Cheonbugyeong - Explanation

一 始无 始 一
일 시무 시 일
Il Si-mu Si Il

The one beginning is empty but the beginning is the One.


When there is emptiness, there needs to be one as well, because only if there is one as a center, something can have a shape. One is the center, which holds on the shape from the middle. If there were nothing instead of emptiness, then there wouldn't be a center either, and from nothing, nothing can happen. However, as you can see, the universe exists, so it has to have a center. This center is one.
The One means mind. The One means everything. The One means universe. The mind of heaven and earth as the One is the center of the universe. Everything starts from the mind, which is the One, and this mind is in everything, even in you.
Thus, everything starts from one, which is in the center of emptiness. The beginning is empty, but the emptiness can only be emptiness by having the One as a center.
According to the book Cheonrigyeong the emptiness means emptying it out completely, which refers to the natural law to reach the great Dao. By keep emptying out yourself you ultimately reach the great Dao. However, the One means densifying it continuously until you become the One (mind) in the center of emptiness, which is the framework to reach the great virtue.
Therefore, being empty is the beginning of the One. The beginning is empty because the nature law of metaphysics reaches its utmost and becomes empty. This is the fundamental framework of substance and function (materialization).

析三極 無盡本
석삼극 무진본
Seok-sam-geuk Mu-jin-bon

Even The One is cut clearly into three, the root does not vanish.


“Seok-sam-geuk” literally means “cutting-3-clearly”, and “mu-jin-bon” literally means “not-vanish-root”.
When you cut a tree into three parts, is it still a tree? You might use each part for something else, but nothing can change about the fact that all three parts still originate from the same tree. So the origin of something doesn't change, even you cut it into three parts. You can also think about a fish: you cut the fish clearly into head, body, and tail. They are totally different, but at the same time they are one, because they have the same root.
Accordingly, when the One separates into the three utmost metaphysics (heaven, earth, and human), even they look different from each other, the root is still the same. You can compare it with DNA, which is always there, in each cell, even it separates into several. The DNA of the One is the mind: it is in heaven, in earth, and humans have it in them as well. So the origin is the mind (the One), and even you separate this mind into three, which express themselves in completely different ways and have completely different functions, they still share the same mind, which they got from the One.

天一 一 地一 二 人一 三
천일 일 지일 이 인일 삼
Cheon-il Il Ji-il I In-il Sam

The One heaven is one, The One earth is two, and The One human being is three.


The One got cut into three, so heaven (yang), as one of the three parts of the One, is 1, because everything starts from it. For example, you cannot make things grow without having a seed first. The seed contains the wisdom, the DNA, so it is the ordering part.
Earth (yin), as another part of the One, is 2, because it makes the seed grow and nourishes it.
Human, as the third part of the One, is 3, because it contains heaven (yang) and earth (yin) in itself and connects them. By that, humans are able to move and be independent.

Everything in the universe follows the same principle of 1-2-3, so let's look at some examples.
(1) When a baby is growing in the belly, it first needs the seed, which contains the DNA. The DNA is the part, which gives the orders to the cells on how to develop. (2) Then the seed needs to be nourished so it can grow. That's why it settles down in the uterus and connects with the mother's blood circulation, which provides all the nutrition. (3) Only when both of those steps are conducted, the actual human child will grow until it is an independent being.
In a universal point of view, you can think of the space functioning as the seed (1), which means, it is there first, but it needs the earth (2) to grow life (3). The earth however, cannot happen before there is space, and life cannot grow without the both of them being there before and providing air, light, nutrition, water, etc.
Describing this principle by symbols means, that first there needs to be a dot (1), which is the center. Out of this dot, a line (2) happens. Think about it, did you ever try to draw a line without starting by the first dot, the moment, when your pen touches the paper? And to make that line turn into a shape, you need to have a dot and a line and connect them. So how does that look like? It's a triangle (3). The triangle is the basic shape of all things, because it contains heaven (center, dot) and earth (line) and connects them. (That is also the principle behind the shape of the pyramids!)

