Alchemical Traditions, 4




History & Dynamics of Taoist Alchemy

Aaron Cheak


pp. 167-9 kiem 'gold'

p. 167

"the Taoist jindan zhidao (the path of the golden elixir)". "Mahdi{-}h{.}assan and Needham [S&CCh 5.4, p. 353] ... suggest that ... the very word 'alchemy' ({<}Arabic al-kimiya) derives from the Chinese lexeme jin-i (gold liquid/ferment), which in the Tang dynasty (seven to tenth centuries CE) was ... pronounced

'kiem-iok'" --

{Is proto-Altaic \kam\ 'shaman' a cognate? A shaman may, in peculiar dreams, achieve that which ("RBA") "the Taoists call the golden body."}

p. 168

perfected through gestation of "the golden embryo (jin dan)" : the Chinese aequivalent to

p. 169

achieving "the chrysanthropos or 'man of gold' of the Graeco-Egyptian {Graiko-Aiguptian} alchemical cannon" {sic! read "canon"}.

S&CCh = Joseph Needham : Science and Civilization in China. Cambridge Univ Pr.

"RBA" = "Rainbow Body Attainment".

p. 170 becoming a golden immortal {most of the Jaina tirthankara-s reputedly having a golden body}

"Liu Yiming remarks in his commentary on the opening verses of Zhang Boduan's eleventh century alchemical classic, Wuzhen pian (Folios on the Awakening to Reality) ... :

[quoted from Cleary 1993, p. 29] ... elixir is ... invulnerable to anything. ... Because of being forever incorruptible, this is also called a gold immortal. In reality, gold immortals ... are all celestial immortals."

{The only way for one's body to be golden is to be in a mental body in the mental plane-of-existence, one of the divine dream-worlds. The purpose of alchemic rites is to cajole deities abiding in the mental plane to take one's into their world in one's dream.}

Cleary 1993 = Thomas Cleary : The Essential Tao : an Initiation into the Heart of Taoism ... . San Francisco : HarperCollins.

p. 171 dan & nei-dan

[quoted from Sivin 1976, p. 515] "cinnabar (HgS). ... Alchemists ... adapted {adopted?} dan (cinnabar) as a term for elixirs ... ."

"As Needham emphasizes [5.5], the neidan elixir refers to a ... biochemical substance 'prepared by physiological methods out of physiological constituents already in the body'."

Sivin 1976 = Nathan Sivin : "Chinese Alchemy and the Manipulation of Time". ISIS 67 (1976).4:513-26.

p. 171, fn. 16 the paradoxical nature of the philosophers' stone {when a metaphor for the nature-of-mind}

"the term lithos philosophos traces back as far as Zosimos of Panopolis (c. 300 CE), who describes it in terms of a series of paradoxes :

'This stone which isn't a stone,

{It is possible to be "stoned out of one's mind" (when "high" on psychedelic drugs).}

this precious thing which has no value,

{The nature of the mind is lacking any exchange-value (though having great use-value).}

this polymorphous thing which as no form,

{The mind hath no particular form nor shape.}

this unknown thing which is known to all';

{The ultimate nature of generalized mind is unknown, though one's own mind may be known to oneself.}

cited in HAAGE, 'Alchemy II : Antiquity-12th Century', DGWE, 25 ... ."

DGWE = Dictonary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism. 2 voll. Leiden : Brill, 2005.

pp. 171-2 quoted from Needham, 27 (\en[-]khumoma\ proposed as Hellenic neologism for a translation of "nei-dan" -- to denote sudden autonomic bodily infusion of emotive hormones)

p. 171

"In order to do justice to the Chinese nei dan ... it would be desirable to introduce ... for 'the elixir within' ... the term 'enchymoma'. ... its prefix [\en[i]-\] indicates ... that it

p. 172

is within the body, while ... the Greek word ... chumos, juice ... in ... Enchymoma ... would be a pouring in,

and indeed the noun enchymosis ... occurs already in Hippocrates [Epid. 2.1037F], defined as 'the infusion of vital humours into the solid parts, such as takes place in anger, shame, joy, etc., ... as in blushing'."

{This very same autonomic physiological response is cited (as the mechanism wherethrough the Demi-ourgos continuously is generating the cosmos) by Porphurios [Proklos : Commentary on the Timaios, 10 -- VIE, p. 65] : "a person ... is ashamed and blushes ..., ... he is seized by terror and turns green. These ... take place within the body, but their cause is inner vision, which ... acts by its mere presence."

