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The Secret of the Golden Flower: The Classical Chinese Book of Life
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The Secret of the Golden Flower: The Classical Chinese Book of Life

4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  451 ratings  ·  29 reviews
This is a translation of T'ai-i chin-hua tsung-chih, a late 18th-century Chinese meditation text falsely attributed to the shadowy 9th-century figure Lü Yen. A late expression of Chin-tan ("Golden Elixir") Taoism, it teaches manipulation of internal forces ("light") to achieve revitalization and spiritual rebirth. The work became famous in the West when Richard Wilhelm tra ...more
Paperback, 1st edition, 160 pages
Published March 12th 1993 by HarperOne (first published 1931)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,206)
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John Kulm
Secret of the Golden Flower is an ancient Chinese book from an esoteric religious sect. In “Memories, Dreams, Reflections” Jung wrote this about it: “I devoured the manuscript at once, for the text gave me undreamed-of confirmation of my ideas about the mandala and the circumambulation of the center. That was the first event which broke through my isolation. I became aware of an affinity; I could establish ties with something and someone.”

I don’t like rating a book like this by stars. If you’re
Peter Todesco
The best translation of this great mystical classic! It changed my life forever. I am working now as meditation teacher and therefore I created a new transcription: the extremely valuable explanations and comments by Thomas Cleary are placed now following the original text directly after each section as footnote. This helps incredibly the immediate understanding of this practice! ( contact me if you are interested - - ) My transcription can help you for the ...more
Aug 06, 2008 Maureen rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: religion
This lovely book is a description of an ancient Chinese meditation technique, and the underlying philosophy. Cleary also translated this work, but I find his rendition more pedantic than Wilhelm's. By practicing this straightforward meditation, many people have found many benefits. Not only does it quiet the mind and focus inner being, it also works to bring the body into a harmonic state.
Mary Overton
Jung’s marvelous commentary is balm for the writer’s psyche. He warns us against being enthralled to “… the secret objective of gaining power through words …” He explains how this ancient text guides one through disentanglement. Here is the context in which Jung makes his statement:
“It is really my purpose to push aside without mercy the metaphysical claims of all esoteric teaching; the secret objective of gaining power through words ill accords with our profound ignorance - which we should have
This is a collection of the teachings of Taoism in
the form of poetry. It is written beautifully and the teachings still apply to life today. It is available at the Geisel library. I remember that when I carried this book around with me, strangers would start conversations with me about the book, and more than once, I was asked if that was the first book I had read on Taoism. What I learned from this book: It is ok to just simply be.
This is an excellent book. This isn't a religious text. It's a Taoist Method Text.

It's related to advanced Fire, Water, Air path breathing and internal meditation. See Taoist texts about Tai Chi and internal arts.


For Philosophy I would recommend Lao Tzu.

Also the Tao Teh Ching.


My favorite translation of the Tao Teh Ching is the small hardback from Shambhala written by John C. H. Wu.
Artur Benchimol
June's commentary is great. The second part makes more sense if you're interested in Taoism or esoteric practices. I found it hard to grasp since I had no previous knowledge of such things.
Gypsy Renhart
Though it is not easy to comprehend at first glance it is a book that I will open time and time again. This is going to be an important guide for me and my personal growth.
The Secret of the Golden Flower was written in the 18th century and intended as a kind of meditation manual. It was attributed to an ancient author, so the actual author of the text remains unknown.

Cleary's translation is somewhat challenging. I haven't read Wilhelm's translation, although I imagine elements of it would have been easier to follow. Unfortunately, Wilhelm's translation is now known to be direly inaccurate, so Cleary's is certainly the best way to go. This isn't meant as a criticis
What? That was mostly my thoughts on this. There may be a lot in here of use, but it wasn't necessarily written for anyone's use.
Robert Marshall
I just finished reading this book and am not sure how to take it. The premise is good, but I'm left confused on what is the actual translated text, and what is Clearys own materials. I also purchased the Richard Wilhelm/Baynes version and will read that once it arrives.

Early on in this translation I started having doubts on Clearys intent. In the intro he constantly belittles the Wilhelm/Baynes translation, while at the same time thanking Wilhelm for introducing the text to the West. He also tha
Jung's commentary is legendary
Lyam Thomas Christopher
Mostly worth it for Jung's extraordinary commentary, putting in so much perspective over Eastern practices, especially in the light of their usefulness, not to mention their maladaptations in the West.

Yes, this is an imperfect translation--and I like it better than the "more accurate" renditions. Its accidents are responsible for creating whole new systems of practice that nonetheless work.
Not bad as a meditation manual and all, but Jiminy Cricket, people!

...Trying to find workable English/Chinese translations is like reclining in a lawnchair next to collapsing train tracks with popcorn in one hand and a time dilation device in the other, listening for the impending whistles and bells.
Jeff Mclaughlin
The translation of the text is good but, in Translation Notes (which comprises 50% of the book), Cleary focuses too much on slamming the interpretations of others (esp. Wilhelm and Jung) at the expense of elaborating more on his own interpretations.
Cipriana Leme
If Wilhelm had not written his interpretation of the I-Ching (preface by Jung, also), I would never have discovered this fascinating way of life that has also become MY way of life. Ive read this book dozens of times and always have in near, just in case. ...more
Stephen Dorman
Worth it for the articulation of the Host/Guest alone (which is in the Afterword). Cleary's knowledge and experience of Zen and Taoist praxis informs his "notes" and they are an invaluable guide to the text itself.

A true classic of simplicity.

This was the only translation available before Thomas Cleary's translation. There are errors and misunderstanding. If you are serious about studying the Secret of the Golden Flower, I recommend starting with Clearly's translation first.
A fascinating work of Taoist literature and the first in the genre that I've read so far which even came close to being understandable in English (a credit to the translator Richard Wilhelm).
The poetry and symbolism in this ancient text shed light in my life during a shadowy time. Real transformational symbolism.
Great little manual of meditation and philosophy. Each time you read it you are sure to discover something new.
I've found that Thomas Cleary's translation to be lacking in vitality.
Reading this again. My first reading prompted a series of mandala paintings.
Daniel Rekshan
The best book on meditation I have ever read.
Sr Burton
Like the I Ching, a somewhat cerebral read
Read Ramila Moacanin's book before this.
Dr. Barrett  Dylan Brown, Phd
Jul 21, 2008 Dr. Barrett Dylan Brown, Phd rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Seekers on The Path.
Mmmmmmm. Spiritual.
Oct 06, 2007 Laura rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: every poet
that which is comes of itself
Amit marked it as to-read
Aug 28, 2015
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