Bindi

Yin and Yang

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45 minutes ago, Bindi said:

Clarity, order, discernment and reason sound more Yang to me. 

 

That's the Yang aspect of the Po's action, yes :)

 

Like a metal sword cutting through wooliness...

 

The Yin action is attachment - attachment to physical things, attachment to pleasant sensations, attachment to emotional reactions and so on.

 

On the emotional spectrum, it's sadness, grief and loss - (particularly the sadness that comes up as a result of the loss of one of the attachments above)

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5 hours ago, freeform said:

 

That's the Yang aspect of the Po's action, yes :)

 

Like a metal sword cutting through wooliness...

 

The Yin action is attachment - attachment to physical things, attachment to pleasant sensations, attachment to emotional reactions and so on.

 

On the emotional spectrum, it's sadness, grief and loss - (particularly the sadness that comes up as a result of the loss of one of the attachments above)


Hmm, the only good thing about a Yin soul is Yang… Patriarchal error but undeniably popular. 

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37 minutes ago, Bindi said:

Patriarchal error


What do you mean? Im not sure I understand?

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, freeform said:


What do you mean? Im not sure I understand?

 

If you haven’t realised by now that virtually the whole discourse  on alchemy is written from a masculine perspective, then I can’t see that anything Bindi might say will serve to enlighten you to what seems to me an obvious fact. Indeed, I think she's either very brave or very foolish (or both) to broach the subject on this forum dominated by the masculine perspective.

 

Although I greatly respect your dedication to practice and the clarity with which you are able to communicate Daoist alchemical doctrine, the path you are on is only one of many valid alchemical paths. I’d call yours a yang path, the path of a spiritual warrior; a path with definite goals derived from doctrinal clarity.  Whereas mine is a yin path, a path with no definite goals other than the cultivation of emotional clarity. That’s the basis for feeling my way towards enhanced connection with the mystery of Dao.  

 

“These [alchemical] processes are steeped in mystery; they pose riddles with which the human mind will long wrestle for a solution, and perhaps in vain. For in the last analysis, it is exceedingly doubtful whether human reason is a suitable instrument for this purpose. Not for nothing did alchemy style itself an “art,” feeling – and rightly so –that it was concerned with creative processes that can be truly grasped only by experience, though intellect may give them a name. The alchemists themselves warned us: “Rumpite libros, ne corda vestra rumpantur” (Rend the books, lest your hearts be rent asunder), and this despite their insistence on study. Experience, not books, is what leads to understanding … The forms which the experience takes in each individual may be infinite in their variations, but. . . they are all variants of certain central types, and these occur universally. They are the primordial images, from which the religions each draw their absolute truth.”    ~Carl Jung

 

Edited by Yueya
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Posted (edited)

Maybe I´m missing something (like maybe the entire thrust of Chinese history in general and Taoist history in particular) but I can´t imagine any genuine spiritual tradition valuing Yang over Yin or vice versa.  It´s my understanding that the two qualities only really exist in relation to each other.  They give birth to each other.  Inside the deepest yin there´s a spark of yang; inside the fiercest expression of yang there´s a spark of yin.  How could a gazillion yin-yang key chains be wrong?  I´d go so far as to say the truest part of yang is it´s yin aspect, the truest part of yin is it´s yang aspect.  Yin and yang are intimately interwoven, inseparable.  Alchemy happens when male and female aspects come together in loving embrace.  It does not happen when the male aspect beats it´s chest like Tarzan and sends the female aspect to the kitchen to make soup.

 

Modern society is pretty messed up about yin and yang.  We´re doing so many things wrong and people are getting upset and expressing their upset in both functional and dysfunctional ways.  Whole books can and are being written about the topic.  But to feel yin and yang one has only to close ones eyes and direct attention to the body.  Blocked and seemingly broken though we may be, yin and yang are both there.  We belong to both of them equally and they to us.  

Edited by liminal_luke
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1 hour ago, liminal_luke said:

Maybe I´m missing something (like maybe the entire thrust of Chinese history in general and Taoist history in particular) but I can´t imagine any genuine spiritual tradition valuing Yang over Yin or vice versa.  It´s my understanding that the two qualities only really exist in relation to each other.  They give birth to each other.  Inside the deepest yin there´s a spark of yang; inside the fiercest expression of yang there´s a spark of yin.  How could a gazillion yin-yang key chains be wrong?  I´d go so far as to say the truest part of yang is it´s yin aspect, the truest part of yin is it´s yang aspect.  Yin and yang are intimately interwoven, inseparable.  Alchemy happens when male and female aspects come together in loving embrace.  It does not happen when the male aspect beats it´s chest like Tarzan and sends the female aspect to the kitchen to make soup.

 

Modern society is pretty messed up about yin and yang.  We´re doing so many things wrong and people are getting upset and expressing their upset in both functional and dysfunctional ways.  Whole books can and are being written about the topic.  But to feel yin and yang one has only to close ones eyes and direct attention to the body.  Blocked and seemingly broken though we may be, yin and yang are both there.  We belong to both of them equally and they to us.  

