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With regard to the second type of relation, spring and summer, respectively associated with Wood and Fire, exemplify two different states of the Yang principle the same it true, therefore, of Jupiter and Mars, the liver and the heart, and so forth. The agents are generated in the first place by the division of original Unity into Yin and Yang, and by the further subdivision of Yin and Yang into four states. These four states are defined by two distinct series of terms.

The first series emphasizes stages of cyclical Pages are omitted from this Sample www. It is enough to read that section with attention to notice that the criticism is not addressed to Waidan per se, but to the Waidan methods that are not based on the conjunction of lead and mercury.

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The first is the description of alchemical ideas and practices in the strict sense. The second is the illustration of metaphysical and cosmological doctrines, many of whose features can be expressed by means of alchemical symbolism and vocabulary. When the symbolic usage of the language prevails over the literal one as it does in the Cantong qi , the alchemical terms connote in the first place formless principles, and the material entities or phenomena literally denoted by those terms are seen as instances of those principles.

A particular alchemical term, in this way, essentially becomes another name of the principle that it connotes; as such, it can also be used to refer to any entity or phenomenon that, in the alchemical discourse, is seen as an instance of that principle. The Zhuangzi passage is found in one of the later portions of this work, which seem to date from the third century bce.

It is essentially for this reason that, although the alchemical portions of the Cantong qi refer to Waidan methods, they can be read as descriptions of Neidan practices. This possibility is not only entirely coherent with the nature of the alchemical language, but is also implied in it: the alchemical language is based on the notion of analogy. The doctrines of the Cantong qi, in other words, do not belong to either Waidan or Neidan: they pertain to both. Under this light, it seems clear that the Cantong qi provides an alchemical model that can be applied to both Waidan and Neidan; but it uses the language of Waidan to describe the compounding of the Elixir for the simple reason that Waidan was the form in which alchemy existed when the text was composed.

In other words, it is not the task of the Cantong qi to describe Neidan under the guise of Waidan. Leaving aside the historical questions that it would raise, this view would be reductive for a work of this scope. The task of the Cantong qi is not to describe alchemical practices, as many other texts do, but to show how the practice of alchemy can comply with the principles of metaphysics and cosmology.

The main subjects dealt with in the alchemical portions of the Cantong qi are the following: 1. Lead and Mercury: 28—29, 68 2. Description of the method: 39—40, 62, 78 3.

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The five agents and the Elixir: 32—33, 41, 63, 72, 79 4. The tripod: 82 7. Erroneous alchemical methods: 36, 65 Pages are omitted from this Sample www. It does not surprise, therefore, that the Cantong qi explicitly advises against meditation on the inner gods —2. Certain clusters of terms that recur in the Cantong qi show that the focus is a different one. Now the adept examines, investigates, searches, inquires, quests, and inspects; he gauges and measures; he reflects, ponders, infers, and assesses.

With the changes mentioned above, the whole outlook is trans- formed. The shift from Waidan to Neidan occurs first at the doctrinal level; the new practices result from the grafting of earlier methods onto a different doctrine. The change is first clearly visible in Waidan, where the conversion of earlier practices to different doctrinal founda- tions resulted in a new way of compounding the Elixir. With another analogous, decisive shift, the earlier meditation methods were re- placed by Neidan. The Cantong qi expounds this doctrine. For details on this text, see pp.

The edited text is transcribed on pp. At an early stage of my work, I have subdivided the text into sections. These subdivisions are based on the following criteria, listed in order of importance: a Changes in the number of characters in rhymed lines; b Major changes of rhyme patterns; c Major changes of subject matter. Beyond these criteria, I have not followed any particular model to determine the extent of each section.

For ease of reference, and in order to provide a pointer to their main subjects, I have assigned titles to the individual sections. Sec- tions dealing with the same subjects bear identical titles. The subdivision of each section into stanzas is based on the rhyme patterns and usually follows the basic quatrain frame- work, which, however, the Cantong qi does not use consistently. Verses are numbered consecutively within each section.

The present version differs from earlier translations just as much as each of them differs from all the others. With much initial hesitancy, I have translated each verse on a separate line, instead of rendering the entire text in a looser prose form. Once again, let me remind that Noreen Khawaja deserves my gratitude, and all due credit, for innumerable corrections and suggestions that have improved this translation. I bear full responsibility for any error. My comments are in two forms: section notes and verse notes.

