Sign in to follow this  

365 Tao by Deng Ming-Dao

Recommended Posts

I just received this book as a gift. I've read the intro and just one page (I would like to read a page/meditation once a day)


I just wondered if anybody else has this book and what they think!

  • Like 1

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I've had it since probably 1997 or -8. It was like my second bible back then, after the DDJ itself. I think it's very lovely and a very positive addition to the "western canon" of Daoist writings.


How does it make you feel, rara? That's the important thing. And honestly, it may have been a better idea to first settle in with the book/calandar before asking for opinions on it.


Because... wait for the critics to show up.

  • Like 3

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I've had it since probably 1997 or -8. It was like my second bible back then, after the DDJ itself. I think it's very lovely and a very positive addition to the "western canon" of Daoist writings.


How does it make you feel, rara? That's the important thing. And honestly, it may have been a better idea to first settle in with the book/calandar before asking for opinions on it.


Because... wait for the critics to show up.

From what I've read of the intro, my first impression was that it's nice and sincere - conscious of translation of ideas to not be misleading :) I like.


And yes, you're right...I'm hasty. Like a kid with a new toy, I just gotta talk about it!

  • Like 1

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

We can pin the topic if you want to actually log your thoughts and get comments on each one :)

  • Like 1

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Whatever the critics might have to say, he has a profound and vast knowledge of Daoist culture with a beautiful way of transferring it in writing. For this reason, every one of his books is a treasure.

  • Like 3

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

We can pin the topic if you want to actually log your thoughts and get comments on each one :)

Haha thanks, but I don't think I will be able to keep up!

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

if you like daoist meditation, you really ought to learn classical chinese and read the classics.

getting the spirit of the thing in english is quite difficult unless you are either a total genius or have an awesome teacher.


I couldn't agree more. I've been participating in studies of Zhuangzi on this forum and have learnt so much this year about how semantics make a very big difference in what is actually being portrayed. And if translations differ, what are the chances that anyone with just the English translations have got an accurate grasp on the lessons?


Hopefully one day I will, but for now, having access to this, TTC, Zhuangzi, Art of War (all English translations) and Tao of Pooh is serving me well. Chi Dragon on this forum has helped me out quite a lot with things that I may be misinterpreting from my English translations :)

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

translating zhuangzi is not a big problem since he does things in story format and everything is parable based.

ddj is impossible to translate accurately because of meaning variation in characters, but this can be helped because there are many different styles of translation available on the market- so if you just pick up any random ten copies of ddj you can get the basic idea of how the thing works.

once you get into neidan works like xingming guizhi, no chance. too complicated.

I've been reading the first chapter of dao de jing chan wei for almost a year now.

if you want it, you really have to be willing to put in some effort.

  • Like 1

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Deng & Blofield works. Is it ethical?



The first post in that thread



Posted 22 March 2013 - 07:27 AM

After my recent trip on a fruitless search for the Tao in the lake gardens, street side restaurants and mountains around Taiping, I needed some rest at home.


My fingers did some walking and I stumbled onto the old Usenet Alt.Philosophy.Taoism where I had roamed about as the Idiotic Taoist.


I came across a very long piece that I wrote in about 1996.  Which might still be fascinating reading for those interested in the Path of Tao even if we still have not even come close to agreeing what is the Tao about and what is Taoism or even what a Taoist is.





This was posted into apt around end Oct 1996.

Instead of fiddling around with my floppies, I use Dejanews and

managed to locate these letters once more.

Jester ahem!  As I have said, I have been in this place before and not

just for a day.


Deng Ming Dao's Chronicles have sections which are so similar to other

really noted Taoist writers.

It is unfortunate that my library  is not with me right now and I

cannot check and quote the other corresponding parts from them.

However, I do have a couple of John Blofeld books (first written by

him in 1960 or earlier) with me.

There are two letters following this posting.

The first letter contains a section from Mr Blofeld book.

The next letter contains excerpts from Deng Chronicles which looked

grotesquely similar to Mr Blofeld.  That next letter also contains

portions from Deng so strange that you best read them for yourself.

This is not the first time that these letters were posted here.

However, entities unknown to me have gone and deleted them soon after

their posting.

