Special Bottle Gourd Herbs Daoist Hermit Gongshi Taihu Stone, tea, incense cauldron, qigong bamboo, etc.
This is a special offering from our personal collection, a sacrifice we make to share personal sacred power items with those who wish to benefit from their lineage and holy source. It was a Living Treasure that showed the foundation inner alchemical practices, seeds that were planted in a poisoned field. It was a transmuting experience, turning terminal sickness to vibrant health. These Masters were dispersed by Red China. The Communists gathered many of the Masters under the guise of loyalty to China and ordering them to divulge their secrets. This was a common practice in the history of alchemical adepts, especially in China. This dynamic has an ancient history and is the basis of the withdrawing hermit tradition, to those who shun the power, the authority, the attention and seek to leave no trace in their pursuit of the alchemical secrets. Some started alchemical communities, like the Mao Shan or Shangqing which can be translated as either ‘Supreme Clarity’ or ‘Highest Clarity.’ Likewise there was the esoteric and cultural wars against true tyrants, in an alchemical revolutionary struggle of the Yellow Scarves Rebellion of the Zhang Jue sect. These rebellions were often met with brutal mass murder, as the Communists in the modern era have waged against the Tibetans, as well as the Daoists and Buddhists Masters of mainland China. The story goes that the building the Masters were in was set on fire after the majority of their teachings were extracted, purged of all esoteric ‘superstition and recast as a type Traditional Chinese Medicine now sanitized of all true tradition, which was thought to be backwards and counter to the communist worldview of modernism and ‘progress.’ We have been blessed to meet so many Masters that were forced to flee these circumstance after long jail sentences or narrow escapes, where many became herbalists etc. hiding in the modern world of their true accomplishments.
The Daoist teachings arose from the metallurgical secret societies that formed at the center of trade routes for mercury all over the ancient world. The traditions of Boganathar and Lao Tzu are discussed elsewhere on this site and in the lore, as well as the problems of soma identity and herbo-metallic medicines as discussed by many scholars. One must truly understand the role of and cross-cultural influence to realize the vast interconnected exchange in the ancient world. One can find Syrian terms of Chinese origin, Vedic loan words in Chinese, or Persian, or so much Arabic from the Greek, which was translated back to Latin, then into English. One must distill the cultural veneer off, the religious exoteric facades and get to the commonalities. There one can see the dim outline of a unified field theory of alchemy, one that involves herbs and mushrooms (as early as the Epic of Gilgamesh, the earliest recorded written work discusses his search for a plant of immortality) which diffuses into India, China, Persia, Arabia. From the North the visionary herbalism and gold symbolism comes from the Polar origins, in diffusion which saturate the lore of all Indo-Europeans with rich alchemical material. We see every group has specific devotions to alchemical goddesses, employ power items of sacred mountains, engage in fasting and sexual/breath energetic work, visionary herbs, and use mineral and metallic essences to create either elixirs or else sacred cups, vessels, beads plates, grails etc. for infusing the herbs. Our dear brother in the guild, has written of these practices as psycho-sexual drug yoga that is enhanced with fasting and other ascetic processes. The 108 herbs, the 108 numerical value of the Chinese character for tea, the infinite meanings of this number and its use amongst these alchemical cultures holds great mysteries.
The psycho-spiritual mind training of the Masters is consistent, in the true awareness, the original mind or pure clarity schools, the same mahamuhdra, the raja yoga, the zen or cha’an piercing fully present purity of consciousness. As wu wei, it’s often misunderstood. Inaction is just as much an action, but the effortless states of the truly accomplished is that everything they do is yoga. Their mind is not compartmentalized into this is work, this is leisure, this is prayer, this is meditation. In the tea culture, it was said the essence of the Japanese Master’s tea was to “just have tea.” This is deceptive and near impossible to capture in translation, but its meaning not merely, but exclusively. It is the absolute pure concentration, where passions, fears, depression, inspiration, all the human emotions converge and reconcile in the singularity of full focus. This is the fury of Odin’s tasks, the absolute intensity of Shiva’s tapas, the MahaSiddha archery, the tea master’s whisking, the ‘chop wood, carry water.’ Chuang Tzu writes of the master butcher whose deft cuts were so practiced, so expert that they never needed sharpening because he never touched a bone. His actions appear easy and effortless, and all true masters make everything look so simple. But go and try to mimic the fine cuts of the expert carver or blacksmith, and see how the movements have become part of their essence.
