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About Zhongyongdaoist

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  1. You're welcome for the dictionary reference Ming Jen, use it in good health. As for the problem being with English, it is not so much with English as with English speakers who don't understand the basics of Chinese, and that Chinese Characters often function not as single words, but more like, but not exactly like, syllables in English. There are some monosyllabic words in English and there are some characters in Chinese function as single words, but most of the time they are combined to form words with complex meanings that are hard to decipher, and also Chinese is very context and pronunciation sensitive, which is why something like "wu", no, negation, is not the same thing as "wu", witchcraft, sorcery, they have different characters and they have different pronunciations, so that 无, meaning no or nothing, should be printed as wú, and 巫 as witch or shaman, should be written as wū, otherwise you can't tell your wu from your wu, which is a wu-full situation. When I first started using MDBG, I would get autobahn for 道德, dào dé, because dào was street or road and dé was the abbreviation for Deutschland, Germany, and the autobahn is the most famous German road, and 气法, breathing method or technique, used to be translated as the airline, Air France, because 气, qi, was air and 法, fǎ, was the abbreviation for France, as well as method, technique or law. Fortunately things have improved over the years. So the real problem is with carrying single concepts over with Chinese characters, and also writing them without the accent markers that allow you to tell the difference. People tend to use words like jing, qi, shen, dao, etc., as if one could use geo when one means geometry, or geology, or writing as if you could leave out vowels and somehow avoid misunderstandings, and things like that. At least that is how I understand some of the problems of going back and forth between English and Chinese. Here is a fun experiment to try, copy this character 道, go to: Character dictionary - MDBG English to Chinese dictionary Which is MDBG's character dictionary, and paste it into the first box, then when the dictionary pulls up the definition of Dao, first look at the definition of Dao as "path, road, street; method, way", then click on the little box like this and choose the option that looks like this *道*, which will pull up a whole list of Chinese Character combinations that include Dao, and then see how many on the list have anything to do with how Dao is used here on the Dao Bums. You can of course do this with any character you like such as qi, 气, and see how differently qi functions in real Chinese, and then start to think about how silly it is to ask questions like what is qi? Chinese medicine and Chinese breathing exercises and, as some may have noticed, Chinese mechanical engineering all have their own specialized terminology that use "qi" as a character in it somewhere, so there is not simple answer, it all depends on the context. Now this little experiment can also be used to learn things, for example if you go through the list you can find character combinations that might be of interest to you, kind of like fishing, you may throw out the fish that don't interest you, but you may find something interesting to explore. So, happy fishing.
  2. You have two big things working against you here, one from the Chinese side and one from the English, then there are the small ones. First of all for your Chinese you are giving what looks like unaccented Pinyin and they could mean many things, second of all from the English, you are talking about concepts which in some senses do not translate well, theurgic being one of them. Here is a place where you can play around with these ideas: MDBG online Chinese-English dictionary I use it all of the time, but I usually have a better idea of what I am looking for than you seem to do. For example "wu", this is usually shamanism or witchcraft, at best sorcery, and would have nothing to do with anything theurgic. If you enter magic you get a lot of words that include the character for "mo", which can mean devil or magic, and is more used for sorcery and "black" magic than for theurgy. The Chinese "shengong" can be translated as "god cultivation", and could be used to mean "white magic" and might do as a translation for Theurgy, but the closest thing to a Theurgists in practice would be a Daoshi, or Daoist Priest, such as Daoist Master Chuang, about whom you say you are reading in your introductory post. When you mention Jen as "accumulation of Merit", it seems like you may be using the old school Cantonese for the Pinyin "Ren", usually translated as humaneness or benevolence, but "accumulation of merit" also sounds more Buddhist, and "Jen" could mean any one of several things. I am just posting to let you know that answering your question may not be easy, even for someone fluent in Chinese. Just as background, I have a long term familiarity with the theory and practice, of the Western esoteric tradition, and a fair to good knowledge of Chinese Esoteric traditions, but my Chinese language is nearly nonexistent. I don't have much time to post today which is why I haven't posted characters for any of the words I mentioned above, but if you are interested in more information about what is available in English I can give you some advice. ZYD
