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Ts'un-shen Lien-ch'i Ming

Inscription on Visualization of Spirit and Refinement of Breath


By Sun Ssu-miao
Translated by Livia Kohn

Visualization of Spirit and Refinement of Breath

The personal body is the habitation of spirit and breath.



As long as spirit and breath are there the body is healthy and vigorous.

But it dies1 as soon as spirit and breath are lost.

Therefore, if you want to preserve your body, you first have to calm spirit and breath.

The breath is the mother of the spirit, thus the spirit is the son of the breath.

Only when both are together one will live forever and not die.

Now, in order to calm the spirit you must first of all refine the primordial breath.2

When this breath resides in the personal body, the spirit is calm and the breath like an ocean.

If this ocean of breath3 is full to overflowing, the mind is calm and the spirit coagulated.

When this coagulation is not lost,4 body and mind are gathered in tranquillity.

Tranquillity then grows further into concentration, and the personal body will continue to exist for
years eternal.

Dwell permanently on the source of the Tao,5 and saintliness will naturally be perfected.

The breath then pervades the spirit and the mental projections, the spirit in turn pervades insight
and life.6

With life fixed and the body eternal, both unite with true inner nature.

Thereby one attains an age as old as the sun and the moon.

The Tao is then ultimately perfected.



If you want to learn the technique of refinement of breath as described here, you must first of all
stop eating cereals.

Then focus your mind calmly on the ocean of breath, visualize the spirit in the cinnabar field,
control the mind, and purify your thoughts.

When the ocean of energy is duly replenished you will always feel satiated naturally.

In the cultivation of mental one-pointedness, a hundred days mean a minor achievement, whereas
three hundred days bring a major level.

Only after this can one enter the five phases of the mind.

Once these are completed one undergoes the seven stages of the body.

As pure spirit and numinosity one goes on changing and naturally exists throughout all coming and
going.

Whether confronting a steep cliff or a thousand miles' distance, one goes or stays without
obstruction.

As long as the breath does not disperse, the ocean of breath is always full, the spirit is at peace in
the cinnabar field, and
the personal body and the mind are continually stable.

Naturally a youthful complexion will return and stay on despite changes occurring in the bodily
structure.

Once immortality is perfected, appearing and disappearing from the common world will merely be a
free passage of numinosity throughout the changes.

This, then, is what we call "going beyond the world."

One who accomplishes this is called a "realized one."



Aligning his years with heaven and earth, he is as old as the sun and the moon.

This particular technique does not require that one nourish on breath, swallow saliva, or undergo
any particular hardships.

When one must eat one eats, when rest is felt necessary one rests.7

Thus one will live forever in freedom and without obstruction.

One will pass through the five phases and seven stages while entering the innermost core of
concentration and observation.

Now, the student of the Tao will first attain the five phases of the mind:8

1. The mind experiences much agitation and little tranquillity.

One's thinking is conditioned by a myriad different projections, accepting this and rejecting that
without any constancy whatsoever.

Dreads and worries, plans and calculations keep racing on inside like mad horses.

This is the normal mind.


2. The mind experiences a little tranquillity and much agitation.

One curbs agitation and enters concentration,9 yet the mind at once is scattered again.

It is very hard to control and subdue, to curb its agitation and entanglement.

This is the beginning of progress toward the Tao.



3. The mind experiences half agitation and half tranquillity.

The tranquil state of mind is somewhat like a unified mind already, but this state cannot be
maintained for a prolonged period.10

Tranquillity and diffusion are about equal, one makes the mind care about its own agitation and
entanglement, thus it gradually gets used to tranquillity.

4. The mind experiences plenty of tranquillity and only occasional agitation.

One becomes gradually versed in controlling the mind, thus any agitation that arises is checked at
once.

The mind is fully one-pointed and when one-pointedness is lost it is immediately recovered.

5. The mind is turned entirely toward purity and tranquillity.

Whether involved in affairs or at leisure, there is no agitation at all.

From an efficiently controlled mind, firmness and solidity11 of concentration develop.

Only after one is firmly established in phase five can one enter the seven stages.

Just leave all to the natural process and let it realize itself spontaneously.

There is nothing to be actively done.


The Seven Stages12

1. The diseases inherited from former lives diminish, the personal body grows light and the mind
luminous.

The mind is now totally at rest within, the spirit is tranquil and the breath at peace.

The four elements13 are joined in harmony, the six emotions are deeply calmed.

With the mind resting peacefully in the mysterious realm, continue to practise one-pointedness and
inner concentration.

Joy and exaltation are daily new this is called "realizing the Tao."

2. The limits of normality are left behind, in appearance one regains a youthful complexion.

The body in a state of joy and the mind constantly at peace, one numinously attains a vision of the
deep and mysterious.

At this stage, one should move to a different part of the country, choose a spot and settle down.

It is better not to be a too old acquaintance of the local folk.

3. Extending one's years to a thousand one is called an immortal.

One travels extensively to all the famous mountains, flying or walking in spontaneity, with azure
lads as one's guards and jade maidens for entertainment.

Stepping high on mist and haze, colored clouds support the tread.

4. Refining one's body to pure breath, this breath will duly radiate throughout the whole body.

This is called the stage of the realized one.



Appearing and disappearing to the common world in accordance with spontaneity, one's glittering
clarity will radiate spontaneously, night and day in equal brightness.

With immortals in attendance one traverses through grottoes and palaces.14

5. Refining the breath to pure spirit, one becomes a spirit man.

Changing and passing on spontaneously, one is utterly boundless, one's power can move heaven
and earth, remove
mountains and drain the sea.

6. Refining the spirit to unify with the world of form, one becomes a perfect man.

As one nurninously pervades all existence, one's appearance and body are no longer definite.

One changes according to occasion, appears in different shapes as one goes along with beings.

7. Going beyond all beings in one's personal body15 one whirls out of normal relations and comes
to reside next to the
Jade Emperor of the Great Tao in the Numinous Realm.

Here the wise and sagely gather, at the farthest shore16 and in perfect truth.

In creative change, in numinous pervasion, all beings are reached.

Only one who has attained this level of cultivation has truly reached the source of the Tao.

Here the myriad paths come to an end.

This is called the final ultimate.



People nowadays study the Tao less and less every day, and as they don't even achieve the first
stage, how would they ever realize numinous pervasion?


Rather, they continue to preserve17 their stupidity and passions, they are determined to hold on to
their defilements and personal dispositions.

With the four seasons moving on in their course, their bodies and appearances falter until the
bodily structure collapses and they return to nothingness.

Someone who calls this realizing the Tao certainly is a hypocrite.

On the other hand, the combined methods of embryo respiration and inner observation allow
keeping of the spirit and preservance of the body. Original patriarchs of old have handed these
methods down to us today, but in their first beginning they were conceived and transmitted by
realized ones.18

The methods were preserved only through oral transmission and never put down in writing.

If a virtuous man of perfection19 by chance comes into contact with them, he must by all means be
very diligent and careful about them.

He must preserve and follow them without harboring any doubts.



It will be only the wise and the worthy who will encounter this sagely text.20

Cunshen lianqi ming : Inscription on Visualizing the Spirits and Refining Qi: DZ 834.
Attributed to Sun Simiao (581-682?), famous physician and alchemist. Part of a group of
Tang-dynasty (618-907) manuals on observation (guan ) and attainment of the Dao (dedao
). Also discusses the "five phases of mind" and "seven stages of the body." (Komjathy, 2004)
Author's Introduction
Cunshen lianqi ming by Sun Simiao , (DZ 834; YJQQ 33, 12a-14b) is another
short and concise description of the mystical ascent toward the Tao. It contains the delineation of
five phases of the mind and seven stages of the body which the adept is bound to undergo while
pursuing the path. These phases and stages are alsocontained in the appendix to the Zuowanglun.
In the original edition by Sun Simiao, however, they are described in more detail. Kohn, 1987: 77