Warmest regards


The Idiotic Taoist



This was originally posted on the Tao-List sometime back in Mar 96.  


I just finished reading 'Chronicles of TAO' by Deng Ming Dao.

It was supposedly the story of Deng's Taoist master Kwan Saihung,

tracing the education, martial arts and spiritual, he had in China Hua

Shan to the time he crossed over to America.  After all those years of

real martial arts experience, Kwan then went on to 'learn' boxing

eventually taking part in the Golden Gloves.  The absurdity that after

training in many forms of the highest martial arts he was badly beaten

when he tried boxing for the first time even though the book went on

to make Kwan the 'winner' after due training.( I remembered my boxing

for the first time with gloves when I was in the Army with  my even

more limited background in karate/kungfu  without

any trouble).

Not too long into that book, it was easy enough from the

inconsistencies that it was more a novel rather than a true story that

it made itself out to be.  There were far too many instances of

'americanised' behaviour and thinking, typical of that make belief of

David Carradine's Shaolin temple fantasy to make that book believable.

There were certain parts which were true, but again, while 'Lobsang

Rampa' books  also did have some truth it, it sure does not make those

books true or that the monk 'Lobsang Rampa' truly exists in the past

now residing as a 'spirit' in an Englishman.

I guess that people being people, the only point that really matters

is the 'angle' they can get in making of money, and in this 'New Age',

Taoism is as good as any an angle to make money.

What bothers me is that in their making that kind of money, they had

no qualms in spinning tales that may well mislead others really

searching for the way.

Further more, tales need not be spun as the truth is often stranger

than fiction.

There are also parts of Deng's Chronicles that bears very great

similarity to other books written by noted authors written many many

years ago.

Perhaps it may be that great minds do think alike, but on the other

hand, some authors need to be 'inspired' by other writers even to the

following of their mannerisms and phrasing of words.

 I am appending below an extract from John Blofeld's book 'Taoism, the

road to Immortality'.  Mr Blofeld have spend many years in China and

travelled and stayed at many Taoist temples in the past before

Communism came.  I rather believe in Mr Blofeld account of a Taoist

recluse rather than that of Deng Ming Dao.

My apologies to those who have read Blofeld books, but this is meant

for those who have not read it yet.


(In Blofeld's  words)

This final story of immortals is very different from the others, being

no legend but a factual account of the attainment of immortality in

the true Taoist sense of that word.  I hear it years ago from a Taoist

of Mount Heng and, though I cannot recall the actual examples he gave

me of the 'double talk' with which Taoists clothe their secrets, I can

vouch for the closeness of my version to the original in spirit if not

in detail.  The recluse who relate the story, told me that he was a

'third generation spiritual descendent' of the White Heron Immortal.

In the reign of the Hsien Feng Emperor(1851-62), there lived on the

slopes of Mount Heng a recluse known as the Narrow-Waisted_Gourd

Immortal, more commonly called Hulu Weng, the Gourd Ancient One, or it

may have been Hu Lao-weng which has the same meaning.  Besides a few

middle-aged disciples, he was attended by two children who were

supposed to be boys, though some said they were his granddaughters,

the offspring of a son conceived before he retured from the world of

dust.   Strangers coming to pay their respects were invariably

received by one of these children, who had some skill in

distinguishing false from real.  Those whom the children reported to

be unlike followers of the Way were generally told that the Immortal,

being deep in meditation, might not be able to receive them for

several days to come.  If, however, these guests persisted and asked

that lodging be provided until such a time as the Immortal found it

convenient to bestow some of his precious time on them, than coolness

vanished and they were made welcome.  Perhaps their desire would be

fulfilled that very evening, the Immortal suddenly emerging from his

inner chamber, crying:"Well,well.  How may an old and ignorant fellow

serve Your Honours?'

One day there arrived from the capital a scholar surnamed Pai who, at

the age of 30, was already a little stooped and short-sighted from too

much study of the Confucian classics.  He seemed at once distraught

and impatient, so it was just as well that the little girls reported

favourably on the state of his heart and mind.  Upon coming into the

Immortal's presence, he was with difficulty restrained from kneeling

and knocking his head on the floor as before a Confucian dignitary.