Facing different explica- tions given by commentators and scholars—variously leaning toward Waidan, Neidan, cosmology, or other subjects, and with remarkable differences within each of these fields—I have tried to focus on the features that connect the varying interpretations to one another and that, in the first place, make them possible. Besides this, I have at- tempted to read, translate, and annotate the individual parts of the text from the perspective of their respective main subjects—i.

The verse notes contain references to quotations from earlier sources; translations of closely related passages found in earlier texts; references to comparable sentences found elsewhere in the Cantong qi; and additional remarks on certain terms or passages. The main textual and technical notes are collected in a separate part of the book pp. Finally, in order to avoid unnecessary complications, I often refer to Wei Boyang as the author of the Cantong qi in my notes, in agree- ment with the established tradition.

Page numbers do not correspond to those in the complete version of this book. Kan and Li are the inner and the outer walls, they spin the hub and align the axle. Female and male, these four trigrams function as a bellows and its nozzles. Sun and Moon make change, the firm and the yielding match one another. All are endowed by the Central Palace through the efficacy of wu and ji. At that mo- ment, Heaven and Earth merge their essences, and the Sun and the Moon reach out for one another and hold onto one another.

In indistinction they conjoin; at this incipient time, the root is planted. This is how living beings come forth: even the wriggling worms all proceed from this.

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Going back to the fundament conceal your light, and innerly illuminate your body. Water is the axis of the Dao: its number is 1. Amassing soil you set up space for an altar, and at daybreak and sunset you worship in awe. Your deeds have rebounded, for you were defiant and let slip the hinge. Their tortuous routes run against the Yellow Emperor and the Old Master, their winding courses oppose the Nine Capitals.

Those who are bright comprehend the meaning of this: in all its breadth they know where it comes from. Two times 8 corresponds to one pound: the Way of the Changes is correct and unbiased. Water then stabilizes Fire: it is the first of the five agents. These are the forms and images of the Dao, but True Unity can hardly be charted: it alters itself and distributes by parting, and each part dwells alone, on its own. The three things are one family: all of them return to wu and ji. BOOK 1 1. The constant conjunction of Qian and Kun, the active and the passive principles, gives birth to all phenomena in the world of change.

As they join with one another, Qian entrusts his generative poten- tial to Kun and, in doing this, becomes Li ; Kun receives the essence of Qian to bring it to fruition and, in doing this, becomes Kan. If the two sets of walls are shaped as joined semicircles, they form a wheel see fig. The central hub is the emptiness from which existence comes forth; the axle passing through the hub is Qian and Kun, which hold the wheels in position; and the wheels with their spokes are the compass of space and the cycles of time governed by Kan and Li.

Qian, Kun, Kan, and Li are also compared to a bellows and its nozzles.

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The bellows Qian and Kun is empty, but sends forth its breath through the nozzles Kan and Li. The father and the mother of all hexagrams. Kan and Li are the inner and the outer walls. However, although the Yin trigram Kan is associated with the Moon, it encloses a solid Yang line that belongs to Qian. Analogously, the Yang trigram Li is associated with the Sun, but encloses a broken Yin line that belongs to Kun. The alternation of the Sun and the Moon produces change. Soil transmits the One Breath to the four directions and the www.

In reiterating the unity of Qian and Kun, Kan and Li, and wu and ji, Soil guarantees the conjunction of the world of multiplicity to the Absolute. When Kan and Li join one another, the active and the passive principles return to the original state of indistinction. Spirit produces that essence through its own coagula- tion ning.

Thus Kun receives the seed of Qian, and brings it to fruition. All forms of life are generated in this way. In the cosmos, the joining of the Sun and the Moon gives birth to a new time cycle, the lunar month. The first half of that cycle is ruled by the Yang principle, which flourishes until it culminates at the middle of the month. The second half is ruled by the Yin principle, which similarly grows until it overcomes the Yang principle at the end of the month. Then the Sun and the Moon join once more, the Yang principle is reborn, and the cycle begins again. The trigram Zhen Thunder symbolizes the first stage of the rebirth of luminous Yang after the obscurity of Yin.

