Some of these beings with unflagging resolution make themselves strong through internal union. When they have perfected the response, they are known as immortals whose practice involves essential energy.
These immortals dwell in the mountains and make themselves strong through internal union. They have an unflagging resolution to perfect this kind of intercourse. Internal union, intercourse, usually refers to the sexual act between men and women. But that is definitely not the meaning here. Rather, the intercourse takes place within oneself. One anal- gy for this is that of a "young boy and a young girl." No one needs to seek outside; each of us individuals has an internal young boy and young girl. In this analogy, explained from the point of view of the trigrams used in China, the young boy is the trigram
li [The Clinging (brightness, separateness, fire)]; the young girl is the trigram kan [The Abysmal (sinking, water)]. The trigram
li is empty in the middle; the trigram kan is full in the middle.
These are two of the eight major trigrams, which are:
||Qian [The Creative (heaven, male, yang)]
||Kan [The Abysmal
||Kun [The Receptive
(earth, female, yin)]
||Li [The Clinging
||Zhen [The Arousing
||Ken [Keeping Still
||Sun [The Gentle (bending
||Dui [The Joyous]
The eight trigrams begin with the trigram
qian [The Creative], which consists of three connected lines.
Qian represents the male element. Kun is six broken lines and represents the female element. In human beings, the
qian trigram is at its peak when a male is sixteen years old. Thereafter it begins to decline and turns into the trigram
li [The Clinging (fire)], which is empty in the middle. Where does the yang connected line in the middle of the
qian trigram go? It moves to the middle of the kun trigram, thus forming the
li and the kan trigrams. When the Qian (yang) trigram changes it becomes
li with an empty (yin) middle. When the Kun (yin) trigram changes, it becomes Kan with a full (yang) middle.
Li with the empty middle is likened to the young boy and
kan with the full middle is likened to the young girl.
Li belongs to the mind; kan belongs to the body. Thus the "internal union" or intercourse referred to occurs between the mind and the body. The analogy for the union of mind and body is that of sexual intercourse between men and women. This intercourse occurs within one's self. The
li is yang, but within the yang is yin. The kan is yin, but within the yin is yang.
Li is described as yang containing yin because of the empty middle line.
Kan is described as the yin containing yang because of the full middle line. The analogy is made to the young boy and young girl:
The young boy and girl meet at the yellow courtyard.
What is the yellow courtyard? It is the mind, the sixth consciousness. The mind belongs to the channel of spleen. The mind is connected to the spleen (according to Chinese medical theory). It would get tremendously involved if we were to go into this doctrine in detail. Time simply does not permit me to explain it further. In any event, the Taoists cultivate the method of using this kind of internal union. When people with deviant knowledge and deviant views see this passage of the Shurangama Sutra, they surmise that it says men and women can use sexual involvement to cultivate the Way, which leads them to promiscuous behavior and a failure to hold the precepts at all.
These immortals use an unflagging resolution in their practice.
When they have perfected the response, meaning their practice of internal union,
they are known as immortals whose practice involves essential energy.
Some of these beings with unflagging resolution make themselves strong through transformations. When they have perfected their awakening, they are known as immortals whose practice has reached an ultimate level.
Some cultivators make themselves strong through transformations. These cultivators,
with unflagging resolution, investigate all kinds of dharma tricks. Succeeding in their investigation, they gain some ability to make them function. Once they can perform these dharma tricks, then their skill in that sort of cultivation is perfected.
When they have perfected their awakening they gain the skill to understand the principle of how things are created. What kind of principle of creation do they under- stand? These immortals can move mountains and switch seas.
They can move a northern mountain to the south; a southern mountain to the north. They can switch the east sea to the west; the west sea to the east. They can switch the locations of such things. That's one sort of skill they have with transformations: moving mountains and switching seas.
They can also change the seasons around. For instance, in the winter in places with such cold climates that nothing can grow, they can grow anything they like and the plants won't freeze to death. They can turn the coldest places into the hottest places; they can turn the hottest places into the coldest places. They can change spring into fall and summer into winter. Spring is the time when the myriad things come to life, but these immortals can change the season to autumn and everything will wither and die. They can change the four seasons around.
Why are they able to do such things? It is because they have awakened to the principle of how things are created. They can take over the function of creation of heaven and earth. They can assume that capability for themselves.
They are known as immortals whose practice has reached an ultimate level.
Ananda, these are people who smelt their minds but do not cultivate Proper Enlightenment. They obtain some special principle of life and can live for thousands or tens of thousands of years. They retire deep into the mountains or onto islands in the sea, cutting themselves off from the human realm.
Ananda, you should know that
these are people who smelt their minds. While these immortals are in the human realm they train and smelt their bodies and minds,
but do not cultivate Proper Enlightenment. They do not cultivate the Shurangama Samadhi of the Treasury of the Tathagata that neither comes into being nor ceases to be. They don't cultivate to reach that proper enlightenment.
They obtain some special principle of life. They discover a special method for nurturing their physical bodies. The special methods refer to the various externalist methods transmitted to these people by immortals of externalist ways. Having realized the principles involved in nurturing their physical bodies, they can
live for thousands or tens of thousands of years or even longer than that.
They retire deep into the mountains. They reside in the deep mountains and isolated valleys, places where people cannot go.
Or they go onto islands in the sea, cutting themselves off from the human realm. These places are not easy for people to reach, beyond the seven golden mountain ranges. This world contains a Mount Sumeru. Surrounding Mount Sumeru are seven golden mountain ranges and seven seas of fragrant waters. Beyond these levels of golden mountains ranges interspersed with seas of fragrant waters are three thousand soft-water ways. This water is so soft that a bird's feather will sink to the bottom. Normally a bird's feather will float on water, but this water is so soft it cannot support anything.
To be continued