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Text translated from the blue book from Jinhua 2012 by B K Wee
Bi Guan (闭关) literally means closing the door to worldly matters. It is a purposedriven exercise to achieve specific results in inner alchemy. The phrase 闭关 was first documented in the Jing Dynasty (晋朝). According to Taoist practitioners, there are major retreats and minor retreats. Major retreats are held in deep mountains, while minor retreats are conducted inside Taoist temples. It is not a necessary criterion that retreats are done in seclusion. When a group of people come together, maintain silence, and explore the effects on one another, this can also be considered a type of retreat. However, contact with other human beings and the outside world is limited and restricted. During a retreat, contact is maintained only with fellow retreat practitioners. From this point of view, there are group retreats, single retreats and retreats done in seclusion. Certain conditions and environments are necessary for a retreat. During a retreat, one of the key goals is to master the ability to freely interchange and transform the following three types of energy: Cosmic Energy (宇宙能量), Reincarnation Energy ( 转世能量), and Existential Energy (本体能量). More specifically, the practitioner needs to master the process to transmute Jing (精) into Qi (气), from Qi (气) into Shen (神) and finally returning Shen (神) to Qi (气) and Qi (气) back to Jing (精). If this is not achieved, then the whole process cannot be deemed to be a proper retreat. There are also different types of retreat for the Shen (辟神谷), Qi (辟气谷) and Jing ( 辟精谷). The Taoists believe that retreats have to follow certain principles and observe certain rules and methods so that the practitioner can be successful. Practitioners must attain a certain level of merit, virtue and wisdom before they are qualified to participate in a retreat. This is because their actions will have a beneficial impact on all sentient beings. Ordinary folks are only qualified to do the self-reflection and repentance practice (悔过). If a practitioner has liver imbalances, then, even though he undertakes fasting, he or she must consume something that will nourish the liver. Practitioners with heart problems must also do the “single stroke tree practice” (单劈掌). For those with stomach and liver issues, they are recommended to also do the “double push meridian tree practice” (双推脉). Retreats may also be classified in the following three ways: (i) self-imposed retreats, (ii) master-imposed retreats, (iii) retreats for breakthrough in practice. For master imposed retreats, practitioners must abide by all the rules and regulations laid down by the master and participate in all temple activities. The retreat venue must have a picture of the master or his physical body present. Practitioners must be silent both inwardly and outwardly. Classic texts and scriptures are covered and on the day immediately after the retreat, practitioners have to write 3 questions on pieces of
paper which are then placed in a box. The teacher will randomly draw from these questions and answer them. If a practitioner raises a question that has already been answered, then some sort of disciplinary action will be administered, like kneeling for a period of time. Food, if consumed, needs to be taken in a proper place like a dining hall. Practitioners typically prepare for Taoist Bi Gu (辟谷) by consuming only fruit (no grains) for seven, eight, or ten days prior to the retreat. This form of preparation also has its own rules, purposes and methods. The Taoists believe that one of the gravest acts of being unfilial (不孝) is not being able to recall your parents’ faces and voices after their passing. On one’s birthday, one should observe certain rules, fast, and engage in the practice to remember one’s parents (忆母听父). This practice is also done on the eve of Chinese New Year. Birthday celebrations are only organized on the 70th birthday. To live to 80 is auspicious and one is considered to have attained longevity. The purpose of making journeys (云游) to different locations and sacred spots in nature is to hopefully acquire more wisdom. This requires a practitioner to select the right timing, the right place, the right people and an energy spot. The right energy spot is different for different individuals and you have to listen to your heart and experience these things directly yourself. The Taoist Bi Gu is an important part of the overall practice and can be done before or after Chinese New Year, similar to the case of winter hibernation, which is not easy to master. There are 3 essential types of Bi Gu. (i) Bi Shen Gu (辟神谷): If one fasts and is sustained with Qi but is not successful in retrieving one’s Shen, then it is not considered a proper retreat. Thus the key objective of this type of retreat is to cause the Shen to return to one’s