Ni, Hua Ching may be the most prolific author on Taoism and related subjects in English. Born in China, he later emigrated to Taiwan and then the United States, where he currently resides in L.A., teaching spiritual practices and traditional Chinese medicine. His book jacket biographies give somewhat varied impressions of his background, on the one hand stating that he is "heir to an unbroken succession of Taoist wisdom passed down to him through many generations of his family," and on the other hand that he "is fully acknowledged and empowered as a true teacher of natural spiritual truth by his own spiritual attainment rather than by external authority." 

One quirk of Ni's writing is that he rarely identifies the sources of his ideas and practices. He refers to his teaching as the Integral Way, because he has assimilated common elements of the world's religious traditions in addition to Taoism. Some of his practices were apparently passed down as oral traditions within his family and might not be typical of other Taoist practitioners. Nevertheless, a number of interesting ideas and techniques are scattered through the large and somewhat rambling body of his writings. A number of these are what he calls "invocations," or short Chinese phrases used for contemplation and meditation. Several of these are discussed below. You can find more information on these techniques in his books, listed under Sources at the end of this page.

Chiu Tien, Yen Yuan, Rei Sheng, Pu Hua, Tien Tsun

In his book Nurture Your Spirits, Ni calls this "the unified secret and sacred code," and says

It is internal and also external. It means, in your body, you have nine spiritual centers. Nature also has nine spiritual centers. Although you have many spirits, there are nine centers. "Chiu" means nine. Practically, it is communication, unification, persistence and oneness of the nine sacred spiritual points within your own life. The nine spiritual centers also connect with the natural spiritual centers of the universe..."Chiu Tien, Yen Yuan, Rei Sheng, Pu Hua, Tien Tsun" is the God who checks your level and how you may be incomplete...

When disturbed, quietly recite "Chiu Tien, Yen Yuan, Rei Sheng, Pu Hua, Tien Tsun" to put yourself back in order. This is powerful enough to handle all kinds of spiritual trouble...

Many people ask me to give a personal spiritual code. This is it... the invocation "Chiu Tien, Yen Yuan, Rei Sheng, Pu Hua, Tien Tsun" is what I particularly recommend to you; it is spiritually associated and connected with the souce of the entire spiritual world. It can protect you.

In the book Mysticism, Ni identifies this invocation with something called the Jade Pivotal Power, but does not explain further.

This invocation is also given on a cassette tape by Ni's son, Maoshing Ni, as discussed on the page on this website called Most Accessible Chants.

Lieu Huh Yu Woh Tong Cheung

In the book Eternal Light: Teachings of My Father, Grandmaster Ni Yo-San, Ni explains this invocation as follows:

Each syllable represents one of the six subtle essences of your own life. Literally, Lieu Huh means the six directions (four cardinal directions plus up and down or three dimensions). Yu Woh Tong Cheung means "live forever with me." Practically, it means "May the life of the universe live forever with me." Or it means, "The immortal essence of universal life lives within me." I like it because each life is a life of the universe and because it does not put "I" first, like "Because I live, so the world lives." Putting oneself last is the Taoist harmonious spirit.

Shuan Tsi Yow Shuan, Chun Miao Tsi Men

In Nurture Your Spirits , Ni calls this Lao Tzu's invocation, and translates it as "The essence of the mystery is the gate of all wonders." Ni explains: "It means, the universal and your spiritual nature are one."

This phrase is taken from the end of Chapter 1 of Lao Tzu's Tao te Ching

Tien Di Yu O Wei I

The capital "I" at the end is pronounced "ee." In Nurture Your Spirits, Ni attributes the above invocation to Chuang Tzu and translates it as "The Universe and I are One." While Ni does not identify the exact source of this quote, a kindly correspondent, Kwan-Yuk Sit, has pointed out to me that it appears to be an abridgement of the following statements from the second chapter of Chuang-Tzu:

The universe and I came into being together; I and everything therein are One. —Chuang Tse, Translated by Lin Yutang. Chapter 2: "On Levelling All Things."

Another translation reads as follows:

Heaven and earth were born at the same time I was, and the ten thousand things are one with me. —The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu, Translated by Burton Watson. Chapter 2: "Discussion on Making All Things Equal."

The Chinese text, provided by Kwan-Yuk Sit, reads

天地與我並生,而萬物與我為一

The pinyin converter at www.purpleculture.net renders this as

tian1 di4 yu2 wo3 bing4 sheng1, er2 wan4 wu4 yu2 wo3 wei2 yi1

The trailing numbers on each word indicate the tones. For those, like me, who don't know how to pronounce the tones, the following transliteration may be easier to read:

Tian Di Yu Wo Bing Sheng, Er Wan Wu Yu Wo Wei Yi

The Three Treasures

Taoist philosophy, metaphysics and practice often have reference to the three treasures of Ching, Chi, and Shen, which can be loosely translated as sexual essence, energy, and spirit. In the body, these are said to reside especially in the three Tan Tien (elixir fields). Thus, Ching is associated with the lower Tan Tien in the abdomen, a bit lower than the navel and midway between your front and back. Chi is associate with the middle Tan Tien or heart center. And shen is associated with the upper Tan Tien between the eyebrows, often called the "Third Eye" in Yoga. The three levels are also referred to as body, mind and spirit. The colors white, gold, and purple are usually associated with these three centers, from lowest to highest. Much of Taoist inner alchemy is devoted to causing energy to ascend from the lower Tan Tien to the higher ones. (See Jou, Tsung Hwa, The Tao of Meditation: Way to Enlightenment .)

