ENCYCLOPEDIA OF TAOISM (PRIVATE NOTES): Xuánguān 玄關 Mysterious Pass

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That kind of things is truly interesting stuff when one term -xuánguān 玄關, for example – can join our body constituency and very general philosophical pointing. Three quotes were chosen to keep reflection going, the entry in the body of Encyclopedia of Taoism this time was written by Monica Esposito, a great sinologist. I put tones as usual, and I do think this act makes citations look better and easier to pronounce and track term further in the dictionaries.

“In neidan, the Mysterious Pass represents the time and place in which an alchemist joins the complimentary antinomies on which he or she works, such as inner nature and vital force (xing and ming), Dragon and Tiger (longhu), lead and mercury, Fire and Water, heart and kidneys, or kăn 坎 (Yang within Yin) and lí 離 (Yin within Yang).”—Monica Esposito.

“The Mysterious Pass, which opens beyond space and time, is inconceivable by means of discursive thought and has, by definition, no fixed position.”—Monica Esposito.

“Only here [in the Center] a new union can occur, as the Mysterious Pass is the ideal space and time to experience the interpenetrating fluctuations of Yin and Yang. The Mysterious Pass is therefore the primordial Chaos (hundun) containing the germ of life—the pre-cosmic sparkle of Original Yang and Original Yin—which is the prime mover and the materia prima of the alchemical work.”—Monica Esposito.

Practically speaking, we do it everyday — placing antinomies (“inner nature and vital force, Dragon and Tiger, lead and mercury, Fire and Water, heart and kidneys”) in one fuel pot and witching fantastic brew — but as always we can do it in Western way or an Asian one, and those people who choose Asian I consider a little bit smarter, as Asian philosophy having had longer history to live in peace with nature in and out of us because this nature definitely can be and is as a matter of fact just merciless to human race. To see this world bewitched one should have very special eyes.

In Modern Chinese ‘xuánguān’ means ‘entrance hall, front door, porch, vestibule’.

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ENCYCLOPEDIA OF TAOISM (THE END NOTE): Tàiyī jīnhuá zōngzhĭ 太一金華宗旨 The Ultimate Purport of the Golden Flower of the Great One

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“Better known as the Secret of the Golden Flower, this is a famous neidan text that the Western world came to know through Richard Wilhelm’s 1929 translation. The Chinese text used by Wilhelm was edited by Zhanran Huizhen zi in 1921. Besides this, at least five more versions are available, all of which date to the late Qing dynasty (1644—1911) and are ascribed to Lu Dongbin, who revealed them through spirit writing.”—Monica Esposito, the author of the encyclopedia entry.

I have said already my point of view here (Jīndān 金丹 Golden Elixir, Volume 1)and I have nothing to add but the exact title of the book in German and English:

Wilhelm, Richard. 1929 Das Geheimnis der Goldenen Blüte: Ein chinesisches Lebensbuch, Zürich and Stuttgart: Rascher Verlag. Translated into English by Cary F. Baynes as The Secret of the Golden Flower: A Chinese Book of Life (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1962; New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1962). [Includes translations of the Taiyi jinhua zongzhi and the Huiming jing].

One useful link to Fabrizio Pregadio (the editor of Encyclopedia of Taoism) pdf file on the subject:

http://www.academia.edu/2008933/The_Way_of_the_Golden_Elixir_A_Historical_Survey_of_Taoist_Alchemy

Probably, humanity doesn’t use all potentials of the brain power to feel the beauty around every second, but humanity has enough abilities to feel the beauty around after and/or before the tough conditions handmade by people themselves. I am sure there is some other ways to achieve the goal of the Tàiyī jīnhuá zōngzhĭ (太一金華宗旨), not only following the very ancient and difficult to understand treatise of the old times. At least, the sky was beautiful when I had shot the picture (photo above).

ENCYCLOPEDIA OF TAOISM (VOL. 2): Mìngmén 命門 Gate of the Vital Force

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This entry in the encyclopedia is short (my favorite size) and informative. There are two minuses although: (1) no tones and (2) no illustration but now we shall have fixed both. Magic of hands!

Following Monica Esposito: “In the Chinese medical literature, the term mìngmén 命門 (also rendered as Gate of Life) denotes the right kidney in its function of procreation. The mìngmén is therefore related to the Original Pneuma (yuánqì 元氣) or Yang Pneuma (yángqì 陽氣), also called Real Fire (zhēnhuŏ 真火). The same term also refers to an acupoint located along the Control Channel between the second and third lumbar vertebrae (see dumai and renmai).”

“Neidan texts often designate mìngmén 命門 as a synonym for the lower Cinnabar Field (dāntián 丹田). Although the mìngmén can be physically located in the umbilical region or be related to the kidney,  spleen, nose, and so on, it shares the ambivalent meaning of other key alchemical terms. In fact, the mìngmén is the center beyond all spatial and temporal categories. It has no shape, but all polarities can be resumed in it and all transformations can take place within it. As the point where breath ascends and descends, and where thought can be perceived in its perpetual fluctuations between movement and quiescence (dong and jing), it is a symbol of the “mechanism of Life and Death” (shēngsĭ zhī jī 生死之機).”

This transition from an acupuncture point 命門 or a right kidney to ‘beyond all spatial and temporal categories’ IS absolutely amazing! That’s exactly why I  truly adore Chinese language and culture.