The gourd

The gourd is an ancient Taoist symbol. The gourd shape is taken to represent heaven and earth with an extended meaning representing the entire universe. It represents the heart of Heaven and Earth.

A gourd charm; the bottom part represents Earth and the top part represents Heaven.
The mind of Tao is also represented as the heart of heaven and earth; in terms of substance it is called the heart of heaven and earth; in terms of function it is called the mind of Tao. The two names refer to the same thing.
-- Liu Yiming (18th c. Taoist master)

Within the gourd there is a mystical zone in the form of an alternate universe or the entrance to another world, and it is said that Daoist immortals and practitioners can travel between these two worlds. The word universe has an inner meaning and represents the state of presence of the Higher Self.

The whole universe in all ten quarters is what our radiantly luminous True Self is. -- Dogen (13thc. Japanese Zen monk)

The overlapping section of the upper and lower circle in the left image is the entrance to another world - the entrance to the state of the presence of the Higher Self, also called Heaven.

A gourd with the words "Pi;; of Immortality" written on it.

The gourd represents the heart or mind of Tao. The Chinese character xin (心) can mean both heart and mind. The gourd is als the traditional container of the pill of immortality.

To either side of the stove were five gourds, full of golden pills of refined elixir. -- Journey to the West

Jindan (金丹)or Shendan (仙丹) is translated as the Gold Elixir or the Elixir of immortality and also as the golden Pill.

Ancient immortals used the term Gold Elixir as a metaphor of the essence of true consciousness, which is fundamentally complete and illumined. Growing from one yang to gradually reach the pure wholeness of six yangs, growing from vague to clear, the gold elixir develops naturally.
-- Liu Yiming (18th c. Taoist master)

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