Inner Alchemy (内丹 – Neidan) is a set of higher level methods, which are based on meditative practices (打坐 – Dazuo) suggesting sitting in a motionless calm and silence (静坐 – Jinzuo). Their purpose is the spiritual development of a person that helps to understand oneself and ones mission in this world.
The fundamental difference between Neidan and Qigong is that the usual methods of Qigong can work with usual kinds of energy, heal the body, balance the circulation of energy and achieve control over your feelings and emotions, whereas Inner Alchemy methods allow you to work not only with usual energy and ordinary consciousness, but with the original energy and original spirit (the divine nature), which significantly improves the efficiency of all energy practices for the development of body and mind.
In every person, there is an innermost spiritual (“divine”) nature, and purpose of the practice of Inner Alchemy is to awaken it. In everyday life, we are more focused outward, on the interaction with the outside world, learning and studying it. We usually have life goals focusing on material aspects of our lives. However, this way of thinking often leads to misunderstanding and rejection of events that happen to us, and, as a result – to suffering and stress. Consequently, our consciousness becomes limited, and we cannot see the overall picture of the world and ourselves in it!
Inner Alchemy methods allow to penetrate into the depths of essential Being. Through study and comprehension of inner world in a state of peace and quietness, we penetrate into the mysteries of Being. Methods of Inner Alchemy will help to return to the roots, to touch original (“divine”) nature and direct own knowledge to understanding and connection with the truth (with Dao). Therefore, it becomes possible to understand the world deeper, and to result in a more adequate interaction with the outside world. A Master who attained perfection by practicing techniques of Inner Alchemy is called the “Immortal \ Inhabitant of heaven \ Saint” (仙 – «Xian”).
Methods of Inner Alchemy that are taught in the School of Zhen Dao are primarily focused on cleansing and improving of heart nature, cleansing of heart and mind from obscurations, and comprehension of original nature.
Process of self-improvement involves work with a primordial energy (Qi) – the vital force that helps one to find inner harmony, grow spiritually and understand themselves. Thus, it brings a double improvement – of heart nature (Xing) and vitality (Ming).
Working with original treasures Yuan Jing, Yuan Qi and Yuan Shen, and the True (Zhen) Qi of Heaven and Earth, and using special practices, the person fuses together in ones body a special energy formation – the Elixir of Immortality (金丹 – Jindan). In future, this elixir is used to open the ordinary, extraordinary and alchemical channels, changes the physical body, and improves Soul and Spirit.
Until recently, the methods of Inner Alchemy had been kept in a very big secret, unlike the usual methods of Qigong that are widely practiced in the world. Inner Alchemy is the heart, the very core of the Daoist Tradition, and in the School of Zhen Dao this section is paid the biggest attention.
Lower Vehicle – Mastership of Human Immortals
Lower Vehicle – Mastership of Human Immortals (小乘人仙功) has four levels.
On the first three levels, fundamental practices of the Lower Vehicle are taught. The fourth level is transitional from the Lower to the Middle Vehicle. It can be said also that the target of the Lower Vehicle is a healthy and happy life, and partial realization of own spiritual potential.
A person who has developed mastership of Human Immortals, understands aims and motives that guide people, becomes able to cure difficult diseases, and also can acquire some special abilities. The length of his life can reach about 100 years, and when the time to die comes, he will be able to transform his Spirit to a higher world. However, he will likely not become able to leave the Samsara’s cycle.
Mastership of the Earth Immortals
Middle Vehicle – Mastership of the Earth Immortals (中乘地仙功) consists of three levels (5th, 6th, and 7th).
The main minimum objective herein is to overpass the Samsara cycle (cycle of rebirth). Full development of the Middle Vehicle allows one to live hundreds of years on the Earth. At this very level adept may go to live in a remote place (usually mountains), in order to continue his practising without disturbances and to avoid an overdue interest from other people (sharp-set for sensations journalists are not least of all). The life length of an Earth Immortal can be equal to the length of the whole planet existence! Of course, longevity is not the aim of Daoist alchemy. Meanwhile, that is what usually is essential for achieving a high spiritual level.
There is a famous story about a person who, having found out that he would meet his Spiritual Master after 1000 only, developed Mastership of the Earth Immortals, in order to keep living in the same body all the necessary time. This is because of a possibility of choosing a wrong way if being reborn, which would lead to accumulation of a bad karma, and, consequently, to ignorance. Having lived for a thousand years, the man met his Spiritual Master and achieved his full realization. A question that may appear in this case is: how could it be that for the whole 1000 years there were no enlightened Masters who could teach that person about the practices of the Great levels? Of course, there were enlightened Masters. However, not every Master and disciple can match each other. That is why every disciple should search for his Master, as well as Master should search for his disciple. This story shows that mastership of the Earth Immortals is a great achievement, however not the final result of practising.
A human that achieves Earth Immortality can influence the laws of the Earth and, partially, powers of the Sky. If such a Master decides to leave this planet, after his spirit leaves his body the latter looses around 30-60% of the total weight, or burns itself after a few seconds. Sometimes Master of the Middle Vehicle can leave his body to visit another world. This “trip” can last for decades, hundreds and even thousands of years. During this time his physical membrane is kept in a remote place, and his soul can come back into it any moment, and to continue his living on the Earth.
Mastership of Celestial Immortals
Great Vehicle – Mastership of Celestial Immortals (大乘天仙功) consists of three levels (8th, 9th, and 10th), development of which lets
one achieve True Immortality. Having completed the 10th level of the Great Vehicle, a practitioner transforms his physical body into a clear energy; and his Spirit joins the Spirit of the entire Universe. On this level, a person comprehends Dao and becomes a Great Immortal. This achievement is called a True Celestial Immortality.
There are no limitations and impossibilities for the Master of the Great Vehicle. On this level, death does not exist – he leaves this world when he wishes, by transforming body into energy, and can come back, transforming energy into a physical subject, when he wishes. Master of the Middle Vehicle, can also come back to this world. However, he will not be able to create a physical body for himself; he would have to be born again, as a normal human.
There have been many Masters who achieved the True Celestial Immortality. The most famous among them were Lao Zi, Zhongli Quan, Lu Dongbin etc. Energy field of people of this level sheds all colours of a rainbow, which shows the highest achievement. Nowadays there are also Masters who have achieved such a level, however, they usually live high in the mountains.