Make your own free website on
Lao Tzu tr DC Lau


The way that can be spoken of
Is not the constant way;
The name that can be named
Is not the constant name.
The nameless was the beginning of heaven and earth;
The named was the mother of the myriad creatures.
Hence always rid yourself of desires in order to observe its secrets;
But always allow yourself to have desires in order to observe its manifestations.
These two are the same
But diverge in name as they issue forth.
Being the same they are called mysteries,
Mystery upon mystery -
The gateway of the manifold secrets.

Not to honour men of worth will keep the people from contention; not to value goods which are hard to come by will keep them from theft; not to display what is desirable will keep them from being unsettled of mind.

Therefore in governing the people, the sage empties their minds but fills their bellies, weakens their wills but strengthens their bones. He always keeps them innocent of knowledge and free from desire, and ensures that the clever never dare to act.

Do that which consists in taking no action, and order will prevail.


The spirit of the valley never dies.
This is called the mysterious female.
The gateway of the mysterious female
Is called the root of heaven and earth.
Dimly visible, it seems as if it were there,
Yet use will never drain it.
Exterminate the sage, discard the wise,
And the people will benefit a hundredfold;
Exterminate benevolence, discard rectitude,
And the people will again be filial;
Exterminate ingenuity, discard profit,
And there will be no more thieves and bandits.
These three, being false adornments, are not enough
And the people must have something to which they can attach themselves:
Exhibit the unadorned and embrace the uncarved block,
Have little thought of self and as few desires as possible.
The way never acts yet nothing is left undone.
Should lords and princes be ale to hold fast to it,
The myriad creatures will be transformed of their own accord.
After they are transformed, should desire raise its head,
I shall press it down with the weight of the nameless uncarved block.
The nameless uncarved block
Is but freedom from desire,
And if I cease to desire and remain still,
The empire will be at peace of its own accord.
A tree that can fill the span of a man's arms
Grows from a downy tip;
A terrace nine storeys high
Rises from hodfuls of earth;
A journey of a thousand miles
Starts from beneath one's feet.
Whoever does anything to it will ruin it; whoever lays hold of it will lose it.
Therefore the sage desires not to desire
And does not value goods which are hard to came by;
Learns to be without learning
And makes good the mistakes of the multitude
In order to help the myriad creatures to be natural and to refrain from daring to act.

Chaung Tzu tr Burton Watson

Chapter 2

Tzu-ch'i of South Wall sat leaning on his armrest, staring up at the sky and breathing - vacant and far away, as though he'd lost his companion. Yen Ch'eng Tzu-yu, who was standing by his side in attendance, said, "What is this? Can you really make the body like a withered tree and the mind like dead ashes? The man leaning on the armrest now is not the one who leaned on it before!"

Tzu-ch'i said, "You do well to ask the question, Yen. Now I have lost myself. Do you understand that? You hear the piping of men, but you haven't heard the piping of earth. Or if you've heard the piping of earth, you haven't heard the piping of Heaven!"

Tzu-yu said, "May I venture to ask what this means?"

Tzu-ch'i said, "The Great Clod belches out breath and its name is wind. So long as it doesn't come forth, nothing happens. But when it does, then ten thousand hollows begin crying wildly. Can't you hear them, long drawn out? In the mountain forests that lash and sway, there are huge trees a hundred spans around with hollows and openings like noses, like mouths, like ears, like jugs, like cups, like mortars, like rifts, like ruts. They roar like waves, whistle like arrows, screech, gasp, cry, wail, moan, and howl, those in the lead calling out yeee!, those behind calling out yuuu! In a gentle breeze they answer faintly, but in a full gale the chorus is gigantic. And when the fierce wind has passed on, then all the hollows are empty again. Have you never seen the tossing and trembling that goes on?

Joy, anger, grief, delight, worry, regret, fickleness, inflexibility, modesty, willfulness, candor, insolence - music from empty holes, mushrooms springing up in dampness, day and night replacing each other before us, and no one knows where they sprout from. Let it be! Let it be! [It is enough that] morning and evening we have them, and they are the means by which we live. Without them we would not exist; without us they would have nothing to take hold of. This comes close to the matter. But I do not know what makes them the way they are. It would seem as though they have some True Master, and yet I find no trace of him. He can act - that is certain. Yet I cannot see his form. He has identity but no form.

