Bruce Qi

taoist books on working with the mind ?

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I have always concentrated on the more energetic side of things as in qigong, and was wondering if there are any books from a Taoist perspective that help with the mind ,  kinda like how the Buddhist path works with non attachment and freeing from desires etc.

 

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I think a place for you to get started might be to take a look at the Neiye. There is a thread here on TDB under Daoist Textual Studies. I think there are a lot of esoteric approaches to this subject but the Neiye seems to be foundational.  From there you would have laid ground work for other studies.

 

Good luck.

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Xin Zhai (Heart-mind fasting) and Zuowang (sitting and forgetting) are the two fundamental ways of working with (stilling) the mind in the Daoist tradition.

 

Unfortunately I don’t have any books to recommend on the subject. They’re both quite subtle and tricky practices to get right.

 

someone else may have a recommended source for these practices.

 

I personally feel that the Dao De Jing is a very good description of Xin Zhai... but it’s a little hard to really understand...

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I go with all the above recommendations. The Chinese word / character in question is  心 (xin),  and ‘mind’  is a somewhat misleading translation.  I recently wrote a little about it here on the Neiye thread. As a supplement to that, here’s the precis of an academic article that gives an excellent overview of xin...... 

 

In China, the word, xin 心 (often translated as ‘heart’) is frequently used and its concept is central to Chinese culture. However, its meaning is not exactly the same as ‘heart’ in English. Using qigong as the context, this article aims to explore the meaning of xin as a cultural keyword in order to gain an in depth understanding of Chinese culture and knowledge within that cultural system. Qigong is a Chinese health maintenance system and healing tradition which integrates physical activity with training of the mind and self-cultivation. One of qigong’s basic components is xin adjustment. It is impossible to convey the full meaning of this concept without understanding the meaning of xin. In Chinese culture, xin is the root of physical and mental life. It is the seat of all emotions, and embodies the inherent goodness of human nature and wisdom. Xin helps to guide the individual’s way of life and attitude, and can lead one to deep contentment.

 

(The full article is at: http://www.academicjournals.org/app/webroot/article/article1379496939_Li et al.pdf )
 

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5 hours ago, Yueya said:

... an academic article that gives an excellent overview of xin ...

 

Thanks for the great article.

 

I was just about to launch myself on a review of selected Chinese terms, including Xin. Very timely.

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2 hours ago, lifeforce said:

Anything by Liu I Ming.

can you recommend any books ?  awakening the tao and the iching are the 2 that come up. is there any more ?

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Liu I-Mings "Cultivating the Tao" translated by Fabrizio Pregadio is a great resource, one of those works which reveals deeper levels of profoundity as you re-read as your practice develops, and while you're at it he released a new anthology of 16 full and part translated Neidan texts a few days ago, which includes another of Liu's works translated into English for the first time.

 

I also found Louis Komjathy's "The Way of Complete Perfection" and Thomas Cleary's "Practical Taoism" and "Secret of the Golden Flower" clear instruction. I posted a newly translated commentary from the 1920's on the golden flower in a new thread several weeks ago which contains a simple key to reveal the 'shining mind' you may find illuminizing. Also one can't go wrong utilising Dr. Glenn Morris' 1-10 brain scrub as an initial method. Cheers

Edited by shazlor
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Those are the 2 by Liu I would recommend and are the only one's I have. There's enough there for a lifetime.

Edited by lifeforce
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10 hours ago, lifeforce said:

Anything by Liu I Ming.

 

Yes, those Thomas Cleary books are excellent for their clarity. I have them all and they’re what first drew me to Daoism almost 30 years ago.  I’d call them foundational books. But now I’m older and hopefully a little wiser. I’ve learnt that these methods are only a small part of the Way. However, that’s certainly not a condemnation of their very real value. They’re solid stepping stones defining a path. My early favourite was Understanding Reality: A Taoist Alchemical Classic. And the one I still actively consult is Cleary’s translation of Lui I-Ming’s Taoist I Ching. That book is a gem.   

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One big book:

 

732-C81-A8-70-E1-487-D-A289-B4-BBB60529-

 

It's what you'll ever need. 

 

Dont fall into the beginner's trap of thinking that you'll gain insight and wisdom by reading books.

 

Good luck! 

 

 

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23 minutes ago, Gerard said:

Dont fall into the beginner's trap of thinking that you'll gain insight and wisdom by reading books.

 

Yes ultimately, nature and real life experiences are our greatest teachers. There has to be real felt emotional engagement with life through personal trial and error. We all must find and walk our own unique paths.  But written teachings can certainly form solid stepping stones along the Way. Books are a great gift for us all.  

Edited by Yueya

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Indeed it is, yet your statement is somewhat misleading; books can and do help one grasp a handle to actualise the concept illustrated in nature, I.E ephemeral clouds dispersing across a fixed shining sky or the alive empty void encompassing a valley. Otherwise for the average, it's a beautiful scenery, capable of inspiring these internal realisations, but often not and serving as a simple pleasure; and "one must not put their shen into pretty mountains and flowers, that's useless."

