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neidan for dummies?

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I'm sure this has been asked before, so please excuse this philosophical Daoist. What is/are the best books on beginning neidan. Or as I titled the thread, is there a neidan for dummies? I've read the Golden Flower, but did so more as a Jungian than a Daoist and got the impression that may not be the best place to start.

 

Any advice would be much appreciated.

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道无经不传,经无师不明

 

"Dao can't be transmitted without the scriptures, scriptures can't be understood without a teacher."

 

  :ph34r:

Edited by YiYinYiYang
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道无经不传,经无师不明

 

"Dao can't be transmitted without the scriptures, scriptures can't be understood without a teacher."

 

  :ph34r:

 

I totally understand what you're getting at, but I have not had the privilege of being able to find a teacher.

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道无经不传,经无师不明

 

 scriptures can't be understood without a teacher."

really? says who?

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It was not personnal. :ph34r:

 

Reading scriptures is far from being a waste of time, it can help to get familiar with the symbolism and give the impulse to go out to find a teacher.

 

The Wang Mu book is a good introduction, and IMO it is better to stay away from the scholars interpretations.

 

Peace.

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really? says who?

Classic sentence on which every Daoist agree whatever the school they belong to.

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Classic sentence on which every Daoist agree whatever the school they belong to.

Hmm it seems you dont know where it comes from and from what historical context. Thats all right not many people know these things;)

 

 

And no, its not a classic sentence. It dates from Tang dynasty long after the origination of Taoism as we know it. It first occured in the text 《道教义枢》  written in the rule of Empress Wu (Wuhou) 武后 proclaiming Zhou Dynasty 周 in 690 (regent 684-690, ruler 690-704) n by a certain 孟安排.

 

Do you know what kind of scriptures he specifically alluded to? Or may be it does not matter? ;)

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道无经不传,经无师不明

 

"Dao can't be transmitted without the scriptures, scriptures can't be understood without a teacher."

 

  :ph34r:

 

I've seen a lot of contention arise over this concept, but haven't seen the principle explained well enough to get the point across to those for whom this is a completely foreign concept.

 

When it comes down to it, the taoist cosmology adheres to set principles. These principles can unfold in infinite ways (different scriptures for different traditions), but if one follows the principles back to the root, the truth emerges.

 

The trouble is, well, that we're all different, and we see things in different ways. There is a mountain, and we're all around it. When we look up at it, the mountain is there, but from countless different perspectives. For some of us the mountain is clearly distinguishable and when we set out to find it we discover a trail that is clearly marked and easy to follow. For others they set out to find the mountain and the trail is faint and difficult to follow. For some of us the mountain is hidden behind a hill and we can only be told of it. This doesn't mean the mountain is out of reach, it just means the direction is unclear, and greater work, greater sincerity must be cultivated in order to pave one's own unique trail through the woods behind the hill, sometimes traveling far and coming upon a hilltop clearing where the mountain appears, only further away than it did the last time.

 

All this talk of teachers who only teach students with destiny is related to this. A teacher can easily share words of clarity, but here it gets tricky. The teachers words become a trail to follow, but often the student can't hear the truth in the words, misses what they are supposed to do, and attaches only to what makes sense to their level of understanding. The student thinks they have a trail to follow, without realizing it is an illusion, and they are content to follow this trail without doing the necessary work to really change inside enough for clarity to emerge. Some teachers will see this, and will do more work in an attempt to help the student find clarity - but the change that happens is then mostly due to the teacher's sincerity, not the student's. If the teacher is not committed to holding the students hand from beginning to end, then at some point the teacher will not be there right when the student takes a wrong turn and walks off a cliff because they don't know how to tell where the sure footing is.

 

Thus I feel that more caring teachers will avoid making promises, and be careful to ensure their students are taking more care to carefully listen and be responsible for doing the work on their own, asking fewer questions of the teacher and focusing inwardly and letting the answer emerge from inside. The teacher may still guide, but does not force clarity to emerge, and is careful to balance the amount of sincerity and discipline provided with the amount of sincerity and discipline brought by the student.

 

Some teachers will simply refuse to teach those who listen to the wrong things, not wishing to lead the student down the wrong path. Thus it is said it is hard to find a good teacher, but even harder to find a good student.