Chapter 6

Suddenly Master Lai grew ill. Gasping and wheezing, he lay at the point of death. His wife and children gathered round in a circle and began to cry. Master Li, who had come to ask how he was, said, "Shoo! Get back! Don't disturb the process of change!"

Then he leaned against the doorway and talked to Master Lai. "How marvelous the Creator is! What is he going to make out of you next? Where is he going to send you? Will he make you into a rat's liver? Will he make you into a bug's arm?"

Master Lai said, "A child, obeying his father and mother, goes wherever he is told, east or west, south or north. And the yin and yang - how much more are they to a man than father of mother! Now that they have brought me to the verge of death, if I should refuse to obey them, how perverse I would be! What fault is it of theirs? The Great Clod burdens me with form, labors me with life, eases me in old age, and rests me in death. So if I think well of my life, for the same reason I must think well of my death. When a skilled smith is casting metal, if the metal should leap up and say, 'I insist upon being made into a Mo-yeh!' he would surely regard it as very inauspicious metal indeed. Now, having had the audacity to take on human form once, if I should say, 'I don't want to be anything but a man! Nothing but a man!', the Creator would surely regard me as a most inauspicious sort of person. So now I think of heaven and earth as a great furnace, and the Creator as a skilled smith. Where could he send me that would not be all right? I will go off to sleep peacefully, and then with a start I will wake up."

Chapter 7

The emperor of the South Sea was called Shu [Brief], the emperor of the North Sea was called Hu [Sudden], and the emperor of the central region was called Hun-tun [Chaos]. Shu and Hu from time to time came together for a meeting in the territory of Hun-tun, and Hun-tun treated them very generously. Shu and Hu discussed how they could repay his kindness. "All men," they said, "have openings so they can see, hear, eat, and breathe. But Hun-tun alone doesn't have any. Let's try boring him some!"

Every day they bored another hole, and on the seventh day Hun-tun died.

Taoist Experience ed Livia Kohn

Section 8

The gods, as much as the lands of the immortals, are part of the pure realm of the Tao. Next in rank after the highest deities of the religion, who themselves are none other than the Tao - the Heavenly Venerable of Primordial Beginning, the Lord of the Tao, the Highest Venerable Lord - are the pure representatives of yin and yang. Divided according to the system of the five agents into male and female, east and west, wood and metal, light and dark, up and down, they are embodied in two deities: the Lord King of the East and the Queen Mother of the West.

The pair developed first in the Han dynasty (206 BCE - 220 CE), when the system of the five agents became the general basis for Chinese thought. While the Queen Mother was known as a powerful deity before, associated with fanciful lands and a rather strange, tiger-like appearance, the Lord King developed as her counterpart to fit the overall system.

The Queen Mother is particularlyl powerful. Residing in the Heavenly Walled city on Mount Kunlun, she is the queen of all the immortals. She is also the chief guardian of the elixir of life and the peaches of immortaliy that grow in her garden and ripen once in 3,000 years. She is truly highest among the celestials.

The goddess Mother of Metal is the Ninefold Numinous and Greatly Wondrous Mother of Metal of Tortoise Mountain. Another common name of hers is Queen Mother of the West. She is, in fact, the incarnate wondrousness of the innermost power if the west, the ultimate venerable of all-pervading yin-energy....

In the beginning, she derived her substance from great nonbeing. She floated along in spirit and was mysteriously hidden in the midst of the west's confused chaos of primordial energy. Then she divided the pure essentail energy of the great Tao, to connect it back together again and form herself a body.

She and the Lord King of Wood and the East rule the two primal energies [yin and yang], nourish and raise heaven and earth, mold and develop the myriad beings.

The Queen Mother embodies the deepest foundation of the weak and yielding; she represents the origin of the ultimate yin. Therefore she rules over the direction of the west. She mothers and nourishes all kinds of beings, whether in heaven above or on the earth below, whether in any of the three worlds or in any of the ten directions. Especially all women who ascend to immortality and attain the Tao are her dependents....

The Divine Continent where the Queen Mother was born is southeast of Mount Kunlun. Thus the Erya Dictionary claims: "The land of the Queen Mother of the West is directly beneath the sun. This place and the subsolar land are the same." It also says: "The Queen Mother has disheveled hair and wears a sheng Headdress. She has tiger's teeth and is good at whistling." Now, this describes really the Queen Mother's envoy, the white tiger spirit of the direction of metal. Such are not in fact the Queen Mother's true looks!