Visualization of Spirit and Refinement of Breath


The personal body is the habitation of spirit and breath. As long as spirit and breath are there the body
is healthy and vigorous. But it dies1 as soon as spirit and breath are lost. Therefore, if you want to
preserve your body, you first have to calm spirit and breath. The breath is the mother of the spirit, thus
the spirit is the son of the breath. Only when both are together one will live forever and not die.
Now, in order to calm the spirit you must first of all refine the primordial breath.2 When this breath
resides in the personal body, the spirit is calm and the breath like an ocean. If this ocean of breath3 is
full to overflowing, the mind is calm and the spirit coagulated. When this coagulation is not lost,4 body
and mind are gathered in tranquillity.
Tranquillity then grows further into concentration, and the personal body will continue to exist for years
eternal. Dwell permanently on the source of the Tao,5 and saintliness will naturally be perfected. The
breath then pervades the spirit and the mental projections, the spirit in turn pervades insight and life.6
With life fixed and the body eternal, both unite with true inner nature. Thereby one attains an age as old
as the sun and the moon. The Tao is then ultimately perfected. If you want to learn the technique of
refinement of breath as described here, you must first of all stop eating cereals. Then focus your mind
calmly on the ocean of breath, visualize the spirit in the cinnabar field, control the mind, and
purify your thoughts. When the ocean of energy is duly replenished you will always feel satiated
naturally. In the cultivation of mental one-pointedness, a hundred days mean a minor achievement,
whereas three hundred days bring a major level. Only after this can one enter the five phases of the
mind.
Once these are completed one undergoes the seven stages of the body. As pure spirit and numinosity
one goes on changing and naturally exists throughout all coming and going. Whether confronting a
steep cliff or a thousand miles' distance, one goes or stays without obstruction. As long as the breath
does not disperse, the ocean of breath is always full, the spirit is at peace in the cinnabar field, and the
personal body and the mind are continually stable. Naturally a youthful complexion will return and stay
on despite changes occurring in the bodily structure. Once immortality is perfected, appearing and
disappearing from the common world will merely be a free passage of numinosity throughout the
changes. This, then, is what we call "going beyond the world." One who accomplishes this is called a
"realized one." Aligning his years with heaven and earth, he is as old as the sun and the moon.
This particular technique does not require that one nourish on breath, swallow saliva, or undergo any
particular hardships. When one must eat one eats, when rest is felt necessary one rests.7 Thus one will
live forever in freedom and without obstruction. One will pass through the five phases and seven stages
while entering the innermost core of concentration and observation.
Now, the student of the Tao will first attain the five phases of the mind:
1. The mind experiences much agitation and little tranquillity. One's thinking is conditioned by a myriad
different projections, accepting this and rejecting that without any constancy whatsoever. Dreads and
worries, plans and calculations keep racing on inside like mad horses. This is the normal mind.

2. The mind experiences a little tranquillity and much agitation. One curbs agitation and enters
concentration,9 yet the mind at once is scattered again. It is very hard to control and subdue, to curb its
agitation and entanglement. This is the beginning of progress toward the Tao.
3. The mind experiences half agitation and half tranquillity. The tranquil state of mind is somewhat like a
unified mind already, but this state cannot be maintained for a prolonged period.10 Tranquillity and
diffusion are about equal, one makes the mind care about its own agitation and entanglement, thus it
gradually gets used to tranquillity.
4. The mind experiences plenty of tranquillity and only occasional agitation. One becomes gradually
versed in controlling the mind, thus any agitation that arises is checked at once. The mind is fully onepointed and when onepointedness is lost it is immediately recovered.
5. The mind is turned entirely toward purity and tranquillity. Whether involved in affairs or at leisure,
there is no agitation at all. From an efficiently controlled mind, firmness and solidity11 of concentration
develop. Only after one is firmly established in phase five can one enter the seven stages. Just leave
all to the natural process and let it realize itself spontaneously. There is nothing to be actively done.
The Seven Stages
1. The diseases inherited from former lives diminish, the personal body grows light and the mind
luminous. The mind is now totally at rest within, the spirit is tranquil and the breath at peace. The four
elements13 are joined in harmony, the six emotions are deeply calmed. With the mind resting peacefully
in the mysterious realm, continue to practise onepointedness and inner concentration. Joy and
exaltation are daily new this is called "realizing the Tao."
2. The limits of normality are left behind, in appearance one regains a youthful complexion. The body in
a state of joy and the mind constantly at peace, one numinously attains a vision of the deep and
mysterious. At this stage, one should move to a different part of the country, choose a spot and settle
down. It is better not to be a too old acquaintance of the local folk.
3. Extending one's years to a thousand one is called an immortal. One travels extensively to all the
famous mountains, flying or walking in spontaneity, with azure lads as one's guards and jade maidens
for entertainment. Stepping high on mist and haze, colored clouds support the tread.
4. Refining one's body to pure breath, this breath will duly radiate throughout the whole body. This is
called the stage of the realized one. Appearing and disappearing to the common world in accordance
with spontaneity, one's glittering clarity will radiate spontaneously, night and day in equal brightness.
With immortals in attendance one traverses through grottoes and palaces.
5. Refining the breath to pure spirit, one becomes a spirit man. Changing and passing on
spontaneously, one is utterly boundless, one's power can move heaven and earth, remove mountains
and drain the sea.
6. Refining the spirit to unify with the world of form, one becomes a perfect man. As one nurninously
pervades all existence, one's appearance and body are no longer definite. One changes according to
occasion, appears in different shapes as one goes along with beings.
7. Going beyond all beings in one's personal body15 one whirls out of normal relations and comes to
reside next to the Jade Emperor of the Great Tao in the Numinous Realm. Here the wise and sagely
gather, at the farthest shore16 and in perfect truth. In creative change, in numinous pervasion, all
beings are reached. Only one who has attained this level of cultivation has truly reached the source of

