An obscure Taoist text explains the logic behind sitting still

The concept of meditation never made a lot of sense to me.  How could just sitting there provide any benefit greater than, for example, napping?  Most texts I read offered little explanation, deferring to vague mystical explanations or focusing only on the obvious benefits of relaxation.

"How could just sitting there provide any benefit greater than, for example, napping?"

Yet from reading about kundalini experiences I knew that the practice could trigger something greater: a shift in consciousness so profound it's regarded as a 4th perceptual state—but how?   For some reason the answer always seemed to be: "Magic!"

After a long search I came across the autobiography of a man named JJ Semple, who detailed his kundalini awakening after following the method outlined in a little-known Taoist text called The Secret of the Golden Flower.

JJ's account was refreshingly non-mystical.  In fact, he seemed like the only person on Earth who'd had a spiritual experience and managed to keep their heads on straight.

"Everything depends on there being no interruption."

- The Secret of the Golden Flower

The Secret of the Golden Flower outlines a Taoist practice known as Neidan or "inner alchemy."  According to this school of thought, meditation and the various abstentions are simply storing up your body's chemical energy rather than depleting it, thereby allowing it to "circulate".

The book claims that if practiced uninterruptedly for 100 days, this circulation causes a kind of chemical reaction to take place, igniting a substance they refer to as the "spirit fire".


Stage 2: The spirit fire ignites.
From The Secret of The Golden Flower

The book appealed to me because not only did it make some kind of rational sense, 100 days was short enough to be practical.  If nothing else, at least I wouldn't have wasted much time.

With the book as a guide, I outlined the following regimen:

  • No alcohol or drugs

  • No coffee (green tea only)

  • Minimal sexual activity

  • 1 hour of meditation a day

For the first 50 days I experienced only "mundane" effects, which were quite profound:  A massive reduction in stress and anxiety, vastly better sleep, and a stoned-like euphoria that wrapped me like a blanket and persisted for hours on end.  This, combined with a clarity of thought beyond anything I'd ever thought possible made me a true believer in the fundamental value of meditation.

"You have only to let the light circulate.  This is the deepest and most wonderful secret."

- The Secret of the Golden Flower

On Day 51, I entered unfamiliar territory.  While sitting down to meditate, I noticed what I first thought was a breeze against my forehead.  I got up, thinking I'd left a window open, but found them all shut tightly.  When I sat back down, to my utter disbelief, a
flame-like substance sprang to life from the center of my forehead.


An invisible yet tactile flame-like substance emerged from the center of my forehead.

Tactile yet invisible, something like high-resolution static electricity began flickering and bobbing in real-time on my forehead as I continued my sit.  It was my first experience of what is known as subtle energy, and it would ultimately never disappear.

"I didn't realize it, but I was standing at the doorway to another world."

As strange as it was, this experience would prove to be only the preamble.  I didn't realize it, but I was standing at the doorway to another world, a door which was about to open.


J.J. Semple reads from The Secret of the Golden Flower
From: Super Meditate Me