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The Secret of The Golden Flower

A Kundalini Meditation Method

JJ Semple

Copyright © 2018, JJ Semple. All rights reserved.

This publication may not be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in whole or in part, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the written permission of JJ Semple. Brief quotations may be used in professional articles or reviews, relevant research papers, or studies.

A Life Force Books Publication

Disclaimer: The information in this book is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Neither the author nor the publisher of this work will be held accountable for any use or misuse of the information contained in this book. The author, the publisher, and/or the distributors of this book are not responsible for any effects or consequences from the use of any suggestions, recommendations, or procedures described hereafter.

The author made all reasonable efforts to contact all literature sources quoted in the text.

Life Force Books


Part I - The Secret of the Golden Flower and Kundalini

Wilhelm or Cleary

Part II - Introduction To The Text

Organization of this Interpretive Guidebook

A Case Study Using GFM


Part III - The Text

I - Heavenly Consciousness (The Heart)

II - The Primal Spirit and The Conscious Spirit

III - Circulation of the Light and Protection of the Center

IV - Circulation of the Light and Making the Breathing Rhythmical

V - Mistakes During the Circulation of the Light

VI – Confirmatory Experiences During the Circulation of the Light

VII – The Living Manner of the Circulation of the Light

VIII – A Magic Spell For the Far Journey

Part IV - The Golden Flower Meditation Method

Kundalini Meditation Modernized for Primetime

Diaphragmatic Deep Breathing (DDB)

Control of Heart Rate

The Backward-Flowing Method

Part V - A More Detailed Method

The Microcosmic Orbit

Other Life Force Books Titles

“The great One is the term given to that which has nothing above it. The secret of the magic of life consists in using action in order to attain non-action. One must not wish to leap over everything and penetrate directly. The maxim handed down to us is to take in hand the work on human nature. In doing this it is important not to take any wrong path.”

~ The Secret of the Golden Flower - Wilhelm edition

Part I

The Secret of the Golden Flower and Kundalini

“The statements of this kind that during the process the shukra (semen) dries up or becomes thin, that the male organ shrinks, or that the sexual appetite is lost, contained in old manuals, cannot fail to convey important bits of information to the modern savants engaged in the investigation. An ancient Chinese work, The Secret of the Golden Flower, contains unmistakable hints about this process, which no one with some knowledge of the subject can fail to notice, and yet Jung, in his commentary on the book, entirely preoccupied with his own theories about the unconscious, despite the unambiguous nature of the statements in the work, finds in it only material for the corroboration of his own ideas and nothing beyond that. The same thing happened in a seminar held by him on Kundalini of which a written summary is still available in the Jung Institute. Not one of the savants present, as is evident from the views expressed by them, displayed the least knowledge about the real significance of this hoary cult and the tremendous import of the ancient doctrine they were discussing at the time.”

~ The Biological Basis of Religion and Genius - Gopi Krishna1

Wilhelm or Cleary

The Secret of the Golden Flower has two objectives. One, it’s a manual for kundalini meditation, even though the term “kundalini” never appears in the text. Put aside what you may have been told or read about this book and accept this fact. If you believe it’s something other, you were probably misinformed by someone who has never practiced the method. Two, it’s an explanation of ontology, which the dictionary defines as: the branch of metaphysics dealing with the nature of being. Neither objective is readily understood without practicing the method. Sure, it’s possible to approach the text as an academic challenge, but the best way to reconcile the two objectives is by practicing the method, which, if you are patient, allows you to “grok” the ontological elements as you move forward. The two are not separated in the text; they’re mingled together, which, as you might imagine, makes understanding more problematic.

Although the method is not rich in detail — it takes a minimalist approach — it's a viable, hands-on manual for activating kundalini and I used it as such, not that I encountered the term “kundalini” during my practice of the method. I didn’t. I did discover that too much detail can overwhelm a practitioner, and that’s why I stuck with it. I liked its emphasis on correct breathing. I figured that if I learned to regulate the breathing using the pointers in the text, I’d have fewer “moving parts” to deal with. Many methods burden the learner with volumes of esoteric anatomical descriptions and variations on techniques. Yes, the book is written in an esoteric manner, but I found that I began to understand its teachings as I practiced. What else can a student ask for?

