The Dragon of Order amidst the swirling Chaos of the Abyss (Rawson et. al.)
The Way of the Ultimate Tao
There was something complete and mysterious
Existing before heaven and earth,
Unchanging, standing alone,
Unceasing, ever in motion.
Able to be the mother of the world.
I do not know its name.
Call it Tao.
The foundation of the mind and of the universe is the Ultimate Tao. It is forever a complementation. It is not a Descartian duality, across which there is an indivisible gulf, but the intimate marriage of realities - It is the hieros gamos of nature itself.
From the beginning both mind and universe exist as paradoxical complements, each discovering its own nature through it's complement. From birth to death, all our experience of reality is through the magic warp and weft of the subjective conscious mind. It is the umbilicus of reality without which the physical universe would be an abyss without even a dream of existence.
Yet the physical universe is also fundamental to existence, for through it our manifold dreams of existence find one common ground of objectivity in which the entire historical process of incarnation can come to a meaningful account. We are physical. We bleed when cut and swoon when concussed. Yet the description of physical reality is no more and no less than a myth told about the stabilities and correspondences of our conscious experience.
Worse still, the physical universe itself is a paradox of relativity and quantum uncertainty in which the future and the past become lost in probabilities which can never be disentangled from their quantum superpositions until the reaper of quantum measurement casts our lot and the world becomes frozen into the history we see being made before our eyes.
The hieros gamos of the Ultimate Tao (Porritt 178, Attenborough)
For the universe is forever the Tao of Physics - the paradoxical interplay of wave and particle, and as natural processes gather into the macroscopic world of experience, chaos and order, as theweather, evolution and conscious thought alike attest. For order to attempt to rule over chaos is as futile as for the particle to try to rule over the wave. Any society which attempts to rule by order alone is doomed to catastrophe as the natural process transition becomes frozen into an apocalyptic revolution collapsing the old order.
'The prophecies sometimes set your mind off in
Lee & Yang before making their Nobel prizewinning discovery of non-conservation of parity
In regard to nature, the impostion of order, by domination of nature, through belief that the rule of order of civilization can continue until the evidence to the contrary is incontestable is suicidal. By this time many chaotic transitions have reached irreversible crisis and we become doomed by our own rigid lack of sensitivity and foresight. This the why we need inebriety of foresight, and the samadhi of contemplation as well as the rational scientic approach when dealing with the uncarved block of future possibilities.
The natural order requires complementation between the harmonious rule of order and a continuing respect for the fertility of chaos. Order needs to be at all times suppliant and responsive to fertile transition so that new order can emerge from the natural ferment of chaos.
It is in this sense that Hathor as goddess of fertility and inebriety represents the chaotic principle complementing the order of Thoth and it is in this sense that we cannot live by order alone. Even if some of our most cherished possessions are lost, it is never in the interests of life to 'push the sacred river'.
In the Ultimate Tao we will find again the genetic roots of immortality in the immortal Garden of life, but with it we will also acheive, not only for ourselves in our own generation, but for all that follow the immortal knowledge of the Kingdom - the eternal cosmic mind. From the Ultimate Tao thus comes the true complementary understanding of immortality - the Kingdom and the Garden.
The Ultimate Tao is the path of nature. It is not only living with nature but being nature as individuals and in the societies we foster and the cultures we celebrate. The way of nature is also the way of life and death, of tooth and claw, but it is the role of immortal wisdom to understand nature in all her complements and to utilize her bounty in arriving at a just and harmonius existence, without imposing on her our own selfish designs. In doing so we are 'future dreaming' engaging in a vision quest of the evolutionary unfolding. The Tao stresses moving with the forces of nature in utilizing their own flow sustainably, not in dominion and domination.
Female is to male,
as earth is to sky,
as dreaming is to waking,
as wave is to particle,
as chaos is to cosmos,
as egg is to sperm,
as means are to ends,
as mosaic is to monad,
as gathering is to seeking,
as atheism is to true belief,
as moonlight is to sunlight,
as humanities are to science,
as continuous is to discrete,
as calculus is to algebra,
as intuition is to rationality,
as gnosticism is to orthodoxy,
as wisdom is to knowledge,
as Garden is to Kingdom,
as body is to mind,
as world is to self.
