Finishing my undergrad in Psychology after years of Tai Chi, Qigong practice and other Asian practices, I asked my neuroscience instructor if there was a pathway between the perineum and the spine. He gave me the strangest look and that was the first time I realized that much of my knowledge from Tai Chi wasn’t going to hold up to anatomical scrutiny.
That said, there are still many important contributions to be gained from many ancient practices.
Anyway, I wasn’t a total idiot for asking about that pathway, here is a medical study that discusses Davinci’s thoughts on the subject and one of his drawings pictured.
Moreover, that pathway is ubiquitous throughout ancient texts from India to China and even in Catholicism, which is what captivated me. It is such a part of world knowledge and especially religious knowledge but it is rarely discussed. So I had to investigate it further. Experiential knowledge from my own practice with Tai Chi and internal alchemy led me to believe that the search for the Holy Grail was more about the dan tian and the kua than it was about a cup. I always found those stories about the search for the Holy Grail kind of dumb, although people are that dumb, ever watch antique road show? I mean seriously, what would be so significant about a cup that Christ drank from? Magical powers? It all just sounds so silly. Even the Davinci Code adds a spin on the theory of the Grail as a bloodline from Jesus that is still alive today. I find that hypothesis equally ridiculous. However, I would not put it past the multitudes of non-initiates who think they can attain religious growth or supernatural power from these comic book stories.
What I do find compelling and more believable is what if these ancient seekers of the Grail actually thought that Christ was a yogi or something similar, and that the Holy Grail was actually inside one’s body and spiritual development was attained through cultivation of the body? After all people are born from a woman’s womb which is located in that exact region that happens to look like a cup (see picture below).
To me the idea of self cultivation to bring about spiritual development is central to many Asian religious traditions to name just two, Indian yogic practices and Taoist bodily practices both of which were present during the time of Christ. However, it is not explicitly linked to Christianity but there is evidence that religious initiates did travel to India from Jerusalem. But you have to dig a little deeper and take into account that some how there is no documentation about Christ’s life between him at 12 and 33, early Christian symbolism has some evidence and some of Davinci’s drawings and writings do as well. Then maybe it is hidden in Christianity as well? This topic is interesting to me because as a Westerner, and the trend in the West for some reason is/was to separate the mind and body into two distinct halves, whereas the East chose to keep them unified. I am really not sure why but I think this is why so many Westerners pursue Eastern martial arts, and other mind body practices like Yoga. For a paper on the Cartesian mind body-duality and its role in medicine read here.
I believe that early Christian teachers actively sought to suppress body cultivation methods, like Yoga and Tai chi, and the idea that Christ may have practiced them, which is why we do not have any accounts of Christ’s missing years even though Christian writers have every last detail of his life documented except those 18 years. This might not be so outlandish when you include how secretive the church is and the mysticism of many of its sculptures,symbols, and texts for example, there is a pine cone in the courtyard of the vatican. Pine cones have long symbolized human enlightenment through the third eye or pineal gland and carvings of them are also found on staff of the Pope, the Egyptian God Osiris and in many religious motifs around the world (I will tie in the pineal gland to the dan tian in my next essay). Adding to this that St.Thomas began a church in Kerala, India, in 52 AD adds some credence that there was a connection between India and Jerusalem during Christ’s life and that the church knows more about internal alchemy than it shares.
Let’s not forget that the church actively sought control over people and knowledge and there are even accounts of people being killed for printing and translating the bible. It also shows that the West had access to this knowledge but sought to keep it from public view while in Asia it was more available.
Connecting it back to Taoism
In Taoism, there are what are called the 3 treasures, Jing, Qi, and Shen.
These need to be stewed in the cauldron to refine the elixir of life which is held in the dan tian along with the three treasures. Is it possible that the “caldron” referred to in Taoist texts is what the people in the West called the Holy Grail.
From Wikipedia: "The (late 16th century) Journey to the West novel provides a more recent example when an enlightened Taoist patriarch instructs Sun Wukong "Monkey" with a poem that begins:
Know well this secret formula wondrous and true: Spare and nurse the vital forces, this and nothing else. All power resides in the semen [jing], the breath [qi], and the spirit [shen]; Guard these with care, securely, lest there be a leak. Lest there be a leak!
Keep within the body! (tr. Yu 1977:88"
Storing seminal fluid is also vital to Christian thought and Leonardo Da Vinci adds some credibility to this thinking as does the coitus interruptus views of the Catholic church. I think the reason is that to ancient peoples sperm was sacred and I can’t speak for the Catholics but beyond a shadow of doubt the Chinese thought that storing it was the only way for your spirit to leave your body and become immortal.
So if you are a spiritual person and believe that this earth is the place where you train to attain higher levels of consciousness then many religions point directly to your dan tian and my belief that it is also the Holy Grail as to where you cultivate your bodily essence and lead a spiritual life. Having said that, I have explored many aspects of these practices of self cultivation and I am certain there is some benefit to your health and longevity but I am uncertain as to whether bodily fluids are supposed to be kept internally and heated through mind-bodily cultivation which purportedly leads to immortality. Next I will write more specifically on the whole process of attaining immortality.
For more information on this topic you can read:
Eva Wong's Cultivating Stillness
Stuart Alve Olson's The Jade Emperor's Mind Seal Classic