  3. I didn't miss your point Jeff, I was addressing where Jesus may have gotten these "higher doctrines", and how they may have related to the Old Testament. Most people in general and especially around here have just about no idea what Greek philosophy or Plato is about and its connection with Hellenistic Spirituality and I have to say that the connection came as quit a surprise to me, as I have noted elsewhere on the Dao Bums. I had read about and studied Western Magic, Qabalah, Tibetan Buddhism, Daoism and qigong for fifteen or so years before, in an effort to understand aspects of the Western tradition, I seriously turned my attention to Plato and the Platonists, so that I read these things with different eyes than the scholars whose works I was reading. It would take too much time to recount both the reasons why I undertook this study and how much that it changed my attitude about a lot of things, but I will address at least some of how this affects the way that Hellenized Jews viewed what we not call "the Old Testament" In my discussion of Jewish adaptations of Plato I mentioned Philo of Alexandria, and he is very important as a contemporary of all of the founders of Christianity, because of the possible influence of thinking like his on their own thought and action. As moderns we tend to view the "Old Testament" in a certain way, and mostly thanks to the Protestant Reformation most of us tend to view it as something to be interpreted literally. This is not how Hellenized Jews thought of it, they had no problems with doing the same type of thing to the Torah as Greeks routinely did to their mythology, they interpreted it as allegories of higher spiritual realities and not as something to be taken literally. In short they did everything thy could to read Plato and Aristotle into the Torah to get something that they could be proud of, out of it. Here are some excerpts from the Internet Encylopedia of Philosophy's article on Philo: The one category of enlightened people is able to comprehend God through a vision beyond the physical universe. It is as though they advanced on a heavenly ladder and conjectured the existence of God through an inference (Praem. 40). The other category apprehends him through himself, as light is seen by light. For God gave man such a perception "as should prove to him that God exists, and not to show him what God is." Philo believes that even the existence of God "cannot possibly be contemplated by any other being; because, in fact, it is not possible for God to be comprehended by any being but himself " (Praem. 39-40). Philo adds, "Only men who have raised themselves upward from below, so as, through the contemplation of his works, to form a conjectural conception of the Creator by a probable train of reasoning" (Praem. 43) are holy, and are his servants. Next Philo explains how such men have an impression of God's existence as revealed by God himself, by the similitude of the sun (Mut. 4-6) a concept which he borrowed from Plato. As light is seen in consequence of its own presence so, "In the same manner God, being his own light, is perceived by himself alone, nothing and no other being co-operating with or assisting him, a being at all able to contribute to pure comprehension of his existence; But these men have arrived at the real truth, who form their ideas of God from God, of light from light" (Praem. 45-46). As Plato and Philo had done, Plotinus later used this image of the sun. Thus the Logos, eternally created (begotten), is an expression of the immanent powers of God, and at the same time, it emanates into everything in the world. (Emphasis mine, ZYD) Here we see important ideas and images that appear in both orthodox and Gnostic thought, such as the Logos, Trinity, light etc., and this is hardly an single icicle from the tip of the iceberg. I hope that these rather long excerpts are helpful. ZYD Edit: Changed paragraph spacing.
  4. Again with all due respect Jeff, your example: Is simply a literary context, and not the type of historical context that Cheshire Cat is saying is the necessary background. The big question here is "Why didn't a group of high minded pious Jews of the period stone this demon obsessed carpenter to death as a false prophet, like the Law says they should?", who listened to him, and who took his words seriously and who would have protected him from the angry mob? Cheshire Cat has his own answers, and which are probably that Jesus was a Zealot, and that he was protected by a gang of "Apostle thugs" who would be only to happy to kill anyone in the audience who disagreed with them. My own answer is that assuming that any of this actually happened and in many ways that is a big assumption, that he had a very sympathetic audience of "God Fearers" and Hellenizing Jews who would have been only to happy to listen to some nice young itinerant preacher speaking Greek Philosophy, which the Greeks had stolen from the Jews anyway, or at least that is what they believed, in terms which had been made as Kosher sounding as they could be by a line thinkers including Aristobolus and the older and very prolific contemporary of any conceivable historical Jesus, the Apostles and Paul, Philo of Alexandria. I have posted a little bit about this milieu in my posts on the religious background of the Renaissance Neoplatonist and author on magic Cornelius Agrippa's Three Books of Occult Philosophy here: Agrippa Book One Introduction (The Relevant posts are mostly on the first and second page, but the whole thread is short and worth a read.) The upshot of which is that a tendency to synthesis Platonic and and Jewish thought existed possibly as early as the Third Century B.C.E. in Ptolemaic Egypt, and that it continues into the Patristic period starting with Justin Martyr, the first of the Church fathers, and running through such Church Fathers as Lactantius and Marius Victorinus, the teacher of St .Augustine. Finally two things, it should be remembered that Joseph and Mary were supposed to have fled to Egypt with the baby Jesus in order to avoid Herod's slaughter of the innocents and if all of this interesting stuff was going on in Alexandria, there would have been no need for Jesus to go off to India for instruction from Hindus or Buddhists would there? For those people who find the notion of Plato and the Gospels farfetched, I did post about the possible use of Plato's Gorgias in the "Sermon on the Mount" here: Plato's Gorgias in Matthew If you think finding Plato in the Gospel's is simply my own odd and eccentric hobby, you should find yourself a copy of: Plato and the Christians by Adam Fox, Philosophical Library, 1957 On the title page the author is listed as Archdeacon of Wesminster, a title of some significance in the Anglican Church. In this book he takes almost every commonplace among Christian thought that originates somewhere in the New Testament and traces it to some interesting section of Plato's dialogs. There on p. 131 you will find under the heading, "Love your Enemies", a correlation of Matthew 5.43-45 with Plato's Republic 335B-E. Finally for the sake of brevity I have had to engage in some real oversimplification, nonetheless I hope the above is helpful. ZYD Edit: Minor spelling and paragraph spacing.