It is said that when Lao Tsu walked, the birds and animals would accompany him. In the 'Tao te Ching', Lao Tzu, or old man provides a clear and organic example of the Chinese as shaman erasing personal history. It was written by a twist of fate, because as he was leaving China for the wilderness for the last time, he was jailed by the gatekeeper until he wrote down his teachings for posterity. This example of return to the wilderness of the abyss in this life should be emulated by those who would aspire to be religious leaders, male or female.
As we come to the millenium we should strive to make our ecosystemic landing a soft one, which even if we have been single-minded, preserves the fecundity of Eve for all time:
'The wild goose gradually draws near the summit
For three years the woman has no child.
In the end nothing can hinder her
Good fortune' (I Ching).
"The dark has a light spot and the light has a dark spot - that's how they can relate to one another" Complementation of male and female nature in one another in the Tao
(Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth - TV).
"In the Taoist perspective, even good and evil are not head-on opposites. The West has tended to dichotomize the two, but Taoists are less categorical. They buttress their reserve with the story of a farmer whose horse ran away. His neighbor commiserated, only to be told, "Who knows what's good or bad?" It was true, for the next day the horse returned, bringing with it a drove of wild horses it had befriended. The neighbor reappeared, this time with congratulations for the windfall. He received the same response: "Who knows what's good or bad?" Again this proved true, for the next day the farmer's son tried to mount one of the wild horses and fell, breaking his leg. More commiserations from the neighbor, which elicited the question, "Who knows what is good or bad?" And for a fourth time the farmer's point prevailed, for the following day soldiers came by commandeering for the army, and the son was exempted because of his injury." -Huston Smith, The World's Religions (Occhigrosso 1996 153)
The Chinese Tao, natural law, or way provides a cleavage of the totality into complementary creative and receptive principles. The Tao is a seamless web of unbroken movement and change filled with undulations, waves, patterns of ripples, vortices and temporary standing waves like a river. Every observer is an integral functioning part of this web which extends both into the past and into the future throughout space-time. It is the implicate order. No binary, ideal or atomic concept has any independent reality or permanence in this unchanging river of change. No symbol can be separated from the organic context of the whole. Nothing which happens, no event or process ever repeats itself exactly. Nevertheless the Tao is unchanging like a convoluted eroded stone which stands beyond time.
'Vast indeed is the ulitmate Tao,
Spontaneously itself, apparently without acting,
End of all ages and beginning of all ages,
Existing before Earth and existing before Heaven,
Silently embracing the whole of time,
Continuing uninterrupted though all eons, ...
It is the ancestor of all doctrines,
The mystery beyond all mysteries' (Lao Tsu).
It is only in this sense of unbroken wholeness that the Tao is subdivided into natural complementary creative and receptive principles of yang and yin associated with male and female, day and night, heaven and earth etc. The power of the creative lies beyond the describable, and complements the world of form. The two together form the mysterious totality of existence. Central to the organic nature of the Tao is the inextricable dependence of each attribute on its complement, from which it draws its very identity.
Under heaven all can see beauty as beauty only
because there is ugliness.
All can know good as good only because there is evil.
The dragons of order in the clouds of chaos (Rawson et. al.).
Like Yahweh and Allah, Brahman and the Buddha nature in their aniconic cosmic aspects, the Tao cannot be named, cannot be symbolised nor captured by rational thought or symbols:
The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth.
The named is the mother of ten thousand things.
Ever desireless, one can see the mystery.
Ever desiring, one can see the manifestations.
These two spring from the same source but differ in name;
this appears as darkness.
Darkness within darkness.
The gate to all mystery.
The Tao is timeless and ancient, imperceptible and indefinable yet ever present:
From above it is not bright;
From below it is not dark:
An unbroken thread beyond descrption.
It returns to nothingness.
The form of the formless,
The image of the imageless,
It is called indefinable beyond imagination.
Stand before it and there is no beginning.
Follow it and there is no end.
Stay with the ancient Tao,
Move with the present.
Knowing the ancient beginning is the essence of Tao.
Taoist philosophy is singularly relevant to the modern age because it teaches that nature should not be disrupted:
Do you think you can take over the universe and
I do not believe it can be done.
The universe is sacred.
You cannot improve it.
If you try and change it, you will ruin it.
If you try and hold it, you will lose it.
It also lies beyond simple rules of morality:
A brave and passionate man will kill or be killed.
A brave and calm man will always preserve life.
Of these two which is harmful?
