Mahavairocana Buddha seated on a golden lotus flower , by Unkei, 13th C, Japan

12. The Heavenly Cycle

1. In relation to the Heavenly Cycle, energy is not the main thing; the secret is in the heart. All popular methods of practicing the Heavenly Cycle, are like trying to help the shoots grow by pulling them upward. The Heavenly Cycle is maintained without minding, carried out without deliberate intention. Look up at the sky; it is always changing through the 365 days, yet the polar star never moves. Our heart is also like this; mind is the pole, energy is the myriad stars revolving around it. The energy in our limbs and throughout our whole body is basically a network, so do not exert your strength to the full on it. Refine the conscious spirit, remove arbitrary views, and then after that medicine will develop.

2. This medicine is not material; it is the light of essence, which is none other than the primordial true energy. It always appears after great concentration. There is no method of gathering the primordial true energy; those who speak of gathering are quite mistaken. When you have experienced this primordial energy for a long time, eventually one`s heart is filled with light. When the heart is empty, and all indulgence is ended, you are liberated from the ocean of dust. Talking about dragon and tiger today or water and fire tomorrow, are all illusions in the end. The spells I learned from my teacher Huolong are as I explained; I don`t know about the teachings of other Taoist sutras.

3. There is a cycle in each day, there is a cycle in each hour; where Kan (Water ☵ ) and Li (Fire ☲) interact there is a cycle. This interaction is like the revolving of Heaven. As long as you are unable to stop the operation of the mind in the moment, as a consequence there are times of interaction and times of non-interaction. Yet the revolving of Heaven never stops for a moment. If you are actually able to unite yin and yang in tranquility, the whole earth is yang (positive) and harmonious; when your central chamber is in the right place, all things simultaneously expand to fulfillment. This is the method of bathing spoken of in alchemical classics. What is it if not the great cycle?

4. The firing process of the cycles differs in scale, but ultimately there is no way to distinguish great and small firing. When you reach the point where practice is fluent, you do not know what Kan (Water ☵ ) and Li (Fire ☲) are, what Heaven and Earth are, what is interaction, what is one cycle or two cycles, or where to find any distinction between great and small. It is all the operation of one body; though it appears to be most great, it is also small. Each time it takes a turn, the universe and the ten thousand things take a turn with it. It is in the square inch but it is also most great.

5. The firing process of the gold elixir should ultimately become natural . If it is not natural, then Heaven and Earth will revert on their own to Heaven and Earth; the ten thousand things will go back to the ten thousand things: no matter how hard you try to unite them, you cannot. Then it is like a season of drought, when yin and yang are not in harmony. Even though Qian (Heaven) ☰ and Kun (Earth) ☷ go through their cycles every day, in the end you will see a lot that is artificial. If you can operate yin and yang, turning them into similar things, then naturally all at once clouds will form and rain will fall, the plants and trees are refreshed and the mountain rivers flow freely. Even if there is something offensive, you can drop it all at once. This is the Great Heavenly Cycle.

6. Students ask about living midnight. This is very subtle. If you insist on defining it as true midnight, that would seem to be sticking to forms; but if you do not focus on forms and do not point out true midnight, by what means can the living midnight be known? Once you know living midnight, there is definitely also true midnight. Are they one or two, not true or not alive? It all requires you to see the real. Once you see the real, everything is true, everything is alive. If your seeing is not real, what is living, what is true? As for living midnight, when you see it at all times, finally you reach true midnight; your mood is clear and light, and living midnight gradually blooms into ever-greater awareness. At present, people do not yet clearly know the living; just test it out when you head for the true, and the true will appear, while the living will be sublime.