Refinement of Spirit Back to Emptiness
The successful conclusion of the Refinement of Vital Breath into Spirit ( 煉氣化神 Lianqi Huashen ) -- the “Middle Pass” ( 中關 Zhongguan ) -- leads to the Refinement of Spirit Back to Emptiness, the “High Pass” ( 上關 Shangguan ) in the “Work of the Three Phases” ( 三步功 Sabu Gong ), which was popularly known as the “Nine Year Pass” ( 九年關 Jiunian Guan ), highlighting a period of time demanded in this phase of refinement. In practice, however, the “Nine Years” was by no means an unchangeable standard. In fact, the specific time of refinement would depend upon an alchemist’s personality, his capacity of understanding, his environment, and so on. Different with either “Refinement of Essential Matter into Vital Breath”, which highlighted “Interfering Action” ( 有爲 Youwei ) or “Refinement of Vital Breath into Spirit”, which featured a transition from “Interfering Action” to “Non-Interference” ( 無爲 Wuwei ), the “Refinement of Spirit Back to Emptiness” stood for the highest achievement in the Refinement of Inner Alchemy, which was characterized by “Non-Interference” . In Daoism, “Non-Interference” was regarded as the speechless nature of Dao, which used to be symbolized by a circular shape. Inner Alchemists used it to describe the oblivion of self-existence in refinement of Inner Alchemy, or emptiness and void of Vital Breath in human bodies. The term “Nine Year Pass” suggested a principle of return from “Posterior Heaven” to “Anterior Heaven” in the Refinement of Inner Alchemy. According to the principle, Yin and Yang form the Kan Trigram and the Li Trigram ought to form the Qian Trigram, the summit of Yang, which was represented by the number “Nine”, a symbol of high completion in Chinese culture. In Daoism, the famous Immortal Lu Dongbing was known as Chun Yangzi, namely a man of pure Yang, a name reminescent of the Refinement of Spirit Back to Emptiness, an important phase in the refinement of Inner Alchemy.