Understanding Reality tr Thomas Cleary p 101

Starting with doing, people can hardly see; then when nondoing is reached, everyone knows. If you only see nondoing as the essential marvel, how can you know that doing is the foundation?
The real people of ancient times said that essence and life should both be cultivated; so the work requires two stages. One of the paths of spiritual alchemy is cultivating life, one is cultivating essence. The path of cultivating life is the path of doing; the path of cultivating essence is the path of nondoing. The path of doing is prolonging life by certain arts; the path of nondoing is making the being whole by the Tao.

"Starting with doing" means the path of doing is used to build life. The science of building life is carried out entirely according to rules, the essential path of snatching the primal energy before the differentiation of chaos, gripping the mainspring of evolution, turning back the process of time. Heaven and earth cannot know it, ghosts and spirits cannot fathom it, divination cannot figure it out; since even heaven and earth, ghosts and spirits, and divination cannot know it, how can people know?

Ending up in nondoing means the path of nondoing is used to cultivate essence. The path of cultivating essence is embracing the fundamental, keeping to unity, all things empty, like a hen incubating and egg, like an oyster embracing a pearl. When this work reaches its consummation, one becomes ultimately truthful and has prescience; the mind of wisdom opens up, and one develops instantaneous comprehension. One has prior understanding of good and bad consequences, so everyone knows.

However, if people only know the path of nondoing is the essential marvel and do not know the path of doing is the foundation, not knowing doing, only nondoing, they are not only unable to cultivate life, they are also unable to cultivate essence. Even if they have some cultivation, this is only cultivation of the acquired nature - how can they cultivate the primordial fundamental essence?

The fundamental essence is the essence of the life bestowed by heaven; originally essence and life are one, with no duality. Due to mixture with temporal conditioning, yin and yang separate, and one becomes two - essence and life differentiate. When essence and life are separate, then essence cannot attend to life and life cannot attend to essence; life is usurped by things and cannot be autonomous; essence too is disturbed by this. When essence is disturbed and life shaken, false and true are lumped together, reason and disire get mixed up; the artificial handles affairs while the real recedes from its position. Day by day, year by year, negative energy strips away the positive until it is exhausted, so essence and life inevitably break down and perish.

Therefore spiritual alchemy must start with doing, restoring the primordial while in the midst of the temporal, recovering one's original jewel of life. When the jewel of life is in the hand, its control depends on oneself, and it is not moved by creation. At that point one embraces the fundamental and preserves unity, traveling the path of nondoing, thereby realizing the original essence of real emptiness, directly transcending to the marvelous path of the supreme one vehicle. What can be done for all the quietists who only know nondoing and do not know doing?

Practical Taoism tr Thomas Cleary p 80

Twin cultivation of essence and life

Master Zhang Ziyang said, "If you start with essence, it's hard to apply it in practice; if you start with life, there's a concrete way of approach. Even if the achievement is one, nervertheless there is something better about starting with essence."

Li Qing-an said, "The best people have already planted roots of virtue and have inborn knowledge; once they directly comprehend essence, they naturally comprehend life."

Essence and life are one matter. The reason people die is that the body and spirit separate. The reason the sense organs are useless after death even though they are still there is that there is no spirit to manage them. Obviously the spirit is the manager of the body; when the spirit departs, energy dissipates, so how could life exist outside of essence? If you divide them into two for twin cultivation, differentiating them into prior and latter, that is not quite right. Why? When you cultivate essence, life is therein. As the Celiestial Master of Open Serenity said, "When spirit is restored to the body, energy returns of itself." No one has ever been able to accomplish intercourse to produce the elixir without being outwardly nonresistant and serene. Indeed, first refining vitality into energy - thus cultivating stabilization and liberation from the matrix - is roundabout and dificult to achieve fully. If you can realize the body of reality, why worry that the physical body will not be sublimated?

The three passes from effort to effortlessness constitute the gradual method; cultivating the upper pass so as to include the lower two passes is the sudden method. Now you should directly practice refinement of spirit back into emptiness: when you reach the state of utter emptiness and silence, vitality spontaneously evolves into energy, and spontaneously evolves into spirit. The handle is in your grip; your destiny is up to you. This is penetrating the three barriers with one shot. This is simplest and easiest, most direct and quick; those on the Way should thoroughly appreciate this.

