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The Fifteen Doctrines for Practitioners by Master Wang Chongyang

Master Wang Chongyang (11 January 1113 – 22 January 1170)

Taoist master and the founder of the Quanzhen School


The Fifteen Doctrines for Practitioners by Master Wang Chongyang

《重阳立教十五论》


1. Residence

A person who wants to become a monk needs to go to a temple. (A practitioner must have a place to live.) Proper living conditions are what the body needs. When the body has a proper place to live, the mind is peaceful gradually, the spirit is comfortable, which is the beginning of the right way of practice. Any excessive workload will cause Qi deficiency; any excessive rest will cause Qi blockage and blood stagnation. One must keep the balance of work and rest. Keep the balanced lifestyle as a habit, one has understood the way of residence.


第一住庵

凡出家者,先须投庵。庵者,舍也,一身依倚。身有依倚,心渐得安,气神和畅,入真道矣!凡有动作,不可过劳,过劳则损气;不可不动,不动则气血凝滞,须要动静得其中,然后可以守常安分,此是住庵之法。


2. Traveling

There are two kinds of travelers: one kind likes to go sightseeing. They travel through nature, enjoy the beautiful landscapes of mountains, rivers, flowers, and plants; or they travel to different cities, visit temples, buildings, and friends for wine and dine; or they travel to look for beautiful clothes or food. These people travel thousands of miles, spend their energy to see the world, and their minds get more and more uneasy and unsatisfied; their Qi is hurt. These are the travelers who will gain nothing.

The other kind of traveler is searching for the truth of life and death, searching for the ultimate rule of the universe. They don’t mind traveling far over mountains and rivers to look for the right masters. They never stop asking questions about Tao/Enlightenment. When they are finally inspired by one sentence, they will find the true light of life and the way to be free from life and death, and they will become "REAL(Enlightened) PEOPLE". This is the true meaning of traveling!


第二云游

凡游历之道有二:一者看山水明秀、花木之红翠,或玩州府之繁华,或赏寺观之楼阁,或寻朋友以纵意,或为衣食而留心,如此之人,虽行万里之途,劳形费力,遍览天下之景,心乱气衰,此乃虚云游之人。二者,参寻性命,求问妙玄,登巇(Xi)崄之高山,访明师之不惓,渡喧轰之远水,问道无厌。若一句相投,便有圆光内发,了生死之大事,作全真之丈夫。如此之人,乃真云游也!


3. Reading books

The way of learning is not to read too many books to confuse oneself. One shall choose the book which one can understand. Reading a book is to understand the meaning; Understanding the meaning is to find the right way to practice; The right way of practice can control one’s mind. Practice the right way for a long time, one can naturally see the light of true nature, become more intelligent, and understand any books and any knowledge. Once achieved this stage, one shall keep it to oneself, shall not show off to others. One shall keep oneself in control and stay humble and modest; otherwise, it will hurt one’s life. If one doesn’t even understand the meaning of the books, but just tries to read more and memorize more books to talk about them in front of people, praising oneself, it is not helpful for practice. This way of reading books will only hurt one’s spirit and life energy. Therefore, although one can read many books, how can this way of learning help one to achieve Tao/enlightenment?

Whenever one has understood the meaning of the books/the Way, one shall keep it to oneself and not reveal it to others.


第三学书

学书之道,不可寻文而乱目,当宜采意以合心。舍书探意、采理,舍理采趣,采得趣,则可以收之入心,久久精诚,自然心光洋溢,智神踊跃,无所不通,无所不解。若到此,则可以收养,不可驰骋耳,恐失于性命。若不穷书之本意,只欲记多念广,人前谈说,夸讶才俊,无益于修行,有伤于神气,虽多看书,与道何益?既得书意,可深藏之。


4. Usage of Medicine

Medicine is taken and made from the essence of nature. Warmth, coldness of the body can be adjusted by medicine. Medicines of strong or mild effect can be given properly and help people. Only those who have learned thoroughly can help and save people’s lives. “Blind” doctors (doctors who have not learned properly are considered as “Blind doctors”) can hurt people’s bodies. A Taoist practitioner must learn everything about medicine. Without the knowledge of medicine, one is lacking the support to practice. However, one shall not rely on medicine too much, which will also hurt one’s inner practice. One shall not be greedy about the benefits of giving medical support to people; it will hurt one’s practice. And even if one is not punished in this life (disaster happens to this person), be aware of the punishment in the next life. All Taoist practitioners must be aware of this rule.


