shengren copy 1shengren copy 4shengren copy 2shengren copy 3


“The saint is evanescent, unpredictable, dynamic, flexible, and ubiquitous. He is forever unchanged and centered in the Dao, but is as elusive as the Dao and emptiness itself. He can die and be reborn. He flies through the air and goes beyond the world. He is master of the elements and space and time, and commands demons and spirits. He hides himself at a distance from the world or lives in the very midst of it, for example in the marketplace.” (Isabelle Robinet). I don’t feel I could say it better I just enjoy typing what I. Robinet wrote.

THE SAINT CAN BE YOUR NEIGHBOR BUT (by the way, it’s totally my idea about ‘neighbor’)

“The saint accommodates himself so well to his environment as to pass unnoticed: ordinary people cannot see him. Alone and unique, “he remains in Unity and knows no dualism” (Huainan zi 7),  yet can be both here and there and multiply himself. His sight and hearing are sharp and penetrating; knowing the secrets of time, he can predict the future. He is “dark and obscure, and as brilliant as the sun and the moon” (Huainan zi 2), and is “a mirror of Heaven and Earth” (Zhuangzi 13). He can make himself invisible because he knows how to recover the subtle, ethereal state. Returning to the Original Pneuma (yuanqi) and the original darkness, he can become no longer perceptible.” (I. Robinet again)

This part ‘multiply himself’ is absolutely amazing, people with bipolar disorder can stay aloof from ‘us’ and rest alone.


“For those who reject the devotional and religious aspect of Taoism, the saint plays the same mediating role that a god does in religion. He is the model of perfect and complete humanity and its inspired guide, a cosmic figure who embodies emptiness or the Dao in an abstract, anonymous, yet vivid way. He transcends the opposition of life and death and embraces all immortals and gods.” (I.R.)

Frankly, I don’t see how it can be said about all aspects of Shengren better than it was done by a professional researcher Isabelle Robinet. But somehow I feel that several notes should be added to calm my mind.


Some lines from old makimono (containing the hidden code of behavior of a warrior).

04   I haven’t a means of subsistence — following  nature is my means of subsistence.

06   I have  neither  life nor death — life and death are fused with eternity.

08   I haven’t the eyes — flashes of lightning are my eyes.

09   I haven’t the ears — five feelings will compile my hearing.

15   I haven’t any principle — rinkiohen (adaptability to all) is my  principle.

19   I haven’t the castle — fudoshin (calmness of spirit) will become my castle.

20   I  haven’t a sword yet — mushin (spirit in emptiness) is my sword.

I took only 7 lines out of 20 which sound more or less appropriate here, and I am not going to prove by this anything: psychologists call it ‘associative thinking’, I call it ‘associative thinking’ too, and I like it.


3.34 …by intuition, one has access to all knowledge.

3.40 By mastering the upward-moving life-force, one may pass over water, mud, thorns, and the like and remained untouched by them, as well as gain the power of levitation.

3.41 By mastering the balancing life-force, one masters fire, and the body emanates a blazing brilliance.

3.42 By samyama on the relationship between hearing and ether yields the ability to hear all sounds, struck and unstruck.

3.43 By samyama on the relationship between the body and ether, and by fully fusing with the essence of lightness, like that of cotton, one may travel through space.

3.45 By samyama on the elements, in their gross forms, their essences, their subtle forms, their interconnectedness, and their significance grants mastery over them.

3.46 Then, occult powers manifest, like the ability to become as small as an atom, and others; the body attains perfection and transcends all laws of nature.

So, I was deeply wrong when I said nobody can write better than authors of Encyclopedia of Taoism; Yoga Sutra by Patanjali is pretty stylish too.


One should study the technique of ‘shutting the jade stalk’ to control one’s desire and gain the opportunity to become immortal.  Used once [this technique] sharpens the eyes and the ears.  Used twice: the voice improves.  Used thrice: the skin becomes smooth.  Used a fourth time: the spine obtains power.  Used a fifth time: the buttocks gain strength.  Used a sixth time: the urinary ducts flow well.  Used a seventh time: the willpower becomes resolute and strong.  Used an eighth time: satisfaction spreads all over [the body].  Used a ninth time: it leads to heaven’s blossom.  Used a tenth time: you receive spiritual evidence [inside self]. — Extraction from Tian Xia Zhi Tao Tan (天下至道談), ancient erotical text (by the way, translation was mine but invention of the technique of course not, sadly).