Ni provides a number of different three-word invocations relating to these three energy centers. In the book Eternal Light: Teachings of My Father, Grandmaster Ni Yo-San, he gives the syllables Yi Shi Vi to invokes these energies in descending order. He also talks about various hand gestures and visualizations that can be used to associate these syllables with four spots on the hand or four positions in the body, a practice which follows a somewhat complex pattern since three sounds are being alternated among four different positions. (To my ear, Yi Shi Vi sounds more like a cabalistic Hebrew phrase than a Chinese one!)

Ni adds that "You can also use the words Ahng - Lah - Fuh if you prefer."

In the same book, Ni identifies the three treasures signified by Yi Shi Vi with the gods called the Three Stars in the popular pantheon: Fu Luh Soh. This is interesting, as these gods are not usually regarded as particularly Taoist in character. However, Ni explains:

These three universal energies are Fu (happiness), Luh (wealth) and Soh (longevity). People who are not developed think that they are something external rather than something internal . . . However, the ancient Taoists knew that what appears to be external takes its source from the internal. The source of Fu or happiness is the spirit or the head which is associated with the energy of Heaven. The source of Loh or wealth is the mind or the chest. The ancient developed people associated the chest with the energy that extends itself outwards to other people. This energy is also known as compassion. The souce of Soh or longevity is the lower abdomen. The ancient ones associated the lower abdomen with earthly reproductive or sexual energy. That was the main ancient Taoist teaching.

For further information on the Three Stars, see The Three Stars (Fu, Lu, and Shou).

In Workbook for Spiritual Development of All People, Ni describes a meditation for opening up the three Tan Tien, in which the syllables Chia Shen Yeo are associated with the three centers in descending order. You visualize the Chinese character for each syllable at the corresponding position in the body while chanting that syllable; the characters are 

In Eternal Light: Teachings of My Father, Grandmaster Ni Yo-San , Ni also identifies the Buddhist mantra Om Ah Hung with the same three energies. This is a bit surprising, as in Buddhism these syllables are normally associated with three slightly different meanings (body, speech, and mind), subtle energy centers (third eye, throat, and heart), and colors (white, red, and blue). Interestingly, in The Complete Book of Chinese Health & Healing: Guarding the Three Treasures , Daniel Reid also implies that these syllables might be related in some way to Taoist practice:

Though mantra are usually associated with Hindu and Tibetan Buddhist practices, Taoists have also employed them for many millenia. The three most effective syllables are 'om,' which stabilized the body, 'ah', which harmonizes energy, and 'hum', which concentrates the spirit. 'Om' vibrates between the brows, 'ah' in the throat, and 'hum' in the heart, and their associated colors are white, red and blue respectively. Chant the syllables in a deep, low-pitched tone and use long, complete exhalations for each one.

The authors Chen Zhiming, Stephen Jackowicz, and Symon Stanley describe a similar mantra practice in their article on Fire Dragon Qigong:

In the body there are three centers of power known as the three dantien. The upper or shang dantien is located between the eyes at the acupuncture point yintang. The second or zhong dantien is located at the center of the sternum at the heart level, ren 17 or zhongmen. The third, or xia dantien, is located about three inches below the navel at ren 6 or qihai. By using the breath through the nose, you will fll these dantien with qi and open the channel between them. Using the mantra “hunn” you will direct qi to the xia dantien. The mantra “ahhh” sends qi to the zhong dantien. Lastly, the mantra “mmmm” sends qi to the shang dantien. As you breathe in the wind, the fire rises to all of the dantien and fills them, connecting them for full expression of qi. Allow your body to move as if there are fireballs spinning ablaze in each of the dantien.

The sounds are listed in reverse order because they discuss the sounds for the dantien in order from lowest to highest. If you read the sounds in order from highest to lowest dantien, mmmm, ahhh, and hunn sound a lot like Om Ah Hung.

Chyan Yuan Heng Li Ching

In his book Mysticism, Ni explains this phrase as follows:

Chyan means Heaven; Yuan means original; Heng means smooth going; Li means benefitting; and Ching means firmness. There is a practice which uses the five most powerful words to assist people's lives. They are used as seed of one of the most basic and powerful invocations, "Chyan Yuan Heng Li Ching." The original spiritual teaching called these five characters Shuan, which also means "the gate to the mystical universe" or "the mystical universal reality." Sincerely repeating these words or their English equivalents as an invocation may improve one's life.