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This is getting way off topic but I’ll add it anyway as it’s my own experience....

 

Speaking generally, I’d say all following of clearly defined paths is the mark of early / middle practice. For instance, the sort of clarity of practice that modern Neidan books present, such as Damo Mitchell’s excellent works and much of Thomas Cleary’s translations of Lui I-Ming’s work, is an illusion that everyone must work through themselves. They give the illusion that you're in control of the process, not ineffable nature, the mysterious Dao. That’s why the masters can only hint at their truths through paradoxes and cryptic verses. Fortunately, all things being equal, life is long and there’s plenty of time for the sort of personal exploration that slowly deepens insight over many decades. 

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If you practice deep enough you won't need any books...you actually don't even think of them at all. 

 

This is what really goes on in someone who has reached a high level of insight:

 

1. I go with the flow

2. I follow my own path. I don't need to know/I honestly don't care what others' experience or write about. That's their experience, not mine.

 

Let me illustrate it with a real life example:

 

One former Bagua student of our teacher who I just run recently, The first thing he mentioned to me was: hey Gerard about the book "Research of Internal Martial Arts" (the title goes along those lines, can't remember the exact name) do you remember I purchased it last time we met, I said ah yes, books, I actually can't read anymore or watch any TV just deep practice won't let me do it. I have zero interest in reading, practice is what this is all about, the slow opening of the Mind and it's body reflected blockages. The rest means little. Make sure to constantly  fine tune the Y&Y and the 5E and with circle walking and a good diet is all you'll ever need. Not even a teacher especially after having practised over a decade.

 

I don't think he had the wisdom to understand this stuff because his level of attainment is low. I also remember him as someone who puts more effort in reading than making sure he has 'deep carvings' in the soles of his feet due to the constant rubbing of his shoes on the ground's surface. This student won't need books, the other will buy an entire library!!

 

Love this zen saying:

 

"A donkey carrying a pile of holy books is still a donkey."

 

;)

 

 

 

 

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1 minute ago, Gerard said:

If you practice deep enough you won't need any books...you actually don't even think of them at all. 

 

This is what really goes on in someone who has reached a high level of insight:

 

1. I go with the flow

2. I follow my own path. I don't need to know/I honestly don't care what others' experience or write about. That's their experience, not mine.

 

Love this zen saying:  "A donkey carrying a pile of holy books is still a donkey."

 

I agree with this in the middle stages, but early on books inspire, give insight into what you don't know, you don't know.   We can learn which path to follow but a book don't do the walking.   Gerard is also right that we only get better from practice, lots of it.  We Westerners tend to get way too head heavy, I know I did.  Too much reading and theory and too little practice.  Its an easy trap to fall into. 

 

 

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Yes thelearner. My Vipassana teacher in Wat Chom Tong (Thailand) told me this:

 

"Don't read anything in retreat, not even talking to others about your meditation experiences or insight. Only report back to me. This is the way it has been done for over Millenia since the time of the Buddha."

 

This is how I learned in Bagua: circle walking, circle walking, circle walking, circle walking, seated meditation, seated meditation, seated meditation, walking meditation, walking meditation, listening to birds' chirping, listening to birds' chirping, listening to the trees sounds, listening to the trees' sounds, listening to my own breathing, listening to my own breathing...

 

Listen, do, concentrate...no reading!

 

To illustrate this again:

 

https://dhammatalks.net/Books3/Ajahn_Nyanadhammo_Walking_Meditation.pdf

 

It doesn't matter whether it is Buddhism, Taoism, Christian Mysticism or some religion of an human of planet X, Lyra constellation; the principle is the same.

 

-Right Effort

-Right Concentration

-Right Mindfulness

-etc.

 

These three are the most relevant ones in our case.

Edited by Gerard
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11 hours ago, Gerard said:

Yes thelearner. My Vipassana teacher in Wat Chom Tong (Thailand) told me this:

 

"Don't read anything in retreat, not even talking to others about your meditation experiences or insight. Only report back to me. This is the way it has been done for over Millenia since the time of the Buddha."

 

This is how I learned in Bagua: circle walking, circle walking, circle walking, circle walking, seated meditation, seated meditation, seated meditation, walking meditation, walking meditation, listening to birds' chirping, listening to birds' chirping, listening to the trees sounds, listening to the trees' sounds, listening to my own breathing, listening to my own breathing...

 

Listen, do, concentrate...no reading!

 

To illustrate this again:

 

https://dhammatalks.net/Books3/Ajahn_Nyanadhammo_Walking_Meditation.pdf

 

It doesn't matter whether it is Buddhism, Taoism, Christian Mysticism or some religion of an human of planet X, Lyra constellation; the principle is the same.

 

-Right Effort

-Right Concentration

-Right Mindfulness

-etc.

 

These three are the most relevant ones in our case.

 

That is while one is on retreat. Even Vipassana is about the Dharma and knowing the teachings. The lama is an expert on the teachings and the practices.

 

One aspect on learning and reading is to not think you have arrived, to keep practicing, to gain inspiration.

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