“My next visit to Chang, was different. I told him that he was not doing Taiji but rather living Taiji. He answered again in the negative. “No, you are still wrong, I am not living anything, I am Taiji”. He went on, “You are trying to do Taiji, so you will never realize the fighting of Taiji nor the healing of Taiji. You are much stronger than me, and faster, but I seem faster and stronger than you. I am not. I am Taiji.” From then onward, I tried to be Taiji with every waking and sleeping moment being as if I were still doing the form. That was his greatest gift to me. To show me to not do Taiji.” — Extract from Chang Yiu-chun, The Last Interview by Erle Montaigue.

 Two next extracts are from: Wudang: The Original T’ai Chi by Dong Kit-yung, translated by David Chow, London University Hong Kong. (A word From Erle Montaigue: “Liang Shih-kan at the time of this interview was the second in command for the original Wudang system of “T’ai chi”.)

“One short set of movements is learned every two years until the whole twelve sets of movements are learned. This takes the child into early adulthood, and it is here that we begin the inner training. The inner training begins with simple breathing ways and then we teach them to lower the breath. No, not just the external physical breath, I mean the inner breath. But here again I am finding it quite impossible to explain something that is just learned through experience. I can tell you something now and you will feel something immediately and you will say to yourself, “Ah yes, this is what he means”. But this is wrong as you will only have the first physical experience of Ch’i Kung and this is not what you are looking for. You see, it will take you another twenty years or more before you will know what I am talking about so you will write in your newspaper that you have experienced Ch’i Kung but this will not be true and after that twenty years you might want to explain it to someone and you will also have the same problem. So it is not good to try and explain Ch’i kung to anyone who has not yet been learning it for many years.”

Well, sometimes old masters are too long or too cryptic, but they are always so right in the main things they wanted to say and reading them and watching them is kind of a great relief after long days.

“There are sometimes very special people, who with only a small amount of the correct teaching will be able to know how to teach themselves. Some people are able to learn through the inner mind even though it has not yet been opened. These people are known to us as ‘large people’ (rough translation, there is no real translation to this word), they are able to take in information from the without in order to teach the within. Most of these people will never know that they have this ability, only that they are able to understand their own inner martial arts better than anyone else and sometimes there comes to them in dreams or just ideas, methods that have taken hundreds of years to perfect. This leads us to believe that these people are able to communicate with the outer world and the spirits of this world.”— Close to our topic today: Shèngrén 聖人 saint, sage. Almost.

Well, you can say now it looks like a compendium of outtakes from a private archive. Yes, it is exactly the compendium of outtakes from my private archive.

AND ONE LAST THING. Sometimes people ask me why I do not draw Sri Yantra pictures on a regular basis,  every month, every week; I could sell them $5 a piece like another Christmas card yet! — Twenty years are passed already. Maybe, I am not Sri Yantra Master alive anymore. I am Sri Yantra 😉



Hétú*Luòshū: 河圖*洛書 Chart of the [Yellow] River and Writ of the Luo [River]

The author of this entry, Isabelle Robinet begins: “According to legend, the Hetu emerged from the Yellow River on the back of a “dragon-horse” (lóngmă 龍馬) during the reign of the legendary emperor Fú Xī 伏羲. Similarly, the Luoshu came out of the Luo River on the back of a turtle”.

The first reference to Luoshu was made in the text created probably in the second century CE, in the fifth century it was related ‘to a liturgical cult of sexual union practiced by the school of the Celestial Masters (Tianshi dao) and for us, humble readers of Encyclopedia of Taoism it will be enough to know how to place the numbers 1 to 9 in the table in the way that the sum of the numbers in vertical, horizontal, and diagonal directions will be always 15. I can imagine the fullness of joy of the person who did it the first time. The joy must be (and is) truly awesome to the present days!

4     9     2

3     5     7

8     1     6

In the the Hetu case a magic square arranges the numbers such way that they form a cross, or three concentric squares:



8          3      5        4        9



Numbers 1-5 are called ‘generative’ (shēng 生)  and numbers 1-9  are ‘performative’ (chéng 成), they don’t serve rituals recently but neidan alchemists earlier used them making ‘Three Fives’ (sānwŭ) important in the process of alchemical mystery.

