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 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?