Excerpt from Step 2: Body plus Elixir

The Inner Alchemists' Forming Trinity

To the inner alchemists, the ultimate proof of their life long practices being effective over time is derived from the transformation of the individually isolated self into a complete self. This is accomplished by combining the true self with the other self. Taoists call this the unitary play between the "virgin boy" and the "virgin girl". One is the true self, the longing and lonely self. The other is the lost self, the wishful and invited self. Regardless of the gender difference, every individual has the potential of these two selves.

The conscientious awareness and conscious intention share the same source, but manifest in different directions. The true self and the lost self represent the two extremes, the two dots, and the two ends of oneness. The practical difference is that, as anatomically independent individuals, each of us is endowed with only one true self. This true self is accompanied with the other, which is our driving force, our playful mate, our dependable resource, and our rewarding partner. The true self endows us with confidence, ensures our security, and cares for our biological existence. The lost self provides the hope, attracts the longing, and sacrifices the true self in order to be unified within and without. This represents both the objective matter and subjective transformation. This is the unity of Tao, the harmony of yin and yang, the embracing of the two opposites. We will see the detailed discussion and practices in the following twelve chapters.

Since there must be a central point in which the vessel is located, a neutral ground and common agreement are necessary for the two to meet and unify. There must be a connection where the minds interact, the bodies unfiy, and the souls integrate. This connection is the vessel.

In Taoist inner alchemy, there are three distinguishing places in our body: these places are called the Cinnabar Fields or Elixir Fields. The lower Cinnabar Field is the actual place for the vessel to be set, where the caldron is located. It is the center for biological manifestation. It is in this empty place, or groundless space (as discussed earlier), where all the abdominal organs are unifed.

The middle Cinnabar Field is located in the thymus gland. It is the center for displaying both emotions and personalities. The upper Cinnabar Field is located at the central joint where the two sides of the brain split and then rejoin, between the pituitary glands and the pineal gland. It is the center for intellect and spirituality.

This is as close as we can come to sharing, without heart-to-heart connection with the true meaning of the Tao. Its true meaning is shrouded in secrecy and cannot be disclosed. When the mind is not distilled and the body is not purified, the time has not yet come to ensure the information of true understanding and complete transformation.

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