, but I don't know if I have a bowl. I will easily put my hands together into a bowl shape, like as if to scoop up some water. I now have a bowl. I can fill this bowl with dry tea leaves. I can dump the leaves onto my head. It feels neat, but something's missing. I will add water to the bowl. The water keeps leaking out, but through continued perseverance I develop some particular dexterity to close all the gaps and hold the bowl level. It will likely take an even longer time, to keep adding a little bit hotter and hotter of water, before I build up enough to where I can actually brew some decent tea in there. Only then will I have formed the true bowl.


After posting this thread, I asked Sifu this question as well (I hesitated to ask him, as he typically encourages self-study). He laughed at me and gave me a similar answer to yours. From my limited experience, I find this to be most likely. The dantians are already in the body without practices to create them, but practices allow them to assume the form required for this kind of work. 

 

On 7/1/2020 at 4:36 AM, freeform said:

 

Classical texts are extremely tricky.

 

Context is everything. And there are multiple layers of context... For example in a traditional lineage you'd be presented with texts and their various layers of meaning as you progress... a text designed for the later stages, for example, will often contradict a text designed for earlier stages (just as a physics textbook for doctoral studies will often contradict a physics textbook at highschool level)... Sometimes a text will have an outer layer of understanding - and once you've achieved the process described, further study will reveal a deeper layer...

 

Similarly, some practices in the classics are designed for renunciates - monks or those on long term solitary retreat - and would cause a huge host of problems for practitioners with bosses to please, school runs to do and taxes to pay.

 

Another problem is when translators/commentators think - 'oh this sounds a lot like xxxx from another tradition'...

 

Also the texts generally don't describe practices - they usually describe the correct qualities that must be present ('calm unwavering focus' is just three words - but constitutes probably at least 5yrs worth of various practices to achieve) And they describe confirmatory sings (and often errors and pitfalls)... Usually, modern commentators confuse the confirmatory signs (eg seeing a bright light shining at you from in front of your forehead) and assume it is an instruction (imagine a light in front of your forehead).

 

And so simply going by the classics, it's almost impossible to make any real progress.

 

I've been reading a mix of classics and more recent works, on top of what Sifu has taught me. Thankfully, I seem to have a decent comprehension of the texts, given they are lining up well with my experiences, but I'm sure I'll keep learning new stuff about things I thought I understood. 

 

Luckily, I have quite a bit of free time, so I can dedicate more time to practice than otherwise. Thus, I will keep practicing what I have been taught, and will continue to learn more while I can. Thank you all for the responses and input; it has greatly helped me!

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Some folks seem to think dantiens don’t exist and need to be made. In my experience they exist and don’t need to be made. Similar with many fellow students who share my lineage. 

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Posted (edited)

Dantian is different from the acupuncture point . The acupuncture points are always there as important , existing energy concentrated points on the meridians even you do not apply  your mind to it or  just in sleep  .  For example, one of the most common used acupuncture points is on the Large Intestine Channel: LI4, Hegu( '合谷')  , in between your thumb and index finger,  where  you can sense it by pressing  and holding  it for 2~3 minutes , then you sense some flow of energy along your forearm . 

 

Dantian is something different;   if you do not apply a mind , some intention on it , qi will not arise from it to show its existence   , let alone rising from the bottom of our body to your head . First you mobilize it by slightly apply your mind to the lower , middle or upper dantian ( apply a mind  to the UD , its strength is difficult to grasp , don't careless try ! ) , then later for initializing  higher quality of qi, you apply no-mind to one of them , or just "apply " no-mind to  nowhere ..

 

Edited by exorcist_1699
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27 minutes ago, exorcist_1699 said:

Dantian is different from the acupuncture point . The acupuncture points are always there as important , existing energy concentrated points on the meridians even you do not apply  your mind to it or  just in sleep  .  For example, one of the most common used acupuncture point is on the Large Intestine Channel: LI4, Hegu( '合谷')  , somewhere in between our thumb and index finger,  where  you can sense it by pressing  and holding  it for 2~3 minutes , then you sense some flow of energy along your forearm . 

