Secret of the Golden Flower Summary

January 28, 2018 | Author: siscosalem | Category: Meditation, Zen, Śūnyatā, Indian Religions, Neoplatonism
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Secret of the Golden Flower





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Secret of the Golden Flower Introduction This page contains a summary of the famous book "The Secret of the Golden Flower", explaining an ancient meditation technique in the Ch'an (original Chinese Zen) tradition, as I understand it. My summary follows the 1991 translation by Thomas Cleary (who opposes against the 1929 German translation by Wilhelm that was followed by C. Jung). I have added some insights I gained practicing meditation myself. These can be distinguished from the original material. The Wilhelm translation contained details of how to practice the technique, but these details do not stem from the original text (while a number of other chapters were deliberately omitted). Cleary's translation, on the other hand, does not immediately provide an answer if one likes to know just how to do it. Maybe my text can help in this respect. What's special about the Secret of the Golden Flower, and the Ch'an tradition in general? Cleary: ● ●

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it transcends al dogmas; it can be practiced in any other tradition (there is a correlate in Christian mystical tradition as well); quite simple (though this book is sometimes hard to read); it can be combined very well with a normal social life.

Source text: The Secret of the Golden Flower, the Classic Chinese Book of Life. Translated, with Introduction, Notes, and Commentary by Thomas Cleary. Harper San Francisco, 1991.

An understanding of the meditation The Golden Flower stands for the blossoming of the light of the mind, the basic awakening of the real self (in Buddhist/Ch'an/Zen terms), the finding of the original spirit or energy (in Taoist terms), liberation from what is non-essential. The Golden Flower meditation is much more direct than most other methods of meditation. It is meant to avoid the sidetrack danger of putting too much effort in what can only succeed in ultimate rest. Therefore Ch'an eschews the circulation of energy through the body, advocated by some of the Taoist schools (and adopted in the Wilhelm translation). We westerners can see the Golden Flower as finding the essential unity with God. No matter how we call it, it is meant not for limited meditation periods but for all of our life. One is advised not only to meditate, but also to go on living a normal life that will, however, gradually become infused with the experiences gained from meditation. Essential is the "turning the light around", which is the exercise of looking inside instead of (1 of 4) [7/17/2002 12:05:57 PM]

Secret of the Golden Flower

outside: to the light source of consciousness rather than to its outer perceptions. Our consciousness (and its perceptions) is a manifestation of original spirit. The meditation consists of bringing the consciousness back to original spirit, thereby refining/purifying our soul to unity with spirit, and transcending all ups and downs of outer living in yin and yang. One might call it illumination.

Stages in practice By what is perceived:

1. 'Non-being within being': the body dissolves, one feels merged with space. 2. 'Being within non-being': within the vastness of mind merged with space, there is an energy

body found in the form of light. It takes a hundred days or so before this light is the light of wisdom (i.e. reflects original spirit itself).

By the method used:

1. 'Stopping and seeing': turning the light around. Inner concentration leads to the stopping of thoughts and making room for the light of wisdom. 2. 'Stopping without seeing': thoughts again arise as an obstacle to the light of wisdom. The method is to concentrate on tracing their origin right back to spirit, thereby stilling the thoughts at their origin. 3. 'Seeing without stopping': concentration is no longer needed. The light of wisdom spontaneously arises. The 'host' and the 'guest': See Zen.

Details ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ●

Sit still and become quiet. Lower the eyelids. Establish a point of reference. Let go, without falling into oblivion. Breath becomes more and more subtle. Find focus inside to kill the wandering mind. Concentrate on the emptiness/openness (keeping the center). It is essential to act purposefully without striving. So: not pushing away thoughts. Let them go away by themselves. In the emptiness will then appear positive energy, original spirit, eventually in the form of a steady golden light. Keep the awareness of that light in the center of your mind, again: without striving. So leave it all to original spirit. Bathe in spirit, in the middle of the emptiness of mind.

Further hints: (2 of 4) [7/17/2002 12:05:57 PM]

Secret of the Golden Flower ● ● ● ●

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Use breath to stabilize mind, and use mind to stabilize breath. Find quality, instead of a fixed length, of meditation sessions. If oblivion sets in, stand up and have a break from meditation. Use (outer) mind/consciousness to find and nurture original (inner) spirit/wisdom. From there we control the mind. The mind is activated without dwelling on anything. During meditation, one knows that outer reality is there, but it does not present disturbances. Don't choose the misleading conceptual path of thinking about the meditation, which in itself is nothing. Turning the light around should be done on a continual basis, as soon as the reflection of spirit begins to extend into the outer world and everyday life. 'If emptiness is seen as empty, emptiness is still not empty. When empty and mindless of emptiness, this is called true emptiness'.

Errors to be avoided ● ● ● ● ● ●

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Meditation when agitated. Concentration on any part of the body (e.g. the 'Third Eye' between the eyebrows). Concentration on energy or any sensation in/of the body. Leading or circulating energy through energy points or chakras. Falling into senselessness/oblivion. Following distractions. The seeing of images and hearing of sounds is an encouragement, but don't focus your attention on it. They should - just like thoughts - make way for spirit's wisdom. Audible (too deep) breathing. Taking too much attention of (let alone becoming excited about) meditation experiences and results (which takes you back to the realms of desire and form - see Zen). Looking at the golden light with the eyes. Watching should be done with consciousness/mind. Using sexual energy, as advocated in some of the Taoist-descencent schools.

Results Chapter 6 describes 'authenticating experiences' in detail. But these are the goals for which one takes all the trouble: ● ● ●

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By clarification one sees basic reality. More efficient thinking. Things will go by themselves, since your actions will be based on the universal source of your mind instead of mind itself. The light of wisdom becomes spontaneous and continuous. Mind and body become a natural unit. Enlightenment. Communion with spirit. Liberation from the ocean of misery. Immortality (breaking the continual chain of reincarnations). (3 of 4) [7/17/2002 12:05:57 PM]

Secret of the Golden Flower

Some of my observations when I used to practice in this line myself I'm still a beginner. But still: ● ●

It all starts with leading a calm life, or at least finding some calmness in life. It makes a lot of sense to restrict diet (especially alcohol and heavy stuff like meat and sugars), never eating to the fullness of the stomach, and eating little or nothing in the evening, to allow the body to be still for meditation at dawn. Before meditation I did yoga, followed by deep and relaxed breathing, thereby relaxing the body and supplying the brain with a surplus of oxygen, subsequently permitting breath to become more and more subtle (though this is ill advice if one is susceptible to hyperventilation problems). I deeply relaxed all muscles and grew my consciousness around the middle of my body, which then seemed to disappear. This gave me the sensation of openness and spaceousness. I saw this as my mind finding the way back to Spirit (God in me). The breathing became very subtle and thoughts came to a standstill most of the time. I did see some light but it hadn't stabilized yet. I didn't focus on anything except the openness. And I found myself advancing more and more into original reality. On some days this all went better than on some other days, which is quite a normal phenomenon in meditation. This was as far as I could come. To gain more I turned to Kriya Yoga.




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