Text translated from the blue book from Jinhua 2012 by B K Wee
Bi Guan (闭关) literally means closing the door to worldly matters. It is a purpose-driven exercise to achieve specific results in inner alchemy. The phrase 闭关 was first documented in the Jing Dynasty (晋朝). According to Taoist practitioners, there are major retreats and minor retreats. Major retreats are held in deep mountains, while minor retreats are conducted inside Taoist temples. It is not a necessary criterion that retreats are done in seclusion. When a group of people come together, maintain silence, and explore the effects on one another, this can also be considered a type of retreat. However, contact with other human beings and the outside world is limited and restricted. During a retreat, contact is maintained only with fellow retreat practitioners. From this point of view, there are group retreats, single retreats and retreats done in seclusion.
Certain conditions and environments are necessary for a retreat. During a retreat, one of the key goals is to master the ability to freely interchange and transform the following three types of energy: Cosmic Energy (宇宙能量), Reincarnation Energy (转世能量), and Existential Energy (本体能量). More specifically, the practitioner needs to master the process to transmute Jing (精) into Qi (气), from Qi (气) into Shen (神) and finally returning Shen (神) to Qi (气) and Qi (气) back to Jing (精). If this is not achieved, then the whole process cannot be deemed to be a proper retreat. There are also different types of retreat for the Shen (辟神谷), Qi (辟气谷) and Jing (辟精谷).
The Taoists believe that retreats have to follow certain principles and observe certain rules and methods so that the practitioner can be successful. Practitioners must attain a certain level of merit, virtue and wisdom before they are qualified to participate in a retreat. This is because their actions will have a beneficial impact on all sentient beings. Ordinary folks are only qualified to do the self-reflection and repentance practice (悔过).
If a practitioner has liver imbalances, then, even though he undertakes fasting, he or she must consume something that will nourish the liver. Practitioners with heart problems must also do the “single stroke tree practice” (单劈掌). For those with stomach and liver issues, they are recommended to also do the “double push meridian tree practice” (双推脉).