Climbing a Sacred Mountain
To understand the map of Taoist alchemy, it is helpful to explain the sequence of practice. At any level, it works with balancing yin and yang and harmonizing the five elements. First, this starts inside the body. Then, it moves to the level of the planet Earth. From there, the alchemist works with these energies at the level of the solar system, then the stars of our galaxy, next the aspects of spirit and matter, and finally merging with the Tao itself.
It is worth thinking of this process as climbing a sacred mountain or building a great cathedral. It is done from the ground up and without skipping steps. Taoist inner alchemy seeks to achieve longer life, purity and closeness to the Tao, and to transform the elements within the body into purer forms that will promote the energy of life.
The practice retains the alchemical link by using the language of making an elixir and of chemical transformation to describe internal spiritual development. Taoists also use the imagery and energy of nature to build up their own life force and to find the balance and harmony of nature within.