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Observations placeholder

The Manuals of Taoist Sexual Practise – Ten Questions 04



Type of Spiritual Experience


A mixture of physical and spiritual


A description of the experience

Thomas Cleary – The Taoist Classics
The Manuals of Taoist Sexual Practise – Ten Questions 04

The Yellow Emperor asked Rong Cheng, "When people originally propagate, taking on forms, what do they have that enables them to live? Once they take on physical form, what loss makes them die? In what epoch did humanity come to have likes and dislikes, to have early death or long life? I would like to hear the reasons why people's energy expands and contracts, slackens and tightens."

Rong Cheng replied,

"If you want to live a long time, then attentively examine the ways of heaven and earth. The energy of heaven is used up monthly and replenished monthly; thus it can live long. The energy of earth has cold and hot seasons each year, and complementary terrains; thus the earth can endure and not disintegrate. You must examine the conditions of heaven and earth, then put them into operation in your own body.

"There are intelligible indications, but even sages are not capable of understanding them; only masters of the Way can know them.

"The quintessence of heaven and earth arises where there is no sign, grows where there is no form, and matures where there is no body. Those who realise it live long, those who miss it die young.

"Therefore, those who skillfully govern energy and amass vitality build them up imperceptibly. The fountain of vital spirit full, you collect sweet dew to build it up, regularly drinking of pure springs and special wines, getting rid of bad behaviour and improving habits.

Then the spirit will remain in the body.

"The way to collect energy is to cause it to reach the extremities, so that vitality arises without deficiency. When the upper and lower body are both vitalized, how can chills or fevers occur? The breathing should be deep and prolonged, so that fresh energy is easily maintained.

"Stale energy makes for aging, fresh energy makes for longevity.  Therefore, those who are skilled at governing their energy cause stale energy to disperse nightly, and gather fresh energy in the mornings, so as to clear the apertures of the body and replenish the internal organs.

"There are prohibitions in ingesting energy. In spring, avoid polluted warm vapours. In summer, avoid hot, humid air. In autumn, avoid frosty mist. In winter, avoid extreme cold. Avoid these four problems, and deep breathing will make for longevity.

"The aim of morning breathing is that the exhalations should conform to nature, while the inhalations should fill the lungs, as if being stored in a profound abyss. Then old energy will be used up daily and new energy will be replenished daily. Then the physical body will be lustrous and radiant, filled with vitality, and thus able to live long.

"The aim of daytime breathing is that the exhalation and inhalation should be gentle, ears and eyes clear, with a very subtle mood of joy, not suffering internal degeneration, so the body does not die prematurely from illness.

"The aim of night-time breathing is that respiration be deep, long, and slow, causing the ears not to hear, so one can sleep peacefully.

The higher and lower souls rest in the body, so one can live long.

"As for midnight breathing, do not change sleeping positions even if you wake up; breathe deeply and slowly, without force, so that the internal organs are all enlivened, taking long breaths as a rule.

"If you want to make the spirit live long, you must breathe with the structure of the skin. The way to govern energy is to eject the stale and absorb the fresh, blissfully enjoying the good, filling the body with it. This is called amassing vitality.

"There are norms for governing energy. The task is to build up vitality; when vitality is full to overflowing, it is inevitably emitted, and when vitality has been ejaculated it must be replenished. Replenishment of ejaculate is done while in bed.

"Flavourful wines and foods are useful for regulating energy.

"The eyes become bright, the ears become clear, the skin becomes lustrous, the energy channels are filled, sexual vigour arises, enabling one to stand for a long time and journey for long distances and thus be able to live long.”

The source of the experience

The Manuals of Taoist Sexual Practise

Concepts, symbols and science items

Science Items

Activities and commonsteps