Inscription on Visualising Spirits and Refining Vital Breath

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The Inscription on Visualizing Spirits and Refining Vital Breath ( 存神煉氣銘 Cunshen Lianqi Ming ) was written by Sun Simiao of the Tang dynasty. The book first deals with the relationship between the body and spirit and vital breath, holding that in order to keep the body one must first stabilize spirit and vital breath, the latter being the mother of the former while the former being the son of the latter, and that longevity can be attained when the two co-exist. Then it tells that when visualizing spirits and refining vital breath, one should first pass five hours and then seven periods of time. In the first hour, the mind is just as that of ordinary people, being rather active than inactive. In the second hour, the mind is more active than inactive, and this shows one begins to approach the Dao. In the third hour, half active and half inactive, the mind starts to be in harmonious proportion gradually. In the fourth hour, more inactive than active, the mind is concentrated. In the fifth hour, the mind remains inactive, never being influenced by anything. Then one comes to the seven periods of time. In the first period, the mind settling down, one has obtained the Dao. In the second period, one lives longer than man usually does, and recovers one's youthful appearance. In the third period, with life span prolonged to 1,000 years, one is known as an immortal. In the fourth period, being able to choose to live or die, one is known as a perfect man. In the fifth period, refining the vital breath into spirit, one is known as a divine person. In the sixth period, refining spirit into substance, one is known as a supreme person. In the seventh period, transcending this world and reaching the original Dao, one attains exhaustive perfection. This book provides reference for the Daoist learning of Breathing Arts ( 氣功 Qigong ) of the Tang dynasty. It is collected in the subsection of methods, Pervasive Divinity Section ( 洞神部 Dongshen Bu ) of The Daoist Canon of the Zhengtong Era ( 正統道藏 Zhengtong Daozang ).