The same principle also applies to the mind, which is the root of the universe. The three main minds, which we, the universe, and god have, are:
(1) the mind of the middle: being in the middle, having a center;
(2) the mind of justice: being able to decide between right and wrong by the separation into two;
(3) the mind of mainstay: making something exist, making life come out, connecting heaven and earth;

一積 十鉅 无匱化三
일적 십거 무궤화삼
Il-jeok Sip-geo Mu-gwe-hwa-sam

When one accumulates, it becomes ten which is big and solid. And when the precious one grows up, ten becomes empty and by that the precious one becomes three.


This verse can be well explained when you think about a baby in the belly.
“One” in here refers to the one human, which is the baby growing and getting bigger in the belly until it is ready to be born. In the baby's case that would be at the end of 10 (lunar-)months. So when the baby, the precious one, reaches this 10, it wants to come out. By that, the belly becomes empty again and at the same time the baby becomes an independent human being, which is symbolized by number 3. As you read before, 3 is the human being who contains heaven (1) and earth (2) inside, and therefore is independent and can move and grow.
In the belly, the baby takes the mother as the universe: all the nutrition, air, and influence comes from her and the baby completely depends on it. However, around 9 months, when all the organs are there and ready to function by themselves, the baby wants to become independent and receive Yin (nutrition) and Yang (sun, air) by itself. So the baby turns the body in the belly and makes the head, which is yang, be close to the earth (yin). That is the reason, why most babies are born with the head first.

天 二 三 地 二 三 人 二 三
천 이 삼 지 이 삼 인 이 삼
Cheon I Sam Ji I Sam In I Sam

The heaven is two and three, the earth is two and three, and the human is two and three.


„Two“ refers to Yin and Yang, which you can find in the heaven as sun and moon, in the earth as land and water, and in humans as men and women.
„Three“ means, that each of them contain all three in themselves: heaven embraces heaven, earth, and humans; earth contains heaven as a center, the earth itself, and the humans, who live on earth; and humans have a soul (connect to heaven, receives heavenly qi, goes back to heaven), a body (connect to earth, receives earthly qi, goes back to earth), and the human itself, because they can create another human.
Moreover, their purpose is contained in the number three. That means, heaven, earth, and humans can fulfill their purpose only if they reach this number three. Heaven alone cannot create life or make it grow, so it needs the earth. Heaven and earth alone cannot be complete without humans, because only by the humans becoming one with them, the cycle can be fulfilled. That cycle started as One, which separated into three, but ultimately wants to go back to be One, because everything in life follows a cycle. So humans have to become one with heaven and earth again and go back to the origin: the mind of the universe.

大三 合六 生七八九
대삼 합육 생칠팔구
Dae-sam Hap-yuk Saeng-chil-pal-gu

When the three big Ones are combined - which are heaven, earth, and human - they become six and give life to seven, eight, and nine.


In a human being the heaven is the head: it is the center, the ordering unit. This heaven becomes complete, when it has ears (Yin) and eyes (Yang). The completed earth can be found in the organs, which are connected with water (urinary system; Yin) and land (digestive system; Yang). Having those means that the human can live and grow. And the human itself is complete, when it has a body (in this context: Yin) and a soul (in this context: Yang). The body receives qi from the earth by eating and drinking, and the soul receives qi from the heaven by breathing.
That means, by having a heavenly Yin-Yang pair, an earthly Yin-Yang pair, and a humanly Yin-Yang pair the “Big Three” (Dae-sam) – heaven, earth, and human – are combined in one being and reach number 6 (Hap-yuk). Hence, you become the One, which has all three in itself and who is one with the mind of parents of heaven and earth.
Becoming the One means, that the three Yin-Yang pairs become activated and you reach enlightenment in heaven, in earth, and in humanity. When the heavenly Yin-Yang, which is ears and eyes, reaches enlightenment, you have the same ability heaven has. By your eyes you can see anything you want to see, and by your ears you can hear anything you want to hear. When the earthly Yin-Yang, which is land and water, reaches enlightenment, you can control the water (rain, clouds, ocean, rivers) and the land (volcanoes, earthquakes, moving mountains). When the humanly Yin-Yang, which is body and soul, reaches enlightenment, you can overcome space and time by controlling your breath, using the five elements of your body, or commanding something by mouth. Everything is possible, by making your mind become one with what you want to do.

