Getting to Heaven and/or achieving immortality without goingthrough countless reincarnations is a vision Taoists cherish. How to get there is a problem they have tried to solve in countless ways through the millennia. One school used external alchemy -- the forging or mixing of metals and elements and herbs to produce some kind of philosopher’s stone that transformed mortality into eternal life. Another school relied on internal alchemy --fusion of the body’s energies to give birth to a spiritual embryo capable of maturing into a deathless existence and of flight inward, beyond time and space, to the Source. Consciousness to the Energy Body and the Spiritual Body. If there is a universe up there, there is one in the body too. To the Chinese, the body is a microcosm of the universe. “As above, so below.” Whatever happens up there happens down here. Hence, the physical body is marked with gridlines of energy and meridians of light around a Center, with different body parts equated with planets and the zodiac. The Center in the body is called Tan Tien, or “field of energy”. The idea of a Central Axis—the Polestar in the firmament and a Cauldron in the body—is a cardinal tenet in Taoist philosophy and alchemical practice. To get to the Center of the body, open the TanTien; to get to the Center of the heavens, enter through the North Star. Both are doorways to the heart of the true Tao, the Wu Chi, from which both Heaven and Earth are born.
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