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Question on the dantians

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I've not heard of anything like this description in any Buddhist or Shaiva Tantra instructions, written or oral. I imagine if I presented this to my Buddhist teachers, they would say I am reifying mind (or the nature of mind, depending). 

 

Most teachers are careful that any references to luminosity or light in the Buddhist teachings do not refer to anything like a physical light.

 

There is dharma joke about a student in Berkeley who, after hearing the Dalai Lama's chauffer talk about the clear light of mind, went home to his altar and lit many candles. He sat down to meditate, closing his eyes. After a time, he noticed a bright light appearing even though his eyes were closed. Upon opening his eyes, he found his altar had caught fire. :lol:

 

And as mentioned before, everything is ultimately empty from a Buddhist POV, so I'm not sure how one would pluck anything from it and compress it. 

 

I guess the question is: do they need to be similar? 

 

 
 
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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...

 

 

(highlights mine)

 

9 hours ago, freeform said:

There are several lineages in different traditions that have very similar approaches to Daoist internal alchemy. This includes some Hindu traditions, some esoteric Buddhist lines within Chan, Thai, Burmese and Tibetan traditions as well as others.
 

Rather than working directly within states of consciousness - they¬†all work with the essence or¬†‚Äėsubstances‚Äô¬†underlying these states of consciousness to produce transformation.
 

This is the ‚Äėtantric‚Äô approach to spiritual cultivation.

 

The mental models they all use to explain the process are very different and of course there are different aims, approaches and outcomes. 

 

 

 

 

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I'm not stating there was no cross-influence between Chan and Taoism, but I am unaware of anything in the Chan record indicating that anyone was cultivating the Elixer as described by FF.

 

There are other descriptions that are quite similar, and would not surprise me if there was some overlap, but this does not appear to be the very specific method FF has laid out here:

 

11 hours ago, Cleansox said:

And yet there are records of for example a commentary to the Cantong Qi written by a Chan buddhist, and quite a few records of people doing cross training and how buddhist practice has been influenced by other methods. 

 

 

 

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19 hours ago, EmeraldHead said:

I wouldn't call any substance of the yinshen an elixir for none of them should have value in a moral society. In every age the earth is field with masters of all of them who can share effortlessly. But that's just me. People call them that.

 

However they are 2 totally different concepts with no cross over. Are you saying differently?

I’m not sure I understand what you meant.
 

For example, what¬†is a ‚Äúsubstance of yinshen‚ÄĚ?¬†
 

My question was around whether there really are two (as in one of the bodily vs another of Dao), or is one (bodily) a manifestation of that of the other (that of the Dao)? 
 

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20 minutes ago, forestofemptiness said:

I'm not stating there was no cross-influence between Chan and Taoism, but I am unaware of anything in the Chan record indicating that anyone was cultivating the Elixer as described by FF.

 

There are other descriptions that are quite similar, and would not surprise me if there was some overlap, but this does not appear to be the very specific method FF has laid out here:

 

 

 

I’ve read some references to development of the Hara (lower Dantien) in zen Buddhist literature. There is a very good book on zen by Roshi Philip Kapleau (Dawn of Zen it the West) where he refers to the hara. 
 

https://books.google.com/books?id=dhDQAgAAQBAJ&pg=PT121&lpg=PT121&dq=roshi+philip+kapleau+hara+development&source=bl&ots=sJ4pn1wRtJ&sig=ACfU3U3pI5APJPbY-5Lq1n-oasn9BaChEQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjFzrG7nb7qAhVCU80KHZUdC1IQ6AEwA3oECAYQAQ#v=onepage&q=roshi philip kapleau hara development&f=true

 

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32 minutes ago, forestofemptiness said:

I've not heard of anything like this description in any Buddhist


Nimitta

 

33 minutes ago, forestofemptiness said:

from a Buddhist POV, so I'm not sure how one would pluck anything from it and compress it.


What I was describing is a Daoist alchemical method not Buddhist.

 

34 minutes ago, forestofemptiness said:

I guess the question is: do they need to be similar?


All that’s similar is the level of absorption/concentration... 

