The One Opening of the Mysterious Barrier


Cultivating the Tao

Quoted from:

Cultivating the Tao: Taoism and Internal Alchemy, by Liu Yiming (1734-1821), page 103

Now I will not hesitate to speak, and I will give a true reflection of the spirit our ancestral masters, bringing forth what they did not bring forth and disclosing what they did not disclose. Joining them by means of my Spirit, being one with them by means of my Intention, I say to my companions:

This Opening has a shape similar to Penglai:
outside it is small, inside it is large,
and its depth cannot be fathomed.
It is not round and it is not square;
within it, "the black and the white tally with each other,"(1)
and darkness and light pervade one another.
Its gate is fifty feet high and four feet wide,
and has two panels:
once they open, once they close.
On its left coils a green dragon,
on its right is couched a white tiger,
above flies a vermilion sparrow,
below rests a black turtle.
Vague and indistinct! Dim and obscure!(2)
A True Man lives inside it:
his name is Spirit of the Valley,
his appellation is Living a Long Life.
At daytime, he eats a broth of millet;(3)
at night, he drinks the liquor of the boundless.
Sometimes he sings, clear and peaceful;
sometimes he is motionless, and keeps his mouth closed.
When he exhales, the gate of the Opening is wide open,
when he inhales, the gate of the Opening is firmly shut.

Source: Xiuzhen houbian (Further Discriminations in Cultivating Reality), sec. 16.



(1) Cantong qi (The Seal of the Unity of the Three), 56:2; trans. Pregadio, The Seal of the Unity of the Three, p. 102.

(2) The expressions "vague and indistinct" and "dim and obscure" derive from the Daode jing, sec. 21: "Vague and indistinct! Within there is something. Dim and obscure! Within there is an essence".

(3) This alludes to the Elixir, one of whose appellations is "pearl sized as a grain of millet."


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