Monday, April 8, 2019

The Book of the Hidden Agreement (Yinfu jing)

The Yellow Emperor (Huangdi),
traditionally ascribed with the authorship
of the Book of the Hidden Agreement
Despite its brevity, the Yinfu jing (Book of the Hidden Agreement) is one of the most obscure and difficult Taoist texts. Within Neidan (Internal Alchemy), this work is especially well-known for its idea of "stealing the mechanism", which Neidan adepts understand as meaning inverting of the process that leads from the precelestial to the postcelestial domains.

Read three sections of the Yinfu jing on the Golden Elixir website.

A complete translation of the text, with the commentary by Yu Yan (1258-1314), is found in a chapter or Taoist Internal Alchemy: An Anthology of Neidan texts (Golden Elixir Press, paperback), and in a Kindle ebook, entitled The Book of the Hidden Agreement: A Taoist Text on the Harmony between Heaven and Humanity.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Taoist Internal Alchemy: An Anthology of Neidan Texts

Golden Elixir Press is pleased to announce the publication of a new book:

Translated from the Chinese, introduced, and annotated by Fabrizio Pregadio

Paperback, US$ 24.95 ● € 24.00 (incl. VAT) ● GB£ 20 ● JP¥ 5000 (list prices)
ISBN 978-0-9855475-5-4

This anthology presents complete or partial translations of sixteen major works belonging to the Taoist tradition of Neidan, or Internal Alchemy. While the selections are far from covering the whole field of Neidan — a virtually impossible task, given its width and variety — they are representative of its main lineages and branches. Texts have been selected in this perspective and are arranged chronologically, in order to provide an overview not only of Neidan, but also of the history of its discourses and practices. Four of the sixteen texts are integrally translated. Six texts and two commentaries are translated here (entirely or partially) for the first time into English. The book is concluded by several tables and by an index of the main terms.

See a preview of this book (PDF).

For more details, visit the page on this book in the Golden Elixir Press website. It contains:

• A detailed table of contents (click the "Contents" tab)
• A list of new pages in the Golden Elixir website with short selections from this book (click the "Samples" tab)
• A link to a free PDF with the Chinese texts translated in this book

Sunday, April 6, 2014

A Translation of the Longmen "Lineage Poem"

Many Taoist lineages bestow "ordination names" or "lineage names" using the characters found in a specially-written poem. Each generation of disciples receives their names using in sequence one character of the poem. Thus the name of a first-generation master includes the first character; the name of a second-generation master includes the second character; and so forth. These poems are known in general as "lineage poems" (paishi).

The most famous "lineage poem" in Taoism is the one of the Longmen (Dragon Gate) lineage. Known as the "Longmen Lineage Poem" (Longmen paishi), the "Hundred-Character Lineage of Ancestor Qiu" (Qiuzu baizi pai), or in other similar ways, it is made of 20 verses of 5 characters. The 100 different characters of the poem should suffice to assign lineage names for about two and a half millennia, and perhaps even longer.

Below is a translation of the poem. Each word is translated with a different English word, and the translation retains the sequence of the words in each verse. While this results in a definitely not elegant (and possibily ungrammatical) translation, it gives a better idea of the nature and purpose of the poem.


The Dao and its Virtue pervade the mysterious quiescence,
true constancy guards the grand clarity.
The One Yang comes and returns to the root:
the united teaching is unendingly whole and bright.

The perfect principle is at the origins of sincerity and truthfulness:
venerable and lofty, it transmits the doctrine’s prosperity.
The world’s appearance is flourishing and thoroughly luxuriant,
the inaudible and imperceptible spreads and of-its-own is peaceful.

Dwell in cultivating the correct humanity and righteousness:
transcending and rising to the clouds, you will be able to ascend.
In the great subtlety the central yellow is honored:
the saintly body entirely performs its function.

In emptiness and vacuity, Qian and Kun are splendid:
Metal and Wood in their natures reciprocally meet.
In mountains and seas, Dragon and Tiger conjoin:
the lotus opens and manifests the treasure anew.

When the practice is complete, the red writ is proclaimed,
from the moon’s fullness an auspicious radiance is born.
For ten-thousand ages shall continue the immortals’ names,
and the three realms will all be akin.

Chinese Text


Related Materials

For a version containing a longer introduction and short notes to the poem, please download this PDF from the Golden Elixir website:

• The Longmen "Lineage Poem": A Translation (PDF, 4 pages)

See also the free PDF: "The Longmen Lineage: Historical Notes" (Golden Elixir Press, Occasional Papers no. 4, free download)

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Longmen Lineage: Historical Notes (Free PDF)

Golden Elixir Press is pleased to announce the publication of a new occasional paper:

The Longmen Lineage: Historical Notes

(PDF, 25 pp., free download)

This essay contains a short history of the Longmen (Dragon Gate) lineage, to which many masters of Neidan (Taoist Internal Alchemy) claim affiliation. It presents the main stages of development of Longmen, and briefly describes its main branches and its main masters.

The essay is translated from the chapter "Longmen pai" (The Longmen Lineage) in Zhongguo daojiao (Chinese Taoism), ed. by Qing Xitai (4 vols; Chengdu: Sichuan renmin chubanshe, 1994), vol. 1.

Click the picture or here for the download page in the Golden Elixir website.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Liu Yiming on the Internal Companions

▶ Quoted from Cultivating the Tao: Taoism and Internal Alchemy, by Liu Yiming, page 155 — Read more about this book

. . . Therefore being connected with companions who have the same mind is the most important thing in the cultivation of the Tao. However, companions who share the same mind are very difficult to discern. They have no form and no image, no sound and no color, no front and no back. Facing evil, they transform themselves into yakshas; facing goodness, they transform themselves into bodhisattvas.(1) Their transformations have no limit: they conceal or manifest themselves in unfathomable ways. Everyone has them in front of their eyes, but misses them. If you are unwilling to discern the true, day after day they increasingly separate from you.

When all of a sudden an intimate friend appears, you become of one mind with him: walking, standing, sitting, or lying, neither of you separates from the other for a single instant. . . . Those who intend to cultivate Reality might be without external companions, but should never be without internal companions.

(1) In Buddhism, a yaksha is a minor deity who protects from evil, and a bodhisattva operates for the liberation of all beings. Liu Yiming seems to say here that the “internal companions” protect one in unfavorable circumstances, as do the yakshas, and support one when the circumstances are favorable, as do the bodhisattvas.

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