Laying the Foundations for Refining Oneself (Part 2)


Cultivating the Tao

Quoted from:

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

[See also the first 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." . . . Strengthening and fortifying the Yin essence and doing no harm to one's spirit and breath is laying the foundations. Casting away one's own person and seeing the self and the objects as empty is laying the foundations. Taking Heaven and Earth as one's sanctuary and the ten thousand things as one's body is laying the foundations. Not being dishonest in darkness or deceitful in secret is laying the foundations. Being fearless facing a tiger and unyielding facing a warrior is laying the foundations. Being unconcerned by life or death and undistraught by disease or sickness is laying the foundations.

Laying the foundations and refining oneself are not separate from one another. If you are able to refine yourself, you can lay the foundations; if you are able to lay the foundations, you can refine yourself.

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


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