body at will (收神, 神归己). One of the most accomplished practitioners of this type of retreat is Master Zhang San Feng (张三丰). The Shen is divided into Shi Shen (识神) which is loosely translated as post natal Shen, and Yuan Shen (元神) which refers to pre-natal Shen. More precisely, we want to still or seal off the Shi Shen so that the Yuan Shen is brought out. This is referenced in the Dao De Jing (道德经) as sealing the Gu Shen (谷神), the Gu Shen that “does not die” (谷神不死) . When one speaks of the coming out of the Yang Shen (阳神出壳), it implies that the Shi Shen is completely sealed off and the practitioner is able to inter-change and transform the 3 different energies at will. This is the highest level of attainment in Bi Gu. Qi Gu (辟气谷): If one fasts but is not able to be sustained by Qi, then this is not considered a proper retreat. This Qi is mentioned in the Dao De Jing (道德经) and Master Zhang Zi Yang (张紫阳) is perhaps the best in this type of Qi practice. Sealing off the external Qi means to shut off the Cosmic Energy from the body and sealing off the internal Qi is to turn the body into a receptacle for Cosmic Energy. The next stage is to become independent of the Cosmic Qi and internal Qi. At this stage, you will develop certain abilities to perform real work. In reality, the three types of Qi – the external Qi, the internal body Qi and the Qi that is projected outside from within the body – are continuously being inter-changed and
transformed during one’s spiritual development. Each type of Qi is represented by a different Chinese character although they have the same Chinese pronunciation. Bi Jing Gu (辟精谷): This is also referenced in the Dao De Jing (道德经). Master Lv Zhu (吕祖) said that not consuming food in itself is not considered Bi Gu. There is internal Jing and external Jing. External Jing refers to external food that is introduced into the body, e.g., grains, food. And these foods can be categorized according to the 5 elements (5 tastes) that will ultimately nourish the corresponding internal organs. From this insight, we will be able to nourish our Qi (for purposes of Jing Qi, Shen Qi or physical stamina). Internal Jing is further divided into 5 types, so the practitioner is well positioned if he is sensitive enough to know which meridian to work on, which meridian to seal off and which meridian to open up.
Actually, these 3 types of Bi Gu are inseparable. If you do not consume any food, then your Shen needs to rule and be in charge. Our Shen regulates the function of our internal organs and the movements of the meridians so that the internal organs produce more internal Qi. If we have sufficient internal Qi, then we will be able to overcome feelings of hunger and greatly reduce the possibility of any potential problem. Therefore it is important for one to be aware of these things and to consciously conserve the internal Qi the day before the Bi Gu starts. The following day, this internal Qi can be released and inter-mingled with the cosmic energy before being retrieved back into the body. In the beginning this is accomplished by the Shi Shen since the Yuan Shen is not yet at our beck and call. So we need to initiate with the Shi Shen to activate and lead the Yuan Shen. The character Gu (谷) in Bi Gu originates from the Dao De Jing (道德经). Gu Shen ( 谷神) does not refer to the commonly known definition of a mountain valley. Here it means no sound or complete silence. The Dao De Jing (道德经) also describes a particular scenario where, “within the mountain valley, the Qi is full so any sound can travel very far”. There is movement in everything, even in states of extreme quietness and stillness. Even at the deepest places we can still perceive sounds. Master Lv Zu ( 吕祖) says that even falling leaves emit a sound and an accomplished practitioner will be able to perceive these subtle sounds. The symbolism of the character Gu (谷) is that the practitioner attains a state of extreme stillness and becomes capable of doing certain things. So we have to Bi (辟), used as a verb here. The Taoists believe that our present bodies are an illusion and a transitory vehicle. Whether you choose to be buried or cremated after you die makes little difference because the physical matter of our body will eventually be completely disintegrated with the passage of time. Our physical existence is really very short. A hundred years is equivalent to roughly 30,000 plus days. However, based on the evolution and development of the human species – the human structure and metabolism – every person should have no problem living to 150 years, provided that their existence is in total harmony with nature. If one does not live in accordance to the rhythms of the heavens, then their physical life will be greatly shortened. Even though Master Lv Zhu (吕祖) pointed out that our bodies are an illusion, it is a reality that all of us also possess a little amount of Ling Qi (灵气) inside our body. This Ling Qi is like the Gu Shen (谷神) found within the deepest mountain valleys and it moves within our hearts and bodies. We do not hear her and cannot see her, so we cannot determine where she is, just as our physical internal organs and skeletal systems are very real and exist within us, yet most of us have no awareness of them. And this total lack of self
