Sunday, January 29, 2012

Taoist masters' quest for Enlightenment

In ancient China, many Taoist masters got their enlightenment initiated by Taoist meditation not from their masters, but, as we were told, from a spiritual Immortal during their deep meditation or in their dreams. It seems that "All those who seek will find" not only hold true for Christianity, but has meaning to other spiritual search too! Carl Jung, a spiritual searcher, learned a lot from his dreamed figure Philemon, and Indian spiritualists, according to Jung, had all kinds of dreamed gurus teaching them stuffs.

In Taoist spiritual history, Immortal Liu HuaYang (柳華陽) was said to have his final enlightenment taught by Immortal Wu Chongxu (伍沖虛) who died before Liu was even born. And Taoists now and then found no problem accepting this "spiritual fact", without any negative impact towards their spirituality (ref: hardly any believer questions the "authenticity" of the Holy Gospels in Christianity, nor there need be).

Another notable example concerns a Taoist master in Qing Dynasty,  master Zhu YuanYu (朱元育). Master Zhu was famous for his book "Deciphering Can Tong Qi" 《参同契阐幽》 explaining the most complex text CanTongQi. He had the following to say in the preface of his book:


Essentially Zhu said he first learned from his famous master Zhang and read Can Tong Qi but failed to understand fully the practice and the text. After leaving (graduating from) his master, he continued to travel to different mountains of Taoist retreat and tried to seek clarification to his queries from the sages residing there. Finally, he retreated himself into a mountain, and there, he "fortunately" met with an elder Lingbao, who led him into the destination of final enlightenment. Who is Lingbao? He is one of the top three highest spirits in Taoism!

What kind of conclusions can be drawn? Tentatively, here are mine:
  1.  A master can only open the door, a student has to do his or her own search into life's mysteries.
  2. A good and honest student will know exactly when he hasn't got it, and when he got it.
  3. It takes years to solve life's mysteries the Taoist way
  4. The solution is a complete mind/body change
  5. The change is so profound and complete that a believer can only conclude that it has to be from someone with superhuman power.
In the lingo of modern psychology, it is the ultimate personality change or an overhaul of a person's personality.  A most difficult task, as the Chinese saying goes: It is easier to overturn a Government than to change someone's personality (江山易改, 本性难移). How much or how little you can change your spouse's personality after all these years (if needed to be done at all)?  Be honest!

Fortunately for the modern man, we usually don't need to go so far as to seek for a total personality overhaul.

PS: Zhu's text is the best book in explaining or deciphering Can Tong Qi.

A Korean translation of Zhu's book on Can Tong Qi


  1. Did you read 南懷瑾's commentary on the 参同契? I made it through 1/2 way for the second book, lots of interesting insights but very wordy...and quite repetitive.

  2. Nan's commentary of Can Tong Qi is actually a commentary based on (or mostly inspired by) Zhu's commentary! Nan didn't like to write, instead that was his students' notes, and therefore quite repetitive in many places...and, in my opinion, Nan is more scholarly knowledgeable than practice inspiring.


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