Of the two most prominent translations, I used the Wilhelm translation, often scorned nowadays for the quality of its translation by the translator of other version, Thomas Cleary. Why did I use the Wilhelm version? For the simple reason that Cleary’s version was published in 1991 and I started my practice with the Wilhelm version (first published in 1931) in 1971, 20 years before the Cleary version appeared.

Yes, I used the Wilhelm — warts and all — to activate kundalini in a safe, permanent manner. Could I have used the Cleary and achieved the same results? Probably. And that’s why bickering over that translation is so pointless: either text allows the serious practitioner to activate kundalini. But then again, neither Cleary, Wilhelm, nor Jung ever activated kundalini. And that where this book comes in — to clarify the teachings for those wanting to use either text for its primary purpose — awakening kundalini.

Cleary offers a useful appraisal of each version’s approach to organization of the text in Chapter IX of his Translation Notes, in which he also mentions the fact that while he translated all 13 chapters of the text, Wilhelm only translated eight:

“This and the following three sections, comprising the rest of the text as it is found in the canonical version on which the present version is based, are entirely omitted by Wilhelm in his rendition, because he considers them of ‘inferior quality.’ He does not, however, explain the basis of this evaluation. While it is true that these last four chapters go back to basics again and again, this is in fact a general characteristic of the whole text, which repeatedly reviews fundamental theory and praxis as it develops the details of their experimental implications. It may be that the difficulty of these sections, which contain a relatively high concentration of Buddhist and Taoist technical terms, discouraged Wilhelm from translating them.”2

Aside from his last comment as to Wilhelm’s motives, about which the truth can no longer be established, Cleary’s statement is insightful: theory and praxis are scattered and tangled throughout. As to the benefit derived from these ontological contents, unless the reader has successfully practiced the method and awakened kundalini or has an understanding of science, philosophy, and mysticism, these theoretical teachings are difficult to apprehend — because they depend on praxis. I don’t understand all of them, only the ones that became intelligible during my 40 plus years of practicing the actual energy cultivation techniques in the text. But, then again, I didn’t need to because my goal was awakening kundalini.

Because this present work is based on my kundalini practice with the Wilhelm version, I decided I cannot become entangled in the excesses of Buddhist and Taoist terminology noted by Cleary: This book covers Chapters 1-8 of the Wilhelm version — the only version I have first-hand practical knowledge of. Then again, even Cleary concedes that Chapters 9-13 favor Buddhist and Taoist technical doctrines and references.

Before getting into the method, however, let’s go over a wee bit of ontology, starting with two terms found throughout the book: Primal Spirit and Conscious Spirit. According to the The Secret of the Golden Flower (SGF), the Primal Spirit is the formative energy responsible for our physical embodiment; the Conscious Spirit is the ego and its agents, the senses. The senses feed us an endless flow of information. Society (our parents, teachers, friends, family, and the media) tells us what this information means, and our perceptions — what we perceive with our senses — becomes reality. What we are taught to believe in and hold as values determines our opinions and beliefs. We think we are free, but we are slaves to the cultural, familial, and educational patterns bequeathed to us. Living under the various illusions we are conditioned to, it is very difficult to extract (de-condition) ourselves without recourse to the primordial, super-conscious Primal Spirit.

"After the process of creation of the body is complete, Kundalini Shakti is said to go into a dormant state. But it can become active again later in life as the spiritual process known as a Kundalini awakening. But rather than creating a new life form from a fertilized ovum, it now undertakes a process of renovation of the existing human body, particularly the brain and nervous system, so that a more advanced faculty of mind — cosmic consciousness or enlightenment — can be manifested."3

When I first read the SGF over 40 years ago, I did not understand this, nor did I know where to begin with the meditation. Did I tell myself it was hopeless, that I might as well give up? I decided to sit and work on my breathing — an approach I later learned originated with the Buddha, i.e., “to sit in one place until something happened.”

