The ancient meditation techniques of Taoism encompass a wide range of practices—with an aim toward cultivating a healthy body as well as an enlightened mind. These selections from classic texts of Taoist meditation represent the entire range of techniques—from sitting meditation practices to internal alchemy. Most of the texts appear here in English for the first time.
Selections are taken from the following classics:
• Anthology on Cultivation of Realization: A document from 1739 (Ming Dynasty) that emphasizes development of the natural, social, and spiritual elements in human life.
• Treatise on Sitting Forgetting: A Tang Dynasty text that sets meditation practice in terms familiar to Confucians and Buddhists.
• Sayings of Taoist Master Danyang: Wisdom of the Taoist wizard and representative of the Complete Reality School.
• Secret Writings on the Mechanism of Nature: An anthology taken from one hundred sixty-three Taoist sources, including ancient classics and works on meditation and spiritual alchemy, along with admonitions and teachings of the great Taoist luminaries.
• Zhang Sanfeng's Taiji Alchemy Secrets: A treatise on the inner mediation practices that are the proper foundation of the martial art Taiji.
• Secret Records of Understanding the Way: A rare and remarkable collection of talks by an anonymous Taoist master of the later Qing dynasty (1644–1911). Traditional teachings with a sometimes strikingly modern bent.
These five Taoist treatises, written from the 7th to the 19th century, offer Chinese sages' thoughts on meditation, "alternative" medicine, body energy, human nature, the martial arts and life and death ("Everyone likes life but not the path of long life. Everyone dislikes death but not the things conducive to death"). The first selection, "Anthology on the Cultivation of Realization," is a vivid assortment of reflections taking up nearly half the book's text; it is long but fascinating. The esoteric "Treatise on Sitting Forgetting" is also a jewel, closing with some fundamental principles of Taoist meditation ("Arrest thoughts as they arise, in order to make your mind peaceful and quiet").