 

In Buddhist traditions that use Jhanna, the aim is to reside in this state for long periods. In Daoist alchemy the aim is to enter the state then capture the essence that sits behind the experience and use as an alchemical agent for transformation.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, dwai said:

My question was around whether there really are two (as in one of the bodily vs another of Dao), or is one (bodily) a manifestation of that of the other (that of the Dao)? 

Well of course there are. You know the colour of yuan chi is solar looking. And we all know the colour of the energy enlightement (dharmakaya) is golden. Even post-natal chi gains golden colour naturally at some advanced stage after merging (reversing) prana and apana vayus in the body. Some consider that to the key by calling the LDT immortal faetus. As if post-natal chi can become the dharmakaya ?????

Edited by EmeraldHead

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54 minutes ago, EmeraldHead said:

Well of course there are. You know the colour of yuan chi is solar looking. And we all know the colour of the energy enlightement (dharmakaya) is golden. Even post-natal chi gains golden colour naturally at some advanced stage after merging (reversing) prana and apana vayus in the body. Some consider that to the key by calling the LDT immortal faetus. As if post-natal chi can become the dharmakaya ?????

:) where does post-natal Qi come from? 

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Nimitta is (in my experience) usually described as a preliminary to jhana, and may take different forms. It has not, in my experience, been described as a bright light of original mind, considered transformational, etc. 

 

I agree with you that Buddhist and Taoist cultivation methods are different, but you said they were "very similar." This has not been my experience, because your descriptions are not familiar. Accordingly, I was wondering about the bases for the statement. Perhaps you can elaborate at the similarities between the two methods? 

 

My basic point is that people may wish to consider adopting one path as their primary path, rather than trying to climb two mountains at once. Again, this is just my opinion. I do find Taoist methods to be helpful to Buddhist practice, though. 

 

Jhana is a big disputed topic. There is no consensus even among Theravadans, much less between Theravada and Mahayana, or Tantra, etc. The Suttas (reflecting the supposed spoken) words of the Buddha do not agree with the commentaries (such as the Visudhimagga). However, it is fairly clear that in many strains of Theravada teaching that as states of concentration, they are neither necessary nor sufficient for realization. I have heard one person who describes it as you do, but most teachers do not generally agree or teach it that way. In this regard, I can generally defer to Bhante Gunaratana:

 

Quote

Theravada Buddhism regards the mundane jhana as neither sufficient nor indispensable for reaching liberation. They are insufficient as they only suppress the defilements and must be supplemented by wisdom. They are optional rather than indispensable since they need not be developed by all practitioners. Meditators belong to the "vehicle of serenity" utilize jhana to produce the concentration required as a basis for wisdom, meditators belonging to the "vehicle of bare insight" can employ a lower degree of concentration without achieving mundane jhana. But supramundane jhana pertains to the experience of all meditators who reach the paths and fruits, since these latter always occur in the level of jhanic absorption. 

 

http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/scrnguna.pdf

 

 

2 hours ago, freeform said:


Nimitta

 


What I was describing is a Daoist alchemical method not Buddhist.

 


All that’s similar is the level of absorption/concentration... 

 

In Buddhist traditions that use Jhanna, the aim is to reside in this state for long periods. In Daoist alchemy the aim is to enter the state then capture the essence that sits behind the experience and use as an alchemical agent for transformation.

 

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42 minutes ago, EmeraldHead said:

what is the answer?

Where do all phenomena come from? 

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10 hours ago, freeform said:

In Daoist alchemy the aim is to enter the state then capture the essence that sits behind the experience and use as an alchemical agent for transformation.

 

The concept is easy, but very difficult.  When a person enters that state, he somehow has to revert to a certain degree of everyday consciousness to capture the essence while maintaining the alternate consciousness. 

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"Gather energy in the body;

Plunge Spirit in the mind:

De Dao is therein."

'(And then grasp without grasping to bring it back again.)'

 

III

v

.

