The Sublime Book of the Mind’s Correspondence with the Nine Supreme Essentials

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Sublime Book of the Mind's Correspondence with the Nine Supreme Essentials ( 太上九要心印妙經 Taishang Jiuyao Xinyin Miaojing ), Book of the Mind's Correspondence with the Nine Essentials for short, is a Daoist book on Inner Alchemy ( 內丹 Neidan ) compiled by Zhang Guo of the Tang dynasty. The book divides inner alchemy into three categories and regards the great nine-cycle elixir as the first-rate category. It holds that in the process of making elixirs, each of the nine cycles has its own center, so there are nine essentials.

  1. The first one is "secret essential of perfect oneness". (Both spirit and vital breath are to be refined, and both spiritual nature and bodily life are to be cultivated.)
  2. The second one is "secret essential of wind box". (Heart and kidney are tools for refining and nourishing spirit and vital breath. What is important is to regularize the latter by the former and to stabilize the former by the latter.)
  3. The third one is "pivotal essential of 3-5-1". (3-5-1 refers to the 3 Yangs, the 5 agents, and the one vital breath. Dao follows spontaneity and never departs from the vital breath.)
  4. The fourth one is "crucial essential of 3-1". (3-1 means that 3 is transformed into 1 vital breath, composed of the upper immortal Dao of embracing oneness and refining spirit, the middle breath-refining technique for making the country rich and stable, and the lower essence-refining skills for fortifying soldiers and defeating enemies.)
  5. The fifth is "perfect essential of the souls of the sun and the moon". (The souls of the sun and the moon refer to "Yin and Yang", the sun being the soul of Yang while the moon being the soul of Yin. In every month, the Yang soul guards the Yin soul in the first 15 days and the Yin souls guards the Yang soul in the second 15 days. Refining the souls in one hour equals one year's merits.)
  6. The sixth is "key essential of ordinary activity and the five agents". (The ordinary activity refers to the mutual guarding of spirit and vital breath, which never separate from each other. The five agents means that the heart is in charge of spirit, the liver in charge of the Hun soul, the spleen in charge of mind, the kidney in charge of will, and the lung in charge of the Po soul. Condensed, the five agents are transformed into elixirs.)
  7. The seventh is "simple essential of seven-cycle reversion elixir". (This means to close the seven apertures, looking but not seeing, listening but not hearing, and so on.)
  8. The eighth is "general essential of the eight trigrams' returning to the origin", which is also called "the Dao of the eight trigrams' returning to the origin and root". (In the eight trigrams, the heart is the Kan trigram and the kidney is the Li trigram. One is Yin and the other is Yang; one is the inner vital breath and the other is the outer vital breath.)
  9. The ninth is "overall essential of the nine's returning to one vital breath". (Here nine is a Yang number, returning means integration, and one refers to the vital breath.)

The whole book is a fairly systematic set of skills of ingesting vital breath. It is a superb work about the Daoist theory of ingesting vital breath of the Tang dynasty and an important reference for the study of Daoist inner alchemy of the Tang dynasty. The book is colleted in the subsection of methods, the Pervasive Perfection Section ( 洞真部 Dongzhen Bu ) of The Daoist Canon of the Zhengtong Era ( 正統道藏 Zhengtong Daozang ).