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Other than the Tao Te Ching does anyone here have any texts they have found useful for the practice of Neidan(whatever that might mean to you? Favorites? Reasons?

 

Just a conversation starter...

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https://www.goldenelixir.com/ has lots of translated Neidan texts. Eva Wong also has some books on the subject.

I find it to be a confusing tradition, in that it came about much later than we'd think in history, was inspired by external alchemy (which was possibly the ingestion of harmful things like mercurcy), and has lots of very codified terminology - to the point of different neidan sects probably not even understanding each other.

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I'm familiar with the website. Just testing the waters, plumbing the depths, making my obligatory ten posts...

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There are a few which I consider essential reads:

 

The Taoist I Ching by Liu I Ming translated by Thomas Cleary. Dense and difficult to get into at first, but with time, this opens up into a book which will be a companion for the rest of your life. Not a divinatory text as in a lot of other versions of the Yijing. This is pure spiritual alchemy and very practical.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Taoist-Ching-Shambhala-Classics/dp/1590302605

 

Awakening to the Tao by Liu I Ming, again translated by Thomas Cleary. Once again Liu I Ming gives practical advice. This time in the form of short writings a few paragraphs long, each with a certain theme. The point that Liu drives home time and time again, is that Taoist Internal Alchemy is not the practice of meditative visualisations such as the microcosmic orbit or special yogic breathing techniques.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Awakening-Tao-Shambhala-Classics-I-ming/dp/159030344X/ref=sr_1_2?qid=1565279132&refinements=p_27%3ALiu+I-ming&s=books&sr=1-2&text=Liu+I-ming

 

The Secret of the Golden Flower by Thomas Cleary. Can you see a pattern developing here ? Cleary is fantastic at unpacking often difficult, obtuse, ancient Chinese, and making it accessible to the layman. As the book points out, the Golden Flower is not a special technique per se, but a state of mind one develops while practicing for a while. Uniting breath with the mind, and mind with the breath is all there is to it. Simple but profound. 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Secret-Golden-Flower-Classic-Chinese/dp/0062501933/ref=pd_sbs_14_3/257-4364946-9297031?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=0062501933&pd_rd_r=5336330e-18d0-42b5-8029-117b50fe7242&pd_rd_w=eJgOG&pd_rd_wg=cSnvR&pf_rd_p=2b420a2f-6593-478e-8b5f-cb43865ff16f&pf_rd_r=N6HHHE1YG7ARPDER4SJ8&psc=1&refRID=N6HHHE1YG7ARPDER4SJ8

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Thanks. I've read Cleary and Wilhelm  (and a not bad version from the Internet ).

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Thanks for the links. I'm sure everyone will find them helpful. 

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13 hours ago, lifeforce said:

Liu I Ming ... This is pure spiritual alchemy and very practical.

In case you  guys interested which book Liu learned his alchemy from

https://ctext.org/analects/ens

 

13 hours ago, lifeforce said:

 

The Taoist I Ching by Liu I Ming translated by Thomas Cleary

Not that it matters much but Cleary's is quite shoddy of a job. Mangled beyond recognition, on the other hand its not his fault, because the original is written in code.

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Posted (edited)
19 hours ago, lifeforce said:

. As the book points out, the Golden Flower is not a special technique per se, but a state of mind one develops while practicing for a while. Uniting breath with the mind, and mind with the breath is all there is to it.

 

It is strange that such authors say these things about the GF.  In the GF the author specifies a type of practice that he says is the key to the whole method.  The practice involves light (from the exterior world) the eyelids eyes and the "square inch" a space between the eyes that contains ... something very special.  The text is unusual because the author himself goes to great length to explain and clarify this practice so the student will not be mistaken.

 

 

Edited by rideforever

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3 hours ago, JossBeaumont said:

In case you  guys interested which book Liu learned his alchemy from

https://ctext.org/analects/ens

 

Not that it matters much but Cleary's is quite shoddy of a job. Mangled beyond recognition, on the other hand its not his fault, because the original is written in code.

 

I'm sure there are many who would disagree.

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15 minutes ago, rideforever said:

 

Uniting mind with the breath is a worthy technique, however the book the Secret of the Golden Flower has specific instructions that are very different to that which concerns turning the light around using the eyes.  The author of the GF was very clear to point out the exact technique which is spelled out for students.

 

If Cleary and I see other authors have come up with many other techniques they are simply not the same but somehow their derangement links them to the GF even though they completely contradict (or mostly contradict) that text.

 

In this book and in many others ... you should simply go straight to the source, and listen to the author himself, he wrote the book to speak to you.

 

Most commentators have zero state of realisation, what do they know.   Commentators tend to write about things they know and understand, which are "normal things".   They do not understand the practice.   And if they had done any practice they would not have time to write their little commentary.

 

 

As I don't know Chinese, I have to rely on translations, as do most of the English speaking world. 

Cleary, therefore is my best bet. Wilhelm's is a garbled translation from a secondary source.

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58 minutes ago, Tosti said:

I found this site interesting although I don't read Chinese so haven't the foggiest how well it's translated. What is the opinion on it? Joss? Others?

 

http://www.thesecretofthegoldenflower.com/

 

Joss knows a lot.

With the little bit of Chinese that I can read (aka, look up in some dictionaries on Pleco), I thought the site was quite good.