"I come to Your Immortality", he cried, "as a very last resort.

Either you must show me the face of truth or I shall dispatch myself

here and now to the yello springs with the help of my silken girdle.

All my life I have been searching for truth, pouring over the

classics, listening to so-called sages in vain and cultivating the

company of eminent Confucian scholars.  A brilliant offical

career lay before me until, all of a sudden, I realised that all that

talk of benevolence, filial piety and propriety is so much claptrap!

What li[propriety] conveivably have to do with the Great Way?  Does

cultivating the Tao require that we walk or bow in this way or that?

Of course not! Your Immortality must help me to make up quickly for

wasting my whole life upon such nonsense!"

Impressed by his sincerity, the Gourd Immortal invited his official to

stay for a while and receive 'such poor teaching as an ignorant old

fellow has to give'.  Pai was delighted , but the next day a horrible

disappointment awaited him, for the Immortal spoke to him in terms

that seemed utterly at variance with his own conceptions of sagehood

and wisdom.  This was the substance of Hulu Weng's first lesson to the

bewildered scholar:

"I cannot describe to you the indescribable, but I can teach you

several by no means inconsiderable arts - invisibility, flying without

wings, invulnerability to sword or serpent's fang - you know the kind

of thing.  

Here, then, is your syllabus of study.  Seeking the Mysterious Portal,

you must first provide yourself with the wherewithal to bribe the

gurads and render yourself invisible that you may slip through

unnoticed.  That sort of thing is not to be mastered in a day.  Next

you will have to learn how to fly thence to the courts of heaven, make

your way to the central chamber, surprise Lord Lao[Lao-tze] at

breakfast, snatch up his flask of golden elixir, slay those who will

come running in to rescue it, break down the walls of the sky-castle

and return to earth an immortal!  A man of your determination has but

to follow my course of instruction to be certain of sucess."

Hoping with all his heart that the Immortal was just having a little

joke at his expense, Pai gazed at him earnestly, trying to read his

expression. Alas, his face was calm and solemn, and his eyes shone

with an unearthly lustre that made Pai wonder if he were not dealing

with a dangerous fanatic.  Had he travelled post-haste from the

capital, scarcely dismounting for weeks on end, forgetful of food and

sleep, merely to be told the kind of nonsense that any child can find

for himself in the sort of books he borrows from servants without

letting his parents know?  The thought was intolerable. The next day,

long before dawn, he rose and packed his few belongings

meaning to slip away without having to make embarassing excuses.  He

was tying up his bundle when one of the little girls came in with a

pot of tea. Seeing how things were, she smiled and said:  "Please,

Uncle, do not leave us son soon.  If you do, I shall get the blame for

not looking after you properly.  You would not like that to happen,

would you, Uncle?  I know why you are angry.  The Immortal said

something you did not like, isn't it so?

Have you heard of mountain divinities pretending to be horrible

re-toungued demons just to test the pilgrims' courage?  You wouldn't

be taken in would you, Uncle?"

Rather than cause trouble for the friendly child, Pai decided to delay

his departure for a few days, since it would be quite impossible to

admit the true cause of his wanting to leave.  Meanwhile the lessons

continued arousing such interest that the few days became many and, in

the end, Pai never left the hermitage again, staying there in all for

some seventy or eighty years!

Since a prerequisite for flying without wings is weightlessness, the

first lessons were directed as 'trhowing things away'.  Unlike many

others, Pai had discarded greed and ambition before coming to the

mountain, but he still had cumbersome baggage to be disposed of -

excessive ardour, for example, over-eagerness to succeed and over

anxiety lest he fail.  He was taught to lose all sense of hurry, to

subdue his tendecy to strain.  He had to learn to let limslef to be

borne along like a floating cloud on the chi of heaven.

Simultaneously, he set himself to acquire the art of invisibility.

For this, stillness was required and the capacity to be as unobtrusive

as a lizard on a branch, mingling with the pilgrims who came on

festival days - there, yet unnoticed.

