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Holding Yin, Embracing Yang: Three Taoist Classics on Meditation, Breath Regulation, Sexual Yoga, and the Circulation of Internal Energy Paperback – June 14, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Eva Wong is an independent scholar and a practitioner of the Taoist arts of the Pre-Celestial Way and Complete Reality lineages. She has written and translated many books on Taoism and related topics, including A Master Course in Feng-Shui; Tales of the Taoist Immortals; and Taoism: An Essential Guide.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Shambhala (June 14, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159030263X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590302637
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #272,702 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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36 of 42 people found the following review helpful By wiredweird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on July 20, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Here, Wong presents translations of three Taoist texts, alchemical texts from the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. Taoist alchemy differs dramatically from its Western counterpart, in goals but especially in means. Not a search for gold, it is seeks only enlightenment and immortality.

These texts are cryptic for a variety of reasons. One is that the alchemical tradition draws on many other fields of esoterica including chemistry, geomancy and numerology. It also draws on astrology in use of dates tied to the lunar calendar and tangential reference to retrograde motion of celestial bodies (p.126). Above all, it draws on the ideas of vital force that appear in Chinese traditional medicine, and meditative and yogic practices. These last may be individual exercises for control of the body, or the "paired way" that harvests generative force from sex between the mystic and a consort.

Part of the difficulty in reading this text is the ambiguity between analogies and literal fact. The adepts discuss lead and mercury, and implicitly the amalgam of the two metals, but also use that as an analogy for combining the forces of the two partners. The texts also use fertilization and the fetus in an allegorical sense, but echo the metaphysical meaning in physical coition.

Part of the difficulty is intentional. "The names dragon, tiger, lead, and mercury were used by the immortals and sages to hide the true meanings from unethical practitioners," (p.63) and possibly to shield novices from the risks of advanced practices. Although the last author asserts that the Tao is inherently beyond abuse, the tradition works hard to withold its knowledge from outsiders.
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