Some things are not favoured by heaven.
Who knows why? Even the sage is unsure of this.
Lao tsu pictures the sage as wild and untamed but in contact with the natural maternal source:
People have purpose and usefulness
But I alone am igorant and uncouth
I am different from all the others,
but I draw noursihment from the mother.
The opposites of male and female, light and dark etc. are not only interdependent, but it is essential for humanity to maintain a receptive relation to the creative Tao. This requires both the feminine receptiveness of the valley of the earth, but also an attitude towards leadership and control which is humble and submissive and yeilds to transition rather than imposing order:
Flowering Hills in the Height of Spring - Lan Ying (Rawson et. al.)
Know the strength of man,
But keep a woman's care!
Be the stream of the universe,
Ever true and unswerving,
Become as a little child once more.
Know the white,
But keep the black!
Be an example to the world!
Being an example to the world,
Ever true and unwavering,
Return to the infinite.
Know honour and humility.
Be the valley of the universe,
Ever true and resourceful,
Return to the state of the uncarved block.
When the block is carved it becomes useful.
When the sage uses it he becomes the ruler.
Thus, "A great tailor cuts little" (Lao Tsu).
Thus man follows the feminine earth, rather than heaven and consequently the creative emerges from nature itself:
Man follows earth.
Earth follows heaven.
Heaven follows the tao.
Tao follows what is natural.
However, despite being in yielding responsiveness to the natural order, the sage possesses the personal power of the shaman:
He who knows how to live can walk abroad
Without fear of rhinoceros or tiger.
He will not be wounded in battle.
For in him rhinoceroses can find no place to thrust their horn,
Tigers no place to use their claws,
And weapons no no place to pierce.
Why is this so?
Because he has no place for death to enter.
Lao Tsu naturally saw the machinery of the state as a structured force which ran against the Tao:
The more laws and restrictions there are,
The poorer people become.
The sharper men's weapons,
The more trouble in the land
THE RED CLIFF Poem and Illustration Su Tung-po
(Rawson et. al. 97)
This year, on the fifteenth day of the tenth moon, I was walking back from Snow Hall to my home at Lin-kao. I had two guests with me, and we went along the bank of the Yellow Mud. Icy dew had already fallen and the trees were bare of leaves. Our shadows appeared on the ground, and looking up we saw the bright moon. Glancing around to enjoy the sight, we walked along singing in turns. After a while, I sighed and said, 'Here I have guests and there is no wine! Even if I had some wine, there is no savoury food to eat with it. The moon is clear, the breeze is fresh, what shall we do with such a fine night?'
One of my guests said, 'Today towards sundown I put out a net and caught some fish with large mouths and small scales, like the perch of Pine River. Can we look round to find some wine?'
As soon as we got home I consulted my wife. She said, 'I have a gallon of wine. I have stored it for a long time waiting for an occasion when you might need it unexpectedly.' So we took the wine and fish and went for a trip to the foot of the Red Cliff. The river raced along noisily, its sheer banks rising to a thousand feet. The mountains were high, the moon was small. The water level had dropped, leaving boulders protruding. How many days or months had passed since my last visit? The river and the mountains, I could not recognize them again!
But holding up my robe, I began to climb, walking along precipitous slopes, opening up hidden growth of plants, crouching like tigers and leopards, ascending like curly dragons. I pulled my way up to perch at the precarious nest of the migratory falcon and looked down into the dark palace of the God of Rivers. My two guests could not follow me there. Shrilly, I gave a long cry. The grass and the trees swaved and shook, the mountains rang, and the valleys echoed. The wind came up and the water bubbled, and I felt a gentle chill of sadness. Shivering with cold, I knew that I could not stay there any longer.
I went back to my guests and got into the boat and turned it loose in mid-stream, content to rest wherever it stopped. The night was almost half over and all around was silent and still. Suddenly a lonely crane appeared, cutting across the river from the east. Its wings were like cart-wheels, and it wore a black robe and a coat of white silk. With a long, strange cry, it swooped over my boat and went off to the west.
Soon afterwards my guests left and I, too, promptly went to sleep. I dreamed I saw a Taoist priest in a feather robe fluttering as an Immortal, down the road past the foot of Lin-kao. He bowed to me and said, 'Did you enjoy your outing to the Red Cliff?' I asked him his name, but he looked down and did not answer 'Ah! Dear me! I know you! Last night something passed me, flying over me and crying; that was you was it not?' The Taoist priest turned his head round to look and laughed. Then I woke up with a start. I opened the door to have a look at him, but there was no sign of him.