^

III

 

Lu Tsu said, 
“The seven-reversion restored elixir is a matter of 
people first refining themselves and awaiting the time.‚ÄĚ The classic 
Understanding Reality ( Wu chen p’ien ) says, “If you want to 
successfully cultivate the nine-reversion, you must first refine 
yourself and master your mind.‚ÄĚ 

Shang Yang Tzu said, 
‚ÄúRestoring the elixir is very easy; refining the self is very hard.‚ÄĚ 
These statements all say that if you want to practise the great Tao, you 
must first refine yourself. 

 

Spoiler

 

 

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12 hours ago, dwai said:

When I say method, I mean tradition/lineage. 

think I answered this already above :) 

I understood that as if you said one needed only one technique, since I understand a tradition being a compilation of methods that (hope fully) work well together and enables you to reach the goal of that tradition. 

Good that you cleared that one upūüėä

Quote

What is ‚ÄúLow virtue‚ÄĚ?¬†

Sorry, translational issue. That should have been "inferior virtue", referring to adulthood when jing, qi and shen has been (partially) consumed and should be replenished. 

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1 hour ago, Master Logray said:

 

The concept is easy, but very difficult.  When a person enters that state, he somehow has to revert to a certain degree of everyday consciousness to capture the essence while maintaining the alternate consciousness. 


Yes you’re right. It is very difficult - and entering into everyday consciousness would pop you right out of the state.
 

So the conditions for achieving this have to be present prior...

 

There must be form within the formless... There must be a vast amount of Qi... and if these and other causes are present, the process happens of its own accord.

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12 hours ago, forestofemptiness said:

I'm not stating there was no cross-influence between Chan and Taoism, but I am unaware of anything in the Chan record indicating that anyone was cultivating the Elixer as described by FF.

So am I. ūüėĀ¬†

But I had a quote from a Chan master saying that although the energetic aspect is experienced in Chan practice, it is not seen as important in the end but is just an "expediant mean" (I might have got that expression wrong) and for that reason it is not written about. 

 

I don't seem to find the source for that info right now. 

 

It can also be that those Chan practitioners interested in the subject crossed over to Daoism, as in the history of Wu liu pai. 

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14 hours ago, EmeraldHead said:

Right. Then the goal of jindan is to stop the aging of the body. And all those blogs, sites, people etc mentioning the more spiritual attainment in relation to a golden elixir are wrong. For example saying the golden elixir makes you a perfect man or whatever sales pitch phrases they prefer.

 

No confusion :D

I wrote Ming AND Xing practice, so this is a strawman argument. 

 

And while golden might be a reference to a gold light/energy body (that is what you are referring to, right), gold as the uncorruptable metal is also probably a reference to the substance (poor choice of word) of the Elixir itself. 

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9 hours ago, forestofemptiness said:

I agree with you that Buddhist and Taoist cultivation methods are different, but you said they were "very similar." This has not been my experience, because your descriptions are not familiar. Accordingly, I was wondering about the bases for the statement. Perhaps you can elaborate at the similarities between the two methods?


Just to reiterate - I’m talking about Daoist internal alchemy. Any reference I make to other traditions is just to help illustrate some point about Nei Dan - not the other way round.

 

The methods are vastly different.

 

Remember that Buddhism is not one method - but very many. The information we tend to have available to us is designed for normal people - not for monks and initiates.
 

There are some closer parallels with alchemy in various esoteric lines of Buddhism. I’m not talking about books and theories, but groups - living traditions. I’ve only been accepted to train with one such tradition in Myanmar - and almost all my information surrounding the Buddhist part of the equation comes from them - so I’m afraid my knowledge of Dharma is quite limited.

 

With Buddhist traditions the main thing is the strict control of the outer environment to create correct internal causes. This is weaved into the very fabric of society and starts with the shaving of ones head and putting on the robes.

 

The Daoist approach is very different in that regard. Rather than control the outer environment, the Daoist sage transforms her inner environment. Rather than moving away from ordinary society, the sage hides in plain sight and looks no different than others. Rather than using a shaved head, the monastery and the orange robes as a signal for people to not tempt you with sex and worldly concerns and pleasures, the Daoist sage transforms his inner relationship with such desires and attachments - so that they may be all around him, but it doesn’t affect him.