VIE = Pierre Hadot (transl. by Michael Chase) : The Veil of Isis : an Essay on the History of the Idea of Nature. Belknap Pr of Harvard Univ, Cambridge (MA), 2006.

p. 173 divinization

"'Internal alchemy' ... in China ... was applied to ... immortality ... in a new and imperishable body which is nurtured like an embryo" (Sivin 1968, pp. 30-1).

(quoted from C^i Son Zi Xuan Ji 'red pine master arcane memorandum' -- Sivin 1968, p. 525) "If heart and mind have reached divinity, so will the Medicine ["elixir"]".

Sivin 1968 = Nathan Sivin : Chinese Alchemy. HARVARD MONOGRAPHS IN THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE, 1. Cambridge (MA) : Harvard Univ Pr, 1968.

pp. 174-5 summoning the supernaturals

p. 174

"Li Shaojun convinced the Han Emperor Wu that eating and drinking from golden vessels would ... enable him to meet the immortals."

p. 175

(quoted from S^i-ji 28 -- Pregadio 2012, 5) "By making offerings to the stove, one can summon the supernatural beings (wu). If one summons them, ... one will be able to meet the immorals of the Penglai island in the midst of the sea. When one has seen them ..., one will never die."

Pregadio 2012 = Fabrizio Pregadio : The Way of the Golden Elixir : ... Taoist Alchemy. Mountain View (CA) : Golden Elixir Pr.

p. 175 female alchemists as praeceptrices

"dominant ... in the ... Six Dynasties (the third to sixth centuries CE) ..., the Taiqing or Great Clarity tradition would trace its techniques to those taught to the legendary Yellow Emperor by the equally legendary Mysterious Woman (Xuannu:). [Pregadio 2012, 6]

The presence of a female preceptor {praeceptrix} in the earliest strata {stratum} of alchemy is highly significant, and parallels the important role of ... pseudo-Cleopatra and Maria Prophetissa in the Hellenistic corpus."

p. 175 Tai-qin alchemical elixir for visiting Heaven {apparently by projection of a subtle body}

"Taiqing alchemical techniques involved an elaborate ritual procedure including vows of secrecy ... with the aid of apotropaic talismans (fu). At ... the 'chamber of elixirs' (danshi) ... Invocations to the Great Lord of the Tao and his divine attendants inaugurated ... the compounding of the 'medicines of life' ...; ... the medicine was offered to different divinities before being consumed by the alchemist at dawn. The medicines ... allowed their imbiber to

[Pregadio 2012, 8] 'fly as an immortal, having audience at the Purple Palace (Zigong)'

{Because copper-compounds tend to be "violet" (e.g., "CCO"), therefore this "Purple Palace" may be the Taoist aequivalent to the "copper palace" (L&CU, p. 264) belonging to "Upagrutta" (Upagupta) : praesumably in the Aitheric Plane.}

(The circumpolar constellation, Ursa major)."

"CCO" = "Colloidal Copper Oxide". J of the Chemical Soc 90.2:358.

L&CU = John S. Strong : The Legend and Cult of Upagupta : Sanskrit Buddhism in North India and Southeast Asia. Princeton Univ Pr, 1992.

p. 176 red child & immortal embryo

"the 'red child' (Chizi) or 'cinnabar child' (Zidan) ... is not only formed within the practitioner's body (the 'great granary' or stomach), but is [also] regarded as one's 'true self' (zhenwu). The cinnabar child is nourished on 'yellow essence' (huang jing) and 'red breath' (chiqi) ... . ...

In the late fourth century, the Shangqing (Highest Clarity) tradition of Taoism began to interiorise the symbols of waidan as a basis of meditation, the goal of which was the formation of an immortal body through reversion to one's immortal embryo." (Pregadio 2012, 15)

pp. 176-7 Yijin-based trigram-relationships with nei-dan

p. 176

"neidan proper would be consolidated in the Cantong qi (Seal of the Unity of Three), the first text of neidan proper ... . [Pregadio 2011] The Cantong qi ... emerged in the eighth century, ...

p. 177

while ... it embodies ... exegesis on ... inner alchemy. Cosmologically, the Cantong qi relates the phases of cosmogenesis to the trigrams of the Yijin, as well as to the ... 'elemental' system (wuxing, the five agents ... : wood, fire, earth, metal, water). 'Under an allusive language ..., remarks Pregadio [2012, 17], 'this work, almostly entirely written in poetry, hides the exposition of a doctrine that has inspired a large number of commentaries ... .'"