 

Yes, but there are various other specialist meanings of the terms yin and yang in alchemy. And within that terminology yang is used to donate superior qualities. It’s confusing for sure, and the patriarchal bias comes into play with this usage, and goes deeper than just the terminology. But it’s a complex topic of which I have no wish to get bogged down in because I’m not wanting to fight it. I just take it all as part of the general patriarchal environment that pervades our human world and navigate it to the best of my ability in a way that honours my own more feminine inner experience. Mostly that means keeping key aspects of myself hidden. Indeed, hiddenness is a key yin quality of the Dao as the Daodejing repeatedly mentions. I find it more than a little ironical that early Daoism with its promotion of feminine traits has become so masculinised in mainstream neidan.   

 

For some general background info on the various ways yin and yang are used in alchemy as surmised by Thomas Cleary, here’s an extract from his introduction to his translation of Liu Yiming’s The Taoist I Ching. The final paragraph is particularly relevant to Bindi’s OP:  

 

Spoiler

 

 

A frequently cited comment in the I Ching says, “Yin and yang constitute the path.” The I Ching is held by Taoists to map critical junctures of human development in terms of yin and yang, two modes of being and experience through which the spiritual dialectic of Taoist practice takes place. Taoist spiritual alchemy, a system of mental cultivation that uses the I Ching as an instrumental text, defines the “path” of human progress in three general ways: repelling yin and fostering yang; blending yin and yang; and transcending yin and yang. Within these contexts, yin and yang take on a variety of associations.

 

To clarify these formulations, Taoist alchemy further defines yin and yang as being true or false, opposite or complementary, mutually exclusive or mutually inclusive. The process of repelling yin and fostering yang is taken to mean repelling false yin and fostering true yang. Blending yin and yang is defined as effecting a balanced combination of true yin and true yang. Transcending yin and yang is spoken of in the sense of transcending the created world and attaining autonomy, so that “one’s destiny depends on oneself.” The first two formulations refer to the process of the path, while the third, reminiscent of the Gnostic idea of escaping the authority of the Demiurge, is sometimes represented as the result of the path.

 

The main structural difference between “true” and “false” yin and yang is that true yin and yang complement, balance, and include one another, false yin and yang are isolated and opposed. In many cases yin and yang are used in the sense of an opposition of false yin and true yang. Often there is no specific definition, because the qualities are not fixed; yinlike and yanglike qualities can be rendered into true or false yin and yang by cultivation. Thus Taoism speaks of refining away the false from the true and refining out the true from the false.

 

General associations of yin and yang as applied in the present text may be summarized as follows, with the first term of each pair being yin and the second yang: body/mind; desire/reason; temporal/primordial; conditioning/autonomy; ignorance/enlightenment; human mentality/mind of Tao; fragmentation/integration; learner/teacher. In these terms Taoist teaching recommends that yin be subordinated to yang, that yang govern yin and yin obey yang.

 

Specific associations of true yin and true yang used in this text are represented by a number of terms commonly used to describe Taoist theory and practice: stillness/action; receptivity/creativity; flexibility/firmness; yielding/strength; innate capacity/innate knowledge; essence/life; spirit/energy; open awareness/real knowledge; nondoing/doing; nonstriving/striving. In these terms the aim is to employ these modes as appropriate to the time and effect a balanced integration. A basic procedure is referred to as “using yin to beckon yang.” An example of this is a would-be learner using humility and openness to become receptive to the enlightenment of a teacher; on an analogous dimension, it refers to using inner silence to allow inputs beyond habitual thought or sense to register.

 

By contrast, false yin and yang are seen as imbalanced exaggerations of yinlike or yanglike qualities. Relevant associations here include quietism/impetuosity; weakness/aggression; dependency/self-assertion; vacillation/stubbornness. While these are on one level referred to as yin and yang, such qualities may also be referred to as all yin in the sense of being negative or counterproductive. Taoist practice attempts to overcome these qualities, or transmute them into their positive counterparts.

 

Nuances of yin and yang qualities, their interactions, and their effects on human life, are the subject matter of the I Ching. Overall, Taoism uses the idea of balanced integration of yin and yang in the sense of fulfillment of the complete or whole human potential, living in the world and fulfilling worldly tasks, yet maintaining inner contact with a greater dimension, referred to as “celestial,” which interpenetrates the worldly plane in some way. Thus Liu I-ming speaks of using things of the world to practice the principles of the Tao, using human affairs to cultivate celestial qualities.

 

Finally, a special use of yin and yang as opposite terms is found in the expressions “pure yin” and “pure yang.” Pure yin refers to the mortal, earth-bound material dross, which must eventually obey the laws of matter. Pure yang refers to pure unbound consciousness; held to partake of the nature of infinity, this is represented as spiritual immortality. Pure yang may be used to allude to a peak experience, after which there is a reintegration of this enlightenment into life in the world, again balancing yang with yin. It may also be used to refer to the primordial state, and to the final liberation of the adept on leaving the world. Having no actual mundane equivalent, attainment of pure yang is often referred to in such terms as “ascending to heaven in broad daylight,” which passed into folklore but are said to have originally been dramatic expressions for the realization of total freedom.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

I want to interject as to link my thread about Female Practice and Femininity in Spiritual Cultivation.

 

I have had a long time special interest and appreciation for practice methods that make little to no difference between the biological sexes. The immediate observation is that such practices approach more from the meditative consciousness and wisdom perspective instead of getting gritty and involved with the densest material and physical level of cultivation.