The Hieros gamos is central to Taoist thought and sex roles give both genders the superior
position. Despite the confucian patriarchy the ancient matriarchal identification with the land required conserving male energies to maintain natural relations with many wives (Rawson et. al.).
The Tao also has a sexual aspect parallel to Tantrism. The natural complementation of male and female sexual energies, ching, as manifestations of life force became elaborated into a technique of gathering vital energies through active love-making while witholding orgasm. This attitude arises from the pursuit of immortality, and origins in matriarchial land titleholding based on yin-earth identification, resulting in polygamy and the need to maintain many active relationships. The inner alchemy of Taoism is closely related to the practices of Tantric yoga, involving similar chakra centres based on sex, heart and mind, derived from Buddhist influences.
The Jade Lady among the clouds - Yin as Chaos Ts'ui Tzu-chung
A Female who became an Immortal (Young 387-90)
Sun Pu-erh is an example of a female immortal attributed with miraculous powers. She initially ran away from her wealthy home and husband feigning madness, laughing wildly and biting the hand of the maid who tried to restrain her. She hid in a haystack and then left to wander seeking refuge in powerty in Taoist sanctuaries.
"Sun Pu-erh lived in the city of Loyang for twelve years. She attained the Tao and acquired powerful magical abilities. One day she said to herself, "I have lived in Loyang for a long time. Now I have attained the Tao, I should demonstrate the powers of the Tao to the people." Sun Pu-erh took two withered branches and blew at them softly. Instantly the two branches were transformed into a man and a woman. The woman resembled Sun Pu-erh, and the man appeared to be a handsome man in his thirties. The couple went to the busiest streets of the city and started laughing, embracing, and teasing each other. Loyang was the center of learning and culture in those days, and such shameful behaviors in public between a man and a woman in public was not tolerated. Yet despite reprimands from the city officials and the teachers of the community, the couple continued their jesting and playing day after day. Even after the guards escorted them away from the city they were found back in the busy streets the next day. When the prominent members of the community saw that their efforts to banish the couple from the city were in vain they took counsel among themselves and approached the mayor, saying, "Many years ago, a mad woman took refuge in an abandoned house at the edge of the city. We took pity on her and gave her food when she begged. Now she is not only forgetting our kindness to her but has become a nuisance to public peace and decency. Wc would like to ask you to arrest this shameless couple and burn them in public. We have come to this last resort because they have ignored our pleas and our threats. One of the more powerful community leaders added, "Sir, as the leader of this city you are responsible for the good behavior of our citizens. You must do something about this shameless couple" Not wanting to offend the powerful citizens of the community, the mayor issued a decree and had it posted throughout the city. It read: "Madness is the result of losing reason. Without reason all actions become irrational. For a man and woman to embrace and tease each other in public is to break the rules of propriety. If they exhibit such shameful behavior during the day there is nothing they cannot do at night. The streets of the city are not places for jesting. To display such offensive behavior in public is abominable. We have asked them to leave, but they have refused. We have banished them from the city, but they have returned. There is only one thing left for us to do. We shall arrest them and burn them in public. Thus we can rid ourselves of these evil characters." Together with the city guards, community leaders, and a large crowd, the mayor walked toward the abandoned house at the edge of the city where the man and the mad woman were reported to be staying. As they approached the house the mayor said, "Let everyone carry along some dry wood or twigs. We shall pile them around the house and burn the abominable place, together with the mad woman and the shameless man.' The crowds piled dry branches around the building and set them on fire. Flames and smoke engulfed the building. Suddenly the grey smoke turned into a multicolored haze and the mad woman was seen seated on a canopy of clouds, flanked by the man and woman whom the people had seen jesting in the streets. Sun Pu-erh said to the crowds below, "I am a seeker of the Tao. My home is in Shantung Province, and my name is Sun Pu-erh. Twelve years ago I arrived in Loyang. I disguised myself as a mad woman so that I might pursue the path of the Tao in peace. I have finally attained the Tao, and today I shall be carried into the heavens by fire and smoke. I transformed two branches into a man and a woman so that circumstances would lead you here to witness the mystery and the powers of the Tao. In return for your kindness and hospitality to mc through the years I shall give you this couple. They will be your guardians, and I shall see to it that your harvests will be plentiful and your city protected from plagues and -natural disasters." Sun Pu-erh gave the man and woman a push and they fell onto the crowd below. Instantly the couple was transformed back into their original form. The crowd picked up the two branches, but when they looked up at the sky all they saw was a small black figure growing smaller and smaller as it-flew higher and higher. The figure became a black dot, and finally the black dot disappeared. The crowds bowed their heads in respect and dispersed. For the next five years, Loyang enjoyed a prosperity that was unmatched by any town in China. Its countryside yielded bountiful harvests, and livestock was healthy and plentiful. The rains came at the appropriate times, and the city and its surrounding region seemed to be immune to natural disasters. In gratitude to Sun Pu- erh the citizens built a shrine to her. In it was a statue of her likeness, and beside her stood statues of the man and woman she had created from two branches. The shrine was named the Three Immortals' Shrine. lt was said that those who presented offerings with sincerity received blessings from the three immortals.