Pregadio 2011 = The Seal of the Unity of the Three. Vo. 1 : A Study and Translation of the Cantong qi. Mountain View : Golden Elixir Pr.

pp. 178-9 lineages-of-transmission of nei-dan

p. 178

"For ... reasons, not the least of which was the death of emperors due to heavy metal poisoning {"a number of Tang-dynasty emperors died from such poisoning" ("IA&IS")}, {N.B. Such poisonous metals -- mercury, arsenic (TB, p. 179) -- were likewise being commonly praescribed much later (in 18th-to-19th centuries) in standard European medical practice (so that accepting a conventional medical doctor's praescription was tantamount to suicide), imitated from use of such metals for embalming of defunct cadavres for their use in public anatomy-demonstrations.}

{Ingesting of poisonous chemicals had become a favorite method for committing suicide (wherein wai-dan "actually required the practitioner to commit "ritual suicide"" : TET, p. 186), with the intended prospect of an improved postmortem existence on account of the chemical's supposed virtue of immortalizing (by transforming one's self into an immortal ghost) into semi-divine status. "Gothic" culture among artists in Europe more recently (in 19th century Chr.Aira) achieved a similar adoration of postmortem ghost-status.}

external elixir alchemy declined markedly by the end of the nin{e}th century ... .

With nin{e}th-tenth texts such as the Zhong-lu: chuangdao ji (Records of the Transmission of the Dao from Zhongli Quan to Lu: Dongbin) and Lingbao bifa (Complete Methods of the Sacred Treasure), the Zhon{g}-lu: tradition emerged ... . Here, the body becomes the alchemical laboratory par excellence, and henceforth,

neidan explicitly internalises the elixir making process,

[p. 178, fn. 47 "neidan adopts some of the basic language and processes of weidan (e.g. refinement, compounding, etc.)".]

assimilating it to the cultivation, refinement and reunification of the body's metaphysiological textures.

In the eleventh century, a southern neidan lineage (Nanzong) was exemplified in ... Zhang Boduan's

Wuzhen pian (Awakening to Reality,

[p. 178, fn. 48 "As NEEDHAM notes ..., the character wu in the title of this text is the same as the Japanese satori; ... thus ... PREGADIO's rendering, 'Awakening to Reality', rather than CLEARY's 'Understanding Reality'."]

written circa 1075) ... . ... .

p. 179

... in the twelfth to thirteenth centuries, a northern lineage (Beizong) founded by Wang Chongyang (1113-1170) elaborated on the cultivation of one's inner nature (xing) ... . ...

In the Ming period (fourteeth to seventeenth centuries), many alchemical masters affiliated with the Dragon Gate lineage of Taoism, allegedly descended from the northern lineage master Qiu Chuji (1148-1227), a form of Taoism that would receive imperial sanction."

"IA&IS" = "Inner Alchemy and Its Symbolism".

TB = Kristofer Marinus Schipper : The Taoist Body.

TET = Russell Kirkland : Taoism : the Enduring Tradition. Routledge, London, 2004.

{The curious misspelling \ninth\ (twice in the foregoing paragraph) is evidently an Ukrainism, where the letter "phi" is pronounced as if it were "theta" : so that a spelling \ninph\ (a mispronunciation of \nymph\) would be implied. Water-nymphs (known as "RUSaLki" -- cognate with Etruscan city-name RUSeLLae = modern Roselle, the rose-mallow used in East Asia for souring foods) are quite prominent in ethnicly Slavic traditional lore, each with "a magic comb" (FGuD, p. 19) such as is worn, in her hair, by Nipponese ladies.}

FGuD = Carol K. Mack & Dinah Mack : A Field Guide to Demons ... . Aracade Publ, NY, 1998.

p. 179 a compendium

"Chen Zhixu (1290-c. 1368) penned a compendium called 'Great Essentials of the Golden Elixir' (Jindan Dayao), and integrated sexual practices into neidan." (Pregadio 2012, 35)

pp. 179-80 two charts

p. 179

"two annotated charts presenting the metaphysiological dynamics of the inner alchemy process also proved influential : the Xiuzhen tu (Chart for the Cultivation of Reality, early nineteenth century) and the Neijing tu (Chart of the Inner Warp, late nineteenth

p. 180

century). The latter [Pregadio 2012, 38-9] explicitly condenses microcosm and macrocosm by depicting the human body in the form of an 'internal landscape'."

