F. A Nature worshipper’s take on Taoism
Let us now reinterpret these Taoist concepts from the perspective of a Nature worshipper. Sometimes we call her Mother Nature; other times the Goddess. Her name, however, is irrelevant. Remember that Taoism is a later refinement of the earlier Nature worship with patriarchal overtones. Thus many of the concepts can be lifted intact, while others must be modified in view of later distortions.
Bearing Fruit, The Great Work
For those of us who worship Nature in her Earthly form, we emulate our vegetable side and attempt to bear fruit. We do not focus upon internal energy to lengthen life; instead we focus upon internal energy to increase our creative potential. We consider the focus upon health and long life as a distortion. On the deeper levels, health and longevity are secondary goals.
We, Nature worshippers, prefer the image of the internal Farmer emphasizing good nutrition and exercise in order to perfect his fruit, not for the fruit to have long life. When his fruit is ripe he picks and markets them. We consider the image of an ear of corn trying to live forever, funny. We consider the image of bearing and harvesting fruit at the right time appropriate. For Nature worshippers, longevity is not the goal; it is only a byproduct of the quest for health, which is a byproduct of the need to bear perfect fruit. When we have produced the perfect fruit, then we have accomplished the Great Work. It then furthers one to cross the Great River to bring it to market.
The Golden Pill manifested externally
The Great Work is the externalization of the internal process of producing the Golden Pill. Because of the interrelationship between internal and external, internal and external transformation are the same. The production of the Golden Pill will facilitate the Great Work and vice versa. The external aids the internal and the internal aids the external. Positive feedback. Two sides of the same hand.
Because of the interpenetration of internal and external, we hope that our Great Work will act as the Golden Pill for the external, i.e., that our masterpiece will transform society by bringing health to all. Personal and collective transformation are linked. We further our personal transformation by working on collective transformation. One doesn’t happen without the other. Our personal refinement is linked intimately with collective refinement.
Refining the drug by taking a bath
In some ways, the Golden Pill is true inspiration. How is it produced? The Taoist way, by cultivating, subduing, the chi. Freud called it sublimation. Through meditation, quietude is achieved in order that true inspiration emerges. True inspiration is the ‘drug’ that needs to be refined. Too much noise distorts inspiration and merges it with external illusion. Outside replaces inside; the fire goes out. Hence taking a bath becomes incredibly important in order to purify the Beast/Mind of extraneous thoughts, in order that true intent, the drug, might emerge purified and uncontaminated by temporal elements.
Consolidating the base
True intent is the True Mission of creating the Great Work through the inspiration of the internally created Golden Pill. Once the discriminating mind becomes the servant of the True Mission, all falls into place. The Mind in service of the Mission subdues desire, transforming it also into a servant of true intent. Alchemically, the fire of the mind cooks the liquid desire, which turns into steam. When it condenses, it gives the heart/mind a bath. Hence this reversal cycle calms both mind and desire by chaining one to the other in the service of true intent. This is the consolidation of the base.
Now that the base is consolidated in quietude, the awareness of the emergence of the drug and its refinement can commence. Awareness facilitates the ability to tell the weeds from the flowers. The weeds need to be immediately pulled, before they take firm root, while the flower needs to be nourished, in order to strengthen their roots. Moving from quietude, no energy is wasted because the three jewels, true intent, true sense, and spiritual essence move as one, not as three.
In modern times, we feel that ‘the refinement of the drug’ has been sacrificed for the fire of life. The corn forgets that it is fruit and tries to live forever. The obsession with vital energy is misdirected in that the Golden Pill is forgotten in the quest for longevity.
Each human has a discrete amount of Fire. It can be dissipated through the fulfillment of Desire, or it can be channeled into creating the Great Work. Hence the true Fire is the Creative fire. How is the fire lit? How is the fire maintained? When is there too much heat?
The Taoist way, by cultivating the chi energy through meditation and exercise. Once the true drug emerges in quietude, it must be manifested, then refined by the mind-fire. The fire is necessary to purify the raw, unrefined creation. The creative fire must be tended not forgotten or the mixture will be spoiled. Too much heat, however, burns the Bread, the Great Work. Too much consciousness, leads to obsession, which leads to isolation and aberration. A certain sensitive Lightness is needed when tending to the Creative Fire. Don’t let the Fire go out from lack of attention. Don’t let the Fire get too hot and burn the bread. While the external creative fire is directed towards the Great Work, simultaneously the internal creative fire is creating the Golden Pill necessary for personal transformation and growth. Inner and outer are one. The alchemical process of transforming coal into diamond is furthered.
The Fire of Death
The external Fire is Death. For us devotees of Nature, physical death is inevitable. One of the great falsehoods is the denial of death in the form of Biblical heaven, Taoist physical immortality, or Buddhist nirvana. What survives the Great Fire is the seed inside the fruit of creation. Hence the true intent is upon the completion of the Great Work.
The Sexual Fire
Remember Chang Po-tuan says: “Once the real divides, the false comes forth; the seeds of routine take command, sense faculties and data stir together and habit energy grows day by day.”
There are two types of seeds of routine. One type is created in one’s present life. These are relatively easy to deal with. The other type has been created over generations, many times for evolutionary reasons. These seeds lead to weeds, which need to be rooted out. Simple meditation and exercise are many times not enough. These forms merely consolidate the base. The creative fire is one type of fire that is hot enough to destroy the ‘seeds of routine’ to enable one to move from the Original Mind unobscured by environmental or hereditary overlay. The sexual fire is another kind. In the process of Reversal, male and female merge. The balance of yin and yang is achieved in sexual embrace. The sexual fire burns through all the channels. The clinging to individual self must be obliterated in order for merger to occur. Plus the intensity of this religious experience puts day-to-day life into a more balanced perspective. Creative fire feeds sexual fire and vice versa. Feedback occurs, creating personal transformation through the Golden Pill and cultural transformation through the Great Work.
Of course balance must be achieved. Thus, in excess, both the creative fire and the sexual fire can both be dissipating. The creative fire must be fed or it goes out, draining vitality. The sexual appetite likewise can’t be overindulged or it dissipates the creative fire. Stop before satiation occurs. Stop when you are still a little hungry. Cultivate your appetites. Don’t indulge them.
Reversal: The Secret
For devotees of Nature, whose concern is with fruit, not long life, the natural course of humanity is the dissipation of creative energy through endless fun, i.e. conversation, travel and entertainment. Reversal of this process leads to the channeling of this capacity for ‘fun’ into a creative outlet. The fire of ‘fun’ is not hot enough to cook the chi, to make the Golden Pill, which furthers the personal transformation and growth.
Through meditation and exercise, quietude is achieved. The overactive mind is used to still desire so that true intent might emerge from the chaos. With all in order, the base has been stabilized, and the alchemical journey may begin. From quietude the emergence of the true drug of inspiration is perceived and then distilled. It is cooked lightly without too much fire. Internally it produces the Golden Pill, externally it produces the Great Work.
If too much physical or mental energy is dissipated, then there will not be enough Heat/Temperature to cook the Bread, to distill the essence. It will not rise. It will not taste right. If the essence is not refined, then it will be mixed with the dross and is in danger of being thrown out. The fire of creation distills the essence in order that it might survive the Fire of Death, temporarily at least. The Great Work that has been refined to essence will survive the illusion a little longer. The idea is to achieve the Diamond Body – the Great Work, which will live forever.