Great Essentials for the Golden Elixir

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The 16-volumed Great Essentials for the Golden Elixir ( 《金丹大要》 Jindan Dayao ) or Great Essentials for the Golden Elixir by Master Shangyang ( 《上陽子金丹大要》 Shangyang Zi Jindan Dayao ) is a Daoist book about inner alchemy by Chen Zhixu of Yuan. Originally it was divided into 10 volumes. The Daoist Canon of the Zhengtong Era divided its first seven chapters each into 2 volumes and made it 16 volumes. Chap. 8 was published as an independent book entitled "Chart of the Great Essentials of the Golden Elixir by Master Shangyang" ( 《上陽子金丹大要圖》 Shangyang Zi Jindan Dayao Tu ). Summarizing the elixir way of the northern tradition, the author holds that the way of the golden elixir lies in the cultivation of essence, breath and spirit. Golden elixir is the synthesis of essence, breath and spirit. The three, in mutual correspondence ( 交感 Jiaogan ), can in outflow make one mortal ( 順則成人 Shun Ze Cheng Ren ) and in counter-flow immortal ( 逆則成仙 Ni Ze Cheng Ren ). For "counter-flow", one should preserve form with peaceful mind, cultivate form and refine essence, accumulate and refine essence into breath ( 積精化氣 Ji Jing Hua Qi ), refine breath into spirit and refine spirit into emptiness ( 煉神為虛 Lian Shan Wei Xu ). These finished, the golden elixir is accomplished. In this reverse refining process, the most important lies in the pacified mind and stopped consciousness-flow. Awakened mind being the master in the process, the author sings high praise for "direct pointing to man's heart and attaining Buddhahood on achieving nature" ( 直指人心見性成佛 Zhi Zhi Ren Xin Jian Xing Cheng Fo ) of Chan Buddhism. Thus he proposes the syncretism of the three teachings ( 三教合一 San Jiao He Yi ). Collected in the Supreme Mystery Section of the Daoist Canon of the Zhengtong Era, the book is rather valuable for the study of inner alchemy. In addition, related is another book entitled Records of Immortals and Great Essentials of the Golden Elixir by Master Shangyang.