ENCYCLOPEDIA OF TAOISM (PRIVATE MINI NOTES): Jīndān 金丹 Golden Elixir

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:

Ingredients

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

Directions

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

 

jindan

 

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