awareness is the root cause of why we take our bodies for granted and abuse our bodies on a daily basis. It is a great tragedy that we do not hear her or know what she is doing or when she begins her rhythmic movements (regulated or not regulated). The moment she stirs, opens up and moves is when the mysterious gate of the heaven and earth (玄牝) appears. So all 3 types of Bi Gu make use of the 3 types of energies. The interchanging and transformation of these 3 energies with one another requires our Ling (灵) as the medium to conduct the various processes. Every one of us possesses this Ling, even the dead. In fact, dead people rank highest since there is no more physical movement coming from them and therefore the Ling can manifest herself completely before finally retreating away from the body. It is when the Ling completely leaves the body that one is considered completely dead (神得一以灵, 一是太乙, 本体得太乙以为灵. 全灵而退才是死人). Master Lv Zhu (吕祖) summarizes the practice of Bi Gu as follows: “A proper Bi Gu means to accomplish the following: to cease the intake of physical foods (断精食), to accumulate the Jing Qi (聚精气) and to return the Shen back to oneself (神归己), to place the Ling within the internal Qi (灵入气中为辟谷).” Bi Gu goes against one’s normal daily routine and habits because humans predominantly rely on physical foods (which can be further categorized into different types) for their daily sustenance. Retreats can be further divided based on their purpose, e.g. Life and Death Retreats. The Master Wang Zhong Yang (王重阳) is the most proficient practitioner of this type of retreat. When he felt that his Ling was not completely manifested, he made a grave for himself and lived like a dead person. Even the dead have feelings, thoughts, and can communicate. Bi Gu also involves moving from a post-natal state to a pre-natal state. The number for females is 7 and the number for males is 8. So we have this equation: Yin Yang and the 5 elements = 7 X 8 X 5 = 280 days. For females 7 X 3 = 21 days and for males 8 X 3 = 24 days. The basic number for male and female = 7 X 8 = 56 days. Combined together to form a fetus we have 56 X 5 = 280 days; this is the duration the fetus is in the mother’s womb. The monthly period for females is 28 days and multiplied by 10 months, we also get 28 X 10 = 280 days. Once again, it is important to know the purpose of a Bi Gu so that the practitioner is able to achieve certain meaningful changes at the end of the practice. Otherwise, it is nothing more than starvation. The following are some reasons for engaging in Bi Gu: (1) to acquire certain skills e.g. X-ray vision, remote diagnosis; (2) Yin Shen practice (练阴神): if the Bi Gu period is extended, then it is easy for practitioners to perceive many visions. They need to master the Yang Shen (阳神) in order to differentiate the validity of these visions; (3) to achieve certain breakthroughs and/or to overcome certain energetic blockages. At a certain level of mastery in the practice when the 14 meridians begin to circulate or while doing the Greater Orbit practice (大周天), one becomes aware of certain spots or areas when the energy is blocked. So a Bi Gu will enable the practitioner to
obtain a clear view and the possible reasons and solutions for the blockage. Natural fasting in response to certain illnesses is not covered here. A Bi Gu requires certain pre-conditions: (1) the skill to obtain nourishment from the cosmos and external environments although the duration for this will not be too long; (2) the skill to obtain nourishment from flowers, grasses, trees and forests; (3) the skill to obtain nourishment from other practitioners, e.g. when one practitioner projects energy to another practitioner to see whether this would lead to some interesting extra-sensory abilities. There are 3 main stages in a Bi Gu: (1) cease intake of grains but possible to consume fruit and water (断谷) (2) cease intake of all physical food but possible to have 1 glass of warm water (preboiled) each in the morning and night (断食); the practitioner needs to engage in daily walking practice (at least 5km, 1 hour long, paying special attention to co-ordinating the breathing and Yi Nian properly) and tree practice (20 minutes) at the same time (to mobilize internal Qi to move inside all the meridians, no need to do usual standing practice with back turned to the tree but sit directly on the grass or forests after walking); sitting meditation is done in the evening to regain balance and to determine