Taoism differs from other similar esoteric systems in many ways. You can distinguish it both by the emphasis Taoist practice places on referencing all experience to proprioceptive awareness of what’s occurring in the body rather than being lost and prey to delusion in the imagination, which is the usual way of modern Western culture; and by the ultimate goal of practice. At their highest level all other practices ancient and newfangled promise transcendence and enlightenment. While this is a product of Taoist practice it goes one step further to promise immortality. This is not, as far as anyone knows, actual physical immortality, as that remains the province of vampire movies and suchlike, but immortality of consciousness. The Taoists call this phenomenon the ‘immortal spirit body’. This is the vehicle that carries your presence across the divide when you finally drop your body and die. They never presumed to describe what’s over there as that would be childish. And because of the notable diminishment of mortal dread wrought by the daily practice of activating and developing identity with the immortal spirit body – the gust of the internal alchemical process, the moment of death is presumably made far less melodramatic, and hence easier to negotiate. This then extends to every waking moment as well as during your dreams, all the way along the path till you get there.
As well as activating the spirit body, daily practice of internal alchemy activates all the benign human qualities required to operate at full potential during this lifetime – power, grace, will, empathy, courage, healing, immunity, confidence, determination, purity, beauty, beauteousness, endurance, stamina, steadfastness, sturdiness, core integrity, wealth, good standing, success, fulfillment, magnetism, charisma, sensuousness, manifesting power, creativity, clarity, nobility and virtue.
Like transmuting base metal into gold, the animal drive is transmuted into pure chi, which in turn is transmuted into pure consciousness, and the pumping mechanism occurs by rhythmically stimulating the flow of chi along a circuit of meridians called the eight psychic channels as they comprise the energy-structure of the spirit body.
At the very least this is a sophisticated meditation system for people with restless minds that require for their soothing useful pathways of attention to move along during the meditation practice, similarly to repeating mantras or visualizing yantras for example.
But with full presence brought to bear on daily practice a gradual yet exponential activation of the immortal self occurs in a palpable way.
Tao of Internal Alchemy, revised version of the title originally published in 2001 as Return of the Urban Warrior, is renowned as the clearest if not only teaching on this rare system and certainly the most enjoyable to interact with this side of the Milky Way.