Ancient Daoists state that we are living in a world of a temporary nature. But this world is not the only reality: our cosmos is part of a large field of infinite being: of conscious being.

We are living in a universe that is bound to space and time. Everything in it has a plus- and a minus side: Yin and Yang.

We might be less aware of the fact that our temporary world is embedded within a spectrum of ‘being’, that is infinite. Space and time are not part thereof and nothing there is polarized: everything is Qi: energy without form. We could name this Qi: “The Infinite One’.

From time to time,  energy concentrations from this Unity adopt a human form. Then highly developed beings descend unto our earth. They teach us how to change duality within us into One. In ancient China it was among others the well-known Lao Zi, author of the famous Daodejing, the book of Dao and the De. It is not so well-known that Lao Zi was closely connected to another designated one: Yin Xi the Gate Keeper.  

He worked closely together with Lao Zi and also wrote a book of timeless value. Its contents are based upon the Daodejing of Lao Zi.

This work is philosophical and often of a cryptic nature. However, the book of the Gate Keeper directs in a very practical sense the human being who desires to go the Path of Dao. For instance, he says the following:

In everything in the universe the primordial spirit is embodied.

This applies even to matter.

How could man be an exception to this?


The high descent of Yin Xi is apparent from his birth.  In China the following is known about this:

Before his birth, his mother lay down for a rest on a hot afternoon. She had a lucid dream, in which she saw how from the pre-cosmic world purple-red clouds descended upon the earth. These clouds surrounded her and streamed into her body.  After some time she noticed that within her a child was growing. The moment that Yin Xi was born, an exquisite and bright lotus flower with a luminous glow sprouted from the droughty soil next to his house.

Of Yin Xi it is known that from early age on he had a bright and enlightened mind. He possessed the ability to fathom the essence of the inner flower that we carry in our heart, and to live his life accordingly.

The existence of Yin Xi the Gate Keeper is supported by historical facts. He lived from  596 – to 536 VC.  As astronomer he was connected to the royal observatory. This observatory consisted of a tower with some annex buildings. It was situated on a pass, called the Hanggu passage. This pass was situated very high up in the mountains, east of the current  Xi’an, known by the terracotta statues. The passage was secured with a gate, which was guarded by Yin Xi.

As an homage to Lao Zi, a large open air museum has been built by Daoism, in the valley of the Hanggu pass. There  in that valley we find a replica of the original Gate.


Yin Xi lived from an opened heart and inhaled the pure essence that emanates from Dao into the world. Selflessness, emptiness, gentleness and calmness were his characteristic qualities.

It is known that next to his work as astronomer and keeper of the pass, he also guided a spiritual community. This community was known as ‘The Way of the Watch Tower’.

He was a Gate Keeper because he originated from what is called by Daoists: “the preceding heaven”:  ‘the field of complete Unity’. On this basis he performed his job in the world of duality.

He was aware of both worlds, and the strength of the preceding Heaven radiated unimpededly through him. This is the first secret of every Gate Keeper and is proven by the words that Yin Xi spoke to his students:  

Although the world is magnificent,

it is colored and formed.

It consists of countless things.

They all have their own place.

Dao is not colored or formed.  

Dao does not consist of many things.

Dao has no specific place.

That is why Dao can pervade the entire world.


In the year 549 VC Yin Xi observed an exceptional star in the night sky, pointing towards the west. In ancient China the west was seen as a symbol that a radical change was nigh. Later on he perceived a purple cloud in the  east. Purple symbolizes divinity and immortality. To him this was the sign that a superb person was on his way towards the pass.

To that end he prepared himself by fasting, meditating and even more intensely purifying his inner temple. Next to that he swept the passes’ access road over many miles, cleaning it to revere the approaching holy human being.


It is said that the encounter between Yin Xi and Lao Zi was pre-destined by heavenly powers.   When Lao Zi arrived at the pass, he recognized Yin Xi as a brother in Dao. Although Lao Zi had every right to pass through the Gate, Yin Xi drew his attention to the extraordinary star in the western sky, as a sign that was presenting a completely new development.

Yin Xi asked Lao Zi to stay for a certain time with him, which he agreed to.

He requested Lao Zi to put his wisdom about Dao in writing. However, Lao Zi was not very enthusiastic about that. He was convinced of the fact that no words should be spoken about the eternal Path.

Yin Xi on the contrary realized that the time had come to no longer be silent about Dao. Both Lao Zi and Yin Xi had up to that moment only given oral education to their students. But the time had arrived that they should prepare for the days when they would be leaving this world again.

It shows the grandness of both of them that they were able to let go of their own convictions and open up for the power that emanates from Dao.

Because of this a space was created for unexpected development, which demanded something of both of them.

Lao Zi quoted the wisdom of Dao to Yin Xi .

Yin Xi noted his words.  

Thus “The book of Dao and the De” arose.

Very often the Daodejing is written in mysterious language and contains a hidden code, meant for the spiritual teacher, as a guidance for his or her teachings.

Lao Zi followed herewith his insight that in fact no words can be spoken about Dao. After he had written the Daodejing, Lao Zi left the pass. He did not pass through the Gate though, but turned around and travelled to the south. It is a well-known fact that eventually he arrived in Chengdu, however, there is so much to tell about that, that we lack the time and space here to do so. Lao Zi asked Yin Xi to follow him after exactly a thousand days.  


But also something was asked from Yin Xi, relevant to the new time that dawned in a spiritual sense.

After Lao Zi had left, Yin Xi carefully studied the Daodejing.  He understood that there should not be silence about Dao. Based on that he wrote a reflection on the Daodejing.

He interpreted the often cryptic text into a more practical language, however, without impairing Dao that is always veiled.   He used these reflections for the lessons he prepared for his students of ‘The Watch Tower’.


How much both men were equals to one another, is evident from the Zhuangzi, where it is said about them in the 33rd chapter:

O ! Guardian of the Border Yin Xi!

O ! Lao Zi !

You were among the greatest True Men

of  ancient times!

translation of Joke van de Snepscheut

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