 

I totally understand what you're getting at, but I have not had the privilege of being able to find a teacher.

 

When it comes to destiny, there are many factors, usually related to our pattern and role within the celestial mechanism, which is usually related to our past actions in previous existences. When I grew up I had the blessing to be taught how the ever moving momentum of the planets influences us in subtle ways. When two planets are on opposite sides of the earth, we feel the subtle tug of their spiritual and physical gravities. They are ever changing, and different configurations pull us in subtly different ways. Nothing more than subtle influences, but subtle influences add up over time. Aside from the planets, there are many other subtle changing influences, including our friends and the places where we live. These influences add up to something incredibly specific over time, something that we feel very uniquely, and is as much a part of who we are as our personality is. And different timings, different configurations of subtle influences, yield a more or less clear path to the mountain top.

 

So it is not that only those with "destiny" - those with a clear view of the mountain top - who have the blessings to find a teacher and return to the mountain top. It is simply that those without a clear view will need that much more sincerity to find their way. But those who are able to truly do the work, able to listen to the messages, able to hear the karmic pattern, accept the responsibility for all that happens to them with humility, able to unwaveringly walk toward their goal even as they are able to surrender their ego enough to be able to listen to where their goal actually is with any clarity - these people will become that much stronger, and that much more likely to eventually find their way.

 

There is an old Chinese saying I've read about - Where there is sincerity, the Way is open. When one places their sincerity on the dao, and when it is enough, the way will begin to open, teachers will appear, and one will accomplish their goals.

 

Too, I think it is important to emphasize that the "dao" is the main teacher. When one learns to listen to the dao, and act with the dao, the dao opens. One's dao may lead one to a physical teacher, through whom one can listen to the dao, and learn to come closer to the dao. But also one's dao may lead on to other types of teachers - we should not underestimate the lessons that can be learned from the spiritual world, be they past masters, other highly evolved spirits, and from the whole example set by the celestial mechanism.

 

Blessings to your way.

Edited by Daeluin
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"Neidan for Dummies"?

 

It may be that ALL books on the subject are essentially that.

 

Even the whole practice, in the modern era, could likely be called that.

 

After over 45 years studying and practicing qigong & neigong, I have just only this year begun reading all of these books that have been published, and looking at all the various retreats and workshops people that have sprung up in that time.

 

And even a forum like this one - I never saw something like this, and now I am having fun seeing all of these posts and peoples interested in the subject.

 

Seems good to just read everything and see as much as possible.

 

 

-VonKrankenhaus

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I've seen a lot of contention arise over this concept, but haven't seen the principle explained well enough to get the point across to those for whom this is a completely foreign concept.

 

If the scriptures are considered to contain in a cryptic language the accumulated experience by the past Masters through their practice of Dao, it maybe becomes more easy to understand the reason why it is said that:  "Dao can't be transmitted without the scriptures, scriptures can't be understood without a teacher.

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YiYinYiYang, on 11 Aug 2015 - 22:50, said:snapback.png

道无经不传,经无师不明

 

"Dao can't be transmitted without the scriptures, scriptures can't be understood without a teacher."

 

 

I've seen a lot of contention arise over this concept,

 

The contention arises because the the modern western taoists who use this phrase with gusto do not understand which scriptures are meant here and who exactly are the teachers in this phrase.

 

Which is ironic, given  that the scriptures here are the religious ritual manuals and not the neidan texts, and the teachers here are not the modern qigongers posing as taoists but rather the religious taoist priests.

 

In other words this phrase is about the taoist religion something that the western taoists shun quite vehemently yet they use this religious phrase. The irony is quite rich here. ;)

 

 

Here is how the real Taoists explain this phrase:

 

 

Thus it is important for all Taoists to learn under a master about the scriptures and to experience the Dao

(道无经不传,经无师不明). One may not conduct any Taoist ritual unless taught by a master, because there are many key components of the rituals which are not included inall the scriptures, and these must be taught and imparted by the master. It is a sin for attempting to conduct a Taoist ritual without proper guidance by a Taoist master. The Taoist Federation (Singapore)

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 The same document tells a bit more than what was quoted from it.