the Tao. Here the myriad paths come to an end. This is called the final ultimate. People nowadays study
the Tao less and less every day, and as they don't even achieve the first stage, how would they ever
realize numinous pervasion? Rather, they continue to preserve their stupidity and passions, they are
determined to hold on to their defilements and personal dispositions. With the four seasons moving on
in their course, their bodies and appearances falter until the bodily structure collapses and they return to
nothingness. Someone who calls this realizing the Tao certainly is a hypocrite. On the other hand, the
combined methods of embryo respiration and inner observation allow keeping of the spirit and
preservance of the body. Original patriarchs of old have handed these methods down to us today, but in
their first, beginning they were conceived and transmitted by realized ones.18 The methods were
preserved only through oral transmission and never put down in writing. If a virtuous man of
perfection19 by chance comes into contact with them, he must by all means be very diligent and careful
about them. He must preserve and follow them without harboring any doubts. It will be only the wise
and the worthy who will encounter this sagely text.
Notes
1. YJQQ (p. 12a) here has for .
2. This refers to the interior breath, the personal breath of each individual which corresponds to the
original breath of the creation of the universe. Cf. Yuanqi lun (YJQQ 56); Maspero, 1971: 503.
3. The "ocean of breath" is another name for the lower cinnabar field, situated at three inches
beneath the navel. The primordial breath assembled here is then circulated throughout the body by
means of introspective observation or inner alchemy .
4. YJQQ here has, "when spirit and breath are not lost."
5. The YJQQ gives for : "the prime of the Tao."
6. The YJQQ (p. 12b) here has instead of : "inner nature and insight."
7. This relaxed attitude to one's natural needs goes back to the Zhuangzi, more exactly, Zhi Dun's
commentary, the Xiaoyao lun : "When I'm hungry, I still my hunger; when I'm thirsty, I drink my
fill."
8. YJQQ (p. 13a) omits this sentence. The five phases of the mind following here correspond to lines
34, 35, 36, and 38 of the Dingguan jing. Only phase 2 is not found there.
9. The YJQQ here has for : "One curbs the agitation entering the mind."
10. Following the YJQQ (p. 13a). The DZ edition has a mere instead of .
11. Following the YJQQ edition (p. 13b) in reading for .
12. The title of this section is left out in the DZ edition. The seven stages of the body are also found in
the Dingguan jing, lines 41-46. However, the Dingguan jing has a preliminary first stage and leaves out
Sun Simiao's final level.
13. The "four elements" refer to the Indian rather than the Chinese system: fire, water, earth, and air.
14. This reflects the climax of the "celestial sacred drama" of the Shangqing tradition. The adept tours
the summits of the sacred mountains which are directly linked with the energy of the stars. Cf. Schafer,
1977.
15. The YJQQ (p. 14a) has for : "high above and beyond all things."
16. Following the YJQQ (p. 14b) in reading for .
17. The YJQQ here gives for .
18. Following the YJQQ. The DZ edition omits this sentence.

19. The YJQQ here has for : "a man of virtue and determination."
20. Following the YJQQ (p. 14b). The DZ edition leaves out and gives for .

Thanks for providing this.


But I'm feeling harsh today; I have some issues with the translation. Her translations of certain
terms are odd, to say the least, and her use of English isn't particularly idiomatic.
For starters, how has she come to the conclusion that means 'visualize' ?
accumulate, nurture, foster, store, deposit, keep, exist... not visualize...
She translates the same character in 2 completely different ways right next to each other:
Quote

Visualization of Spirit and Refinement of Breath


...

As long as spirit and breath are there the body is healthy and vigorous.

Am I missing something? Has the word taken on a completely different meaning in Taoist circles?
*
no same meaning. its just she had no choice, if she translated it properly it would mean that spirits
do exist on their own without any imagination

Right. So we agree that she translated poorly? Because a good translator doesn't change
meanings just because the original doesn't fit with her personal worldview...