which are the vulnerable parts/organs so that one can focus on the weak organs to strengthen them and then do the 5 internal organ practice, finishing off by returning the Qi back to Xia Tian (气归下田) (3) Wo Gu (握固): maintain continuous sitting posture (double lotus position) inside an enclosure, no intake of food or fluids, no sleeping, natural external environment with flowers, plants and trees, need to mist water (containing medicine) around practitioner so that the body pores can absorb the moisture. There needs to be a guardian to protect the practitioner throughout this type of practice. The master also needs to call out the practitioner’s name repeatedly and regularly to provide an anchor into this reality. After 10 days or so in this state, the practitioner appears to enter into a different state of reality and will no longer be fully conscious. The practitioner sits until some vision appears and he has to then make sure that what appears is real and not illusionary. When this is achieved, the practice ends but no one can tell ahead of time whether the practitioner will “go off” or “return”. So the duration for this very challenging practice is totally open-ended. At the end of the practice, need to spray some water on the practitioner and offer honey drink followed by a good rest. Towards the end of the Bi Gu, there is another practice that is done between 11pm to 1am at night. The beginning of this practice will coincide with the intake of solid food. But the process is gradual. First consume some fruit, nuts and a little water to break the fast before consuming solid foods. On the last night, food is consumed earlier and then the practitioner immediately gets into a sitting posture with the Ba Gua Hand Form (八卦子午式). The intention is that, hopefully, by 11pm the food is ‘gasified’ (气化) and when this happens, the practitioner must keep totally still and do their best to sit through the whole night so as to achieve a breakthrough to ‘see’ something. Through the practice of Bi Gu, we provide the conditions for our body to become ‘empty’. On the third day of the Bi Gu, it is common for the legs to start trembling and shaking. With the added effort to be silent during all this while, we aim to motivate the body Qi to return to the Xia Tian (气归下田) and for the Xia Tian (下田) to begin to gently move. When the Xia Tian (下田) is activated and begins to vibrate, there are 2 possibilities for the energy: to move upwards or to move downwards
relative to the Xia Tian (下田). The practitioner has to watch inwardly like a detached observer to see where and how the energy pathways unfold from the Xia Tian (下田). If the energy decides to go upwards, then the practitioner has to decide whether the downward energy arising from the effects of the food that is just consumed is greater than this upward moving energy. This will determine the ultimate direction of this energy, i.e., whether it moves upwards or downwards or whether it spirals and spins. Practitioners who are older in age are advised to spin the energy before allowing it to rise up. Practitioners who are younger in age can just simply observe the whole movement without any interference, and to patiently wait to see if the energy begins to spin. After the Bi Gu, sitting meditation is done at night between 11pm to 1am. Using the Real breath to lead the Yin in Yang Qi to rise and the Yang in Yin Qi to descend (用 真人之气带阴中之阳气上升，阳中之阴气下降) so as to meet at the Zhong Gong ( 中宫) in order to generate some sort of movement there. After consuming food at the end of the Bi Gu, we patiently await the 2 Gong – the Zhong Tian (中田) and Xia Tian (下田) – to appear but we can do the 5 internal organ practice to see whether the organs begin to be activated or not. Then return the Qi back to the Xia Tian. The nightly sitting sessions must be done on the bed. The focus will be on the breathing (进风) for alchemy (“letting in the wind”), stabilizing the body (封炉) (“sealing the furnace and cauldron”), and Xin Fa (心法) – “movement of the internal medicine” (内药在动). At 11pm, wake up to sit, stabilize the mind and body, listen to the sounds of the human universe (internal) and the cosmos (external). During sitting, the external Qi will rise instead of sinking down and the whole person will become ‘empty’ and without “roots”. So the Qi will rise, giving a sense of floating. There will be lights appearing in front of your eyes but do not open your eyes. Slowly watch the moving lights. The Bi Gu is a practice to understand and know ourselves. It can last 3, 5 or 7 days. The whole process is beneficial whichever number of days you choose or if you are in a state of dis-ease. After 3 days, one can discover their own health issues. And after 5 days, one can identify one’s weakest link in the body. There is still some fecal matter after 3 days of fasting but after 5 days, the large intestines will be relatively empty. During fasting, all the other practices are to be done daily. If we extend this process to 21 days, then we will be able to “see” many things. The Bi Gu process can come to an end only after the practitioner is able to “see” visions and various scenes. So the first advantage of Bi Gu is to discover one’s weakest spot(s) and, secondly, the weaker cells or diseased cells will be destroyed in the process. In this fashion, the overall quality of one’s health will be improved. It takes 7 X 7 = 49 days for the body’s blood to be renewed. 