  5. With all due respect Jeff, the New Testament is not without serious problems of its own, nor can any claims of the "specialness" of the teachings of Jesus, whether canonical or extra-canonical such as Gnostic texts be given any special status outside of a full Trinitarianism, in which the "historical Jesus" is also conceived of as the incarnation of the second person of the Trinity, and thus having a truly special status which would transcend that of all other "merely human" teachers. The early Church Fathers realized that the Old Testament was the foundation upon which any "Christian" edifice had to be built, which is why it was included in the Christian Bible, in spite of some early opposition to its inclusion, and if the foundation is bad, then what is built upon it is unsound. This problem also affects any claims of Islam to be God's final word delivered through his last prophet, Mohamed, because if the first "word" is not fundamentally correct, then there can be no last word of correction, because if the Old Testament became corrupt, then it was only because "God" could not or would not protect it from such corruption, and if he could not prevent its corruption, then why should one pay attention to it or anything that claims to follow from it, as being any less corrupt, and if "God" could prevent its corruption why didn't "he", and why if he decided to correct it, why did he decide to do so, and how could he protect it after that correction and any time in the future? What happens to such notions as Divine Omnipotence and Foreknowledge under these circumstances? Now, I have only outlined some of the problems involved and I have no wish to engage in long debates about the matter, it is the subject of a voluminous literature which I have no wish to recount here. If you or anyone else wishes to claim a special historical status for the New Testament I don't really care, I have nothing personal involved in the discussion. As a final note to feminists, my references to "God" as a "he" should not be taken as my own beliefs, but only a reflection of the usage of Old and New Testament sources. Since I don't believe in the Abrahamic "God", its gender doesn't matter to me, except for its historical, social and political uses in the oppression of women, in which I of course consider it to be a bad thing.
  6. It is not so surprising how much the Bible borrows form other traditions, it is surprising the number of people to whom this is news. Problems with the Biblical narrative were noticed in the Seventeenth Century, by the Nineteenth they were the subject of considerable study and had given rise to serious and well argued doubts about the Bible as a historical document. With the development of Archeology in the Nineteenth Century similarities to other Near Eastern civilizations became a more and more common observation, with the Early Twentieth Century being a time when these were noted, organized and even brought together into a neat Two Volume scholarly package, Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament. People to whom this is news should start with the Wikipedia Article on the Historicity of the Bible. There is a great deal of well reasoned and accurate Biblical scholarship available in English and other languages, and people do not need to rely on the opinions of a UFO theorist lecturing in Italian with English subtitles. Doing the research is both interesting and worthwhile, and after doing it you will realize that all forms of Judeo-Christian fundamentalism, are so many castles built on foundations of sand, and that none of the religions that derive from the Abrahamic myth cycle, Judaism, Christianity, or Islam have any more basis for their claims than any other religion, and the "Bible" in any of its forms, any more claim to special status than Homer's Iliad and Odyssey and similar works of mythology.
  7. I just thought I would give an example of this by this quote from the Analects of Confucius: So in China all persons of authority are seated in the North, thus the throne of the Emperor as the ultimate worldly authority is in the North. Daoist Temples have the statues of the Three Pure Ones in the North and a Daoist would face North in rituals designed to invoke them, the Doors to the Temple are in the South. On the other hand when a Daoist practices transforming him or herself into a Deity they face South. This carries over even into Feng Shui where North is the favored position and visitors should be admitted from the South. The Attributes of the Loshu also carry over from this, because with One in the North, there are three yang Hun Souls in the East direction of Wood, dwelling in the Liver, and Seven Yin Po Souls in the West the direction of Metal, originating in the Lungs, and it continues on from there, in too much detail to recount here.
