About 'The Living Hour' which is also called 'The True Initial Flow'

Discussion about the 'initial flow' goes far back in both the Northern and Southern Schools. References to this Precelestial Breath of True Unity preceed the division into Northern and Southern Branches.

The Wuzhen Pian (Awakening to Reality) is a primary text of the Southern Branch, written by Zhang Boduan about 1050. It says “When Lead meets the birth of Gui, quickly you should collect it” and immediately after “If Metal goes past the full moon, it is not fit to be savoured”.

More than 750 years later, Lui Yi Ming, Longmen Master in the Northern lineage wrote the Xiuzhen Houbian, Cultivating the Tao, Taoism and Internal Alchemy. He named Chapter 14, Zhencheng Shoujing meaning - The True Initial Flow. Here he explains how the True Yang is trapped within the yin breath. The Youngest Daughter (The Trigram Lake) or Dui possesses the True Soil of Kun. On duty on behalf of her mother she can cause the True Yang to come forth.

So the 'Living Hour' is not something bound to clock time. Both authors go to some length to dispel any understanding of this 'Initial Flow' as relating to seasons, or days, months, hours etc.

The point is clear, the living hour is whenever the 'initial flow' is present or appears spontaneously, in whatever form of formlessness. In simple terms this simple arrival of 'something vague and indistinct', this 'initial flow' is a path that is constantly followed.

The point here is twofold. First is the need to possess constant subtle awareness so that the arrival of this 'Initial Flow' is immediately perceived. This does not need discussion. Second the knowledge and preparation required to actually benefit is also required, otherwise the moment slips through one's fingers. Implied throughout scripture is the need to be constantly in a state where you perceive the flow and 'immediately, without delay', settle yourself, engage the mechanism and work with the fire times. Be 45 seconds from your cushion at all times. (This may prove in fact to be difficult).

Master Wang Li Ping, living generational transmitter of the Long Men sect of the Northern Branch goes further to explain that first, there are many 'initial flows', or 'living hours'.

The first and most important is the Shen returning (on it's own without being called). Typically you spontaneously remember yourself, find yourself where you are, realizing you have been daydreaming for the previous period which lead you to this moment. Then, for whatever reason, you collapse back to the sense of immediate self, I am. It's most important because without the Shen coming back, no real work is possible.

More interesting to most people is when the Jing returns, and, again typically, you have a sense of interest, alertness, anticipation, arousal, excitement etc. Again, without the shen also returning with the attendent sense of self-consciousness, no actual real work can be accomplished. There can be a mixture of Shen, Chi and Jing whenever the living hour comes.

Lui Yi Ming makes it clear that it does no good, in fact, it will harm the process if you go looking (called 'Going First') for this initial flow. You need to settle yourself and wait for it to come, on it's own. You create the conditions, stillness basically, and observe the living hour's manifestation.

Again Master Wang goes further with the oral transmission. He explains that once the mechanism is engaged, the womb breath established, it is always the living hour, it is the living hour everywhere. So there is nothing to seek. Emptyness is Bliss and Bliss is Empty. We can use some simple methods to explore this once we have the required foundation. The final state is “Its all Living Hour, Everything, Everywhere“

About the 'Living Hour' - (Part 2)
also called 'The True Initial Flow'

The Wu Pian Ling Wen or Five Ling (Soul) Articles is the founding Internal Alchemy text of the Longmen (Dragon Gate) sect. It is Wang Zhong Yang's transmission to Qiu Chuji, the sect's founder. It is a difficult text. It is already teaching at a very high level and makes various assumptions regarding the level of cultivation of the reader/practitioner. The preface itself is worth reading and re-reading. It was Master Wang's personal instruction to me to “Just keep reading and rereading the Wu Pian Ling Wen and eventually you will 'understand'.” I can truthfully say I at present understand through Chapter 3 and some way into Chapter 4.

Through Chapter 4, the text dives deep into the Lunar Calendar, the Stems and Branches associated with the time periods and into the realm of magical processing based on these cycles. I can hardly say I have advanced far into these secrets. They no doubt lie where the maturation of the practice of the preceding chapters leads the practitioner. So we press on.

From the Preface: The Three Important Requirements for Practice

  1. Avoidance of Distraction
  2. Stability of the Stillness of the Mind
  3. Ability not to allow one's Intelligence to dull while in Stillness
Tian Xin (Heavenly Heart) utilizes Yuan Shen (Shen Guan) Yuan Shen is Tian Xin's magical process. So it's appropriate the think of Tian Xin, the Heavenly Heart or Heart of Heaven as the source of the Shenguan. It is where the Shenguan comes back from. This will become significant later in the practice The Exterior Three Treasures are the Eyes, Ears and Mouth The Interior Three Treasures are the Jing, Qi and Shen If the Exterior Treasures are not closed, the Interior Treasures can seep out through the eyes (Shen), ears (Jing) and mouth (Qi). Do not see to excess, hear to excess or speak to excess. Let the Yuan Shen condense into Shenguan whether walking, standing, sitting or laying. To find the Innate Extreme Yang one needs to be in a quiet state, clearing excessive thoughts until one has entered into a state of emptiness and stillness. Unpredictable, difficult to get a glimpse of, it cannot be explained why but it arrives. Practice to reverse the vision and hearing forgetting the material, embracing the True Seeing and Listening but not leaking from the senses. In Wonder but not Over-indulgence Zhen Jing (True Essence) self-solidifies and Yuan (Original) source Yang is self-sufficiant Treasured Xuan Bead (Substance and No Form) appears. Zhen Jing (True Essence) returns to the Gold Room (Xia Tien) The Bright Bead will never leave you. In the absence of the post-natal, the innate cannot rescue it (the post-natal). Without the innate, the post-natal cannot be transformed. Emptiness has Substance and Substance Created Emptiness. The magical process is to embrace the innate true Yang Qi. This is the Mother of the Pill.