The Tao C. G. Jung

‚Master Lü-tsu said: That which exists through itself is called the Way (Tao)’ – The Secret of the Golden Flower begins. The Hui Ming Ching begins with the words: ‘The subtlest secret of the Tao is human nature and life.’

It is characteristic of the Western mind that it has no concept for Tao. The Chinese character is made up of the character for ‘head’, and that for ‘going’. Wilhelm translates Tao by Sinn (Meaning). 1)↓ Others translate it as ‘way’, ‘providence’, or even as ‘God’, as the Jesuits do. This shows the difficulty. ‘Head’ can be taken as consciousness, 2)↓ and ‘to go’ as travelling a way, thus the idea would be: to go consciously, or the conscious way. This agrees with the fact that ‘the light of heaven’ which’dwells between the eyes’ as the ‘heart of heaven’ is used synonymously with Tao. Human nature and life are contained in ‘the light of heaven’ and, according to Liu Hua-yang, are the most important secrets of the Tao. Now ‘light’ is the symbolical equivalent of consciousness, and the nature of consciousness is expressed by analogies with light. The Hui Ming Ching is introduced with the verse:

If thou wouldst complete the diamond body with no outflowing,
Diligently heat the roots of consciousness 3)↓ and life.
Kindle light in the blessed country ever close at hand,
And there hidden, let thy true self always dwell.

These verses contain a sort of alchemistic instruction, a method or way of creating the ‘diamond body’ which is also meant in our text. ‘Heating’ is necessary; that is, there must be an intensification of consciousness in order that the dwelling place of the spirit may be ‘illumined’. But not only consciousness, life itself must be intensified. The union of these two produces ‘conscious life’. According to the Hui Ming Ching, the ancient sages knew how to bridge the gap between consciousness and life because they cultivated both. In this way the sheli, the immortal body, is ‘melted out’, and in this way ‘the great Tao is completed’.
 If we take the Tao to be the method or conscious way by which to unite what is separated, we have probably come close to the psychological content of the concept. In any case, the separation of consciousness from life cannot very well be understood to mean anything but what I have described above as an aberration, or deracination, of consciousness. Without doubt, also, the realization of the opposite hidden in the unconscious, i.e. the ‘reversal’, signifies reunion with the unconscious laws of being, and the purpose of this reunion is the attainment of conscious life or, expressed in Chinese terms, the bringing about of the Tao.
C. G. Jung, Commentary to „The Secret of the Golden Flower”

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1. Also as the Way
2. The head is also the ‘seat of heavenly light’.
3. In the Hui Ming Ching, ‘human nature’ [hsing] and ‘consciousness’ [hui] are used interchangeably. (Both are opposites to life [ming] but are not identical with each other.

Elixir of Life The Secret of the Golden Flower

Every man who unites bodily with a woman feels pleasure first and then bitterness; when the seed has flowed out, the body is tired and the spirit weary.

It is quite different when the adept lets spirit and energy unite. That brings first purity and then freshness; when the seed is transformed, the body is healthy and free.
 This is the sublimation of the seed into energy. If the pupil does not understand this principle, and lets the energy flow out directly, then the energy changes into seed; this is what is meant when it is said: ‘Emptiness finally flows into phenomena.’


There is a tradition that the old Master P’eng grew to be eight hundred years old because he made use of serving maids to nourish his life, but that is a misunderstanding. In reality, he used the method of sublimation of spirit and energy. In the Elixir of Life symbols are used for the most part, and in them the fire of the Clinging (Li) is frequently compared to a bride, and the water of the Abyss (Kan) to the boy (puer aeternus). From this arose the misunderstanding about Master P’eng having restored his virility through women. These are errors that have forced their way in later.
The Secret of the Golden Flower

Living Manner of the circulation of the light

…when the work is so far advanced that secret confirmations are experienced, it does not matter if, at the same time, one’s ordinary affairs are put in order, so that one can fulfil one’s karma. This means the living manner of the circulation of the light. Long ago, the True Man of the Purple Polar Light (Tzu-yang chen-jen) 1)↓ said a word: ‘If one cultivates one’s action while mingling with the world and is still in harmony with the light, then the round is round and the angular has angles; then he lives among men, mysterious yet visible, different and yet the same, and none can compass it; then no one notices our secret actions‚ The living manner of the circulation of the light has just this meaning: to live mingling with the world and yet in harmony with the light.
The Secret of the Golden Flower


Meditation, Stage 4: The centre in the midst of the conditions.