9 X 9 days = 81 days is even better. On Day One of the Bi Gu, the aim is to become aware of and sense the movement of the 5 organs, know the sounds of these movements, and to have a clear idea what happens when one organ is linked to another organ (taste). The 5 internal organs practice is also known as the Small Pill Return practice (小还丹), so generating an internal medicine is the end result, not just knowing the “taste” of each organ. So is it possible to achieve the perfect harmony of the 5 elements and the integration of all the organs? The ideal situation is similar to the case of the Five Generals responding in sync when summoned by the Emperor. In practice, when we sit and stabilize ourselves, can all the 5 organs become activated and rise at the same time? And if we decide to descend, can the organs also respond accordingly? The second aim is to find out what happens to our internal organs if we do not receive nourishment from the
usual sources from the external environment. When we fast, our Existential Energy will be used up slightly in the beginning so we need to rely on tapping into the Cosmic Energies to sustain ourselves. However, when the Cosmic Energy is absorbed into the body, how can these energies reach the respective internal organs? The third aim is to really get to know our internal organs: which organs are “hard” and which ones are “soft”? If we look at water, can our internal organs become like water? Would our internal organs obey our every command, e.g. becoming rounded when we want the organs to be rounded, becoming flat when we want the organs to be flat, starting and stopping the movement at our command? We aim to accomplish these on Day One of the Bi Gu. During the first day of the Bi Gu retreat, there are 5 self directed requirements for each practitioner: listening within the heart (not the physical heart) (心内听) to bring back the Shen (收神), to bring back the body (收身), to bring back the vision (收视), to bring back the (inner) heart (收心), to bring back the Yi (收意), so as to treat oneself well and to treat one’s life well. The first and last requirements are the most important. The other three requirements are easier within our control. If you are not able to bring back the Shen on the first day, then take your time and do the practice slowly in the right direction. The same applies to stilling the body after you bring back the body. If we hypothetically do not have a physical heart but have an artificial one installed within us, then the function of our ears will blossom to the fullest. It is the same case with elderly persons who are unable to hear very well outwardly but have a more acute sense of inner hearing. Listening within the heart requires listening with the whole body while at the same time our ears are directed inwardly. The ability to listen within the heart (心内听) is a benchmark of the Bi Gu. Of course, this requirement to listen within the heart is different for everyone. We use our entire body to tune inward to sense the movements, to see if any of the internal organs are able to ‘gasify’, to see whether the Jing can be transformed into Qi after the internal organs have ‘gasified’, to sense whether any sounds are generated during all these movements, to sense whether internal medicine is being generated within. All the grand masters’ students are exceptional. So they already know the existence, location, function and exact characteristics of their own internal organs; how energies are exchanged internally and externally through the organs and how to extract and tap into Cosmic Energies. Therefore there is no need for them to bring the vision back to look within (收视). However, we are all ordinary folks wanting to be able to achieve similar abilities and so we make a conscious effort to look within. There is no reference to size when we attempt to bring back the Shen (收神) and bring back the body (收身). There is the Shi Shen (识神) and Yuan Shen (元神) and during the Bi Gu, we treat the Yuan Shen as the master and the Shi Shen as the faithful servant. So it is not an easy feat. When we make a conscious decision to fast, we are activating our Shi Shen. The Yuan Shen may not necessarily agree with such a decision. The master says it is difficult to go to bed at night with an empty stomach, so we have to employ our Shi Shen again to make the Yuan Shen sleep. In the morning, the Shi Shen tells the Yuan Shen to move our bowels but there is nothing in the large intestines, so the Yuan Shen again becomes terribly unhappy. So what do we exactly bring back when we talk about bringing back the Shen? Our Yuan Shen is under the control of our Ling. Our Ling has to be clear (灵明) before we can engage in Bi Gu. In other words, if the Ling is not clear, one cannot practise Bi Gu; the Yuan Shen has first to be ‘comforted’ and stabilized (安定), if that were the case. But what is the Yuan Shen? When we are able to (i) bring the body back (收身) to either
