The holiday season is upon us and I thought as a gift, I might offer some translation and commentary of a very good meditation classic from the Eastern School of Nei Dan called “Three Carts Secret decree” by Li Xiyue.
This method details Li’s basic method of cultivating the mind and Qi together and among Nei Dan documents is one of the clearest and easiest to understand.
at the first stage of refining the mind, you are cultivating the mind which is not yet pure:
commentary: When people first start out in practising meditation, their minds are not yet able to become completely quiet and still, so it is hard to separate what is clear from what is unclear. This stage of practice seeks to begin the process.
the mind which is not yet pure has a lot of random imagining and wandering thoughts:
Commentary: it is normal for people who aren’t experienced in meditative practices to think a lot without even really knowing that they are thinking a lot. The mind wanders from place to place in its musings and worries, and it is difficult to make quiet.
random imagining comes from greed and desire, wandering thought comes from not being aware:
The active mind is not just made up of thoughts and imagination, it also contains our innermost desires, fears, and emotions which block us from seeing reality clearly and as it really is.
The person studying meditation at its border must not desire to push aside their dusty emotions, and won’t be able to expertly remove their random imagining, or ignore the rise of their wandering thoughts:
If you are just starting out in meditation, it is really difficult to control the mind and it doesn’t come from trying to force the mind to be quiet, or pushing away feelings and ignoring thoughts. There is another, better way to control the mind.
the method is in setting the attention. You can little by little smelt and refine:
the phrase “setting the attention” means that you stop the attention at some point, in other words, you direct the mind to some point within yourself and you keep it there. If you can stop the mind in one place for a long time, then little by little you will make progress in refining it into a quiet, and pure mind.
setting means setting behind the navel palace, and in front of the “life gate,” slightly under its centre is and empty and silent cavity:
Li is referring to the “Qi Xue” point which is a cavity under the lower Dantian area in the deep abdomen. this point should feel empty and without any specific feeling. That is where you should place your attention. Remember to focus on the quiet and emptiness of placing the mind there and don’t make too strong of an effort. It is important to stay soft and relaxed, quiet, and calm, but maintain your attention on that spot.
my mind stops there and I observe inside, my mind illuminates the centre of emptiness, and it is protected there together with the breath:
The mind after being directed to that place should rest inside and remain calm, quiet and empty, the breathing should seem as thought it is mixed with the mind. Staying quietly in that one place, the mind and the breath seem to mix together in emptiness. This is an important part of the process, constantly review how to maintain emptiness and a spiritual connection to the breath.
bound together inside this established area, it comes and goes inside of squareness and circularity:
The space inside of the Qi xue point is not an exact shape, but rather it becomes unclear as to what shape it is. the breath comes and goes from this place and it is both direct and indirect. You shouldn’t put your attention on breathing directly in a line to this place, nor should you allow the breath to be scattered all around. Instead, it seems like this empty space is naturally dark, opening and closing without your help, and it seems like any definite sense of the nature of this place is unavailable to your reasoning mind.
The important thing is to keep the attention focused there but not force it.
Calm the breath and return to the root, mix with nature and it creation and change. Above it, do not move. Set yourself upright in quiet and clarity’s original point of origin:
comment: maintaining the mind in silence like this for a long time will naturally allow the mind to return to silence and to let your body and mind operate naturally as they would when you were gestating in the womb, building and growing,and not striving for anything. Make sure that the body above this area does not move and don’t let the mind jump around from place to place. Make sure you are totally quiet and totally calm, and you will naturally return to the silent, stable, and clear, root of creation.
from this, one thread of illumination will come from the mind, and one strand of genuine breath will mix together with it. Muddy and vast, quiet and serene, this is the basic practice of cultivating Qi:
When the mind finally becomes calm, it will seem like the mind is naturally illuminated in that area and that it mixes together with the breath. The mind will become dark and turbid, as if it is very vast, much more vast than in your normal awareness. It is quiet and totally calm, serene and at peace. This is the method to use to begin the practice of meditation.
I hope you enjoy this practice and I wish you a very healthy and happy holiday season and new year. Remember not to use any type of physical or mental force to do this. Relaxation, quietude and calm are what makes this work, and even if you were to strip away the attention aspect of this practice, just focusing on making the mind dark, quiet, and calm, and soothing the breath would already have a very beneficial effect.
If you like this practice, please consider purchasing a copy of my book or taking a course with me. If you have any questions about the practice, or observations you would like to share, please leave a comment in the comments section and I will answer you as fast as possible.