Here is another:

http://ikivesi.net/c...ry/sun-si-miao/

Sn Smio Cn shn lin q mng

Inscription of Preserving Shn and refining Q

Human embodiment is dwelling place of Shn and Q


If Shn and Q are stored the embodiment is tranquil, strong and healthy
If Shn and Q disperse the embodiment dies
If one desires to support the embodiment [one must] first calm Shn and Q
The Q is mother of Shn, Shn is the child of Q
If Shn and Q are whole the life is long and there is no death

Also see: http://www.itmonline...s/sunsimiao.htm

Taoist alchemists considered Sun the source of several works on alchemy, and he is believed to
have practiced alchemy on himself, contributing to his lifespan of 101 years. The primary
alchemical text attributed to Sun is the Taiqing Danjing Yaojue (Essentials of the Elixir Manuals
for Oral Transmission; ca. 640 A.D.), which has been translated by Nathan Sivin and presented

along with an extensive analysis of the historical records of Sun Simiao's life (11). Many of Sun's
alchemical formulas involved ingestion of metallic substances, such as realgar and cinnabar.

According to the Taoist writer Shen Fen, in his book Xu Xian Chuan (Further Biographies of the
Immortals, ca. 930 A.D.), when Sun Simiao died, his body remained without decay for many
weeks. "After more than a month had passed, there was no change in his appearance, and when
the corpse was raised to be placed in the coffin, it was light as a bundle of empty clothes. Truly, this
was release from the mortal part." Needham has speculated that Sun had been taking the mercury
and arsenic elixirs he had described in his last book, resulting in the preservation of this body at
death

I am ok with her use of 'Visualization' as that is trying to title it and capture the gist of the entire
work.

Inner cultivation is akin (in some traditions) to inner observation/seeing.

And there was a much earlier period (possibly the earliest inner alchemy) of Visualizing Spirits
within. I'm not sure if that slanted her take on it.

Sn Smio Cn shn lin q mng

Inscription of Preserving Shn and refining Q

Human embodiment is dwelling place of Shn and Q


If Shn and Q are stored the embodiment is tranquil, strong and healthy
If Shn and Q disperse the embodiment dies
If one desires to support the embodiment [one must] first calm Shn and Q
The Q is mother of Shn, Shn is the child of Q
If Shn and Q are whole the life is long and there is no death

Yes I like this much better.

Sorry to be so pedantic, but... it's textual study, right? I cannot help but be picky with (certain)
words.

That brings me to another thing I noticed:

Kohn and the other translate it to 'saintlihood' and 'saint' respectively. I won't say it's 'wrong', but
what does it mean? The in the LZ and ZZ is not a 'saint', right, but a sage? I know this isn't
Laozi but are we generally talking about the same kind of person?

dawei, on 20 Jun 2015 - 01:33, said:

And there was a much earlier period (possibly the earliest inner alchemy) of Visualizing Spirits within. I'm not sure
if that slanted her take on it.

does Visualizing Spirits means imagining the non existent spirits?

dustybeijing, on 19 Jun 2015 - 23:51, said:


Right. So we agree that she translated poorly?

yes, poorly. she does not only mistranslate willfully but also does not understand the meaning of
very important expressions like

Naturally a youthful complexion will return and stay on despite changes occurring in the bodily
structure.
should be
(youthfull) [ORIGINAL-god] face will return, complexion will be restored, the body will transform

*
Taoist Texts, on 20 Jun 2015 - 02:34, said:

does Visualizing Spirits means imagining the non existent spirits?

https://en.wikipedia...oist_meditation

Cun usually means "exist; be present; live; survive; remain", but has a sense of "to cause to
exist; to make present" in the Daoist meditation technique, which both theShangqing
School and Lingbao Schools popularized.

It thus means that the meditator, by an act of conscious concentration and focused intention,
causes certain energies to be present in certain parts of the body or makes specific deities or
scriptures appear before his or her mental eye. For this reason, the word is most commonly
rendered "to visualize" or, as a noun, "visualization." Since, however, the basic meaning of cun is
not just to see or be aware of but to be actually present, the translation "to actualize" or"
actualization" may at times be correct if somewhat alien to the Western reader. (Kohn 2008b:287)

It seems to me that many translate sheng ren as 'saint' and intend for it to be synonymous with
'sage'.

In The Encyclopedia of Taoism: edited by Fabrizio Pregadio, sheng ren is mostly translated as
'saint'. Not that I like that phrase but it seems commonly used.

Visualization of Spirit and Refinement of Breath

Interesting,..
Pneuma- is an ancient Greek word for "breath", and in a religious context for "spirit" or "soul".