Although the ontological portions obscured the practical aspects to some degree, I decided to forge ahead. Ultimately, once the meditation took its course, once the light started to circulate, I was catapulted out of the limiting duality of the physical world into the metaphysical actuality of “the great One...which has nothing above it.”

As my practice moved forward, the ontological portions took on meaning. To my amazement, my kundalini became aroused and ultimately active, which surprised me greatly because I’d never heard of kundalini. As already stated, the word isn’t mentioned in the SGF. Surprised and distressed to find my being in a state I had no name for, I quickly realized it wasn’t something I could talk about with so-called normal people, much less to members of the medical profession. This was in 1971; there wasn’t a lot of information about changes in states of being, at least none I was able to find. I knew what had happened. I kept a journal of my practice; I could recite the transformations taking place. I was being transformed by the oft alluded to “Primal Spirit,” which I had awakened, and whose purpose I finally understood.

I knew I would write about my experiences someday, but at the time I was too busy watching it revitalize my being and wondering what it would do next. Besides, in the little I did let out to others, no one believed me. “It’s all in your mind,” they’d say. I knew this to be untrue, but I had no way of proving it. After all, kundalini activity is invisible. Although the effects do make gradual physical and metabolic, as well as cognitive and emotional changes, they are beyond the ken of science at this time.

“The relationship of the individual consciousness to the Universal might be described as follows: In the same way that a drop of water from an ocean is of exactly the same chemical constitution as the ocean, but is not the ocean, our limited human consciousness is of the same essence as the Infinite Consciousness, but is only a tiny drop of that Infinite Consciousness that has been made to perceive itself as finite.

“The term maya is often used in the sense of a veil that makes an illusory world seem real to the observer. It is, rather, the power of Shakti wrapped around the spark of consciousness in us that makes it perceive itself as separate from the ocean of Infinite Consciousness. As an ancient, well-known Sanskrit mantra states in this regard, referring to the term poorna, which means wholeness or completeness.”4

How did I finally find a name for my condition? A friend told me about the Samuel Weiser Book Store in New York City so I flew from Paris to New York to continue my search. To add to the serendipitous nature of my quest, five minutes after entering the store I found myself staring at the spine of a book entitled Kundalini: The Evolutionary Energy in Man by Gopi Krishna. How I gravitated to this one title in such a immense, cavernous store, I don’t know, but after perusing the book for two minutes, I realized I’d found a label for my condition. That Weiser’s closed down in 1991 says more about the turmoil in publishing and book retailing than it does about interest in spiritual topics. But that’s another story.

In the meantime, kundalini has become an all-encompassing term, too big for one language or tradition alone. Let’s forget terminology conflicts for a moment and define Kundalini as a two-step biological process that:

  • Awakens dormant energy through sexual sublimation,

  • Releases super-conscious energy throughout the body, once the sublimated sexual energy rises to the brain.

However, while kundalini is a biological process, it is also a rebirth/maturation process, which many seekers tend to ignore until faced with the prospects of living the rest of their lives with this awakened energy. How does the rebirth process work? Firstly, you must accept kundalini energy and not struggle against it. Unfortunately, many have trouble with acceptance — to their ultimate chagrin. But let’s say an individual accepts this energy, what’s next? Kundalini doesn’t only re-engineer your body; it reconditions your metabolism, emotions, and intellect. It may even affect your genetic profile, although this cannot be proven at this time. Talk about seeing things differently, growing up quickly. Overtime, Kundalini removes conditioning, steers you towards selflessness and has you doing things you never thought possible, not because you suddenly thought them up, but because you are being driven to do them. You become an instrument, not in a mindless or robotic way, but an instrument of self-illumination. You are an eddy in the pool of super-consciousness, a part of the evolutionary master plan. Your rational powers and artistic talents are enhanced; you are able to solve problems and make better decisions. You learn not to choose or support unnatural causes or processes.