The bribe to be offered to the guardians of the Mysterious Portal

turned out to be a vow that, if the golden elixir were won, Pai would

not depart into final bliss before founding and nursing a line of

disciples capable of passing on the recipe for immortality to future

generations.  As to the Portal itself, he learnt that it stands in a

region known as the Precious Square Inch lying just behind the

mid-point between the eyes.There came a day when he could at any time

behold the rays of heavenly light that are forever streaming through

this gate but remain invisible until the adept has learnt how to

develop his inner seeing.  Learning to fly proved the longest

and most ardous task, requiring that his physical endowments - semen

and subtle essence, breath and blended personal and cosmic vitality,

spirit both personal and cosmic - be transmuted into a spirit-body

able to soar, during meditation, beyond the stars.  Entering the

courts of heaven meant achieving at will a state of ecstatic trance.

Passing into the central chamber was the fruit of a yoga for drawing

up the final product of blended essence,  vitality and spirit from the

region below the heart to the ni wan cavity just below the top of the

skull; snatching the golden elixir from Lord Lao meant causing the

perfected elixir to descend (and reascend) the central pschic channel

running between the pelvis and the ni wan.  Slaying the guardians was

a term for countering the illusory ego's final struggles to retain the

recognition hitherto given to it as an individual entity.

Breaking down the walls was the supreme act, destruction of the last

barriers between the adept's being and the Source of Being, so as to

attain immortality in the true and only meaningful sense of those

words.  It signified in fact, 'return to the Source', the be all and

end all of Taoist endeavour, of cultivation of the Way!

The former Confucian scholar, having by devoted labour and with the

unstinted help of his teacher attained to immortal state within a mere

decade of his distraught arrival, was destined to make the Gourd

Immortal's hermitage his permanent home.  Its former owner, before

'soaring among the stars on the back of a dragon', confirmed Pai as

his spiritual successor. Pupils of Pai's pupils were still to be found

there in the 1930s and it was probably their pupils who were truned

when the red tide reached Mount Heng around 1950!


Warmest regards


The Idiotic Taoist



2nd letter

Continuation of my earlier letters on this Deng's Chronicles


You recalled two weeks ago when I typed out the piece by John Blofeld,

I said it was to cleanse my soul after reading the Chronicles of Tao

purportedly the story of the Taoist Master that Deng Ming Dao claimed

was his master.

I know I have hurt some of the people in this list who thought highly

of Deng when I wrote what I wrote with my 'heart-mind' and not being

very explicit why I felt such a way.

That piece by Blofeld was a 'finger pointing to the moon' as I thought

that it would immediatly be clear when I downloaded that work of


Perhaps people have not read that 'Chronicles' or have forgotten what

they read and remembered only a warm glow when Deng's name was


I now write with my 'logical-mind'.  In case Deng whipped up another

book or maybe set up a 'Temple of Immortal Tao' for his master and

pass the hat for donations.

Deng's Chronicles, have been so full of inconsistencies in martial

arts (Shaolin based martial arts taught in Wudang Mountains???)that it

is really a sick joke and can be treated as a D grade pulp fiction

novel.  The masters Kwan Sai Hung claimed he learned under like the

Taiji MASTER Yang Chengfu died in 1936, at the time Kwan claimed he

was learning Shaolin style martial arts.  Same for other MASTERS that

were listed such as Chen Weiming, Sun Lutang Hsingyi/Pakua and Zhang

Zhaodong of pakua.  After all those listed Inner Martial Arts  masters

Kwan 'trained' under (introduction page 2), the rest of the book talks

on Shaolin martial arts he trained under instead.

I did not even comment on the miraculous travels Kwan made even with

his uncle.  In his Deng's words


Chronicles page 329

He eased the tension of the two Taoists' deaths by wandering.

Accompanying an uncle who was a wealthy fur trader, or going alone by

bicycle, he toured Germany, France, and Eastern Europe, even though

World War II was in progress.  He found charm and beauty wherever he

went, and had taken sentimental likings to the Black Forest, bridges

over the Danube, the sound of Chopin.  He loved to stay in alpine

villages and appreciated the hospitality that people proffererd even

to strangers.  Though the land had been devastated, he took it all in,

and the enchantment of a foreign land was mixed with enthusiasm of his

youth.  For a time, he had even wanted to move to Europe, but his only

friends were members of a dying aristocracy.  They could offer him no



I am not sure fur will be traded in those part of the world during WW


You all judge the possibility of one/two Chinese travelling merrily in

Germany, France and Eastern Europe during the WW II staying in Black

Forest and all that stuff above.

