Journal writings from Shifu Michael’s next book – June 19, 2015

And now I want to return to my review of the book by Jill Gonet, Riding the Phoenix to Penglai. I previously mentioned how I appreciated the discussion around the topic of Anterior Heaven in Poem Two on page 32 and 33. Another important point Gonet makes a few pages later is on the need for detachment when one sets their goal on moving forward: “Forward momentum generates more forward movement, insight, and creation, and this reinforces the wellspring of one’s Qi and also nurtures it with good health and gratifying joy.” (Gonet 2014, p. 35)

Poem Six is a very interesting poem as it focuses on the breath, delusions, Anterior Heaven and the act of acquiring. I am not sure I agree with everything that Gonet presents here but it is nevertheless a good reflection on important topics. I will add a few words of concern about one of these topics:

Embryonic Breathing
To acquire the elixir successfully and quickly,
First get rid of all delusions. (Gonet 2014, p. 50)

Gonet uses the word ‘acquire’ in a way I don’t necessarily agree with. From my readings on Quanzhen teachings I have read that the founder of the Quanzhen, Wang Zhe speaks of the elixir as something that has existed eternally and not something we need to ‘acquire.’ The following is from a poem by Wang Zhe and points directly to this point: “Your original Real Nature is the golden elixir.” (Eskildsen 2004, p. 58) And the scholar Eskelson explains further this understanding by the early Quanzhen: “Through the cultivation of inner purity and serenity, one comes to enjoy and partake in an eternal life that one has unknowingly possessed all along.” (Ibid., p. 58)

Further in the discussion on this poem we come back to my favorite topic, Anterior Heaven again. We see that the way to Anterior Heaven is through the practice of Daoist breathing. Just stay with the breath and like Master Wu Jyh Cherng says, let the breath of Dao unite you to Anterior Heaven and live directly off that refined state of existence on the Qi level and Divine Intelligence level. I believe Gonet agrees with me when she says, “At this stage of cultivation, even one’s breathing reinforces Complete Reality.” (Gonet 2014, p. 53)

My original intention of doing an in-depth review of this book is not going to happen. I have too many other pressing projects to work on. I do want to end with a wonderful section that Gonet commented on in the last few pages of her book, the topic of companions in the Dao. Wang Zhe in his famous Discourse on the Teachings, has a whole section on the value of choosing the right companions on the path of cultivation:

Companions in the Dao
Followers of the Dao join together as companions because they can assist each other in sickness and disease. “If you die, I’ll bury you; if I die, you will bury me”.
Therefore, you must first choose the right person and only then join with that person as a companion. Do not join with someone first and then consider him as a person.
There are three kinds of people with whom you should join and three whom you should avoid. Join those with an illuminated heart-mind, wisdom, or strong determination. Avoid those who are ignorant concerning external projections of the heart-mind, who lack wisdom and are turbid in innate nature, or who lack determination and are inclined to quarrel.
Only choose the elevated and illumined. This is the supreme method.

Gonet makes the same point in expressing Sun Puerh’s guidance. Choose your companions carefully as they will provide the cultivator with support along the way. “Choose people, she would suggest, who want to see you succeed getting beyond your passive-reactiveness, or your programmed and conditioned responses to things so that you can stand in the naturalness of your original nature.” (Gonet 2014, p. 109) As the founder of the American Dragon Gate Lineage, in ancestral lineage with Wang Zhe, it is my opinion that the value of companions in the Dao is just as important today as it was during the early years of the Quanzhen.

In conclusion on Riding the Phoenix to Penglai I am in full alignment with Jill Gonet in her last line of her book:

For the cultivator these will now be experienced from within a more graceful framework, one in which these elemental interactions are seen as no different from one’s self, just as the source has been seen and experienced as no different from one’s self. (Gonet 2014, p. 114)

In my own words, I say the same thing by simply saying, Not Two.

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