  8. And that's the Truth.
  9. Your certainly welcome. There is a lot of literature that explains this background material, an excellent overview of the development of Chinese thought in both philosophy and cosmology is Disputers of the Tao by A. C. Graham. Graham is considered to be one of the top sinologists of the last century, and not only is it a good overview of the various Waring States period "schools of thought", but with its detailed notes an bibliography it is a good starting point for further research. While it doesn't deal with some of the more recent developments, it is a good sound introduction to the field as it was at the end of the Twentieth Century.
  10. It is important to realize that both "Yoga" and "qigong" are subjects with complex connections, Yoga as a term that covers several types of disciplines such as Hatha Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Jnana Yoga and Raja Yoga, with apologies for spelling, it has been years (decades actually) since I studied about these divisions, whereas Qigong is one of many disciplines that make of a family of "gongs" or "cultivations", such as shengong, neigong, etc. Qigong is the cultivation of Breath, or the equivalent of Pranayana, which is a foundation Yoga practice mostly associated with Hatha Yoga, but common to all of its higher aspects. Chinese Qigong develops rather early in China and is found as a well developed mystical practice complete with the outlines of an esoteric anatomy and mystical cosmology as early as the Fourth Century BCE in the work the Neiye which influences both the development of Daoism and Confucianism (through Mencious in the late Fourth Century BCE at the very latest). The possible Egyptian origin of Indian yoga would refer to the higher aspects of Indian yoga, which involves "union" or yoga with divine energies through transformations into various Gods, which are taught in the Egyptian coffin texts which make up the "Papyrus of Ani", however these practices developed in Egypt from shamamic trance and spirit possession practices and to think that similar practices did not develop independently of Ancient Egypt is to denigrate the spiritual creativity of human beings around the world. On the other hand, there are some reasons to believe that Egyptian practices did influence the later developments of practices originating in India, among other things sometime ago I asked myself the question, "Where did all those Lotuses come from?", since there is a large amount of Lotus symbolism in Egyptian, Hindu and Buddhist practices. When I did a word search for lotus in some early India literature it was relatively rare, but showed up as a common feature of Egyptian practices, with Gods seated on Lotuses, etc., at a very early date. So one needs to be very careful with ones historical speculations and do some real historical research before making broad "cultural dispersion" theories, which are often unfair to different cultures and the spiritual potential and creativity of human beings everywhere.
  11. The earth rotates on an axis, or pole that runs from goes from North to South, this is why the Sun and stars seem to rise and set in the East and West, thus the ends of the "Pole" were seen as unchanging and the East and West as change and transformation. Since these ideas developed in the Northern Hemisphere the part of the pole that is visible is the North Pole and at the time these ideas were being developed the North Star was almost exactly North and everything seemed to rotate around it as the "Center of Heaven", with the stars of the Dipper, or Bushel as the Chines call it permanently pointing in that direction. Later when the Chinese developed the Loshu, the magic square of nine, this became formalized with the number one in the North as the Origin, thus the North Star became the star of the Heavenly Center, the One and the origin, and was associated with the trigram Kan, water, the original element from which the others arose, as taught in the Taiyi Shenshui, the Great One gave birth to Water. Everything in traditional Chinese cosmology, not just Daoist cosmology, was built around these ideas.
  12. Alchemy is very definitely a specific discipline existing within a wider context, part of that context is "energy stuff", but modern terminology like "energy stuff", not only do not do the matter justice, but is very misleading. Unfortunately explaining this requires a lot of explanation and the need to let go of a great deal of modern misconceptions that are constantly read into older texts, and right now all I can do is point out that alchemy is a very specific application, and not some general term. I will try to expand on this and have posted a lot of posts that bear on this problem and the confusions associated with it over many years, but it will take some time to organize a better response. ZYD
  13. Jeff Bezos recently reported estimated net worth of $90,000,000,000 is an obscene amount of money. Professor Johnson's fees are regrettably prohibitive for many people, but unless one has actual knowledge of his exact financial situation, such as how much he has to pay the Chinese in order to be in the position in which he is, of actually bringing the real possibility of Daoist initiation to Westerners, I don't personally think that one can stand in judgement of him. I have posted before about the origin of Western attitudes about money and spirituality originating in Christianity: In the West this results the cultural influence of Christianity and the 'sin' of simony. This attitude is based on Matthew 10:8: Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give. In other cultures the situation is more complex and we should be wary of unwittingly using a set of values derived from Christianity to judge the practices of another culture. That doesn't mean that we can't use such values, it just means that we need to be aware of them and ask ourselves why we believe that they are applicable. The operative phrase in Matthew is 'Freely you have received', with the implication that something of value really was received, in other words the power to 'Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons'. Since this was supposedly said by Jesus for a believer this would have the authority of a divine commandment, but for someone who is not working within that tradition and has worked hard, both in terms of study and practice and expended both time and money in the pursuit of the knowledge and ability to 'exorcise', they may be justified in charging and we are the ones who need to justify our attitudes about why they should freely give to us, what has cost them so much time, money and effort. (Emphasis added, ZYD) The attitude to money and spirituality of far Eastern cultures is very different from that of the West, here is an interesting comparison which I originally got from Magic SEA Blog: Unfortunately with his present reconstruction, this particular page is no longer publicly available, what I have posted above is my copy of this page. By the way this is a really good site, the author is a real practitioner, and knows his stuff, there used to be some really fascinating posts on it, but with his recent reconstruction, to, as he says: " . . . make sure that only suitable and comprehensive materials for intended readers.". He is moving a lot of material to a restricted part of his site. As a person who has done exactly what I have said earlier: The unfairness of the types of criticism about money that I hear all the time on the Dao Bums, is a real sore spot for me, there is not a single person here on the Dao Bums, much less Jeff Bezos, who could pay me enough to part with some of the things that I know and have learned and paid big prices for in terms of time, MONEY, and hard effort, to acquire, yet I continue to post here for free, those fruits of my labors which I consider can be taught openly and posted freely to the public. Finally unless you, and yes, I mean you, whoever is reading this, have actually taught students, as I have, you have no right to judge me, or anyone else who teaches these things. I stopped teaching years ago, out of shear frustration, about things like actually having to beg my students, as I did in one case, to a student who was not getting the expected results from what I had taught him to do, when he was in point of fact not doing what I had taught him to do, "please, humor me, pretend that I actually know what I am talking about, and that your preconceived notions about what you can leave in and leave out of my instructions is not correct, and just do it the way that I taught you to do it, just once, please, just pretend that I know what I am talking about", and when he did do it the way I said, to be awakened out of a sound sleep at 2:30 in the morning by a call, "Oh, my god, I can't believe it, I did it the way you said to do it, and its actually working the way you said it would, this is amazing!", in a tone that said "Wow, who would have thought!" And this was not some "dumb person", I didn't have any "dumb" students, this was a lawyer who taught at a law school, he was one of the best "natural" psychics that I have ever met, and had some background in Eastern and Western esotericism, but was too smart and too self assured for his own good. That is just one of the "Stupid Students" anecdotes that I could tell you, most teachers "have a million" of them that they share among themselves. All of that said, I have never stopped thinking about: And how to answer that question, so I have spent the past several years thinking about how I would integrate the last thirty years of study and practice with the previous 20+ which was the basis of my earlier teaching, so that I could actually have an answer for "a guy like me", and have actually made plans to teach again, whether I will act on those plans, and there are people who do want me to do so, remains to be seen. However, this post is long enough already, to say nothing of the time that I put into preparing it, so I will address some of the issues raised here in another post, I hope, in the next day or so. ZYD
  14. In the U.S., there is the program of Jerry Alan Johnson, the beginning of which is described here: The rest of this can be found on Professor Johnson's site: The Temple of the Celestial Cloud Daoist training program As well as information on Professor Johnson's background, training, books and DVDs available, etc. There is a student of his here, qicat, though she has posted about going to China and while she has been on recently may not be available soon. I have the Volumes one to four of Professor Johnson's Medical Qigong texts, the earlier edition not the present one, and all Eight of his primary texts on Daoist magic. They are full of good information, his new books on Chinese Energetic Medicine, if they have material like their predecessors, could probably be used as beginning books in these studies, even by someone with a real aptitude studying on their own. Though most people cannot learn this type of thing without guidance and so self-study is not recommended. ZYD
  15. In Religious Daoism the Primary Gods are the Three Pure Ones, this section from the Wikipedia article is a satisfactory overview: After that it gets significantly more complicated. This is because the Pantheon is a synthesis of Heavenly Master, Shangqing and Lingbao systems, but in terms of the important ritual practices, those related to self-cultivation and internal alchemy it revolves around The Pure Ones and what I like to call The Five Virtuous Emperors, the Emperors who rule the five elements, direction, planets, yin organs and more. These are the principle officers of the Daoist Ritual Dan or Altar and are also part of the Daoist internal practices where the Five Emperors are manifest in the Five Organs and the Three Pure Ones in the Three Dantians. In the body, along with other less important spirits they are meditated upon and dealt with through ritual practices that are both interesting and diverse. Obviously this is a very complex issue and one not easily dealt with in a discussion like this, but insofar as I have time, I will try to explain more. Specific questions could give me some idea of where to go with this, but I cannot guarantee a speedy answer. ZYD