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

3. Turning Around the Light and Keeping to the Center

1. Master Lu (Dongbin) said, what is the origin of the term turning the light around? It began with the adept Wenshi. When the light is turned around, the energies of heaven and earth, yin and yang, all congeal. This is what is called refined thought, pure energy or pure thought.   

2.When one begins to apply this charm, it is as if in the middle of existence there is nothingness. When in the course of time the work is completed and beyond the body there is a body, it is as if in the middle of nothingness there is existence.   

3. Only after concentrated work of a hundred days will the light be genuine, only then will it become spirit-fire. After a hundred days, from a point of real yang in the light, suddenly a millet pearl is born by itself, just as an embryo forms from the intercourse of a man and a woman. Then you should attend it calmly and quietly. The turning around of the light is the firing process.           

4. In the original creation there is yang light, which is the determining factor. In the material world it is the sun; in a human being it is the eyes. Spiritual and consciousness energy runs away or leaks mechanically through the eyes. Therefore, the Way of the Golden Flower depends wholly on the method of reversal.      

5. Turning the light around is not just turning around the essence of one body, but turning around the very energy of creation.  It is not stopping wandering thoughts only temporarily, but directly emptying samsara (轮回 - the turning of the wheel) of a thousand kalpas.

6. Therefore the duration of a breath means a year according to human reckoning and a hundred years measured by the long night of the ninefold underworld.

7. After a baby gives the first cry (ho) at birth , he grows up according to the circumstances, and until his old age he will never look backward. When his yang energy fades and disappears, he enters the ninefold underworld. The Surangama Sutra says: "Through pure thoughts one can fly; through emotions one falls". When students take little care of their thoughts and give too much way to their emotions, they fall into the lower ways. Only through observing clearly and making ones breathing quite, can one reach perfect enlightenment. This is application of the method of reversal.           

8. In the Yin Convergence Classic it is said: "The eyes are the key". In Suwen from The Inner Classic of the Yellow Emperor it is said: "The essence of the human body flows upward and fills the empty apertures". If one understands this, one has the key to attaining immortality and transcending the world. This is a practice that pervades the three religions of Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism.                                          .    

9. The light is not in the body alone, nor is it only outside the body. Mountains, rivers, sun, moon, and the whole earth are all this light, so it is not only in the self. All the operations of intelligence, knowledge, and wisdom are also this light, so it is not only outside the self. The light of heaven and earth fills the universe; the light of one individual also naturally extends through the heavens and covers the earth. Therefore, once you turn the light around, heaven and earth, mountains and rivers, are all turned around.

10. The essence of man fills upwards to the eyes, that is the great key of the functioning of the human body. You should think about this. If you do not practice meditation every day, this light flows out, who knows when it will stop? If you only sit quietly for a quarter of an hour, you get rid of ten thousand kalpas and a thousand lives. Inconceivably, the ten thousand dharmas all revert to stillness with this wonderful truth.      

11. When the practice is started, one proceeds from the shallow to the deep, from the coarse to the fine. It`s always better if there is no interruption. The effort is the same from beginning to end, but its experience during the process is personal and only known to oneself. Only when you return to the state of the unbounded ocean and the empty sky, and one accepts ten thousand dharmas just as they are, then you have got it.                

12.What the sages have passed on has not departed from inner illumination. Confucius called it: ultimate knowledge, Buddha called it: the observing mind, Lao-tse called it: inner observation, it is all the same.          

13. Anyone can talk about inner illumination, but one cannot master it if one does not know what these words mean. It means returning from the lower heart to the origin of form and spirit. Within our six-foot body we must strive for the body, which existed before the laying down of heaven and earth. Nowadays people sit and meditate one or two hours, still immersed in their lower self, and call this inner illumination. How can anything come of it?

14. The two founders of Buddhism and Taoism have taught that one should look at the tip of one's nose. But they did not mean that one should concentrate on the tip of the nose. Neither did they mean that while one`s eyes are looking at the tip of the nose, one`s thoughts should be concentrated on the middle yellow court. Wherever the eyes look, one`s attention follows. How can one direct one`s attention at two places at the same time. This is just like taking the finger pointing at the moon for the moon itself.              

15. What then is really meant by this? The idea of focusing on the tip of the nose is very clever. The nose must serve the eyes as a guideline, but the nose itself is not the issue. If one`s eyes are wide open, one looks into the distance, so the nose is not seen. If the eyelids shut too much, so that the eyes close, then again the nose is not seen. When the eyes are open too wide, one`s attention is easily scattered outward. When they are closed too much, one easily gets lost in dreamlike states. Only when the eyelids are lowered properly halfway, is the tip of the nose seen in just the right way and therefore it is taken as a guideline.     

16. The main thing is to lower the eyelids in the right way, and then to allow the light to come in naturally; you don`t need to make any special effort. Looking at the tip of the nose serves only as the beginning of the inner concentration, so that the eyes are brought into the right direction for looking, and then are held to the guideline: after that, one can let it be. That is the way a mason hangs up a plumb-line. As soon as he has hung it up, he guides his work by it without continually bothering himself to look at the plumb-line.          

17. Stopping and observing (止观) is a Buddhist method that originally was not secret. One looks attentively with both eyes at the tip of the nose, sits upright in a comfortable position, and focuses the heart around the center, which is also called the Yellow Middle in Taoism. It not necessarily means the center of the head. It is only a matter of fixing one's attention on the point which lies between the two eyes. Light is something extremely volatile. When one fixes the attention on the mid-point between the two eyes, the light naturally enters. One doesn`t need to direct the attention to the middle castle. These few words include all essential points. As for the rest, matters of entering and exiting stillness, the prelude and the aftermath, one can check the book Small Stopping and Observing for a reference.                    

18. Focusing around the center is a very subtle expression. The center is omnipresent; the whole universe is contained in it. This indicates the crucial point of Creation, and through this one enters the gate. One takes focusing as a hint, so that one doesn`t become rigidly fixed. This expression is alive and subtle.  

19. Stopping and observing are inseparable; they mean concentration and insight. When thoughts arise, you don't need to sit still as before, but you should investigate this thought: where is it? Where does it come from? Where does it go? Repeat this inquiry until you realize it cannot be grasped, then you will see where thoughts arise. After that you don`t need to seek out the point of arising any more. Having looked for my mind, I realize it cannot be grasped; I have pacified your mind for you.

20. This is right observation. What opposes this is incorrect. Once one realizes it cannot be grasped, one keeps practicing stopping followed by observing and keeps practicing observing followed by stopping. This is the double cultivation of stopping and observing. This is turning the light around. The turning around is stopping, the light is observing. Stopping without observing is called turning around without light; observing without stopping is called having the light without turning it around. Remember this.