If someone wants 214 pages of details about Luoshu, probably a book Legacy of the Luoshu by Frank J. Swetz can be helpful. This is about the 4,000 year search for the meaning of the magic square of order three (of course, fēngshuǐ 風水 is discussed too), contains many pictures and documents, takes you for a short time to Babylonia, Greece, Egypt, India, Tibet, Japan, and the Islamic World. It is written by a mathematician and an educator, hence the style is cool, literally 🙂




ENCYCLOPEDIA OF TAOISM (PRIVATE NOTES): Guĭ 鬼 spirit, demon, ghost

Miura Kunio wrote in the entry: “Traditionally, the Chinese have believed that human life is borne by two “souls,” the hun and the po. In simple terms the hun is the spiritual dimension, and the po the physical. Since both can be reduced to qi (pneuma), however, there is no sense of duality between them. When a person dies, the union of hun and po dissolves, with the hun returning to heaven and the po returning to the earth. Both then change: the hun, having ascended to heaven, is called shen (spirit, or deity) and the po, having descended to the earth, is called gui”.

Of course, in the tenth century and later there were thinkers who will make things more difficult for next generations, writing about spirits and deceases and salvation for the spirits. Maybe this is a case when reading fiction or reference book on martial art it will be enough for us, humble readers to stop and remember  just a couple of terms in general: ‘húnpò’ and ‘guĭshén’, their calligraphy and pronunciation.





Obviously, Gĕ Hóng 葛洪 is a very important figure in study of taoism and his Bàopŭ zi 抱樸子 (Book of the Master Who Embraces Simplicity  (Traditional Chinese here and Simplified Chinese in the Encyclopedia article) is an important source of information too. 

Needless to say, there will not be much simplicity in his picture of Taoism, so let’s make an agreement: every citation of this author which will be helpful to understand details of the ‘minor arts’ (xiaoshu—healing methods, longevity techniques, divination), nourishing life (breathing, gymnastics – daoyin, sexual techniques – fangzhong shu), and meditation will be treated carefully. All other ideas and thoughts will be omitted, because the main goal of these private notes is to figure out the shortest way through the many centuries to the core of taoism as it was for ‘cultivating inner nature of any person’ and not a religious and organized movement in the history of one of the biggest civilization in the modern world. 

There are a couple of pictures of Ge Hong from the ‘sacred internet’, it looks like he was a very different person sometimes. Frankly, the same visual effects can come in sight when we deal with scientific/historic ideas and this is another brick in my strong intention to find anything close to the time of the origin. These two pictures will not be included, definitely 🙂

Ge Hong 01Ge Hong 02


ENCYCLOPEDIA OF TAOISM: Gānzhī 干支 [Celestial] Stems and [Earthly] Branches

This article shortly named gānzhī (I do like Chinese, they make new words easily just pairing the ending of one term of the two glyphs with the ending of another term of the two glyphs too) but the full picture would be nicer for us if the title will sound shi tian gan shi er di zhi, Ten Celestial Stems and Twelve Earthly Branches. Wait a second, what we can do here? Well, let’s call it TCSTEB!

十天干十二地支 shí tiān gān shí èr dì zhī, or gānzhī

Pic. 1

ganzhi01Following Christopher Cullen’s entry we can see the beginning of use a ten-day period in ancient China (xún 旬) in the Shang epoch (1600-1045 BCE), probably one millennium BCE sixty days cycle was added by pairing (!) of the ten Stems with the twelve Branches, and from the Han time (202 BCE-220 CE) a cycle of sixty years was in service.

Pic. 2


01     jiazi, for example 1984 or 2044


10     guiyou, 1993 or 2053

11      jiaxu, 1994 or 2054

12     yihai, 1995 or 2055


60     guihai, 1983 or 2043 etc.

By the way, if you will slowly follow to every number from one to sixty you will feel that your eyes make a figure ‘8′, and the process will repeat itself five times, or until you will be tired. And there is a kind of rhythm here too. Numbers will dance in the special rhythm in one place! Is that amazing!     