 

Dantian is something different;   if you do not apply a mind , some intention on it , qi will not arise from it to show its existence   , let alone rising from the bottom of our body to your head . First you mobilize it by slightly apply your mind to the lower , middle or upper dantian ( apply a mind  to the UD , its strength is difficult to grasp , don't careless try ! ) , then later for initializing  higher quality of qi, you apply no-mind to one of them , or just "apply " no-mind to  nowhere ..

 

First off: thank you for the reply!

I may not have been clear in my description, but I am already at the point of being able to use qi from my dantians. That said, I was not familiar with the idea of not being able to manipulate energy from them without intent, so that is a much appreciated point. Does that mean that it is impossible to apply acupressure/acupuncture to the dantians directly? Would this mean that external healing/attacks on the dantians are impossible? I've not tried to mess with someone else's dantians before, so I would not know this from experience. 

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, dwai said:

Some folks seem to think dantiens don’t exist and need to be made. In my experience they exist and don’t need to be made. Similar with many fellow students who share my lineage. 


‘Don’t exist’ and ‘do exist’ are not the only choices :)

 

When you go to create a new field for your crops you first find a fertile spot - where the soils are naturally deep and rich - but not so deep to be wet and boggy... this is very much like the lower Dantien of an untrained person.

 

The next step is to cultivate that land - clear the stones, pull the weeds get things flat and even. This is the ‘Tien’ part of Dantien - meaning field. This is the LDT of a trained person.

 

The step after that is growing the plants - watering, weeding, managing the winds, rains and sunlight until the plant produces a seed - this seed is the ‘Dan’ part of the Dantien - the elixir. This is when you have the true Dantien. Although we usually refer to the area at all three stages of development as the Dantien. 

Edited by freeform
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7 hours ago, freeform said:


‘Don’t exist’ and ‘do exist’ are not the only choices :)

 

When you go to create a new field for your crops you first find a fertile spot - where the soils are naturally deep and rich - but not so deep to be wet and boggy... this is very much like the lower Dantien of an untrained person.

 

The next step is to cultivate that land - clear the stones, pull the weeds get things flat and even. This is the ‘Tien’ part of Dantien - meaning field. This is the LDT of a trained person.

 

The step after that is growing the plants - watering, weeding, managing the winds, rains and sunlight until the plant produces a seed - this seed is the ‘Dan’ part of the Dantien - the elixir. This is when you have the true Dantien. Although we usually refer to the area at all three stages of development as the Dantien. 

:) I know that’s your opinion. I don’t agree with you. In my tradition,  Dantiens exist, and all we do is make them more coherent (sort of like focusing light into a laser beam). 
 

Yes the teacher can and sometimes does kickstart the ‘flame’ so the student can make it into a functional fire. 
 

As with a few other topics, we have to agree to disagree on this. 

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6 minutes ago, dwai said:

all we do is make them more coherent (sort of like focusing light into a laser beam).

 

7 minutes ago, dwai said:

Yes the teacher can and sometimes does kickstart the ‘flame’ so the student can make it into a functional fire.

 

Sounds a lot like creating a tien (field) in my analogy :)

 

I actually don't think we disagree in this regard.

 

Different systems approach dantien development differently...

 

As you say, you clearly do work on your dantien to some extent. If you had a fully functioning dantien to start with, you wouldn't need to light fires or make anything more coherent. And I'd be surprised (and confused) if your school thought that you already have the Dan (alchemical elixir) present. 

 

It's true that in more alchemical schools there is a lot of further work to be done after the 'flame' process - preparation of the vessel/cauldron. But that's not what I'm referring to.

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3 hours ago, freeform said:

 

 

Sounds a lot like creating a tien (field) in my analogy :)

 

I actually don't think we disagree in this regard.

 

Different systems approach dantien development differently...

