Thursday, March 22, 2012
Uniting the Three into One
The Chronicles of Tao
By Deng Ming-Dao
The poor temple room was a simple cell. Whitewashed walls had been so worn by time, so abraded by dust, and milky layers that they ceased to be dirty or coarse. They had acquired a patina of antiquity. A distant bell sounded and a faint scent of sandalwood lingered far in the background like ancestral memory. The atmosphere was dense in its stillness. Quietude was a heavy, palpable presence. Serenity had pooled deeply within the confines of the temple and he submerged himself in it. He sank to its very depths and came to rest in a perfect pyramidal posture.
Perhaps this was what it was like to drown; to feel the liquid invade your nose, your mouth, every aperture down to your pores and soak to your bones in a few seconds time. Only here, he breathed in the temple air, heavy enough to feel liquid. He became a rock. A large stone icon at the bottom of a sea of tranquillity.
Outside became inside. Inside became indistinguishable from outside. Nothing existed save the world of his meditation. Was time the cycle of the universe, or merely the measured cadence of his energy moving up his spine? He felt it was true when his masters had told him that the body was a microcosm of the universe. Wasn't he now the universe?
In the first darkness, it was his thought that created a thousand suns, a hundred galaxies. It was his breath that set the cosmos whirling. His universe evolved into five elements, the ten thousand things. He could hear his body's functions. He could listen to his nerves firing and even detect the subtle electrical flows. He could smell different smells, some fragrant, some putrid, as they rose from the complex worlds of his organs. He could taste the flows of liquids and gases. The universe was not a mechanism. It couldn't be compared to the pathetic inventions of puny men. It wasn't an organism. It was eternal. It wasn't a divine being. It embraced both thought and nonthought, being and nonbeing. All those definitions and metaphors had to be inverted. The universe was of an infinite magnitude. He was a microcosm of the universe.
The masters said the world was illusion. By simple logic, if a human being was a microcosm of the external world, he also was illusion, a phantasm imagining himself to exist in a nonexistent reality. He understood that meditation was not merely a state, but a vehicle to understanding. Existing or nonexisting, he commanded the forces inside him, concentrated them, directed them to one point. Illusion nevertheless had substance. He would pierce the veil to find the answer to his question.
The flow of his breath rose in his body, and he felt warm. He concentrated deeply, inhaling deeply. His mind seemed to dive deep into his body, down to its base, stirring the sexual fluids. Conserved by a lifetime of celibacy, trained since childhood in meditation, it was easy to stir his basic chemistry. He unified semen, breath, and spirit - what the Taoists called "Uniting the Three into One," and directed the resulting essence upward like a flow of liquid light. The brilliance ascended to his skull.
His meditation was succeeding. He quickly realized that the ascension of energy meant that he was similarly rising toward the spiritual heights. The movement of energy was perfectly precise. He felt his psychic centers opening, whirling. Saihung felt great power.
All the abilities of his masters, which had seemed so unattainable before, now seemed within his grasp. In fact, they seemed absurdly simple. They were as easy to grasp as toys were for a child. He was ecstatic. But in that moment he understood that, even then, pride and ego had leapt up. By reveling in the power, he knew that temptation loomed all the more strongly. Balanced at the top of that slender shaft of high-voltage human energy, Saihung finally understood how easy it was to topple off.
The brilliance grew like a sun condensed, contained, but now bursting and burning. Flowing. Here was the golden light streaming through the Mysterious Portal. Here was the blinding stream of infinity. He felt a hesitation. A great inner tension. He knew these feelings were the "guardians." It was his self objecting to its imminent negation. He wanted to go, but something held him back. The light flickered.
Saihung saw the light again, flooding through the portal. It built in power. All he had to do was give in. All he had to do was let the light take his being over. He paused only a moment this time, and then plunged into the rising radiance.
He felt a brief but powerful sensation, like being torn by a great explosion. And then he felt nothing. There was no longer a he to feel. There was only golden light and the trace of his surrender.