After reaching this state of being one with the universe's mind (“Dae-sam Hap-yuk”), the next step is “Saeng-chil-pal-gu”, which means life is given to seven, eight, and nine.
Being one with the universe means becoming empty. In this emptiness naturally one happens as the center. So you literally create the seed – a new One – in you, which is the start of a new universe by being one with the mind of the universe. But, as we learned already, this seed – the new heaven – cannot exist by itself. It needs earth to grow and ultimately needs human as well to continue life by creating a new universe's seeds.

So let's look at the process step by step.
First, you created a new heaven in the center of your head, which is the upper main energy spot. That is 7 (chil). 7 refers to 6 (3 big Ones with their Yin-Yang pairs) plus 1 (new heaven) on one hand, and to the seven as the life giver on the other hand (=yin, yang, 5 elements).
The newly created seed then naturally enters the process of becoming two, because it needs earth to grow, so it separates into Yin and Yang (6+2). When it is clearly separated, it starts to move. It comes out through the third eye line and starts moving down by following the Yin Meridians (in the front part of the body) and going up by following the Yang Meridians (in the back part of the body), because becoming two makes it follow the right direction naturally. This cycle, which is the influence of earth, keeps continuing until you created the golden seed.
When the second step is completed, the golden seed is ready to become 9 (=6+3), which is a new being, in the lower main energy spot (about three fingers under your belly button). There the golden seed changes into a Human God by using heavenly qi from respiration and earthly qi from ingestion.
A Human God? Yes, for that you need to open your mind well...
The being you created in yourself by reaching 6, 7, 8, and finally 9 is the beginning of a new universe. It contains the three Ones – heaven, earth, and human – as well as the origin of the universe, which is the mind of the universe. You can imagine it like a tree creating a seed. By going through a certain kind of natural process the tree produces a seed which contains the information (DNA) of the “parent-tree”, but at the same time is an independent unit, which has the potential to grow into a new tree, which continues the DNA of the original tree.
Universe follows the same principle. The difference is just, that we are the fruits that grow the seeds for the new universe in us. And because of that, the newly created being – the seed – is a Human God, which ultimately will be the start of a new universe.

運三四 成環五七
운삼사 성환오칠
Un-sam-sa Seong-hwan-o-chil

By moving three and four, five and seven complete a round ring.


[NOTE: Before we continue, please keep in mind that numbers, energies, or functions change according to the current context. So the new being is number 9 (fully grown being), but because it is a being which has heaven, earth, and human in it, it is also number 3. However, this new being is also number 1, which refers to it being the seed, the origin of a new universe. So try not to get confused and don't hang on a certain number or word too much. It always depends on the point of view.]

“Un-sam-sa” in here means, that the Human God, which is a new alive being and therefore now referred to as 3, moves up again to open a new heaven (1) in the head. By that, it reaches 4 (3+1). It can do so, because by containing all three Big Ones in itself, it functions as a seed and becomes the center (1), the core of a new universe. That means, after you gave birth to the origin (the new being, which contains all three Ones and thus the universe's mind) and the origin became the center, you become the center, because a new universe is opening in you.
To understand, how that happens, we need to change the perspective to the genesis of the universe.
As we explained before, everything starts from 1, which is the center of emptiness. This center separates into two, and when those two become clear (Yin and Yang), they start to circulate. By their movement life happens, which means a new being comes out: the universe. Think about the tree again: what comes out of the seed (yang), when you give water (yin) to it? Of course a new tree which has the same DNA as the parent-tree. In the universe's case we have the seed and the influence of Yin-Yang as well, so a new universe comes out which resembles the parent-universe, because it has the same DNA (nature laws, shape, etc.), which is the mind. Everything is in the mind. It contains the whole universe. Same as the DNA of the tree contains the whole information on how the tree needs to look like. You cannot have an apple seed and expect it to become a plum tree. And you don't need to tell the apple tree that it is supposed to grow apples. It knows it by the DNA.
So the universe's seed also knows what it it’s supposed to become when it comes out. Moreover, everything that is programmed in the universe's DNA comes out in that moment. That's what people usually call the “Big Bang”. Telling you this, doesn't mean, we deny the evolution of the world! When a tree starts growing, it doesn't just plop out of the soil as a finished tree either! However, even the first few cells of it already know if they need to become the trunk or the leaves, because it's all in the DNA.
Therefore, after the new universe opened, what naturally happens first are time and space. Time and space happen by the five elements and Yin-Yang working together. One element functions as the center (earth element), and four elements (water, metal, fire, wood) function as four directions. This two-dimensional tier then becomes the three-dimensional space by being pulled to up and down by Yin and Yang.
This three-dimensional space is meant, when the Cheonbugyeong talks about the “round ring” completed by 5 and 7, because it is a space, pulled from a center (1) equally into all the directions, by the influence of the 5 elements (two-dimensional tier) and the 7 (=5 elements+Yin+Yang).

