Taoist Internal Alchemy (Neidan): Laying the Foundations for Refining Oneself (Liu Yiming, part 1)

Laying the Foundations for Refining Oneself (Part 1)


Cultivating the Tao

Quoted from:

Cultivating the Tao: Taoism and Internal Alchemy, by Liu Yiming (1734-1821), pages 144-145

[See also the second part of this passage.]


What is the meaning of laying the foundations for refining oneself? "Oneself" means your selfish desires, your egoism, and your selfhood. "Foundations" means having an actual ground, a root. . . .

Let me try to illustrate the essentials of "refining oneself" and of "laying the foundations." Terminating anger and ceasing desires is refining oneself.(1) Making one's mind into ashes and one's intention into ice is refining oneself. Forgetting emotions and terminating thoughts is refining oneself. Being moderate in wealth and steadfast in poverty is refining oneself. Not coveting fame and profit and not longing for sounds and colors is refining oneself. Decreasing the self to give profit to others and emptying one's mind to provide benefit is refining oneself. Practicing all the good and not committing any evil is refining oneself. Being unrelenting in one's will and bold in one's progress is refining oneself. Maintaining one's mind stability and being without duplicity until death is refining oneself.

Source: Xiuzhen houbian (Further Discriminations in Cultivating Reality), sec. 24.



(1) The phrase "terminating anger and ceasing desires" is used by other Neidan authors in addition to Liu Yiming. It derives from the Yijing (Book of Changes), "Xiang" (Image) on hexagram Xun ䷿ (no. 41); see Wilhelm, The I-ching or Book of Changes, p. 159.


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