p. 180 metaphysiological practices

p. 180

"As early as the Song dynasty (960-1279 CE), texts such as Zhang Boduan's eleventh century Wuzhen pian ... evince a distinct concern with heavenly or celestial immortality (tian xian) ... ."

p. 180, fn. 55

"For ... neidan vis-a`-vis the alchemy of the Wuzhen pian, see Paul B. M. CROWE, 'An Annotated Translation and Study of Chapters on Awakening to the Real (ca. 1061) Attributed to Zhang Boduan (ca. 983-1081)' (Dissertation : University of British Columbia, 1997), pp. 150-74."

pp. 180-1 quoted from Yi-min's commentary (published 1819) on Wu-z^en Pian 1.3 : the three classes of immortals

"Those who comprehend essence and project the yin {'dark'} soul are ghost immortals.

"Though spirits of ghosts is the yin {'dark'} soul {this is the astral body} and can exit and enter {scil., the defunct cadavre whence they have issued forth} at will, still since the abode is not permanent {due to gradual putrifaction of such defunct cadavre} they still have the affliction of abandoning one body and entering another {such ghosts entre, temporarily, even living persons' bodies by way of spirit-possession, as manifest in spirit-mediumship},

Those who understand life and keep their bodies in the world are earthly immortals.

Though earthly immortals keep their bodies in the world, still they cannot free the spiritual body and have the burden of the illusory body relying on things {in the material world}. Of these two {aitheric body and mental body}, one {the aitheric} falls into having death, one {the mental} falls into having birth {in a material body} ... .

Those who understand both essence and life, who have {subtle} bodies outside their {material} bodies, who are physically and mentally sublimated and who join the dao and merge with reality, are celestial immortals."

Only celestial immortals {viz., such immortals as travel beyond planet Earth, to other planets and beyond} shed the illusory {mental} body and achieve a spiritual {causal} body; they go beyond cre- [beginning of p. 181] ation, and have no birth or death." {This, however, can happen only if they be major deities temporarily absent from Heaven (subtle world) while (in their own viewpoint) briefly vacationing (to specious seemingness, i.e., in the viewpoint of ordinary non-deity mortals : "living a lifespan") on Earth (material world).

{By "earthly immortals", what are intended are vidya-dhara-s (\weikza\ in Burmese); these would be membres of another category of deity, likewise sojourning for a lifespan in the material world. These abide (after miraculously vanishing from their coffins after a seeming "death") in aitheric bodies (also known as "doubles', in-as-much as such bodies are indistinguishable in appearance from material bodies); they cannot free the causal body (here designated "spiritual body"), and are burthened with a mental body ("illusory body"). [written 2 May 2018]}

pp. 181-2 two contrasting cosmogonies

quoted from Dao De Jin (Tao Te C^in) 42

quoted from Maria Prophetissa (CAAG 6:5-6)

"the one {viz., the Supreme Ultimate} generates the two {viz., yin = darkness, and yan = luminance},

"One {Godhead} becomes two {quiescence (meditation) and activity (prayer)},

the two generates the three {viz., the Sky, the Sea, and Humanity},

[beginning of p. 182] two becomes three {Father, Son, and Holy Ghost},

the three generates the ten-thousand things {the organized contents of the Sky, of the Sea, and of Humanity}."

and by means of the third {viz., the Holy Ghost} comes {viz., is begotten} the one {viz., unique Saviour} as the fourth {viz., the Son of Man}".

CAAG = Collection des anciens alchimistes grecs. Paris : Georges Steinheil, 1888-1889.

p. 182 universe non-manifest & universe manifest

"In Taoist cosmology, the perceptible universe is conceived as the self-manifestation of the self-manifestation of the dao. As such, there is an unmanifest aspect and a manifest aspect ... . Chinese alchemy refers to these states in terms of two conditions of the cosmos :

(1) xiantian, 'precelestial'

{otherwise translated 'Former Heaven'}

(the condition of primordial unity,

{wherein "Heaven" (the subtle universe) is not distinct from "Earth" (the material universe) : [PE, s.v. "Yoga II", p. 898a] "Matter and soul are merely the two phases of the single "Asitva"."}

the 'one breath')

{i.e., spirit of unity}

and (2) houtian, 'postcelestial'

{otherwise translated 'Latter Heaven'}

(the condition of multiplicity ...).