第四论合药

药者,乃山川之秀气,草木之精华。一温一寒,可补可泄;一厚一薄,可表可托。肯精学者,活人之性命;若盲毉(同“医”)者,损人之形体。学道之人,不可不通;若不通者,无以助道。不可执着,则有损于阴功,外贪财货,内费修真,不足今生招愆(Qian指灾祸),切忌来生之报,吾门高弟,仔细参详。


5. Building a house (Temple)

A house made of straw or wood is to shelter our body. Sleeping in the open field is disrespect to the Sun and Moon. Luxurious and fancy houses with many carvings are not wanted by the gentlemen. Tall buildings and high halls are never for Taoist practitioners. Cutting trees is like cutting the supply of juice for the earth; selling them for money is the same as taking blood. Those who only care about the appearance but ignore inner quality are like painting a piece of bread to eat, piling up snow as food. Thus, useless efforts will end up achieving nothing. Anyone who has a clear mind shall search for the true treasure of building inside the body and figure out that the outside beautiful buildings will collapse eventually. Smart gentlemen think carefully.


第五论盖造

茅庵草舍,须要遮形,露宿野眠,触犯日月。茍或雕梁峻宇,亦非上士之作为;大殿高堂,岂是道人之活计。斫伐树木,断地脉之津液化道货财,取人家之血脉。只修外功,不修内行,如画饼充饥,积雪为粮,虚劳众力,到了成空。有志之人,早当觅身中宝殿,体外朱楼,不解修完,看看倒塌。聪明君子,细细察详。


6. Practice partners

Taoist practitioners stay as partners to help each other and bury each other at death. Always choose the right person to become the partner. Never become partners and then judge and choose the person. Do not fall in love with your partner because love will tie up the mind; Do not treat your partner without love because no love means no compassion. Love or no love, one needs to understand the right appropriate way. There are 3 right partners and 3 wrong partners. 3 right partners: Clear mind, wisdom, and commitment. 3 wrong partners: attached to surroundings, no wisdom, no commitment. The right partner is the foundation of practice, which is fully based on strong mindfulness. A partner is an important foundation/support of practice; therefore, do not choose the partner because of personal feelings or the appearance of the person. It is wise to choose a partner who has a clearer mind than you.


第六论合道伴

道人合伴,本欲疾病相扶,你死我埋,我死你埋。然先择人而后合伴,不可先合伴而后择人。不可相恋,相恋则系其心;不可不恋,不恋则情相离。恋与不恋,得其中道可矣!有三合三不合:明心、有慧、有志,此三合也。不明著外境,无智慧性愚浊,无志气干打哄,此三不合也。立身之本在丛林,全凭心志,不可顺人情,不可取相貌,唯择高明者,是上法也。


7. Meditation in sitting position

To practice meditation in a sitting position, one should have the rightful speech, behavior, and proper sitting posture. (Being a good person is the foundation of any practice.) Without this foundation, it is not real practice of meditation. With real practice of meditation in a sitting position, one can always stay peaceful 24 hours per day. No matter working, walking, sitting, or sleeping, one’s mind is stable and peaceful as a mountain. Eyes, ears, tongue, and nose are not influenced by surroundings. Any slight changes of mind mean the foundation of sitting meditations is not good enough. One who has achieved this stage of peaceful mind at all times has earned a name on the Immortals’ name list. Although living in society, one has become a human saint and does not need to look for other masters. After hundreds of years of proper practice, one can let go of the body and successfully become a true immortal and free from life and death, and free in the universe.


第七论打坐

凡打坐者,非言形体端然,瞑目合眼,此是假坐也。真坐者,须十二时辰,住行坐卧,一切动静中间,心如泰山,不动不摇,把断四门,眼耳口鼻,不令外景入内,但有丝毫动静思念,即不名静坐。能如此者,虽身处于尘世,名已列于仙位,不须远参他人,便是身内圣贤。百年功满,脱壳登真,一粒丹成,神游八表。


8. Control the mind

The way of controlling the mind means that one can always remain in a clear mind, the mind is not influenced by anything. One seems quiet and naïve, but one is attached to nothing. One has deep and broad knowledge but is not trapped by any theories and knowledge. This is called Controlled Mind. Thus, the mind is settled and cannot be shaken. When one’s mind is influenced by the surroundings and always feels confounded/confused and needs to look for something, it means that the mind is not settled. This is called Confused Mind. One shall work on the problems right away, do not let the problem go on and hurt the morality and life eventually. At all times, working, walking, sitting, or sleeping, one shall observe one’s mind and control oneself not being influenced by the surroundings. Treat it as sickness and disease!


第八论降心

凡论心之道,若常湛然,其心不动,昏昏默默,不见万物,冥冥杳杳,不内不外,无丝毫念想,此是定心,不可降也。若随境生心,颠颠倒倒,寻头觅尾,此名乱心也,速当剪除,不可纵放,败坏道德,损失性命。住行坐卧,常勤降闻见知觉,无病患矣!


