Developing the Purple Repository (heart)
The practices dealing with the development of the Purple Repository (the heart) belong to the Peach Orchard tradition. The Purple Repository is a vessel-governor which affects the work of the mind, the development of energy in the body, and the preservation of the shen spirit. The heart is represented by the element of Fire.
The main functions of the vessel include:
- distribution of yin and yang energy;
- control of the blood system;
- preservation of the shen spirit;
- interaction with the contained energetical centers in the head.
We always feel the difference between what really moves and interests us and what is foreign to us. But, in fact, it is very difficult to explain the basis of this feeling. Every action has its internal rhythm and our judgment often depends on the extent to which the performer is capable of being in touch with this rhythm. It is hard to define this through the mind (the brain), since the organ responsible for internal rhythm is different. Daoist masters considered this to be the heart.
Unlike western medicine, which for a long time viewed the heart merely as a blood-pump, ancient Chinese medicine – and Daoist in particular – viewed it as organ functioning as “governor” for the whole organism. This included regulation of blood circulation and vascular operation, and of the rhythm of energetical consummation and transformation. The heart synchronizes the work of all other organs and systems in a unified rhythm which defines the unique quality of human energy.
Daoist tradition also considers the heart to be responsible for person’s emotional sphere, and for the inner, intuitive knowledge. This is also found in the folklore of many other cultures. Making choices and decisions based on ‘what your heart feels’ is a common social phenomena for all cultures around the planet. The main difficulty lies in ability to listen to the heart and follow its call. The reason for this is that with time people frequently lose contact with their individual rhythm which results in the rhythm of the heart being influenced by the sweeping force of the surrounding environment and hence subjected to external control. As a result what we do is no longer fulfilling and joyful, and the heart and the vascular system become diseased. In such situation it is not only impossible to progress in the practice but also to reach physical and psychological balance. It is not a coincidence that all ancient traditions of spiritual development inevitably contain special exercises for regulation of the energetical circulation related to the heart. Daoist tradition itself has many methods for preparation and work with the energy of the heart.
The practice for the development of the Purple Repository has five levels:
Directed at realization of the vessel in order to reach normal rhythm of energy generation. This level studies the practice (the formula), allowing to perceive the Purple repository as a matrix organ.
Directed at construction and development of the internal connections (datong neimai) in order to activate the alchemical potential of the vessel (production of jing energy).
Ability to form the conditions for production of elixir – the energy capable of transforming the body. The level is defined by the connection of the vessel with the lower cinnabar field. This level is also related to the notion of the acquirement of vital breathing, when the vessel begins to influence the breathing process of the body as a whole.
The fourth level defines the ability of the vessel to distill the energy and form new characteristics of the body (heavenly paste (shenhua)).
The fifth level is defined by the ability to participate in the full or partial change of the whole body; the process also corresponds to the notion of the formation of miraculous powder (dansha).