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

4.15  ·  Rating Details ·  578 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
The ancient Taoist text that forms the central part of this book was discovered by Wilhelm, who recognized it as essentially a practical guide to the integration of personality. Foreword and Appendix by Carl Jung; illustrations. Translated by Cary F. Baynes.A Helen and Kurt Wolff Book
Paperback, 166 pages
Published March 25th 1970 by Mariner Books (first published 1931)
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John Kulm
Jun 16, 2009 John Kulm rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 06, 2008 Maureen rated it really liked it
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.
Peter Todesco
Mar 19, 2014 Peter Todesco rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 16, 2014 mbramblett2000 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jan 07, 2008 Jeannette rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 13, 2014 ellen rated it it was ok
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.
Artur Benchimol
Mar 24, 2014 Artur Benchimol rated it liked it
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
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.
Gaze Santos
This book is a fairly recent translation of a Taoist classic text on meditation, usually attributed to Liu Dongbin of the late Tang Dynasty (though the validity of this has been disputed). The book is an interesting mix of Taoist spiritual alchemy and Buddhist meditation technique. Specifically the northern Chan Buddhist school that was the precursor to Zen Buddhism. The book itself describes silent meditation that is the corner stone of Chan and Zen. A technique in the book that is referred to ...more
Jason Gregory
Sep 27, 2016 Jason Gregory rated it it was amazing
This is a Taoist classic in many ways. But the primary reason is because of the crystal clear translation from Richard Wilhelm and the commentary of Carl Jung. Transparent with their understanding, it gives the reader deeper insight into Chinese philosophy and spiritual practice.
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
Robert Marshall
Mar 03, 2015 Robert Marshall rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Olivier Goetgeluck
Nov 05, 2015 Olivier Goetgeluck rated it really liked it
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
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
Nov 09, 2009 Corbin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 12, 2016 MohSen rated it it was amazing
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
Lyam Thomas Christopher
Aug 23, 2012 Lyam Thomas Christopher rated it it was amazing
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.
Cipriana Leme
Aug 04, 2015 Cipriana Leme rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jeff Mclaughlin
May 25, 2015 Jeff Mclaughlin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Nov 25, 2012 Ho-Sheng rated it it was ok

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.
Stephen Dorman
Apr 16, 2012 Stephen Dorman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
The poetry and symbolism in this ancient text shed light in my life during a shadowy time. Real transformational symbolism.
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).
Aug 01, 2011 Scott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great little manual of meditation and philosophy. Each time you read it you are sure to discover something new.
Joseph rated it it was amazing
Nov 22, 2012
Jack Oughton
Jack Oughton rated it really liked it
Jun 09, 2012
Jon rated it really liked it
Jun 03, 2012
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Jan 19, 2012
Cindy Jerrell
Cindy Jerrell rated it really liked it
Jul 09, 2014
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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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