 

It would be a good contrast for alchemy to bring up tantra. The polarities between the sexes are pretty much reversed in tantric Buddhism: Women are wisdom, men are compassion (i.e. skillful means). One particular tantra text, The Tantra of Caṇḍa­mahā­roṣaṇa, goes as far as to state this:

 

“Women are heaven, women are the Dharma,

And women are truly the supreme austerity.

Women are the Buddha, women are the Saṅgha,

Women are the Perfection of Wisdom‌.

 

When tantra is done correctly in its intended spirit, it's pretty clear that there is a real reverence for the feminine.

 

The difference between Neidan and Buddhist alchemy (i.e. Rasayana or Chülen) could be examined through the concepts of causal vehicle and resultant vehicle in Buddhist philosophy. The former tries to nurture the seed of Enlightenment into perfected bloom, while the latter proposes that we access the perfect Enlightenment now and increasingly draw its qualities into our own hearts. There is no difference in the overall stages of progression and qualities experienced: Both are clearly Buddhism and similarly adhere to the principle of cultivating wisdom. With this perspective in mind, Neidan is the process of marrying Yin and Yang, while (Buddhist) tantra is the mystical unveiling of the already consummated marriage of Yin and Yang.

 

As a side note, I would remark that for the practical everyday purposes the Himalayan Buddhist societies have been male dominated and patriarchal, but I don't think social roles need to reflect the equality in spirit. Abuse and oppression is another matter though which can't be spiritually sanctioned.

Edited by virtue
critical typo
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8 hours ago, Yueya said:

I can’t see that anything Bindi might say will serve to enlighten you to what seems to me an obvious fact.

 

I just wanted to get clarity on what specifically she meant.

 

I believe there's tons of very questionable patriarchal stuff in Daoism as well as all spiritual traditions - but it's not here.

 

The major issue I have is that in the west we think of Yang=masculine, Yin=Feminine. I'm not sure that's what @Bindi meant (I doubt it, but it's possible - which is why I asked)

 

But Yin is feminine and Yang is masculine is not right. It doesn't have the connotation in the traditions I've come across... It's more like "+" and "-", pretty sterile, almost mathematical terms. I think of them more as movement (which is how these qualities are experienced on the Qi level) - outward, expansive movement vs inward, receptive movement.

 

When talking about genders as absolutes, yes at that level of mental abstraction, masculine and feminine would be categorised Yin and Yang respectively - but it's incorrect to continue that one labled categorisation and apply it to everything else.

 

The right side of your body is masculine and the left feminine? Your back is masculine and your front is feminine? It doesn't track - that's why the terms used are 'Yin and Yang' not 'Masculine and Feminine'.

 

Secondly, Yin and Yang, as Luke said, exist only in relation to each other. And they're holographic - like a fractal. Men are, in fact both Yin and Yang, and so are women. An eye is both Yin and Yang - the sclera (the ball shaped tissue holding everything together) is Yin... but the retina is Yang... but zoom in more and the retina is now Yin and the macula is Yang... and it doesn't stop... it applies to the cells that make up the eye, the various parts of the cells, the atomic particles... the subatomic particles... and so on. The male genitalia is both Yin and Yang - as a whole, in the mental category of various genitalia, yes they are Yang - but zoom in and certain parts are Yin and others are Yang... So is the case with female genitalia...

 

Thinking of yin and yang as masculine and feminine, in my opinion, is really problematic.

 

In regards to Po, it's not true that the Yang qualities are 'good' and the Yin are 'bad'... Logical clarity, Discernment and so on - these are the qualities behind racism for example... or the Nazi's 'solution' for the 'Jewish question'.

 

Similarly attachment is not bad - attachment to the emotions you have for your loved ones - so you don't give away your child if someone asks... Attachment to pleasant sensation so that you don't kill yourself...

 

If you zoom out, both the yin and yang qualities are seen as 'bad' for the purposes of inner transformation... both these qualities are a distortion of the original Virtue (De) of the Po...

 

Similarly the Yang aspect of the soul, the Hun - is not 'good' - it just is... It carries with it all the wounds and karmic attachments across lifetimes and keeps us going in circles in samsara... The soul as a whole is not seen as some higher aspect of us. In fact the soul separates us from our Original Spirit.

 

And now to the ultimate question - why do some traditions call the Original Spirit 'Yang Shen'?

 

Is it coz Yin='material dross'=Woman=bad and Yang='spiritual immortality'=Man=Good?

 

No, of course not. Even 'pure yin' and 'pure yang' are relative when observed at that level of abstraction. Original Spirit is an individuated spirit particle within an unindividuated Spirit realm (call it God or Dao or Heaven). Little piece of Dao = Yang, within the greater Dao = Yin. The reality is that this forms a kind of unfathomable whole that is beyond Yin and Yang... but from our perspective, from the necessary abstraction that we have to create to understand it, it is seen through Yin and Yang.

 

In the west we tend to give things archetypal properties and try to understand things by anthropomorphising complex things into human shaped concepts... think greek gods... The thing I love about Daoism is that it made a deliberate effort to move away from that and use the almost mathematical principles of the Yi Jing (and yin and yang) to describe things - all in an attempt to separate our emotional investment and tendency to dramatise spiritual concepts.

 

4 hours ago, Yueya said:

Pure yin refers to the mortal, earth-bound material dross, which must eventually obey the laws of matter.

