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





















The Taoist I Ching, by Liu Yiming

Here are some examples of how Liu Yiming (18th c. Taoist master) relates the I Ching hexagrams to the firing process and the Golden Flower.

Hexagram 1 Heaven

The lines making up the body of the hexagram are all odd; this represents pure yang, so it is called heaven. This hexagram represents the advance of yang, whereby the science of building life acts with strength and uses the path of firmness. The quality of strength in people is original innate knowing, the sane primal energy. This energy is rooted in the primordial, concealed in the temporal. Since people abandon the real and give recognition to the artificial, innate knowing is obscured. This is why the sages have the science of building life, to restore the primordial in the midst of the temporal, whereby it is possible to sustain the original qualities of the strength of heaven, never to decay.
Starting from effort, you end up in spontaneity, integrating completely with natural principle. However, in this science there are medicinal substances, there is a firing process, there is a course of work, there is intensification and relaxation, there is stopping at sufficiency; you can advance into its marvels only if you practice it according to its laws, and develop it with the appropriate timing. If you deviate in the slightest, you will fail altogether. So it is necessary to know this firing process of advancing yang.

Hexagram 24 Return

Explanation: 
Return means coming back. As for the qualities of the hexagram, above is earth, obedient, below is thunder, active; when activity obeys the mind, the heavens turn in their course while human affairs proceed successfully. Also, in the body of the hexagram one yang moves below a group of yins; this is the first return of yang energy. In both senses equally is the path of return, so it is called return. This hexagram represents the return of yang within primordial yin.
The way to do it involves working in sequence, restoring it gradually; one cannot restore it immediately, or even if one does restore it immediately it cannot be stabilized. It is necessary to first refine oneself and master the mind, waiting for the time to act. This path is not difficult to know, but it is difficult to practice; when you know it, it is most important to practice it. If you know it but do not practice it, that is tantamount to not knowing. "Having a place to go" and promptly setting about cultivating it, it will surely return gradually, from a single yang, until six yangs are pure and complete. What can compare to the growth and fruition of that return?

Hexagram 19 Overseeing

Overseeing is watching over. As for the qualities of the hexagram, above is earth ☷, following, and below is lake ☱, joyful: joyfully following truth, acting in accord with that joy, it is therefore called overseeing. This hexagram represents watching over the furnace, culling the elixir. Even though the two yangs are growing, yin energy is still abundant and yang energy is still weak; it is necessary to be careful to ward off danger.

This is really a guide to the firing process as one watches over the furnace; if students study and find out the facts in the hexagram overseeing, then they can grasp most of the process of firing the gold elixir.

Hexagram 30 Fire

Fire is clinging, and it is illuminating. Fire refers to the light of the sun. What does light illumine? It simply illumines the inherent quality of open awareness without obscurity. When one is open and aware, this inner quality or virtue is already illumined, and truthfulness within reaches outside, so that nothing can deceive one, nothing can burden one; one illumines the four quarters and sees everything as clearly as if it were in the palm of one's hand. The "yellow sprouts" of living potential cover the earth, the Golden flowers of spiritual energy bloom throughout the world. Whichever way one turns, everywhere is the Tao.
Yang on the top: The king hereby goes on an expedition; there is good luck, and he crushes the leader.

The true mind is like the radiance of the king; the quality of illumination is like going on an expedition. Illumining virtue, virtue is then illumined; this is like having auspicious achievement. Getting rid of the human mentality is like crushing the leader of the enemy. Not forcibly restraining random thoughts is like not taking the common followers captive. Using illumination to the point of illumination crushing the leader, then all acquired conditioning dissolves of itself without being repulsed. Then one is tranquil and imperturbable, yet sensitive and effective, illumined inwardly and outwardly, without a trace of fault of sense. This is illumination that is ultimately good, without anything wrong.

Return to Summary









































King Hor, firmly rooted, walking through
a narrow gate
(1750 BC Cairo, Egyptian Museum)



The return of the prodigal son by Rembrandt, symbolizing the return of the mind of Tao

For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.
-- The Bible, Luke 15:11-32

The metal man is originally the son of the family to the east. Living instead at the neighbors’ to the west, he is called back home to grow up, and espoused to a beautiful girl, becoming intimate. The metal man is real knowing of the mind of Tao.
-- Zhang Boduan, Understanding Reality







Majnoun overseeing the battle of warding off danger inside a head
(Click to enlarge)






A Japanese fire festival
(Click to enlarge)










Rustum killing a dragon, symbolizing the many faces of the lower self
(Click to enlarge)