Question: What are the main parts of the Nei Dan teachings?
A: The Nei Dan (內丹) teachings usually consist of three parts: 1) Dao (道), the great principles behind the work, 2) Fa (法), the actual methods or approach used by various schools, and 3) Shu (朮), the specific techniques of the practices.
Collectively they serve as a guide to inform your understanding and practice. The Dao is usually available openly to anyone who is interested. The Methods are generally available to students, although occasionally certain methods are considered secrets. The Techniques are rarely written down and when they are, certain key parts are usually omitted, the so called “oral secrets.”
These teachings are organized into a series of stages with associated designations:
1. Building the Foundation: Human
2. Transmuting Jing to Qi: Ren Xian (Human Immortal)
3. Transmuting Qi to Shen: Di Xian (Earthly Immortal)
4. Refining Shen to Void: Shen Xian (Spirit Immortal)
5. Shattering the Void to Realize the Dao: Tian Xian (Celestial Immortal)
The number of stages may vary by teacher of tradition, but the overall progression is similar. In this model, the first three stages are called Cultivating Immortality (Xian Gong), the last two, Cultivating Dao (Dao Gong).