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15 hours ago, EmeraldHead said:

Then the goal of jindan is to stop the aging of the body.


Stopping the aging of the body (or at least slowing it) is one of the goals of laying the foundation - it is done by working on various aspects of Jing.

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In the words of my Buddhist friend who learned from Master Nan Huai Chin, I find this applicable to this conversation. @forestofemptiness. Without transformation, there is no progress. This is important to remember - even in the Buddhist path. Wisdom is not some mental concept - wisdom and absorption arise together, as said in the Dhammapada. 

 

Quote

If you  want stream-entry, you must put cultivation before everything else. Why? Because your coarse physical body must be shed - and along with it, everything else material and ephemeral. 

What does it mean to enter the Stream? What is the Stream?

The Stream is the Noble Eightfold Path. At its lowest level, it is following right conduct, etc. At its genuine meaning, it is what flows naturally out of one who has entered the Stream. As the Zen patriarch Hui-Neng eloquently said, the Noble Eightfold Path is what flows when one is awakened. 

At its lowest meaning, it is like a beginner trying to emulate a professional. While it is similar, it is not the same. Eventually, the beginner becomes the professional, and this stream flows naturally. 

 

This is when one has attained the manomayakaya (mind-generated body). It is as if this body is one, and yet your physical body is another. Like a sword out of a scabbard, one can leave and re-enter at will. 

 

This subtler body is not made of material and hence can have extra-sensory perception - one has clairaudience, clairvoyance, and so on. One can move to distant planets and to different realms. While one might have many powers, these are not exclusive - powers are ordinary to beings of such a realm. 

To enter the Shen body, this manomayakaya is continuously refined through cultivation until all 10 fetters are shed completely. Once so, one attains the nirvana with remainder. 

 

Just like in the physical body, body and mind are linked - in the same way, mind cultivation is extremely important - because mind moves first, not energy!

Do not be fooled by all this talk of mind-only. Mind-only is extremely important, if anything, one should just focus on it. However, if one is not experiencing any transformation, then one is going through "dead Zen"!. All that emphasis on mind only is because when you focus on form, you can get lead down deviant paths... 

 

If you say the Buddha's path does not involve any energy work, you are completely foolish. Without transformation, the subtle body will never form - when the physical body dies, one's spirit will drain through the lower orifices and one will be rebornin the lower realms, chained to samsara for kalpas. 

 

The keys are in plain sight - The Surangama Sutra teaches you about the mind-made body. So does the Satipatthana sutta in the Pali Canon. 

In the Diamond Sutra, the Buddha talked about five levels: 

1. Human eye

2. Deva eye

3. Wisdom eye

4. Dharma eye

5. Buddha eye

 

There are in turn translated as: 
 

1. Human-vehicle (form skandha)

2. Deva-vehicle (sensation skandha)

3. Wisdom-vehicle (conception/mental skandha)

4. Dharma-body (nirvana with remainder)

5. Buddha-eye (anuttarasamyaksambodhi - the sambhogakaya)

 

All genuine paths show these. Hinduism shows: 
 

1. Annamaya kosha

2. Pranamaya kosha

3. Manomaya kosha 
4. Vijnanamaya kosha
5. Anandamaya kosha

The biggest thing here to warn about is that many people are falling into  the "non-duality" trap which is very lethal to one's path. 

If you are not entering a state where blissful energy coarses its way and 'replaces' the physical blueprint with a subtle blueprint - the yang qi rising and burning away all yin obstacles to produce a subtler body - then you are not progressing. 

Even if it is itching, burning, heat, cold - all of these show progress! If you are sitting there in dullness, trying to go into emptiness or clinging onto emptiness, but yet have not had any transformation - something is wrong!

So sit, take refuge in the Triple Gem, ask for help of the masters. Do not dally, the only mistake is stopping. 

 

 

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"The deluded man clings to the characteristics of things, adheres to the Samadhi of oneness, thinks that straightforward mind is sitting without moving and casting aside delusions without letting things arise in the mind. This he considers to be the samadhi of oneness. This kind of practice is the same as insentiency (i.e., being like rocks, trees, etc.) and the cause of an obstruction to the Tao."
 