 

Look how dramatic that description is. As if the earth and matter are somehow apart from Dao. As incredibly brilliant as Cleary was, he never had access to the states of consciousness that bring about direct insight into how reality unfolds.

 

9 hours ago, Yueya said:

I’d call yours a yang path, the path of a spiritual warrior; a path with definite goals derived from doctrinal clarity.

 

I'm sure I exhibit a lot of yang qualities - but I can assure you there's plenty of yin to me as a person, as well as my cultivation practice... it's just that being yin, it remains hidden - especially on such a yang communication medium.

 

9 hours ago, Yueya said:

the clarity with which you are able to communicate Daoist alchemical doctrine

 

I'm only communicating what I've been taught - I have my own questions, uncertainties disagreements and preferences - but I refuse to adapt what I learn to my preferences because I feel I should first understand and have a deep experience of what is presented to me - something I may never achieve. It's out of respect for my teachers and the generations of teachers behind them. It's also out of the recognition that I tend to be quite foolish, and my insight is narrow and prone to error.

 

What I share is shared in the spirit of 'take it or leave it'. I don't have anything to gain by sharing - I'm not selling anything, I'm not a teacher, I don't try to gather followers, or convert people, my teacher doesn't take students and requests anonymity - so I'm not benefiting him in any way either. People that feel a strong affinity to what I'm trying to share will get in touch - I try to help as best I can. It's good practice to articulate my experiences and I enjoy sharing with like-minded people and reading different opinions - but in reality, it takes a lot from me - in time and energy (both are quite precious to me) - so for me it's a way of giving. My teacher told me to stop posting - unless I can do it in the spirit of service... which is what I try to do.

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On 8/21/2021 at 7:02 AM, Bindi said:

What are Yin and Yang, how do Yin and Yang relate to us, and is the end result of neidan something that is pure Yang, or still related to Yin and Yang somehow? 

 

 

There are 2 usages of Yin and Yang.  The first explanation is Yang is superior, Yin is not desirable.  Lu Dong Bin, one of the eight immortals, and being the "in-charge" of Taoist religion, has another name Lu "Pure Yang".   We accumulate Yang Chi in the LDT etc.   On a day to day basis, a TCM doctor would say your Yang Chi is insufficient and sicknesses arise.  While a person is having Yin Chi, let say green and black eyes, bad conditions, then it is usual to suspect some spirits may have entered the body.

 

The second common usage is as per Yi Jing or philosophical line.  Yin/Yang are symbols of opposing/harmonising states/forces like active/passive, expanding/contracting, up/down etc.

 

It is usually not difficult to differentiate the two usages in normal discussions with additional information from the context.  But Taoist classics may not distinguish between the two clearly.  So some care must be taken in reading.

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Someone mentioned to me in private (and happy for me to share) - that the very fact that there's a hierarchy and a strict formula with levels and attainments and so on - that can all be considered masculine and patriarchal.

 

I suppose if that is what is meant by patriarchal, then it's certainly true there's a pretty big element of that.

 

But it's worth considering what else there is - other than this structure... 'what else there is' actually makes up 99% of the tradition... Kind of like how we look up at the sky and there are all these bright stars - but 99% of the sky is the space between the stars.

 

The 99%, in a tradition like mine, is practice - the space where everything unfolds.

 

The forum, in its nature only allows for the communicating the 1%... This may make it seem like this 1% makes up the majority of a tradition - but of course that's not the case. The 99% is only visible if you follow me for a month. And I can tell you that it would probably be the most boring month of your life. You'd see me quietly lighting incense, sitting, standing, sweating, stretching, cooking, cleaning, working, writing notes, sharing a long walk with my partner...

 

The structure gives a catalyst for the 'structure-less' to unfold in its own accord. 99% is this process of unfolding.

 

It is true that the structure in our tradition is necessary... it is not a case of only freely exploring and being creative and experimental. I guess someone that might call a traditional system 'patriarchal' might also call this freestyle exploration matriarchal? or feminine in nature?

 

There certainly is an element of spontaneous and free exploration - that's part of the 99% - but it happens only within the bounds set by the 1%. In this way the path (in my estimation) is both Yin and Yang. The Yang is highly visible, like the stars at night, the yin is hidden - because it happens inside.

 

If that's what is considered patriarchal or hyper masculine, then I suppose I'd have to accept that label. It just never crossed my mind because there are far more (highly accomplished) women in my school than I've seen in any others. My teacher's teacher is female... one of the key historical transmitters of our particular branch is female... the senior students of my teacher are mostly female. One of the key deities supporting our school is female...

 

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46 minutes ago, freeform said:

If that's what is considered patriarchal or hyper masculine, then I suppose I'd have to accept that label. It just never crossed my mind because there are far more (highly accomplished) women in my school than I've seen in any others. My teacher's teacher is female... one of the key historical transmitters of our particular branch is female... the senior students of my teacher are mostly female. One of the key deities supporting our school is female...

 

 

Then do the females in your branch practise the "Female Neidan" or just the normal ones?

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Posted (edited)

Human beings are imperfect, even those responsible for creating and maintaining spiritual traditions.  So it´s inevitable that cultural prejudices creep in to traditional systems.  Elsewhere on the board someone is offering to teach a method for developing the lower dan tien and @Taomeow asked if he there were any modifications for female practitioners.  For better or worse, I think her question reflects the standard way of looking at things in neigong circles: the "standard" practitioner is thought to be male and modes of practice appropriate for females are seen as deviations from this standard.  There´s an injustice there.