This is why they say the Way spoken about is not the Way, but hints, clues, a trail and philosophical seeding towards the highest art of living. As the Dexterous Butcher says, who is beyond the notions of techniques says, “What I care about is the Way, which goes beyond skill. When I first began cutting up oxen, all I could see was the ox itself. After three years I no longer saw the whole ox. And now — now I go at it by spirit and don’t look with my eyes. Perception and understanding have come to a stop and spirit moves where it wants. I go along with the natural makeup, strike in the big hollows, guide the knife through the big openings, and following things as they are. So I never touch the smallest ligament or tendon, much less a main joint.” This is the true essence of all traditional arts and culture as Ways, the artisan’s work becomes one of the highest meditations.
It is the basis of the concept of the ‘unknown craftsmen’ those folk art masters of all cultures who produced the perfect synthesis of form and function, in expressing humble, timeless art of universal archetypes. It is completely uncontrived and unpretentious, there is no connivance or artifice, but the simple pure aesthetic of that original spirit, the refined but rustic, and rural, traditional beauty of mountains and forests. It is what they call in Japanese the wabi-sabi aesthetic that is found in the juxtaposition of true fine and resplendent objects with the simple, peasant and farmer or woodsman thatched hut.
It is this type of yearning that motivated the Daoist masters to withdraw in the mountains. But they were often bound by their Confucian obligations to society and family. So many reconciled these contradictions of the hermit and the family man with that of the literati master, the poet, the man of letters and gentleman farmer in many cases. Hiding the world within the world, they took of their obligations and appeared normal to the world. But they had small studios, hidden places in the woods, with their inner cultivation, alchemy and rituals can take place. The Daoist masters refined the inner cultivation. The Daoist masters developed the microcosmic folding of the awareness of the holographic reality into every action and expression of their inner world. It can be seen in their architecture to clothing, diet, gardening, even the folding of the linen and napkins would be done to the correspondences of the five elements. Thus they achieved the uncontrived, spontaneous harmony, the supreme fluidity of momentum and habituated movements. This allows the true flowing of the qi energy, just as yoga and related disciplines are at their core to induce the flexibility and eliminate the knots in the body that become energetic blockages. Through the mind, through the herbs, through the power objects, through the instruments and movements and stillness, the energy is coaxed into the inner channels, mimicking the microcosm of the universe.
Every action becomes a return to simplicity, to the notion of the Original Mind and even the most mundane act becomes sacred through this pure insight into the precious nature of life and its temporal, fleeting nature. The Daoist nature is of retreat, retreat in the art of war is strategic, retreat in spirituality and culture is the healing and precursors to the inner refinement. One has to shake off the red dust and hermetically seal the personality. This is ‘guarding the one’ and the foundation to cease the leaking of potent psychic energy. It is establishing the inner digestive fires as crucible, and fanning it with the bellows breathing. Moving this energy around is the circulations that produce the inner elixir. The nourishment of the sacred mushrooms, the mountain herbs, the minerals and elixirs, the seclusion in the dark retreats, the sacred incenses are all the theurgic components of this tradition that harnesses the senses. One must pull this inner energy within, and seal it with the Mind.
This is the essence of Lao Tzu’s wisdom on the senses being exhausted by sounds, colors, etc. in whats amounts to the over stimulation that churns the mind and makes the qi distorted and wayward. This is why so many are moodswings, fluctuating energy, volatile and with peaks and valleys of resolve. They can barely stick to one thing for a few days. This is how the power items and the herbs must be used to center the experience. The deep humanity and essence can heal with a return to simplicity, to the quiet mindfulness of tea, of incense, of the meditation with the gongshi, tapping out the qi, nibbling the herbs. Here the breathing centers the actions, the mind quiets, the attention to chopping up ‘just’ enough food. The refreshing feeling of ‘just’ having tea, or ‘just’ shooting the arrow. The deep purity of ‘just’ abiding in the cultivation of the art of life, the healing, the humble goals of food, clothing and shelter giving a gratitude that washes over the body and channels with the childlike innocence and wonder of reality. Let the cynical and toxic anxiety of life subside, recreating the pure hermits abode in the chamber, the forest, over tea with the perfect guest. The art of tea is one of pure energetic cultivation, having the host and guest align in perfect company and friendship. The tea as a catalyst of bliss and poetry, of mountain qi, easing the tension points of the soul and mind. Pure souls can just have tea in simple quiet, in rustic, local and simple foods. The aesthetic of the Way permeating the mind and as balm for the senses. It is feeding the mind the purest simplest fair, as the diet becomes more subtle, the energy rising into abstaining from the modern processed foods for the broths, the wild foraged, the numinious fungi.