9. Cultivate spirit

Cultivating spirit is like adjusting an instrument. The string shall not be too tight or too loose. When the strings are adjusted properly, the instrument can be played. It is also like making a sword with the right mixture of steel and tin. One shall try to understand these two examples for spiritual cultivation.


第九论炼性

理性如调琴,弦紧则有断,慢则不应,紧慢得中,琴可调矣!则又如铸剑,钢多则折,锡多则卷,钢锡得中,则剑可矣;鍊性者,体此二法,则自妙也。


10. 5 Qi movements

Five Qi flows into the middle chamber of the body. Three YUAN (Essence, Energy, spirit) are at the top of the head. The dragon is blowing red fog, the tiger is blowing black smoke. The spirit is in the right place, energy channels are all open, the light of life energy is bright, mercury is fixed by Lead. (Taoists describe the mind as mercury, which moves and is very hard to be controlled. In physics, when you put lead into mercury, mercury can be fixed. So here means the mind is settled and totally clear and peaceful.) While the body is still on earth, the spirit can fly through heaven/sky.


第十论匹配五气

五气聚于中宫,三元攒于顶上,青龙喷赤雾,白虎吐乌烟。万神罗列,百脉流冲,丹砂晃朗,铅汞凝澄,身且寄向人间,神已游于天上。


11. True nature and life

The true nature is spirit, life is Qi. When true nature meets life, it is like a bird in the wind, can fly easily. As quoted from “YIN FU JIN”(Another important Taoist book): “To manage the bird depends on Qi. “ A real Taoist practitioner must understand the meaning but do not share with non-moral people, thus will be blamed by the holy spirits/Gods. True nature and life are the foundation of practice; one true practitioner must waste no time!


第十一论混性命

性者神也,命者气也。性若见命,如禽得风,飘飘轻举,省力易成。《阴符经》云:“禽之制在气”,是也。修真之士,不可不参,不可渗漏于下士,恐有神明降责。性命是修行之根本,谨紧锻鍊矣!


12. The Way of Holiness/Saints

To achieve the Way of Holiness is based on many years of fully committed hard practice and accumulation of actions of goodness. Only those enlightened minds and sages can achieve the way of Holiness/Saints. When one has achieved the Way, one is sitting at home and is able to connect with the whole universe, one is guarded by all the heavenly beings and gods. One’s name is listed in the immortals and celestial name list. Although living among people, one’s mind is liberated from the physical world.


第十二论圣道

入圣之道,须是苦志多年,积功累行,高明之士,贤达之流,方可入圣之道也。身居一室之中,性满乾坤,普天圣众,默默护持,无极仙君,冥冥围遶。名集紫府,位列仙阶,形且寄于尘中,心已明于物外矣!


13. Free from the 3 realms

The 3 Realms are: Desire realm, form realm, formless realm. When one’s mind is free from worries, one is free from the desire realm; when one’s mind is free from any phenomenon, one is free from the form realm; when one’s mind is free from the cognition of emptiness, one is free from the formless realm. Free from 3 realms, one is living as a celestial being. The true nature is in nirvana.


第十三论超三界

欲界、色界、无色界,此乃三界也。心忘虑念,即超欲界;心忘诸境,即超色界;不着空见,即超无色界;离此三界,神居仙圣之乡,性在玉清之境矣!


14. How to Live a life

The nature of spirit has no fixed form or phenomenon. It is not empty and it does not exist; it has no before or after; it is not lower or higher; it is not short or long. It can be anywhere when it is in use; it can be nowhere when it is hidden. When one is enlightened spiritually, one knows how to live a life. Longer or shorter, better or worse, it depends on how much effort one puts in. One shall not deliberately leave the world or stay in the world. Stay or leave naturally!


第十四论养身之法

法身者,无形之相也。不空不有,无后无前,不下不高,非短非长。用则无所不通,藏之则昏默无迹。若得此道,正可养之;养之多则功多,养之少则功少。不可愿归,不可恋世,去住自然矣!


15. Free from the physical world

Free from the physical world means that the spirit is free, not the body. The body is just like the root of a lotus, the spirit is the flower. The root of the lotus must be in the mud, and the flower blossoms in the space. An enlightened person lives as a normal person physically, and his/her mind is free spiritually.

However, people are longing to live forever as immortals and leave the physical world. How foolish is this idea while they don’t understand the truth!

That is why I wrote down these 15 rules to warn all Taoist practitioners in the future. Read and think carefully until you understand.


第十五论离凡世

离凡世者,非身离也,言心地也。身如藕根,心似莲花,根在泥而花在虚空矣!得道之人,身在凡而心在圣境矣!今之人,欲永不死而离凡世者,大愚不达道理也!言十五论者,警门中有志之人,深可详察知之。


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