 

But I think it´s important to remember that any cultural prejudices embedded in teachings are about the teaching and not about the Tao.  The teaching is only useful to the extent it helps an adept to embody the Tao.  The goal is to connect with who we really are and who we really are is neither male nor female.  Traditions are imperfect and there´s a time and place for pointing out their imperfections, but it would be unfortunate, in my opinion, if we get so distracted by what´s wrong that we miss our Original Spirit.

Edited by liminal_luke
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1 hour ago, Master Logray said:

 

Then do the females in your branch practise the "Female Neidan" or just the normal ones?


Men and women have slightly different processes in ‘middle’ stage of alchemical practice. The early and late stages are the same for both sexes.

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1 hour ago, liminal_luke said:

But I think it´s important to remember that any cultural prejudices embedded in teachings are about the teaching and not about the Tao. 

 

On the other hand, a lot of people like to engrain their value system into the Dao, God, the truth, etc. 

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3 hours ago, freeform said:

Men and women have slightly different processes in ‘middle’ stage of alchemical practice. The early and late stages are the same for both sexes.

 

Is it correct or a myth that women progress much more swiftly at the early stages of the neigong and alchemical process? 

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1 minute ago, anshino23 said:

Is it correct or a myth that women progress much more swiftly at the early stages of the neigong and alchemical process? 

 

While I can't comment about any specific stage, I have read both Daoist and tantric Buddhist sources say that under ideal conditions women can accomplish cultivation about 1.5x faster than men. Women's energetic-physiological differences allow for a faster processing and integration of energy into the corporeal form.

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38 minutes ago, anshino23 said:

 

Is it correct or a myth that women progress much more swiftly at the early stages of the neigong and alchemical process? 


It is said that women get through the Jing consolidation stage near the beginning much easier and quicker. Men either falter and take a long time or fail and stop progressing.

 

Its said that women have an easier time of letting go of the habitual tendencies around the base desires. But they have issues that men don’t further down the line.

 

I don’t think it’s a hard and fast rule to be honest. From what I’ve been told by women in my school, the biggest obstacle is usually the expectations placed on them by society and their families.

 

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13 hours ago, freeform said:

 

I just wanted to get clarity on what specifically she meant.

 

I believe there's tons of very questionable patriarchal stuff in Daoism as well as all spiritual traditions - but it's not here.

 

The major issue I have is that in the west we think of Yang=masculine, Yin=Feminine. I'm not sure that's what @Bindi meant (I doubt it, but it's possible - which is why I asked)

 

But Yin is feminine and Yang is masculine is not right. It doesn't have the connotation in the traditions I've come across... It's more like "+" and "-", pretty sterile, almost mathematical terms. I think of them more as movement (which is how these qualities are experienced on the Qi level) - outward, expansive movement vs inward, receptive movement.

 

When talking about genders as absolutes, yes at that level of mental abstraction, masculine and feminine would be categorised Yin and Yang respectively - but it's incorrect to continue that one labled categorisation and apply it to everything else.

 

The right side of your body is masculine and the left feminine? Your back is masculine and your front is feminine? It doesn't track - that's why the terms used are 'Yin and Yang' not 'Masculine and Feminine'.


The characterisation male - female is an early one in an individual’s journey, and remains a fundamental aspect as other descriptors emerge. Thus left - female and right - male help orient us in an otherwise amorphous landscape, refer to water and I know you’re talking about the left female emotional channel, refer to fire and I know you’re talking about the right male mental channel. Later on, as you progress, alchemical symbols are added, colour and form, but these aren’t free floating, simply black or white or linear or chaotic, they remain attached and you just get two longer strings, male/white/mental/linear/order and female/black/emotional/round/random. 
 

Chopping up these strings you can end up with statements that don’t make sense, like Yin/Po/order/reason, but because you have disattached them they can be presented as true, and because there’s no link to any given order, there’s no way to judge otherwise. Without being absolutely clear on these chains, it would be impossible to know if by True Yang you are referring to just the left channel, or the channel beyond Yin and Yang which would be better named as the Central channel, or pure Spirit as opposed to Earth. Loosen the ties too much and you are left with something meaningless, and imbalance can creep in, you can make a case for pure yang and no yin as the ultimate aim, all straight edges and no round, all white and no black, but very little fundamental truth. 

 

These designations are not random, and shouldn’t be assigned just any value one feels like, they are psychologically and spiritually meaningful, and the same designations are potentially accessible by any individual from any background if they venture within. If this wasn’t so, if there wasn’t an underlying reality to everything referred to in alchemy, then you’re just playing a game of no real consequence. 

 

Quote

 

Secondly, Yin and Yang, as Luke said, exist only in relation to each other. And they're holographic - like a fractal. Men are, in fact both Yin and Yang, and so are women. An eye is both Yin and Yang - the sclera (the ball shaped tissue holding everything together) is Yin... but the retina is Yang... but zoom in more and the retina is now Yin and the macula is Yang... and it doesn't stop... it applies to the cells that make up the eye, the various parts of the cells, the atomic particles... the subatomic particles... and so on. The male genitalia is both Yin and Yang - as a whole, in the mental category of various genitalia, yes they are Yang - but zoom in and certain parts are Yin and others are Yang... So is the case with female genitalia...