一 妙衍 萬往萬來 用變 不動本
일 묘연 만왕만내 용변 부동본
Il Myo-yeon Man-wang-man-nae Yong-byeon Bu-dong-bon

One is subtle and wide spread, even it goes out tens of thousands of times and comes in tens of thousands of time, the function change does not move the fundamental root.


“Il” (=one) in here is the human god, the center of the new universe. (Remember, everything starts from One.) This One can be really small (“myo”) and everywhere (“yeon”). Try to think like that: when somebody does meditation, he/she focusses on the inside – one the mind – which seems to be a very tiny spot inside of a person. However, because the mind contains the whole universe (the DNA, the root), it is everywhere and really huge at the same time. So One (mind, core) is both a small center and the whole universe.
“Man-wang-man-nae” refers to the same principle: One can act to the outward 10.000 times, and be one with nature 10.000 times without the core changing. You can interpret this from different perspectives again. On one hand, “man-wang” is about acting to the outward 10.000 times (Yang), and refers to the Sanggeuk time, which needs ruling, whereas “man-nae” is about coming back to be one with the nature (Yin), and refers to the Sangsaeng time. So you can think about it like the ages changing over and over again. On the other hand, “man-wang-man-nae” is way the enlightened human can do: he/she can act to the outward 10.000 times or focus on the mind inside 10.000 times, but the root (the mind) never changes. And why the root (“bon”) is never changing? Because it contains the mind of the universe, the DNA.
So even the functions or focuses change 10.000 times, the mind of the universe, which contains the nature law (all the rules, the plans, the memories of god and human gods, all the planets and the earth, as well as all the future things), never changes or vanishes.

本 心 本太陽 昻明 人 中天地 一
본 심 본태양 앙명 인 중천지 일
Bon Sim Bon-tae-yang Ang-myeong In Jung-cheon-ji Il

The root is the mind. The root is like the sun and its brightness is high. The human becomes the center of heaven and earth. So it is called The One.


If you read the whole explanation about the Cheonbugyeong thoroughly, you will understand this part easily.
The root is the mind, because everything starts from the mind (1) and the mind contains everything. This mind core is bright like the sun, because it is “tae-yang” (big Yang) from the outside and has the yin hiding inside. So in the beginning, when there is only the center, there are only light (yang) and vibration (yin). That's why people in history often described that enlightened people have a halo around their head. The center of the new universe is staying in the enlightened person's head and sends out bright light from there.
By having this shiny core of the new universe in the head, the human itself ultimately becomes the center of heaven and earth, which is the One. Therefore, the purpose of the universe can be fulfilled in the human: the universe can continue its life in its descendent, the new universe.

一 終无 終 一
일 종무 종 일
Il Jong-mu Jong Il

The end of One is empty but the end is the One.


When the human becomes the One – the center of a new universe – it becomes independent from the parent-universe. The parent-universe's purpose is fulfilled because the new universe was born. By that the parent-universe becomes empty, similar to the mother's belly, after she gave birth to the baby. The baby then is an individual own being – even it might still need the mother's help – because it is not physically connected to another human anymore.
So when the new universe was born through the human, the parent-universe (the One) is empty and the new universe becomes an individual being, which is the One again.