A ‘咒语’ (Zhou Yu) is a device found within Daoist practice which may be translated as ‘magic formula speech’, and often described by the Indian (Sanskrit) term ‘mantra’ within English translation. Within religious Daoism it serves through frequency of sound vibration to purify the mind and body and unite the practitioner with a particular deity. Within philosophical Daoism, magic formulas (which can be spoken aloud or repeated quietly in the mind) are given by qualified masters to disciples that have reached a certain point in their training. The sound and meaning of these mantras purify the mind and body, strengthen the jing and qi, and develop conscious awareness and conscious expansion (shen). In many Daoist lineages, these magic formulas are closely guarded, whilst others are well known. A modern view favours the use of these mantras as vibrational tools for self-development that assist physical and psychological relaxation and focus of essential energies. Mantras, although useful, are not always required within Daoist training, but when they are needed they should be expertly applied at the right moment so as to facilitate a pivotal developmental experience. I have translated the first of eight the Great Spirit Formulas to serve as an example:
1) Cleaning the Mind Spirit Formula (净心神咒 – Jing Xin Shen Zhou)
tài shàngtái xīng yìngbiàn wú tíng
qūxié fù mèi bǎomìng hù shēn
zhìhuì míngjìng xīnshén ānníng
sān hún yǒngjiǔ pò wú sàng qing
A powerful rising to the grand deity of the stars is achieved easily with no undue effort.
All evil is driven-out by this binding spell, which protects life and strengthens the body.
Wisdom and knowledge bright and clear, mind and spirit peaceful and quiet.
The three spiritual essences (魂 – Hun) are secured forever, and the soul (魄 – Po) knows no mourning.
This is the ‘Purifying the Mind’ mantra which is placed first because it is used to ‘still’ the mind, expand the awareness and raise the general level of consciousness. This not only protects the spiritual essence of life but builds a firm foundation for the strengthening of the physical body.
Chinese language Reference: