Workshop Segment Two


Understanding Taoist Inner Alchemy.


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This workshop segment addresses the basic understandings needed for undertaking one's transformation with Taoist inner alchemy. It also begins to lay down an understanding of the groundwork for entering into the first of the four phases, laying the foundations. A companion segment, segment three, will add understandings from the Human Design system so that a complete picture of the Obsidian Essence approach becomes clear. The practise of transformation will formally begin with workshop segment four where we will be in a position to work with the synthesis of Taoist inner alchemy and understandings from Human Design.


1. The nature of Tao.

Understanding the subtle order of the unknown. Tao is the true reality out of which manifest reality arises and into which manifest reality disappears. As such it is the background and context of existence, of life, and of transformation, and it offers a basis for understanding human reality, and human development, in which Taoist inner alchemy unfolds.


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2. Basic ideas and concerns of Taoist inner alchemy.

These are:-

  •  yin and yang,
  •  ming and xing,
  •  essence, breath, and spirit,
  •  precelestial and postcelestial reality,
  •  going with the course and inverting the course,
  •  external medicine and internal medicine,
  •  inferior virtue and superior virtue,
  •  youwei and wuwei,
  •  the golden elixir,
  •  the four phases of development.


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3. Ideas involved in the first of the four phases, laying the foundations.

The approach in Obsidian Essence work is to begin with Taoist inner alchemy and enhance this beginning with understandings from the Human Design system. An understanding of laying the foundations according to Taoist inner alchemy is presented here, and the Human Design insights that pertain to laying the foundations will be presented in the following segment, segment three. In segments four and five we will engage with the practice of laying the foundations.


Laying the foundations involves replenishing Essence, Breath, and Spirit within the body. In this stage, with the understanding of inverting the course, one attends to the opening, also referred to as the Mysterious Female, and to activating the eight extraordinary vessels, to circulation through the three yang barriers and through the three yin fields, and to the practises of refining and of harmonizing.


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Inverting the course involves following in reverse the journey of development that has taken place in following the course. The destination is the opening, Tao, the source from which all has emerged, and attending to the opening involves establishing an aware relationship with the opening.


Attending to activating the eight extraordinary vessels. In the human body, the eight extraordinary vessels are the control vessel, the function vessel, the thoroughfare vessel, the girdle vessel, the yin and yang heel vessels, and the yin and yang linking vessels. In terms of embryonic development, these vessels precede the development of the twelve acupuncture meridians that are in the foreground of Traditional Chinese Medicine treatment practises. The eight extraordinary vessels recede into the background as the life of following the course develops within the functioning of the twelve acupuncture meridians. When we begin to invert the course and practise Taoist Inner Alchemy the eight extraordinary vessels again come to the foreground as the primary organising principle of our embodied living. As we give up following the course, the function of the twelve acupuncture meridians can harmonize and relax into the holding of the functioning of the eight extraordinary vessels. It is important to establish a bodily sense of the eight extraordinary vessels and to understand how they open to the flow of breath as they constitute the bodily context in which the refining of essence, breath, and spirit takes place during the three actual phases of Taoist inner alchemy that follow after the phase of laying the foundations.


The three yang barriers are found on the back of the body behind the belly, behind the chest and at the back of the head where the skull sits on the spine. The three yin fields are found on the front of the body opposite the three yang barriers. It is important to be aware of how breath flows through these barriers and fields and to how these are involved in the refining of essence, breath, and spirit.

The process of refining is the alchemical basis for inverting the course. Whatever is excessive is refined into something more real.

The process of harmonizing is the essence of becoming integrated, of marrying within ourselves the many polarities found in the Taoist view of reality.


 Adopting the developmental style and practises of Taoist inner alchemy is the beginning of letting go of a developmental style that has valued goals, achievements, accomplishments, problem solving, and making things right according to a mental idea of truth. These have all been ways of growing that belonged with the life of following the course. The understandings presented in this segment will come into play when the work of laying the foundations begins. As we set out on this different journey of inverting the course we will grow into living an understanding of what has been presented in this workshop.


When presenting this segment, Understanding Taoist Inner Alchemy, to those who have already an established familiarity with the Human Design system, the focus is primarily to engage with understanding Taoist Inner Alchemy as a counterpoint to the Human Design view of development. Care will be taken to associate the Taoist ideas and language with Human Design ideas and language.


One should not expect complete correspondence between the ideas of Taoist Inner Alchemy and the Human Design approach. The practise of Taoist Inner Alchemy was laid down many centuries ago and it was laid down to work for people whose psyche's and whose bodies did not have the same configuration as we now have since the mutation that took place in the human form and consciousness in 1781. The benefit of engaging with Taoist Inner Alchemy is that it is based on an earlier version of the same way of thinking about life and consciousness as is present in a more complex way in Human Design understanding. A great deal of value in the way Taoist Inner Alchemists deal with reality is significantly illuminating for Human Design thinking.


The Taoist Inner Alchemists take a strong position on the body as the vehicle of consciousness. Human Design appears to take a more balanced position on the importance of cultivating the integrity of the body. This appears to work because the current configuration of the human form and consciousness is more resilient and has greater potential than the earlier configuration of form and consciousness. The Human Design system also provides significantly more exact information about human consciousness than was available to the original Taoist Inner Alchemists. It is also the case that Traditional Chinese Medicine, although created for an earlier form, continues to work well for people today, and continues to have much wisdom to offer about the body and health.


Human Design is young and we continue to learn to understand ourselves and our situation through Human Design. Some people who encounter Human Design have been moved to reject or change parts of what Ra Uru Hu taught. This is absolutely not the stance of Obsidian Essence. Nevertheless it was clearly Ra Uru Hu's intention that our understanding of the Human Design system would deepen as we put it into practise, and it is in this spirit that Obsidian Essence engages with a synthesis of Taoist Inner Alchemy and Human Design. As always, the truth will emerge through the experiment of living the understandings and the intention is that Taoist Inner Alchemy will illuminate our understanding of Human Design. Although we begin with a synthesis of Taoist Inner Alchemy and Human Design, the intention is to go forward with the best possible understanding and practise of Human Design, and to discard aspects of Taoist Inner Alchemy that do not successfully synthesise with Human Design, or that are no longer needed in the context of Human Design.