ERRATUM in the text of encyclopedia (unfortunately):

In the table 7 in STEMS AND BRANCHES article two signs xu 戌 and hai 亥 (11 and 12) from the left column (Stems) should be placed into right column (Branches). In my digital Kindle edition they were misplaced to the left column. Is that obvious for all readers or my eyes are especially sharp? 🙂



Fúqì 服氣 ingestion of breath


This entry was written by Catherine Despeux and the next one about Fuqi jingyi lun (Essay on the Essential Meaning of the Ingestion of Breath) by Livia Kohn. The scientists agree that this technique exists from the Han period (202 BCE-220 CE) and describes the ingestion of outer and inner breath and it is the thing we shall badly need to clarify when we meet breath exercises in the body of  天下至道談 Tiān Xià Zhì Dào Tán (Discussion of the Culminant Way in Under-Heaven, trans. by D. Harper), the ancient erotical treatise.


Some terms should be underlined here: shíqì 食氣 is the synonym to fúqì 服氣, huángqì is “yellow pneuma” (黃氣 contained in the sun rays), and as C. Despeux notes again “one should practice between midnight and midday, the time of the “living breath” (shēngqì 生氣), and avoid the hours between midday and midnight, the time of the “dead breath” (sĭqì 死氣)”. I have just put tones in the terms as promised 🙂


In the Essay on the Essential Meaning of the Ingestion of Breath there is a chapter 3, and L. Kohn describes its content: “On daoyin” (“Dăoyĭn lún 導引論). Literally ‘exercises for guiding (energy) and stretching (the body),’ daoyin or gymnastics should always complement the absorption of qì. They frequently emulate the movements of animals, and serve to make the body supple, harmonize the inner energies, stimulate digestion and blood circulation, and expel diseases.” Nothing to add to make it better. Until we face the exercises themselves.


Actually, there are as minimum five entries on breath techniques in the first volume of encyclopedia and six in the second: (1) breath retention, ingestion of breath, merging pneuma, refining breath, instructions on six sounds, (2) breath and blood, embryonic breathing, regulating breath, exhaling and inhaling, circulating breath, and breathing through the heels. Puzzled?


As always in Chinese culture the easy things are better to digest just reading these humble and private notes on encyclopedia of taoism; the hard things, well, it depends:)



dao red seals

道  Dào The Way
Russell Kirkland underlines in his article seven aspects of the Dao: its polysemy and non-reification, the range of meanings in classical sources, its being the object of personal transmission, its ability to denote the focus of group identity or the focus of personal spiritual practice, a meaning of Dao as ‘the divine’ in broadest terms, and the Dao as the matrix of spiritual transformation. 
I would like to turn attention now to the Webster”s New World Dictionary, which underlines six aspects of the term ‘philosophy’: 1) origin, love of, or the search for wisdom or knowledge, 2) theory or logical analysis of the principles underlying conduct, thought, knowledge, and the nature of the universe, 3) the general principles or laws of a field of knowledge, activity and etc, 4) (a) a particular system of principles for the conduct of life (b) a treatise covering such a system, 5) (a) a study of human morals, character, and behavior (b) mental balance or composure thought of as resulting from this; calmness, 6) same as natural philosophy.
As far as I can see the Western approach is the Western system of knowledge in general and it is always the same dealing with Eastern culture(s). Is it only one way of thinking?
The rare citation in the Encyclopedia of Taoism of the seventh-century text Daojiao yishu (Pivot of Meaning of the Taoist Teaching) looks fresh (thanks, R. Kirkland!) and sounds: “This Dao is the ultimate of reality (zhēn 真), the ultimate of subtlety, and yet there is nothing that is not penetrated by its emptiness.” Looks like we still have another direction to go. 
Sooner or later, we have to say it: a long way (studying Traditional Mandarin, translation of the ancient texts, practicing calligraphy, martial arts, painting, reading prose and poesy in different languages — years and years of private experience in sum) can lead to one short (instant) understanding what truly lays under the word ‘Dao’ and one text, one quotation, one moment of life can be crucial to see what has been hidden before. Nevertheless, it is still not my favorite image:)
What I do like is spending some minutes in everyday life imagining that power many billion years ago which was in the beginning of universe and still somewhere and somehow around and inside me and everything I see. Simple like this.
And my favorite image for that power is …?