Are The SGF’s teachings still valid in the 21st. Century? Today’s seeker is impatient, keen on results. The SGF advises us not to try to “leap over everything and penetrate directly.” Patience is required.

If you’re frustrated, you’ll find yourself asking: Why bother? What good will come from struggling through this text so laden with obscure metaphors? Good questions. Now let me ask you a question: why did you purchase or borrow this book? Perhaps because you feel something is missing in your life and you’ve started trying to fill it? That’s why most people pick up this book, or others like it. Something inside yearns to be understood; an itch has to be scratched. Where did it come from? Was it a sudden desire to make the acquaintance of an ancient Chinese literary text, an impulse for scholarly reading? Not likely. A book about another book can be quite boring if it’s not accompanied by a purpose.

“Many people start their journey towards God, truth, samadhi, because they have had a certain glimpse somewhere. Maybe through drugs, maybe through sexual orgasm, maybe through music, or sometimes accidentally. Sometimes a person falls from a train, is hit on the head and he has a glimpse. I’m not saying make a method of that! But I know this has happened. A certain centre in the head is hit by accident and the person has a glimpse, an explosion of light. Never again will he be the same; now he will start searching for it. This is possible. The probable is no longer probable, it has become possible. Now he has some inkling, some contact. He cannot rest now.”

~ Osho

That’s right, choosing this book was a purposeful act, part of an enduring self-study process, a pervading sense that life has been less fulfilling than it ought to be. Try as you might you can’t sustain your enthusiasm, not for things you do, the jobs you’ve had, the people in your life, or the fun you think you should be having. Maybe you’ve always known there was another side of you, hiding just out of sight. Maybe you’ve tried talking to that side of yourself secretly from time to time, asking yourself questions about the purpose of life.

If this is why you’re reading this book, you’re on the right track. However, if you’re reading it as a scholarly tract, then honestly, you’re missing the point. Yes, scholarship is involved; deciphering its meaning has to be part of the purpose. However, the real value of this book is the system of meditation at its core. Although this book explains the meaning of the SGF’s ontological teachings section-by-section, its primary purpose is to transform the SGF’s opaque text into a usable, prime-time meditation method for the modern practitioner. The SGF is a manual, like the one for your Blu-Ray, GoPro, camera, or any other household or recreational device or gadget. The dials and buttons don’t pop up like they do when you touch the screen of your smart phone, but they are there, just the same. All you have to do to make them appear is practice the method.

Yes, the terminology and poetic license in the SGF are stumbling blocks for many readers. Some may object because my commentary is based on my kundalini experiences and not on the terminology in the Indian, Tibetan, and Chinese traditions you are familiar with.

That’s where this book — the one you’re holding — comes in. While the SGF contains a viable meditation practice, if you don’t understand the text, you won’t make progress. That’s where my experience comes in. I’ve worked with the SGF for over 40 years, since 1971. At first, I didn’t understand very much, but in using the book as a guide for my meditation practice, I learned by doing. Doing, and more doing. Until every word and phrase gradually took on a meaning related to my practice.

For example, you’ll experience actual physical feedback as your practice progresses: chakra activity, the appearance of markings on the surface of your skin, vibrational states, involuntary movements, sundry energy shifts, sensations, events, and buildups as you progress. When these occur, the SGF won’t explain what’s happening; that’s not the way it’s constructed. Once again, that’s where this book comes in. You’ll be able to confirm various effects and sensations with the explanations and examples in this book.

You wouldn’t be the first person to read or skim through The Secret of the Golden Flower, then toss it aside with a, “Hmm, nice, but I don’t really get it. I thought there’d be more to it.” So maybe you pick up this book for research or educational purposes in order to gain some literal insight into the meaning of the SGF. If it’s only a line-by-line transliteration you’re seeking, then you’d be missing its purpose, which is to transform your entire Being.

On the other hand, if you can’t accept everything I tell you, challenge me. Challenge yourself. Use logic in presenting your ideas and watch how your mind reacts when people don’t agree with you. Could what I’m trying to convey to you be true? Is there more to your being than medical science admits? Are You a Being with a capital “B”?

