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Practical Taoism Paperback – May 28, 1996


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 81 pages
  • Publisher: Shambhala; 1st edition (May 28, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1570622000
  • ISBN-13: 978-1570622007
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.3 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,185,979 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Chinese

More About the Author


Thomas Cleary is the preeminent translator of classic Eastern texts, including The Essential Tao, The Essential Confucius, The Secret of the Golden Flower, and the bestselling The Art of War.

Customer Reviews

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See all 7 customer reviews
The insights gleaned from this book are priceless.
Chaz
If you want a solid introduction to Taoism and how it can benefit your life, this is a good place to start.
ekniv snikta
The author's writing is so convoluted I was unable to understand any thing he is trying to say.
John T. Holmes

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Like so many medieval Chinese manuscripts, this is written very tersely. Unless you already know virtually all this material you will not be able to make much sense out of the text. Having said that, this text is actually much easier than many others.

This is not a general book about Taoism, or Taoist philosophy, or even about putting Taoism into action. It is a reference book on a most difficult and demanding type of meditation & energy exercise called 'internal alchemy' whereby one achieves spiritual immortality. This information was considered very secret and the style of writing made sure that the wrong people got this book they couldn't learn the secrets without a teacher.

Here is one of the more easily understood passages from the text:

"Nowadays when Taoists speak of pumping the bellows, they do not mean pumping a bellows; they mean tuning true breathing. If you know the furnace and cauldron but not the bellows, then yin and yang are separated; even though furnace and cauldron be set up, they are useless. If you know how to pump a bellows but not how to tune true breathing, then you're missing the essential subtlety whereby the pumping is done. How will you snatch the wholesome energy of heaven and earth to crystallize the elixir?"

It may seem as if the above is taken out of context, but it is not. I'm assuming this is a lecture given to advanced students pointing out that while they have done all the necessary steps they are missing the key aspect of the technique.

If you know enough to understand this book, it would be incredibly valuable. And compared to many other ancient Chinese texts I find this one does explain a great deal, so far it is the most accessible of these cryptic books that I've found.
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32 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Chaz on August 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
I found this collection of translations to be very helpful. I read Cleary's books from a student's perspective and not from a Taoist scholar's perspective. The insights gleaned from this book are priceless. It is a great wonder how our present age and society has fallen into such a moral decline even though these scriptures have been around since man's early days. Read and apply. These teachings may seem cryptic but they turn into truths once they are applied to our lives.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By ekniv snikta on August 26, 2009
Format: Paperback
I'll keep this short - like the book itself. Thomas Cleary is a master translator of eastern religious and philosophical texts. His academic skill is complemented by a deep understanding of the practices described in his translations. He gets to the original intent. Practical Taoism is worth reading for the introduction alone. Never have I found a more concise and practical description of observations, functions and practices regarding the Tao then I have here. If you want a solid introduction to Taoism and how it can benefit your life, this is a good place to start.
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful By T. Korpi on October 11, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an ancient text. In a modern context the term "practical" is laughable. That said, it's a classic text, so there you go.
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