The Immortals in the Celestial Boat bound for the Island Paradise (Rawson et. al.).
After Sun Pu-erh ascended to the heavens she returned to the earthly realm. She wondered about the progress of Ma Tan-yang (her husband) and decided to offer help if needed. When Sun Pu-erh appeared at the Ma mansion the servants could not believe that the lady of the mansion was back. They ran to tell Ma Tan-yang, and he hurried out to greet his wife. He welcomed her home and said, 'Friend in the Tao, you must have suffered much these years' Sun Pu-erh replied, "We who cultivate the Tao must bear whatever hardships beset us. Otherwise we will not be able to attain the Tao. That night, Ma Tan-yang invited Sun Pu-erh to meditate with him. Sun Pu-erh maintained her meditation position through the night, but Ma Tan-yang could not. The next morning Ma Tan-yang said to Sun Pu-erh, 'Friend in the Tao, your meditation skills are much more advanced than mine:' Sun Pu-erh said, 'Brother, I can sec that your magical powers do not seem to be as strong as they could be.' Ma Tan-yang said, "You are mistaken. My magical powers are strong. I can transform stones into silver pieces. Let me show you' Sun Pu-erh said, "I can transform stones into gold, but I do not wish to do so, for gold and silver are material things that we must leave behind. Therefore it is not important whether they can be turned into silver or gold. Let me tell you a story' " Then Sun Pu-erh related to Ma Tan-yang a story about Immortals Lii Tung-pin and Chung-li Ch'iian. When Immortal Lii Tung-pin was studying with his teacher Chung-li Ch'iian, Chung-li Ch'iian gave him a large and heavy sack to carry. Immortal Lii carried the sack for three years without complaint or resentment. At the end of three years, Chung-li Ch'iian told Immortal Lii to open the sack. He said to Immortal Lii, 'While you were carrying the sack these years, did you know what was inside.' Immortal Lii replied, "Yes, I knew that the sack was filled with stones. ' Chung-li Ch'iian then said, "Do you know that the rocks that you've been carrying around all these years could be turned into gold? Because you have shown sincerity and humility and have never uttered a word of complaint, I shall teach you how to turn these stones into gold if you wish." Immortal Lii asked Chung-li Ch'iian, "When these stones have been transformed into gold, will they be identical to real gold?" Chung-li Ch'iian replied, "No, gold that has been transformed from stones or other objects will only last for five hundred years. After that, they will return to their original form" Immortal Lii said, "Then I do not wish to learn the techinques of turning stones into gold. If the gold is not permanent, then what I do now will have harmful effects five hundred years later. I would rather be ignorant of a technique which may potentially harm people." Hearing Lii Tung-pin's reply, Chung-li Ch'iian said, "Your foundations are stronger than mine. Your level of enlightenment will be higher than mine. As you have enlightened me, I now realize that this technique of turning stones to gold or silver or precious gems is not worth carrying and not worth teaching" After hearing Sun Pu-erh's story, Ma Tan-yang felt ashamed and said no more. Next day, Sun Pu-erh invited Ma Tin-yang to take a bath in a tub of boiling water. Ma Tan-yang looked at the bubbling water, tested it with his finger. and exclaimed, this water is so hot that I almost burned my finger. How can I sit in it and take a bath?" Sun Pu-erh jumped into the tub of boiling water as if it had bccn merely lukewarm. Turning to Ma Tan-yang, she said, "Brother, after all these years you should have cultivated a body that is impervious to heat and cold. How is it that you have not made much progress in your training?" Ma Tan-yang said, "I do not know. We received the same instructions from the same teacher. How come your meditation skill, your magical powers, and your physical development surpass mine by far?" Sun Pu-erh dried herself, put on fresh clothes and explained to Ma Tan-yang, "Thesc twelve ycars I have lived in hardship. My training was done under the most adverse of conditions. Moreover, since I had to beg and live in the most meager of shelters, my body and mind were not distracted or dulled by comfortable living. You, on the other hand, lived in a comfortable house, had servants to tend your needs, and did not mcet with hardships. Therefore your senses, your mind, and your body bccame lazy, and you did not train as hard as I did." Ma Tan-yang said to Sun Pu-erh, "You are right. I shall leave this place and travel. I shall seek the Tao in my journeys' Late that night Ma Tan-yang changed into Taoist robes and slipped out of his mansion. The next morning Sun Pu-erh summoned the servants and told them to sell the property and distribute the money and household goods to the needy, for she knew that Ma Tan-yang would never return to his mansion and his lands again. [From Seven Taoist Masters]
