How To Understand The Fruits and Flowers of Cultivation
Flowers delight the senses, but are not long-lived, and with few exceptions, do not provide nourishment. Fruit, however, will nourish flesh. The fruit of the cultivation of the Way is said to be immortal. It is purported that it carries the seed through successive generations and in that way fulfills its function.
Flowers of cultivation mean the manifestations of this world. The flowers of cultivation signify our fleeting gratifications. As an example, someone that cultivates the ‘flowers’ or benefits of power, fame, wealth or the magical abilities achieved through the manipulation of Chi (universal energy) is said to cultivate flowers instead of fruit.
Flowers, improperly used, put emphasis on attachment to form and ego. They are manifestations that are said to be intrinsically unreal and serve only to assist the possessor. However, flowers, used in accordance with the Way, will be pollinated by sincerity and will eventually bring forth fruit. Warnings abound in nearly every religion to be careful not to be distracted by the flowers and to be aware of the benefit of the fruit.
The fruit of cultivation has three parts; nourishing dharma of truth, sowing seeds of meritorious deeds and sowing the fertile germ of good seeds containing the living essence of truth. Those who attach to the flowers of cultivation will enjoy their form, but will die hungry, while those who cherish the nectar will be fulfilled.
To many in the scientific community, the idea of developing mystical or magical powers is beyond belief. Few, if any atheists believe in the magical arts. Perhaps there really are not any such powers or abilities to cultivate. I leave the answer to that question up to the reader.
Nevertheless, initiates of the schools of mysticism and sorcery have a different opinion. They believe there are those who have accomplished themselves in the magical or flowery arts. Some practice the black arts, while others study wizardry, magic, and arts to control phenomena.
It is their understanding that knowledge of the magical arts can be used for good or evil. Examples of wizardry and magic can be found in every culture and religion in the world. From the Bible, Acts 8:9 through 8:24 comes the story of Simon the Sorcerer: “There was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one. To whom that all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, ‘This man is the great power of God.’ And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries.”
“But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the Kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Then Simon himself believed also; and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding miracles and signs which were done.”
“Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them; only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus) then laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.”
“And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, saying ‘Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.’ But Peter said unto him, ‘Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Though hast neither part nor lot in this matter, for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.”
The magical arts are divided into four major categories, sometimes referred to as the ‘Four Heresies’ because they do not of themselves, lead to enlightenment. The magical arts have many forms and names. I use the Chinese terms and names for convenience since the Chinese have labeled them into different categories.
Shu is a Chinese word for the sciences for natural control and creation that utilize highly refined methods to direct the forces of nature in the material world and connect with spirits in the subtle planes of existence.
Included in the Shu sciences are talismans and invocations. Talismans are the instruments used in the science of drawing mystical pictures, writings, and the recitation of mystical words. Talismans are used primarily to perform exorcisms and spiritualism. Spiritualism in this context means the ability to call upon consulting spirits or trap spirits in order to perform positive or negative deeds
A Shu master has the power to manipulate phenomena and perform incredible supernatural acts. Masters of the acts of Shu can subtly control rain, wind, mist, snow, and other physical elements.
Lyou is the science of foreknowledge through divination or astrology. Masters of Lyou, through the close observations of the physical manifestations of the face, bone structure, lines of the palms, or through crystal vision can foretell a person’s destiny.
Within the science of Lyou there are practitioners of the art of geomancy, a directional science, used to determine the proper place and direction of structures. This foreknowledge can be obtained by carefully arranging and observing the very subtle alternations of water (yin) and wind (yang).
The practice of movement involves six separate studies; together, they form the science for the cultivation of Chi energy. Masters of Chi are capable of manipulating and directing their Chi throughout the body, and those of high attainment can use their Chi energy for healing or protective purposes. There are six principle categories of movement science:
A. Lyen Dan:
This is the science of external alchemy studied for the refinement of elixirs through the use of rare and non-decaying materials like lead, mercury, and cinnabar. The elixirs are used to nurture the Chi.
B. Tai Syi (Womb Breathing):
Tai Syi is the science for the control of the breath. Tai Syi masters can revitalize the body and prolong physical life. This science was inspired by the turtle, which lives for a long time. ‘Womb’ refers to breathing from the lower chi point.
C. Bi Gu (The Abstention From Food):
Bi Gu is the ascetic practice of fasting, whereby one may refine one’s personality and uplift one’s spirit. Sakyamuni Buddha went through extreme trial, conducting Bi Gu for six years, after which he decided he must have a strong body to seek for a master and receive the Way.
D. Fan Chung (Bedroom Arts):
Fang Chung is the ancient sexual art used to harmonize the yin and yang energies of the male and female. This science was derived from a literal interpretation of the line ‘To absorb the yin and nourish the yang,’ from Taoism. Actually, the sentence refers to heaven/pure nature (yang) and earth/material body (yin) rather than sexual conduct.
E. Tao Ying:
Tao Ying is the science used for one who wishes to guide energy through the physical body to improve health and increase longevity. Yoga falls within this category. This science can improve health.
F. Fu Chi:
Fu Chi is the science of gathering the Chi in order to reform and refine one’s inner being.
Silence is the science of intuitional development through studying scriptures or sitting-in-meditation.
From China there is the famous story of Yun Shuie a man in the Tang dynasty who is said to have cultivated the art of levitation. It is told that Yun Shuie (Water-Cloud) Taoist was riding on a cloud. Suddenly, he heard someone preaching the truth in a temple. He descended and listened to Huang Long Jen Ren, who then asked Yun Shuei what his name meant: “My mind flies freely in the sky like a cloud, my heart wanders leisurely everywhere like water,” said Yun Shuei, quite proud of his ability to fly. Upon hearing this explanation, Huang Lon Jen Ren asked him, “When the cloud has vanished and the water dries, where will you go?”
The mystical arts will in themselves not bring enlightenment. They are however, intriguing because they indicate powers and levels of existence beyond ours. We may enjoy the flowers of cultivation, but in so doing we may be in danger of pursuing the flower instead of the fruit.
To View My Previous Article: The Four Noble Truths
To View Part 2 Of This Article: Fruits and Flowers of Cultivation Part II