Updated: May 24, 2021
Daoists are keen students of Life and through observing, studying and understanding natural phenomena inside and out, they proactively integrate this wisdom into their lives.
There is a famous Daoist saying: “My Destiny is inside me, it is not from Heaven!” . This means that a Daoist ultimately does actually - not - follow nature but is able to master it . This happens by first learning how to move with Nature and understand Natural phenomena within and without. This is why for example in Daoist Art there are often depictions of Daoists riding on various animals which is a symbol of mastery over the natural forces that rule the universe and human life, growth, development and decay.
The Tiger and the Dragon are fierce creatures in their own right embodying the primal animating forces of nature which are the raw constituents of a fully assembled human being. One pertaining to the Earth and the other to the sky (heaven). Daoist Cultivation deals with real substances in the body and in nature which can be harnessed for real, life changing results and personal transformation. Why are the Tiger and Dragon often fighting or looking fierce? This is because they are ALIVE, wild and whomever takes on the noble challenge of taming and harnessing their power at the same time is set to embark on a long and arduous journey with rewards equalling and surpassing their ferocity.
Ming - 命 - is translated as "life" or "destiny" and it refers to a "battery" of life energy that is stored in the body associated with the kidneys . This energy is being spent every moment of the day and when it runs out, death occurs . In Traditional Chinese Medicine this is known as 元氣 - yuanqi, but Daoists have a special way of writing this - 元炁. Interestingly, in Chinese, to die is written as - 失命 – LOST MING . The Tiger is a symbol for this primordial power which gives one the fierce fuel one needs to perform their actions in the world. Your flame burns bright but remember that one day it will wane and thus one should be careful with how one nurtures it, spends it and lives their life.
Now remember the Daoist saying again: “My Destiny (MING) is inside me, it is not from Heaven!” .
Xing - 性 – is translated as “Nature” and it also (like Ming) is a real substance which in this case is located in the chest and also known as the “nature of the heart”. This is what most spiritual schools and practices endeavour to refine such as through meditation, developing morality, praying etc.) . It is easy to find practices that work with Xing because they widespread, but to find genuine methods for the cultivation of Ming is extremely rare.
Xing is represented by the Dragon. Often dragons are depicted soaring through the mist in the sky, slithering among waves in the ocean and interposed with the elements as they comprise the intelligent forces of nature working behind the scenes which give rise to the world of gross matter and its rhythms. Sometimes, you also see Daoists observing, appreciating and being carried by dragons. The Dragon also represents Shen (“Spirit”) - 神 – of which Xing (Nature) is comprised of. More specifically, yuanshen - 元神.
The primordial Unity is comprised of the separated components Xing and Ming  which Daoists unite through the practice of Daoist Alchemy (Neidan). There is an important distinction to understand after considering all of this: The realm of pre-heaven and post-heaven existence.
It was stated before that MING (Destiny) is comprised of a substance called yuanqi. This is pre-heaven Qi that is received from one’s parents upon conception. It defines one’s development and potential through life (thus, “Destiny”) and upon being used up, one dies. Post-heaven Qi is what we get from food, air etc. and is Qi that we acquire and continue to acquire throughout the lifespan. If the pre-heaven energy is like the battery and spark that starts up the engine of a car, then post-heaven energy is like the fuel that allows one to use the vehicle for the various daily purposes and activities.
An example of real, practical Daoist methods that teach one how to work with the fundamental, constitutional aspects of the human being as an embodied avatar of the cosmos, we have Qigong, Taiji (tai chi) and Neidan (Daoist Alchemy). Qigong and Taiji teach one how to harness the energies of the post-natal realm. This is known as “forward perfection”. Daoist Alchemy is about harnessing the pre-natal energies and thus is known as “reverse perfection”.
The point is, you have this life and you have the opportunity to live it well and not let go to waste your divine human body and intellect which the heavens have granted you at this time. Be wise with your Destiny (Ming)! Every day we each have a choice to grow and learn or live life as though it never happened at all. This is like being born with eyes that never opened. Being born blind you have no idea about eyesight. Luckily, most of us are born with sight but we have periods of blindness and thus, when we lose our sight we can at least remember what it is like to see when we are in periods of darkness.
This is what it means to Live the Taoist Way of Life!
 Dmitry A. Artemyev., Why do People Die? What is the Essence of Taoist Alchemy? Xing and Ming, Fusion of Soul Xing with Energy Ming, , Daode Centre., 2011, Retrieved from: http://www.all-dao.com/essence-taoist-alchemy.html
About this Article:
This article was written by Luis De Florio using the article “Why do People Die? What is the Essence of Taoist Alchemy? Xing and Ming, Fusion of Soul Xing with Energy Ming” as its foundational basis in order to assist in the propagation of Genuine Dao in the Western World. Daode Centre is an Authentic Daoist School founded by Dmitry A. Artemyev based in Russia which is an official representative of the Chinese Daoist Alchemy Schools of Wuliupai (School of Wu and Liu) and Yuxianpai (Meeting of the Immortals School). Luis De Florio is a private disciple of the Yuxianpai School studying under his Teacher, Master Alexey A. Khokhlov who is the Chief Instructor of Daode Centre.