Paralleling what is imbedded within the above quote, the book TAOIST YOGA: Alchemy and Immortality (1970), translated by Lu K'Uan Yu, emphasizes if a person goes into the void but there is no spirit light energy created then this is a false void -- a false emptiness.

 

This is what can happen with "Dead Tree Zen" as introduced by Hempel in his post and as Master Nan, Huai-chin calls it -- because if a person practices only mind yoga without in the process transforming the body, then they won't ever have the power of the full life force energy.

 

And therein lies the rub as there is no body in the classical sense to transform, to wit, as found in the sutras, the simile of the chariot and the body:

 


"There is no 'being' found...[within oneself], only a heap of karmic constituents. Just as the word chariot is used when we come across a combination of parts, so we speak conventionally of a [human] being when the five aggregates are present."

 

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6 hours ago, freeform said:


Yes you’re right. It is very difficult - and entering into everyday consciousness would pop you right out of the state.
 

So the conditions for achieving this have to be present prior...

 

There must be form within the formless... There must be a vast amount of Qi... and if these and other causes are present, the process happens of its own accord.

 

I think the form could be result of long term training and conditioning, so when the time comes, it automatically happens of its own accord.

 

Regarding the Taoist/Buddhist methods, the term method and tradition may not be the appropriate terms.  The proper wording would be "system", because a system comprises of methods, traditions, knowledge and so on.  A certain Taoist system could have similar components with some Buddhist systems.  But from an overview, they are different.  It is alright to compare and contrast, yet borrowing ideas and methods may not be beneficial, explaining something in another system's language could be prone to problems.  Unfortunately it happens a lot.

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Yes, I would agree with that, Cleansox. You are using the right expression. What I said is I don't see the Elixer development FF mentioned in the Buddhist schools I am familiar with. Of course, I am not familiar with every Buddhist school, and there are many, but I would be surprised.  By all means, surprise me everyone!

 

What I did not say was that there is no energy development. Yes, some Buddhists and and do work with energy but it is a means and not an end. The end, as set forth but the Buddha, is the end of suffering through the end of clinging. Buddhism without the Four Noble truths and the four dharma seals is not Buddhism, IMO. 

 

7 hours ago, Cleansox said:

So am I. ūüėĀ¬†

But I had a quote from a Chan master saying that although the energetic aspect is experienced in Chan practice, it is not seen as important in the end but is just an "expediant mean" (I might have got that expression wrong) and for that reason it is not written about. 

 

Nearly every Buddhist school claims that their tradition is secret, traces back to the Buddha, is the original/highest/best method, contains methods others don't know about, etc. Like with all conceptual expressions, it is a story. There are other stories as well, such as what we call modern Theravada was developed after contact with colonials in the 19th century. The story you have may be a useful story perhaps, but not to be taken too seriously in my mind. That goes for everything I have said as well. 

 

 

Quote

 

The information we tend to have available to us is designed for normal people - not for monks and initiates.
 

 

This is not true IMO. You are referring to the path of renunciation, which is one path, and it is not the same for everyone. I have known monks and nuns who have wandered without any home at all. But there are also paths of transformation and self-liberation. It is hard to draw a broad brush with Buddhism. 

 

6 hours ago, freeform said:

With Buddhist traditions the main thing is the strict control of the outer environment to create correct internal causes. This is weaved into the very fabric of society and starts with the shaving of ones head and putting on the robes.

 

 

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Don't take second hand information, is what I would say. 

 

6 hours ago, anshino23 said:

In the words of my Buddhist friend who learned from Master Nan Huai Chin, I find this applicable to this conversation. @forestofemptiness. Without transformation, there is no progress. This is important to remember - even in the Buddhist path. Wisdom is not some mental concept - wisdom and absorption arise together, as said in the Dhammapada. 

 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, forestofemptiness said:

I have known monks and nuns who have wandered without any home at all.


Yes you’re right - I’ve also seen monks who sleep with impressionable tourists or run all sorts of scams to make money...

 

Broad brush strokes aren’t much good anywhere other than for a very basic discussion such as this :) 

Edited by freeform
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