extremely small or extremely big; (ii) to enter into a state “to look and not look” (视 而不见); and (iii) to stabilize the body for the Qi to congeal (身定气凝), then the Yuan Shen will appear. And it is only after the Yuan Shen appears that the Shi Shen will revolve around the Yuan Shen, the true master. Under these conditions, we will get an accurate response from the Yuan Shen whether to eat or not to eat. It is only when we can successfully stabilize the body for the Qi to congeal (身定气凝 ) that we can really begin to listen within the heart. At this moment, quickly look within and see whether you can continue with the fast or not. Otherwise, stop the retreat and have some food. The Shi Shen does not behave very well; she wants to eat and yet does not make the necessary preparations. There is a special timing and window (时机) during the Bi Gu that we must look out for. When we fast without awareness and bypass this window then, Lao Tze says, it is like dropping into the bottom of the valley and it will be very difficult to climb back up again. Bringing back the inner heart (收心) means engaging in a dialogue with our physical heart. If we get the answer to stop and with each idea and thought the heart beat accelerates beyond its normal range, then the answer to our question is clearly presented. But our Shi Shen immediately steps in to say that the entire 7-day process is not completed yet and therefore we cannot stop the fast. However, if there is tightness in the chest or back, then you have to stop the fast and consume something immediately. Bringing back the Yi (收意) means to treat ourselves properly and well. To starve is to abuse oneself and disrespect the gift of life. Treating oneself well also implies treating others well because then you will not burden others with your health issues. On Day Two, we begin to do the practices that we have learned previously: to tap into and draw the cosmic energies into our bodies and to further transform these energies into existential energy for the body. For the walking practice, practitioners undergoing Bi Gu will walk differently than normal. During the Bi Gu, practitioners doing the walking practice must hold their breath to allow more time for the cosmic energies to stay within the body. If you do the double holding breath, i.e. inhale – hold breath – exhale – hold breath – repeat, then you will not feel hungry. At night, you can do the Great Dipper Step (七星步) to tap into the external energies then. Also perform the Ba Gua Ball Exercise (八卦意球) to direct the Ling into the Ball; but this will make you more hungry. In short, doing the walking practice and the Great Dipper Step (七 星步) will energize you. During the Bi Gu, one may experience these 3 states: Xu Ling (虚灵), Ling Shen(灵 神), Ling Ming (灵明). Ling Ming (灵明) means that the Ling is in front, followed by the Shen. This state is attained with the assistance of the sun and moon. Modern man may say that this is superstition but they fail to realize that they engage in a similar activity when they sun bathe. Shen Ling (神灵): like a crying child, it may run around but there are methods to call back the Shen Ling. Xu Ling (虚灵) is not inside our body but outside, appearing and disappearing in front of our eyes. The Taoists and Buddhists have developed methods to address this although the sequence of the proposed method is different. The Buddhists attempt to
stabilize the body first before allowing the Xu Ling to appear. The Taoists focus on allowing the Xu Ling to appear first by opening the Tian Mu Xue (天目穴). Xu Ling has her own movements and is not easily captured. In the classic diagram on the spiritual path (修真图), it is depicted as an ape and horse. For instance during the An Shen Zu Qiao (安神祖窍) practice, the appearance of the light is most times unpredictable; it comes and goes without your conscious control. This is how the Xu Ling shows herself. When the Xu Ling appears, the Ling Shen is also present, i.e. the Ling is in front and the Shen is behind. But in order to use the Shen to capture the Ling, the Ling must be clear, and the Shen must be totally clear as to how to capture, which direction and position to capture, how to select and adjust to the ideal position. Most people will feel very hungry on the first day of the Bi Gu but on