 

I'm personally confused about the Golden Flower method, since it seems to describe what I'd consider to be a legitimate practice, and then it also seems to suggest that such practice is metaphorical and that it's basically merely talking about quiet sitting meditation.

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1 minute ago, Aetherous said:

 

Joss knows a lot.

With the little bit of Chinese that I can read (aka, look up in some dictionaries on Pleco), I thought the site was quite good.

 

I'm personally confused about the Golden Flower method, since it seems to describe what I'd consider to be a legitimate practice, and then it also seems to suggest that such practice is metaphorical and that it's basically merely talking about quiet sitting. 

 

I think it's about doing what it describes. It is quiet but in the interior there is movement. 

 

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14 hours ago, JossBeaumont said:

In case you  guys interested which book Liu learned his alchemy from

https://ctext.org/analects/ens

 

Interesting.

I've never looked at the Confucian angle of Complete Reality teachings. I was thinking it might be more Ch'an influenced like the directness of Huineng or Huangbo.

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12 hours ago, Tosti said:

haven't the foggiest how well it's translated. What is the opinion on it? Joss?

oh its quite good

10 hours ago, lifeforce said:

I was thinking it might be more Ch'an influenced

there definitely was Chan and Pure Land influence

10 hours ago, lifeforce said:

Interesting.

I've never looked at the Confucian angle of Complete Reality teachings.

this is how it was transmitted to Liu Yi-ming (Teacher) by his teacher Qi:

Quote

 

At that time teacher felt completely lost, and because he could not penetrate the meaning of this, he pondered it for three days and nights, rejecting food, forgetting to sleep, doubting and worrying in turns. On the fourth day, while tea was brewing, Qi took out a copy of Analects and said: give this book a read.

 

Teacher took the book and read it front and back attentively, and found that all of it contained the principles of Dao, each aphorism was in agreement with what Qi said. Teacher thought to himself: although the aphorisms add up, could it be that I still miss the secret meaning? So he kept turning it over in his mind from early morning till noon, and seeing that there is nothing that he did not understand, put down the book and came out of his room.

Qi asked: where do you think you are going?

Teacher replied: to the riverbank.

Qi asked: to the riverbank to do what?

Teacher replied: to the riverbank to fish.

Qi countered: the fish is in the water deep down, what to do?

Teacher replied: first entice it with the bait, then angle it with the hook, how could it not be caught?

 

From this, Qi saw that teacher understood it, and on the same night transmitted him all about methods of cinnabar and phases of fire in detail; encouraging him, said: this work requires 20 years of utmost gongfu (effort), and then you will see the effect. Now, you strive with all your force, don’t be lazy, as to me, I will go into hiding.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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7 hours ago, JossBeaumont said:

oh its quite good

there definitely was Chan and Pure Land influence

this is how it was transmitted to Liu Yi-ming (Teacher) by his teacher Qi:

 

That was my instinctive feeling. It looks like the translator might have some understanding. Looks like some Fourth Way guys. As for the Buddhist influence I have read that and it's apparent. In your opinion does it dilute or help or doesn't it matter much in context? Would you say that there is something missing in the text or is it complete enough to serve?

7 hours ago, JossBeaumont said:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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19 minutes ago, Tosti said:

does it dilute or help or doesn't it matter much in context? Would you say that there is something missing in the text or is it complete enough to serve?

i really does not matter. The text and translation does get a clear message across, quite enough to sit down and try it in practice. Maybe starting small, even 20 min at a time

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Hey, I'm off probation! Now I can say anything I want and become the Holy Fool of the website! j/k

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4 hours ago, JossBeaumont said:

i really does not matter. The text and translation does get a clear message across, quite enough to sit down and try it in practice. Maybe starting small, even 20 min at a time

 

I tried to read The Analects many years ago, but gave up, finding it dry and obscure. Mencius also. The Doctrine of the Mean, Xunzi, and The Great Learning were much easier. 

I need to revisit these Confucian texts. Thanks Joss.

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5 hours ago, Tosti said:

Hey, I'm off probation! Now I can say anything I want and become the Holy Fool of the website! j/k

It's the small wins that add up to the big one. :)

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12 hours ago, lifeforce said:

I need to revisit these Confucian texts. Thanks Joss.

sure feel free anytime

 

14 hours ago, Zwerver said:

@ JossBeaumont

 

Could you explain somewhat more about the connection between Confucius and Neidan?

well, when ppl talk about neidan they for some reason assume that neidan practitioners were 'taoists' whatever that means.

But first and foremost they were Confucians meaning scholars educated in Confucian texts and by virtue of it venerating Confucius himself. There simply was no other formal education apart from Confucian one. An uneducated person had a very slim chance of having the leisure and connections necessary for neidan. So practically all of them were Confucians ergo to them their patriarch was the fount of all knowledge including neidan; he just wrote about it in code and it was up to you to decipher it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ah - I see. I read some translations of the Analects and I don't remember having found much in there in the way of magic, alchemy or meditation.

 

But if the alchemy is read into the Analects by later alchemists who declared it to be in code messages then the connection could indeed be made even if it wasn't there originally.

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That would also mean that the Confucian commentaries to the Yijing are also worthy of study and investigation ?

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