Some Wondrous Effects of Inner Calm, as Described and Explained in Yu Yan's Zhouyi cantong qi fahui

Stephen Eskildsen
2019 Religions  
This essay examines what Yu Yan's Zhouyi cantong qi fahui says about the suspension of breathing and pulse, as well as the extraordinary inner sensations and visions that accompany it. Yu Yan maintains that these things come about by simply bringing body and mind to the depths of stillness; they are not instigated through deliberate procedures such as holding of breath, visualization, incantation, gulping air, swallowing saliva, etc. Through sheer inner calm and single-minded concentration,
more » ... concentration, breathing and pulse are suspended while an inner qi 氣 is generated that surges and circulates the body, bringing forth ravishing sensations and strange visions. Yu Yan explains why the inner qi and the visions come to be generated, and why one should and can disregard the visions. Yu Yan's descriptions and explanations regarding inner calm and its wondrous effects help shed light on the Neidan (inner alchemy) methods of the major traditions of his time (especially Nanzong and Quanzhen), revealing details that tended to be obscured in abstruse metaphor or reserved for oral transmission.
doi:10.3390/rel10010031 fatcat:qhnkirp2vvcpfbbx4ewjj2puiq