 

I have noticed this fascination with detailing the yin and the yang aspect of everything under the sun, but I have never seen the need for it in alchemy. 

 

Quote

 

Thinking of yin and yang as masculine and feminine, in my opinion, is really problematic.

 

In regards to Po, it's not true that the Yang qualities are 'good' and the Yin are 'bad'... Logical clarity, Discernment and so on - these are the qualities behind racism for example... or the Nazi's 'solution' for the 'Jewish question'.

 

Logical clarity and discernment are behind racism and racially motivated murder? I don’t understand. 

 

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Similarly attachment is not bad - attachment to the emotions you have for your loved ones - so you don't give away your child if someone asks... Attachment to pleasant sensation so that you don't kill yourself...

 

If you zoom out, both the yin and yang qualities are seen as 'bad' for the purposes of inner transformation... both these qualities are a distortion of the original Virtue (De) of the Po...


When I look up De I read it is “rooted in the nature of the Dao” in relation to the Tao te Ching, yet you use it as the original Virtue of the Po. I don’t know what to do with this discrepancy. 

 

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Similarly the Yang aspect of the soul, the Hun - is not 'good' - it just is... It carries with it all the wounds and karmic attachments across lifetimes and keeps us going in circles in samsara... The soul as a whole is not seen as some higher aspect of us. In fact the soul separates us from our Original Spirit.

 

Yes, agreed to an extent, identification with the Hun and Po separates us from identifying with our Original Spirit.

 

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And now to the ultimate question - why do some traditions call the Original Spirit 'Yang Shen'?

 

Is it coz Yin='material dross'=Woman=bad and Yang='spiritual immortality'=Man=Good?

 

No, of course not. Even 'pure yin' and 'pure yang' are relative when observed at that level of abstraction. Original Spirit is an individuated spirit particle within an unindividuated Spirit realm (call it God or Dao or Heaven). Little piece of Dao = Yang, within the greater Dao = Yin. The reality is that this forms a kind of unfathomable whole that is beyond Yin and Yang... but from our perspective, from the necessary abstraction that we have to create to understand it, it is seen through Yin and Yang.

 

In the west we tend to give things archetypal properties and try to understand things by anthropomorphising complex things into human shaped concepts... think greek gods... The thing I love about Daoism is that it made a deliberate effort to move away from that and use the almost mathematical principles of the Yi Jing (and yin and yang) to describe things - all in an attempt to separate our emotional investment and tendency to dramatise spiritual concepts.


The attitude towards emotions is a great example of patriarchal thinking. Emotions are bad, investment in emotions is bad, emotions are unspiritual, emotions are lesser, emotions are illusory, emotions are to be ruled by the mind. 
 

In a previous post I suggested that the nature of the Po soul was ‘emotion’, which entails grappling with the emotions, engaging with them, resolving them, working with them. In your response the emotions were the negative part of the Po soul, in my perspective they are the nature of the Po soul, and not a bad thing in themselves, certainly not something to be overcome or refuted. 
 

“Po]… is the [qi] of the Lesser Yin, and works in him, governing the emotions ([qing] ).  [Po] is connected with the idea of brightening ([bai] ), for with the emotions the interior (of the personality) is governed.”


Where there is a lesser Yin there must somewhere else be a greater Yin, and I have no problem with that, emotions aren’t the ultimate reality, but they do play a very big part on the way to ultimate reality. 

 

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Look how dramatic that description is. As if the earth and matter are somehow apart from Dao. As incredibly brilliant as Cleary was, he never had access to the states of consciousness that bring about direct insight into how reality unfolds.

 

 

I'm sure I exhibit a lot of yang qualities - but I can assure you there's plenty of yin to me as a person, as well as my cultivation practice... it's just that being yin, it remains hidden - especially on such a yang communication medium.

 

 

I'm only communicating what I've been taught - I have my own questions, uncertainties disagreements and preferences - but I refuse to adapt what I learn to my preferences because I feel I should first understand and have a deep experience of what is presented to me - something I may never achieve. It's out of respect for my teachers and the generations of teachers behind them. It's also out of the recognition that I tend to be quite foolish, and my insight is narrow and prone to error.

 

What I share is shared in the spirit of 'take it or leave it'. I don't have anything to gain by sharing - I'm not selling anything, I'm not a teacher, I don't try to gather followers, or convert people, my teacher doesn't take students and requests anonymity - so I'm not benefiting him in any way either. People that feel a strong affinity to what I'm trying to share will get in touch - I try to help as best I can. It's good practice to articulate my experiences and I enjoy sharing with like-minded people and reading different opinions - but in reality, it takes a lot from me - in time and energy (both are quite precious to me) - so for me it's a way of giving. My teacher told me to stop posting - unless I can do it in the spirit of service... which is what I try to do.

 

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Posted (edited)
On 25/08/2021 at 12:43 AM, Bindi said:

Thus left - female and right - male help orient us in an otherwise amorphous landscape


That may be so if you’re exploring this in a mental-instinctual way - where you plumb the depths of your unconscious and interpret imagery that comes up.

 

But if you have a deep experience of Qi (which is how alchemy is normally taught) - yin and yang have very definite, tangible form.

