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

4.14  ·  Rating Details  ·  559 Ratings  ·  32 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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The Truth of All that Is by Amelia BertThe Upanishads by Swami PrabhavanandaBhagavad-Gita by Swami PrabhavanandaChildren Books by Ruthz S.B.The Secret of the Golden Flower by Lü Yen
Mystic Seven Spiritual Books
4th out of 12 books — 8 voters
Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu8 Secrets of Tao Te Ching by Luke ChanThe Book of Chuang Tzu by ZhuangziLieh-tzu by LieziThe Yin Fu Ching by Li Quan
道教经文 - Taoism Texts
33rd out of 34 books — 4 voters

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(showing 1-30 of 1,573)
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John Kulm
Jun 16, 2009 John Kulm rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Miss Ravi
برای من توضیحات بخش اول کتاب که شامل ترجمه و تفسیر ریچارد ویلهم است، کم بود و ابهامآمیز. بخش دوم که تفسیر یونگ است تا حد زیادی به بینش غرب و واکنشش در برابر دین و ذهنیت شرقی پرداخته که بازهم قابل انطباق برای من نبود. یونگ تاکید زیادی روی اروپا و مواجهاش با دین شرقی و یوگا دارد. در مجموع با وجود اندک پیش زمینهای از آیین تائوییسم ارتباط کمی با کتاب برقرار کردم. ...more
Peter Todesco
Mar 19, 2014 Peter Todesco rated it it was amazing
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 really liked it  ·  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.
Olivier Goetgeluck
The man who lives his instincts can also detach from them, and in just as natural a way as he lived them.

I am not the only master in my own house.

It is not I who live, it lives me.

To live mingling with the world and yet in harmony with the light.

Action through non-action. Non-action prevents a man from becoming entangled in form and image (materiality).

If, when stimulated by external things, one moves, it is the impulse of the being. If, when not stimulated by external things, one moves, it is t
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
Jan 07, 2008 Jeannette rated it it was amazing
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.
Jun 16, 2014 mbramblett2000 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 01, 2012 Gypsy Renhart rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 13, 2014 ellen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dec 15, 2015 JJ rated it really liked it
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
Robert Marshall
Mar 03, 2015 Robert Marshall rated it liked it
Shelves: own
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
Apr 23, 2015 Tz348 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 12, 2016 MohSen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
واقعا همچين متني از حكمت چيني نايابه...مقاله ي يونگ هم مكمل باارزشيه كه خوندنش براي ذهن امروزي لازمه.

دوتا نقل قول توي متن اومده كه درباره ي آموزه هايي از قبيل اين كتاب صدق ميكنه، يكي اينكه:"مرد حكيم با انگشت به سمت ماه اشاره ميكنه، مرد نادان محو تماشاي انگشت ميشه" و ديگري كه ميگه: " ابزار سالم در دست فرد ناسالم به خطا كار ميكند و ابزار ناسالم در دست فرد سالم به درستي عمل ميكند"ء
Nov 09, 2009 Corbin rated it really liked it
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
May 25, 2015 Jeff Mclaughlin rated it really liked it
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
Aug 04, 2015 Cipriana Leme rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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
Apr 16, 2012 Stephen Dorman rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviews
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.
Nov 25, 2012 Ho-Sheng rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

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.
Aug 11, 2013 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
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).
Nov 29, 2009 Sarah rated it really liked it
The poetry and symbolism in this ancient text shed light in my life during a shadowy time. Real transformational symbolism.
Aug 01, 2011 Scott rated it really liked it
Great little manual of meditation and philosophy. Each time you read it you are sure to discover something new.
May 23, 2011 Guy rated it liked it
Shelves: began-but-nltf
I've found that Thomas Cleary's translation to be lacking in vitality.
Dec 30, 2009 Painting rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 15, 2009 Sr Burton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like the I Ching, a somewhat cerebral read
Brendan  McAuliffe
Read Ramila Moacanin's book before this.
Dr. Barrett  Dylan Brown, Phd
Jul 21, 2008 Dr. Barrett Dylan Brown, Phd rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Seekers on The Path.
Mmmmmmm. Spiritual.
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“If today people sit and meditate only one or two hours, looking only at their own egos, and call this reflection, how can anything come of it?” 2 likes
“One must not content oneself with small demands but must rise to the thought that all living creatures have to be redeemed. One must not be trivial and irresponsible in heart, but must strive to make deeds prove one’s words.” 1 likes
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