Its Yang line at the bottom the position of the initial line is an image of regeneration after stagnation, represented in the Book of Changes by the crack of thunder produced by the conjunction of Yin and Yang. At the begin- ning of the month, Heaven assigns Zhen the task of ruling over the first stage of the newly-born time cycle the initial five days and the corresponding sector of space East. Having been reborn, the Yang principle begins a new cycle of ascent and descent.

Section 13 de- scribes this cycle. Heaven and Earth merge their essences. The principles of alchemy Sections 22—25 concern the way of inferior virtue. This portion of the Cantong qi begins with a description of the principles of alchemy. Alchemy seeks the principle that gives birth to, and is hidden within, the manifest cosmos. Among the emblems of the Book of Changes, this principle is represented by the solid Yang line contained within Kan Water , which originally belongs to Qian.

Therefore the precelestial Breath is to be sought within Water. For the same reason, Water is also the element that supports the River Chariot heche , the vehicle that transports the One Breath Metal, True Lead, True Yang back and forth in its cycles of ascent and descent within the cosmos. Analogously, lead is black outside, but harbors the white and luminous Golden Flower jinhua within. Quoting another passage from the Daode jing, the Cantong qi likens the authentic principle hidden in the darkness of the world to the treasure concealed by the saintly man, who disguises himself as a common mortal.

If you are a mold for the world, the constant virtue does not depart from you, and you return to the Ultimateless. And the Numinous Light will come of its own. White is the essence of Metal, Black the foundation of Water. These varying views reflect different configurations of the alchemical emblems, in whose contexts the same principle can be represented by different terms and symbols. Its number is 1. By means of number 2, Earth gener- ates Fire.

By means of number 3, Heaven generates Wood. By means of number 4, Earth generates Metal. It is the ruler of the five metals. The five metals are gold, silver, copper, iron, and lead. Here they are meant as mere emblems of the five agents: www. The River Chariot of the northern direction. In Neidan, River Chari- ot refers to path of the circulation of Breath qi through the renmai and dumai vessels, respectively running along the back and the front of the body. This circulation is analogous to the circulation of the One Breath in the cosmos along the cycles of time and the compass of space.

Thus the saint wears rough-hewn clothes, but cherishes a piece of jade in his bosom. Incorrect practices Sections 26—27 conclude the portion of Book 1 concerned with the general principles of superior virtue and inferior virtue. The present section consists in an admonition against fruitless practices. The Cantong qi repeatedly warns against the performance of practices deemed to be incorrect or unproductive for true realization.

This section rejects meditation methods, breathing practices, sexual techniques, and the worship of minor deities and spirits. Not only does the Cantong qi reject these methods; it also refers to them with irony. For this reason, they go against the true Taoist teaching, which the Cantong qi associates with the Yellow Emperor and with Laozi, the Old Master. Using the six jia as markers of time. Being especially important in hemerology, these days are associated with deities and with talismans that grant communication with those deities.

For you were defiant and let slip the hinge. The arts are so many. Their winding courses oppose the Nine Capitals. The implication, never- theless, is clear: the death of the adept of incorrect practices is a punish- ment delivered by Heaven. Dui and Gen, in turn, respectively connote the first and the last quarter of the Moon see table In this role, they are both assigned the symbolic number 8, derived from the sequence of the lunar cycle. Gen is the waning quarter, which occurs at the middle of the second half of the month, eight days after the full Moon i.

Therefore Dui and and Gen, in addition to being emblems of True Yang and True Yin, also signify the first and the second halves of the lunar month, respectively distinguished by the growth of the Yang and the Yin principles. The sum of the numeric values of Dui and Gen is In the traditional Chinese weight system, 16 ounces liang correspond to one pound jin. The symbolic pound of Elixir, therefore, incorpo- rates and unifies the whole set of cosmological and alchemical corre- spondences represented by its two ingredients, True Lead and True Mercury.

See the textual note to verse Two times 8 corresponds to one pound. Water, the beginning As does the passage of the Book of Changes from which verses 1 and 3 derive, the first stanza of this section describes the process that create life. Qian is movement, Kun is quiescence. Complying with their natures and qualities, Qian gives forth the Essence that generates life, and entrusts it to Kun; Kun receives the Essence of Qian, and brings creation to achievement.