Queen Mother of the West (Young 391-2)
One of the most important and complex female deities of Taoism is the Queen Mother of the West. She possesses the peaches of immortality, which means that she can confer immor- tality. The following story from the Han Wu ku-shih (composed between the second and sixth centuries) describes the famous meeting between her and the Han Dynasty emperor Wu Ti. As in many of the stories about meetings between mortal men and celestial women, it is the women who journey to earth. An earlier but shorter version of this story, preserved in the Lieh-tzu, has the Queen Mother of the West visiting another ruler, King Mu. She seems to have been a pre-Taoist divinity that was gradually assimilated by the Taoists. In the process her powers were greatly enhanced, and, during the Han Dynasty, when she receives a partner, the King Father of the East, they are attributed with the creation of the cosmos. Her essential function, though, is to confer eternal life on her devotees, and in this context she was popular with all classes of people.
The Queen Mother sent her messenger to tell the emperor that she would be visiting him on the seventh day of the seventh month. When the appointed day came, the emperor swept the inner parts of the palace and lit the lamp of the nine decorated branches. On the seventh day of the seventh month he kept vigil in the ball of the Reception of Flowery Delights. At the exact hour of midday he suddenly saw that there were green birds arriving from the west and roosting in front of the hall....
That night, at the seventh division of the clock, There was not a cloud in the sky; it was dark, as if one might hear the sound of thunder, and stretching to the edge of the heavens there was a purple glow. By and by the Queen Mother arrived. She rode in a purple carriage, with the daughters of jade riding on each side; she wore the sevenfold crown upon her head; the sandals on her feet were black and glistening, embellished with the design of a phoenix; and the energies of new growth were like a cloud. There were two green birds, like crows, attending on either side of the Mother. When she alighted from her carriage the emperor greeted her and bowed down, and invited her to be seated. He asked for the drug of deathlessness, and the Queen said "Of the drugs of long, long ago, there were those such as the Purple Honey of the Blossoms of the centre, the Scarlet honey of the Mountains of the clouds, or the Golden juice of the fluid of jade.... But the emperor harbours his desires and will not let them go, and there are many things for which his heart still yearns; he may not yet attain the drug of deathlessness" Then the Queen drew out seven peaches; two she ate herself and five she gave to the emperor.... She stayed with him until the fifth watch, and although he discussed matters of this world, she was not willing to talk of ghosts or spirits; and with a rustle she disappeared.... Once she had gone the emperor was saddened for long time. [From Ways to Paradise]
The Secret of the Golden Flower
Two of the greatest Taoist texts were translated by Richard Wilhelm (1873-1930), who despite serving with a Christian mission was glad that he had never baptised a Chinese. He had the fortune to meet a sage of the old school displaced from the interior by the revolution, Lau Nai Süan who introduced him to Taoist yoga philosophy in The Secret of the Golden Flower, and the I Ching, the old master passing away just as the I Ching was completed, thus forming a unique personal transmission. Carl Jung had synchronously completed mandalas including a flower and a Castle reflecting the yellow castle of the Taoist creative mind, when invited by Wilhelm to compile the commentary on The Secret of the Golden Flower.