The highest meditations that truly heal are the qigong, the gongfu style tea, and the gongshi stones, which some translate as scholar’s stones but it’s better to call them spirit or qi stones. They are embodiment of pure nature, the convergence of the elements of heaven and earth “coalesces into rock” and especially esteemed as sentient, powerful forces that effect the qi, the spirit and are especially useful in Daoist dream practices. They are often life long companions, with many being buried with their stones. If one can not get to the mountains, they bring the mountains spirit to them from these sacred hermitage areas that are endowed with a special spiritual energy for inner alchemical cultivation and healing. These stones are often priceless, the smallest ones are costing several hundred, and even the modern texts on the subject, such as the book offered here will sell between 85 and 150 dollars. Kingdoms were bankrupted and wars were fought for these stones, the rivers damned in Japan looking for special ones. To this day they are cherished and kept as pure natural embodiment of the celestial signatures of the Dao.
It is no lighthearted thing to sacrifice such a stone, but we do it for passing on spiritual treasures and to fund new projects to keep the energy flowing and in a constant momentum and circuit. Such a stone is collected by antiquarians and collectors for many hundreds if not thousands of dollars. But we make a direct offering to the true scholar, the true inner alchemist seeking the talismans and objects that potentiate qi and begin the higher practices. There are four important qualities for the rocks that were recognized. They are: thinness (shou), openness (tou), perforations (lou), and wrinkling (zhou) Taihu stone (Taihushi) from Lake Tai, Jiangsu province The holes, perforations and indentations signal the patient, mighty forces of the universe – which we should respect and attempt to find harmony with. The Taihu stone offered here, is of the supreme quality and highest power. The accompanying texts will unlock many of the terms and secrets of these rocks in their literati mode.
To this offering we give a special qigong bamboo brush, the highest quality containing 108 bamboo rods, these are used to tap the blockages and in therapy for qigong and advanced practices as well. It is a crucial tool for those trying to get their qi to move and to aid energetic blockages in the channels. We give samples of a potent herb to chew and some high mountain high qi oolong for gongfu style tea that is potent enough to raise the qi as well. Just so that the person who obtains this precious stone understands the full beauty, context and meaning of this powerful stone. We gift the special text, one of the primary in English on the Spirit Stones of Daoist Masters. We use these funds to obtain precious relics from the exiled masters who are working to preserve the herbs, the skillful means and traditions in the face of modernism that is destroying initiatory and cultural heritages. We invest these funds in the finest, authentic equipment and materials from the extended guild in building a true Western abode of alchemical knowledge and training in the mountain ascetic path. We give a huge gift for your donation to this and will, as always, give extra items such as precious qi dream incense and samples of powerful ancestor puerh wild raw tea and related wild fungus that grow on these mountains.
A final gift for this offering is found in the tripod cauldron that becomes the incense burner, emblemmed with the bottle gourd. The cult of incense is the highest in Daoist alchemy, “and there was little clear-cut distinction among drugs, spices, perfumes, and incenses – that is, among substances which nourish the body and those which nourish the spirit, those which attract a lover and those which attract a divinity.”
— The Golden Peaches of Samarkand, a Study of T’ang Exotics g “censer; incense burner” are compounds of lu (爐 or 炉) “brazier; stove; furnace”, which was a category of ancient Chinese bronzes. Xianglu (香爐, with “incense”) means “incense burner; censer” in general. Xunlu (熏爐, with “smoke; fumigate; cure (food) with smoke”, or 薰爐, with “fragrance (of plants); an aromatic grass, Eupatorium fortunei”) means “small censer, esp. for fumigating or scenting clothing”. Shoulu (手爐, with “hand”) means “hand-held censer; handwarmer; portable charcoal stove”.
The boshanlu (博山爐 “universal mountain censer”), which became popular during the era of Emperor Wu of Han (r. 141 – 87 BC), displayed a microcosmic sacred mountain (esp. Mount Kunlun or Mount Penglai). These elaborate censers were designed with apertures that made rising incense smoke appear like clouds or mist swirling around a mountain peak. ” synonyms specifying religious offerings to ancestors or deities are gāoxiāng (高香, “high incense”) and gōngxiāng (供香, “offering incense”). These are key items for the alter and for the next phase of alchemical practice for a person or creating an alchemical temple for group work. It is the foundation of all practices that link the internal and external.
The following images are some of the many literati art of the Masters giving special rituals and respect to various gongshi stones. Some are quite famous, this stone is from a very reclusive Chinese master and herbalist, skilled in tea and martial arts who passed this gift along with so many other treasures for our special offerings and alchemical mission.