Sarah Rossbach, Feng Shui pp 30 34 37 46

To the Chinese, earth and cosmos comprise one "living, breathing organism." Feng shui men ascribe to nature not omly cosmic breath - ch'i - but also animal and human characteristics. A mountain can be an awsome but benevolent dragon. An overhanging cliff might be a tiger's jaw. An hourglass-shaped rock might be an anah (nurse) or a maiden. Indeed, an entire branch of feng shui, the so-called school of forms, interprets the landscape by detecting shapes suggestive of animals or objects.

Dragons, the most frequent mountain symbol, protect many Chinese villages. Different parts of the mountain mass embody aspects of a dragon. A line of ridges leading to the summit link the vertebrae. Ridges running to either side spread into arms and legs. Mountain streams and underground springs are veins and arteries pumping the earth's ch'i, the "dragon breath" or "dragon vapor." And to find ch'i one merely has to trace ridges of green foliage.

One Chinese commentator noted:

The magic dragon writhes and changes and the mountain ridges that have life breath will start to run east then suddenly turn west, or begin to run south then suddenly head north. Off they go in all directions. It is said, if it [the landscape] has permutations, call it dragon; if it has none, call it barren mountain.
Mountain peaks are the points where earth and heaven meet and from which all directions emanate. Temples and shrines dot Chinese mountains like telegraph stations to the gods. From the beginning of the Chinese empire, rulers made dynastic sacrifices on Mount Tai, the largest mountain east of Sian. They thus took possession symbolically of all quarters of the realm. A Han dynasty history, typically anxious to establish the Hans' right to rule, chronicles Ch'in Shih Huang Ti's failed attemps to ascend Mount Tai. It notes that because storms drove him from the peak, Emperor Ch'in was thus proven unworthy to rule. In contrast, the Han emperor Wu made several successful ascents.

Mountains served as axes in orienting houses and graves. This had its practical side. The north of a mountain is windy and shady; the south, calm and sunny; the east brings early morning sun; and the west faces the glare of dusk.

Hills have figured prominently everywhere in the world. The Chinese say that a house on the south or east side of a mountain is best; both house and vegetation will prosper under the sun's warm rays.

Auspicous spots tend to lie close to the veins of subterranean ch'i, delineated by points - dragon pores - of rich green foliage and vegetation. These dragon veins usually run down the ridges and backs of mountains following the nerve network.

Certain topographic features make for bad feng shui. A flat riverless plain is devoid of ch'i. The Chinese warn against building a house on the tail of a dragon, because the dragon is in the habit of moving it, creating an unsettling situation. A house on the dragon's head can be risky; living on its brain is good, but a slight miscalculation could put the residents dangerously close to the beast's mouth, the source of strong ch'i and a huge appetite. Dwellers of a house sited under an overhang, or tiger's mouth, will always live in fear of being gobbled up, disappearing when his upper jaw drops.

In 1977, when the government presented a New Territories village with a road proposal, the villagers balked. The road, they said, would chop their dragon's toes, making him uncomfortable, irritable, even vengeful. An official well versed in the subleties of feng shui noted that if the villagers inspected the map closely, they'd see the road would not sever the dragon's toes, but merely clip its toenails, thus doing both the dragon and the locals a great service. The road, he said, would ultimately improve their fen shui.

As a compromise, the government agreed to build an altar on a hill overlooking both the village and the road. Such shrines generally enhance the feng shui, not only for their spirit-placating value but because their shapes harmonize with the landscape. Pagodas, indeed, are said to serve as lighting rods for cosmic ch'i.

John Blofeld, Gateway to Wisdom p 38

The adept, having taken up his meditation posture and allowed himself time to feel relaxed in it, starts by taking a series of compatively deep breaths, somewhat more prolonged than his normal breathing, yet not extremely slow. The time taken for inhalation and exhalation should be exactly the same, and there should be no perceptible pause between them. Respiration shoulld become so regular and calm that the hairs in the nostrills are hardly disturbed; also it should be inaudible even to the breather. This type of breathing should be continued for a few minutes without change, with the attention concentrated wholly upon the passage of air (and ch'i) through the outer gateway of the nostrils. If meditation is to follow, the adept presently allows the pace of respiration to return to normal rather gradually, but making sure that (i) his breathing does not become too shallow; (ii) inhalation and exhalation are evenly balanced; and (iii) the process remains quite inaudible. Having attended to this, he should not mar his meditation by further anxiety about his manner of breathing.

