What are the practices of going with and going against the flow?
Although these are the techniques of practicing Tao in the
Hou-tien10, understanding them is still necessary, Whoever
dissipates his vitality, spirit and soul through ears and eyes is
a commoner. Whoever retrieves inward his vitality, spirit and
soul can become a Saint. The practice of going with the flow
dissipates. The practice of going against the flow retrieves.
That is why Mencius said “To practice Tao, one needs nothing
but to retrieve his lost heart.”
The technique of maintaining and nurturing one’s vitality, spirit
and soul is to keep tranquility in one’s heart and reflect one’s
aureole inward. Through this process, the True Fire of li will
descend. By raising one’s tongue to lightly touch the upper
palate, his True Water of kan will ascend through the glands
in his mouth. When there is enough True Water, it is
swallowed into Dan-tian (the root of human life or, literally,
the cavity of immortal embryo) in the abdomen. Here is where
the True Water meets the True Fire from Ming-men (the door
of life at the fifth joint of the spine). The True Water is then
converted into Qi. When the Qi and soul are full, one can labour
without feeling fatigue. The Qi circulates in the body by
ascending along the spine and descending down in the front
continuously. When vitality becomes full, one has no desire
for lust. The vitality then is refined and transforms into Qi (spirit).
When the Qi (spirit) is full, one has no appetite. The Qi (spirit)
then is refined and transforms into the soul. When the soul is
full, one has no desire for sleep. Then the soul returns to the
Void. Once the soul returns to the Void, it is bright and its
presence permeates throughout the cosmos. This is what
Taoism calls “turning the water mill”, Buddhism calls it
“turning the wheel of the Dharma” and Confucianism calls
it “pervading the Truth after the elimination of desires”.
This is the practice of going against the flow.
The circulation of the Qi of the common ascends in the front
and descends in the back. The circulation of the Qi of Saints
descends in the front and ascends in the back. Aren’t the two
exactly the opposite?