ENCYCLOPEDIA OF TAOISM (THE END OF VOL. 1): Liùzì jué 六字訣 “instructions on the six sounds”

Liùzì jué  六字訣  “instructions on the six sounds”

Catherine Despeux, the entry’s author tells us exactly what sounds they are. “This breathing technique, also known as “method of the six breaths” (liùqì fă 六氣法), consists of inhaling through the nose and exhaling in six ways through the mouth. The corresponding sounds are designated by six characters (hence the name of the method, literally meaning “instructions on the six characters”). They are xū 噓, hē 呵 (or xu 呴, nowadays also pronounced gou), hū 呼, si 呬 (nowadays also pronounced xì), chuī 吹, and xī 嘻”.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

Some advices on medical application of ‘six sounds theory’ we can extract from the same article: “The six breath are related to the five viscera (wŭzàng 五臟) and to a sixth organ which, according to different sources, is either the “triple burner” (sānjiāo 三焦) or the gallbladder. Essentially they have a therapeutic or prophylactic action upon the viscera and their corresponding symptoms according  to the principles of Chinese medicine. Chuī 吹 heals ailments resulting from cold and wind, hū 呼 ailments resulting from the heat, xī 嘻 ailments resulting from the wind and heat, hē 呵 relaxes the qi, xū 噓 clears away stagnation, and si (xì) 呬 dispels heat”. — C.D.

How often people should practice six sounds exercise? My first guess is you can practice it anytime you think you need it and how often you want it, but it does not look professional. So, different sources can give us different numbers, 81 times after midnight, 72 times at cockcrow, 64 times at dawn, etc. And sometimes people used to consider the gymnastic movements and body directions too.

The information about six sounds was very interesting in medical aspect in this entry but there is a couple of things nice to add. I mean martial arts and erotical guides.

Martial Art (One Example)


My favorite example is a short episode from the movie The Sword Identity (2011) with a master Yu Chenhui in the lost field. It takes 51 second, or exactly 38 second when master does absolutely stunning martial training form. We can hear 18 sounds, the first five will be repeated to the end in different order. As far as I can write it down right, they are Hu, Uh, Xu, He, and Ha-ah. Every two-seconds sounds help master to train self right. Probably, there are six sounds instead of five but they are not the same we have seen in medical usage above. However, using sounds in martial art forms is an important fact to me and I would like to see more information in the encyclopedia.

Sex Guides in Ancient China


Once again, only one example from my favorite text Tiān Xià Zhì Dào Tán (天下至道談)


Wŭ yīn: yī yuē hóu xī.  Èr yuē chuăn xī, sān yuē lèi ài, sì yuē huō.  Wŭ yuē niè.  Shĕn chá wŭ yīn, yĭ zhī qí xīn.  “The five sounds: the first is ‘sighing’.  The second is ‘short breathing’.  The third is ‘implicating sadness’.  The fourth is ‘panting’.  The fifth is ‘nibbling’. Pay attention to the five sounds to know her affections.” So sounds rule everywhere:)))

The word 訣  (jué) from the title has a meaning ‘secret’ also. How about 6 (or 5) secret sounds in martial art or in love making? Frankly, I wanted to join martial art example and traditional medicine and erotic guide long ago. Probably, it is on a whim mostly.



Yes, the picture above has nothing to do with a topic, it is supposed to be fun and more or less good to jump from the material body (tĭ 體) to the more transcendent things.

“Early Taoist texts and sources related to classical cosmology represent form (xíng) as a threshold between the Dao and objects, as an ontological and cosmogonic stage situated between “images” (xiang) and matter (zhì 質), and as a lodging for spirit (shen).” — Fabrizio Pregadio (the editor) begins this article in the Encyclopedia of Taoism and it looks and it is a philosophical one.

To follow all details and facts and texts of the author is quite a challenge, but I remember my goal to rethink all difficulties in the way I could keep my everyday routine calm and smooth to flow. Lets take an example from where I feel myself comfortable, daoyin exercises and Taiji quan form (37th, to be accurate). So I must do some exact movements belonging to daoyin and Taiji quan schools (not all of them but basic). Five years, ten, then fifteen, then more and of course the same movements will be the same and not the same, they will be just so much better, easier, and natural for the whole body. Why not to call it ‘refining the form’ or at least the best place to start ‘to refine the form’. When time is passing and your body and mind are becoming more mature the next big step will begin when you will not be feeling the end and the beginning of time of your exercises, your 24/7 life will bring you the feeling of one flow and it will be the natural part of the flow of the planet. I do like feel earth under my feet and I do like to breath air every minute regardless how sunny or rainy or windy it looks outside. 

