Refining the Mind through the Nine Cauldrons
This is another term popularly seen in books on Inner Alchemy ( 內丹 Neidan ). Originally, the “Nine Cauldrons” stood for national treasures in ancient times. In later periods, Daoism borrowed it as a symbol of the highest level in the refinement of Outer Alchemy. In the Yellow Emperor's Nine Cauldron Alchemical Scripture ( 《黃帝九鼎神丹經訣》 Huangdi Jiuding Shendan Jingjue ), “Nine Cauldrons” referred to the Nine Ways ( 九法jiufa ) and Nine Reversions ( 九轉 Jiuzhuan ) in the Refinement of the Elixir. Since the rise of the Studies of Inner Alchemy, it became one of the fundamental concepts in the Refinement of Inner Alchemy. As for its implications on a symbolic level, various answers were given by different schools or sects. Some argued that it ought to stand for the human mind, which played a central role in the connection of the Seven Mysterious Gates ( 七竅 Qiqiao ) and the circulation of Yin and Yang; Others claimed that it stood for the Elixir Field ( 丹田 Dantian ) in human bodies, which led to the Seven Energy Nodes ( 七節 Qijie ) in the upper part and the kidney in the lower part; Some scholars referred to the “Nine Cauldrons” as an emblem of 12 divisions of a day named after 12 Celestial Trunks ( 天干 Tiangan ).
In general, it was popularly accepted that “Nine Cauldrons”, as a term, was a metaphor for refinement of Spiritual Nature, which suggested, just like the refinement of Elixirs, that timing and consistency were equally important in the refinement of Spiritual Nature. In order to achieve the goal of Integrated Cultivation of Spiritual Nature and Bodily Life ( 性命雙修 Xingming Shuangxiu ), a man must hold adequate skills as well as good virtues.