The Golden Elixir Quote of the Week (Index)

Golden Elixir Quote of the Week

Wu Shouyang on the Alchemical Embryo

The stage of "refining Breath to transmute it into Spirit" constitutes an advanced stage of the alchemical work, in which one's practice progresses from "doing" to "non-doing." The Great Medicine is called Embryo of Sainthood (shengtai) or Infant (ying'er). Both terms are actually metaphors for Spirit and Breath coagulating and coalescing with one another. Wu Shouyang explains the meaning of these terms saying:

"Metaphorically it is called 'embryo,' as if there is truly an embryo. In fact, however, there is no embryo. Why is it so? Because according to the principle of giving birth, one generates the embryo of a child in the womb; and according to the principle of cultivating immortality, one generates an embryo of Spirit in the Heart. The worldly people hear the word 'embryo' and say that within the womb there is truly an embryo, which then leaves and becomes 'a body outside the body' (shen wai shen). This is truly risible. Essentially, the human nature is perfectly empty and perfectly numinous; it is devoid of a form and a body."


Quoted from Wu Shouyang (1574-1644), Xian Fo hezong yulu (Recorded Sayings on the Common Origin of the Immortals and the Buddhas), with minor omissions and changes

Chrome bullet The Golden Elixir Quotes of the Week are short quotations on Taoist Internal Alchemy (Neidan) from books published by Golden Elixir Press. They are sent at no cost to subscribers. See a sample and an index of the Quotes of the Week sent to subscribers until present.