 

As you say, you clearly do work on your dantien to some extent. If you had a fully functioning dantien to start with, you wouldn't need to light fires or make anything more coherent. And I'd be surprised (and confused) if your school thought that you already have the Dan (alchemical elixir) present. 

 

It's true that in more alchemical schools there is a lot of further work to be done after the 'flame' process - preparation of the vessel/cauldron. But that's not what I'm referring to.

If you fill water in a pond that is low  in water, is that the same as creating a pond? 

Would you call cleaning the water of said pond also creating a pond? 
 

Maybe this will help understand my perspective and what I’ve been taught  —

 

We are all born with ‘the field and some elixir’. This decays with time and as we age, resulting in our physical death. 
 

 One’s ‘life energy’ (aka elixir) cannot be replenished; it is finite as it exists in “normal” people and will decay. The cultivation then is about slowing down the decay, and purifying all that blocks this life energy, and once we have unfiltered access to it, it can power us to tap into the universal aspect of that life energy, at which point the cultivator doesn’t use their own ‘personal energy’ anymore, but rather can directly access and use the universal energy (dao’s energy). 
 

We each carry a copy of the Dao within us, which is called our “De”. This is called the “little dao”. We first access this little dao and then it connects us with the big dao. De is not some conceptual virtue, but our own life energy. 

So, from that perspective dantiens exist and we can only clean up and purify them and access our little dao (De). Then it will take us to the big Dao. 

 

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32 minutes ago, dwai said:

If you fill water in a pond that is low  in water, is that the same as creating a pond? 

So in this model, the pond can take an increasing amount of water without having to be fortified? 

While, if I understand it right, in @freeform's model the LDT is a vessel that has to become stronger to be able to hold more?

 

And you have differences in opinion whether the Nei Dan notion of "replenishing" is valid? 

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1 hour ago, Cleansox said:

So in this model, the pond can take an increasing amount of water without having to be fortified? 
 

While, if I understand it right, in @freeform's model the LDT is a vessel that has to become stronger to be able to hold more?

 

And you have differences in opinion whether the Nei Dan notion of "replenishing" is valid? 

The process of fortification and restoration are not separate. That which fortifies also will replenish. And replenishment only happens to the degree the system can hold it. A leaky pot will keep leaking until it is sealed, irrespective of how much water you fill in it. 


With that in mind, Up to a certain extent, ‘replenishment’ is simply improving the efficiency of the system so that less depletion occurs. But a grander ‘replenishment’ occurs when universal energy becomes available to us. 
 

And imho,  the advanced level work is beyond dantiens etc, it is in the realm of consciousness and  mind. But then, consciousness and energy are not separate “things” anymore...

 

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1 hour ago, dwai said:

One’s ‘life energy’ (aka elixir)

 

1 hour ago, Cleansox said:

While, if I understand it right, in @freeform's model the LDT is a vessel that has to become stronger to be able to hold more?


I don’t think I could possibly take even a grain of credit for this being my model! :)

 

A pond with little water doesn’t exist for long in nature - if a pond is able to hold water, it will quickly become full when the rain falls.
 

Otherwise it’s just a puddle :)

 

You’d need to dig deeper, and make sure there are no leaks for a pond to be a pond. And this is the work of ‘creating‘ a Dantien.
 

But that’s neither here nor there - what’s much more troubling is that Dwai is equating the alchemical elixir - with Jing. That’s a pretty fundamental misunderstanding.

 

 

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1 hour ago, freeform said:

 


I don’t think I could possibly take even a grain of credit for this being my model! :)

 

A pond with little water doesn’t exist for long in nature - if a pond is able to hold water, it will quickly become full when the rain falls.
 

Otherwise it’s just a puddle :)

 

You’d need to dig deeper, and make sure there are no leaks for a pond to be a pond. And this is the work of ‘creating‘ a Dantien.
 

But that’s neither here nor there - what’s much more troubling is that Dwai is equating the alchemical elixir - with Jing. That’s a pretty fundamental misunderstanding.

 

 

I don’t consider jing/qi/shen to be inherently different ‘things’ ;) 

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On 2020/7/6 at 12:22 PM, Paradoxal said:

First off: thank you for the reply!

I may not have been clear in my description, but I am already at the point of being able to use qi from my dantians. That said, I was not familiar with the idea of not being able to manipulate energy from them without intent, so that is a much appreciated point. Does that mean that it is impossible to apply acupressure/acupuncture to the dantians directly? Would this mean that external healing/attacks on the dantians are impossible? I've not tried to mess with someone else's dantians before, so I would not know this from experience. 

 

Although under our  navel, there are lot of acupuncture points, but we can not  pull together  the lower dantian  by just pressing them , it is the application of our mind that is necessary .  You can apply an no-intention mind to dantian  after it is initialized . One of the skills is  "focus then forget it "  , it is, of course , different from " focus then keep focusing ". 

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8 hours ago, dwai said:

I don’t consider jing/qi/shen to be inherently different ‘things’ ;) 


The elixir - the pill of immortality, the Dan is not Jing/Qi/Shen - not even close Dwai. 
 

If you have an interest in Daoism, I think you’d be pleasantly surprised if took a deep dive into it.


I’m finally starting to understand why you’re always thinking of Daoism in such simplistic ways - like Ming as fuel for ‘consciousness work’ or Xing - this is all based on fundamental misunderstanding of what the later levels of Daoist practice really entail.

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6 hours ago, freeform said:


The elixir - the pill of immortality, the Dan is not Jing/Qi/Shen - not even close Dwai. 
 

If you have an interest in Daoism, I think you’d be pleasantly surprised if took a deep dive into it.


I’m finally starting to understand why you’re always thinking of Daoism in such simplistic ways - like Ming as fuel for ‘consciousness work’ or Xing - this is all based on fundamental misunderstanding of what the later levels of Daoist practice really entail.

:) I don’t see any difference between the “pill” and Jing/Qi/shen either. 
 

In fact, I am of the opinion that going the “pill” way is an exercise  which builds complexity upon complexity. But maybe that complexity is needed by some people. Not everyone does. In fact it goes back to the long running debate around “effort” vs “no-effort” too.

 

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6 hours ago, freeform said:


The elixir - the pill of immortality, the Dan is not Jing/Qi/Shen - not even close Dwai. 
 

If you have an interest in Daoism, I think you’d be pleasantly surprised if took a deep dive into it.


I’m finally starting to understand why you’re always thinking of Daoism in such simplistic ways - like Ming as fuel for ‘consciousness work’ or Xing - this is all based on fundamental misunderstanding of what the later levels of Daoist practice really entail.

 

Hey freeform, if you were willing to share I'd love to hear your insights of jing/qi in the lower field transforming to dan/elixir. From things I've read, it seems the experience of jing and qi could be misconstrued as presence of an elixer, as the former can also be quite powerful. In both cases I've read experiences of heat/vibrations/light/movement can occur, so I'm curious what you would say was definitive that an elixir had been formed. Also, would you say that prior to elixir formation, qi in the lower field would automatically open MCO, belt channel, etc? Or is that an indication of elixir?

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, dwai said:

In fact, I am of the opinion that going the “pill” way is an exercise  which builds complexity upon complexity. But maybe that complexity is needed by some people. Not everyone does. In fact it goes back to the long running debate around “effort” vs “no-effort” too.

 

Again a complete dumbing down and oversimplification. Nei Dan requires both effort (setting of the conditions/causes) and no effort (the spontaneous arising of the effect/result). You won't get anywhere with no-effort - and you won't get far with only effort.

 

Then there is the same thing on a sort of holographic micro-scale where even within effort there is no effort... as a very basic example, you bend the knees not by 'doing the action' of bending the knees but by letting go anything that keeps your knees straight...

