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Thread: The Secret of the Golden Flower

  1. #1

    The Secret of the Golden Flower

    I have bookmarked a site for Zen poems, Haiku and writings.
    Today's quote was from Thomas Cleary's translation of 'The Secret of the Golden Flower'.

    I'm not familiar with this text but a line reminded me of Shitou's 'Turn around the light to shine within'.

    I was wondering whether to buy the Cleary translation (there is a much cheaper one by Richard Wilhelm but Cleary is critical of it).

    I'd like to understand a little more about the Taoist background to Zen and have read a couple of books (Cleary's 'Taoist reader' and his 'Further teachings of Lao-Tzu).

    Any thoughts on whether 'The Secret of the Golden Flower' would be a worthwhile addition?

    Gassho

    Willow

  2. #2
    Hi Willow,

    This is on my "Some day maybe" reading list...
    I'd go with the Cleary version in case of doubt.


    If you want to explore Taoism and its background to and influence on Zen (although the influence later went mutual), I can recommend the following:

    "Tao Te Ching"
    - a must, also for Zen students IMHO. However, the differences between translations are vast!
    The best IMHO is by Stephen Mitchell (legally available online for free - just google a bit)
    Another good one is by British author Timothy Freke (only available as used book - had mine imported from the UK)

    "Lieh-Tzu: A Taoist Guide to Practical Living" by Eva Wong
    Lots of parallels to the Tao Te Ching

    Chuang-Tzu stuff is also very good AFAIK, but I have not read a lot here.

    Modern texts:

    "Do Nothing and Do Everything"
    by Qiguang Zhao
    Very nice modern read - highly recommended!

    "A Path and a Practice" by William Martin
    A new interpretation of the Tao Te Ching, applied to our modern times

    "The Tao of Daily Life" by Derek Lin


    The classic books mentioned above as well as the modern texts are about the philosophical/meditative side of Taoism - no religious hocus pocus stuff.
    You could call this a kind of "Neo Taoism" - no religious stuff, just a path/practice.
    The similarities to Zen are sometimes striking. There are actually "Neo Taoists" (could not come up with a better term) who sit Zazen.
    (However, religious Taoism and Taoist meditation are very different!)

    To me philosophical Taoism is another finger pointing to the moon and can enrich the practice of many Zennies (IMHO).

    Gassho,

    Timo
    Last edited by Daitetsu; 06-21-2013 at 11:01 AM.
    no thing needs to be added

  3. #3
    Put (over)simply, Buddhism saw the problem of suffering and offered a practice to bring an end to it. But in doing so it solidified the problem, and set up a need to get from here to there. Taoism saw the insubstantial nature of this suffering and suggested just being the flow, which, since there is no getting from here to there, can only be a spontaneous and total realization.

    When Indian Buddhism met Chinese thought, it gave birth to Zen, which brings into balance these two views, gradual and sudden, something to do and nothing to do.

    The Secret of the Golden Flower was something I came across early, before beginning Buddhist practice. It was an inspiration, but I could not square those inspirational insights with the habit energy of suffering in day to day living. It would be a good to read it again. it would probably be read differently now.



    Just a spare thought on a Friday morning.

    Gassho Daizan
    Last edited by Daizan; 06-21-2013 at 01:37 PM.
    大山

  4. #4
    Hello,

    here's an a book I can recommend:

    http://www.amazon.com/Buddhism-Taois.../dp/0824834119


    Let's not forget that Alchemy, achieving immortality and countless esoteric practices aka "magick" are the daily bread and butter of most living Daoist traditions in Asia btw.

    Gassho,

    Hans Chudo Mongen
    Chudo Mongen, Ordained Novice Priest-in-Training

  5. #5
    Thanks for the replies - some good info here.

    Gassho

    Willow

  6. #6
    Senior Member Oheso's Avatar
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    the Secret of the Golden Flower felt seminal to my read without any more majick than I usually order with my bread and butter.

    thank you for your post, Daizan.
    only saps buy vowels

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Daizan View Post
    Put (over)simply, Buddhism saw the problem of suffering and offered a practice to bring an end to it. But in doing so it solidified the problem, and set up a need to get from here to there. Taoism saw the insubstantial nature of this suffering and suggested just being the flow, which, since there is no getting from here to there, can only be a spontaneous and total realization.
    Very nice, Daizan!
    I think Buddhism is more structured, systematic, methodical with its Four Noble Truths and its Eightfold Path. Almost like a Manual for Life (that's exaggerated, of course).
    Philosophical Taoism on the other hand is more laid back, or "being in the flow" as you said.


    Quote Originally Posted by Hans
    Let's not forget that Alchemy, achieving immortality and countless esoteric practices aka "magick" are the daily bread and butter of most living Daoist traditions in Asia btw.
    Ah, please don't mention. I've never liked that part of Taoism - I've been focussing exclusively on philosophical Taoism.
    You are right, of course. The Taoism which is practiced in Asia today is different - they even worship gods.
    Thanks a lot for the book recommendation - I didn't know that one!

    Something that looks interesting (considering the table of contents) when it comes to distinguish between philosophical, religious, magical, etc. Taoism:
    Taoism: An Essential Guide by Eva Wong

    Haven't read this yet, as it does not seem to be very practically oriented...

    Gassho,

    Timo
    no thing needs to be added

  8. #8
    Senior Member Nengyo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hans View Post


    Let's not forget that Alchemy, achieving immortality and countless esoteric practices aka "magick" are the daily bread and butter of most living Daoist traditions in Asia btw.
    I read "immortality" as "immorality" and I was like, Damn I picked the wrong path again!
    Try not to be a jerk-- one of the Buddhas

  9. #9
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    I read the Tao of Pooh, one of the best books I've ever read. So similar to Zen, the principle of the uncarved block is a beautiful way to live and embrace life.

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