{more usually described as that condition wherein "Heaven" (the subtle universe) is indeed distinct from "Earth" (the material universe)}

The way of the golden elixir is to reintegrate the postcelestial into the precelestial. ... As Pregadio suggests ["Introduction" to Pregadio 2009, pp. 17-18] it is also {and primarily} concerned with the integral perception of multiplicity from the perspective of primordial unity. The two states coexist, as do the respective epistemologies. ... Now, the dynamics of reassimilation into the one are most saliently expressed using the trigrams of the Yijing (Book of Changes)."

Pregadio 2009 = Fabrizio Pregadio : Awakening to Reality : the "Regulated Verses" of the Wuzhen Pian. Mountain View (CA) : Golden Elixir Pr.

pp. 182-3 technique for integrating of Earth into Heaven

p. 182

"Here, the reconstitution of the elixir pivots on cultivating the balanced integration of heaven ... and earth ..., ... whose trigrams are represented, respectively, by three unbroken lines ... (qian ...) and three broken lines ... (kun ...).

In the pristine, precelestial state, ... by virtue of this joined condition, they become hidden within each other.

The pure yang ... is thus secretly present as the unbroken ... line within water ... (li),

while the pure yin ... is secretly present as the broken ... line within fire ... (kan). ...

Each containing their opposite, fire (kan) contains one unbroken line between two solid lines ..., while water (li) contains one solid line

p. 183

between two broken lines ... .

As Zhang Boduan states [p. 183, fn. 64 : "Wuzhen pian, 2.16"] ... : 'Take the solid in the position of water and take the yin in the innards of the palace of fire : from this transformation comes the sound body of heaven'."

p. 183 wu-wei

""The Dao de jing describes the primordial state from

from which everything

{i.e., whence the source of all activity}


{i.e., emergeth ongoingly (perpetually)}

as 'emptiness' (wu)".

{actually, as wu-wei 'inactivity'}

pp. 183-6 reversal & inversion

p. 183

"'taking from water to fill in fire' ...

{This Taoist procedure is evidently related to the Pauran.ik dictum that the stars shine on account of energy released by their "dense water" (surely meaning 'tritium').}

because it involves a highly subtle level of internal discipline that demands a reversal of the 'normal' ... order of consciousness. ... The imperative to reverse the generative current, what Joseph Needham called a 'counter-current that leads to immortality', has ... as the central dynamic ... creating the golden elixir or embryo. ... .

p. 184

... the golden embryo ..., the nascent immortal,

{"Hiranyagarbha is a Sanskrit term that translates to “golden embryo,” ... Vashishtha, one of the most prominent Vedic sage-seers, is said to be the main disciple of Hiranyagarbha." (Yogapedia, s.v. "Hiranyagarbha")}

has to be created by turning the normal flow of creation back upon itself. The path of the golden embryo is a reversion of the flow of creation back to its source; a process of withdrawal by which the vital textures of the entity are drawn back into their primordial, unspeakable origins."

p. 184, Fig. 3

"Procreative essence (jing) is reverted into pneuma (qi),

{Vasis.t.ha originateth "from the breath (pran.a)" (PE, s.v. "Vasis.t.ha 1)i)a)", p. 834a).}

" " " "

pneuma is reverted into shen (spirit {'divinity' would be a better translation}), and spirit

is reverted into emptiness (xu)."

{""Inverting the course" culminates with reversion to the state of Non-Being or Emptiness" ("ELAH").}

p. 185

"In many respects this process of refinement or retraction may be compared to the {S.uwfiy} ... 'unveiling of the veiled' ... . ...

{Another non-Chinese parallel involving such retraction : "taking the path of retraction (samhara-marga) ... , and that "path of retraction" in which a reversal of the normal flow occurs, ... flow is reversed such that the "empty" medial channel, the sus.umn.a ..., may be opened and filled with the reversed, upward flow ..., which yields liberation and immortality." (ABST, p. 227)}

The microcosmic reversal recapitulates the cosmogonic reversal. ...

p. 186

In Taoist alchemy, ... is the spiritual embryo formed through the reversion of the individual bodily jing into its primordial principle, and uniting it with its contrasexual counterpart."

