The main idea behind this eleventh-century writing by Zhang Boduan, doyen of the Southern School of Neidan is inner alchemy. He wants to awaken us to our true nature, ie. ‘Life’s precious jewel’. To this end, he uses the eight trigrams of the Yijing (I Ching), or pakua (bagua). This is a yin-yang thing – partly psychological, partly philosophical, in his eyes, never physiological. This is because he was also a devout Buddhist, who advocated the enrolment of women on ‘the Way’. An enlightened fellow!
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Our true nature is something uncomplicated, near at hand, to be discovered, who we really are, to be grasped …. It is akin to the Ch’an Buddhist wu (Japanese satori), just as the title Wu Zhen P’ien or “On Awakening to Reality” illustrates.
This poem is constructed with much, much, very rich imagery and notable references to the hexagrams and trigrams of the Yijing. Yet is also eminently readable as poetry, in its own right, without any fore-knowledge of its philosophy.
About this Book
His text draws upon the natural world – the passage of the seasons, behaviour of animals, passing of the solstices and equinoxes, waning and waxing of moon, stars, and planets, and the coming and going of day and night. This is Stone-age science, preserved as Taoist wisdom. Herein lies the clue to our true oneness with Nature. We can never separate from the rhythm of the cosmos or natural world. Accepting this flux, we finally understand and re-present ourselves. Man and woman are one kind, one with Nature. Nature goes through changes – but there is a pattern and regularity of sorts, to this change.
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