Here are paraphrases of the first three chapters of the Secret of the
Golden Flower. The original is far more mysterious in its wording, has
much more detail in its chapters, and has many more chapters than
three. We are just getting started here.
My perception of the Gospel of Thomas is that it says that Jesus is the
Light that creates all things. You can let this light shine within
yourself. When you see it not only in yourself but in everything, you
are unified, at rest in God, experience the One, and reign over the All.
The Secret of the Golden Flower says that by persistently turning the
light of perception around both in meditation and in everyday life so
that the origin of the light of awareness is revealed one reaches a
state of unconditioned consciousness, of unity of being that is
changeless but accommodates all change. The Golden Flower is the
enlightened mind, the true gold elixir of immortality.
The basic similarities between the Gospel of Thomas and the Secret of
the Golden Flower are that the methods involve Light,. the result of
the work is a state of Unity, and one becomes Immortal.
The Thomas Christian is persistently aware of the origin of all things
within the Light of Jesus. The practitioner of the Secret of the Golden
Flower is persistently aware of the origin of all things within the
Light of Unconditioned Consiousness.
At first glance this would seem to be a difference between theology and
psychology, between the outside and the inside, between God and the
human mind. Consider though that the Gospel of Thomas says that the
Reign of God is both within you and outside of you and that in the
Secret of the Golden Flower everything arises in pure Awareness,
including all concepts of self, so that Unconditioned Consciousness
transcends the dichotomy of inside and outside.
See my previous post on The Secret of the Golden Flower for some
evidence on a possible historical link between the Gospel of Thomas and
the Secret of the Golden Flower.
the Golden Flower
I. Unconditioned Consciousness -- The Celestial Mind
The twin cultivation of essence and life:
Essence is open and spacious awareness like the sky. Life is the energy
of specific perception like light revealing an object. Reference to
the two eyes means that both spacious awareness and specific perception
are operating at the same time.
Essence, open and spacious awareness, is the primal spirit -
consciousness that is not affected by conditioning.
The golden flower is the light of specific perception that has been
turned around so that the light reveals its own origin. Awareness of an
object leads not to other thoughts but to a consciousness of the origin
of the awareness of the object. When you have turned the light around
for a long time it crystalizes into the golden flower, also called the
spiritual body. This means that one has become stabilized in
unconditioned consciousness. This is the gold elixir of immortality.
The light of specific perception is the master of unconditioned
consciousness. When the light is turned around and directed toward its
own source, environmental and psychological factors influence the mind
less, with the result that the energy in the body is also preserved and
purified because it is not drawn into conflicts with inner and outer
II Unconditioned Consciousness and Historically Conditioned
Only the essence of awareness, the open spacious awareness of
unconditioned consciousness, transcends everything in the universe. If
you can learn to preserve unconditioned consciousness, you can live
outside of change and be unaffected by desire and form.
Historically conditioned consciousness, the thinking mind, is supposed
to be a servant of the original mind, unconditioned consciousness, but
it usurps its authority.
Water of vitality is the knowledge of unconditioned consciousness, the
primal unity, the original mind. The fire of spirit is present
awareness, the light within the historically conditioned mind. The
earth of attention is the true intent and will of the mind unaffected by
The combination of water and fire in the medium of earth means the
experiential realization of the unity of being that is changeless itself
yet acomodates all change.
Once unconditioned consciousness, the true nature of unified awareness,
has fallen into the world of change it divides into higher and lower
minds. The higher mind still participates in unconditioned
consciousness, its energy is light and clear. The lower mind has
energy that is dense and opaque. This energy sticks to the ordinary
mind that has form.
The lower mind is the substance of consciousness, it is the feeling of
being a solid body physically present in the world.
The higher mind sees and dreams. It is where true mind is concealed.
Turning the light around to see its source refines the higher mind so
that unconditioned consciousness is revealed. This interrupts the flow
of conditioned consciousness in the lower mind, so that the lower mind
Refine away the dregs of darkness to restore pure light. Dissolve the
lower mind and make the higher mind whole.
Persist in this method, and naturally the water of vitality will be
full, the fire of spirit will ignite, the earth of attention will
stabilize, and thus the embryo of sagehood can be solidified.
If students refine the dark lower mind completely, then it will be pure
III. Turning the Light Around and Keeping to the Center
If you do not sit quietly in meditation each day, the light of
perception flows and whirls, stopping who knows where. If you can sit
quietly in meditation, all time and phenomena revert to stillness.
Truly inconceivable is this divine truth. This is the application of the
method of reversal. Just observe clearly and when your breath grows
quiet you then become accurately aware.
The practice is one from beginning to end, but it goes from shallow to
deep, from crude to fine. It is necessary to end up feeling that
heaven is open, earth is broad, and all things are just as they are.
Only this can be considered accomplishment.
Turning around the light in meditation is the firing process of
spiritual alchemy, the process through which the gold elixir is cooked.
After a hundred days of concentrated work a point of spontaneous real
light appears. This is the pearl of the true positive energy, the light
of the unconditioned mind. You should attend it calmly and quietly.
After that you dont need to sit still in meditation. Turning the
light around is a matter of stopping and seeing. To stop the flow of
thoughts is to turn around. To see the origin is the light.
The center is everywhere, the whole universe is within it. Focus on it
as a hint, dont become rigidly fixated.
To be Continued.