 

Taoism cannot be experienced merely through research and reading, but by experiencing it through lifestyle, diet, and imparting of knowledge by the Taoist masters. Taoism is a living religion. It is more than just to know about the Dao (知道), but also to practice the Dao (行道) and to cultivate the Dao (修道). For example if one merely reads the scriptures attempting to understand them, they will not be able to experience it the way priests do through the recitation of the scriptures and singing of the praises during the rituals. To read about carpentry and to be a carpenter are two totally different experiences. The highest belief in Taoism is the Dao preached by Laozi (老子). The Dao is central and the most fundamental in philosophical or religious Taoism. We studied and experienced the wonders of the Dao through the study of numerous Taoist scriptures and also through understanding Taoist Health Preservation Techniques (道教养生术) and the Taoist rituals (道教科仪). The first chapter of the Dao De Jing (道德经) clearly highlighted the importance of existence (有) and void (无), and the understanding of the formless (无形) Dao is the most crucial in learning and experiencing Taoism. The key Taoist teachings and secrets are imparted strictly by master to disciple (口授心传) and are not recorded elsewhere. Thus it is important for all Taoists to learn under a master to learn about the scriptures and to experience the Dao (道无经不传,经无师不明). One may not conduct any Taoist ritual unless taught by a master, because there are many key components of the rituals which are not included in all the scriptures, and these must be taught and imparted by the master. It is a sin for attempting to conduct a Taoist ritual without proper guidance by a Taoist master.

Edited by YiYinYiYang
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The dao that has scriptures and dogma is not the eternal dao...

 

People who use the phrase "Dao can't be transmitted without the scriptures, scriptures can't be understood without a teacher." would do well to understand just how much they are slandering the eternal dao by putting it in a box, hiding the key, and saying "dao can't be found unless..."

 

Those who attempt to discover the eternal dao through the lens of the box called "neidan", or through the lens of another specific box, would do well to understand the nature of these boxes, and how they might have been designed for use. These days we have many people who attempt to take pieces from different boxes and put them together based on what feels right. Those who attach to particular boxes see the resulting confusion and are strict in their judgments. However, what is happening is merely a natural, organic manifestation of the celestial mechanism as we go through a period of time of unprecedented spiritual growth. People are changing inside, and they look around for answers, accepting what comes - this is all based on the principle of heavenly timing.

 

We should also do well to remember that the encoded nature of the box called "neidan" has been somewhat decrypted recently for those who sincerely take the time to study the principles and put them into practice. Yes, people may take longer to discover the root this way, but we would do well to understand the nature of evolution, and to see how many new "boxes" are being created in regards to the art of spiritual development. Even incomplete these "boxes" will help to raise the overall level of spiritual awareness. As human kind in particular becomes more spiritually founded, we can expect to see many spiritual side-paths develop, much confusion, and also much clarity. Even as there will be many who do not discover the root right away, I believe there will develop the potential for many more to discover the eternal dao than before.

 

Attaching to the existing boundaries of boxes is likely futile and creates separation. Instead, we have the potential to emphasize the principles these boxes depend upon, for these principles may be interpreted in many ways without losing their truths. As for the overall system known as "daoism", it has a history of adapting to change and merging with the existing paradigm. Even within the box called "neidan", I've read some very different interpretations of the principles involved from different classics, and believe even the delicate specifics of this system have room for evolution.

 

That said, those who wish to find the root would do well to understand that learning to merge deeper with the root requires a sacrifice of ego, often coming in the form of an external instruction, be it from a master or the dao, that one's ego resists as being too paternalistic. This ego can be very helpful as well, guiding us cautiously and protecting us from teachers who would only bring us harm, but the time will come when we must surrender.

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The contention arises because the the modern western taoists who use this phrase with gusto do not understand which scriptures are meant here and who exactly are the teachers in this phrase.

 

Which is ironic, given  that the scriptures here are the religious ritual manuals and not the neidan texts, and the teachers here are not the modern qigongers posing as taoists but rather the religious taoist priests.

