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  1. Foundations of Internal Alchemy Wang Mu book

    In defense of Wang Mu (and of your explanation) I can say that this is more or less the same proportion you find in the original Neidan texts in the Taoist Canon.
  2. Interview with Fabrizio Pregadio

    As far as I know, "breathing like a turtle" denotes a quality of breathing rather than a particular practice. It is equivalent to the "breathing of the spirit" (shenxi 神息) and is said to occur in the "crane's womb" (hetai 鶴胎). It is a very deep and thorough type of breathing, and in this sense is equivalent to "breathing through the heels". There is a short entry entitled "Breathing Like a Turtle in the Crane's Womb" in Liu Yiming's Wudao lu (translated by Cleary as Awakening to the Dao, which I don't have with me right now). Essentially, he says that this expression means the harmonization of breath and spirit. This expression seems to have been used first by Ma Danyang. Later, it was also used by Chen Zhixu, who adds: "Breathing like a turtle, breathing through the heels, and breathing of the spirit have different names, but function in the same way" (Jindan dayao). Anyway, you should expect differences of terminology among different authors/masters/traditions of Neidan. FP
  3. Critical issues in Taoist alchemy

    Just wanted to add that my translation of the Cantong qi has finally been published: Fabrizio Pregadio The Seal of the Unity of the Three: A Study and Translation of the Cantong qi, the Source of the Taoist Way of the Golden Elixir Golden Elixir Press, 2011 http://www.goldenelixir.com/press/trl_02_ctq.html
  4. Critical issues in Taoist alchemy

    1. Jindan jinbi qiantong jue 金丹金碧潛通訣 (Instructions on Gold and Jade for Piercing the Unseen by the Golden Elixir), in Yunji qiqian 雲笈七籤, chapter 73. You can find it here and in many other websites. 2. Longhu jing 龍虎經 (Book of the Dragon and Tiger). There are two editions of this text in the Taoist Canon, with two different commentaries. You can read them here and here.
  5. Critical issues in Taoist alchemy

    Well, in Neidan there is a lot talk about 愚 "foolishness", but the "fools" in general are those who devote themselves to other practices, not just those who do not have 证 "proof". Anyway, more importantly, it seems to me that the issue is not only, as you say, "scholastic talk vs practical, proven results". If you look carefully, most Neidan texts are "scholastic talk", including (for example, and with no criticism) those of your "ancestral masters" Wu Shouyang and Liu Huayang, who obviously had "proven results". Certainly the main points are not found in texts, and everybody knows this. But it seems to me that you should allow for broader definition of "talk" and of "results". I mean, results essentially affect the same core point of one's being, but manifest themselves in different ways, according to one's individuality. Once results are attained, some people may like to "talk", but then their "talk" is not necessarily scholastic in the negative sense of the term. If they choose to "talk", it essentially has to do with their Ming 命. How many Zhuangzi's have existed in China? Really many, for sure. But we will never know them, only because they didn't write a book. We know Zhuangzi just because he liked to write, he mastered writing, and he "talked" through his writing on the basis of his "results". That was his Ming 命.
  6. Critical issues in Taoist alchemy

    I agree that the difference is subtle, but I understand zheng 证 as "attest, witness" rather than "prove". Let me give you a stupid example of what I mean. Someone practices Neidan (or anything else) according to the teachings of Master XYZ. At some point, he/she experiences something that XYZ had taught. Proof: "Ah, what Master XYZ said was true!" Attestation: "Ah, this is what Master XYZ said!" There is no question of proving that XYZ's "theory" was correct. It's only a matter of personally verifying XYZ's "teaching". This is what I meant when I said that in Neidan (and Taoism, and other traditional doctrines) there is no place for "theory".
  7. Critical issues in Taoist alchemy

    Little1, thanks for raising this issue. I always found it curious that in the West we have this idea of theory vs. practice. As if in Taoism, or in Neidan, there is a "theory" that should be proved, and the "practice" is the proof. The theory/practice issue is a thoroughly Western idea. A theory needs to be proved, and if the practice does not prove the theory, then the theory is changed. This is, very roughly, how Western sciences function. This idea of "theory" is not a concern at all in Taoism -- in fact, the concept of "theory" does not even seem to exist. Now that it's possible to search almost the whole Taoist Canon (at www.ctcwri.idv.tw), I tried some time ago to search for lilun 理論, the Chinese word for "theory". I was surprised to see that this word appears only 15 times or so in the Canon. And when it does appear, it does not mean "theory", but "discourse (or essay) on the principles". The closest word to "theory" in Taoism seems to be jiao 教, "teaching" or "doctrine". And certainly there can't be any "teaching/doctrine vs. practice" issue. In fact, the Taoist perspective is the opposite of the Western perspective: what is subject to change is not the doctrine, but the "practice". Is there anyone who can comment on this, and help me clarify my views?
  8. Critical issues in Taoist alchemy

    Could you please clarify what is your issue with these words? Just in order to understand whether this discussion is useful.
  9. Critical issues in Taoist alchemy

    Everything clear now.
  10. Critical issues in Taoist alchemy

    The Cantong qi sentence is fangyuan jing cun 方圓徑寸. Yours is a translation of jing cun 徑寸 only. I really don't understand why you don't want to translate fangyuan 方圓 (which here of course cannot mean "circumference"). Well, it doesn't matter. What is interesting is that this sentence derives from the Book of the Yellow Court (Huangting jing, a meditation text), where the similar sentence "square and round, one inch is its size" (方圓一寸) refers to the upper Cinnabar Field. In the Cantong qi, instead, it refers to the Elixir. "Square and round" (fangyuan) are said to refer to Earth and Heaven, respectively, and the "one inch" of its size to their being joined as one. (This, again, is not my invention.)
  11. Critical issues in Taoist alchemy

    The only Cantong qi sentence that uses 方圓 is this: 方圓徑寸. There is no "measure of distance". How would you translate it? Please let us not lose track of the title of this topic, "Critical issues in Taoist alchemy". I am asking the question above only because, although of course I cannot guarantee that Liu Yiming did not have "preconceived assumptions", I would wait a few seconds before speaking in that way.
  12. Critical issues in Taoist alchemy

    Fangyuan 方圆 means "circumference" in the modern language, but fang 方 "square" and yuan 圆 "round" are two attributes of Earth and Heaven, respectively, mentioned in innumerable texts.