 

But this post isn't about the 'how'.

 

2 hours ago, Satyalok said:

Hey freeform, if you were willing to share I'd love to hear your insights of jing/qi in the lower field transforming to dan/elixir.

 

This is 'the great work' - and obviously I'm going to hugely oversimplify things - and leave out a ton of processes and nuances.

 

This is just to give an overview of alchemical practice from a traditional 'classical' perspective. This is how Nei Dan masters that have any real attainment do it.

 

To understand Nei Dan, I personally found it important to understand the difference between alchemy and other approaches.

 

Alchemy is an art of transformation. But people don't necessarily quite appreciate what transformation entails... or how literal it is... there's a world of difference between a caterpillar and a butterfly - they are fundamentally different (have a look at Silent Thunder's thread on the subject). That's the nature of transformation. Transformation is permanent. And it's a full transformation at every level of one's being - physical, energetic and spiritual.

 

Many other approaches - or at least the approaches that are available to people are more to do with experience... for instance, one is to experience pure non-subject-object consciousness then try to experience it for longer and longer. This might work in a monastic setting... and might be quite helpful in many ways... but it's fundamentally different to how Nei Dan works.

 

Alchemy works on the premise that everything - every physical 'thing' and every state of consciousness has an underlying energetic 'substance' to it. The alchemical method is gathering these substances and working with them in a specific way to achieve permanent transformation. It's a huge endeavour - just 'accessing' the primordial states of consciousness is beyond most people... let alone penetrating the state to touch on the substance behind it... and then having the capacity to bring this primordial substance back and condense it... It's not an easy task :)

 

Jing, Qi and Shen are the first substances one works with... These are replenished, regulated, and refined to a high level. This is the work of 'laying the foundation'. This is the stage where one transforms the functioning of one's body and consciousness to a very high level...

 

Yes - the various orbits will have opened... in fact all the channels will be fully open... Much of one's karmic seeds would have been 'burned away' through the foundational alchemical processes. One would have achieved and would be regularly swallowing the 'jade fluid' that floods the mouth from the upper dantien.

 

This is the stage where health and vitality are developed and revitalised to the state of a child. Which doesn't mean acting goofy and childish... it's replenishing jing and qi to the extent that one's body becomes more like a child's... I always admire how my friend's 2yr old can sit completely relaxed, yet fully upright with perfect posture... how he can seem so delicate, yet demonstrate so much strength and resilience... How his body has this layer of puffiness which is the overabundance of qi filling all the spaces in the soft tissues of the body... How he's able to learn incredibly complex things with no effort etc... This is what is meant by returning to a child-like state.

 

There's also specific training to develop correct mental qualities and levels of meditative absorption - like the various levels of samadhi and Jhanna in Buddhism. The various meditative practices (like Xin Zhai and Zuowang) would need to be at least close to mastery - so that one's heart-mind is completely still, and simply sitting and closing one's eyes you enter a samadhi state... even with eyes open one's mind should be largely quiet and still - no internal dialogue or unintended movement of mind. The difference between being asleep and awake is only very slight.

 

This is all just preparation - setting up the conditions for the development of the alchemical agents.

 

The Dan - the golden elixir pill is made of the condensed 'substances' of one's congenital, primordial nature... Often when people have an awakening, as their 'self' dissolves, they will see a very bright light... this is the light of the Yuan Shen... This experience in itself is quite transformational... Being able to stay in this light gives rise to various levels of direct insight... this is a similar state to the Jhanna absorption in Buddhist traditions... Some call this awakening... some call this enlightenment (it's not!).

 

What the alchemist has to do is enter this state until they are able to touch on the underlying substance of it... It's like plucking the pure essence of this state from the primordial and then bring it back and compressing it into a pearl...

 

This is one of the 'ingredients' of the elixir pill...