He also describes the five characters as "the Five Energies produced by the spiral movement of the Primal Energy," which suggests a relationship to the Five Phase cycle of Chinese metaphysics. It is not 100% clear which of these characters is supposed to relate to which of the Five Phases, but I would interpret the various illustrations from the book as meaning that Chyan = Earth, Yuan = Wood, Heng = Fire, Li = Metal, and Ching = Water. The oddity is that the cyclic movement on p. 17 is shown as placing Earth after Water and before Wood, rather than in its more common position after Fire and before Metal. This is not entirely without precedent in Chinese tradition however, as in the After Heaven arrangement of the Eight Trigrams or bagua, the element of Earth shows up in both of those positions (corresponding to the start of Spring and the start of Autumn), at the two points in the cycle when the movement of Yin toward Yang or Yang toward Yin is just reversing direction.

It turns out that this invocation originated as the Decision text for the first hexagram of the I Ching.  Alfred Huang discusses these characters in more detail in Chapter 9, "Four Most Auspicious Situations" in The Numerology of the I Ching: A Sourcebook of Symbols, Structures, and Traditional Wisdom. Also, the Willhelm/Baynes edition of the I Ching or Book of Changes gives the meanings of the Decision as

The Creative works sublime success,
Furthering through perseverance. (p. 4)

Willhelm's commentary states:

Another line of speculation goes still further in separating the words "sublime," "success," "furthering," "perseverance," and parallels them with the four cardinal virtues in humanity. To sublimity, which, as the fundamental principle, embraces all other principles, it links love. To the attribute success are linked the mores, which regulate and organize the expression of love and thereby make them successful.  The attribute furthering is correlated with justice, which creates the conditions in which each receives that which accords with his being, that which is due him and which constitutes his happiness. The attribute perseverance is correlated with wisdom, which discerns the immutable laws of all that happens and can therefore bring about enduring conditions. These speculations, already broached in the Wen Yen, later formed the bridge connecting the philosophy of the "five stages (elements) of change," as laid down in the Book of History (Shu Ching) with the philosophy of the Book of Changes, which is based solely on the polarity of positive and negative principles. (pp. 5-6)

Willhelm/Baynes translate the relevant portion of the the Wen Yen, or Seventh Wing of the I Ching or Book of Changes, as follows:

Of all that is good, sublimity is supreme. Succeeding is the coming together of all that is beautiful. Furtherance is the agreement of all that is just. Perseverance is the foundation of all actions. 

Because the superior man embodies humaneness, he is able to govern men. Because he brings about the harmonious working together of all that is beautiful, he is able to unite them through the mores. Because he furthers all beings, he is able to bring them into harmony through justice. Because he is persevering and firm, he is able to carry out all actions.

The superior man acts in accordance with these four virtues. Therefore it is said: The Creative is sublime, successful, furthering, persevering. (pp. 376-377)

Shing Chu Yuan Ming Wu Nie

In his book The Mystical Universal Mother: The Teachings of the Mother of Yellow Altar, Ni describes this invocation that was given to many people by his mother. The words mean:

shing = mind, heart, or center

chu = pearl

yuan = round, smooth rolling, or complete in itself

ming = clear or brightness

wu = no, none

nie = obstruction

Thus, "The mind is like a bright pearl that rolls smoothly with no obstruction." However, it is not necessary to think about the meaning. Ni says that this practice is helpful for calming negative thoughts or emotions, and for bringing the smoothly rolling state of mind that is common to all achieved people. You can practice this invocation using a string of beads, or else repeat it mentally whenever you have a bit of free time. "There is no need for a complicated system or ritual," says Ni.

Ni calls this invocation the Six True Words or the Six Words of Truth. (This is not to be confused with the Buddhist mantra Om Mani Padme Hum, which is also known among the Chinese as the Six True Words.)

Sources

Note that in China, the family name is traditionally listed before a person's given, "first" name. Many of Ni's books thus list his name as Ni, Hua Ching, with others follow the more English ordering of Hua-Ching Ni.

Alfred Huang, The Numerology of the I Ching. Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions International, 2000.

Jou, Tsung Hwa, The Tao of Meditation: Way to Enlightenment.  Scottsdale, AZ: Charles E. Tuttle Company, 1991.

Hua-Ching Ni, The Mystical Universal Mother: The Teachings of the Mother of Yellow Altar. Los Angeles, CA: Shrine of the Eternal Breath of Tao, 1991.

Hua-Ching Ni, Mysticism. Santa Monica, CA: Shrine of the Eternal Breath of Tao, 1992. This book includes a number of interesting visual diagrams and calligraphy. A small correction: the labels of the Lo Shu diagram on p. 35 and the Ho Tu diagram on p. 52 are reversed.

Ni, Hua Ching. Workbook for Spiritual Development of All People. Malibu, CA: Shrine of the Eternal Breath of Tao, 1984.

Ni, Hua Ching. Nurture Your Spirits. Malibu, CA: Shrine of the Eternal Breath of Tao, 1990.

Ni, Hua-Ching. Eternal Light: Teachings of My Father, Grandmaster Ni Yo-San. Malibu, CA: Shrine of the Eternal Breath of Tao, 1989.

Daniel Reid, The Complete Book of Chinese Health & Healing. New York: Barnes & Nobel Books, 1998.

Richard Willhelm and Cary F. Baynes (translators), I Ching or Book of Changes. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1950 (reprinted 1980).
  



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