悟真篇 (Taoist classic: Enlightenment of Ultimate Reality)
My translation of the above essential verse from the classic text:
Three Five and One are mystical numbers, only few sages know its significance.
East three plus South two makes five, North one plus West four makes five too.
The centre alone makes five, the three fives meet to create the embryo.
The baby represents the final One of Cosmic Chi
Ten months of practice creates the child of Immortality.
This above essential verse conceptualizes the whole practice of Taoist deep meditation (Taoist yoga or Neidan). It does not intend to confuse or hide any secret formula. It makes use of the mythological concepts of Five elements and mandala protection from all sides. It also makes use of symbolism taken from older classic Chinese texts such as I-Ching. Involving one's own unconscious is necessary for a personality rebuild or overhaul. And using symbols is the only way to communicate with one's unconscious (as per Carl Jung's psychological studies).
The stages of practice involves using the self (nowadays we call ego) to tame one's (restless) Body (身), and then to tame one's (restless) Mind, and finally to combine the tamed Body and Mind to transform one's self into a higher level of consciousness: into the Self (or Tao). The use of the term "ten months of practice" is to symbolize the birth of a new baby or a rebirth of a new Self, having a transformed body at a highest level of wisdom. In Taoist lingo, symbolically speaking, one becomes an Immortal. In Jungian lingo, this is a process of individuation resulting in a higher level of consciousness (needless to say, a Jungian psychologist will take on a different route, and for a different purpose or objective).
The practice methodology is deep meditation. The guiding tool is one's (feeling and management) of chi. Its approach is necessarily symbolic in nature (and symbolic is often time culturally biased, that is the reason why Carl Jung warned against those westerners who are not familiar with Eastern (in this case Chinese) culture venturing into such practice).
The following is a schematic representation of this essential verse from 悟真篇 (Enlightenment of Ultimate Reality) in a circular (mandala-like) form.