 

At a birds-eye view, internal alchemy uses the underlying substances of Xing, Ming and the 'original breath' - which is that which gives 'life' to you before you're physically born. These substances are brought together and fused into the elixir pill... (then after the pill is formed one gestates it to form the golden embryo - but that's another story :D )

 

Each stage can be many years worth of full-time disciplined practice in retreat. Very few people have managed to achieve this process. And yet I keep seeing 'weekend alchemy retreats' where people simply imagine coloured balls :)

Edited by freeform
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1 hour ago, freeform said:

The Dan - the golden elixir pill is made of the condensed 'substances' of one's congenital, primordial nature... Often when people have an awakening, as their 'self' dissolves, they will see a very bright light... this is the light of the Yuan Shen... This experience in itself is quite transformational... Being able to stay in this light gives rise to various levels of direct insight... this is a similar state to the Jhanna absorption in Buddhist traditions... Some call this awakening... some call this enlightenment (it's not!).

 

What the alchemist has to do is enter this state until they are able to touch on the underlying substance of it... It's like plucking the pure essence of this state from the primordial and then bring it back and compressing it into a pearl...

 

 

Are you saying that, per the Taoist alchemical tradition, the primordial nature is material

 

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26 minutes ago, forestofemptiness said:

 

Are you saying that, per the Taoist alchemical tradition, the primordial nature is material

 

 

No :)

 

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Posted (edited)

Would you say that authentic Tibetan Buddhist masters also attain this Elixir? How about those that have become free from rebirth in a prior lifetime of intense alchemical study, but then decide (out of compassion and vows) to come back to help free sentient beings from suffering - do they also have to go through the whole alchemical process to gestate the elixir into the Golden Embryo and so forth? Or are they simply born with it (unactivated), and they just need to re-member, and then they have direct access to their higher body from that moment on?

 

Very interesting discussion. Thank you for sharing :) 

Edited by anshino23

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, anshino23 said:

  (...) 

 

(original quote removed by me on poster's request.   What I wrote below was in reference to that quote, not to anything anshino23 said himself.) 

 

What an all-encompassing sales pitch.  Every client satisfied with customized product.  

 

 I'm impressed.  This guy could sell a bicycle to a fish.  

Edited by Taomeow
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8 minutes ago, Taomeow said:

What an all-encompassing sales pitch.  Every client satisfied with customized product.  

 

I'm impressed.  This guy could sell a bicycle to a fish.  


Sales pitch? Sorry, not sure I follow? 

 

In my understanding, and I may be wrong, is that each tradition does things a different way based on their different views, and also have different final aim(s). What those aims and ends are and the exact differences, I don't really know. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, anshino23 said:


Sales pitch? Sorry, not sure I follow? 

 

In my understanding, and I may be wrong, is that each tradition does things a different way based on their different views, and also have different final aim(s). What those aims and ends are and the exact differences, I don't really know. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

 

He's selling the dantian, one of the core notions of alchemical taoism specifically, to Buddhists, Hindu, and Christians in one fell swoop.  Telling a Christian that the dantian is pure Jesus Christ (so you can proceed to buy this product, the dantian as presented by (name edited by me -- TM), since it doesn't contradict your core teachings.)  Telling a Buddhist that the dantian has a core to seek -- well, I don't know what that is all about.  Nor why in Hinduism (which followers of various traditions in India proper don't even recognize as a term applicable to what they practice -- it's basically a colonialist construct) the dantian is supposed to be "dissolved."  This is pure nonsense, but it sounds inclusive.  People like that.  That's why I said it's a brilliant sales pitch.  

 

Taoism has a right to have its own core notions and not be forced to share them toward "inclusiveness" with everybody and their brother and his pet elephant.  Cultural appropriation is inappropriate.  

 

 

 

Edited by Taomeow
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From a Christian perspective, there is the work of prayer and ascesis to purify the heart- the actual organ being taken as the seat of the soul. I suppose one might try to say this is equivalent to the middle dan tian but that seems stretching things a bit. I think Taomeow is right to be suspicious of this kind of talk.

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