When one is so far advanced that every shadow and every echo has disappeared, so that one is entirely quiet and firm, this is refuge within the cave of energy, where all that is miraculous returns to its roots. One does not alter the place, but the place divides itself. This is incorporeal space where a thousand and ten thousand places are one place. One does not alter the time, but the time divides itself. This is immeasurable time when all the aeons are like a moment.
The Secret of the Golden Flower

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1. There are several Taoist adepts bearing this name. The one referred to here is probably Chang Po-tuan, who lived in the eleventh century A.D. [H. W.]

wu wei action through non-action

The most important things in the great Tao are the words: action through non-action. Non-action prevents a man from becoming entangled in form and image (materiality). Action in non-action prevents a man from sinking into numbing emptiness and dead nothingness. […]


Therefore it is said: If, when stimulated by external things, one moves, it is the impulse of the being. If, when not stimulated by external things, one moves, it is the movement of heaven. The being that is placed over against heaven can fall and come under the domination of the impulses. The impulses are based upon the fact that there are external things. They are thoughts that go on beyond one’s own position. Then movement leads to movement. But when no idea arises, the right ideas come. That is the true idea. When things are quiet and one is quite firm, and the release of heaven suddenly moves, is this not a movement without purpose? Action through non-action has just this meaning.
The Secret of the Golden Flower

Circulation of the Light and the Golden Flower

The circulation of the light is the inclusive term. The further the work advances, the more does the Golden Flower bloom…


circulation of light by pathworking

When the rotating light shines towards what is within, it does not develop in dependence on things, the energy of the dark is fixed, and the Golden Flower shines concentratedly. This is then the collected light of polarity. Related things attract each other. Thus the polarized Light-line of the Abysmal presses upward. It is not only the light in the abyss, but it is creative light which meets creative light. As soon as these two substances meet each other, they unite inseparably, and there develops an unceasing life; it comes and goes, rises and falls of itself, in the house of the primal energy. One is aware of effulgence and infinity. The whole body feels light and would like to fly. This is the state of which it is said: Clouds fill the thousand mountains. Gradually it goes to and fro quite softly; it rises and falls imperceptibly. The pulse stands still and breathing stops. This is the moment of true creative union, the state of which it is said: The moon gathers up the ten thousand waters. In the midst of this darkness, the heavenly heart suddenly begins a movement. This is the return of the one light, the time when the child comes to life.
The Secret of the Golden Flower

Signs of… the Golden Flower

Master Lü-tsu said, Your work will gradually become concentrated and mature, but before you reach the condition in which you sit like a withered tree before a cliff, there are still many possibilities of error which I would like to bring to your special attention. These conditions are recognized only when they have been personally experienced […] In meditating, a man must have a sort of conscious intuition, so that he feels energy and breathing unite in the field of the Elixir; he must feel that a warm release belonging to the true light is beginning to stir dimly. Then he has found the right space. When this right space has been found, one is freed from the danger of getting into the world of illusory desire or dark demons.


Meditation, Stage 3: Separation of the spirit-body for independent existence.

Master Lü-tsu said, There are many kinds of confirmatory experiences. One must not content oneself with small demands but must rise to the thought that all living creatures have to be redeemed. One must not be trivial and irresponsible in heart, but must strive to make deeds prove one’s words.
 If, when there is quiet, the spirit has continuously and uninterruptedly a sense of great joy as if intoxicated or freshly bathed, it is a sign that the hght-principle is harmonious in the whole body; then the Golden Flower begins to bud. When, furthermore, all openings are quiet, and the silver moon stands in the middle of heaven, and one has the feeling that this great earth is a world of light and brightness, that is a sign that the body of the heart opens itself to clarity. It is a sign that the Golden Flower is opening.
The Secret of the Golden Flower