This section from Bao Yi San Feng Lao Ren Dan Jue is a commentary on the reasons why people who meditate should be careful not to allow their minds to wander away from attention on the meditation state. It clearly illustrates some of the complex connections between the mind and the energy, essence, and spirit of the body. I have added my own comments about related concepts in meditation in hopes that it will illustrate how you can avoid falling victim to a confused and scattered mind, and how best to maintain your energy and spirit within your body, rather than allowing it to leak.
The essence not scattered means the spirit will not leave:
in Daoist thinking, the essence of the body can leak out through various functions of the senses. These senses are called the “six roots” and refer to the eyes, the ears, the mouth, the nose, the body, and the intention.
If the eyes stare too long, essence will be leaked through them and the masculine aspect of the spirit will be depleted. If the nose smells nice or foul things, the feminine aspect of the spirit will become startled and aroused or repulsed, making the mind unstable. If the ears are drawn to or shocked by sound, the essence of the kidneys and genitals will be disturbed and leak more easily, making the body weak. If the body is always in movement, the Qi will become tired. If the intention is not reined in, the spirit will become diffuse, jumping around with the intention.
If you can control the functions of the six roots, you can maintain the spirit and essence within your own body. If you can remain quiet and focused on maintaining the essence and spirit within the body, then neither of them will separate and run away from you.
the mind must not be used, the intention must not move:
If you want to maintain the spirit and essence in the body so they don’t leak, you need to stop thinking and you need to stop letting your attention wander.
using the mind will move the intention, the intention moving will make the spirit change:
If you think or react to emotions too much, your mind will start to wander, and if your mind wanders, then your consciousness will not be able to be maintained in a clear and pure state. much of Daoist practice is about learning to stop the racing thoughts and jumping attention so that the spirit becomes clear and open. Only when you can stop the mind can the spirit reveal itself to you, otherwise you will stay bogged down in mundane affairs and not even know that the spirit is concealed.
the spirit changing will scatter the Qi, the Qi scattered will cause the spirit to be forgotten:
When the spirit is unclear, then the energy of the becomes diffuse and will leak naturally out of the body. This is the normal way of life but it is not preferable. If the energy leaks out of the body, you will lose your connection to the spirit. For anyone who wants to meditate, it is important to notice times of mental distraction and excitement and calm yourself down. If you wish to maintain a connection to the mind illuminated (the spirit), then you should maintain a firm foundation in quiet and calm, don’t allow your mind to jump up in excitement unless it is really important to do so, and don’t put yourself in situations where you will be startled or drawn into sensual comforts.
Learning not to enter these situations is a big stage in mastering the quiet and contemplative lifestyle of someone who gains the benefits of meditation.
If you liked this post, please consider enrolling in our weekly email program. For a donation of between $30-50 (on a pay what you can basis) you receive four classes (one a week) for one month, reviewing different texts from the Nei Dan meditation school, each with a detailed introduction and commentary, culminating in a complete, multi-school approach to Nei Dan training. New enrolments are open every week and you can choose to take the program just once, or you can become an ongoing student of ours. I am always available to answer questions by email and am dedicated to helping you in your journey to deeply understand and master the Nei Dan meditation techniques of Daoism. If you would like to apply, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Robert J Coons