The Divine Root

The title of the first chapter explains what the Journey to the West is about. The Divine Root (灵根) is also called the Root of Heaven (天根).

The yin and yang symbol
(in Chinese called 太极 - Taiji)


The true lead is the divine root of consciousness, it is also called the root of Heaven, or the true unified vitality, or the true unified energy, or lead from the homeland of water, or metal within water, or black within white, or the yang soul within the yin soul, or the black tiger, or the metal man: the ancients represented it symbolically in many ways, but when we get back to the important point, they are all just depicting the mind of Tao. -- Liu Yiming, Commentary on Understanding Reality by Zhang Boduan


The Divine root refers to the beginning of self-awareness. Contrary to what he may think, man is not aware of himself during his every day life.

When awareness is applied to externals, its light does not return to the root; arbitrary feelings stir and true sense is obscured. When awareness is applied within, its light has returned to the root; the artificial changes into the real, the temperament dissolves and the true nature appears. -- Liu Yiming, The Taoist I Ching, Mixed Hexagrams #38 Disparity and #37 Members of a family
The point where one yang begins to move is when the yang light of true awareness of the mind of Tao stirs but is not yet very active: only then is a glimpse of the root of heaven revealed. At this time, you should quickly set about increasing the fire, gathering yang and putting it into the furnace of evolution, gradually gathering, from one yang to complete purity of six yangs. This is also like the mid-autumn moon, exceptionally bright, shining through the universe. –- Liu Yiming (Commentary on Understanding Reality by Zhang Boduan)
The yin and yang symbol also represents the two trigrams Water (☵) and Fire (☲)

Although yang has many meanings, the inner meaning of yang is the firm state of self-awareness.

The one yang in water ☵ is the centrally balanced sound strong energy of Heaven ☰, the real awareness of the mind of Tao, represented as real lead. This is a product of celestial unity, and contains the primordial truly unified which is the generative energy that produces beings. Attainment of sagehood is therein, attainment of buddhahood and immortality is therein; it is the root of sages, the seed of immortals and Buddha, the true source of the gold elixir. This is what is referred to by the saying, if you know that one, myriad tasks are done. –- Liu Yiming (Commentary on Understanding Reality by Zhang Boduan)
The body of pure yang was happy in the sun,
 The yin demons dared not use their might.
-- Journey to the West chapter 99

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