The form of meditation consists of circulation of the light through breathing with eyes half-closed to create a balance between the inner and outer worlds. The cycle of inhalation and exhalation is a link between the creative in the head and the receptive in the heart. 'When the light is made to move in a circle the energies of heaven and earth, of the light and dark are crystallized'. The formless approach of watching thoughts arise and pass is followed, using breathing as a handle to remain the centre in the midst of changing experiences. 'The further the work advances the more does the golden flower bloom'. Meditation is accomplished in four stages, gathering the light, origin of a new being in the place of power, separation of the spirit body for independent existence, and the centre in the midst of conditions [of the spirit body]. The aim is physical and mental immortality - the flower of light that emerges from the conscious breath:
'There is a still more marvellous kind of circulation. Now we stay in the centre and rule what is external. The whole relationship is now reversed. One must first see that the body and heart are completely controlled, that one is quite free and at peace... Then let one lower the two eyes as if one received a holy edict, a summons to become the minister... Wherever the golden flower goes the true light of polarity comes forth to meet it... One is aware of effulgence and infinity. The whole body feels like light and would like to fly. This is the state of which it is said : Clouds fill the thousand mountains. Gradually it goes to and fro quite softly; it rises and falls quite imperceptibly. The pulse stands still and breathing stops. This is the moment of true creative union, the state of which it is said : The moon gathers up the ten thousand waters. In the midst of this darkness, the heavenly heart suddenly begins a movement. This is the return of the one light, the time when the child comes to life' (wiilhelm 1931 53).
Ling-chih the magic spirit fungus was believed to confer 'immortality' for 500 years
(Rawson et. al.).
The I Ching oracle, or book of changes, was also completed because the original author was imprisoned, in this case for many years. He elaborated the eight trigrams into a vastly larger system of transformations. Yin and yang are further divided into 8 yin-yang trigrams : heaven (the creative), wind (wood), water (the abyss), the mountain (stillness), earth (the receptive), thunder (the arousing), fire (the clinging), the lake (joyful). The trigram transformations give 64 hexagrams, whose 4096 secondary transformations represent a set of archetypal dynamical situations. This set of 64 states have been very carefully designed to give a generic set of categories. Chance is used to generate a reading by throwing sticks or coins.
According to the principles of the I Ching, consciousness, living organsims, and chance are a common manifestation of the cosmic creative principle. Thus the use of chance in throwing the oracle, far from being superstitious faith in the drop of a coin, links to consciousness and to life itself, just as the Urim and Thummim, and the Tarot (Book of Thoth) have been used in Judaism and the West.
Although the I Ching is Taoist in its interpretation, many translations have a Confucian
patriarchal gloss. Modern feminist interpretations are also made which reverse this gloss.
The patriarchal gloss of many translations of the I Ching obscure its essential complementation between Yin and Yang, and the notion that man's relationship to the nature should be the feminine way of the valley. Several modern interpretations of the I Ching reverse this gloss producing a distinctly feminist emphasis.
The "Image" of the cauldron in Wilhelm's version reads: "Fire over wood: The image of the cauldron. Thus the superior man consolidates his fate by making his position correct"
Barbara Walker's "I Ching of the Goddess" relates the following about the cauldron: "The cauldron was a worldwide symbol of rebirth after dissolution. Many classic Goddess figures restored sacrificial victims to life after their sojurn in the uterine cauldron. The Chinese also regarded the cauldron as a womb symbol and a natural attribute of the goddess".
In addition it is possible to mount a complementary or inverse reading by reversing the interpretations of yin and yang. This often produces surprising results.
For example the inverse of the above reading is "difficulty at the beginning" becoming "the well ":
"Difficulty at the beginning success through perseverence.. It does not further one to undertake anything. It furthers one to appoint helpers" and "The town may be changed but the well cannot be changed. It neither increases nor decreases. People come and go from the well. If the rope does not go all the way or the jug breaks misfortune."
Barbara reads this: "Heavy rains over thunder symbolize the storms of tribulation and trouble ... the sages likened such difficulty to a traumatic birth attended by blood and pain." and "It is said that dwellings can be moved, whole cities can be moved, but the well supplying water for the population can't be moved. The source must remain in its own place. Those who seek it must go there".
These are all just excerpts of much longer readings.