 

On 25/08/2021 at 12:43 AM, Bindi said:

Chopping up these strings you can end up with statements that don’t make sense, like Yin/Po/order/reason, but because you have disattached them they can be presented as true, and because there’s no link to any given order, there’s no way to judge otherwise.


This connection doesn’t make sense if you rely on thoughts, ideas or archetypal images only. When you have an experience of the particular mixture of Yin and Yang that form ‘metal’ energy, then it’s clear - like really obviously clear.

 

On the bare Qi movement level - metal contracts. On the Xin level metal Qi differentiates and attaches.

 

It’s this power of differentiating that creates the yang aspect of Po’s function. You-me, pleasant-unpleasant, clean-dirty. This is what helps discernment and logical clarity.

 

On a more archetypal imagery level think of metal qi as a sharp sword - separating this from that, right from wrong.

 

On 25/08/2021 at 12:43 AM, Bindi said:

Logical clarity and discernment are behind racism and racially motivated murder? I don’t understand. 


This ability to differentiate extends to social areas. Us-them. My country-immigrants. My skin colour-others.
 

When out of balance, it can certainly inform the dark logic behind genocide.

 

It also informs a sense of aesthetic taste and fashion… which is a case of differentiating between fashionable -unfashionable… good looking and ugly…

 

When you have access to the Qi this action is palpable in the body… when you gain access to the Xin, it becomes palpable in how the mind works.

 

On 25/08/2021 at 12:43 AM, Bindi said:

These designations are not random, and shouldn’t be assigned just any value one feels like, they are psychologically and spiritually meaningful


These designations happen at an earlier stage than psychology… They are not random. They might seem random if you don’t experience them directly in action at the level of Qi. 
 

On 25/08/2021 at 12:43 AM, Bindi said:

The attitude towards emotions is a great example of patriarchal thinking. Emotions are bad, investment in emotions is bad, emotions are unspiritual, emotions are lesser, emotions are illusory, emotions are to be ruled by the mind. 


Reactive emotion is considered the antithesis to spiritual growth. Particularly if you identify your self with your emotional reactions.

 

Emotions themselves are neither good nor bad. Just like the seasons are neither good nor bad.

 

At the highest expressions emotions become the 5 De - the 5 virtues. Qualities like bravery, wisdom, compassion etc. They’re continuous states rather than reactions… 

 

Is that patriarchal? I don’t know. I guess if you simplify it down to ‘emotions are bad’ then maybe. But it’s not that simple in my experience.

 

On 25/08/2021 at 12:43 AM, Bindi said:

In your response the emotions were the negative part of the Po soul


I don’t believe I said it was negative. Po-aspect of the soul is said to be preoccupied with physicality. It is tempered by the ability to let go (which is the psychological function of the large intestine - also part of the metal element system)

 

Emotionally, it’s sadness, grief and sense of loss that are the Po’s domain. Is that negative? Depends. Sometimes it’s appropriate.

 

On 25/08/2021 at 12:43 AM, Bindi said:

emotions aren’t the ultimate reality, but they do play a very big part on the way to ultimate reality. 


Exactly.
 

And the denial of that is a mischaracterisation of the Daoist tradition.

 

They’re seen as negative if they’re reactive. They’re seen as close-to-divine if they’re fully harmonised at a deep level (and thus become De).

 

It is at the level of Original Spirit that emotions cease to be - because they become integrated completely. (Or rather the Original Spirit is ‘before’ they ever differentiated out into the emotions… hence the constant image of the return in alchemy)

 

On 25/08/2021 at 12:43 AM, Bindi said:

“Po]… is the [qi] of the Lesser Yin, and works in him, governing the emotions ([qing] ).  [Po] is connected with the idea of brightening ([bai] ), for with the emotions the interior (of the personality) is governed.”


I can’t comment on this. I don’t know where it’s from or what specifically it’s talking about… And context is one of the crucial ingredients to understanding anything within this tradition.

Edited by freeform
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12 hours ago, freeform said:


That may be so if you’re exploring this in a mental-instinctual way - where you plumb the depths of your unconscious and interpret imagery that comes up.

 

But if you have a deep experience of Qi (which is how alchemy is normally taught) - yin and yang have very definite, tangible form.

 


This connection doesn’t make sense if you rely on thoughts, ideas or archetypal images only. When you have an experience of the particular mixture of Yin and Yang that form ‘metal’ energy, then it’s clear - like really obviously clear.


Definite, tangible, clear, discernment, logical clarity and a sharp sword - bright, sharp, and with a purpose for sure, but not necessarily the Way according to Laozi…

 

I alone drift about,
like someone without a home.
I am like an idiot, my mind is so empty.

Other people are bright;
I alone am dark.
Other people are sharper;
I alone am dull.
Other people have a purpose;
I alone don't know.
I drift like a wave on the ocean,
I blow as aimless as the wind.

I am different from ordinary people.
I drink from the Great Mother's breasts.

 

- ch. 20

 

12 hours ago, freeform said:

 

On the bare Qi movement level - metal contracts. On the Xin level metal Qi differentiates and attaches.

 

It’s this power of differentiating that creates the yang aspect of Po’s function. You-me, pleasant-unpleasant, clean-dirty. This is what helps discernment and logical clarity.

 

On a more archetypal imagery level think of metal qi as a sharp sword - separating this from that, right from wrong.