And the second last sentence?...I checked it and typed like it is in

the book.  I only can conclude that portion was 'inspired' from

something else he read without too much understanding.

What blew my fuse is below.

As written by Deng in his 'Chronicles of Tao', page 296/297.


In the midafternoon, Slender Gourd took him to a shaded corner of the

broken-down, weed-invaded courtyard.

"My brother and I will both teach you," he said.  "I will first

outline the method of cultivating the Way."

"Let me complete what I began last night.  You must seek the

Mysterious Portal.  But it is guarded.  You must have an offering to

first bribe the guards and then the ability to be invisible so that

you may slip through unnoticed.  With these preparations, you must

then learn to fly to heaven,  surprise Lao Tzu in his chambers, snatch

up the flask of golden elixir, slay  the defenders, break down the

palace walls, and return to earth an immortal!"

"This is like the opera 'Monkey Makes Havoc in Heaven' commented

Saihung.  {Comment -  that episode referred to, of the Monkey God Sung

Wu Kung is nothing at all like what is written}

"Yes, but this is no opera," said the master severely.  "sit down and

listen to me.  The first thing is the bribe for the guards."

"What is that?"

"Gold and jewels do not move the demon generals.  It is the human

spirit. Your bribe is a vow that should you attain the golden elixir

that will liberate you from this earthly plane, you shall not depart

into the infinite before teaching others and continuing the lineage."

"I promise.  Iwill do everything I can to walk the holy path," said

Saihung." Master, i will do anything to succeed."

"Not so fast," cautioned Slender Gourd.  "You are obviously a man of

determination, but you must maintain a certain perspective.  For this

brings up the question of flying.  Flying means weightlessness.  Such

lightness means shedding weight.  Your emotional burden is

overeagerness to succeed and anxiety about failing.  Gain and loss are

not to be taken to heart.  You must leave these attitudes behind.  Do

you understand?"

"Yes, Master."

"Invisibility, as you said last night, signifies stillness in

mediation. With it, you can slip through the Mysterious Portal.  This

gateway is in the region known as the Precious Square Inch in the

center of the head at eyebrow level.  It is through this gateway that

you will someday glimpse the divin light that is always there.  When

you can unify semen, breath, and spirit, you will soar to heaven -

that is to say that you raise this essence to the Mysterious Portal.

Snatching the golden elixir means thatyour channels are now open and

that your energy breaches the Mysterious Portal.  But at that final

stage, the guardians will appear, and you will have to slay them."


Forgive me for not continuing on with the rest of what Deng have


I believe you all will agree that it is a very very remarkable

similarity to that of Blofeld and his conversations with the Taoist

master when Blofeld travelled in China in the 1930s.(If any newbies

missed out on those  letters I send 2 weeks ago, I will be happy to

send it if you drop me a line)

Deng even put in that not_so_stupid sentence ' "This is like the opera

'Monkey Makes Havoc in Heaven' commented Saihung.'

I can only conclude that he is not satisfied with 'lifting' that part,

that sentence was to innuendo that his story shared 'common origin'

with that of Blofeld, in case you may happen to have read John

Blofeld.  And unless you happened to know Chinese classics well and

know that there is no such thing in the Monkey Makes Havoc that Deng

elude to, Deng would have succeeded in what he set out to do, using

'inspired' writings of other works to 'prop' up his story of his


I have not read and have no reason to read his '365 Tao'.

I know people who read it said it was good.  But given his

'Chronicles', I can only assume that the 'good' in the 365 Tao must

have shared remarkable similarity with other good Taoist books.  And

instead of reading about them through Deng, I rather read those books

directly instead.

Your comments are most welcomed.


Warmest regards


The Idiotic Taoist




Your Idiot on the Path




  • Like 3

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I read 365 Tao daily, and would be interested in a companion reader(s) who would like to comment on the page for the day. Comments on how one apply's it to their life.



  • Like 1

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this