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Vitality, Energy, Spirit by Thomas Cleary

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The Three Calamities are also spoken of in:


Journey to the West

by Wu Cheng'en

Translated by WJF Jenner

Foreign Languages Press Beijing


Book 1 - Page 35


In this work, they are spoken of as the "Three Disasters".


The Taoist Partiarch of Sun Wukong spoke:


"Once the Elixir is made, devils and spirits can not tolerate it.


Although it will preserve the youthfulness of your face and prolong your life, in five hundred years' time Heaven will strike you with a thunderbolt. You must be clear-sighted in nature and mind, so that you can hide before it comes. If you succed in avoiding it you wil live as long as Heaven; and if you don't, it will kill you. Another five hundred yeqars later Heaven will burn you with fire. This fire will not be heavenly fire or ordinary fire but 'hidden fire'. It will burn you from the soles of your feet to the crown of your head; your five viscera will be reduced to ashes, your four limbs will be destroyed, and a thousand years of asceticism will have been so much wasted time. Yet another five hundred years later, a wind will blow at you. It will not be the north, south, east or west wind, nor will it be a warm, fragrant wind from the northeast; nor will it be the kind of wind that blows among flowers, willows, pine, and bamboo. It will be what is called a 'monster wind'. It will blow through the crown of your head down into your six entrails. It will go through the Cinnabar Field below your navel and penetrate your nine orifices. Your flesh and your bones will be destroyed and your body will disintegrate.


So you must avoid all three of these disasters."


I spoke to my master about it, he said generally it is speaking of one stage during the cultivation process of Internal Alchemy.


He said that at a certain stage during the process, if you do not leave the corporeal body behind, some disaster or calamity can take form.


I was very interested, and wanted to know more, but he said he would teach me about in in depth when we meet each other for a training retreat in June.


So I will take notes, and try to remember to report back to this thread with the information.


He states that Journey to the West teaches all of the steps of practice and also outlines the whole evolution course in Gaining Tao through the practice of Internal Alchemy.


We will be learning the Inner Meaning of Journey to the West together and I will try and post some of my notes here if I can make the time.


By all means read this work if you are a student of Internal Alchemy.


You can find it on Amazon - here -


It is wonderful, as it contains so many teachings, and is also a fun and exciting story.


I quote from the first chapter:


"The Divine Root Conceives and the Spring Breaks Forth. As the Heart's Nature is Cultivated, The Great Way Arises. Before Chaos was divided, Heaven and Earth were one; All was a shapeless blur, and no men had appeared. Once Pan Gu destroyed the Enormous Vagueness, the separation of clear and impure began. Living things have always tended toward humanity. From their creation all beings improve. If you want to know about creation and time, read Difficulties Resolved on the Journey to the West."

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Good stuff, like Taomeow always says, Cleary over translates stuff. It took me a couple of minutes to figure what he meant just in the tittle of the book. I know weak on my part. Anyway, if i have this right the book tittle translates to "Jing, Qi, Shen". I know I personally don't have all the basics covered (yes my Taoist education is VERY poor) but i figure out a decent amount by myself and no guidance from a teacher. Its sad really.


No it's not sad. Personally I have a piece of paper in the book with

Jing = Vitality

Qi = Energy

Shen = Spirit


Hope I got them right. I can understand why this would drive Taomeow around the twist, it would be annoying if you already understood the traditional terms (for me they are just lables)

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Dao Zhen, thanks for the correction and proper teaching its always welcomed, I'm glad to see you haven't completely left the boards.


Mal, well i agree with Taomeow here


Jing = Vitality (yeah right i hate that translation it drives me bonkers, but i can see why the word Vitality was


Qi = energy (yeah this one is a little better but still horrible imo)


Shen = spirit (Yeah i think this is appropriate but thats mostly because I have no properly identified the

traditional meaning of shen and the experience it refers to)


In the words slightly offset but same meaning of Forest Gump, Labels are what labels do.

Edited by WhiteTiger

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