To Nourish in Warmth
"To Nourish in Warmth"( 溫養 wenyang ) is a term of the science of the Golden Elixir ( 金丹 jindan ). It is one of the basic links in the course of refining elixirs, and is most in use especially in Inner Alchemy ( 內丹 neidan ). Here "warmth" indicates that one must keep a certain Fire Phase ( 火候 huohou ) during the refining process and must not make the fire die out, or else elixirs cannot be produced; "to nourish" indicates that while controlling the fire phases, one must take care not to make the fire too strong, and if acting overhastily, one will lose control of the fire phases. The management of the fire phases may be likened to the treatment of a young woman in her initial period of pregnancy. She needs proper nourishment, not excessive nourishment, which will cause her baby to bear inner poison and easily get ill. Daoists have always compared the Golden Elixir refinement to pregnancy and therefore handled it with great care. To take "nourishing in warmth" to be an important step in the process of controlling fire phases indicates that this step demands certain skills. These skills are in fact an art. Different stages in the course of "Nourishing in Warmth" demand different skills. While collecting outer medicine (which refers to the Essential Matter ( 精 jing ) and Vital Breath ( 氣 qi ) of Posterior Heaven ( 後天 houtian ) formed by the initial practice of refinement of the Essential Matter into the Vital Breath in Inner Alchemy) to make elixirs, slow fire should be gently used and Yin fire and Yang fire should be made equal. When the outer medicine is refined into the "elixir-embryo", further refinement if necessary. This step is called "collecting inner medicine (which refers to the original Essential Matter of Anterior Heaven ( 先天 xiantian ) in Daoism)". While collecting inner medicine and returning it to the Elixir Field ( 丹田 dantian ), one must banish emotions and desires, forget his existence and become like a fool, and harmonize the pure mind with the single breath. This is the right way of "nourishing in warmth" in the course of "collecting inner medicine". In the stage of Refining the Spirit Back to Emptiness ( 煉神還虛 lianshen huanxu ), one feels the "trance of the Yang spirit". At this moment one should especially "abandon all the thoughts" in order for the spirit to become empty again. This is another skill of "nourishing in warmth". In conclusion, the art of "nourishing in warmth" varies with the development of Refining Elixirs ( 煉丹 liandan ).