Lu K'uan Yu (Charles Luk), Taoist Yoga p xii

By regulated breathing is meant deep beathing that reaches the lower abdomen to arouse the inner fire and then bring pressure on the generative force already held there forcing both fire and generative force to rise in the channel of control in the spine to the head. This is followed by an out breathing which relaxes the lower abdomen so that the fire and generative force that have risen to the head sink in the channel of function in the front of the body to form a full rotaition in the microcosmic orbit. These continued ascents and descents cleanse and purify the generative force which is then held in the lower tan t'ien under the navel so that it can be transmuted into vitality.

Blofeld p 51

He visualises his whole body as having been transformed into a beautiful bronze vessel, wide open at the top like a Chinese incense- burner or ritual goblet, standing upon four legs; the top is bounded by an oblong rectangle of smooth bronze topped at each end by a fixed rectangular handle. Measuring from the tips of the legs to the handles, it is rather taller than it is long. Overhead two long-robed heavenly beings appear, the male bestriding a white tiger (symbol of yang, male vitality, the sun, the spiritual realm, etc), the lady immortal mounted on a green dragon (symbol of yin, female vitality, the moon, the terrestrial realm, etc). From the mouths of their steeds pour fourth streams of dazzling light which mingle in the vessel (ie the adept's body) to form a white elixir. After a while, the white rays are withdrawn and the two immortals fly off to where they vanish in the empyrean. Meanwhile, the elixir rapidly condenses into a small, brightly shining pearl-like object. Thereupon, the bronze vessel regains its human form, but with the dazzling pearl lodged in the psychic centre in the middle of the body parallel to the navel. By concentrating his mind, rolling his eyes several times and breathing deeply, the adept now causes the pearl to rise along the median psychic channel (closely aligned with the spine and reaching the apex of the skull) until it comes to rest in the ni-haun cavity which corresponds to the topmost part of the brain. The pearl is in fact the precious drop of spirit that unties the adept to the fount of being.

Here am I, a being at one with my surroundings and yet seemingly bounded by the confines of a body extending only from the top of my skull to the tips of my fingers and toes. Within my head is a sacred cavity containing my most valuable treasure, a shining drop if spirit impervious to contamination, no matter how thickly obscured by dark clouds of delusion.

Having thus reflected, the adept should visualise this treasure as a jewel gleaming from within his mind that gradually increases in lustre and expands in size until it fills and shines from every cranny of his body.


the light expands to floor space room area region world, you are the clouds oceans lands forests cities, each of the myriad creatures, the moon circles around you and the sun shines upon you, geocosmos.

the light expands to moon sun planets stars galaxy cluster supercluster universe, you are all of space matter energy time, finite and unbounded, macrocosmos.

return to a place within you, a geometric point without dimension. this point contains all of macrocosmos geocosmos microcosmos. see this same point within all beings.

earth water air energy spirit, self and world

breathe, circulate energy.

feel all that is solid within you: bones, muscles, nerves, skin. feel what is solid around you: the ground beneath you, soil, stones, dust, plants, trees, buildings, people, creatures.

feel all that is fluid within you: blood, sweat, tears, digestive fluid, urine. feel the water and liquids around you: dew, ground water, water in bottles cups and pipes, streams, lakes, clouds, sap, blood.

feel the air within you: air in the lungs, throat, sinuses, stomach, intestines. feel the air and gases around you: wind, still air, air held in bottles, pipes, cars, people, creatures.

feel the all that is energy within you: heat in body and food, electrical in nerves and brain, chemical in sugars fats and protiens, kinetic in movement of muscles and fluids, potential in your upright posture. feel the energy around you: radiant, heat, light, warmth, movement, electricity, combustable, positional.

feel all that is spirit within you: life, conscious awareness, thought, perception. feel the spirit around you: the awareness of plants, trees, people, creatures, stones, objects, buildings, machines.

all of this is movement and change, all of this is tao.