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Immortal Sisters

When stillness climaxes, it can produce movement (…) This is the natural cycle of patterned energy and is nothing strange. “Who can be murky and use the gradual clarification of stillness? Who can be at rest and use the gradual arising of movement after a long while?” The first statement says that if people can be still and quiet, then the murky energy in the body will gradually change into clear energy; the second statement says that when one has been still and quiet for a long time, then movement gradually starts again. (…) “Reaching the extreme of emptiness, keeping quiet steadily, as myriad beings acting in concert, I thereby watch the return. The first two lines are about the extreme of quietude, the second two are about the production of movement.

A skilled artisan leaves no traces. She enters the water without making a ripple. (…) The skilled appear to have no abilities, the wise appear to be ignorant.

When people cultivate reality, if they cannot awaken all at once, they must practice it gradually. One thing they can do is fasting and discipline to purify the body and empty the mind. Another is called staying in place, abiding in seclusion in a quiet apartment. A third is called sustaining thought, gathering mind back into the nature of consciousness. A fourth is called sitting forgetting, in which one ignores the body and forgets the self. A fifth is called spiritual understanding, which all realities convey to the spirit. A practice like this is very difficult, and cannot be perfected in a day and a night. Those with determination accomplish their tasks; it is just a question of how powerful the person is. -One Hidden In The Sky

My body lives in the city,
But my essence dwells in the mountains.
The affairs of a puppet play
Are not to be taken too seriously.
When the polar mountain fits into a mustard seed,
All the words in the universe may as well be erased.

It is said that the great recluse lives in the city, while the lesser recluse lives in the mountains, emblematic of the idea that true transcendence does not depend on favourable external conditions. Mundane behaviours are described as affairs of a puppet play insofar they are controlled by conditioning rather than by autonomous individual decisions. The image of the immense polar mountain fitting into a mustard seed comes from Buddhism, and represents the attainment of mental freedom through experiential realization of universal relativity.

If you don't know the essence and don't know life,
You split the creative and the receptive into two paths.
But the day you join them together to form the elixir,
You fall drunken into the jug yet have no need of support.

The secret of the receptive
must be sought in stillness;
Within stillness there remains
The potential for action.
If you force empty sitting,
Holding dead images in mind,
The tiger runs, the dragon flies-
How can the elixir be given?

The receptive is the mother sign of the I Ching, associated with the practice of stilling compulsive mentation and said to be the beginning of the practice of the Way. The last part of this verse emphasizes the point made time and again in Taoist meditation texts, that the practice of stillness does not mean quietism, but is a technique for clearing the mind so as to release positive energy from the prison of mental habits.

(…) marriage itself was an outward cloak of an inner affinity, a miniature esoteric organization within which higher developmental practices could be carried out in private.

From Immortal Sisters (ed. Thomas Cleary)

immortal_sisters.txt · Last modified: 2016/03/28 11:55 by maja