Yogapedia, s.v. "Hiranyagarbha"

PE = Vettam Mani : Puranic Encyclopaedia. 1975.

"ELAH" = Adina Riposan-Taylor : "The Elixir of Life Across History and World Cultures".

ABST = David Gordon White : The Alchemical Body : Siddha Traditions in Medieval India. Univ of Chicago Pr, 1996.

p. 189, fn. 77 top or apex of a map painted (or hung) on a vertical wall

"Note that the South is placed at the top or apex because in ... (... the Northern Hemisphere), the sun in its daily journey across the sky arc towards the South in summer". {Summer (Hsia) : The name of a ... dynasty ... with seventeen kings." (CM&S, p. 262)} {In Keltic lore, Fairyland ("Side" in Irish; "Sidi" in Cymry) is often styled "Summerland".} {The South is placed at the top or apex TL-MRJ (antient Aigyptian) maps in order to allow the Nile River to flow downward in the map (by flowing from south to north).}

{Reliance on the apparent motion of the sun in the sky is likewise the basis for orientation in mediaeval European maps (based, praesumably, on S^emitic orientation of maps) : there, the East is placed at the top or apex of maps because the motion of the sun is believed to be free-fall (much as planetary orbits as described in modern astronomy), falling downward by traversing the sky from East to West during the day.}

CM&S = Anne Birrell : The Classic of Mountains and Seas. Penguin Classics, London, 1999.

pp. 190-1, fn. 79 in acupuncture : ordinary meridians and extra-ordinary meridians

p. 190, fn. 79

"The number of meridians is usually counted as twelve.

{Of these 12, 8 stay within the trunk of the body, while 4 diverge out onto the limbs.}

" " " "

The five elements each correspond to two organs ... totalling ten organ-meridians. These are known as the ordinary meridians ... .

p. 191, fn. 79

To these are added the extraordinary meridians, two of which are centralised in two vertical channels (the conception and governing vessels)."

{"The Qi Jing Ba Mai, called the Extraordinary Conduits, or the Eight Marvelous Ones are the deepest pathways of energy or Qi deep within the body ... . They precede, give rise to, and support the 12 organ meridians ... . ... The two primary Extraordinary meridians are the Du Mai (Governing vessel) and Ren Mai (Conception Vessel), sometimes seen as .. front-and-back ... ." ("16-PMA")}

"16-PMA" = "16-Point Meridian Activation of the Qi Jing Ba Mai".

p. 193, Fig. 5 qualities correlated with metals and with their ores

metal or metal-ore


true quicksilver

"Inner Nature (Xing)"

cinnabar (reddish ore of quicksilver)

"Original Spirit (Yuan shen)"

true lead

"Emotions ... (Qing)"

galena (black ore of lead)

"Original Essence" {Yuan jin}

pp. 197-9 blue dragon & white tiger : the divine controllers of qin and of xin

p. 197

"'When ... emotions (qing) and inner nature (xing) coalesce, the dragon and tiger intertwine where the five phases become complete.' [p. 197, fn. 90 : "Wuzhen pian, @3 (trans. CROWE ...)."] ...

p. 198

Boduan speaks of coalescence of dragon and tiger, ... indicating ... the reintegration of inner nature (xing) and the ... feelings, or emotions (qing). ...

p. 199

The union of blue dragon and white tiger also indicates the reconnection of inner nature with our ... destiny, ... ming."

pp. 201 & 203 tatha-gata garbha ('thus-gone embryo'), according to a vaipulya-sutra of the Maha-yana

p. 201

"the embryo in neidan thus bears a clear resonance with the Buddhist doctrine of the tathagatagarbha (... Buddha-embryo) ... already primordiallyawakened within."

p. 203

"that the Buddha embryo subsists in all beings ..., is the central theme of the Tathagatagarbha Sutra ... ."

p. 204 praeternatural thundreclap heard at the instant when one attaineth unto the subtle body projected outside of the material body

"Generate {i.e., set free} the immaterial {viz., the subtle body} from the material {scil., body}, ... 'with a peal of thunder the golden cicada sheds its shell', and you have a body outside your body." [p. 204, fn. 111 : "Liu Yiming's commentary to Wuzhen pian, poem 3, lines 7-8 (trans. PREGADIO, 87-8)."]


Aaron Cheak (ed.) : Alchemical Traditions from Antiquity to the Avant-Garde. Numen Bks, Melbourne (Victoria), 2013.