Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Li Daochun on the Dragon and the Tiger

This passage from Li Daochun's most important work is quoted in Isabelle Robinet, The World Upside Down: Essays on Taoist Internal Alchemy (Golden Elixir Press, 2011)

The image of the Dragon-Tiger undergoes a thousand transformations and ten thousand changes, and its transcendence (liao) is divine and unfathomable. This is why we use it to represent the ingredients, we establish it as Tripod and Furnace, and we move it with the Fire regime. By analogy, it is Kan and Li; by substitution (jia), it is Metal and Fire; by naming, it is the boy and the girl; by conjoining, it is the husband and the wife.

All these different names constitute the wondrous function (yong) of the Dragon and the Tiger. By virtue of their divine animation (ling gan), we call them ingredients; because they bring things to achievement, we call them Tripod and Furnace; by virtue of their transformations, we call them Fire regime; because they cross each other and join to one another, we call them Kan and Li; because they are firm and straight, we call them Metal and Wood; because they ascend and descend, we call them boy and girl; because they wondrously harmonize with one another, we call them husband and wife.

Li Daochun (late 13th century)
Zhonghe ji (Anthology of Central Harmony), chapter 4

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