Bi Gu – Refusing grain

The avoidance of grain shows the Taoist rejection of normal  social practices. It is a return to a time in the dawn of mankind, when there were no crops. It’s also a return to a more primitive and simple way of eating. Daoist Bigu practitioners found a way to end the agricultural base, Chinese society that relied on grain as a staple, ancestral sacrifices and tax payments. The ” cutting off ” of the crops which are the staple food for farmerswas also a rejection of their sedentary lifestyle and the peasant condition as such. This rejection should not be based solely on the peasants’ plight, but should be interpreted in a much deeper way. Since the Neolithic Age, agriculture has been the cause of a radical break in the way of life for almost all of prehistory. Agriculture has also been the main cause of imbalances in human civilization over the past ten thousand years. The systematic destruction of the natural environment, overpopulation, capitalization and other evils that lead to sedentary lifestyles.

Grain abstinence was a prerequisite for the practice of the Daoist Yangxing 养性 “nourishing the inner nature”.

Nurturing the life principle consists in suppressing the causes of death and creating the immortal body to replace the mortal body. The causes of death are mainly the Qi of grain and the Qi of bloody food. One replaces the usual food with the food of the breath qi. The air you breathe in is held as long as possible without escaping, and while holding it, take a large bite and imagine swallowing the qi like a gulp of water from the trachea into the esophagus so that it enters the stomach like normal food. The body, like all things, is composed of qi, but it is made of gross qi, while the air is a light, subtle, and pure form of qi. Ordinary food supplies the body with the qi of the five tastes through digestion. This is heavy impure qi. On the other hand, the Qi nourishment from the breath replaces the gross matter in the body with light, pure Qi, and when the transformation is complete, the body is immortal.


Some versions of grain abstinence can lead to health problems. It is reported, This very heavy diet was not without painful moments. Without grain and meat, those who practice it are malnourished, and the Taoist authors go on to report that in the beginning there were numerous problems and some of them suffered from dizziness, weakness, drowsiness, difficulty in moving, others got diarrhea, constipation, etc. However they were persistent and insisted that after a few weeks these symptoms would go away and that the body would soon feel like it was before. Even better, more calm and lightness. They also advise beginning the practice gradually, and recommend a range of medications for the thirty to forty day period of transition and adjustment.


The three corpses or three worms

 Avoiding grain was the primary medicinal treatment for eliminating the San Shi 三尸 “Three Corpses” or San Chong 三虫 “Three Worms”. Evil spirits that live in human bodies and hasten death. Demonic supernatural beings that seek the decay of the body in order to feed on it. If longevity is to be achieved, the three worms must be starved, and the only way to do this is to avoid grain.


Traditional Chinese medicine associates the mythological Three Corpses/Worms with the Jiu Chong 九虫 “nine worms”, which correspond to parasites such as roundworms or tapeworms, with symptoms causing a variety of weaknesses in the host’s body.

The three corpses enter the human body at birth and are located in the upper, middle and lower dantian “cinnabar field”, brain, heart and abdomen. After their host dies, they become ghosts and roam freely to steal offerings. These corpses seek to harm both their hosts and their fate. First, they weaken the physical energy centers of Dantian. Second, the three corpses are records of their host’s misdeeds, which ascend to heaven every two months on the 57th day of the cycle, the Gengshen 庚申. Reports from the Siming 司命 “Director of Destinies” state: “Misdeeds shorten lifespan”. In the 4th century, Huang Ting Jing 黄庭经 ”Scripture of the Yellow Judgment” states: “Sleep neither by day nor by night, and you will become immortal.”


Bigu, the abstinence from grain and grain products, atrophies the three corpses and is the basis for many Taoist dietary therapies, which can also exclude wine, meat, onion, and garlic. The Jinjian Yuzi jing 金简玉字经 “Classic of the Jade Gold Characters”

states: “Those who do not take in their food grain, wine, meat, or plants of the five strong aromas must bathe, wash their clothes, and smoke”.

Practicing Bigu alone cannot get rid of the three corpses, but there comes a point where they can be killed with alchemical means, especially cinnabar.

Next is described:


  • Qīng Gǔ 青古 “Old Blue” dwells in Upper Dantian, “It is He who makes people blind, or deaf, or bald, who makes teeth fall out and bad breath. ”


  • Bái gū 白姑 “White Maiden” resides in Middle Dan Tian, ​​“She causes palpitations, asthma and melancholy.”


  • Xue shī 血尸 “Bloody Corpus” dwells in Lower Dantian “It is through him that the intestines twist painfully, the bones dry up, the skin cracks, the thighs develop rheumatism”

These worms or demons also severely affect our emotions.

Upper demon/worm sits in upper dantian, material desire.

Middle demon/worm sits in middle dantian, craving for food.

Lower demon/worm sits in lower dantian, sexual desire.

The 9th-century Chu San Shi Jiu Chong Bao Sheng Jing “Scripture of Expelling the Three Corpses and Nine Worms for the Protection of Life” describes:


  • The upper corpse, Peng jū 彭琚, lives in the head. Symptoms include a feeling of heaviness in the head, blurred vision, numbness, and excessive flow of tears and mucus.


  • The middle corpse, Peng Zan 彭瓒, resides in the heart and stomach. It attacks the heart and leaves its host yearning for sensual pleasures.


  • The lower corpse, Peng jiǎo 彭矫, resides in the stomach and legs. It causes the ocean of pneuma… to run out and leaves its host lusting after women/men.


Woodcut illustrations of this text show the upper corpse as a scientific man, the middle one as a quadruped, and the lower corpse as a monster with horse legs and a horned human head


It has now been scientifically proven that certain parasites in the human body feed on the components of grain and sugar. These parasites are even capable of altering the host’s character and habits to suit the parasite’s preferences. Parasites such as flukes or Toxoplasma gondii, which is actually a parasite found in cats and small mammals, which creates a high level of risk-taking in humans, and mice infected with this parasite will almost voluntarily feed themselves to the cat, since the parasite makes the mouse believe that there is no danger.


Author: Daoist Liu