Don’t pick up this book asking, What is this Golden Flower? Find out for yourself! The words of this book won’t jump off the page until you practice. Only then will you begin to understand its meaning.

And don’t be cynical about your practice, be enthusiastic. If you find a better way of applying a certain technique, let me know.

And don’t rely on so-called experts: writers, editors, translators, or other pundits, for, as Gopi Krishna’s stated in this chapter’s citation, none of them ever practiced the method or knew anything about the sexual sublimation process so central to the purpose, meaning, and praxis in this book. Neither Jung, Wilhelm, nor Cleary.

In fact, in a later chapter ponderously entitled, “Questions and Answers Opening up the Mysteries of the Doctrine of the Golden Flower,” Cleary states:

“The true practice of the great Way first requires that the vitality be transformed into energy. As alchemical literature has clearly explained, this vitality is not sexual.”5

If statements like this by so-called experts such as Cleary leave you wondering, “Why should I believe Semple when an expert like Cleary says it isn’t so? How does he know?” Two reasons:

  • The dual purposes of sexual energy have been known for centuries.6 What are its two purposes? Reproduction and Self-Realization. If sexual energy isn’t used in the Self-Realization process (awakening kundalini), what other sources does the body have? Shake off any preconceptions that control of the mind is the goal of this method: the goal and purpose is awakening kundalini, awakening the Primal Spirit, and this is accomplished by the only viable source of energy in the human body — sexual energy.

  • I practiced the method; they didn’t. It allowed me to raise kundalini, the evolutionary energy I’ve lived with and whose doings I watched for over 40 years.

Keeping an open mind about the SGF’s teachings is essential. But having an open mind is difficult. Why? Belief systems hate open minds, because an open mind means verifying everything you see, hear and feel, questioning conventional wisdom and preconceptions, and examining the opinions that control your thinking and your habits. Which actually puts you at odds with the rest of the world, a situation most people aren’t ready to face because they’re used to going with the flow. Keeping an open mind means becoming a maverick, free to question accepted wisdom about your own self and about life. A maverick “lives off the land” in a strange new landscape. When a maverick questions things, he doesn’t turn away, he keeps looking, eventually finding meditation, and the truth that comes with meditating.

So maybe you say to yourself...Open Mind, I have an open mind. It’s my fool cousin — fill in the blank: neighbor, supervisor, coworker, family member who won’t listen. Excuses, rationalizations, denials.

Having an open mind isn’t only about not generalizing or not being judgmental. Nor is it only about listening to others or accepting new ideas, it’s about the emotional effect that perceived slights and resentments have on you, it’s about emotional control. One of the beneficial effects of meditation is recognizing when something upsets you. Meditation stops you from overreacting, helps you remain neutral. It has a soothing health effect.

The Secret of the Golden Flower is a manual for energy cultivation. As such, it’s crucial that you accept Jung’s relationship to the text as that of a dabbler. We’ll review this in detail after the we finish going over the text. For now, let’s just say that Jung was trying to connect the dots between East and West. The thesis he came up with was that Eastern (Indian, Chinese, and Tibetan) spiritual traditions somehow equated to Western psychology. In fact, there are very few similarities. That didn’t stop Jung from trying to sell readers on some of his pet theories that Animus, for one, is the equivalent of Yang and Anima equals Yin. Trouble is, he largely succeeded. What his efforts really accomplished, however, was to shift people’s perception of the energy cultivation teachings in The Secret of the Golden Flower away from its energetic aspects towards teachings that are more acceptable in the West, namely psychoanalysis.

Alas, Jung’s undermining of a whole tradition not only subverted its original meaning and purpose, he papered it over with inapt, second-hand analogies, in the end doing a disservice to the Taoist and Buddhist traditions.

“To fully deal with Jung’s treatment of the golden flower teaching would lead us afield from the point of this work, which is to expose the original teaching itself. The purpose of mentioning Jung here is to reopen a door of inquiry by questioning the limits of the limitations he presumed.

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