On Spiritual Alchemy


One of alchemists’ favorite quotes from theĀ Tao Te ChingĀ is Lao Tzu’s injunction to:

“Empty the mind, fill the belly,”

But what does this mean? In Chinese, the ideogram for heart and mind is the same. The heart and mind are one – there is no division between them. When the heart and mind are filled up with thoughts and desires, then reality it distant from us. We cannot sense the Tao, because our cravings and thoughts on the world are getting in the way.

You cannot clearly perceive what things are, when you try and understand them via intellectual categories. You cannot clearly see reality for what it is when you are desiring it to be something else. Both of these qualities obscure the heart and mind, and divorce us from nature.

So what do we do? We empty the heart and mind of these thoughts and desires. We do this through meditating, and using every experience as an opportunity to refine our consciousness.

But once we begin to experience emptiness, then there is danger, because there is the possibility of false awareness returning once again. Once you have emptiness, you must fill the belly.

Filling the belly does not mean eating lots of food! Nor does it mean accumulating energy in just the lower energy center around the navel.

The belly is the inherent void of our existence. Every particle of our being is empty by nature. Every physicist will be able to tell you that.

So, now that you have apprehended emptiness, fill it – “the belly” – with the pure, original energy of The Tao. Visualizations are the best way to do this. Fill yourself with light, with jewels – however you best perceive that pure energy – and let it illuminate every last part of your being. Advanced practitioners don’t even need to visualize. Abiding in non-doing, they can return to the original being


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