the second day they will feel much better. Although there is not much feeling, there still is some movement and one cannot consciously stop and control this movement. This is also another way the Xu Ling moves. After several days of fasting, the body will be empty and you will experience some movements but you may not be able to stand up. You attempt to control these movements but fail to do so – this is a sign that Xu Ling is reappearing again but Xu Ling is scattered all over the body and not concentrated on one spot or area yet. The Shen in the body is conflicted with Xu Ling and would push you to eat as soon as you set sight on any food. Most people are not able to work through this stage to see the Xu Ling, i.e., they would stop fasting. In ancient times, practitioners who wanted to practice the Secret of the Golden Flower (太乙金华宗旨) had to do a lot of preparatory work, starting with a 21-day fasting retreat. Only after the Xu Ling had appeared (虚灵再现), the Ling Shen congealed ( 灵神之聚) and the Shen Ming appeared (神明之现), could the practitioner begin practicing the Secret of the Golden Flower material. The 21-day fasting period is divided into 3 stages. The first 7 days is to maintain silence and stop all intake of food and fluids. It is not permitted for practitioners to have direct eye contact with anyone so he must lower his head when walking around. This is because our mouths verbalize most things that are in our heart. So the idea is to discipline the mouth, which includes not eating anything (severing from the Shi Shen (断食神) and resulting in the reappearance of the Xu Ling). We may feel weak physically but can still move around and make movements freely and consciously. If we can perceive slight movements even when we sleep, then it is a good sign. One of the key advantages of a Bi Gu is to clean up what is weak and not beneficial inside our bodies, thereby leaving behind the fittest cells. Taoists speak of the 3 corpses and 9 parasites (三尸九虫) which are a constant threat to our bodies. There exist 3 parasites within each corpse. The upper corpse affects our mental faculties and Shen Qi (神气); the middle corpse affects our reincarnation outcomes or genetics; the lower corpse causes all sorts of disease and ailments which is the main impediment to longevity. Most if not all of us have used up most of the best resources and aspects of ourselves with little or no consideration to future generations. We are not referring to physical attributes or the state of the physical body; we are referring to the quality of our inner world. Reincarnation energy is concentrated in the Middle Space (Chest cavity or Zhong Tian) and we are not able to cleanse away these energies. And since there is a physical heart within this space, the middle corpse takes root and appears. Bi Gu can cause potential harm or even death or physical degeneration and continuous weight loss. As a general guideline, there should not be any weight loss
over a period of a 10-day fast. In certain cases, there is even weight gain. The overall colour, circulation and appearance of the practitioner should also be noticeably improved. And it is at the peak of this increase in energy that we break the fast and start to consume food. This is when the regenerative powers of the body are at their peak. After normal food intake and doing the practices again, there will be significant differences in results, especially with the Tian Mu Xue (天目穴) exercise. Most practitioners during a Bi Gu also have the desire to eat their regular meals, just like vegetarians who also sometimes crave for non vegetarian foods. But because of the awareness of a higher purpose or the beneficial outcomes resulting from the practice, practitioners persist and persevere in the practice. One of the key aims of going vegetarian is to improve one’s sensitivity. Meat eaters all have a certain odour and so by default are less sensitive through their noses and the body pores. The reason why you can still be poisoned although you stop breathing is because the body pores still allow the poison access into the body. Vegetarians also have cleaner blood without the clumping seen in the blood work when compared to meat eaters. The different dietary preference also produce differences in the muscles: vegetarians have finer muscle fibres. It is not advisable to become a vegetarian over-night; a gradual conversion process is recommended. Meat eaters also have more mucous and phlegm. When doing the Xray vision practice or the Union of the Sun and Moon practices, it is a requirement to stop smoking, stop drinking alcohol and tea and to abstain from eating meat. There are different types of vegetarianism and many theories: (1) plants: flowers are the best, roots, stems, leaves; (2) grains; (3) beans; (4) fruits; (5) micro-organisms – mostly Yin in nature.
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