1 Dual cultivation of one’s self-nature and physical body is the fundamental method of cultivation, as passed down in China from generation to generation for over 4,000 years.
2 While speaking about one’s nature and physical body, we must first understand that there is a distinction between “innate” and “acquired.”
3 From the time of their parents’ union, humans are endowed with a small amount of perfect qi, which has been given a physical frame. This perfect qi is innate and has no physical form or substance.
4 The sperm of the man unites with the ovum of the woman to form a fetus, which is the acquired body. It is physical and it is made of substance.
5 While in the mother’s womb, the perfect qi and the acquired body are originally united. As it is said, “without one’s own nature, life cannot exist; without physical body, one’s nature cannot become.”
6 After ten lunar months, the developed fetus has sufficient qi. As soon as the fetus leaves its mother’s womb, they separate. Thenceforth, one’s nature loses sight of the physical body, and the physical body loses sight of one’s nature. This division persists from youth to middle age and continues through old age, until death.
7 Thus, ancient Daoists put great emphasis on one’s self-nature and physical body. They proposed dual cultivation of one’s self-nature and physical body. They proposed to return to the source, in order to temper jing, qi, and shen, remaking the self and the living body.
8 They also said: “To cultivate life [of the body] but not one’s nature is a fatal flaw; to cultivate one’s nature but not life sets the spirit adrift for a thousand eons, with no hope to enter the sacred.”
9 The life of a person in an acquired body depends on the three treasures: jing, qi, and shen. Qi is refined out of jing, and when jing is full, qi will be replete. When qi is replete, shen becomes sufficient. When shen and qi become sufficient, a person will become quick-thinking, acute of hearing, sharp in vision, and sound of limb.
10 The mating of male and female is the worldly Dao. The cultivation of one’s self- nature and physical body is the immortal Dao. The worldly Dao follows nature’s course, which allows people to be born, and thus there is life and death. The immortal Dao is the reversal of the worldly Dao. Cultivation that reverses the flow attains the Dao, so that existence would span a myriad eons.
Second Lecture of Chinese Original Quiet Sitting, April 29, 1979