 

In other words this phrase is about the taoist religion something that the western taoists shun quite vehemently yet they use this religious phrase. The irony is quite rich here. ;)

 

 

Here is how the real Taoists explain this phrase:

 

Dao De Jing, is it religious text or neidan text? Obviously it's both. And it's used in rituals, but was written for indoor students... You're seeing distinction where "real Taoists" see the unity.

 

There are some simple things:

 

1) there is only one Daoism, without any distinction to "religious", "philosophical", "practical", "alchemical" etc. This is the teaching of Dao passed down from Huang Di and Lao Zi. 

 

2) Neidan is the core of Daoism, the set of practical principles and methods, how to "attain Dao"

 

3) In its history, the teaching of Dao, Great Dao, has appeared in many forms: secluded hermits, family schools, monastic, external / internal / pair cultivation. They all shared the same methods and principles. That is why it's called Dao, not Buddhism or something else. 

 

4) In its history, different schools has preserved different aspects of the teaching. But to say that Neidan is different from, say,  Zhen Yi rituals is to show one's lack of any understanding. Ritual itself is an important part for _some_ students. Dao is available to everyone.

 

Daoism in the West is a piece of joke usually, but some people are serious, and don't jump to conclusions to prove themselves that Dao can be learn without any teacher, as you constantly do.

 

To say that 道教义枢's phrase is only about "ritual manuals"... Have you really read the text? Then prove your claims by quotes, not by wikipedia )))

Edited by opendao
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The dao that has scriptures and dogma is not the eternal dao...

 

People who use the phrase "Dao can't be transmitted without the scriptures, scriptures can't be understood without a teacher." would do well to understand just how much they are slandering the eternal dao by putting it in a box, hiding the key, and saying "dao can't be found unless..."

 

to make such remarks, I would suggest you to find Dao first...

 

Eternal Dao cannot be found unless you find a teacher, understand scriptures and practise until you attain Dao.

 

Long discourses about ego and freedom lead to nowhere. We must limit our ego in a "school box", or we get nothing. For modern "liberal" world it sounds unacceptable, but it is the ONLY way, according to those who finally found the Dao.

 

Wandering without directions being "an intellectual hobo" (or bum, haha) is just a way to waste time and play the fool, pretending to be a "real taoist"...

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I'm sure this has been asked before, so please excuse this philosophical Daoist. What is/are the best books on beginning neidan. Or as I titled the thread, is there a neidan for dummies? I've read the Golden Flower, but did so more as a Jungian than a Daoist and got the impression that may not be the best place to start.

 

Any advice would be much appreciated.

 

Read Dao De Jing. Better in Chinese, or with a parallel text. It's not the fastest way, but it will help you to feel the reality of Neidan, and, if you like it, will lead you to a teacher. But read it with an open heart, not only with the mind.

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Eternal Dao cannot be found unless you find a teacher, understand scriptures and practise until you attain Dao.

 

So do you think Laozi and Buddha found the dao this way? Or is the dao that Buddha found not the eternal dao? I'm not sure how one could presume to know such things.

 

Nor am I disagreeing - I'm saying that with sincerity, the right teachers will appear along one's way. That's how it was with me. Sometimes too many teachers appear, unasked for, and that is trouble too. I'm just pointing out that boxes contain contrivances that don't work for everyone, so saying that everyone must find the eternal dao in one way only is a form of slandering the eternal dao.

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. Sometimes too many teachers appear, unasked for,

all the time lately ;)

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So do you think Laozi and Buddha found the dao this way? Or is the dao that Buddha found not the eternal dao? I'm not sure how one could presume to know such things.

 

the tradition explains clearly how Lao Zi and Buddha have attained the Great Dao, you can read it even in the Secret of Golden Flower, I recall it's one of the books you learnt from.

 

It has no sense to compare you or me with them, trying to repeat their ways (if we could we wouldn't discuss it here). The world has changed since that time, people are different as well. Wenshi has started the tradition of Dao scriptures, obviously the teaching has worked before him, but sages were developing the teaching according to people. So I think it has more sense to listen to teachers who has attained Dao recently.

Edited by opendao
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Thank you all for responses.  I did not mean to start a fight.  If the somewhat haphazard way I asked the question contributed to the conflict, I am sorry.  I was and am just curious about where to start when one is trying to navigate the different manuals on neidan that exist. 

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