The Eight Trigram Furnace

Money jumps out of the Eight Trigram Furnace

A Lord Lao Zi had the Great Sage untied, pushed him into the Eight Trigrams Furnace, and ordered the priests in charge of it, to fan the fire up to refine him. Now this furnace was made up of the Eight Trigrams Qian (Heaven ), Kan (Water ☵), Gen (Mountain ☶), Zhen (Thunder ☳), Xun (Wind ☴), Li (Fire ☲), Kun ☷, and Dui (Lake ☱)........ After seven times seven or 49 days had passed, the furnace was opened to take out the elixir. The Great Sage saw his chance and leapt out the furnace. -- Journey to the West Chapter 7

The Eight Trigram Furnace

The Eight Trigram Furnace is a Taoist symbol. The furnace symbolizes the method for creating the Golden Elixir (Pill) through the Firing Process.

Ancient immortals used the term Gold Elixir as a metaphor of the essence of true consciousness, which is fundamentally complete and illumined. -- Liu Yiming (18th C. Taoist master)

Li Tie Guai, one of the eight immortals and the Chinese God of Healing with the pill of immortality.

The Golden Elixir (Pill) is another Taoist symbol referring to the state of the presence of the original spirit.

The formation of the Golden Pill entirely depends on the practice of the Fire Times. Fire means the force of the practice;
times means the sequence of the practice. -- Liu Yiming
The firing process spoken of in the alchemical classics and writings of the masters is a metaphor for the order of practical spiritual work. -- Liu Yiming

the eight trigrams as a family

Each of the eight trigrams is made up of Yang (———) and Yin (— —) lines. Yang stands for the mind of Tao and Yin stands for the human mind.

The firmness of the Tao belongs to yang; this is the “great”. The flexibility of the human mind belongs to yin, this is the “small”. If the human mind lacks the mind of Tao, it can defeat the Tao by using consciousness to produce illusion. If you govern it by the mind of Tao, the conscious light is clear and can thereby help the Tao. -- Liu Yiming

The eight trigrams with the ebbing and waxing of the moon
The inner development of the elixir and the ‘timing of it`s firing’ are no different at all from the ebbing and the flowing of the phases of the moon.
-- Yu Yan (13th c. Taoist master)
The crescent moon symbolizes the sudden manifestation of the celestial root in people when they have attained utter stillness. This celestial root is called the mind of Tao. A furnace is a vessel in which fire is used; because the mind of Tao has a Yang light which can be used to burn away a person`s mundanity (Yin energy), the mind of Tao is also represented as a furnace. Actually, the mind of Tao is the Heart of Heaven and Earth. -- Liu Yiming

The waxing of the moon in this presentation represents the increase of yang, the mind of Tao and the retreat of the human mind. (See The Cycle of the Moon below) Each of the six stages of the cycle is associated not only with one trigram, but also with one line of the hexagram Qian which is Pure Yang. Pure Yang represents the mind of Tao governing the human mind so the human mind is not interfering with the mind of Tao. Under these conditions, the original spirit can come to the foreground and manifest itself.

The trigrams Kan (Water) and Li (Fire) are not part of the waxing of he moon. Both in the image and in The Cycle of the Moon below they are not part of the cycle.

Kan (Water ☵) and Li (Fire ☲) are the functions of Qian (Heaven and Kun (Earth). The two functions have no fixed positions in the lines. -- Canton Qi (Triplex Unity, 2nd C. Taoist text by Wei Boyang)
The Cycle of the Moon (Canton Qi - Triplex Unity, 2nd C. Taoist text by Wei Boyang)

Zhen (Thunder ☳) comes forth as an inkling,
and the Yang Breath makes it start:
“Initial nine, withdrawn dragon.”

On the third day Zhen (Thunder ☳) moves,
on the eighth, Dui (Lake ☱) is in action.
“Nine in the second place, appearing dragon”.

On the fifteenth, virtue is attained
And the body of Qian (Heaven ☰) is achieved.
“Nine in the third place, at nightfall he is watchful,”
fearing that he might lose the divine token.

When Xun (Wind ☴) takes control,
it firmly holds it in his hands.
“nine in fourth place, wavering flight”.

Gen (Mountain ☶) rules over arrest and advance,
So that nothing contravenes the timing.
On the twenty-third day,
it presides over the waning quarter.
“Nine in the fifth place, flying dragon”:
sitting in the throne of Heaven, it increases it`s delight.

On the thirtieth day, Kun (Earth ☷) inherits the charge,
Binding and enclosing end and beginning.
Carrying and nourishing her children,
She is like a mother to all things in the world.
“Nine at the top, arrogant dragon,”
fighting for power in the wild.

“All nines,” flutter flutter,
are the compass and square of the Dao.
The Yang numbers are now completed.

The number nine represents Yang.

The number nine associated with Heaven is called Pure Yang. -- Liu Yiming
On the left the hexagram 'Return', on the right the hexagram 'Heaven" from the I-Ching.
Growing from one yang to gradually reach the pure wholeness of six yangs, going from vague to clear, the Gold Elixir develops naturally. -- Liu Yiming
The holy man, who understands the mysteries of creation inherent in end and beginning, becomes superior to the limitations of the transitory. For him, the meaning of time is that in it, the stages of growth can unfold in a clear sequence. He is mindful at every moment and uses the six stages of growth as if they were six dragons (the image attributed to the individual lines) on which he mounts to heaven. ) -- Commentary on Hexagram #1, the Creative (The I Ching p 371, Wilhelm/Baynes edition

Return to Chapter 7