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Record of the Celestials

Lu Dongbin天 文 錄
Tian Wen Lu

Translation Copyright © 2014 by Stuart Alve Olson. From the Chinese book Non Action Tranquil Sitting Methods (無為靜坐法, Wu Wei Jing Zuo Fa) compiled by Master Xu Zhenru (徐真如. Xu Zhenru). Derived from the work compiled by Hunyizi (混一子).  Published and printed by Zhen Shan Mei Book Company, Republic of China, 1976.

This text is considered to have been written in the Tang dynasty (618-907 CE), attributed to the famous immortal Lu Dongbin (one of the Eight Immortals). It is a wonderful, yet short and succinct overview of nine fundamental principles for Daoist cultivation leading to the attainment of the Dao.

One: Refining the Mind
The original nature of a person is the Dao. The mind is but a false intelligence. The mind of a person is dull and apprehensive and so cannot comprehend the Dao or discern where Dao dwells.

First the mind must be regulated, and this simply means to focus and concentrate solely on your method of meditation. With this the Dao will gain a foundation in which to reveal it’s self, then the Dao can be perfected.

When sitting just focus with full mind-intention. Eventually this focus will also begin to appear in all your daily activities. So whether sitting, standing, or walking simply give those activities all your focused attention.

Two: Curb Emotional Impulses
The Dao is without emotional impulses. When there are emotional impulses there is turbidity. When turbidity and emotions arise in the mind the Dao cannot be clearly perceived. Emotional impulses arise in the longing of maintaining your life [fear of death], in the longing for maintaining a self [fear of losing identity and ego], and in the longing for maintaining love from others [fear of loneliness]. When these longings arise the Dao becomes independent of the body. Cultivate your mind by curbing these emotional impulses and contemplate selflessness.

Three: Sincere Mind-Intent
The ideal of the Dao is found in sincerity, but the intent must be directed toward the unification of Essence, Breath, and Spirit.* If the mind-intent is not sincere, these three will become exhausted.

A person must be capable of making sincere mind-intent a way of life over a long period. When the Dao is part of daily life then the person can gradually enter into perfect realization. The Dao is not difficult, maintaining sincere mind-intent is.

* Jing, Qi, and Shen are the Three Treasures. Jing is the physical/sexual energy, Qi is the vital-life breath energy, and Shen is the spirit/consciousness energy.


Four: Settling Anxiety

There is only one way to approach the Dao, and that is to first settle all anxiety. When anxiety has been settled the Dao is then able to reside within the person. All other initial measures are just heterodox and only serve to disturb and annoy the highest treasures [the Three Treasures], resulting in anxiety remaining unsettled. It is because of anxiety a person is turned upside down and cannot truly cultivate. The attention of  the cultivator must be solely on first settling anxiety in order to keep to the Dao.

Five: Cultivate Essence
Immortality is in the Dao and immortality dwells within the Essence of a person. Why must the Essence be cultivated? Because when Essence is in fullness the Spirit will undergo transformation, and the body will then feel light and the Spirit can roam wherever it pleases.

The Dao of Heaven resides in yang, the Dao of Earth resides in yin, the Dao of the Sage dwells in immortality, and the Dao of Man dwells in Essence.

Six: Nourish Qi
The Dao is formless, yet nourishes the Qi; Qi is also formless, yet the Dao produces its abundance. What is formless is of the highest greatness and the most indestructible—the formless is the Dao and it is your Qi. Gather the Qi and longevity can be achieved. With Dao the Qi gathers, without it the Qi disperses. Cultivate the Dao and Qi will follow.

Seven: Concentrate Spirit
The Spirit dwells in the Dao, and the Dao is Spirit. Concentration will result in being with the Dao; lack of concentration results in dispersion and fragmentation of the Spirit. The Spirit s cultivated by dwelling in tranquility. Then the Spirit will unite with the Qi, and the Qi will unite with the Essence. When all three unite there is then the Dao.

Eight: Contemplate the Void
The teachings of Dao all revert to learning how to contemplate the Void. But what this means is to contemplate Void—even empty of voidness. Now existence is within one’s mind, and so it is impossible for mind to communicate the Dao and all the manifestations of it. So True Void is not actually emptiness. As Lao Zi states, “Keep to non-existence, yet hold onto existence.” This is the perfection of Dao and contemplation of the True Void.

Nine: Attain the Dao
If a person is able to cultivate and attain the Dao they will have 100 years of life. The Dao of Heaven and Earth have their origin in the Great Void. The Great Void is the Dao, and it is neither real nor unreal, and this is true of a person’s mind and body as well.

Keep to your cultivation constantly and after a long time there will be an illumination within you like the sun and stars. The Spirit will be able to depart and undergo transformation.

Everyone everywhere can attain these expedient skills from cultivation. The secret of orthodox Daoism lies entirely in these nine fundamental principles.

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