Another line from F. Pregadio: “Underlying these different trends of thought and religious practice is the view that achieving transcendence requires going beyond one’s own body. “Form” provides the necessary mediation in this task. As often occurs, neidan in this instance inherits and develops ideas and customs that originated in various contexts—specifically, Taoist thoughts, early cosmology, Han-Six Dynasties religious traditions, and meditation practices.”

Making selection of quotes gives us an opportunity to express our inner side a little bit, but spending time in writing thoughts down and pondering over it is like the texts become the flesh on our own bones. Is that wonderful (instead of reading news about politicians whose real goal is to make the lives of others miserable and dependable from their own decisions which are not always right at all)? Right?

That’s the blog:)))

ENCYCLOPEDIA OF TAOISM (SHORT NOTES CYCLE): Liànqì 鍊氣 ( or 煉氣) refining breath


The original article in the encyclopedia is short, and mine will not be longer. As always, I am interested in the time of event, the reliable source, pronunciation, and all actual information I can place somewhere in my head close to what I have been already learnt.

This time a sinologist Catherine Despeux helps again:” Liànqì 鍊氣 designates a technique for purifying the breath (or pneuma) throughout the body. In the Tan period (618-907), the Yanling xiansheng ji xinjiu fuqi jing (Scripture on New and Old Methods for the Ingestion of Breath Collected by the Elder of Yanling) describes the method as follows: “Harmonize the breath and swallow it. When you do this, you must practice breath retention (bìqì) for as long as possible. ‘Obscure your mind’ (míngxīn 冥心), stop your thoughts, follow the movement of the breath, release and regulate it…. It is not necessary to practice daily, but mainly when the mind is clear and relaxed, for example every five or ten days.””

This is about paying attention to your breath again, and it is ok if you are an introvert or a divergent at least, otherwise look for something else:))



Kūnlún 崑崙 Mount Kunlun

“Kūnlún (also called Kunling, Kunqiu, Kunlun xu, etc.), an axis mundi in traditional Chinese cosmogony, is a mythical mountain located in the distant West, the abode of the goddess Xiwang mu (Queen Mather of the West), and a counterpart to the three isles of the transcendent in the eastern seas (see Penlai).”— explains Tomas E. Smith in the Encyclopedia of Taoism, Volume 1. The texts which mention Kūnlún are dated fourth-third century BCE and ca. 300 BCE the link between Kunlun and Xiwang mu begins to be obvious.

Probably, I would not choose this article from others for my short and private notes, but one thing here is definitely interested and calls to be remembered almost every week. The fact is that in the daoyin complex of exercises the neck and head are called Kūnlún and it is totally in the style of Chinese thought when cosmic elements find their way to the human body description. Of course, you can think that your head is your head, but I am going to keep my believing that my head at least is Mount Kūnlún. That is totally cool and stylish:)))


Encyclopedia of Taoism (short notes): Jìngzuò 靜坐 quiet sitting


“In Taoism, the term jìngzuò is secondary to other expressions denoting different forms of meditation, and was probably taken over from Confucianism. In fact, it only appears prominently and with a specific technical meaning in the twentieth century, used mainly by Jiang Weiqiao (1872-1955) in his particular mixture of modern biomedical thinking and neidan, which has been widely regarded a forerunner of the contemporary qigong movement.” After this very informative note written by Livia Kohn, I cannot avoid to remind about Japanese and Indian  traditions ‘to sit quietly’ too. Frankly, that’s one of the many things in my life I do with real pleasure. 

In Japanese it is called ‘seiza’ (靜坐) and means ‘sitting calmly and quietly’ (i.e. in order to meditate) and in Shintō religion it means concentration on the seika tanden  臍下丹田, which easy reminds us ‘dāntián’, the Lower Cinnabar Field. When I am in Japanese mood, I do call it ‘seiza’ and say my favorite martial art text.