The joining of essence and substance, or male and female, is in the first place a return to the state of Unity of Qian and Kun. This pro- cess can be portrayed in several ways, two of which are alluded to in the present section. The second stanza uses images related to the numeric values of the five agents. Unity here is not represented by Soil, which stands for the joining of Qian and Kun per se, but by Water, the first agent in the cosmogonic sequence see section 22 : the conjunc- tion of Qian and Kun is now the precondition for the creation of a new life, the first stage of a process that awaits its unfolding, a reitera- tion of the process that leads to the birth of the whole cosmos.

The symbolism of verses 7—8 is complex, but deserves attention as this passage of the Cantong qi is quoted in several later texts. The state of Unity, to which the four external agents must return in order to generate life, is represented by number 1, which belongs to Water. Their colors, white and red, are associated with the agents Metal and Fire. These images lead to another description of the same process, based on the sequence of www. Here Water is again the symbol of the return of Qian and Kun to the state of Unity, the very instant in which a new life is generated.

But True Unity can hardly be charted. In the genera- tive sequence of the agents, Metal generates Water, and Wood gener- ates Fire. This inversion causes the postcelestial houtian aspects of Yin and Yang to be reintegrated within their precelestial xiantian aspects, which are of the opposite signs: the postcelestial Yin Water returns to precelestial True Yang Metal , and the postcelestial Yang www. With the addition of the central Soil, which enables True Yin and True Yang to conjoin, there are three sets, each of which has a numerical value of 5.

The final two verses reiterate the reversion process: from 5 to 3 Metal and Water; Wood and Fire; Soil , and from 3 to 1, when True Yin and True Yang are joined to one another in the Elixir. These four, in indistinction. This expression is also found in with reference to Qian , Kun , Kan , and Li. The liver is green and is the father. The spleen is yellow and is the forefather. For the variants found in these verses among different redactions of the Cantong qi, see the Textual Notes. In agreement with the traditional Chinese convention, North is shown at the bottom, South at the top, East on the left, and West on the right.

Pages are omitted from this Sample www. The capitalization of certain words is different in the translation. Taipei: Xinwen- feng chubanshe, Fourth to first centuries bce. Hong Kong: Shangwu yinshuguan, Fourth to third centuries bce? CT Hong Kong: Shangwu yin- shuguan, Zhonghua shuju ed. Beijing, Originally ca.

Late fourth century. Tokyo: Meitoku shuppansha, — Beijing: Zhonghua Shuju, Baojing tang ed. Third or fourth century. Daozang, CT Fifth to third centuries bce. Peking: Harvard-Yenching Institute, Fourth century bce. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, Renmin wenxue chuban- she ed. Original portions ca. Originally fifth century bce? Daozang ed. Yu Yan, Anonymous, ca. Congshu jicheng ed. A unity candle is a candle used in a wedding ceremony to symbolize two people joining in marriage.

The lighting of a "unity candle" is a relatively new inclusion in wedding ceremonies, first appearing sometime in the second half of the 20th century, and most commonly found in American Christian weddings [1]. The origins are unclear, though use of a unity candle in a episode of General Hospital may have helped to popularize the practice [2].


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Use of a unity candle generally symbolizes the joining of two individuals into the marriage bond, but additional allusions may invoked. The flame may be said to represent the passion in each individual's soul for their spouse, or it may compared to the Holy Spirit. Two taper candles are initially lit and used by each member of the marrying couple. These tapers are then used to light a larger pillar candle in the center. Variations may include additional tapers used by parents to light the tapers that represent the individuals being married.

When the practice is intended to symbolize simply the joining together of the bride and groom, the tapers may be blown out, to indicate that the two lives have been permanently merged, or they may remain lit beside the central candle, symbolizing that the now-married partners have not lost their individuality. While the use of unity candles has become widespread, it is prohibited in some churches. While the US Conference of Catholic Bishops has not explicitly prohibited the use of the unity candle in the marriage rite, neither has it encouraged the practice.

The Conference has noted that the policies of most dioceses do not prohibit this custom but many suggest that it be done at the reception since the Rite of Marriage already has abundant symbols of unity.