 


This ability to differentiate extends to social areas. Us-them. My country-immigrants. My skin colour-others.
 

When out of balance, it can certainly inform the dark logic behind genocide.

 

It also informs a sense of aesthetic taste and fashion… which is a case of differentiating between fashionable -unfashionable… good looking and ugly…

 

When you have access to the Qi this action is palpable in the body… when you gain access to the Xin, it becomes palpable in how the mind works.

 


These designations happen at an earlier stage than psychology… They are not random. They might seem random if you don’t experience them directly in action at the level of Qi. 
 


Reactive emotion is considered the antithesis to spiritual growth. Particularly if you identify your self with your emotional reactions.

 

Emotions themselves are neither good nor bad. Just like the seasons are neither good nor bad.

 

At the highest expressions emotions become the 5 De - the 5 virtues. Qualities like bravery, wisdom, compassion etc. They’re continuous states rather than reactions… 

 

Is that patriarchal? I don’t know. I guess if you simplify it down to ‘emotions are bad’ then maybe. But it’s not that simple in my experience.

 


I don’t believe I said it was negative. Po-aspect of the soul is said to be preoccupied with physicality. It is tempered by the ability to let go (which is the psychological function of the large intestine - also part of the metal element system)

 

Emotionally, it’s sadness, grief and sense of loss that are the Po’s domain. Is that negative? Depends. Sometimes it’s appropriate.

 


Exactly.
 

And the denial of that is a mischaracterisation of the Daoist tradition.

 

They’re seen as negative if they’re reactive. They’re seen as close-to-divine if they’re fully harmonised at a deep level (and thus become De).

 

These reactive emotions, the ones that were produced before you ever heard of daoism or neidan or cultivation, continue to exist as mud obstructing the Yin channels. The only way to wash away mud is with water, and water is of course Yin. This is on a psychospiritual level, it’s not precise and definite and tangible, really it’s the exact opposite, it requires submission to the Po soul, and respect for the reactive emotions that have been previously called into existence. 

 

12 hours ago, freeform said:

 

It is at the level of Original Spirit that emotions cease to be - because they become integrated completely. (Or rather the Original Spirit is ‘before’ they ever differentiated out into the emotions… hence the constant image of the return in alchemy)

 

 

I disagree that emotions cease to be at the level of the Original Spirit. Rather, at this level, the Po soul (and the Hun soul) are “nourished by the Great Mother”, we will “drink from her breasts”. 

 

12 hours ago, freeform said:


I can’t comment on this. I don’t know where it’s from or what specifically it’s talking about… And context is one of the crucial ingredients to understanding anything within this tradition.

 

 

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10 hours ago, Bindi said:

Definite, tangible, clear, discernment, logical clarity and a sharp sword - bright, sharp, and with a purpose for sure, but not necessarily the Way according to Laozi…


Laozi is speaking about Humility not the Po. Humility is the central theme of the DDJ.

 

The Po is one of the ‘people’ mentioned in various parts of the DDJ.

 

 

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1 hour ago, freeform said:


Laozi is speaking about Humility not the Po. Humility is the central theme of the DDJ.

 

The Po is one of the ‘people’ mentioned in various parts of the DDJ.

 

 


Except I wasn’t saying he was speaking about the Po, I was referring to all those Yang words as not necessarily the Way according to Laozi (see my previous post). He seems to favour words like drifting, aimless, not having goals, which I perceive as a very Yin Way.
 

 

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58 minutes ago, Bindi said:


Except I wasn’t saying he was speaking about the Po, I was referring to all those Yang words as not necessarily the Way according to Laozi (see my previous post). He seems to favour words like drifting, aimless, not having goals, which I perceive as a very Yin Way.
 

 


oh I see - I misunderstood.

 

The DDJ is all about humility… what I’d call divine humility. It’s a Yin quality.

 

The Yin of the Xin invites heaven to earth.

 

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Verse 10


Can you govern the Po, embrace the union and never
separate from this way?

 

Can you gather Qi until it is as pliable as a newborn infant?

 

Can you clarify the mysterious perception until it is
without distortion?

 

Can you love your people and govern the country without contrivance?

Can you open and close the gate of Heaven, while
maintaining the feminine?

Can the light of your illumination penetrate the four directions without contriving?


Give life, and raise the people. 
 

Give life, but do not possess, allow action, but do not take credit.

 

Lead, without dominating.

 

This is the most mysterious of De.

 

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Verse 36


To compress it, first extend it.

To soften it, first strengthen it.


Before abandoning it, first build it.


Before grasping it, first surrender yourself to it.


This is the subtle nature of enlightenment.

 

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Verse 39

When sages attained union, Heaven became pure and Earth became still.


When spirit achieves union, you become divine.


When the valleys attain union, they become full.


When myriad beings attain union, they become fertile.


When rulers attain union, they become unequalled below Heaven.

[…]

To attain union, we must achieve humility.


The high must have the low as it’s root.
[…]

 

 

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and what do you think this verse about?

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Chapter Forty 
When Tao is in action, one’s worldly nature can be reversed to the true nature. 
Gentleness is the way of application of Tao. 
All things in the world originate from the manifestation of Tao, 
The manifestation of Tao is the form of being, 
Which originates from the non-being of the void, the Great Tao.

 

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