Guess, what we have cross-legged in India? Right, we have Padmāsana (Lotus Pose), Sukhāsana (Easy Pose), Svastikāsana (Auspicious Pose), and Siddhāsana (Accomplished Pose), and seven chakras to meditate. When I do my favorite tantric complex (very short and very tantric) I try to pronounce all appropriate words with a Sanskrit accent. As far as we can see, the poses to meditate are classic for all three culture regions, but the inner part is the most difficult one. This difference is worth to meditate itself :)))

jingzuo03a jingzuo04a jingzuo06a jingzuo07a


The best quotation from the current encyclopedia entry I’d like to share was written by the editor, Fabrizio Pregadio: “Modern studies usually refer to the Chinese arts of the elixirs as waidan (external alchemy) or neidan (inner alchemy), but the authors of the alchemical texts often call their tradition the Way of the Golden Elixir (jīndān zhī dào 金丹之道). Gold (jīn 金) represents the state of constancy and immutability beyond the change and transiency that characterize the manifested world. As for dān 丹, or “elixir,” lexical analysis shows that the semantic field of this term—which commonly denotes a variety of red—evolves from a root-meaning of “essence,”and that its connotations include the reality, principle, or true nature of an entity, or its most basic and significant element, quality, or property.”– Encyclopedia of Taoism, London, Routledge, 2008. (By the way, all tones in the quotation are mine as usual.)

Several times in my life I was serious in attempts to understand and put in the practice the Golden Elixir theories. In the first translation from Chinese into English (I have met many years ago) the translators changed the original terms into what they thought would be more appropriate for Western readers but I couldn’t agree at all; the second translation included Traditional Chinese but without Pinyin transliteration and was not easy to make cross-reference through dictionaries.  Putting your hand on the heart, how many people in the U.S.A. with 316,668,567 population (July 2013 est.) can enunciate  the original Jindan texts properly?

In addition, I cannot help myself to quote here another source: “The real Tao is when you get rid of the brand new blender which you didn’t use the whole year and acquire a spice rack with a bunch of spices which you begin on every cooking day and become sick don’t doing it from time to time.”–Say Syonagone, Notes at the Kitchen’s Threshold, 14-16 century, Japan.

Of course, I am mocking now in a cruel way, but I would like to underline that translator’s work shouldn’t be like this, if you do like and care for your business.

The original  Sei Shōnagon’s (966-1017) The Pillow Book is actually a very nice reading for those who can appreciate ancient diaries (including me) and if you are truly interested (still) in the Golden Elixir, try this:


  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp turmeric
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger
  • Cayenne
  • Honey


In a mug, stir together water, lemon juice, turmeric, ginger, and cayenne and honey to taste. Enjoy the Golden, enjoy the Elixir :)))




SRI YANTRA MASTER AND THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF TAOISM (MINI NOTES): Ishinpō 醫心方 Methods from the Heart of Medicine

“The Ishinpō (also transliterated as Ishimpō) presented in 984 to Emperor Enyuu (r. 970-84), was compiled by Tamba no Yasuyori (912-95), the official acupuncturist at the Japanese imperial court, and is the earliest extant work of Japanese medicine. Its importance for the history of Chinese medicine and Taoism lies in its quotations from 204 sources, most of which have long been lost” — Elisabeth Hsu, sinologist. By the way, Chinese reading of ‘Ishinpō’ sounds Yīxīnfāng, and hieroglyphs in the title are traditional, not simplified. 

Chapter (juan) 28 of 30 contains discussions on sexual techniques (fanzhong shu), and now we have a topic for conversation. The difficult topic. To get original text or quality translation definitely doesn’t look easy. In my case I could use only the full description and all available translation in the reprint of Sexual Life in Ancient China by R.H. Van Gulik, Leiden, 1974, and reading pp. 122-160 was quite a challenge due to extensive use of Latin by the author of this precious volume. Sometimes, I guess, translation into French, or Deutsch, or Russian, or another language can be complete and give the whole picture to readers, but it should be checked before you pay for the book 🙂

Recently, depending on my mood, I have two lists to read on subject introduced by 28th chapter of Ishinpō. The first is short, just two translation of the book written by R.H. Van Gulik in 1961. 

Frankly, the second list is much longer: 25,000 Years of Erotic Freedom, 50 Wild Sex Positions, 100 Hot Sex Positions, 365 Sex Moves Positions, 365 Sex Thrills Positions, Tricks and Techniques for an Erotic Year, Blow Her Mind, The Rise and Fall of the Penis, Sex Talk and the Sexual Martial Art, Sexopedia, the 12-Minute Sex Solution, The Anal Sex Position Guide, The Good Vibration Guide to Sex, The Joy of Sex, The Position Sex Bible, The Secrets of Great G-Spot Orgasms and Female Ejaculation, etc :)))

Well, if you want in the end to be educated and classy as Chinese and Japanese emperors were, you probably would choose the short list, and welcome to the club. 

Otherwise, no matter how eager people are to be familiar with the topic they cannot avoid the second list of choice, sort of.